Iran Press TV

First satellite images of Saudi nuclear plant show completion

Iran Press TV

Wed Apr 3, 2019

New satellite images show that Saudi Arabia has almost completed the building of its first nuclear reactor, according to a report by Bloomberg written based on the images by Google Earth.

The report, published on Wednesday, noted that the construction of the facility, which is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh, is alarming, because the country has not accepted the international rules and frameworks needed to ensure that civilian atomic programs aren’t used to build weapons.

“There’s a very high probability these images show the country’s first nuclear facility,” former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Robert Kelley told Bloomberg. “It means that Saudi Arabia has to get its safeguards in order.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg quoted the Saudi energy ministry as saying in a statement that the facility is being built with transparency and is in full compliance with the international agreements.

Saudi Arabia has signed the IAEA’s so-called Small Quantities Protocol, but it hasn’t adopted the rules and procedures that would allow nuclear inspectors to access potential sites of interest.

This comes as a bipartisan group of American lawmakers have raised concerns about Washington’s nuclear dealings with Saudi Arabia.

In a letter drafted to US Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday, Senators Robert Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican committee member Marco Rubio questioned the recent approvals for American companies to share nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia.

The senators specifically pointed to Riyadh’s insistence on forgoing Washington’s so-called 123 agreement, a set of nonproliferation standards required by Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

The 123 agreement, often referred to as Washington’s “gold standard” for foreign civil nuclear cooperation, prevents the foreign entity from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium made in reactors – two routes to making nuclear weapons.

Negotiations between the US and Saudi Arabia for nuclear cooperation came to a halt under the administration of former President Barack Obama, after Riyadh refused to accept Washington’s proposed standards.

In its never ending quest for more money, the administration of President Donald Trump resumed the talks and is reportedly considering a deal that would allow Riyadh to enrich and reprocess uranium and pave the way for American companies to build nuclear reactors in the kingdom.

In February, a report by a congressional committee revealed that the Trump administration was trying to bypass Congress to transfer sensitive nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the time decried the US “hypocrisy” over the planned nuclear sale to the Saudi regime.

In March 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the kingdom would be quick to develop nuclear weapons if Iran – which Riyadh views as its arch rival in the region – did so.

Iran does not pursue nuclear weapons, and under a 2015 international deal, it has placed its entire nuclear program under enhanced 24/7 monitoring by the United Nations’ atomic watchdog, which has repeatedly confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.


NATO Chief Warns US Congress of ‘More Assertive Russia’

By Ken Bredemeier April 03, 2019

WASHINGTON–NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned the U.S. Congress Wednesday of the threat of a “more assertive Russia,” saying that the West’s key military alliance is not looking to start a new Cold War with Moscow but needs to deter its military aggression.

In an unprecedented address to a joint session of Congress on the 70th anniversary of NATO’s creation at the end of World War II, Stoltenberg also said the 29-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization “has no intention of deploying land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.” He accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the U.S. says it is leaving because of Russian violations – a claim Russia has denied.

“We do not want to isolate Russia. We strive for a better relationship with Russia,” Stoltenberg said. “But even with a better relationship, we still need to manage a difficult one.”

He said, “NATO will always take the necessary steps to provide credible and effective deterrence.”

Stoltenberg called on NATO allies to spend more on defense, to meet the Western alliance’s goal of each country spending at least 2 percent of the size of its national economy on defense by 2024, a standard only eight NATO countries currently meet.

Stoltenberg credited U.S. President Donald Trump, who once called NATO “obsolete,” with pushing NATO countries to increase their defense spending and said, “It has had a real impact.”

A two-time Norwegian prime minister, Stoltenberg acknowledged differences among the NATO countries on trade, energy, climate change and other issues, but said, “This is democracy. It’s not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invited the NATO leader to speak to members of the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate to show bipartisan support from lawmakers in spite of Trump’s ongoing criticism of NATO.

‘Far from obsolete’

As foreign ministers of NATO gather in Washington, foreign policy analysts – and Stoltenberg in his address to Congress – are emphasizing it is one of the most successful military alliances in history and still relevant.

“NATO is adapting and allies are spending more on defense,” Mark Simakovsky of the Atlantic Council told VOA. “And I think this (Trump) administration is understanding more and more how critical NATO is to some of the challenges that it faces, including China. So, in many ways, NATO is far from obsolete.”

Trump’s criticism that NATO members aren’t spending the required 2 percent target, as well as political upheaval in Europe – including the impending British exit from the European Union – and calls by some to kick Turkey out of NATO, can leave the impression, however, that the defense alliance is fracturing.

“I don’t think that’s the case. The alliance is strong,” Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik told VOA, pointing to increased political dialogues and military exercises among NATO’s members, as well as more U.S. military equipment and troops being brought to Europe.

“You’re not giving the money to somebody else. You’re not putting it into a NATO budget somewhere; you’re spending it on yourselves,” says McCain Institute executive director Kurt Volker, who formerly served as U.S. ambassador to NATO. “But it is a demonstration of your commitment to your own security, which then gives NATO the confidence that this is a country that we can help defend as well, because they are committed to defense of their own territory.”

Trump took credit Tuesday for pushing other NATO countries to spend more on defense, but criticized Germany, Europe’s biggest economic power, for not doing more. Berlin now plans to spend 1.5 percent by 2024, missing the 2 percent NATO target.

Damaged trust

Others agree that defense spending is important, but they say the alliance is fundamentally about the members’ ability to trust each other, and that Trump has damaged that trust.

“When an American president questions the value of the alliance, our enemies in Moscow and Beijing are now questioning whether or not NATO would come to the defense of some smaller NATO nations that the president has criticized as maybe not worthy of NATO’s defense,” says Simakovsky, a former Europe/NATO chief of staff in the policy office of the U.S. secretary of defense. “But I don’t think at this summit the administration is going to be announcing any departure of the United States.”

Brooking Institution’s Robert Kagan is expressing concern that Trump’s attitude toward the European Union and expressed hostility toward the defense alliance could bring more chaos to the continent.

“Think of Europe today as an unexploded bomb, its detonator intact and functional, its explosives still live. If this is an apt analogy, then Trump is a child with a hammer, gleefully and heedlessly pounding away. What could go wrong?” writes Kagan in a coming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

Steve Herman, Cindy Saine and Valeria Jegisman contributed to this report.


[ rfe/rl banner ]

U.S. Vice President Warns Turkey, Germany Over Dealings With Russia

By RFE/RL April 03, 2019

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has warned Turkey and Germany about their dealings with Russia, telling Ankara it is “reckless” and warning Berlin it risks becoming a “captive” of Moscow.

Pence’s comments came on April 3 in Washington as part of events marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO, of which Turkey and Germany are long-standing members.

Pence voiced U.S. opposition to Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system, saying Ankara must decide between remaining a key NATO partner or risk endangering the military alliance with the deal, which he said “poses great danger to NATO.”

“Turkey must choose. Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making such reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?” Pence said.

The United States and other NATO countries have demanded that Ankara call of its deal with Russia to purchase the S-400, which is not compatible with NATO systems and is considered a threat to U.S. F-35 fighters.

Washington has said it is halting deliveries to Turkey related to the F-35 program in response to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian missile system.

A senior State Department also said this week in a briefing that Ankara could face U.S. sanctions if it goes ahead with the S-400 deal.

