The purpose of the paper is to look into the concepts of deterrence and confidence- and security building measures (CSBMs) and how they can be used to promote security in Northeast Asia bearing in mind the European experience. Relevance of OSCE experience for others
In Astana, the OSCE has adopted a vision of a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, rooted in agreed principles, shared commitments and common goals. This is an ambitious vision that can be realized only through joint efforts of all the participating states. At the same time security challenges in adjacent to OSCE regions would also somehow affect the drive for the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community. Therefore sharing CSCE/OSCE experience and lessons learned, especially in promoting mutual trust and greater transparency, could be useful for these adjacent regions. One of such regions is Northeast Asia.
Concept of nuclear deterrence
A serious proposal to establish a regional security structure usually comes across the concept of deterrence. Nuclear deterrence is a concept and military doctrine based on the notion that an enemy can be deterred from using nuclear weapons as long as it can be destroyed as a consequence. It has been accepted by all nuclear-weapon states, though not all admit to it. The concept and its practical application are meant not only to deter possible adversaries from attacking, but also to reassure the beneficiaries of nuclear deterrence that they need not have nuclear weapons. This is the second side of the coin which should not be overlooked. Unlike nuclear deterrence, the CSBM concept is based on the premise of reducing the probability of misunderstanding and use of force by promoting and taking concrete steps aimed at increasing mutual trust and greater transparency among the states concerned.
These two seemingly mutually excluding concepts have found reflection in the concepts and practice of European security, including in the post cold-war Europe. The OSCE is an active promoter of CSBM measures, while the concept of extended deterrence still forms part of NATO’s security doctrine. In Europe pragmatically these two concepts co-exist. Can they coexist in Northeast Asia?
Deterrence and OSCE
The relevance and strength of OSCE is in the fact that it has a broad approach to security and that it is an inclusive forum of states with shared principles, commitments and responsibilities. However, due to NATO membership of some of its participating states, 28 of them share the alliance’s military doctrine and follow its policy. Hence there is not much role for OSCE in addressing the practical issues of reducing dependence on nuclear deterrence in Europe. However, it can prove to be helpful in promoting CSBMs in the region.
The Northeast Asian Region
Extended deterrence and “nuclear umbrella” form the basis of security and defense policies of Japan and South Korea, which are nuclear-capable states. The DPRK has announced its nuclear deterrence policy and tries to rationalize it. Weaponization of DPRK’s nuclear weapon components would have a domino effect and could start a regional nuclear arms race that can have broader security implications. Since states of the region and the U.S. do not want to accept DPRK as a nuclear-weapon state, serious consideration should be given to the idea of establishing a NEA-NWFZ. Hence there is the need to denuclearize the Korean peninsula if a NEA-NWFZ is to be established.
a) The Six Party Talks
Today the Six Party Talks is the only government level forum that tries to address the hard security issue of the region, namely the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program. This forum of the major powers of the region and the DPRK has produced some agreements and commitments. However they are not being followed-up by subsequent measures, action for action, or otherwise.
b) Beyond the current talks
Besides government driven Six Party Talks, some semi-official (1.5 tracks) fore are being held lately to address the broader Northeast Asian security and development issues that include, naturally, the DPRK’s nuclear weapon program.
One of such tracks is the workshop entitled “A New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock” held last month Washington D.C. that addressed broader issues, including regional framework for comprehensive security and within that framework to establish a NEA-NWFZ. This might be the search for the third approach to the issue, after the Four Party and Six Party talks.
Nuclear deterrence in Northeast Asia
One of the major issues that need to be taken up when considering Northeast Asian security and the possibility of establishing a NEA-NWFZ is the issue of deterrence. It is an antipode to trust and confidence and runs counter to the concept of NWFZs. Many questions need to be closely examined and duly addressed if a regional NWFZ is to be considered seriously.
So far the concepts of extended deterrence and establishing a NWFZ in Northeast Asia have been discussed separately; government authorities make reference to nuclear deterrence and nuclear umbrella, while in the academia and NGOs – to the need to establish a NWFZ. Only recently attempts are being made to bring together these two opposing views and see if they could pragmatically form the basis of security in the region.
In Europe where NATO retains US nuclear weapons on territories of 5 member states and is working on possible alternative forms of sharing (‘smart sharing’) and basing, the question of establishing a NWFZ is practically ruled out, unless the Organization changes its strategy and rules. On the other hand, Japan and the Republic of Korea do not have nuclear weapons on their territories, and therefore politically it is possible to work for establishing a NWFZ there. The threat of chemical or biological weapons in the region is minimal. Therefore, it would be possible for the US, which, together with the two allies, has credible superiority in conventional weapons, to look into the possibility of adopting the “sole purpose” nuclear deterrence policy and turning the extended nuclear deterrence into an extended conventional deterrence with respect to the area of the proposed NEA-NWFZ. At least theoretically it is possible.
However, it should be borne in mind that just like in Europe; nuclear deterrence is intrinsically connected with correlations of military forces in the region, including conventional forces. As long as there will be a perceived enormous dis-balance in conventional forces it would be difficult for a possessor of nuclear weapons to agree to the total abolition of nuclear weapons. So it will be a vicious circle, unless proper CSBMs help reduce mutual political suspicion and increase trust and promote transparency and cooperation in military areas. OSCE’s acquits
One of the undisputed acquits of OSCE is it’s very well developed CSBMs. The 1990 Vienna document on CSBMs (up-dated in 2011) and reports on its implementation help to some extent to put in the regional context and address, if not negotiate, the region’s conventional arms issues.
There is an enormous need in Northeast Asia for CSBMs. The division of the Korean peninsula and high concentration of conventional weapons there, especially along the DMZ, rise of nationalism and rivalry in the region, flaring up of island disputes, lack of trust and of a multilateral security mechanism demand from the states of the region to take CSBM measures, starting from simple measures. The catalogue of initial CBM and CSBM measures applied during the CSCE process could be valuable, though corresponding adjustments would need to be made. In short, denuclearization of the Korean peninsula can be achieved by a broader approach to regional security by promoting CSBMs and addressing the legitimate security issues of the states of the region. Beyond the Korean peninsula, the CSBMs, together with expanded trade and economic ties, can lead to greater trust that would allow to gradually turning nuclear deterrence into a conventional deterrence in the zone of application of the proposed NEA-NWFZ. That is possible since, as already mentioned, there are no nuclear weapons placed in Japan or in the Republic of Korea. Only that way the necessary conditions for establishing a NEA-NWFZ may be created which, in its turn, would represent a major CSBM in Northeast Asia and well beyond it. Such a development involving at least one or two OSCE participating states and one partner state, in its turn, can only positively contribute to OSCE’s vision of a Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
To sum up:
– There needs to be a broader approach to NEA security and cooperation (and not only focusing on nuclear issue (s) or DPRK)
– If DPRK is not to be recognized as a nuclear-weapon state, one has to focus on establishment of NEA-NWFZ (security assurances not only for DPRK but also to Japan and Republic of Korea)
– Deterrence: narrowing down of nuclear deterrence in NEA to “sole purpose” use (more trust and confidence)
– Deterrence: changing nuclear deterrence to conventional deterrence in the ZoA of the proposed NEA-NWFZ
– Pursuing parallel processes of promoting broader approach to security and working on the idea of NAE-NWFZ.