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Anförande vid IISS

Anförande vid Internationella Institutet för Strategiska Studier i London, Storbritannien

Half a century ago - in 1958 -w e lived in a very different world indeed.

The great wars of the first half of the century were still living memory for most.

There was something around called the Soviet Union.

The year before it had stunned the world by launching a small beeping device called Sputnik that circled the globe. This was shock and awe in an earlier version.

The year after, the 21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would trumpet the achievements of socialism and the imminent demise of capitalism.

And there were many that believed - or feared - that this was the way the world was really going.

We now know that at the time the United States still had more than ten times as many nuclear warheads as the Soviet Union. And we now know that it took a few more years before the Soviet Union could get a couple of rudimentary ICBMs to stand up straight.

But these years were the true beginning years of that race of fear that turned into the nuclear arms race that also transformed the way in which we had to deal with strategic affairs.

It was then that a group of people came together here in London to set up the IISS that we are celebrating today.

There was a feeling that the issues of security in the nuclear age required a new level of public scrutiny, public debate and public understanding.

That the issues at stake were too serious to be left only to those morally opposed to the very idea of the use of weapons or to those technically just fascinated by the new possibilities.

Thus, 50 years ago IISS established itself as an institute with the ambition to deepen our understanding of the strategic implications of atomic weapons and "to educate the public on national defence in the atomic age".

The introduction of the atom bomb had dramatically altered the foundations of war and peace, and among the founding fathers of the Institute there was an urgent sense that these new circumstances had to be better understood.

This position was well reflected in the words of Sir Michael Howard when he noted that:

"Public debate is left very largely to passionate but ill-informed ideologues of the left, and equally passionate and barely better informed supporters of government policy, often themselves retired service officers, on the right".

Michael Howard knew what he was talking about.

So inform and educate the public, including policy makers, about the conditions under which peace can prevail, even in the age of nuclear weapons, has been the great contribution of IISS ever since those days of its founding half a century ago.

And the Institute's strong commitment to Western liberal values, empirical facts and objective analysis, together with its rejection of utopian solutions, have guaranteed its exceptional credibility throughout the half century of its existence so far.

To say that much has changed during this half century is certainly not an exaggeration.

Back then my own country was actively planning to acquire nuclear weapons.

In 1958 the Supreme Commander was working on a plan that with two plutonium-producing reactors would create an arsenal of 100 nuclear warheads starting within just six months after a planned go ahead for the programme in 1965.

Little thought - certainly none in public or political circles - was given to how these weapons would really be used.

But the plan was evidently for them to be used pre-emptively against a possible Soviet invasion fleet in the harbours of the coastal cities on the Eastern and Northern shores of the Baltic Sea.

Sweden - I can assure you - gradually abandoned these plans, although it was a process that proceeded in stages and took some time. Gradually, thinking about the unthinkable - to use Herman Kahn's memorable words - produced the rational outcome in terms of a more rational policy than such processes are supposed to produce.

The thinking about the unthinkable gradually also changed the mentality in Washington and Moscow, and the twisted logic of the nuclear arms race step by step gave way to the complex politics of nuclear arms control and reductions.

Froma high point of more than 70 000 nuclear weaponsin the arsenals of nations around 1986, these arsenals have now been reduced to something in the order of 27 000.

And we most certainly live in a world that is profoundly different from the one in 1958.

The cities that were then the supposed targets of Swedish nuclear weapons are today cities in and sometimes even capitals of countries that are members of our European Union as well as of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The peaceful demise of the Soviet Union is one of the truly defining features of our time.

The disappearance of great empires is hardly unique - in the longer sweep of history it is rather somewhat of a routine. But it always tends to be associatedwith strife, conflicts and major wars.

In the wake of the uniquely peaceful implosion of the Soviet empire - although the decade of wars of disintegration in the Balkans should not be forgotten! -we are now engaged in a truly historic attempt to build a genuinely new order of peace and prosperity in our part of the world - a Europe whole and free, democratic and dynamic, united by the rule of law anchored in our common institutions.