Ankara has refused to back down on its planned purchase, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu telling the NATO gathering that “the S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this.”

Another Turkish leader, Vice President Fuat Oktay, lashed back at Pence’s remarks — saying it was Washington that must decide whether it wants to remain an ally of Ankara.

“The United States must choose. Does it want to remain Turkey’s ally or risk our friendship by joining forces with terrorists to undermine its NATO ally’s defense against its enemies?” Oktay wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Pence told Germany it risked being a “captive of Russia” if it proceeds with the Nord Stream 2 project with Moscow.

“If Germany persists in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as President Trump said, it could turn Germany’s economy into literally a captive of Russia,” Pence said.

Nord Stream 2, scheduled to be completed in 2019, will run directly from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing several European transit countries including Ukraine, helping Moscow avoid the transit-fee disputes and other nettlesome politics that have plagued its existing pipeline network.

Washington and some European leaders fear that without legal changes, the pipeline will deepen the continent’s dependence on Russian gas and give Moscow more negotiating leverage over unrelated political issues.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa

Source:https://www.rferl.org/a/u-s-vice- president-warns-turkey-germany- over-dealings-with-russia/29859577.html

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


UK-led high-readiness force to deploy to the Baltic Sea

Nearly 2,000 UK Armed Forces personnel will deploy to the Baltic Sea for a series of multinational exercises in support of European security.

3 April 2019

Sailors and marines from all nations of the UK-led high-readiness Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) will take part in the deployment, due to take place in May, which will underline the importance of protecting Europe at a time of increased threat.

This week, Defence Ministers and representatives from JEF countries will come together at the Ministry of Defence to discuss the deployment and test the mechanisms for mobilising the JEF, laying the foundation for the start of Baltic Protector.

A total of 3,000 military personnel from all JEF nations will be involved in the Baltic Protector deployment, which draws in around 20 naval vessels, including a number of Royal Navy ships. They will test themselves with maritime tactical exercises, amphibious drills, amphibious raiding practice, shore landings and naval manoeuvres. This is the first ever JEF maritime deployment of this scale, and demonstrates its ability to provide reassurance in the region.

The joint force, now fully operational, is spearheaded by the UK and includes eight other likeminded nations – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The JEF builds on many years of experience between the UK and these countries.

At full strength, the joint force has the capability to mobilise over 10,000 personnel in support of a variety of missions to deliver rapid and far-reaching effect. And while Baltic Protector is maritime-focused, personnel from the British Army and Royal Air Force will also take part.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“As Britain prepares to leave the EU, our unwavering commitment to European security and stability is more important than ever.”

“Deploying our world class sailors and marines to the Baltic Sea, alongside our international allies, firmly underlines Britain’s leading role in Europe.”

Baltic Protector, the first deployment of the JEF Maritime Task Group, will be made up of three major exercises and is aimed at integrating UK and partner nations to test their ability to operate together.

JEF personnel and ships will also work alongside NATO allies during the deployment, further underlining the versatility of the joint force, and the commitment to supporting European security.

Commodore James Parkin, Commander of the Task Group, said:

“It is a huge privilege to command the Baltic Protector deployment, and I am greatly looking forward to working with our close friends and partners from the other eight Joint Expeditionary Force partner nations.”

“Together, this UK-led Maritime Task Group will conduct a series of demanding amphibious exercises and maritime security patrols across the Baltic Sea that will serve to improve the way we operate together and our readiness to respond to crisis.”

The JEF, which was established at the 2014 NATO Summit and launched a year later, became fully operational with the signing of a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding in June 2018.

As an adaptable high-readiness force that can be stood up anywhere, at any time and in any environment, the JEF can cover a range of tasks, including combat operations, deterrence, or humanitarian support. The JEF has the ability to operate independently or in support of multinational organisations, including NATO, UN, EU and Northern Group.

The joint force is a clear example of collective strength between partner nations, and this joint working has been seen previously. This has included during the Ebola outbreak – as part of the response, the UK, the Netherlands and Norway combined resources on land, at sea and in the air. This demonstrates the kind of integrated mission the JEF could be mobilised to support.


U.S. Department of Defense

April 3, 2019 
By David Vergun 

Defense of U.S. is Top Priority for Missile Defense, DOD Leader Says

WASHINGTON — Potential adversaries are developing sophisticated ballistic and cruise missile systems, with increased speed, range, accuracy and lethality, a senior Pentagon official said today.

Additionally, Russia and China are developing the hypersonic glide vehicle, which maneuvers outside of traditional trajectories and is harder to track and take out, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John C. Rood told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee at a hearing on missile defense policies and programs today.

He was joined by Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command; Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves, director of the Missile Defense Agency; and Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command.

Defending the Homeland

Defense of the United States is the first priority, Rood said, outlining steps taken in that direction as reflected in the fiscal year 2020 military budget request and the 2019 Missile Defense Review. They include:

– Adding 20 ground-based interceptors in Alaska, bringing the total to 64.

– Continued development of a redesigned kill vehicle for reliability.

– Continuing to build a new missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska.

– The need to field new discrimination radars in Alaska and Hawaii and extend operations for the sea-based X-band radar.

– The need for a wide-area surveillance system to defend against cruise missile threats.

Defending Deployed Forces

Rood also outlined regional missile threats to U.S. and allied forces with an aim to improve air and missile defense systems abroad. Among the defenses planned by the U.S. are:

– Enhancing the Aegis ballistic missile defense system by procuring Standard Missile-3 block IB and Block IIA missiles and integrating the SPY-6 radar.

– Procurement of additional Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense interceptors, Patriot interceptors and the Army Indirect Fire Protection Capability command and control system.

Preparing for Emerging Threats

Besides improving legacy missile defense systems, Rood said, the United States will pursue breakthrough technologies to defend against emerging threats. Among the funding requests are:

– Additional space-based sensors.

– Integrating space-based kill assessment into the ballistic missile defense system.

– Operating and sustaining the space tracking and surveillance system.

– Developing defenses against hypersonic missiles, including near-term sensor and command and control upgrades.

– Testing an SM-3 Black IIA capability against an ICBM-class target to develop the capability to add a layer to the defense system.

– Developing a kinetic boost phase intercept using a tactical air platform.

– Initiating a neutral particle beam technology demonstration program and continued high-energy laser development.

– Launching a study of space-based interceptors.

Importance of Allies and Partners

Lastly, Rood said, it’s important that allies and partners invest in their own air and missile defense capabilities that are interoperable with those of the United States.

Toward that end, the U.S. is working with NATO, Spain, Turkey, Romania, Poland, Gulf partners in the Middle East, Israel, Japan and other nations to develop a range of defenses, he said.


Netanyahu vows to annex communities in Judea and Samaria if re-elected

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will begin annexing Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria if he is re-elected to a fourth straight term. Such a move would be a departure from Israeli government policy.

Netanyahu made the remarks during an interview with Channel 12 in reference to the recent U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. When he was asked about annexing Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, he said “we’re on the way,” adding that “the next term [in office] will be fateful.”

Close to half a million Jewish Israelis currently live in communities in Judea and Samaria, with town of all sizes growing steadily.

During the Channel 12 interview Netanyahu also appeared to dismiss the prospect of Palestinian statehood, which would “endanger [Israel’s] existence,” reported Times of Israel.

