Worsening relations between nuclear-armed states, such as Russia and the US or India and Pakistan, but also Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons or to deploy them to more territories in Europe, are making the EU’s security environment ever more tense, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They call on these states to reduce nuclear weapons, move them away from deployment into storage and to diminish their role in military doctrines.
MEPs are deeply concerned about the deteriorating security environment around the EU and beyond its neighbourhood, which is challenged by worsening relations between nuclear-armed states such as Russia and the US or India and Pakistan, and the recent further leap in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
They note that “as of January 2016 nine states - US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) - possessed a total of approximately 15,395 nuclear weapons”.
MEPs are concerned about “nuclear threats arising from the Russian attitude [ ... ], its statements indicating an increased readiness to use nuclear weapons, and [...] consideration of the potential deployment of nuclear weapons to additional territories in Europe.”
They cite the worrying examples of Russian military exercises simulating the use of these weapons against Poland, high-ranking Russian officials’ claims that Russia has the right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea and the deployment of the nuclear-capable Iskander missile system to the Kaliningrad region, neighbouring Lithuania and Poland.
The resolution also condemns the latest nuclear test conducted by North Korea on 9 September, which violates its international obligations. MEPs urge North Korea “to refrain from further provocative actions by abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.”
Reduce nuclear weapons
MEPs stress the need to reinforce non-proliferation, disarmament and cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They call on nuclear-armed states to reduce all types of nuclear weapons, diminish their role in military doctrines, reduce their operational status and move them away from deployment into storage. MEPs also welcome the suggestion to convene a UN conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.
The resolution on nuclear security and non-proliferation was passed by 415 votes to 124, with 74 abstentions.