Subscribe to our weekly newsletters for free

Subscribe to an email

If you want to subscribe to World & New World Newsletter, please enter
your e-mail

Defense & Security
The missiles are aimed at the sky at sunset. Nuclear bomb, chemical weapons, missile defense, a system of salvo fire

The Role Of Umbrella States In The Global Nuclear Order

by Dr Tytti Erästö

I. Introduction  This paper focuses on countries having extended nuclear deterrence arrangements with a nuclear-armed patron from whom they have received a nuclear security guarantee. Extended nuclear deterrence is often called a ‘nuclear umbrella’—a metaphor that hardly captures the risks inherent in nuclear deterrence practices—and the non-nuclear weapon states belonging to an alliance with such arrangements are commonly referred to as ‘umbrella’ states. As of 4 April 2023, upon the accession of Finland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 31 countries were relying on the extended nuclear deterrence provided by the United States or, at the least, were accepting nuclear weapons as part of the mix of military capabilities intended to create a collective deterrent effect. In the absence of a ‘no first use’ policy, this means that the USA could use nuclear weapons to respond not only to a nuclear attack but also to an act of conventional aggression against its non-nuclear-armed allies. The USA is not the only country providing nuclear security guarantees to its allies: recently, Russia claimed to have included Belarus under its respective nuclear umbrella.   Umbrella states base their security on military capabilities that include the nuclear weapons of other countries, and in some cases, they also host nuclear weapons and take part in military exercises simulating their use. Thus far, the role of the umbrella states in the global nuclear order has received relatively little attention, and they are generally categorised as non-nuclear weapon states. Their agency in maintaining or potentially changing the existing nuclear order tends to be downplayed and overshadowed by that of nuclear-armed states. However, umbrella states received some attention at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT). At the conference, held in 2022, Parties to the Treaty discussed whether to recognize ‘the importance for States parties that are part of military alliances that include nuclear-weapon States to report . . . on steps taken to reduce and eliminate the role of nuclear weapons in national and collective security doctrines’. Owing to resistance by the USA and several of its allies to create a third category of states alongside nuclear weapon states and nonnuclear weapon states, this reference was ultimately removed from the draft outcome document.  The discussions at the 2022 NPT Review Conference reflected the current context, wherein greater military value is being placed on nuclear weapons, including by umbrella states. Provided that Sweden’s application to join NATO—which it submitted in 2022 together with Finland’s application—is accepted, the number of countries under the extended nuclear deterrence arrangements of the USA will increase to 32. At the same time, US allies in the Asia-Pacific region are responding to perceived threats from China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) with increasing calls for the redeployment of US non-strategic nuclear weapons to the region. Reflecting its concerns about potential new nuclear weapon deployments in Asia, China was vocal in opposing US nuclear hosting arrangements at the 2022 NPT Review Conference. That an increasing number of non-nuclear weapon states see security value in nuclear weapons does not bode well for the global nuclear dis armament and non-proliferation regime. The development also highlights the need to better understand how the policies of umbrella states affect the global nuclear order. That order is characterized by the continuation of nuclear deterrence practices by the world’s nine nuclear-armed states despite a shared understanding of the devastating planetary-scale humanitarian and environmental risks involved in such practices and the consequent need for nuclear disarmament.  Taking a broad historical perspective, this paper explores the ways in which umbrella states both in the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe have supported prevailing nuclear deterrence practices or, at times, distanced themselves from such practices and broken ranks with their allies on relevant issues. The goal of the paper is to assess the scope of umbrella states’ agency in maintaining, shaping, and potentially challenging the global nuclear status quo in support of nuclear disarmament. II. Endorsing nuclear deterrence through policy and practice  This section examines policies through which umbrella states support and contribute to the prevailing nuclear deterrence practices or have done so in the past. Such policies provide support that ranges from operational, which sees allies directly involved in such practices, to political, which is better understood in terms of moral burden-sharing. While such policies serve to maintain and legitimize the existing nuclear status quo, in some cases the endorsement by umbrella states of nuclear deterrence has moved beyond supporting the status quo to calling for new nuclear sharing arrangements or outright nuclear proliferation.  Operational support for nuclear deterrence practices  Umbrella states can provide operational support to their nuclear-armed patron for nuclear deterrence practices by hosting nuclear weapons and related facilities, participating in military exercises simulating nuclear strikes, conducting joint flights with strategic bombers, and engaging in planning and consultation on nuclear weapons-related issues. Given the broad nature of existing bilateral and multilateral consultation mechanisms, which also cover issues such as arms control, it is sometimes difficult to draw a boundary line between operational and political support.  Nuclear weapon hosting  During the cold war, the USA stationed non-strategic nuclear weapons in the territories of several of its Asia-Pacific and European allies. In Europe, the first such weapons were deployed in 1954 in the United Kingdom and West Germany to complement the deterrence provided by US strategic (long-range) nuclear weapons, which was deemed insufficient against the Soviet Union’s overwhelming conventional power. In 1958, the first nuclear sharing agreements were established, meaning that European allies would not only host US nuclear weapons but also take control of and launch such weapons against their            bintended targets during times of crisis. By the mid1960s, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye were hosting various types of non-strategic nuclear weapon under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements. By 1971, there were 7300 forward-deployed nuclear weapons in Europe. In addition to the eight above-mentioned European countries, the USA also stationed nuclear weapons in the Danish territory of Greenland (see section III below). The deployments in Europe coincided with deployments elsewhere in the world. In Asia and the Pacific, the USA stationed nuclear weapons in the late 1950s in the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as in overseas territories of the USA. The largest deployments were in South Korea and the Japanese island of Okinawa, with the number of warheads hosted by the country and island respectively peaking at almost 1000 in the late 1960s. Most of these weapons had been withdrawn by the late 1970s; South Korea remained the only host state in the Asia-Pacific region in the following decade. The USA also deployed non-strategic nuclear weapons in Morocco in the 1950s and Canada in the 1960s. The Soviet Union deployed non-strategic nuclear weapons in all of its 15 republics as well as in some of its Warsaw Pact allies. Starting in the late 1950s and continuing over the following decade, non-strategic nuclear weapons were gradually deployed in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, and Poland. All of these weapons had been withdrawn by the early 1990s. During the remainder of that decade, the strategic nuclear weapons that had been hosted in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine were also withdrawn.  With the end of the cold war, forward-deployed non-strategic nuclear weapons effectively lost their raison d’être, particularly in Europe. Reflecting the new geopolitical context, in the early 1990s the USA unilaterally withdrew most of its non-strategic nuclear weapons from allied countries. In South Korea, the nuclear hosting arrangement ended completely. While NATO nuclear sharing continued, only the air-delivered B61 bombs remained and their numbers were reduced, while all other non-strategic nuclear weapon types were removed from Europe.  In 2001, the B61 weapons were removed from Greece. In the years that followed, the military value of the non-strategic US nuclear weapons that still remained in five NATO countries was frequently called into question. As noted in a 2005 US study, ‘Nuclear burden sharing in NATO, in as far as host country nuclear strike missions are concerned, is on a slow but steady decline toward ending altogether’. The political momentum for ending nuclear sharing was at its highest during the administration of US president Barack Obama, whose vision for a nuclear weapon-free world arguably inspired some allies to more vocally argue for the withdrawal of non-strategic nuclear weapons from Europe. Yet, the same US administration also pushed back against and, as it seems, silenced such critical voices (see section III below).  Today, an estimated 100 non-strategic nuclear weapons remain stationed in five European countries—Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye—and the USA is modernizing its B61 bombs. The nuclear weapon hosting states, with the exception of Türkiye, plan to replace their ageing dual-capable aircraft with F-35 aircraft, which will enable use of the precision strike feature of the new B61-12 bombs. As before, allies are responsible for delivering these weapons during a crisis. Since 1976, US gravity bombs in Europe have included electronic locks (permissive action links, PALs) to reduce the risk of unauthorized use. The delegation of authority for nuclear weapon use from the USA to its allies is based on a dual key system: following an agreement by the NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) and authorization by the US president, US military personnel at allied bases would deactivate the PALs, handing over control of the weapons to pilots of the weapon hosting states.  As noted above, China recently raised its opposition to NATO nuclear weapon hosting practices, reflecting its apparent concerns about the prospect of US non-strategic nuclear weapons being redeployed in Asia. Russia, alongside China and other countries, has long argued that NATO’s nuclear sharing policy is not in accordance with Articles I and II of the NPT. Russia’s normative case against NATO nuclear sharing is, however, currently undermined by its own plans to share nuclear weapons with Belarus. Echoing the arguments of the USA in this regard, Russia maintains that the weapons will remain under Russian control, hence the arrangement—announced in March 2023—will be in line with international non-proliferation obligations. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the construction of nuclear weapon storage facilities in Belarus is to be completed by July 2023. Russia reportedly provided Belarus with dual capable Iskander missiles and modified Belarusian Su-25 bombers to enable them to carry nuclear weapons prior to the March announcement. Military exercises simulating tactical nuclear strikes  Some umbrella states that do not host nuclear weapons nevertheless actively contribute to nuclear sharing by taking part in military exercises involving dual-capable aircraft. NATO’s Support of Nuclear Operations with Conventional Air Tactics (SNOWCAT) programme comprises a unique form of such participation. In SNOWCAT missions, allies provide conventional aircraft to escort dual-capable aircraft, and they also provide surveillance and refuelling. The aim of the exercises is to practise nuclear strike operations.  In 2022, 14 allies were reported as having participated in the annual SNOWCAT exercise called Steadfast Noon. While NATO does not reveal the participating countries, in previous years they have reportedly included at least Czechia and Poland alongside host states and nuclear-armed states. In addition, Denmark confirmed its participation in the 2022 exercise, and Greece too seems to have taken part.  Joint flights with strategic bombers  US nuclear sharing arrangements are limited to Europe, hence there is no programme comparable to SNOWCAT in other regions. According to a 2011 report, ‘There are no nuclear weapons–related exercises conducted between the United States and the military forces’ in umbrella states in Asia. However, US allies in the Asia-Pacific region frequently fly with US strategic B-2 and B-52  bombers to signal deterrence to regional adversaries. For example, US B-52 bombers were ‘met with and escorted by’ Japanese F-15J combat aircraft in August 2021, and accompanied by South Korean F-35As and F-15Ks in December 2022. Australia has also taken part in joint flights with US strategic aircraft, as have NATO allies in Europe. Even countries that are not part of extended nuclear deterrence arrangements—including Indonesia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Sweden—have been involved in this practice.  Thus far, the B-52s used in regional operations in Asia and the Pacific have only been deployed rotationally in the US territory of Guam. However, Australia is currently expanding a military air base in its Northern Territory with the intention of hosting US B-52 bombers. Once completed, the base would appear to be only the second one of its kind outside US territory (after Royal Air Force, RAF, Fairford in the UK) and the first one of its kind in an umbrella state.  Consultation and planning  All NATO members other than France are involved in collective decision making on nuclear weapon-related issues through their participation in the NPG. The NPG ‘provides a forum in which NATO member countries can participate in the development of the Alliance’s nuclear policy and in decisions on NATO’s nuclear posture’. Discussions under the NPG cover issues such as ‘the overall effectiveness of NATO’s nuclear deterrent, the safety, security and survivability of nuclear weapons, and communications and information systems’. The mandate of the NPG also covers arms control and non-proliferation.  Various observers have characterized the group’s main function broadly in terms of information-sharing and the establishment of ‘NATO’s common nuclear deterrence culture’. While the NATO line is that participation in the NPG is not limited to members that maintain nuclear weapons, one source points to ‘an unwritten rule that only the stationing countries speak up in NPG meetings’.  The NPG was established in 1966 primarily in response to the concerns of European host states about plans for the use of the non-strategic nuclear weapons on their territory and the desire of these countries to become more involved in relevant decision making. After having been first limited to host states, the NPG was later expanded to include other NATO allies. The participation of the latter countries was viewed by nuclear weapon states as a valuable contribution to political or moral burden-sharing.  With the salience of nuclear weapons decreasing for much of the post-cold-war period, NPG meetings became less frequent. In addition, during this period, unlike during the cold war, the group’s work no longer involved ‘nuclear planning in the strict sense of targeting’. However, the role of nuclear weapons in NATO policy has been increasing following Russia’s invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022, which has also impacted the NPG’s work and increased the group’s visibility. For a long time, nuclear consultations were unique to NATO; no mechanism similar to the NPG existed between the USA and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region. In the words of one observer, ‘US alliance relations in Asia as a whole developed in a considerably more hierarchical fashion, arranged in a hub-and-spoke model in which Washington dealt bilaterally and from a position of strength with each allied government rather than collectively through a single multilateral alliance’. However, over the past decade, the USA has also conducted bilateral consultations with Australia, Japan, and South Korea, based on these allies’ desire to gain more insight into and influence in US nuclear weapons-related policy. Plans have also been made to extend such consultations to a trilateral (Japan, South Korea, and the USA) or a quadrilateral (as for trilateral but including Australia) format.  One forum for bilateral nuclear consultation is the US–Japan Extended Deterrence Dialogue, which was established in 2010. Similarly, to the NPG, the dialogue ‘provides an opportunity . . . to discuss regional security, Alliance defense posture, nuclear and missile defense policy, and arms control issues, and to engage in an in-depth exchange of views on means to enhance as well as deepen mutual understanding on alliance deterrence’. South Korea and the USA, in turn, have conducted nuclear consultations under their Deterrence Strategy Committee and Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group. These consultations were apparently expanded or replaced with a new—more substantive—mechanism in April 2023, when US President Joe Biden announced in a joint press briefing with his South Korean counterpart, President Yoon Suk-Yeol, that the two countries had ‘agreed to establish a Nuclear Consultative Group to map out a specific plan to operate the new extended deterrence system’. In addition to sharing information on ‘mutual nuclear assets and intelligence’, this new system would also cover ‘ways to plan and execute joint operations that combine Korea’s state-of-the-art conventional forces with the US’s nuclear capabilities’. The announcement followed controversial statements by the South Korean president that suggested the country might be considering the acquisition of nuclear weapons of its own (see below).  Possibly reflective of the greater need for reassurance related to extended nuclear deterrence based mainly on US strategic nuclear weapons, the bilateral consultations of the USA with both Japan and South Korea have included visits and tours to familiarize these allies with US strategic weapons delivery vehicles. Moreover, the new US–South Korean Nuclear Consultative Group that was announced in April includes visits by South Korean officials to US nuclear submarines in South Korean ports.  Assessment of the degree of operational involvement of umbrella states in nuclear deterrence  The hosting of nuclear weapons can be seen to constitute a particularly high level of commitment to nuclear deterrence—especially in the case of NATO nuclear sharing, which involves the handing over of control of nuclear weapons by the USA to an ally and the potential execution of a nuclear strike by that ally during a crisis. The host state takes on an enormous burden in sacrificing its own security, as military bases with nuclear weapon infrastructure and housing dual-capable aircraft for nuclear strike missions are logical targets for adversaries in wartime. Although European host states would ultimately be responsible for dropping B61 bombs on their target locations, other allies’ provision of support for the nuclear strike mission under the SNOWCAT programme must also be seen as a direct operational contribution to nuclear deterrence practices.  Assessment of the degree of operational involvement of umbrella states in nuclear deterrence  Political support for nuclear deterrence  Acceptance of a nuclear security guarantee constitutes political support— albeit passive—for existing nuclear deterrence practices. Typically, this kind of support involves endorsing the strategy documents of an alliance that stress the need for nuclear deterrence or as discussed above, participating in allied nuclear consultations. Some countries choose to go further in their political support by making public statements highlighting the perceived security value of nuclear weapons. Another form of political support by umbrella states of nuclear deterrence practices is signalling opposition to multilateral initiatives that question the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence.  Statements supporting extended nuclear deterrence  Umbrella states tend to keep a low profile regarding the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies. In most cases, their national security strategies do not even mention nuclear deterrence and nuclear weapons are either discussed in relation to the perceived threats posed by adversaries or viewed exclusively as objects of arms control and disarmament. In multilateral forums, nuclear-allied countries usually do not wish to stand out from non-nuclear weapon states.  In some cases, however, umbrella states do explicitly stress the importance of nuclear weapons and extended nuclear deterrence for their national security. A recent example of public endorsement of nuclear deterrence is the German response to the criticism by China, Russia, and several nonnuclear weapon states of NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at the 2022 NPT Review Conference. Using its right of reply, Germany said that NATO nuclear sharing is ‘fully consistent and compliant with the NPT’, adding that the practice was ‘put in place well before the NPT entered into force’ and that it ‘has long been accepted and publicly understood by all States Parties to the NPT’. At the same conference, a representative of Hungary defended nuclear sharing by saying that it contributes to non-proliferation by ‘remov[ing] incentives for nations to develop their own nuclear deterrence capabilities’. Both of these arguments have long been made by NATO to justify nuclear sharing.  When comparing the defence white papers of umbrella states, Australia and Germany stand out for the reason that both countries explicitly refer to extended nuclear deterrence as a source of national security. Germany, in addition to repeating key tenets of NATO’s deterrence policy—for example that ‘The strategic nuclear capabilities of NATO, and in particular those of the United States, are the ultimate guarantee of the security of its members’— also states in its 2016 white paper on security policy and the future of the Bundeswehr that, ‘Through nuclear sharing, Germany continues to be an integral part of NATO’s nuclear policy and planning’. Australia, in its 2020 Defence Strategic Update, states that ‘Only the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the United States can offer effective deterrence against the possibility of nuclear threats against Australia’. Statements supporting extended nuclear deterrence can be viewed as examples of moral burden-sharing, particularly when they are made in forums such as the NPT Review Conference, where nuclear deterrence practices are subject to regular criticism by non-nuclear weapon states. On other occasions—such as when they are made in connection with national security documents—these statements indicate a strong belief that nuclear weapons are an integral part of allied deterrence.  Opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  Since 2016, an important show of solidarity among the nuclear weapon states and their allies has been to cast votes against the United Nations General Assembly annual resolution endorsing the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The TPNW not only questions the legitim acy of existing nuclear deterrence practices but also seeks to stigmatize nuclear weapons globally through its comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons, including on the threat of their use. Not surprisingly, nuclear-armed states have fervently opposed the Treaty, as the credibility of their nuclear deterrents depends on their readiness to threaten nuclear weapon use.  The USA has warned its allies against supporting the TPNW or participating in related meetings. For example, in 2016 it strongly encouraged NATO member countries to vote against UN General Assembly Resolution 71/258, which called for negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, arguing that such efforts were ‘fundamentally at odds with NATO’s basic policies on deterrence’. In that year, all umbrella states cast a negative vote on the resolution, with the exception of the Netherlands, which abstained from voting (see the section ‘Engagement by umbrella states with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ below). Similarly, all umbrella states, with the exception of the Netherlands, were absent from the TPNW negotiations in 2017; Albania, Poland and South Korea joined the USA in protesting against these negotiations. With only a few exceptions, umbrella states have also uniformly voted against the annual UN General Assembly resolution expressing support for the Treaty. Arguably in line with their decision to apply for NATO membership, in 2022 Finland and Sweden also voted against the resolution for the first time. Calls to expand nuclear deterrence practices  Some countries without existing nuclear sharing arrangements have expressed an interest in hosting nuclear weapons. In 2020, before the recent reports of nuclear sharing between Belarus and Russia (see the section ‘Nuclear weapon hosting’ above), the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, had offered to host Russian nuclear weapons as a response to the potential deployment of US nuclear weapons to Poland. Belarus’ interest in positioning itself under the Russian nuclear umbrella was in fact first articulated more than 20 years ago.  Poland has on several occasions expressed an interest in hosting US nuclear weapons. For example, in October 2022, following reports of Russian nuclear sharing with Belarus, the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda said that ‘a potential opportunity’ for Poland to participate in nuclear sharing had been discussed with the USA. While the US leadership has not confirmed that such discussions took place, in May 2020 the US ambassador to Poland suggested that ‘perhaps Poland . . . could house the capabilities’ in case Germany were to ‘reduce its nuclear potential and weaken NATO’ by ending its nuclear sharing arrangements with the USA. Stationing US nuclear weapons in former Warsaw Pact countries such as Poland would go against the 1997 Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation, in which NATO member countries reiterated that they have ‘no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members’.  