Netanyahu clarified that security control over Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria would not be limited to clusters of towns called “blocs,” but would also extend to isolated settlements.

One day earlier, Netanyahu told Channel 13 he had communicated to U.S. President Donald Trump that he would not evacuate a “single” Israeli from Judea and Samaria as part of a forthcoming “deal of the century” Mideast peace plan, which Trump is expected to release in May following Israel’s April elections.


US to Designate Elite Iranian Force as Terrorist Organization

US to Designate Elite Iranian Force as Terrorist Organization
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (AFP/Getty Images)

Saturday, 06 April 2019

The United States is expected to designate Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization, three U.S. officials told Reuters, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another country’s military a terrorist group.

The decision, which critics warn could open U.S. military and intelligence officials to similar actions by unfriendly governments abroad, is expected to be announced by the U.S. State Department, perhaps as early as Monday, the officials said. It has been rumored for years.

The Pentagon declined comment and referred queries to the State Department. The State Department and White House also declined to comment.

Iran may put the U.S. military on its terror list if Washington designates the Iranian elite Revolutionary Guards as terrorists, a senior Iranian lawmaker said on Saturday.

“If the Revolutionary Guards are placed on America’s list of terrorist groups, we will put that country’s military on the terror blacklist next to Daesh (Islamic State),” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s national security committee, said on Twitter.

The announcement would come ahead of the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and to reimpose sanctions that had crippled Iran’s economy.

The administration’s decision to make the designation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The United States has already blacklisted dozens of entities and people for affiliations with the IRGC, but the organization as a whole is not.

In 2007, the U.S. Treasury designated the IRGC’s Quds Force, its unit in charge of operations abroad, “for its support of terrorism,” and has described it as Iran’s “primary arm for executing its policy of supporting terrorist and insurgent groups.”

Iran has warned of a “crushing” response should the United States go ahead with the designation.

IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari warned in 2017 that if Trump went ahead with the move “then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

Such threats are particularly ominous for U.S. forces in places such as Iraq, where Iran-aligned Shi’ite militia are located in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse said the move would be an important step in America’s maximum pressure campaign against Tehran. “A formal designation and its consequences may be new, but these IRGC butchers have been terrorists for a long time,” Sasse said in a statement.

Former Under-Secretary of State and lead Iran negotiator, Wendy Sherman, said she worried about implications for U.S. forces.

“One might even suggest, since it’s hard to see why this is in our interest, if the president isn’t looking for a basis for a conflict,” said Sherman, who is director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The IRGC is already fully sanctioned and this escalation absolutely endangers our troops in the region.”


Set up after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system, the IRGC is Iran’s most powerful security organization. It has control over large sectors of the Iranian economy and has a huge influence in its political system.

The IRGC is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missiles and nuclear programs. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,242 miles), putting Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within reach.

The IRGC has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units and answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is unclear what impact the U.S. designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization might have on America’s activities in countries that have ties with Tehran, including in Iraq.

Baghdad has deep cultural and economic ties with Iran and Oman, where the United States recently clinched a strategic ports deal.


NATO Secretary General thanks President Trump for his strong leadership

  • 02 Apr. 2019 
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the White House on Tuesday (2 April 2019) for a meeting with US President Donald Trump. The Secretary General thanked President Trump for his strong leadership and commitment to NATO.
Press spray with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Donald Trump

The two leaders discussed progress in the fight against terrorism and efforts to ensure fairer burden sharing within the Alliance. “We have increased the readiness of our forces, we have stepped up in our joint fight against terrorism and we are investing more,” said the Secretary General. He stressed that Europe and North America are doing more together, and European Allies and Canada are expected to add $100 billion more to their defence budgets by the end of next year. The Secretary General is in Washington D.C. for the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Alliance.


NATO: good for Europe and good for America

Address to the United States Congress by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

  • 03 Apr. 2019

Madam Speaker,
Mr Vice President,
Honourable members of the United States Congress,
Ladies and gentlemen.

I am really truly honoured and grateful for the privilege of addressing you all today.
And to represent the 29 members of the NATO Alliance.
70 years ago, tomorrow, NATO’s founding treaty was signed in this great city.
On that day, President Truman said,
“We hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression;
a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society;
the business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens.”
Our Alliance was created by people who had lived through two devastating world wars.
They knew only too well the horror, the suffering, and the human and material cost of war.
They were determined that this should never happen again.

And they were also determined to stand up to the expansion of the Soviet Union.
Which was taking control of its neighbours.
Crushing democracies.
And oppressing their people.

So, they founded NATO.
With a clear purpose.
To preserve peace and to safeguard freedom.
With an iron-clad commitment by all members of the Alliance to protect each other.
They made a solemn promise.
One for all and all for one.

This commitment has served us well.
Peace has been preserved.
Freedom maintained.

Yes, Allies have been involved in conflicts in different parts of the world.
And Allies have suffered the pain of terrorist attacks.
But no NATO Ally has been attacked by another country.

The Cold War ended without a shot being fired in Europe.
And we have experienced an unprecedented period of peace.

So, the NATO alliance is not only the longest lasting alliance in history.
It is the most successful alliance in history.

Ever since the founding of our Alliance in 1949, every Congress, every American president, your men and women in uniform, and the people of the United States of America, have been staunch supporters of NATO.

America has been the backbone of our Alliance.
It has been fundamental to European security and for our freedom.
We would not have the peaceful and prosperous Europe we see today without the sacrifice and commitment of the United States.

For your enduring support, I thank you all today.

So NATO has been good for Europe.
And NATO has been good for the United States.
The strength of a nation is not only measured by the size of its economy.
Or the number of its soldiers.
But also by the number of its friends.

And through NATO, the United States has more friends and allies than any other power.
This has made the United States stronger, safer, and more secure.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice-President,
It’s good to have friends.

Yesterday as I flew over the Atlantic, I looked out of my window at the ocean below.
The great ocean that lies between our two continents.

The Atlantic does not divide us.
It unites us.
It binds us together.

And for Norwegians like me, the Atlantic Ocean defines who we are.
Indeed, it was a Norseman, Leif Eriksen, who was the first European to reach American shores, almost a thousand years ago.
A fact that more people would know… if he had not left so quickly!
And decided not to tell anyone about it!

For adventurers like Leif Eriksen, the Atlantic Ocean was never a barrier.
Rather, it was a great blue bridge to new lands and new possibilities.
For millions of Europeans, it has been a bridge to freedom, sanctuary, and hope.

My grandparents were among them.
My mother was born in Patterson, New Jersey.
And I lived part of my childhood in San Francisco.

This has given me a deep sense of kinship with this wonderful country.
A kinship that has only grown throughout my life.

I remember well, during the Cold War, when I was a young conscript in the Norwegian army.
Our forces were trained and equipped to hold the line.
And Norway is actually bordering the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
We knew that we could not take on the might of the Soviet Union alone.
But we also knew that we were not alone.

We knew that, if needed, our NATO Allies, led by the United States, would soon be there with us.
We enjoyed a level of security that only our transatlantic Alliance could provide.
So, thanks to NATO, as a young man during the Cold War I felt safe.
And that says something about the strength of our Alliance.

Madam Speaker,
Mr Vice President,
Members of Congress,

At the entrance to the NATO headquarters in Belgium, there are two monuments.
One, a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Designed to keep people in and ideas out.
It failed.

