2018 Annual Arms Control Conference and Experts Forum

Shifting Global Dynamics: Implications for Arms Control and Stability
From the 2nd to 3rd July, 2018 the INSS Arms Control and Regional Security Program (INSS) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) invited more than 25 high-level experts in the field of arms, arms control, disarmament and international security matters to Israel. These government and political decision makers, international academics, and technical experts from Russia, USA, France, England, Israel and Germany at the INSS institute in Tel Aviv, Israel cam to discuss the impact of the shifting global dynamics on Arms Control and stability for the international community.

On Monday afternoon Dr. Emily Landau, Head of Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies welcomed the guests and introduced the structure of the following two days. Dr. Landau touched upon the recent events in connection with Arms Control and stability for the international community. She highlighted the charged Trans-Atlantic Relations, the UN-Resolution of 122 Nations – “Ban the Bomb” – such as the US-withdrawal from the JCPOA and its unknown future implications. After Dr. Landau finished her introduction, Dr. Alexander Brakel, Head of Israel Office at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung continued with the opening remarks. He stressed the particular importance of the relationship between KAS and INSS based on the great payback his institution gains through the know-how of INSS in security matters and thanked those involved in the organisation of the conference.

The first and closed panel, which dealt with the implications of Trumps exit from the JCPOA was moderated by the Senior Research Fellow at the INSS Ms. Sima Shine. She asked the discussants about the agreements reasons of failure and the future perspectives for those involved.

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya’alon, Senior Research Fellow at the INSS and former Minister of Defence of Israel was convinced that the withdrawal was lawful due to evidence of Iranian violations of the deal. Dr. Emily Landau, highlighted by contrast that the flaws of the agreement could have been solved without renegotiations but by utilizing the mechanisms of the treaty in a sufficient way. Nevertheless, she stressed the imperfection of the JCPOA, specially the lack of transparency of the reports and the failure to use its mechanisms of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). The latter was in charge of monitoring and verifying Iran’s compliance with the agreement.

Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the INSS and former US Ambassador to Israel concurred with the point that it would have been possible to strengthen the deal in order to solve its problems. Even though Shapiro admitted that the “Iran deal” isn’t perfect, the aim of the JCPOA was a saving of time – which it reached according to Shapiro. Moreover, he claimed that Iran would have probably possessed nuclear weapons by now without the agreement.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, Executive Director at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) requested the participants to take the differing public responses into account. He claimed that while the deal was looked at as a horror scenario in Israel, it was celebrated like the Nobel Peace Prize in Europe. On his point of view the reaction in Israel was caused by the fact that Israel faces existential threats by the Iran. He stressed that the Israeli public expects Iran to break out rather sooner then later. In order to achieve international peace in the long run it cannot be the right methodical approach to buy time, according to Yadlin. According to the concurrent opinion among Yadlin, Ya’alon and Shapiro the possibility of military force against Iran by Israel shouldn’t be underestimated.

Regarding future implications , Ms. Andrea Stricker, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington DC, forecasts that Iran is going to stay in the JCPOA due to the impending sanctions of the EU. Shapiro and Mr. Behnam Ben Taleblu, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) in Washington DC, agreed with her.

After the end of the first panel Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) delivered one of the keynote speeches. She condemned the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria and pointed out that the novel Secretary-Generals five point proposal on nuclear disarmament isn’t based on utopic ideas but promotes a clear idea which role disarmament can play as a tool in terms of national security. Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies and Distinguished Fellow in Washington DC ended the first day on the conference with another keynote speech on Irans conventional build-up in Syria and WMD Non-proliferation in the Middle East.

The first two panels on the second day whose subjects matter consisted the issue of prioritizing Arms Control challenges; US-Russia-China, New Proliferators and Global Disarmament was moderated by Dr. Ephraim Asculai, Senior Research Fellow at INSS. Even though the established tools of arms control like the NPT aren’t flawless, the majority of the panel participants agreed on the necessity of maintaining open channels of communication among the stakeholders. Regarding the currently very poor US-Russia relations, all eyes were set on the upcoming meeting of US-President Donald Trump and Russia’s head of state Wladimir Putin on the 16th of July in Helsinki, Finland.

The third Panel was hosted by Ambassador Shimon Stein, Senior Research Fellow at the INSS, and dealt with the European Perspectives among Diplomats, former and current Ambassadors of France, UK, Israel and Germany were invited to speak. Instead of going back to isolation or nationalism Ambassador Helene Le Gal, French Ambassador to Israel, wanted to re-emphasize the focus on the international tools and mechanisms already existing. That’s why France wants to stay in the JCPOA and therefore tries to keep Iran in the agreement. Ambassador Dr. Clemens von Goetze, German Ambassador to Israel, expressed concern regarding recent developments. As the international community reflects on the last 50 years of NPT, the JCPOA is still needed. UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey agreed. While he acknowledged that Israeli public opinion evaluates Europe’s way of dealing with nuclear threats as naïve, he considers negotiating as the best way of solving multilateral issues. Le Gal and Dr. von Goetze consented.

The last Panel for invited guests took place in the afternoon of the second day and was hosted by Dr. Brakel. The subject of the discussion was the capability of cooperation among the Leading Powers in order to contain nuclear threats. Dr. Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) expressed her conviction of the prospects for cooperation within the international community. That’s why she wants to focus on the NPT Review Conference in 2020. In order to find a consensus among the involved states furthermore she supports taking a look at a more exclusive framework. Even though Dr. Ariel (Eli) Levite, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace, stressed that the US-Government is critical towards every form of multilateralism he and Mr. Frank Rose from the Brookings Institution agreed with Dr. Dwan.

The two ending panels were a special open seminar focusing on the developments regarding the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea. In particular, discussions addressed the implications of Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA, and the prospects for denuclearization of North Korea following the June 12 summit in Singapore. The open event included the pariticipation of members of Israeli security establishement, policymakers, leading academics and journalists, and INSS researchers.Among the participants: Dr. Emily Landau, Prof. Meir Litvak, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon, Amb. Daniel B. Shapiro, Mr. Owen Alterman (i21News) and Ms. Noa Landau (Haaretz).

Written by: Nadja Rünzel

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