Regarding the Asia-Pacific region, the president of South Korea, Yoon Suk-Yeol, said in an unprecedented statement made in January 2023 that if the nuclear threat from North Korea grows, his country might ‘introduce tactical nuclear weapons or build them on our own’, adding that ‘we can have our own nuclear weapons pretty quickly, given our scientific and technological capabilities’. While there has been a long-standing debate in South Korea on both the reintroduction of US non-strategic weapons and the development of an indigenous nuclear weapon programme, and popular support for both proposals, this was the first time such a statement was made by a high-level government official. Similarly, discussions on the possibility of hosting US nuclear weapons in a manner based on the NATO model have taken place in Japan. Thus far the Japanese government has rejected the idea.  The above-mentioned calls to establish new nuclear weapon hosting arrangements suggest that the umbrella states in question view the existing extended nuclear deterrence practices as insufficient. While these states may view forward-deployed nuclear weapons themselves as key to strengthening deterrence, they might also view them as instruments of alliance cohesion— meaning that, in principle, nuclear weapons could be replaced with any other military system requiring the permanent deployment of US troops on allied territory. Statements supporting indigenous nuclear weapon development go further, indicating the desire of an umbrella state to assume sovereign authority over national nuclear deterrence practices through proliferation. While such statements may be used to appeal to domestic constituencies or to pressure the nuclear-armed patron to strengthen its extended deterrence commitments, they undermine the global non-proliferation norm, particularly if not met with strong international condemnation.  III. Stepping back from nuclear deterrence policies  This section recounts and analyses the ways in which some umbrella states, or government officials in such states, have at times sought to challenge or distance themselves from existing nuclear deterrence practices and broken ranks with allies on relevant issues, often in a manner considered controversial within the alliance. In many such cases, govern mental policymaking has mirrored anti-nuclear sentiments in the population.  Bans on or limits to the stationing of nuclear weapons on national territory  The political reservations of Nordic NATO members about the stationing of nuclear weapons on or their transit through their national territories date back to the late 1950s—a time of strong popular sentiment against nuclear weapons inspired by, for example, the Russell–Einstein Manifesto of 1955 and international efforts at the UN to control and eliminate nuclear weapons. In Spain, similar reservations took shape in the early 1980s, when the antinuclear movement was strong.  Political declarations on potential future deployment or transit  Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Spain have long had policies that prohibit nuclear weapons being stationed on their national territories. While the policies of Denmark, Norway and Spain leave open the option of allowing the stationing of nuclear weapons during times of war, Iceland’s prohibition seems to apply in all situations.  Danish reservations about nuclear deterrence have been influenced by domestic opposition to nuclear weapons and were captured in a policy that was adopted in May 1957. According to the policy, Denmark would not allow ‘the deployment and transit of nuclear weapons on its territory’, in particular Greenland, where, as a result of a 1951 bilateral defence agreement, the USA was allowed to operate military bases. However, this declaratory policy was contradicted by a secret agreement, according to which the USA was not obliged to inform Denmark of its deployment of nuclear weapons on US bases in Greenland. In practice, Denmark thus allowed both the stationing of US nuclear weapons at Thule Air Base in 1958–1965 and overflights of nuclear armed bombers in Greenland in the 1960s. Although the veil of secrecy was briefly lifted in 1968 when a US B-52 bomber crashed in Greenland, it was not until the 1990s that the full scale of the clandestine activities came to light, causing a political scandal in Denmark.  In Norway, a 1957 motion by the governing Labour Party held that ‘nuclear weapons must not be placed on Norwegian territory’, a decision that the country’s prime minister reiterated at a NATO meeting in December 1957. In 1960 it was specified that this policy applied in peacetime only. At the time, Norwegian government officials also repeatedly said that Norway would not allow visits by naval vessels that had nuclear weapons on board. In a more recent reiteration of the policy, a 2017 white paper on Norwegian foreign and security policy states that ‘nuclear weapons are not to be stationed on Norwegian territory in peacetime’ and, furthermore, that ‘foreign military vessels that call at Norwegian ports must not have nuclear weapons on board’. Norway did not enforce this policy during the cold war by preventing US surface ships—which no longer carry nuclear weapons but at the time would neither confirm nor deny they were carrying them—from entering their ports. Denmark did not enforce its ban on the transit of nuclear weapons on its territory either.  Iceland’s policy of not allowing nuclear weapons on its soil is less well known than that of the two other Nordic NATO members. It has, however, been consistently expressed by successive Icelandic foreign ministers since 1964 and codified in parliamentary resolutions since at least 1985. A 2016 resolution reconfirmed that part of the country’s national security policy is ‘To ensure that Iceland and its territorial waters are declared free from nuclear weapons . . .’.  Spain hosted US strategic bombers and nuclear-armed submarines during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939–75). When Spain joined NATO in 1982, it did so on the condition—set by the Spanish parliament—that nuclear weapons would not be brought to the country. The 1986 referendum that confirmed the country’s NATO membership mentioned the prohibition of ‘the deployment, storing or the introduction of nuclear weapons in Spanish soil’ as a precondition to this decision. However, the transit of nuclear armed vessels through Spanish waters—which would have in any case been difficult to monitor—was not prohibited.  The political reservations of the four NATO member countries discussed above stand out as the most visible expressions of scepticism about the security benefits of extended nuclear deterrence within the alliance. The practical impact of such declaratory statements has been called into question by the case of Denmark, where the declaratory policy was contradicted by a clandestine agreement. That all of these countries—with the apparent exception of Iceland—have not ruled out the possibility of hosting nuclear weapons during times of war can also be seen to reduce the normative significance of their reservations about such hosting.  Legislation prohibiting nuclear weapons on national territory  Lithuania’s constitution unambiguously states that ‘There may not be any weapons of mass destruction’ on its territory. Although it is legally binding, applicable in wartime and would seem to represent the strongest stance possible against nuclear sharing, this prohibition is disconnected from Lithuania’s political statements, which are silent on this part of the constitution and have even, at times, highlighted the value of nuclear weapons to NATO’s deterrence policy. One explanation for this might be that Lithuania’s constitution—which was drafted in 1992 and thus preceded the country’s NATO accession in 2004—signalled sovereign independence from the Soviet Union rather than marked distance from NATO nuclear policies.  New Zealand is a former nuclear umbrella state that passed legislation against the introduction of nuclear weapons on its national territory in 1984. The country had been part of a trilateral defence alliance under the 1951 ANZUS Treaty. More specifically, New Zealand declared itself a nuclear weapon-free zone and introduced relevant legislation, including a prohibition on nuclear-capable vessels from entering the country’s ports. Given the US policy at the time of neither confirming nor denying its ships were armed with nuclear weapons, US Navy vessels could not dock in the harbours of New Zealand. In February 1985, New Zealand demonstrated its readiness to enforce its policy by turning down the request of a US missile destroyer to dock. The USA reacted by cancelling its security guarantee to New Zealand in August 1986. Although New Zealand signalled its willingness to remain part of the ANZUS Treaty, the position of the USA was that it was not feasible for an ally to enjoy the benefits of a conventional defence partnership while renouncing its nuclear dimension. As suggested by one observer, the USA’s severe response to New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy reflected concerns by the USA that, if it would accept the policy, this ‘could generate eventual ripples of pressures for unilateral disarmament throughout other western societies’.  In sum, national legislation prohibiting the stationing and transit of nuclear weapons in or through a given umbrella state’s territory can be seen to constitute a strong prohibition against nuclear weapon hosting. Yet, the political significance of such a prohibition is diminished if not backed up by corresponding declaratory policy, as exemplified by the case of Lithuania. In contrast, the combination of legal and political prohibition and its practical enforcement by New Zealand was deemed excessive by the USA, which ultimately punished its ally by terminating the conventional security guarantee. A similar crisis over the transit of nuclear weapons is unlikely to occur today given that the USA stopped deploying nuclear weapons on surface ships in the early 1990s. Instead, potential controversies over allies’ anti-nuclear weapon policies are now more likely to arise in connection with their approach to the TPNW (see the section ‘Engagement of umbrella states with the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons’ below).  Political decisions to end nuclear weapons hosting  By the end of the cold war, several nuclear weapon hosting arrangements had been terminated. Arguably, these arrangements were ended largely on the basis of unilateral decisions taken by Russia and the USA; however, in at least two cases—Canada and Greece—the initiative clearly came from host states.  Following a heated domestic debate and a change of government, Canada decided in 1963 to host US nuclear warheads that were to be fitted with the Bomarc anti-aircraft missiles that Canada had previously bought from the USA. However, only six years later, in 1969, a new Canadian government reversed the hosting policy. It did so in line with its ratification in that same year of the newly negotiated NPT (Canada was one of the first countries to ratify the Treaty). As a result, by 1972 all US nuclear warheads reserved for the anti-aircraft missiles had been withdrawn from Canada. However, the country retained nuclear-armed air-to-air Genie rockets deliverable by Voodoo aircraft until 1984.  Greece, which had hosted US non-strategic nuclear weapons since the early days of the cold war, decided at the turn of this century not to replace its ageing A-7E dual-capable aircraft with a new model that could have continued the country’s nuclear sharing arrangements with the USA. As a result of this decision, US nuclear weapons were quietly removed from the country in 2001, putting an end to the arrangements. The apparent lack of public discussion on the decision—or any discussion that reached an international audience—contrasts with the vocal but ineffectual calls made by Germany a decade later for the withdrawal of such weapons.  Calls to end nuclear sharing  The military value of the US non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe was frequently called into question in the post-cold-war period, with arguments against them growing louder in the late 2000s. At this time, two successive German foreign ministers—Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Guido Westerwelle—openly called for an end to nuclear sharing in Germany. As Steinmeier said in 2009, ‘These weapons are militarily obsolete today’, which is why he would seek to ensure that the remaining US warheads ‘are removed from Germany’. The following year, Westerwelle said that the nuclear weapons in Germany were ‘a relic of the Cold War’ that ‘no longer serve a military purpose’ and that the German government was ‘working to create the conditions for their removal’ in cooperation with allies and partners.  In February 2010, Germany—together with Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway—wrote a letter to the NATO secretary-general calling for the inclusion of non-strategic nuclear weapons in arms control agreements. The Benelux countries and Norway also highlighted this issue in their national statements but more cautiously than Germany, often linking it to reciprocal steps being taken by Russia.  These high-level efforts to change NATO nuclear sharing practices ultimately proved unsuccessful. Ironically, the same US administration that arguably inspired the German position against the hosting of non-strategic nuclear weapons also strongly pushed back against this position. The former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the above-mentioned letter by saying that ‘as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance’, stressing the importance of ‘sharing nuclear risks and responsibilities’. At the same time, she stressed the need for Russia to make reciprocal reductions as a condition for the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. The definition of NATO as a nuclear alliance was included in its 2010 Strategic Concept, which ultimately made it harder for Germany to push for an end to nuclear sharing. Although the debate on the merits of nuclear sharing continued in the country after that, Germany’s continued participation in the practice appeared to be confirmed with the March 2022 decision to replace its ageing dual-capable Tornado aircraft with F-35s.  ‘Footnote politics’ in the 1980s By the early 1980s social democratic parties in Europe, particularly in the Nordic countries, had become critical of mainstream NATO nuclear policy, a sentiment that grew stronger during the early years of the US administration of President Ronald Reagan. Because of the leverage of a coalition of centre-left opposition parties over the liberal-conservative government’s foreign policy at the time, Denmark stood out from other NATO members by frequently dissociating itself from allied policy on nuclear issues. The Danish government—in addition to making public expressions of dissent— sometimes inserted footnotes in NATO communiqués, so its policy came to be known as ‘footnote policy’.  Initially, the most contentious issue for Denmark was NATO’s ‘dual-track’ decision, adopted in December 1979. This decision included a plan for the USA to deploy intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Western Europe in 1983 unless the Soviet Union agreed to discuss its respective SS-20 missiles in arms control negotiations. The Danish foreign minister had proposed postponing the decision, but it went ahead. In a 1982 NPG meeting communiqué, Denmark added a footnote expressing support for the Soviet proposal for a compromise solution to the INF crisis. Denmark’s position deviated from that of the other NATO members—they supported the Reagan administration’s ‘zero solution’, which called for the elimination of all land-based INF missiles in Europe. Danish opposition to the INF deployments included a parliamentary decision to suspend their funding. When the INF missiles were finally deployed, Denmark dissociated itself from the NATO policy by placing a footnote on a NATO communiqué describing it.  Other issues of contention included the US request that NATO allies endorse its Strategic Defense Initiative, which both Denmark and Norway opposed through footnote politics, and the proposal for a Nordic nuclear weapon-free zone. Although the Danish government had for most of the 1980s been driven by the opposition parties to agree to implement the footnote policy, a 1988 parliamentary resolution that would have led to a stricter policy on port visits by nuclear-armed ships—similar to the legislation put in place by New Zealand—prompted the government’s call for a new general election, which ultimately put the social democrats at a disadvantage.  Engagement of umbrella states with the Humanitarian Initiative  One umbrella state, Norway, played a key role in an initiative highlighting the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The Humanitarian Initiative built on the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document, in which deep concern was expressed over the ‘catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons’, as well as on three conferences exploring the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons held in 2013–2014. By drawing attention to the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapon use, the historical record of near misses, and personal accounts of the victims of past nuclear weapon use and testing, the Humanitarian Initiative questioned the legitimacy of existing nuclear deterrence practices, thereby paving the way for the TPNW negotiations. Norway was among the states that initially advocated for the inclusion of humanitarian language in the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document. In this it was inspired by the success of the humanitarian approach in bringing about the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Indicative of the Norwegian government’s goals at the time, in February 2010 the country’s foreign minister said that ‘experience from humanitarian disarmament should guide us on how to pursue and negotiate disarmament issues in general’, and that, although ‘Some maintain that consensus is vital when it comes to nuclear disarmament . . . I believe it would be possible to develop norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and even to outlaw them, without a consensus decision, and that such norms will eventually be applied globally’.  Norway hosted the first of the three above-mentioned conferences in March 2013. The conference was criticized by the five nuclear-armed Parties to the NPT (China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA) as ‘divert[ing] discussion away from practical steps to create conditions for further nuclear weapons reductions’. However, some of the nuclear-armed states participated in the third conference, held in Vienna in December 2014. Preparing the ground for the TPNW, Austria launched what eventually came to be known as the humanitarian pledge for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, which called for ‘effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons’, at the conference.  Although Norway did not ultimately endorse the pledge, it had been one of the few nuclear umbrella states supporting the joint humanitarian statement, which preceded the pledge and stated that ‘It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances’. Most NATO allies would not endorse this wording as it contradicts the basic principles of nuclear deterrence. In addition to Norway, Denmark consistently endorsed the joint humanitarian statement in 2012–2015, and Iceland and Japan joined them in doing so at the ninth NPT Review Conference, held in 2015.  According to one observer, the goal of a new treaty outlawing nuclear weapons had been ‘a key aim for the Norwegian centre-left coalition government from 2010 onwards’. However, following the 2013 elections that brought a right-wing coalition to power in the country, the Norwegian government began to dissociate itself from the humanitarian initiative. For example, at the 2022 NPT Review Conference Norway no longer supported the joint humanitarian statement, leaving Greece and Japan as the only umbrella states to endorse it.  Norway’s role in the humanitarian initiative demonstrates that umbrella states can play an instrumental role in shaping nuclear disarmament norms even in the face of opposition by their patron. However, it also shows how domestic political differences—arguably in combination with external alliance pressures—limits the sustainability of such revisionist policies over time. Engagement of umbrella states with the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons  The TPNW challenges both the legitimacy and the legality of existing nuclear deterrence practices, which is why nuclear-armed states have fervently opposed the Treaty. The USA has also sought to ensure its allies do not join or in any way signal support for the treaty. However, some allies have found it difficult to fall into line with this policy owing to significant domestic support for the TPNW.  Meetings under the Treaty  Although none of the nuclear umbrella states supported the December 2016 UN General Assembly Resolution 71/258 that formed the basis for the TPNW negotiations, the Netherlands stood out from the others in that it abstained from voting rather than casting a vote against the resolution. The Netherlands was also the only umbrella state that took part in the two rounds of TPNW negotiations in 2017, although it did not support the adoption of the Treaty at the end of those negotiations. This deviation from US allied policy by the Netherlands has been explained in terms of domestic pressure from the Dutch parliament.  The Netherlands attended the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, held in June 2022, as an observer, following a vote of the Dutch parliament mandating it to do so. Four other umbrella states (Australia, Belgium, Germany, and Norway) also attended the meeting as observers. Although observing TPNW meetings is not equivalent to supporting the Treaty, the presence of five umbrella states at the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW was particularly noteworthy given the 2020 North Atlantic Council statement upon the entry into force of the TPNW. This statement expressed NATO member countries’ collective opposition to the TPNW, which NATO saw as ‘not reflect[ing] the increasingly challenging international security environment’ and being ‘at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture’.  Official statements in support of the Treaty  In 2018 the Spanish government’s socialist minority agreed to sign the TPNW as part of a package of commitments adopted by the country’s prime minister and the leader of the far-left coalition party in exchange for the latter’s support for the following year’s budget. However, the government never acted on this commitment.  Also in 2018, the Australian Labor Party, in opposition at the time, committed itself to a policy of seeking signature and ratification of the TPNW if it were to be elected to government. The policy was initiated by Anthony Albanese, who became prime minister in May 2022. Although his subsequent rhetoric has been more cautious, in October 2022 Australia decided for the first time to abstain from voting rather than to vote against the annual UN General Assembly resolution in support of the TPNW. This shift prompted the USA to issue a warning to its ally, with the US embassy in Canberra saying that the Treaty ‘would not allow for US extended deterrence relationships, which are still necessary for international peace and security’. However, the US assessment of the compatibility between allied commitments and TPNW support appears to be contingent on political circumstances, as evidenced by the conventional alliance between the Philippines and the USA, which seems to be unaffected by the Philippines being a Party to the TPNW. In addition, some observers have suggested that the likelihood of the USA taking punitive measures against umbrella states that join the TPNW would depend on whether they were to join the treaty individually or as part of a group of several allies.  IV. Conclusions  While countries under extended nuclear deterrence arrangements retain their sovereign freedom of action, being part of a military alliance with a nuclear dimension contributes to a tendency for a country to side with its nuclear-armed patron on matters related to nuclear weapon and disarmament norms. This tendency may reflect genuine belief in the security benefits of nuclear deterrence or merely political pressure to fall in line with the views of allies, or both. Support for existing nuclear deterrence practices mostly takes a low-key, passive form but in some cases umbrella states have proactively supported such practices either politically or operationally. While such support tends to come with a reputational cost in multilateral forums and domestic politics, it also increases the status of the umbrella state within the alliance as a valued ally doing its part of the moral burden-sharing.  At times, however, umbrella states have used their freedom of action to take bold strides—or more modest steps—away from the allied mainstream position by advocating for anti-nuclear weapon policies, often reflecting popular sentiments that question the morality of nuclear weapons. Some of these policies—such as certain NATO members’ reservations regarding nuclear sharing—demonstrate that it is possible for a country to distance itself from nuclear deterrence practices while still remaining part of a military alliance. While the exceptional case of New Zealand, whose antinuclear weapon policies led to its banishment from the ANZUS alliance in the 1980s, was tied to past US nuclear weapon deployment practices that no longer exist, it set a precedent that may still add caution to the approach of umbrella states to potentially divisive issues such as the TPNW. Any punishment by the nuclear-armed patron could nevertheless be expected to be more lenient if several allies were to pursue an anti-nuclear weapon policy simultaneously—a development that might ultimately influence alliance policy by reducing the role of nuclear weapons. Absent such a prospect, allies face the challenge of balancing normative pressures to support nuclear disarmament with alliance commitments that require at least passive support for nuclear deterrence practices.