It failed because the ideas and the values of those who built it were less compelling and less powerful than ours.
Because we, as NATO, were resolute.
We stood together and would not back down.

The other monument is a twisted steel beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Centre.
A memorial to the ordinary people going about their business on an ordinary day when the unthinkable happened.
A memorial to the 2,977 people who lost their lives on 9/11.
A reminder of how all NATO Allies stood with the United States in its hour of need.

One monument is a symbol of freedom.
The other a symbol of solidarity.
Both are symbols of NATO.
Who we are and what we stand for.
What so many of our brave men and women have fought and sometimes died for.
But not in vain.
And not alone.

The men and women of our armed forces have served together over the decades.
This includes actually also many of you in this room, in this Congress, and in my delegation.

I pay tribute to you and to all those who serve in the defence of freedom.

There is no higher cause than freedom.
And in these two monuments we see the challenges we have overcome as an Alliance.

We deterred the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Stopped wars and atrocities in the Balkans.
Fought terrorism from Afghanistan to the Middle East.
Welcomed the newly free nations of Central and Eastern Europe into our Alliance – helping to spread democracy, peace and prosperity.

And NATO’s door remains open.
This year the Republic of North Macedonia signed the accession protocol.
And with your support, North Macedonia will soon become the thirtieth member of our Alliance.
So, what started in 1949 with 12 members, has proven a powerful force for peace.
An Alliance that others strive to join.
Showing the historic success of NATO.

But as you know, success in the past is not a guarantee of success in the future.

We have to be frank…
Questions are being asked on both sides of the Atlantic about the strength of our partnership.
And yes, there are differences.

We are an Alliance of many different nations.
With different geography, history and political parties.
Republicans and Democrats.
Conservatives and Labour.
Independents, greens and many more.
This is democracy.

Open discussion and different views are not a sign of weakness.
It is a sign of strength.

So, we should not be surprised when we see differences between our countries.
Today there are disagreements on issues such as trade, energy, climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal.
These are serious issues and serious disagreements.

But we should remember that we’ve had our disagreements before.
The Suez Crisis in 1956.
The French withdrawal from military cooperation in NATO in 1966.
And the Iraq War in 2003,
Which was strongly supported by some Allies.
And equally strongly opposed by others.

The strength of NATO is that despite our differences, we have always been able to unite around our core task.
To defend each other.
Protect each other.
And to keep our people safe.

We have overcome our disagreements in the past.
And we must overcome our differences now.
Because we will need our Alliance even more in the future.

We face unprecedented challenges, challenges no one nation can face alone
The global balance of power is shifting.
The fight against terrorism is a generational fight.
We have only just seen the beginning of the threats in cyber space.
Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and big data could change the nature of conflict more fundamentally than the Industrial Revolution.
And we will need to continue to deal with a more assertive Russia.

In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea.
The first time in Europe that one country had taken part of another by force since World War Two.
We see a pattern of Russian behaviour.
Including a massive military build-up from the Arctic to the Mediterranean and from the Black Sea to the Baltic.
The use of a military-grade nerve agent in the United Kingdom.
Support for Assad’s murderous regime in Syria.
Consistent cyber-attacks on NATO Allies and partners, targeting everything from Parliaments to power grids.
Sophisticated disinformation campaigns.
And attempts to interfere in democracy itself.

NATO has responded with the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in decades.
For the first time, we have combat-ready troops deployed in the east of our Alliance.
We have increased the readiness of our forces.
Tripled the size of the NATO Response Force.
Modernized our command structure.
Bolstered our cyber defences.
And we have stepped up support for our close partners, Georgia and Ukraine, sovereign nations with the sovereign right to choose their own path.

We do all of this not to provoke a conflict.
But to prevent a conflict.
And to preserve the peace.

Not to fight, but to deter.
Not to attack, but to defend.

There is no contradiction between deterrence, defence and dialogue.
We do not want to isolate Russia.
We strive for a better relationship with Russia.
But even without a better relationship, we still need to manage a difficult one.
So, we need to talk.
And we do talk.
To reduce risks, to avoid incidents, accidents and miscalculations.

We also need dialogue in order to work for arms control.
My generation was shaped by the deployment of thousands of nuclear missiles in Europe in the 1980s.
Missiles capable of destroying our cities and killing millions of people in moments.
Thanks to the vision and leadership of President Reagan and Premier Gorbachov, the INF Treaty put an end to all these weapons.

But today, they are back.

Russia has deployed new missiles in Europe.
They are mobile.
Hard to detect.
Nuclear capable.
Cut the warning time to just minutes.
And reduce the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict.

NATO’s position is united and clear…
Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty.
There are no new American missiles in Europe.
But there are new Russian missiles.

I continue to call on Russia to return to compliance with the INF Treaty.
But so far Russia has taken no steps to do so.
And time is running out.

We do not want a new arms race.
We do not want a new Cold War.
But we must not be naive.
An agreement that is only respected by one side will not keep us safe.

So we must also prepare for a world without the INF Treaty.
We will be measured and coordinated.
We will not mirror what Russia is doing.
NATO has no intention of deploying land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.
But NATO will always take the necessary steps to provide credible and effective deterrence.

Madam Speaker,
Mr Vice President,

The fight against terrorism also demands our collective effort.
The attacks on 9/11 made that clear.

NATO’s response to those attacks was swift.
Within 24 hours, and for the first and only time in our history, we invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
The collective defence clause, which states…
“an armed attack against one… shall be considered an attack against them all”.

So, 9/11 was not only an attack against the United States.
But against all NATO Allies.
Within days, NATO aircraft were patrolling American skies.
And in the wake of 9/11, NATO soldiers went to fight side-by-side in Afghanistan.
To prevent that country from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists, who could attack us here at home.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of troops from Europe and Canada have served in Afghanistan.
Over a thousand have paid the ultimate price.
And many more have been seriously wounded.
We honour their service and their sacrifice.

NATO remains in Afghanistan today.
To fight terrorism and to train Afghan forces.
Our goal is not to stay there forever.
We should not stay any longer than is necessary.

We went in together.
We will decide on our future presence together.
And when the time comes, we will leave together.

NATO fully supports the peace process.
It must pave the way for Afghan reconciliation.
There can only be peace, if Afghanistan stays free from international terrorists.
And for peace to be sustainable it must build on our achievements.
NATO has created the conditions for social and economic progress.
Bringing education and human rights to women and girls.
Their rights must be preserved.

NATO is not only fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.
We are also part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
The Coalition has made remarkable progress

Once, ISIS controlled an area roughly the size of Virginia.
And imposed their twisted ideology on millions.
They beheaded people.
Burned people alive.
And traded women as sex slaves.

We should never forget their brutality
And thanks to American leadership and our collective efforts, we have stopped this brutality, and millions of people have been liberated.

But our work is not done.
That is why NATO is stepping up our training of Iraqi forces.
So, they can better defend their country.
And make sure that ISIS can never return.
That is also why NATO supports our partners in the Middle East and North Africa.
Helping them to build-up their intelligence services, border security, cyber security and special-operations forces.

Training local forces and building local capacity are among the best weapons we have in the fight against terrorism.
Prevention is better than intervention.

Madam Speaker,
Mr Vice-President,

Some of you here today will have been directly affected by terrorism.
You may have lost friends and loved ones.
You know the reality of terrorism.
I know it too.