The importance of this can hardly be exaggerated.

In the past century, it was the conflicts of Europe that twice spread all over the globe and gave us world-wide wars. In the past century, it was the totalitarian ideas of Europe that spread over the world and produced carnage and suffering for countless millions.

And in decades not long ago, it was the conflicts over this continent that risked producing that ultimate conflagration that led Albert Einstein to say that while he was notcertain of with which weapons World War III was going to be fought he knew that World War IV would have to be fought with clubs and sticks.

The building of this new order of peace and prosperity in our part of the world is still a work in progress. Those of us attending the Councils of the European Union or - as earlier today in the form of observer - the deliberations of the Council of the Atlantic Alliance can certainly testify to this.

But if a Europe that in the past century produced models of wars for the world instead can produce a model for peace, I for one am of the opinion that it is worth all of these meetings - and much more.

That the collapse of the Old Order produced a new opportunity in the previously conflict-ridden Europe was and is undoubtedly a most positive development. But as we widen the horizons we are all aware of the major strategic challenges that are confronting us all.

There is no shortage of these.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Tbilisi in the Caucasus to discuss situations that could easily produce very serious confrontations also including a resurgent Russia.

The days there after I head to Hebron, Ramallah and Nablus on that West Bank of the Jordan River that has been under Israeli occupation for more than 40 years.

The rivers of rage running today through much of the vast Muslim world - from Morocco to Indonesia - and fuelling the threat of global terrorism - have one of their major sources in our inability to resolve this painful conflict.

But if I were to identify the two most difficult challenges of a strategic nature - apart from the obvious one of global terrorism - that the international community will have to handle in the years ahead, I would mention global climate change and nuclear proliferation.

Both will require urgent attention in the next few years- with the coming year being of particular importance. And I do believe that handling them will also call for far-reaching changes in the structures of international cooperation.

During most of the decades the IISS has existed, the nuclear calculations were those associated with the bipolarity between the US and the Soviet Union.

The slow development of Chinese nuclear weapons did not fundamentally alter that situation - nor did the British or French arsenals, or what might be there in the sands of Israel.

When both India and Pakistan demonstrated a nuclear capability in 1998 it meant a newand deeply disturbing development. And the IISS has documented how Pakistan then became a source for the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies in the most dangerous directions.

But what we are faced with now is the danger of nuclear proliferation spreading seriously into more conflict ridden and complex regions.

It's not just a question of Iran getting the bomb or not. A single state actor can still in all probability be handled by the logic of deterrence. But what lies ahead is the risk of a new phase in proliferation that will start with Iran and soon extend to one country and regime after another in what is the most conflict-ridden and volatile part of the world.

Then, I fear that it will just be a question of time until these weapons also get used. By one of the regimes in an act of desperation or miscalculation. Or by one of the numerous non-state actors in the region that could get their hands on these weapons.

Most of us might still end our days without having seen a truly nuclear war. But the probability that our children will experience these horrible weapons actually being used on a larger scale than in 1945 will be very high indeed.

Clearly, this is something that we must give the highest possible priority to preventing.

But the challenge is wider than just that of Iran and its quest for nuclear power, nuclear technology and possible nuclear weapons.

Like Iran, one country after another is starting to talk about building nuclear power plants.

Some -like Egypt - because they don't have many alternatives when it comes to meeting the power demands of rising populations and increasing economic growth. Some - like the Gulf states - because they see the need to preserve their petroleum resources for export and other uses in the future. Some because for them this is an important part of a necessary strategy for reducing fossil fuel dependence and starting to tackle the challenges of climate change.

Nuclear power remains controversial in many countries. That includes my own - although the issue is less flammable than it was some decades ago.

But there is little doubt that we will see a considerable expansion of nuclear power in the decades ahead and there is little doubt that this will be seen as one of the necessary responses to the climate change challenge.

The link between civilian and military use of nuclear technology should not be exaggerated. In fact, it was when civilian requirements for cheap and reliable electricity came to dominate Swedish nuclear programmes in the late 1950s and early 1960s that the military option became much more complicated and expensive.