Diplomacy
Joe Biden with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi

Modi in Washington: A Symbolic Visit for a Substantive Partnership

by Husain Haqqani , Aparna Pande

Officials from the United States and India occasionally have some difficult private conversations about Ukraine and India’s domestic politics. But the official state visit this week by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S. will mainly be about showcasing the strength of the two countries’ burgeoning partnership.   Modi and President Joe Biden both need the optics of a visit rich in symbolism to demonstrate the substantive achievements of a relationship based on shared concerns about China and multi-billion dollar deals in technology and defense. Modi wants to highlight his standing as a world leader ahead of the 2024 Indian election. Biden wants to underline that, contrary to the criticism of some, he does have a plan to deal with China’s rise and the U.S. has lined up partners and allies to execute that plan. Indian prime ministers have been regular visitors to Washington D.C. since India’s independence in 1947. But Modi’s visit is only the third time an Indian prime minister will be given official state visit protocol, including a state banquet at the White House on June 22.  The fifth Indian prime minister to address a joint session of Congress, Modi will be the only Indian leader to do so for a second time. Indians will be thrilled by the attention given to their prime minister, and the speeches about shared values and similar strategic vision of the world’s oldest and largest democracies will play well in the Indian media.  But the visit will not be about just pomp and show. Trade in goods and services between India and the U.S. reached $190 billion last year and the U.S. is now India’s largest trading partner. Companies from the two countries have made significant investments across borders and Indian and American enjoy close people-to-people ties. Moreover, the U.S. is keen to “friendshore” with India to deal with the threat America sees in China’s rise, and to ensure supply-chain resilience. This involves shifting the manufacturing of certain critical components from China to friendly countries, especially India. The U.S. is funding Indian technology startups and infrastructure projects from its $200 billion Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) Fund.  India, as the world’s most populous country, represents a large potential market for U.S. companies currently reducing their Chinese presence. When Air India, India’s largest airline, decided to purchase 220 Boeing aircraft in a $34 billion deal, Biden celebrated, saying it “will support over 1 million American jobs across 44 states, and many will not require a four-year college degree.” U.S. aerospace and military industries have wanted a greater share of the Indian market for years.  This January, India and the U.S. announced the launch of the U.S.-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) to the pave the way for “technology value-chain partnerships that would lead to co-development and co-production of high technology products and services in both countries,” in the words of National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.  During a recent visit to Delhi by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a defense industrial roadmap was unveiled, reflecting an American willingness to share state-of-the-art technology with India. But India wants to build an indigenous defense industry and is keen on American technology and investment, while the U.S. wants India to stop purchasing military equipment from Russia and buy more from the United States. Historically, that divergence has resulted in announcements that have not always resulted in implementation.  For the Modi visit, the two sides have planned two key defense related deliverables: the purchase by India of 30 General Atomics-manufactured Predator or MQ9B Sea Guardian drones for $3 billion, and an agreement between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to coproduce GE-F414 turbofan engines for India’s indigenous Tejas Mark-2 fighter jet. India and the U.S. have a long way to go before reaching the $500 billion mark in bilateral trade, which experts see as the future potential of the trade relationship. Americans blame India’s default preference for protectionism, reluctance to offer a level playing field to domestic and foreign players, strict digital privacy rules, and historical skepticism towards free and open trade. Indians complain that America is used to allies who are junior partners, not a country that is not an ally and wants to be treated as an equal. India is not alone in that view in an era when several powers want recognition and are showing a preference for economic and technology partnerships, rather than military alliances.  India is not a treaty ally of the United States, but a partner that prides itself on its strategic autonomy and one that has reservations about how it was treated by U.S. officials in the past. The closest equivalent of that in U.S. experience from the Cold War era would be France under the Gaullists. But just as the U.S. overcame its reservations about real or perceived French prickliness in the interest of preserving the Atlantic Alliance, Americans realize the importance of India in their plans for maintaining a rules-based international order.

Energy & Economics
President of France Emmanuel Macron

A north-south lifeline: What Macron hopes to accomplish with the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact

by Dr. Célia Belin , Lauriane Devoize

France is looking to give political impetus to reform of the global financial architecture. Others should swing in behind its gambit  Almost 500 days into the war in Ukraine, Europeans and Americans are anxious about their relationship with the global south. While the transatlantic allies are united, they have been left perplexed by the often tepid reaction of third countries to Russia’s aggression. And the gap between north and south appears only to be growing. The global crises of the last five years – covid-19, Russia’s war on Ukraine, inflation, climate change – have pushed Europeans’ focus inward, while these challenges have plunged much of the developing world into economic decline alongside exacerbating energy and food insecurity. Worse, some of the solutions put in place to overcome these crises – border closures, sanctions, re-shoring – have had major negative impacts on the global south. Meanwhile, the multilateral system has spiralled further into crisis, accelerated by the effects of the US-China rivalry, and has failed to provide relief to developing and vulnerable countries. More deeply affected by this ‘polycrisis’ than the global north, they have much less resource to tackle its consequences: dozens of low-income and medium-income countries now face crippling debt. To start to address these problems, President Emmanuel Macron is holding an ambitious event that seeks to focus political attention on the injustices and inequities of the current global financial architecture. Hurriedly decided on after last year’s COP27 in Egypt, his Summit for a New Global Financing Pact will bring leaders, civil society advocates, private actors, and international financial institutions together in Paris. The gathering’s goal is to find ways to build a more inclusive and equitable financial system, one that enables the climate transition and promotes biodiversity without jeopardising development. From its colonial and post-colonial history, and with its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, France maintains many close relationships on other continents. In response to brewing discontent and despair, Macron has stressed the need to address global south grievances, using frequent speeches to do so, whether in New York, Washington, or Bratislava. He is now once again engaged in an ambitious yet hasty endeavour: inspired by COP21 in Paris in 2015, the president believes diplomatic elbow grease goes a long way in mobilising around global issues, and he has made good use of it. As early in his first presidency as 2018, he launched the Paris Peace Forum, an annual event bringing together leaders and civil society to work towards a revived and innovative multilateral order. After President Donald Trump rescinded the Paris Agreement on climate change, Macron launched summit after summit on aspects of the issue (One Planet, One Ocean, and One Forest). To tackle the impact of covid-19 on Africa, in May 2021 France hosted the summit on the financing of African economies. This time, the goal is to reinvent the global financial architecture. Ever since the paradigm shift brought about by the pandemic, Macron has argued for a new approach – a “Paris consensus,” in a reference to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change – to replace the market-orientated Washington consensus with net zero, sustainable economic development goals. In his view, the metrics used in the past are “not valid any more to fight against poverty, for the decarbonisation of our economy, and for biodiversity”. He is therefore pushing to reform the global architecture to incentivise net zero investments for a sustainable future. Macron’s idea behind the new summit is to give a political boost to an issue all too often discussed only on a technical level, and in silos. No one expects an actual “pact” to be signed, but France – along with the summit’s steering committee, which is composed of states and international organisations – is aiming for a political declaration that would muster firm commitments from world leaders, and force consequences down the line. And world leaders are indeed showing up: the secretary general of the United Nations, the new president of the World Bank, the president of the European Commission, the US Treasury secretary, the president of Brazil, the German chancellor, and the Chinese prime minister are all expected to attend, along with 40 heads of state, one-third of whom will be from Africa. As so often before, Macron hopes to be transformational in record time. The summit planning started with high ambitions, but sources say it has had to adapt due to a lack of time and focus. Initially launched around the Bridgetown initiative of Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley, France had aimed to include topics other than climate, such as health and poverty, and sought a G20 presidency endorsement by India. Unfortunately, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will be in Washington during the summit and, despite the fact that India is co-chairing the summit’s steering committee and the expected presence of Lula and Li Qiang, the event may not in the end be a show of force for the global south. NGOs have been privately critical of the lack of inclusivity and transparency of the working groups, and disillusionment is running high. Some concrete results could still emerge from the four working groups, if negotiations are successful. Among the ambitions floated are debt suspension clauses for natural disasters, reallocation of special drawing rights, scaling up private capital flows through improved de-risking instruments, freeing up more concessional resources from multilateral development banks, and new international taxes (such as a levy on maritime transport). In an increasingly fragmented world, a united political declaration in support of these changes at the conclusion of the summit would be a win for everyone. However, a more modest but attainable goal from the summit would be the emergence of a “coalition of ambition,” in which a number of committed countries, or “champions,” take on specific challenges and sustain the diplomatic effort beyond the summit in Paris. Many other opportunities to build on momentum created in Paris will shortly follow: the African Climate Action Summit, the SDG summit, the New Delhi G20 Leaders Summit, and COP28 in Dubai. Since this summit has no mandate, it can only be a success if it is able to agree actions that then endure. For global south countries, the gathering should in turn create opportunities to strengthen support for their demands in all these upcoming forums. The success of the Paris summit will also depend on the capacity of states and other major players to take on the challenge – including Europeans. Germany is backing France in this effort, but most Europeans have yet to show their commitment to the process. Thirteen world leaders have penned a declaration of good will in an op-ed ahead of the summit, although without offering specific pledges or a timeframe for results. Unfortunately, the American president will not attend the summit, nor will the Italian, Canadian, or British prime ministers. The choice to stay away may stem from irritation at yet another grandiose French summit. But rich industrialised countries have no excuse for lacking interest in the dire situation of developing and vulnerable countries. It also puts responsibility on France to continue to move the ball forward after the summit – and not be content with the impression that it tried. Even if France may indulge in summit-mania, and however imperfect the event will inevitably turn out to be, Europeans and Americans must realise that France’s solo act is worth supporting. With clear steps taken by France ahead of the summit, such as the reallocation of 30 per cent of its special drawing rights (about €7.8 billion), Macron is defending his concept of an effective multilateralism in action, one that delivers. With Russia seeking to peel global south states away from the West, Europeans and the United States need to take up concrete actions that correct the imbalances of the current system and offer developing countries greater voice and power. By finally accepting that the institutions set up after the second world war must change, they would enhance their own credibility among global south states while escaping multilateralism limbo. The only way to salvage international cooperation – and to push back against the narrative of an inevitable north-south polarisation – is to demonstrate that it bears fruit for all.

Diplomacy
Dark blue sky with cumulus clouds and yellow rhombic road sign with text New World Order

The World is Changing: Who Will Set the Rules?