I was Prime Minister of Norway on the 22nd of July 2011.
A date that will live in infamy in the history of my country.
That day a terrorist detonated a bomb outside my office.
Killing eight people and injuring many more.

He then went to the island of Utøya.
Where young people were enjoying a summer camp.
He killed a further 69 people.
Most of them teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them.
It was the darkest day in Norway since the Second World War.
It was the darkest day of my life.

Terrorism comes in many forms.
Some perpetrators misuse religion.
Others misuse political ideology.
They claim to be different from each other, fighting for different causes.
But they are all the same.
They believe in hatred, violence, and killing innocent men, women and children.
They are nothing more than cowards.

Terrorists attack our freedom, our values and our way of life.
Our answer must be more openness and more democracy.
Our values will prevail.
Freedom will prevail over oppression.
Tolerance over intolerance.
And love will always prevail over hate.

I see this in the flowers laid outside the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I see this in the lives led by the young survivors of the attacks in Norway.

And I see this in New York and Washington
Two indomitable cities.
Cities that were not intimidated.
Not defeated.
But which rose stronger than ever from the horror of that September morning.

Madam Speaker,
Mr Vice-President,

NATO is a strong alliance.
But to remain a strong alliance, NATO must be a fair alliance.

In an ideal world, we would not need to spend any money on defence.
But we do not live in an ideal world.

Freedom has enemies, and they need to be deterred.
And if deterrence fails, we need to fight.

Hitler could not have been stopped with peaceful protest.
Stalin could not have been deterred with words.
ISIS could not have been defeated with dialogue.

Future enemies of freedom may choose violence again.
Our desire for a peaceful world is simply not enough.
We must act – and invest – to make it so.

NATO Allies must spend more on defence.
This has been the clear message from President Trump.
And this message is having a real impact.

After years of reducing defence budgets.
All Allies have stopped the cuts.
And all Allies have increased their defence spending.
Before they were cutting billions.
Now they are adding billions.
In just the last two years, European Allies and Canada have spent an additional 41 billion dollars on defence.
By the end of next year, that figure will rise to one hundred billion.
This is making NATO stronger.

That money allows us to invest in the new capabilities our armed forces need.
Including advanced fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, missile defence and surveillance drones.
This is good for Europe, and it is good for America.

America’s NATO Allies provide important capabilities.
Including tens of thousands of intelligence personnel and cyber experts.
Giving the United States better eyes and ears where you need them, from tracking submarines in the Arctic to taking down the cyber network of ISIS.
And Europe provides the US with a platform to project power around the world.

Last year, I was in Fort Worth, Texas.
I saw how industries from many NATO allies are working together to produce next generation strike-fighter aircraft.

NATO has always had a technological edge.
To keep that edge, we must innovate and capitalize on the ingenuity of our industries and our best minds.
On both sides of the Atlantic.
This will continue to provide us with advanced capabilities.
And create jobs in the United States, Canada and Europe.

So our transatlantic bond is not just about security.
It is also about prosperity.
It is not by chance that Article 2 of the Washington Treaty encourages economic collaboration between our nations.

Europe and America have long been, by far, each other’s largest trading partners.

Creating millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Generating more than three billion dollars a day in trade.
Injecting trillions of dollars into our economies.
There is more wealth, greater health, better education and more happiness, thanks to the bond between our two continents.

Madam Speaker,
Mr. Vice-President,

The ultimate expression of burden sharing is that we stand together.
Fight together.
And, sometimes, die together.

I have visited Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to all those American soldiers who have given their lives.
Many of them in defence of Europe.

Two World Wars and the Cold War made it clear how important America is to the security of Europe.
And equally, that peace and stability in Europe is important to the United States.

Our Alliance has not lasted for seventy years out of a sense of nostalgia.
Or of sentiment.
NATO lasts because it is in the national interest of each and every one of our nations.

Together, we represent almost one billion people.
We are half of the world’s economic might.
And half of the world’s military might.

When we stand together, we are stronger than any potential challenger – economically, politically and militarily.

We need this collective strength.
Because we will face new threats.
And we have seen so many times before how difficult it is to predict the future.

We were not able to predict the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The 9/11 attacks.
Or the rise of ISIS.
Or Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

Since we cannot foresee the future, we have to be prepared for the unforeseen.
We need a strategy to deal with uncertainty.
We have one.
That strategy is NATO.

A strong and agile NATO reduces risks.
And enables us to deal with surprises when they happen.
And they will happen.

NATO is the most successful Alliance in history because we have always been able to change as the world changes.
And because, despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to each other.

NATO is an alliance of sovereign nations.
United by democracy, liberty and the rule of law.
By a person’s right to live their life in the pursuit of happiness.
Free from oppression.

Values that lie at the heart of the United States.
And at the heart of NATO.

As President Eisenhower, NATO’s first Supreme Allied Commander, said,
“We are concerned not only with the protection of territory… but with the defence of a way of life.”

Europe and North America are not separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
We are united by it.
And just like the Atlantic, NATO unites our continents.
Our nations.
And our people.
It has done so for 70 years.

And today we must do everything in our power to maintain that unity for future generations.
Because come what may,
We are stronger and safer when we stand together.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President,
It is good to have friends.

Thank you.


NATO at 70: an opportunity to recalibrate


NATO has reached its 70th anniversary in much the same state that has marked virtually every year of its existence. To commentators and pundits on the outside, the Alliance seems to be in constant crisis and each new form of crisis is seen to be finally the terminal one. On the contrary, to those working on the inside, NATO has never seemed in more robust shape: engaged in more places than ever before, churning out initiatives at a faster pace than ever and in ever-longer Summit declarations. Now that the Alliance is firmly back in its most indispensable mission of collective defence, its future would seem to be more secure than in a long time.

The Alliance is refocusing on its core mission of collective defence. Pictured flag bearers representing Albania, Canada, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia and Spain mark the establishment of their new battlegroup in Latvia, on 19 June 2017. It is part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence, which aims to deter a resurgent and aggressive Russia. Photo: Corporal Colin Thompson, Imagery Technician, Joint Task Force – Europe.

This dichotomy will undoubtedly produce a debate that will be reminiscent of the ones that NATO experienced when it marked its 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries. There will be those who play up the factors that divide, while others stress the factors that unite. Some will analyse the global strategic trends and argue that the Atlantic is becoming wider and that the days when Europe could rely on North America for its defence are over. Others will see the deteriorating international security situation and the rise of the illiberal authoritarians as reasons for the transatlantic partners to pull together, as they represent a diminishing slice of world population and economic power. Some will believe that NATO is the victim of history and of the strains pulling on multilateralism and the rules-based international order. Others will see in the Alliance a precious bulwark against these disruptive forces and a guarantee that the liberal democracies can still emerge the winners.

The daily picture of a NATO that is deploying new forces in its eastern member states, holding major exercises, combating cyber threats and terrorism, conducting training and capacity-building missions in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and welcoming new members into its ranks will stand in baffling contrast to a political and academic rhetoric that presents NATO as obsolete and Allies as a drain on resources for little return. In short, the optimists will not see the need for the Alliance’s reform, while the pessimists will not deem it possible. As so often in the past, it will come down to a choice between actions and words, and what most determines NATO’s credibility in the long run. If the glass is equally half full and half empty, then both sides are right and we are no further forward.