But the risks are there in the nuclear fuel cycle - particularly in the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of spent fuel that also produces plutonium.

As there will be a larger number of nuclear reactors for power production in the decades ahead - also in volatile regions like the Middle East - we must seek new ways to prevent the further spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

It is with them - not with nuclear technology or power as such - that the proliferation risks rest.

Thus, a critically important political challenge in the next few years must be to seek to develop multinational and internationally controlled facilities for handling sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Such a mechanism should seek to bring any new operations for uranium enrichment and plutonium separation under multinational control. But over time these multinational controls would also extend to facilities that already exist - to ensure that all countries are treated equally in terms of their nuclear capabilities, and to delink these fuel-cycle activities from possible use as a strategic deterrent.

Whether a concerted international approach to develop such mechanisms and institutions could also provide the framework within which a solution to the Iranian issue can be sought is a separate matter.

If recent US intelligence estimates are to be believed - perhaps a daring assumption in these times-there would at least be some time to ponder the possibility and to explore the feasibility.

Although those that argue that there is no direct connection between the size of the nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia and the risks of proliferation are essentially correct, there is little doubt that further attempts to reduce existing arsenals would facilitate the wider efforts to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons.

For this there are also ample arguments coming from a careful assessment of the usefulness of nuclear weapons in the modern world.

The recent calls by George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, Sam Nunn and others for a new policy when it comes to nuclear weapons are not the moralistic calls from the CND of bygone days, but rational calls by some of the best minds that have ever devoted their efforts to the subjects of national and international security.

Their argument is based not only on the enormous risk that a further proliferation of nuclear weapons represents- but also on the realisation that the military usefulness of these weapons is more and more limited.

Nuclear weapons are good for little more than very basic nuclear deterrence. But the remaining tasks of this nature can clearly be handled by arsenals far smaller than those of today.

The looming new debate on these issues provides an important opportunity for moving ahead towards a new international consensus on radical cuts in nuclear weapons - leading eventually to their elimination as the nuclear powers have already committed themselves to.

In the ongoing debates prior to the presidential elections in the US, all remaining contenders have expressed themselves in favour of seeking Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Early moves by a new administration in this direction would send a powerful signal of a new and promising line on these issues. It would pave the way for ratification also by other key nations.

Next year this should also be coupled with new initiatives on the possibility of multinational nuclear fuel cycle models. Perhaps this is an issue where the European Union could take a lead in the global debate in the same way as it has taken a lead in the debate about global cuts in carbon emissions.

In both cases there will be a need to reform key international institutions. In both cases, a more effective multilateralism is clearly called for.

A multinational nuclear fuel regime might call for a new role for the International Atomic Energy Agency or the setting up of an entirely new international mechanism. And a truly effective global treaty to limit carbon emissions might well call for far-reaching new international mechanisms in the financial field as well.

We might need a new International Nuclear Fuel Authority as well as a new International Climate and Environmental Financing Authority - or an evolution of existing institutions in these directions.

To move in these directions- in order to help handle two of the most pressing global challenges of today - will require strong global political leadership.

But the world is different today from what it was just a few years ago. The role of the United States remains indispensable. The role of the European Union is clearly growing in importance. We have an interest in keeping Russia engaged in constructive global diplomacy. Japan remains a key member of the G8.

But on issues like these it is obvious that we can not move forward without engaging and engaging actively countries like China, India and Brazil.

As we move forward with the new solutions demanded by the new challenges, we might well also need new institutions for global governance beyond the G8 and in parallel with those offered by the United Nations.

But to go further into what that might entail would - I fear - be to test your patience too much. We are here to celebrate - not primarily to contemplate.

Half a century of commitment to the highest standards of strategic debate in the wider Western world has come to its end.

It's the quality of its work - its intellectual excellence - that has made the Institute such a success during these decades.

Coupled with - in recent years -its far wider global outreach and presence.

We - the political practioners, the readers, the members, the staff; the wider world - look forward to the next 50 years.

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