by Filippo Fasulo

Pivot to Asia - The Global South is on the march in their attempt to reshape the international system. How will this new order impact the old world? An increasing number of countries from the Global South, especially in Asia, are pushing to redefine the current global order. Three key trends to watch in this attempt to reshape the international system are the (potential) creation of a new economic order, the expansion of the BRICS grouping, and the transformation of China-Russia relationship after the invasion of Ukraine. In this changing international balance, Europe is losing its influence in the Global South, including in Asia. After centuries of global predominance, Europe’s strongest legacy is its role as a major normative power in global affairs. However, this reputation as a rule-setting power is set to change.   Why it matters 1. A (new) economic order. The debate over a “new Washington Consensus” has gained momentum after US national security advisor Jake Sullivan delivered a speech at the Brookings Institution on April 27th. The final communiqué by the G7 countries which met in Hirosahima on May 19-20 is the result of a similar strategic shift within the group, one that implies a move from economic interdependence to economic security. This shift is coupled with a major change in how the G7 intends to deal with emerging economies, such as their rival China and other partners in Asia that might soon become economic competitors in critical technologies. The G7’s sentiment has moved from promoting globalization and open markets to building industrial capacity in critical sectors, while securing existing and creating new strategic supply chains. Europe’s efforts in this context might not be enough: the investments envisaged so far are too little to reverse Europe’s dependency (often on China) in critical sectors. The EU must focus increasingly on diversifying its supply chains through securing access to rising economies in the Indo-Pacific. Here, joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could represent an opportunity.  2. BRICS+? The BRICS foreign ministers’ summit in June was yet another steppingstone toward enlargement. The countries that expressed a significant interest in joining the grouping are Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gabon, and Kazakhstan: all these countries sent their representatives to Cape Town. Egypt, Argentina, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau and Indonesia participated virtually. While the membership process might be a long one, the group’s upcoming expansion highlights the Global South’s political will to rise its voice, with a plethora of actors eager and able to leverage the new competition between powers which is shaping up after the Ukraine war. In this framework, Asian countries such as China and India are competing with one another to lead the BRICS.   3. China and the Stans. On May 19, Xi Jinping met in Xi’an with the (leaders of) the five Central Asian “Stan”-countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan). Russia, the region’s traditional kingmaker, was noticeably absent. The meeting kickstarted – for the first time offline – a summit named C+5 and highlighted Beijing’s belief that it can now make deals within the region without Moscow’s supervision. China’s newfound independence in Central Asia and Moscow’s growing dependence on Beijing after the war in Ukraine provides new insights the on China-Russia relationship: although the two countries are united by their common desire to contest the US-led world order, the Sino-Russian relation seems increasingly tilted in China’s favor. This instable relationship could result in a stronger Chinese presence in Central Asia.  4. Loss of strategic centrality. Europe does not only risk becoming increasingly peripheral in world affairs, but also losing its bargaining power with the emerging Indo-Pacific economies. On the one hand, the EU needs to diversify its supply chains away from China and likely towards the ASEAN; on the other, the Global South – and by default its Asian members – is more aware of the current strategic window of opportunity to redesign the global balance of power.   Our take We are witnessing rapid changes in the international arena. In the coming months there will be increasing requests to review global norms. Therefore, the leading event will be the upcoming BRICS Summit in August: the meeting will probably certify the process to accept new members. Among the countries that are voicing their desire to reset the rules, some are considered by the West (mainly) as rivals, such as China, and as partners, like India. Therefore, Washington and Brussels cannot simply accept or dismiss their requests. Asia is claiming its century: the integration of this claim for a renewed global order into the current world order has just started. Its most important implications will be on the economic side, namely the redistribution of industrial capacity and trade relation in the context of de-risking from China.  Spotlight: G7  The G7 Hiroshima Summit has sent some clear messages to the rest of the world. The decision to invite President Zelensky to the gathering was a move meant to reinforce the unity of the members regarding the Ukraine invasion in the face of Russia — and China, too. The West has criticized China’s 12-point position paper on the Ukraine war, since it does not call for Russia to abandon occupied territories. The G7 countries have also announced a strengthening of the sanctions, seeking to curb products that could be used by the Russian military. The other important takeaway of the G7 is the joint statement directed at China, which includes a strong criticism of Beijing’s “economic coercion” and invites the PRC to play according to international rules. The G7 have also reiterated their position on divisive topics such as security in the Indo-Pacific and Taiwan, retreating their commitment to preserve peace and stability in the region. Despite the joint statement and the declarations by the leaders on the challenges posed by China, the G7’s stance on Beijing is still a balancing act. While concerned about being overly vulnerable with China, G7 economies and their industrial base remain strongly interconnected with the Asian country and despite calls for “de-risking”, such as cutting China out from some sectors like raw materials, it is impossible at the time.  Experts’ viewsThe implications of China’s activism among the BRICS countries  The next BRICS Summit will take place at a critical juncture for the Global South. Russia is still at war, Brazil has a new administration eager to flex its muscles globally, and China has reached unprecedented influence across the developing world. Since they are all connected by the same desire of multipolarity away from US and Western hegemony, it is likely that the BRICS will try to offer a roadmap towards a new international order. This roadmap, however, is far from consensual: will Russia embrace the peace dialogues offered by Brazil or African nations – and what role will China play in brokering any such proposal? Will China and the other BRICS be able to cooperate economically to promote development worldwide? Are the BRICS ready for its first enlargement, and who is most likely to join in the coming years? This arrangement will require some mutual concessions and the outcome will help shape the future world order.  Guilherme Casarões, Fundação Getulio Vargas  The push to strengthen and even expand the BRICS, especially by China, should be viewed more broadly through the lens of a pragmatic Chinese foreign policy. It has not only sought to strengthen ties within BRICS but with other regions and countries who are instrumental for its trade and infrastructure connectivity imperatives.  This happens against the backdrop of a shift towards a multipolar world order with China as a rising power and rising geo-political tensions. Given that this bloc advocates for issues that are relevant to the Global South (global governance reform, support for a rules-based international order and multilateralism in times when countries retreat to unilateral measures), it is no surprise that other countries in the South wish to join. Regarding this summit, I see no major implications for the bloc, the core business of the BRICS will continue with South Africa advancing its five priority areas. However, we can anticipate a discussion on its formal expansion. Trading with local currency seems to have found new impetus following the sanctions placed on Russia. All this notwithstanding, it is important to note that the ‘de-dollarisation’ in trade debate is not a new concept for BRICS and its less about challenging the dollar but strengthening other currencies against external economic shocks. The real test is for the host country depending on whether President Putin attends the heads of state summit in August, given Pretoria’s obligations under the Rome Statute and domestic law.  Luanda Mpungose, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)  China’s push for a stronger BRICS on the global stage is advancing along a number of trajectories. Firstly, there is the BRICS expansion as well as the BRICS+ format that are likely to bring the majority of the Global South into BRICS-related platforms of economic cooperation. The implementation of the BRICS+ format may serve as a precursor for liberalizing trade across the Global South and exploiting the potential for boosting South-South trade and investment ties. The expansion in the membership of the Shanghai-based New Development Bank as well as the creation of its regional centers will increase the scope for connectivity projects across the developing world. There is also the greater use of national currencies (most notably the yuan) via de-dollarization as well as the R5 BRICS common currency project that if launched would mark a key transformation of the global financial system.  Yaroslav Lissovolik, BRICS+ Analytics   What and Where Thailand is ready to Move Forward   The May elections in Thailand resulted in a clear victory for the opposition parties. Led by Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward has won 152 seats, becoming the most voted party in the elections. This party is the heir to Future Forward, which was dissolved by the military government in February 2020, and was born out of the 2020-2021 protests against the army and the monarchy. The second party in the country is the historic Thai opposition party led by the Shinawatra family, the Pheu Thai. However, while the population has expressed its preference, there is no guarantee yet that Move Forward, and the opposition, will govern. Indeed, to be elected Prime Minister, and form a government, Pita will need to win the majority in the bicameral parliament made up of the elected 500 seats in House of Representatives and the 250 seats of the Senate – whose members are handpicked by the military. The Move Forward coalition with Pheu Thai and the other opposition parties so far can count on little more than 310 votes, a long shot from the majority needed to govern. The opposition must garner support among the senators – which generally have little interest in going against the military that put them in power – or among the parties that have yet to declare their allegiance.  Cambodia: Hun Sen is getting rid of the competition ahead of July elections  On the 14 of May, Cambodia’s opposition party – the Candlelight Party – has been disqualified from running in the upcoming July elections by the country’s election commission. The party has allegedly failed to submit the necessary documentation to participate in the electoral race. With the exclusion of the Candlelight Party from the coming elections, the only possible competitor to the ruling Cambodian People’s party (CPP) of PM Hun Sen – who has been in power for 38 years – has been eliminated. This is not the first time that the main opposition party has been cut out of the electoral race. For instance, in the 2017 the Cambodian court, which is heavily colluded with the CPP, dissolved the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) before the 2018 general elections – a party that was given new life when its members created the Candlelight Party. However, the members of the opposition continue to be persecuted by Hun Sen’s forces with many political exponents arrested on charges of treason, assaulted, or forced to leave the country. With the opposition forces largely depleted and the main party banned from running for elections, Hun Sen is likely guaranteed another term.   The United States seeks to expand influence in the Indo-Pacific  Washington took advantage of two key international events to strengthen its strategic position in the region. During the Quad Leaders’ Summit, which took place on the sidelines of the G7 in Hiroshima, President Biden, Australia’s PM Albanese, PM Kishida of Japan and PM Modi of India stressed their unity and stated their plans to invest in digital infrastructure in the region. Throughout the meeting they did not mention China directly in their statements, but their references to the country were clear. The Quad expressed concern over the militarization of the region and the use of both economic and military coercion to alter the status quo – a clear reference to Chinese activity in the South China Sea. Another important step for the US to consolidate its position in the region is the announcement of the Supply Chain Agreement under the framework of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). The agreement includes the 14 IPEF partner countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the US, and Vietnam. A year following the launch of the IPEF, this agreement is the first practical measure undertaken by the group. The group did not announce any official trade commitments, there is expectation among partners for increased cooperation and monitoring of supply chains fragility. The concrete development is still unclear, but the agreement signals the need for Indo-Pacific countries to avoid supply chain disruption and to minimize their dependence on the region’s main economic player, China.  Semiconductors: China fires back   China has gone on the offensive in competition over the semiconductor sector. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has stated that products by Micron, the US largest memory chip maker, are a “security risk for the information infrastructure supply chain” barring infrastructure operators from buying them. While additional information has yet to be revealed, some negative impacts are expected for Micron even if China and Hong Kong accounted for only 16% of the revenue of the company in 2022. The measure is a retaliation to America’s effort to cut China out from the semiconductor sector and slow the development of its industrial base. Since October 2022, the Biden Administration has imposed strict controls over chips export, followed by the Netherlands and Japan, preventing China from accessing and producing more advanced semiconductors. China’s declaration comes also after the leaders of the G7 grouping released a statement criticizing the country’s economic coercion tactic. After the move from Beijing, Micron fears that their products will be replaced by South Korean competitors, Samsung and SK Hynix, on the Chinese market. In the rising technological row between the US and China, there is also fear that Beijing might choose to put some export controls over other sensitive technologies, such as solar panels – where China dominates the whole supply chain.    TREND: Despite rate hikes, Asian unemployment is faring well (but not for everyone)  In the current context of high inflation and high rates, unemployment has turned out to be one of the main socio-political issues of Asia. With skyrocketing prices hurting businesses and consumers, many central banks in the West have adopted more hawkish monetary policies during the last year. Yet, the soaring cost of money has forced many businesses into a tight spot with concerning consequences on the employment level. Some countries though – like Japan, China, and Indonesia – have made the unorthodox choice to not significantly raise rates during the last year, while others – like South Korea and India – have adopted similar policies to those of the FED and the ECB. However, the results vary. In Japan the unemployment rate has been quite steady at around 2.6% for some time now, but in China the range (5.2-5.7%) was wider, especially due to the uneven nature of the post-Covid economic recovery. Yet, as the economy is slowly returning to normal, Beijing’s unemployment rate is gradually decreasing. Meanwhile Korea has consolidated a positive trend, with the last available figure at 2.5%, but the reforms of the labor market proposed by President Yoon Suk-yeol may cause some issues. The critical indicator though will be youth unemployment. Employment in aging societies, like those of East Asia, will increasingly become a core issue to maintain the viability of existing social welfare programs. So far China has a staggering 20.8% unemployment rate in the 16-24 years old age group which is particularly concerning, as it is the 7.2% recorded in South Korea. Japan is faring quite well but unemployment in the 25-34 years old age bracket has risen since the beginning of the year from 3% to 4%.

Energy & Economics
miniature people figure businessman standing on united states of america map on globe as world leader decision concept

Washington Declaration: Beyond Korea, What it Means for India?