Yet to repeat this somewhat sterile discussion on the occasion of NATO’s 70th anniversary would be a lost opportunity – perhaps even a historic mistake. Because to claim that all is well or not well with NATO is to distort reality and to miss the point.

Yes indeed, the Alliance is not faring so badly when we consider the criticisms and doubts affecting so many of the other institutional pillars of the post-war international order. Finding good news stories about NATO is not difficult, and the frustrations of the last two NATO summits belie an impressive record of concrete achievements. Taken together they show just how committed to NATO its 29 members still are – in cash, capabilities and troops as well as speeches.

But without lapsing into facile crisis constructs, we also need to face up to the fact that the Alliance is today operating in the most complicated security environment in its history. It is facing a more diverse spectrum of threats than ever before. Certainly, these may not be as existential as the threat of nuclear holocaust during the Cold War but they are nonetheless severe and, if not mastered, could end the liberal democratic societies and individual freedoms that the citizens of NATO countries today take for granted.

The 21st century is the century of turbulence with great power competition; rising military spending and readiness to threaten or use force; rapid and far-reaching technological innovation, which is putting greater disruptive and destructive capability into the hands of more bad actors; and hybrid campaigns to divide and destabilise western societies, and gain leverage over their political and economic systems. More than before, the Allies are being challenged from within and without their borders and from multiple directions at the same time. Death by a thousand cuts may not sound as bad as sudden death but the result is still the same.

Challenges on all fronts

For most of the past decades, NATO had the relative luxury of dealing with one challenge in one place at any given time. It marked its 40th anniversary focused entirely on the changes affecting the Soviet Union; its 50th anniversary was in the midst of the Kosovo air campaign; and its 60th anniversary was dominated by discussions over troop surges in Afghanistan. But this time it is different. NATO is reaching 70 when it has to tackle not one but three strategic fronts, not only diverse geographically but also in terms of the type of threats they pose and the responses they require.

In the East, a resurgent and aggressive Russia has made NATO’s eastern Allies nervous and requires the Alliance, after a nearly 30-year gap, to be able to deter, defend against and defeat a peer adversary with modernised forces, abundant war-fighting experience and high-tech weaponry.

NATO is building the capacity of partners in its southern neighbourhood to tackle security challenges. Pictured US Admiral James Foggo, Commander of Joint Force Command Naples, talks with students at Iraq’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal School in Besmaya – 7 February 2018.
© NATO JFC Naples
Learn more about NATO in Iraq

In the South, fragile states are vulnerable to extremism, militias and criminal gangs, which pose a range of security headaches ranging from terrorist attacks to humanitarian crises and uncontrolled migration. These require local knowledge, development and long-term capacity-building partnerships with multiple actors.

On the home front, we see the polarisation of many western societies as they struggle to control the dependencies created by globalisation. Moreover, all-embracing technologies have given malicious actors a new hybrid toolkit to either wreak havoc or to assert influence.

These challenges affect Allies in different combinations and come from different sources. But all Allies expect NATO to be equally attentive to their individual concerns and to provide answers. What is unique, therefore, about the situation NATO finds itself in today is that it risks becoming unmanageable. One danger is strategic overload. Another is that poorly managed crises on the home front or a failure to establish deterrence against provocations such as cyber or chemical attacks, which fall below the threshold for Article 5 (NATO’s collective defence clause), could embolden adversaries to make territorial demands as well. Equally, allowing those adversaries to quash human rights and to sow corruption and poor governance in the South – all in the name of re-establishing “order” – could encourage them to try the same tactics in the Alliance’s eastern neighbourhood.

So, for the first time in its seven decades, NATO has to deter and defend against the enemy within as well as without. As we saw after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, from now on, Article 5 could well apply more to threats against transport, power infrastructure, space communications, pipelines, IT networks and civilians sitting on park benches than to tanks crossing borders. Solidarity will no longer be a rare requirement waiting for a military attack that is potentially catastrophic but extremely unlikely. Rather, it will be an almost daily necessity in response to provocations that are not existential but which civilised societies cannot allow to go unchallenged.

This is fundamentally new and the most pressing issue that Allied leaders need to debate, if they wish NATO to have a future at least as long as its past. Instead of preparing for one kind of attack, how does the Alliance make its member states (and some key partner countries too) fully resilient and able to respond effectively to the 21st century’s pattern of hyper-interference and ubiquitous competition?

In 2014, Allies made cyber defence a core part of collective defence, declaring that a cyber attack could lead to the invocation of the collective defence clause (Article 5) of NATO’s founding treaty. Photo courtesy wilsoncenter.org

This is not to imply that the topics which dominate NATO’s current political agenda are not important. Burden-sharing is at the centre of US President Donald Trump’s view of the utility of the Alliance to the United States and any future US Administration, whether Republican or Democrat, is likely to insist on it too. The speech given by Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates in Brussels in 2011 came from a Democrat Administration and – in its sharpness and sense of urgency about European capability gaps –prefigured the Republican Trump half a decade before the latter entered the White House.

The United States’ share of the burden of collective defence or, more recently, non-Article 5 operations beyond NATO’s territory has always been disproportionate and unfair. Prolonged European dependence on the United States was one major reason why some US Senators wanted to limit the lifespan of the NATO Treaty to just ten years, when it came up for ratification in 1949. The Europeans have constantly promised to rectify the discrepancy through a host of burden-sharing and offset initiatives, and failed to do so. As Europe became richer and aspired to be treated as an equal actor on the global scene, its inability or unwillingness to provide for its own defence became ever more incomprehensible.

So, rather than resent the current return of the burden-sharing debate, Europeans should perhaps congratulate themselves on their good fortune that Canada and the United States have been willing to underwrite Europe’s defence in peacetime for longer than any of NATO’s founding fathers would have thought possible – or desirable. Simply put, Europeans need to increase their defence budgets to two per cent of GDP; not because the United States demands this as a precondition for sustaining NATO but because Europeans are living in an increasingly rough neighbourhood with multiple threats. In these circumstances, two per cent will give Europeans the capabilities required so that they do not need to make hard choices between deterring Russia or fighting extremists in the Sahel; or fielding high readiness divisions over developing more robust cyber defences and researching the emerging technology areas of artificial intelligence, robotics and hypersonic rockets.

Now that the Defence Investment Pledge, agreed at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, has halted the decline in defence spending and led to real increases, the Allies clearly have to maintain this effort. But they also need to develop a narrative that explains the link between money, capability and security. Headline figures can seem somewhat arbitrary. An extra 100 billion dollars by 2020 is a lot of money but NATO also needs to show the public what this means in terms of actual improvements in equipment, readiness and training, and focus more on the national success stories.

The Defence Investment Pledge, agreed in 2014, has halted the decline in defence spending and led to real increases. In 2018, seven Allies reached the two per cent defence spending guideline, up from three in 2014. © NATO
See defence expenditures of NATO countries 2011-2018

Capabilities that address threats such as cyber, military interference with vital space assets, terrorism, border security, data manipulation, the protection of critical infrastructure and crucial supply chains, and humanitarian crises engendered by extreme weather events may resonate more with the public than traditional hard military items such as tanks and artillery. This argues for NATO’s defence planners to take a broad view of capability requirements. The two per cent should be a target for the European Union as well as for NATO. Because if the United States were one day to turn its back on NATO or limit its engagement only to territorial collective defence vis-à-vis Russia, two per cent would be the minimum for European Strategic Autonomy to have any meaning. Consequently the Defence Investment Pledge needs to move progressively from an effort largely driven by the United States to one that Europeans demand of each other.