by Jagannath P. Panda

In April 2023, South Korea and the United States released the Washington Declaration to reiterate and upgrade their treaty alliance. In outlining a joint nuclear deterrence strategy, the Declaration reaffirmed that South Korea would not pursue independent nuclear capabilities, and instead continue to rely on the alliance-based approach. This paper considers the strategic impact of the Washington Declaration beyond the U.S.-ROK nexus. Highlighting the importance of the agreement on security and stability in the broader Indo-Pacific region, this paper focuses on India’s stake in the new development. In particular, this paper emphasizes that despite its stated focus on the North Korean nuclear threat, the Washington Declaration also considers the Chinese and Russian threats in the region, making it of immense interest to India. It analyzes whether and how the Washington Declaration can complement India’s interests, and the potential for it to pave the way towards a closer India-U.S.-South Korea trilateral partnership in the Indo-Pacific.  Introduction  The release of the Washington Declaration in April 2023 has not just temporarily halted the Republic of Korea’s (ROK or South Korea) ambitions of developing its own nuclear weapons, but has also given more attention to the debates on nuclear deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. Even as the United States is concerned about growing nuclear developments in China, Russia, and North Korea (or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK), it is primarily focused on countering China – “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.” Given that China’s military activities in its extended neighborhood, including in the Taiwan Strait, South and East China Seas, and the Himalayan borderwith India, have attained built greater momentum in the past decade, the Declaration assumes greater significance: As a forward-looking step to mollify U.S. treaty allies and partners in the region with the larger aim of bolstering a “cooperative” approach against the growing nuclear threat.  In this context, even as the Washington Declaration does not directly impact India, its implications for the IndoPacific amid India’s substantial role in the budding IndoPacific security architecture compels a closer examination into the new debates centered on South Korea’s extended deterrence. India is a “special strategic partner” for the ROK: Post the launch of the ROK’s Indo-Pacific strategy in December 2022, the two are exploring their increasing strategic convergence via respective inclusive policies as “pivotal” Indo-Pacific partners. Therefore, the security concerns in East Asia are not just important for India because of the domino effect on South Asia—home to near-perpetual instability due to the three nuclear states of China, India, and Pakistan—but also in terms of the negative impact on India’s (as yet) nascent efforts to boost multilateralism, middle power coalition, and regional integration.  Can New Delhi capitalize on South Korea’s gains from the U.S.’ latest declaration against North Korea’s and China’s nuclear threats? Could the Washington Declaration complement an envisioned India-ROK-U.S. trilateral in today’s divisive geopolitics? Could the new nuclear debates focusing on extended deterrence engender mechanisms for strengthening South Asian nuclear stability? Contextualizing the Washington Declaration Beyond the Peninsula Undoubtedly, the bilateral summit, including the Declaration will have an impact not just on the ROK but also on all stakeholders in the region—from U.S. partners like Japan and India to nuclear rivals China, Russia, and North Korea. What does the new pact bring to the fore for the ROK? In what ways will the latest U.S. approach to the Korean Peninsula affect the Indo-Pacific security landscape and partnerships, particularly for India?  Parsing the Declaration – (Not) New Significance for ROK?  In April 2023, the ROK-U.S. bilateral summit in Washington commemorated the 70th anniversary of the ironclad U.S.-ROK alliance—the duo’s dynamics have evolved from security treaty allies under the Mutual Defense Treaty, signed in October 1953, to global comprehensive strategic allies in May 2022. Presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol, through their joint statement, press conference, and a separate “Washington Declaration”, reiterated the shared commitment under the Mutual Defense Treaty, as well as toward establishing peace and stability in the IndoPacific. Moreover, Yoon’s state visit resulted in a stream of “political understandings” that ranged from billion-dollar economic and environmental tie-ups to technological and developmental cooperation. However, the event that has grabbed the maximum eyeballs is the Washington Declaration—unveiling new measures to concretize the “ambitious path” to secure the U.S.-ROK defense and global security cooperation and advance shared priorities in the Indo-Pacific.  This new pact claims to further the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence measures—referring to modernizing the U.S. capabilities, including nuclear forces, to deter attacks on allies, as also discourage allies from going nuclear, in the increasingly threatening regional security environment. For instance, the U.S. has constituted at the assistant secretary level a Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) to assuage the ROK about the U.S.’ intent to formulate a consensus-based approach to handling the North Korean threat. This includes not just enhancing deployment of U.S. strategic assets, including nuclearcapable platforms, in and around the Korean Peninsula, but also augmented information-sharing, joint contingency planning, and an inter-agency table-top simulation. One of the most important objectives of this comprehensive outcome was to showcase to the domestic public in South Korea that the U.S. is a long-term reliable security partner—while also exemplifying the same for the other U.S. allies and partners in the region, such as Japan.  The U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral is a central aspect in the Northeast Asia deterrence measures given that they face common threats from North Korea. Yoon has already opened the doors for a “three-way” strategic and nuclear planning “at any time” in the future to boost the combined response to a nuclear contingency: “The Washington Declaration is a bilateral agreement between Korea and the U.S., but we do not rule out Japan’s participation.” Already, there are speculations about Japan joining the NCG. For the present, the three countries have agreed to strengthen trilateral military cooperation including regularizing ballistic missile defense exercises and antisubmarine warfare exercises. They have also initiated efforts toward a “data sharing mechanism to exchange realtime missile warning data before the end of the year,” in line with the November 2022 trilateral leaders’ summit commitments.  At the same time, the Declaration has put on hold, even if temporarily, South Korean goals to build autonomous nuclear weapons. Yoon, who has been facing criticism at home for not heeding the extraordinary public support for acquiring an indigenous nuclear weapons program, had earlier this year stirred up a hornet’s nest by openly declaring nuclear weapons development as a possible policy option, which at the very least pushes the U.S. to re-deploy nuclear weapons. However, the Declaration clearly reaffirms the ROK’s continued commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the new 123 Agreement, with the U.S. president as the “sole authority” to launch nuclear weapons. It has therefore curtailed any independent nuclear notions for the near future and only served to strengthen the ROK’s alignment with the U.S. view of the global non-proliferation regime.  Consequently, the response in the South Korean media was subdued, if not sweepingly critical. Despite Yoon hailing the alliance as “nuclear based”, polls conducted during April-May 2023 (by the Korea Institute for National Unification, KINU) showed a significant drop in public support for the ROK going nuclear, especially in cognizance of the risks involved. The ROK government describing the Declaration as a Mutual Defense Treaty 2.0 or attesting to its “nuclear sharing” aspect have been touted as “false claims”; U.S. officials have also noted that the Washington Declaration is not a “de facto nuclear-sharing” agreement.  Importantly, questions have been raised domestically about South Korea paying a “high price” in return for “hardly … any substantive changes” in the U.S. nuclear policy on South Korea—sharply referred to by some domestic critics as “a redundant declaration produced by mutual distrust in the South Korea-U.S. alliance.” In concrete terms, the pact has been likened to the “jettisoning” of South Korea’s right to protect itself from the nuclear threat from North Korea—U.S. President Biden has categorically stated that he has the “absolute” authority as commanderin-chief to use nuclear weapons even though it would be in consultation with the allies. There are also legitimate concerns about the agreement having turned China and Russia into “de facto adversaries”. Misgivings have also been raised about the lack of U.S. assurance on increased business and investment ties, including in semiconductors and green technologies—areas where closer ties with the U.S. could help reduce Korean dependence on China.  The Chinese state media has raised serious concerns about the ROK “sacrificing” its “win-win” economic ties with China, but at present, maintains that “cooperation remains an irreversible trend in the long run.” Regarding these worries, some political observers in Seoul have contended that the ROK need not go back to its “strategic ambiguity” approach to pursue economic ties with China. This is primarily because countering China’s rise as a strategic challenge while maximizing economic benefits is a concern faced not only by the ROK but all liberal democracies in the present complex, transitional geopolitical scenario. Notably, the North Korean response has been predictable, calling it an opportunity for the DPRK to “perfect” its nuclear option; the official DPRK statement labeling it a “nominal” declaration highlights that the Kim regime sees it as business as usual.  A disconcerting aspect of the Declaration, even though it is in line with the sentiment of the times, has been the relegation of “pursuit of dialogue and diplomacy” with North Korea to a byline at the end. It indicates a closing of doors on diplomacy, albeit with a rogue state (namely the DPRK) unwilling to compromise, but nonetheless important given the near-consensus about the Declaration being an “evolution” in deterrence but not a panacea for the peninsular concerns. Some have also contended that “these outcomes will likely not provide enduring solutions to the North Korea challenge.”  Another notable issue that would have impacted the U.S.- ROK summit is the fallout from leaked U.S. intelligence documents, days before Yoon’s state visit, which suggested that the United States was spying on one of its foremost treaty allies. There are concerns in South Korea that the U.S. has “already penetrated into the Korean government’s networks and intercepted communications, possibly including phone and email.” As the U.S. has been accused of spying on the ROK in 2013, too, when its extensive surveillance program was exposed in press reports, the mistrust between the allies is likely to re-surface time and again. Therefore, in view of the South Korean government’s restlessness and nuclear claims prior to the April joint statement, there is some truth to the assertion that the Declaration arises out of the need to downplay the U.S. allies’ misgivings and trust issues. Its importance hence lies in shoring up of the U.S.-ROK partnership amid fears of the current security situation in Northeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific becoming worse due to the growing divisions in global geopolitics. Nonetheless, Yoon’s embrace of “strategic clarity” for the Indo-Pacific construct; sanctions on Russia during the Ukraine war; the success in resuming the U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral in the past year; and the importance accorded to Yoon’s state visit, including the broad-ranging joint statement and the not-so-definitive yet formidable Washington Declaration, all highlight that the upward trajectory of the U.S.-ROK bonhomie is not a superfluous achievement. It points to a steady, forwardlooking alliance with implications for the wider IndoPacific. Ascertaining India’s Interests At a broader level, for the Indo-Pacific, especially for U.S. allies and partners in the region, the 2023 Washington Declaration is a sign of the U.S.’ willingness to negotiate the partners’ growing need for an inclusive, if not entirely equal, cooperation mechanism. Such an approach will not only strengthen the respective bilaterals with the United States but also present a stronger coalition in the fight against both North Korea and China. The latter is intent on destabilizing the existing status quo through its military aggression—from the Taiwan Strait to the Himalayas.  For India, which has been facing the brunt of China’s military tactics along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with an increased frequency in the past decade, the Washington Declaration highlights a strengthening of like-minded partnerships in the continuing democratic face-off against China. Thus, the Declaration’s impact is felt in Indo-Pacific geopolitics, including India’s immediate neighborhood— particularly as it compels the ROK to sharpen its global pivotal leadership by embedding itself deeper in the U.S.- led Indo-Pacific construct. Though the Declaration is specifically targeted against North Korea, not China, the evolving alliance is a response to the ever-growing threats in and around the Korean Peninsula, as well as in broader Asia: From Central Asia to the Middle East; the Himalayan States to the Indian Ocean; the South China Sea to the East China Sea, China’s diplomatic-economic clout and military presence is growing. In short, the Chinese threat is the main concern for the U.S.  As a result, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning was stringent in his criticism of the new pact: “What the U.S. is doing ... provokes confrontation between camps, undermines the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the strategic interests of other countries.” China was also immediate to voice its opposition against Japan’s potential involvement through the Washington Declaration, after Yoon was positive about turning the bilateral agreement into a trilateral one in the future. The inclusion of the phrase “peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits” and critical technologies cooperation in the joint statement also raised hackles in China in terms of South Korea isolating China and crossing its red lines.  China sees this agreement as another U.S. tool to strengthen a values-based security coalition in the region à la Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States). The Quad’s successful bonhomie has not only inspired other such U.S.- led platforms (e.g., the latest with Australia, Japan, and the Philippines and the West Asian one with India, Israel, and the UAE) but has also become a thorn in the side of China’s goals of regional dominance. Any deterrence for China’s growing ambitions is in India’s interests, which is not only facing a continental threat but also recognizes China’s growing reach in India’s traditional stronghold of the Indian Ocean region.  Consequently, despite not being directly connected to this agreement, India may nonetheless benefit from the Washington Declaration in a number of ways both in the Indo-Pacific and the Korean Peninsula. Firstly, the Declaration is critical to increasing the Quad’s strength. The reaffirmation of U.S. commitment to its Indo-Pacific allies and partners, including India, will not only boost the Quad but also set the stage for renewed deliberations on the Quad “Plus” framework, of which the ROK is a part, thereby opening up more avenues of India-ROK collaboration. In turn, such integration of South Korea with the Quad will further push the North Korean agenda onto the Quad’s table.  Secondly, in response to Chinese (and North Korean) aggression, the Washington Declaration emphasizes the need for maintaining the status quo in the Indo-Pacific and rejects any illegitimate maritime claims, militarization of reclaimed features, and coercive actions. This might be seen as normal diplo-speak; however, it will further concretize the ROK’s aims to build greater maritime collaborations, including naval deterrence capabilities, in the Indo-Pacific. For instance, the Chungnam frigate (FFX), launched by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in April 2023, will be incorporated into the ROK Navy— its second-largest naval expense. Such an investment is poised to contribute to stronger South Korean presence in the Indo-Pacific in line with its newly launched IndoPacific strategy. It is a positive development for India, which is looking to bolster its IOR presence through likeminded partners like the ROK, the European Union and its members, and Japan.  