This said, the function of NATO is not primarily to be about fairness. Equal benefits for equal contributions. Outputs – the benefits gained from being an Ally – will always be more significant than inputs. What counts is that individual inputs maximise collective impact. The diversity of Allies (big and small, with different assets and networks of influence) means that they will always contribute in different ways.

The role of NATO must be to incentivise activity and find ways to combine different contributions for maximum strategic effect. This is more effective than formulating standardised contributions, which could make NATO too strong in certain domains and too weak in others. As NATO tackles 21st century challenges, a broad and diverse spectrum of different assets, skills, knowledge and capabilities will arguably be the Alliance’s comparative advantage over its adversaries. Russia with its largely military power and strategy based on intimidation is a case in point. But it will not be enough to acquire diverse assets –NATO’s challenge is to learn how to use them.

It is in this connection that I see four areas where the Alliance needs to raise its game.

Scanning the risk horizon

The first is the need for more discussion among Allies on the trends and events shaping the future of security.

China, for instance, will have a massively greater impact on international relations in the 21st century than Russia – and in very different ways. It is already pulling ahead in the defining technologies of artificial intelligence and bioengineering as well as in 5G connectivity, which will drive the Internet of Things. It is increasing its investments in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and sending more of its troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Already, as Allies discuss the wisdom of allowing Huawei into their future IT networks, they see that China could divide them while Russia generally tends to unite them.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller participates in the Xiangshan Forum, during a session on Artificial Intelligence and the Conduct of Warfare, in Beijing, China – 25 October 2018. © NATO

As the Chinese model will be the main competitor to liberal democracy, a key question will be how the Allies handle the rise of China. It is not a question of seeing China as the next military threat but how best to understand it and engage it. Perhaps the time has come to create a NATO-China Council or at least a regular strategic dialogue. Past cooperation on countering piracy together in the Gulf of Aden or helping the United Nations and African Union with capacity building show the potential of NATO-China relations. For a starter, NATO should appoint a senior diplomat or official to focus on China and develop the network of contacts with the People’s Liberation Army and the civilian leadership.

Apart from China, other key issues need to be on the Alliance’s agenda more systematically. For instance, while NATO is developing a space policy, the Alliance still has not declared space as a domain or looked seriously at its growing dependency on space assets for navigation, timing, tracking and targeting. Yet 58 nations have now put satellites in orbit and most space-enabled services, which NATO is dependent upon, are dual use (civil/commercial and military). The growth of missile defence, hypersonic missiles, drones and data processing, not to mention early warning capabilities and cyber security, will make space ever more contested. Satellites will be more vulnerable to manipulation, disruption and destruction, and the outcome of conflict will increasingly depend on who makes best use of space. This is the reason why the United States has recently stood up a Space Force and is planning for a Space Command.

Other issues deserving more attention are Russia’s role and influence beyond Europe, especially in Africa and the Middle East, and the emerging role of actors such as India, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But it is not only traditional states with traditional capabilities that are transforming the nature of security. Equally important questions to address include: How will the decisions of big tech companies shape and control the future of the Internet and social interaction? How will ISIS/Daesh regroup and define a new business model post-Caliphate? Or how is organised crime undermining governance and fuelling corruption?

NATO cannot rely on infrequent ministerial meetings or occasional briefings from national diplomats passing through Brussels. A recent crisis like that between India and Pakistan in Kashmir shows just how quickly events can spin out of control and have global security implications. NATO needs to think how it can better align its situational awareness and consultation machinery with the fast-moving and unpredictable security environment. It cannot be perceived as an organisation dealing narrowly with a limited set of issues and only in its immediate neighbourhood.

Deterring hybrid threats

The second area where the Alliance needs to raise its game is deterrence against threats below the Article 5 threshold. Hybrid warfare is complex because the dividing line between legal and illegal activity is a fine one. Where do normal business transactions become hostile state interference? How can we prevent adversaries from using against us the technology we ourselves have invented? Some commentators have declared that deterrence cannot work against hybrid threats because they are multifaceted and simply exacerbate the polarisation and divisions that are already so prevalent in our societies.

Certainly, there is no easy and immediate fix to deterrence in the hybrid domain, such as the acquisition of a nuclear weapon to neutralise an opponent’s nuclear capability. Indeed, deterrence by denial or depriving the adversary of the fruits of aggression through resilience and speedy recovery is the starting point. Yet the response to the Russia-sponsored chemical attacks in Salisbury one year ago showed the range of other measures that can be taken. The perpetrators were named and shamed through the disclosure of intelligence material; there was a coordinated expulsion of a large number of Russian diplomats; NATO and the European Union pulled together and both organisations initiated a review of their preparedness and response assets against chemical and biological attacks.

The attack on ex-spy Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, the United Kingdom, on 4 March 2018, was the first offensive use of a nerve agent on Alliance territory since NATO’s foundation. The Allies were united in expressing deep concern about this clear breach of international norms and agreements. © Reuters

In sum, deterrence can be gradually built up against hybrid campaigns by credible attribution of the source; naming and shaming; proportionate responses that do not escalate but show that hybrid attacks will be consistently answered and in a collective and united way. It is also essential to identify and plug vulnerabilities in NATO’s spectrum of critical infrastructure in both the physical and virtual domains. These responses will contain an element of trial and error, as the Alliance sees what works best in inducing an adversary to think again. They will also necessitate the development of a playbook of measures – both existing and new – and learning how to apply them in targeted ways, whether against states or the proxies they employ.

Crucially, NATO will need to develop a culture of permanent responsiveness, reliable intelligence and the ability to take lots of small decisions regularly and early, rather than big decisions rarely and late. But to the extent that NATO can operate more effectively at the sub-Article 5 level, it is less likely to have to face contingencies above that threshold in the future.

Rebuilding partnerships

The third area that the Alliance needs to pay more attention to is partnerships. One of NATO’s biggest success stories, since the end of the Cold War, has been to induce around 40 other countries to form structured partnerships with it. These have been based on mutual benefit. Partners have contributed troops to NATO-led operations, while having access to a multinational forum to exchange views and develop practical cooperation on shared security concerns. Partnering with Allies has made their own role in international security more substantive. Interoperability has been as much intellectual as military and practical. Partners have been attracted to the Atlantic Alliance as a community of democracies, while strengthening NATO’s legitimacy in the United Nations and the wider world. In short, a win-win outcome. But this is now in danger of being lost as the Alliance’s priorities shift and the focus swings back to collective defence.

Bright hopes were once invested in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Now, consultation is ad hoc and other partnership frameworks, such as the Mediterranean Dialogue or the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, need re-energising and a greater sense of purpose. Beyond a limited number of individual partnerships, such as with Sweden and Finland, NATO has not articulated an overall vision for partnership. Yet, in a world where multilateralism is under threat, this network is a precious asset and needs to be revived before it atrophies.