Here, it is also important to note that even though the ROK has traded off its nuclear development ambitions for “deeper, cooperative decision-making on nuclear deterrence” in the Washington Declaration, the road to fulfilling its nuclear-based ambitions has not closed down. In the future, for instance, Seoul might still be inclined to renew its post-AUKUS (Australia-UK-U.S. defense pact) demands to gain access to the U.S.’ nuclear-power submarine technology. India, which is one of the few countries to have nuclear-powered submarines with ballistic missile launch capabilities, can use this opportunity to further increase naval exercises with the ROK, along with making a stronger push towards defense technology and manufacturing collaborations.  Thirdly, India and South Korea are strengthening their bilateral and regional relationship based on democratic and inclusive visions, characterized by the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Their future-oriented partnership has a sound foundational convergence, namely the Act East Policy (AEP)-New Southern Policy (NSP) Plus connect. Notably, the degree to which the Yoon government embraces India’s AEP (and Indo-Pacific vision) will not only determine the natural progression of India-South Korea regional relations but also provide momentum to diversification goals. The latter is important in light of the ROK’s growing security and techno-economic dependence on the United States at the cost of neglecting its long-standing economic partner China, as underscored by the latest joint statement and China’s response to it.  In this context, India’s and the ROK’s quest for economic security, through participation in various regional and panregional forums, will enable them to build strategic links, and work together to balance regional developmental goals and their own economic-military growth. Both countries can use their participation in platforms like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to build a stronger economic partnership. For example, the ROK, which joined the AIIB in 2015 and is the fifth-largest stakeholder of the AIIB with its shares at 3.86 percent, is looking to expand ties and find new joint project opportunities. India, as a founding member and the second largest shareholder with the largest project portfolio within AIIB, could facilitate the ROK’s enhanced contributions in the bank’s turn toward green infrastructure for providing “high-quality development finance.” India and ROK’s participation in forums like the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) and the U.S.- led Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) respectively, can help them coordinate their actions as they look to diversify critical value chains. The contested Asian and Indo-Pacific landscape has made supply chain diversification a priority. As U.S.-China trade and technological competition makes economic security vital, India and South Korea can build on their natural complementarities and work together to restructure their supply chains to reduce reliance on Chinacontrolled supply chains. While South Korea can support India’s goal of emerging as a manufacturing hub for key industries, India can be an important partner in South Korea’s aim to diversify its economic partnerships beyond China under the NSP.  Lastly, if South Korea heeds to domestic criticism about “jettisoning” its strategic autonomy (that is, deferring to the U.S. by not acquiring a nuclear weapons development program), it will continue to diversify its partners, particularly in defense manufacturing and new technologies. Given that India and the ROK have expanded their defense cooperation, including joint production and export of military hardware, in recent years, the new pact will allow the ROK to push boundaries. For instance, the ROK could continue supporting India’s membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or the MSP and India could facilitate South Korea’s increased participation in the Quad, a much-desired goal for Yoon.  Moreover, ROK-India could partner for peaceful nuclear purposes. At present, India does not allow foreign direct investment in the nuclear power sector, but as per Indian media reports, the government is mulling changes in the near future. Their coming closer together, which is already in motion, will consolidate the middle power-dominated multipolar Asia architecture, primarily to mitigate the constraints due to the growing bipolar rivalry. It will further their common goal to achieve a global standing while preserving strategic autonomy. U.S.-ROK-India: A Trilateral Inches Closer? The latest U.S.-ROK summit and the Washington Declaration have certainly strengthened the U.S.-led alliance structure in the region, giving partners outside this alliance hope for a consultative and cooperative security mechanism for the region, U.S. primacy notwithstanding. What is clear is that a democratic values-based coalition will be able to successfully maneuver the ups and downs through the times and give impetus to the new-era security, economic, technological, and diplomatic cooperation. In this vein, the Declaration could be seen as a clarion call for unity to deal with the current hostile regional and global geopolitical circumstances. The boost to the Japan-ROKU.S. trilateral through this pact, as well as the bilateral summit’s assertion to implement their respective IndoPacific strategies while enhancing “Indo-Pacific voices in multilateral forums, especially in addressing climate change, sustainable energy access, and food insecurity,” could pave the way for other minilateral coalitions.  India as a vital cog in the Indo-Pacific security network will naturally play a significant role. India’s increasing closeness to the United States as a counterweight to China and a strategic partner, especially in defense and technological areas, for a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) makes it an important component in today’s U.S.-led liberal order, which is at a transition stage. Moreover, the bonhomie with South Korea is based on growing common values and interests of assertive middle powers, including strategic autonomy and global governance aspirations.  India will be closely watching to see whether Seoul’s emphatic turn to “strategic clarity,”—first with its “Strategy for a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region” and now the Washington Declaration—will enable the ROK to fulfill its middle power potential as a “technological, economic powerhouse.” In other words, for India, the new ROK approach could enable a deeper strategic connect between the two partners by moving beyond economic and limited regional ambitions. The new goals would have to include extended joint military exercises, joint manufacturing of defense equipment, expanded connectivity (digital and physical), regional integration initiatives, global supply chain resilience, increased green technology sharing, effective critical mineral collaborations (to lower dependency on China and Russia), and technological norms building, among others.  Importantly, as both India and the ROK have signed the respective 123 Agreement with the U.S. on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, there is potential for cooperation in the power sector, as well as via technical exchanges, scientific research, and safeguards discussions. In March 2018, India and South Korea signed a bilateral civil nuclear agreement that allowed Korean companies to participate in India’s civil nuclear industry (including in atomic power plant projects and selling nuclear reactors to India). With energy security front and center on the global agenda in wake of the Ukraine crisis, trilateral cooperation in the civil nuclear sector can be an important step forward. Notably, nuclear exports are an important part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). By 2030, China plans to build about 30 nuclear reactors abroad, worth $145.5 billion; it has already built four nuclear reactors in Pakistan (and is now building two more), has signed agreements to build reactors in Argentina, entered the UK nuclear market, and is currently negotiating with several other countries including Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. Amid the ongoing energy crisis, China’s foray into the global nuclear market could give it greater influence and potentially enhance its coercive power. In this context, the U.S., South Korea, and India have reason to bolster cooperation in this area and ensure they can stand as competitive nuclear vendors against China’s offer of advanced technology, competitive prices, and rich financing.  India, the ROK and the U.S. have several shared interests and are already engaged in high-level cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels; as such, a trilateral between the three powers would help coordinate their actions in pursuit of their regional goals. At the same time, for India and the ROK, any such trilateral cooperation could serve to provoke China and make managing the U.S.-China equation much more difficult. Nevertheless, while India faces a belligerent China on its border and South Korea is dealing with an economically coercive China, a trilateral partnership could be necessary to bolster collaborations and further shared interests. Furthermore, the benefits of a U.S.-ROK-India trilateral would be equally distributed to not just the three countries, but also other regional powers. Improvement of ties between Japan and South Korea—which is shaping up to be a focal point of both Yoon’s and Fumio Kishida’s leadership legacies—will gain smoother and faster traction owing to Japan’s close ties with India and the alliance with the U.S. Australia and Indonesia, too, have responded positively to South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy. The establishment of a new U.S.- led defense-ministerial level quadrilateral mechanism with Australia, Japan, and the Philippines is another shot in the arm for “allied and like-minded” countries. Therefore, the U.S.-India-ROK trilateral would draw on the bilateral gains and their common belief in ASEAN centrality to further regional integration aims. This will also give impetus to Seoul and Delhi (and also Canberra) emerging as strong candidates for an extended G-7. Overall, the Declaration sets the stage for a strong U.S.-ROK camaraderie that will extend beyond nuclear deterrence goals, impacting broader regional multilateral dynamics of the Indo-Pacific. Lessons for South Asian Nuclear Dynamics: Potential for Reassurance and Deterrence? In many ways, the Washington Declaration seeks to be a show of strength—and a reprieve—against the North Korean nuclear threat that has rapidly escalated over the past year with the sudden rise in missile tests and an expanding nuclear program. Since his election for presidency, Yoon has frequently expressed willingness for South Korea to be a more active player in the Indo-Pacific, including by being a part of the Quad framework. The Declaration is a part of Seoul’s efforts to meet its security goals. While it is certainly a significant step to counter the North Korean threat, it is also an indication of a stronger alliance against provocative actions by China. The bolstered U.S.-ROK partnership under the Declaration is a step towards a more proactive and stronger South Korea in the region, and could eventually ease the way for Seoul’s productive involvement in the Quad, perhaps through a Plus framework. While South Korea will still need to establish itself as a reliable partner with the other members of the Quad, the Declaration certainly demonstrates its commitment to regional (and global) security, and by extension, the important role it can play through greater interaction and burden-sharing with the Quad.  Undoubtedly, this new bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the ROK (potentially also involving Japan through the trilateral) will usher in new lessons for the wider Indo-Pacific, and in turn for India, too. For instance, the prospects of closer consultations that will strengthen the combined defense posture are relevant for not just U.S. treaty allies like the ROK and Japan but central strategic security partners like India that is facing a two-front border escalation with China and Pakistan. However, could this new deterrence declaration in Northeast Asia pave the way for a common strategic mechanism between the U.S. and India that enhances deterrence and provides a degree of reassurance against the growing nuclear risk in South Asia?  As much as it is possible that the U.S. extended deterrence for ROK would fuel an arms race, as also underscored by Russia and China in their response to the Declaration, not just in Northeast Asia but also in nuclear-heavy South Asia, it is often contended that “the drivers of nuclear instability in the region have more to do with conventional warfighting strategies.” The grave escalation in 2019 between India and Pakistan is one such example, and the accidental firing of a missile into Pakistan’s territory in 2022 that fortunately did not result in a retaliatory attack is another—both highlight the need to pursue definitive de-escalation and crisis management measures, and the latter puts a spotlight on the current fragility of the South Asian situation. The danger of an accidental nuclear war in such tense conflicts has not been stressed enough, and it bears repeating that such a threat was a constant refrain during the Cold War posturing.  Broadly speaking, today, India and Pakistan are not signatories to the NPT but have been gradually increasing their nuclear arsenals. China is a nuclear weapons state recognized by the NPT, and has accelerated its nuclear development program. All are developing newer “ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems.” As of January 2023, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was about 170 warheads (by some estimates the stockpile might go up to about 200 by 2025), China’s about 410 nuclear warheads; and India’s about 164 nuclear weapons.  Moreover, while India and China both have declared nofirst-use (NFU) policies, Pakistan has no such policy; its “full spectrum deterrence posture,” especially the development of tactical nuclear weapons capabilities for use on the battlefield to offset India’s (superior) conventional military tactics has been of concern to not just India but the United States as well. At the same time, recently questions have been raised about China shifting its nuclear policies, including the NFU, because of the nuclear expansion and modernization. Vis-à-vis India, too, there are speculations that “India could be transitioning towards a counterforce nuclear posture to target an adversary’s nuclear weapons earlier in a crisis, even before they could be used.”  In this context, controlling escalation is not a conclusive plan of action, and dialogue, too, has limitations when the live-wire conflict, as it is with both India-Pakistan and IndiaChina, has historical roots and nuclear leverage. Also, India has called nuclear risk reduction an “interim” strategy; and as per its security review in 2003, India retains the option of nuclear weapons in the event of an attack by chemical and biological weapons. However, as part of its doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence, including the NFU and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states, India is “prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements.”  Therefore, for South Asia, the U.S. and its partners, including India, need to focus on building creative, reliable mechanisms for limiting the possibilities of crossing the nuclear threshold, as well as controlling the use of highprecision conventional weapons. For example, India, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. should either as a new minilateral or in conjunction with Quad (Plus) strengthen a strategic dialogue that looks into ways of information sharing, including intelligence on nuclear threats in the sub-region, as well as take into account India’s pursuit of “global, verifiable and non-discriminatory” multilateral legal arrangements for a nuclear weapon free world.  Importantly, a vital tool that should be widely used is the dissemination of information about the dangers of nuclear weapons and the limitations of ballistic missiles among the public and policymakers. Lessons must be drawn from the South Korean scenario where public survey results in the recent past have highlighted a concerning trend of a high degree of support for nuclear weapons deployment without fully being made aware of the pitfalls. A recent study revealed that even in the U.S. and the UK, there is a lack of awareness about “nuclear winter”—a term used to illustrate the potential “catastrophic long-term environmental consequences from any exchange of nuclear warheads”— and that even brief exposure to these risks reduces the public’s support for nuclear retaliation. The dramatic lowering of public support for nuclear development is seen in the latest (aforementioned) KINU survey in the ROK, too, when presented with different possibilities of risks. Raising awareness and educating the public and decision-makers about such risks should also be part of the state’s strategy to reduce the heightened perceptions about nuclear weapons: the responsibility surely lies to a large degree on national governments and relevant multilateral organizations, which seem to have been caught napping.  In the wake of the Washington Declaration, which has rekindled the nuclear debates in the Indo-Pacific, it is imperative that concerted efforts be made by all stakeholders, especially the nuclear states and the ones desirous of autonomous nuclear weapons capabilities, to first raise regional public awareness about the ramifications of nuclear armament, and only then pursue responsible deterrence measures.