At its height, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (2003-2014) was more than 130,000 strong with troops from 50 NATO and partner nations. Partner support continues for the follow-on Resolute Support Mission. © NATO

One answer is to take up the debate on norms where partnership was acquiring a reasonable track record, for instance, in finding common ground on advancing the women, peace and security agenda, the role of private security companies, and the protection of civilians and combatting trafficking. The current security environment badly needs new norms on challenges like cyber, autonomous weapons systems, social media and GPS interference and space satellites, to name but a few. NATO is not necessarily the place where norms should be formally negotiated but it can be a useful forum for separating the good ideas from the bad, building consensus and convening the players, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector, around the same table.

At a time when so much of NATO’s image is bound up with ever higher defence budgets and more high-end military capabilities, rebuilding partnerships can help reassure our publics that the Alliance has a political and not exclusively military approach to security.

Encouraging European defence

Finally, the Alliance needs to get to grips with the issue of European defence. From the very beginning of NATO, a fault line has run through the Alliance as to whether it should encourage or discourage a specifically European (and now EU) defence identity.

In the early 1950s, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened the Europeans with “an agonising reappraisal” if they did not create more European (and especially German) divisions. The result was the European Defence Community (EDC), which failed in the French National Assembly in August 1954.

Over 60 years later, the debate on whether there should be a European Army or a European Strategic Autonomy continues unabated. Some want the greater European capabilities without the separate institutions; others, the institutions without worrying too much about the extra capabilities. At one moment, the case is made that a European defence construct is needed as a hedge against US disengagement. At another moment, it is seen as a way to strengthen the Alliance and the transatlantic partnership by overcoming the fragmentation of European defence budgets and procurement programmes, and producing more bang for the euro through more cooperative programmes.

For many decades, this effort has been stymied by the inconsistent attitude of the United States (do we support it and, if so, under what conditions?) and divisions among the Europeans themselves (can we develop a common culture when it comes to the use of force and how can this effort serve all of us, rather than the individual agendas of one or two key EU member states?).

But today we are at a critical juncture. The European Union has launched a series of initiatives that are the most far-reaching since the demise of the EDC and which put structures and resources behind the aspirations. We have Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) with 34 multinational projects; a European Defence Fund with an initial capitalisation of 13.5 billion euros; and a European Intervention Initiative to foster a common strategic culture on power projection and mission planning. French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a European Security Council and the consolidation of the European Union’s defence and technology industrial base. Yet, we also have Brexit and the challenge of keeping the United Kingdom as a key Ally firmly embedded in European defence across the whole spectrum, from intelligence and police cooperation to combat brigades.

Attending the EU Defence Ministers meeting in Romania on 30 January 2019, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declares “For NATO it’s a good thing that Europe, the European Union do more together when it comes to defence, because we believe that can develop new capabilities, increase defence spending and also address the fragmentation of the European defence industry.” © NATO

Consequently, the task for NATO is how to encourage but help steer these European initiatives. Of course, unnecessary duplication should be avoided. But the priority must be to relieve the pressure on the United States by enabling the Europeans to take on collective defence missions at the high end within the NATO framework; better support stabilisation in Africa and the Middle East; define the scope of EU solidarity in responding to events like cyber and terrorist attacks or natural disasters (articles 42.7 and 222 of the Lisbon Treaty); and spend defence euros to greater effect through the integration of effort and more investments in cutting-edge technology.

Essentially, NATO will need to hammer out a new transatlantic bargain: one in which the United States accepts the reality of EU defence integration and ceases to see it as a competitor or threat to NATO; and one in which the EU countries deliver on their capability promises and pursue their efforts in a way that strengthens NATO’s overall capacity to address the challenges to the East and South as well as hybrid threats. For this, the European Union will need to be generous towards the non-EU Allies on the basis of close association in return for significant contributions to these efforts. EU defence aspirations will not go away but neither will NATO. It is the task of this generation of political leaders to finally bring them together.

The 70th anniversary of the Alliance will produce plenty of pieces on NATO’s past achievements and many messages of esteem and commitment. That is all to the good. Yet, the anniversary is also the opportunity for some political recalibration that can make the Alliance successful for the next seven decades. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.

Dr Jamie Shea was a member of the NATO International Staff for 38 years. He is currently the Professor of Strategy and Security at the University of Exeter and a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe.

What is published in NATO Review does not necessarily represent the official position or policy of member governments, or of NATO.

Dr Jamie Shea was a member of the NATO International Staff for 38 years. He is currently the Professor of Strategy and Security at the University of Exeter and a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe.


The blasts also caused an electrical blackout in Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city.


Benjamin Netanyahu and Oman’s Yusuf bin Alawi (screenshot)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Oman's Yusuf bin Alawi. (screenshot)
 Apr 7, 2019
It appears the people of the Gulf have adopted a new stance toward Israel

By: Edy Cohen, JNS

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash was quoted by the English-language Abu Dhabi newspaper The National last week as saying, “Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision looking back.” He predicted increased contacts between Israel and Arab states, as well as a “strategic shift” in ties he said should focus on “progress on the peace front” between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is no doubt that Gargash’s remarks were made with the encouragement and guidance of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. In Arab states, it is not customary to make statements in support of Israel without the knowledge and approval of those in command.

This is not the first time senior Arab Gulf state officials have expressed support for Israel. Bahrain’s foreign minister has been known to take to Twitter to issue pro-Israel and anti-Iran statements. Last fall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given the royal treatment when he visited Oman together with the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen.

In recent months, dozens of Israeli athletes have competed in sporting events in Qatar and Abu Dhabi, and Israel’s national anthem was played numerous times in Doha, the Qatari capital. Likud party members and government ministers Yisrael Katz, Ayoub Kara, and Miri Regev have also visited the Gulf.

What has changed in the Gulf? How has support for the Palestinians been replaced by support for Israel? It appears that the people of the Gulf have adopted a new stance, having opened their eyes to the illusion of opposition to and war against Israel.

They understood that their support for the Palestinians is detrimental to them, including from a financial perspective. The fact that the Palestinians have grown closer to Iran has sparked ire in many Gulf states, which see the ayatollah regime as an enemy and the Palestinians’ increasingly closer ties with Tehran as a betrayal.

No matter the reason, Israel’s warming ties with the Gulf are a significant achievement that can be attributed to Netanyahu. The Gulf Arab states are interested in being part of the Western world – not necessarily out of a love of Zion, but because they understand that the path to warmer ties with the West and the United States runs through Israel.

In the Gulf, they recall how America liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in the early 1990s, and they are interested in maintaining these ties. It is not for nothing that there are over 10 American and British military bases operating in six Gulf states: Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE.

 A majority of Gulf leaders decided to align with U.S President Donald Trump’s policy on Iran, as well as on his stance on the Palestinian issue, albeit not publicly. Ties with Israel are aimed at deterring the Iranians and providing a means of entry to the United States. As is the case with other Arab states, genuine peace is not the object of the Gulf states’ aspirations, but rather the outcome of interests, as well as the need to maintain security and stability and maintain U.S. aid.

The Arab street is interested in nothing more than an “agreement” and certainly not warm relations. Only those unfamiliar with the mentality of the region could be surprised when a Jordanian parliamentarian speaks out against Israel or when Egypt votes against Israel at the United Nations.

Gargash’s pro-Israel remark, then, constitutes a challenge to Israeli diplomacy. Is this a change for the better? Will the relationship float freely to the surface? One must hope that this is the beginning of a new era in relations with Gulf states, one of open ties.

Dr. Edy Cohen is a researcher at the BESA Center and author of the book “The Holocaust in the Eyes of Mahmoud Abbas” (Hebrew).