Defense & Security
The leaders of four BRICS countries, Lula, Xi Jinping, Cyril Ramaphosa with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

BRICS rises

by Manoj Joshi

Now with 11 members, BRICS’ decision-making by consensus will be that much more difficultOnce upon a time, the BRICS were nothing but a slogan devised by Goldman Sachs’ economists to describe four emerging market economies to which South Africa was later added. But more than a decade later, the grouping, now with an investment bank—New Development Bank—of its own is besieged by dozens of countries of the Global South for membership.The Johannesburg summit of BRICS has drawn unusual interest around the world. There was a time when it barely merited a mention in the western press, but now it has been the subject of major stories, in which some saw BRICS as brittle whiel others thought it was  seeking to challenge the G7 and the western world through a process of enlargement. While the BRICS puts itself forward as a unified face of the emerging economic powers, the reality is that within the organisation—which  is neither a trade nor military bloc—there is considerable jostling between two Asian powers who are developing a global imprint—India and China.BRICS expansion announced in JohannesburgOne of the issues where this jostling played out in was the BRICS expansion process. Reportedly, 40 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS, though some 22 nations had formally expressed interest in joining the bloc. With the latest expansion, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and UAE have been offered membership effective 1 January 2024. That there was a bit of lobbying is evident from the fact that  last week, President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Modi. According to the official spokesman, they talked about “regional and bilateral matters” as well as issues like the expansion of BRICS. The two leaders later met in Johannesburg as well.There was some doubt at the beginning of the summit as to whether expansion would actually be announced. This was because of the intense negotiations over the names of the proposed members.Earlier this month, an Indian official spokesman had clarified that India believed that BRICS expansion should take place through “full consultation and consensus” among members of the bloc. In his speech at the summit, the Prime Minister made it clear that “India fully supports the expansion of the BRICS membership. And welcomes moving forward with consensus in this.” On Thursday, too, there were reports that there were “eleventh hour negotiations” over the potential new members. Reuters claimed that an agreement had meant to be adopted on Wednesday, but it was delayed by India’s introduction of new criteria for membership. On Tuesday President Lula of Brazil had made it clear that his country was did not want to be any kind of “a counterpoint to G7, G20 or the United States. We just want to organise ourselves.”In an organisation that acts through consensus, getting in is difficult, but global politics is about give and take and a certain degree of persuasion and arm twisting does go on. So does the notion of giving a push to countries who you see eye to eye with and blocking countries that you don’t. Sometimes the negotiation involves two powerful players splitting the difference and negotiating the entry of countries in such a way that a balance of sorts is maintained. This is the way India became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation dominated by China. India’s case was pushed by Russia to balance China, and Beijing finally agreed to have India, if Pakistan, its “iron” friend, could become a member at the same time.Another element in such organisations is that countries seek membership not just to further their interests but to block the ambitions of others. In this way, China sought and became a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) arrangement and once in there, it has used its vote to block efforts by the United States (US) to shape APEC into an Asia Pacific Economic Community in the manner of the European Economic Community that finally gave rise to the European Union.India has been reportedly joined by Brazil in resisting the haste and suggesting that new members may first be given the status of observers. The Indian position has been that while it was all for expansion, there was need to develop and standardise mechanisms to consider the applications and move on them.As of now, BRICS is more of a symbol than a unified and purposive entity. True, it has members like China and India who wield substantial power in their respective regions, but the entity itself hardly functions as an economic bloc of any kind. It does have the New Development Bank headquartered in Shanghai, which, in 2021, sharply stepped up its disbursements to US$7.6 billion, with its total disbursements being of the order of US$32 billion for infrastructure and sustainable development in four continents . The initial subscribed capital of the bank is equally distributed among the BRICS members.China’s role in and vision for BRICSBeijing, no doubt views BRICS as a means of offsetting US global power. In a page 2 commentary in the People’s Daily by someone with the nom de plume  “Huanyu Ping,” said that currently the world governance system was “at a historical turning point”. The growth of the emerging market and developing countries has enhanced their influence. But the western-dominated global order was a “stumbling block to world economic development and social progress.” The multilateralist BRICS was therefore providing a model for decisions to be made on the basis of equality and consensus, as testified by the share-holding of the New Development Bank. They also actively promoted reform of the global governance system and upheld the validity of multilateral and multipolar solutions.There should be no doubt about the weightage China has within BRICS. It has a GDP more than twice the size of the other members combined. Its economy may have slowed down but it is still growing, with IMF predicting a 5.2 per cent growth as against 5.9 for India. The others are growing at less than 1 per cent.  It has played a significant role in getting together two of the new incoming members, Saudi Arabia and Iran. In 2022, China was the largest trading partner of South Africa, India and Brazil.There should be little doubt that China sees Africa as a battleground in the global struggle against the US. In a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, President Xi spoke of the urgent need for China to promote cooperation with Africa because of “changes and chaos” in the world, an indirect allusion to the US. He took up the theme in the Business Forum meeting that he did not attend, but where his speech was read out: “Right now, changes in the world, in our times, and in history are unfolding in ways like never before, bringing human society to a critical juncture.”China may swear by multilateralism, but it is not really comfortable with it. What it is seeking to do is to shape institutions like BRICS in its own image for countering its principal rival, the United States of America. In this, it is unlikely to get Indian support, so what it is trying to do is to pack its membership with countries where it has already made significant investments through its Belt & Road Initiative. Such countries would be inclined to follow its global agenda, which is now manifesting itself as the Global Security Initiative, Global Development Initiative and the Global Civilisation Initiative.The Chinese aim, according to James Kynge in the Financial Times is two-fold. The first is to ensure that large parts of the world remain open to Chinese investment and trade in an environment where western attitudes are increasingly hardening. And the second is to have a bloc of votes in multilateral forums like the United Nations (UN) to project Chinese influence.In the turbulent world, China’s path is not an easy one. Its economy is slowing down and its global security calculations have been roiled by the Russian adventure in Ukraine. Further, in promoting the Global South it runs up against India which has its own ambitions, as well as the backing of the west. Even while promoting the UN and its institutions, China is not interested in any serious reform there because that could result in a bigger role for its adversaries like Japan and India.Done increases with the expansion of its membership. Now, with 11 members, things will be that much more difficult. The BRICS countries have economies and geopolitical profiles that are hugely divergent, and which makes consensus-based decision-making hugely difficult.

Diplomacy
The leaders of four BRICS countries, Lula, Xi Jinping, Cyril Ramaphosa with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

BRICS and the West: Don’t Believe the Cold War Hype

by Cedric H. de Coning

While it is prudent to be cautious, it may also be wise to explore cooperation in those areas where there are shared interests rather than assume that the BRICS and the West are strategic rivals on all fronts.This analysis was first published in the Global Observatory, 30 August 2023.When Jim O’Neill coined the BRIC acronym in 2001, the point he was trying to convey was that the global economic system needed to incorporate the world’s largest emerging economies. His advice fell on deaf ears and in 2009, Brazil, China, India and Russia decided to take matters into their own hands and formed the BRIC grouping. South Africa joined the group in 2010 to form the BRICS. This July, the group held its 15th summit in South Africa, where they decided to add six new members: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. More are likely to join in the future, including countries like Indonesia and Nigeria. What these countries have in common is a frustration, if not a grievance, about being side-lined to the periphery of the world economy. Together, the BRICS represent approximately 40% of the world’s population. The combined size of their economies are approaching approximately 30% of the world’s GDP, which puts them roughly on par with combined size of the economies of the G7 countries, depending on whether size is measured in GDP or PPP.  More importantly, in the next few decades, the combined size of the BRICS economies will surpass that of the G7. Despite this growing parity, all the members of the BRICS, with the exception of Russia, self-identifies as being part of the Global South, i.e., they feel excluded from a global system dominated by the Global North. Their stated aim is to work towards a future system of global governance where they will have equal political and economic say in global institutions, and where no one state will dominate others. In pursuit of this aim, BRICS countries have established their own development bank, set up their own contingency reserve arrangement, are developing their own payment system, and have started to trade with each other in their own currencies. The BRICS want to free their economies from the dollar-based international financial system. They feel exposed to United States interest rates that can have a negative effect on their economies, for no domestic reasons. The dollar-based financial system also provides the US with significant advantages in the global economy, which the BRICS see as unfair. They also feel a dollar-based financial system gives the US hegemonic influence in global affairs, through for example, exerting US jurisdiction on all dollar-based trade or investments that flow through US banks or financial institutions. While the BRICS countries have these clear shared macro-economic interests, many of the members also have competing interests in other domains. China and India are geopolitical rivals in South Asia. Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the Nile. Brazil, India, South Africa and the newly-added Argentina are democracies, while other countries in the group are governed by a diverse set of autocratic regimes, which could set up an irreconcilable clash of values on some issues. Many of the members of the BRICS also have close ties to the United States and Europe, including Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a televised statement to the nation on the eve of hosting the BRICS summit in South Africa, explained that South Africa remains non-aligned, and he announced that in 2023 the country will also host a major United States-Africa trade meeting and an EU-South Africa summit. South Africa will also host the G20 in 2025, the first in Africa. For many countries, membership of the BRICS does thus not necessarily imply aligning themselves with one global alliance versus another, but rather cooperation in a group around a series of shared interests. Where does this place the BRICS on the Russian war in Ukraine? The BRICS summit in Johannesburg steered clear of taking a position on the war, other than welcoming mediation aimed at resolving it through dialogue and diplomacy. Some BRICS members like Iran are clearly supporting Russia, while most others have stopped short of either supporting or condemning Russia. For many such as Egypt, the war has adversely affected their economy. Two of the BRICS members, Egypt and South Africa, are part of an African initiative to seek a mediated end to the conflict, which is perhaps the first African initiative to mediate an international conflict. Overall, however, the BRICS have their eyes on the medium- to long-term transformation of the global macro-economic and financial system, and countries like China are probably frustrated that the Russian war in Ukraine has drawn attention away from this larger objective. Are the BRICS and the West headed for a new cold war? The shift in the center of gravity of the global economy to the East is an unstoppable fact driven by demographics and economic factors like the cost of production. At the same time, Europe and the United States will remain major economic players. In tandem with these changes in the global economy, it is clear that the global political order will become more multipolar, with China, Europe, India, and the United States representing some of the major centers of influence. In an August 27 article, Jim O’Neil argues that the influence of the BRICS will be determined by their effectiveness, not their size. An expanding BRICS will most likely succeed in helping its members to break free from a dollar-based international financial system, but that will take several decades of incremental change before it reaches a tipping point. Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on the degree to which your economy is tied to the United States. Many of the BRICS countries, including China, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa all have economies whose prosperity are closely tied to the Unites States. They will thus have an interest in a slow, stable freeing up of the international financial system, and this should give everyone that is prudent time to adapt. The same logic also applies to changes in global governance architecture. Apart from Russia, all the other BRICS countries have an interest in making sure that changes in the global order are managed at a slow steady pace that does not generate instability. All the BRICS countries, apart from Russia, are also strong supporters of multilateralism, with the United Nations at its center. Many Western countries and BRICS members may thus have more shared interests than the doomsday headlines suggest. While it is prudent to be cautious, it may also be wise to explore cooperation in those areas where there are shared interests rather than assume that the BRICS and the West are strategic rivals on all fronts.

Diplomacy
Narendra Modi with Secretary Antony Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris

India and Vietnam are partnering with the US to counter China − even as Biden claims that’s not his goal

by Leland Lazarus

This fall, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is slated to lead a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to China. The planned trip, like other recent visits to China by high-ranking U.S. officials, is aimed at improving the relationship between the U.S. and China. Such efforts to ameliorate U.S.-China diplomatic relations come amid growing tensions between the two economic giants. They also run parallel to U.S. efforts to strengthen ties with Indo-Pacific countries to limit Beijing’s influence. Take, for example, President Joe Biden’s September 2023 trips to India for the G20 summit and to Vietnam, where U.S. competition with China was a focus of Biden’s discussions. While he was in Asia, Biden made several agreements in science, technology and supply chain security designed to bolster U.S. relations with India and Vietnam. “I don’t want to contain China,” the president told reporters in Hanoi on Sept. 10, 2023, shortly after meeting with Vietnam’s communist party leader. U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi echoed similar sentiments during an event held by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in New York City the following day. But even if the U.S.’s stated goal isn’t to limit China’s global influence, its recent agreements with India, Vietnam and other countries may do exactly that. What US-led G20 deals mean for China The U.S. is actively looking for ways to blunt one of China’s best tools of influence: international loans. During the G20 summit Sept. 9-10 in New Delhi, the U.S. pledged to help reform the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to make them more flexible in lending to developing countries to finance renewable energy, climate mitigation and critical infrastructure projects. Biden committed the first US$25 billion to make those reforms possible and secured additional financial pledges from other countries totaling $200 billion in new funding for developing countries over the next decade. The U.S. also signed onto a deal with the European Union, Saudi Arabia and India that will help connect the Middle East, Europe and Asia through rails and ports. Characterizing it as a “real big deal,” Biden said the rail and ports agreement would help stabilize and integrate the Middle East. These plans are aimed at providing an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Commonly referred to as BRI, the initiative is China’s international infrastructure loan program. Over the past decade, Chinese government agencies, banks and businesses have loaned more than $1 trillion abroad, and 60% of the recipient countries are now in debt to these Chinese entities. The U.S. and other countries have long criticized BRI as “debt trap diplomacy.” One study suggests that the trillions of dollars in infrastructure loans to countries by the government and quasi-government bodies in China typically lead to debt problems that the borrowing countries can’t manage. As China grapples with a slowing domestic economy, it may become more difficult for Chinese entities to keep shelling out funding for big-ticket overseas projects. The new U.S.-led agreements that come out of the G20 could fill the coming gap. These G20 plans complement existing Western economic initiatives to compete with the BRI, including U.S. trade pacts for the Indo-Pacific region and the Americas, the EU’s Global Gateway and the G7’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. What the US’s agreement with India means for China In their meeting on the sidelines of the G20, Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to deepen collaboration on developing critical and emerging technology, such as quantum computing and space exploration, as well as 5G and 6G telecommunications. This will help India compete with China in the technological arena in the Indo-Pacific. The telecommunications portion of a joint statement by Biden and Modi specifically mentions the U.S.’s Rip and Replace program. It is about helping smaller telecommunications companies rip out technology from Chinese companies like Huawei or ZTE and replace them with network equipment from the West that will protect users’ data. The U.S. has banned Huawei and ZTE equipment from its telecommunication networks, deeming those companies national security risks. The U.S. and India’s pledge to support Rip and Replace is a direct counter to China’s telecommunication technology expansion. What the US’s agreement with Vietnam means for China In Vietnam, Biden elevated the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, expanding the relationship in everything from economics to education to technology in a country that has long counted China as its top trading partner. The enhanced partnership includes the U.S. providing $2 million to fund teaching labs and training courses for semiconductor assembly, testing and packaging. One company in Arizona and two in California have already pledged to set up semiconductor factories and design centers in Vietnam, and the U.S. artificial intelligence company Nvidia will help Vietnam integrate AI into automotive and health care systems. All these investments will make Vietnam even more attractive to U.S. and Western companies that don’t want China to be the sole source of their supply chain. As Vietnam becomes a key player in the semiconductor market, it will shrink China’s share of the market as well as its regional technological advantage. The U.S. also agreed to provide nearly $9 million to help Vietnam patrol the waters around its borders and beef up port facility security, as well as boost efforts to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, or IUUF. While not explicitly mentioned, China is the target of this initiative; China and Vietnam continue to be at loggerheads over disputed claims over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, and Chinese industrial fishing vessels are the largest culprits of IUUF around the globe. By inking these agreements at the G20 in India and in Vietnam, the U.S. broadened its circle of allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific that can help counterbalance China. Along with similar diplomatic accomplishments by Vice President Kamala Harris at the recent ASEAN summit in Indonesia; security partnerships like AUKUS, between the U.S., Australia and the UK, and the Quad, between the U.S., India, Australia and Japan; increased military sales and training to Taiwan; and the recent Camp David meeting Biden held with Japan and South Korea, the U.S. is building partnerships all across Asia. These actions are aimed at restraining China’s political, economic and military might, even if U.S. leaders don’t explicitly say that is their intention. Regardless of rhetoric, actions speak louder than words.

Diplomacy
Paris, France, 25-04-2024 : Visit of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, for a major speech on Europe at the Sorbonne.

2024 Election Watch: France, the European Union, Germany, and Mexico

by Collin Chapman

한국어로 읽기Leer en españolIn Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربيةLire en françaisЧитать на русском Elections in Europe demonstrate the growing popularity of far right parties as key outsiders gain on critical votes. In France, President Emmanuel Macron has moved to dampen Marine Le Pen’s success in the European Parliament with a snap national election. The election calendar for June has already thrown up some surprises, particularly in the northern hemisphere. To be sure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected, though with a much-reduced majority which will place limits on his power. But the biggest shock is in Europe where French President Emmanuel Macron decided to call a snap election for 30 June after his most notorious far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, pulled off a decisive victory in the French election for the European Parliament. Macron is taking a massive gamble—that in a national election he can recover some of the popularity he has lost since his re-election as president in 2022, squashing Le Pen’s challenge to his leadership. The initial reaction of the commentariat is that Macron will manage a return to the Élysée palace, largely because the centrist parties holding the middle ground were the overall winners and the Left and the Greens failed to increase, or lost, shares of the vote. “I’ve decided to give you back the choice,” Macron said in an address to the electorate from the Elysée palace. In France, the Rassemblement National (RN) party led by Le Pen won 31.5 percent of the country’s vote, according to early results. In Germany, the three parties in Olaf Scholz’s fragile coalition—the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, and the liberal FDP—were all overtaken by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which came in second behind the conservative CDU-CSU opposition. Significant gains by nationalist and ultra-conservative parties were also anticipated by exit polls in Austria, Cyprus, Greece, and the Netherlands. In Italy, prime minister Giorgia Meloni cemented her position in her governing coalition, and potentially her hand in negotiations with other European leaders, with her hard-right Brothers of Italy party taking over 28 percent of the vote in the European parliamentary elections. Attention will now turn to the campaign by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, to win another five-year term in office. She has a good record and currently no obvious challenger. Nonetheless, her re-election will hinge on her ability to make uncomfortable choices and deals, taking into account the EU’s clear shift to the right in parliamentary elections on 9 June. Though her centre-right European People’s party won the election, securing 189 seats in the 720-strong assembly, von der Leyen’s allies fared worse and the hard right surged from a fifth to nearly a quarter of seats. Her fate is likely to be decided at an EU summit on 27 June when she will seek the personal backing of the EU’s 27 leaders and aim to demonstrate to them that she has the required support in the European Parliament. Mexico Another remarkable election result this month was in Mexico where the ruling left-wing Morena party won a landslide victory in presidential, congressional, and state elections. While president-elect Claudia Sheinbaum and Morena’s victory on 2 June was not a surprise, the scale of it was. Sheinbaum won more votes than the centre-right Xochiti Galvez across genders, age groups, and in every state bar one, coming in 31 points clear of her rival. After decades of high poverty, glaring inequality, and low wages, the ruling Morena party more than doubled the minimum wage and expanded social programs, endearing itself to Mexico’s long-neglected have-nots. The result has left Mexico’s conservative elite struggling to understand the left’s landslide win, living as they do in gated communities far removed from the lives and feelings of average Mexicans. There are unlikely to be any surprises in the other major election this month—that of Iran on 28 June. Iranian authorities have disqualified prominent moderates as candidates in the snap presidential election, called following the helicopter crash that recently claimed the life of Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s president, and other senior ministers. The field of candidates has been narrowed to five hardliners and one mid-ranking reformist. The United Kingdom has seen a frenzy of election activity this month following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s surprise decision to call an early election on 4 July. Polls show that there is likely to be a change of government to the opposition Labour party, which is currently holding a 22 percent lead, after 14 years’ Conservative government.