Eu’s implementation actions
The EU has been active in the implementation of the first two policies outlined in the strategy - building on effective multilateralism and promoting a stable international and regional environment. Implementation of the third policy - close cooperation with partners - has not been as intensive. With regard to the first policy, the European Council has adopted several decisions in support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO), and the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC). Provision of funds to increase the effectiveness of these organizations andlegal instruments has been forthcoming. In addition, the EU has actively supported UN Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea aimed at curtailing the risk of proliferation from both countries.10
Implementing the first and second policies in the strategy simultaneously, the Council has adopted several decisions to strengthen the fight against the proliferation of WMD. Particularly fruitful has been work conducted with Russia. The EU cooperates with Moscow in a number of areas. These include support to destroy some of its chemical weapons, to protect its nuclear sites, to retrain former weapons scientists and engineers, or to train personnel working at facilities handling dangerous biological agents. The EU has also supplied equipment for the detection of nuclear and radioactive materials (NRM) at border check points and to enhance export control of dual-use items.11
Also implementing the first and second policies simultaneously, the European Council has adopted several decisions to support non-proliferation of WMD activities in different regions. Joint work with Caucasus and Central Asian countries is common, including the supply of equipment for the detection of nuclear and radioactive materials (NRM) at border check points or training personnel working at facilities handling dangerous biological agents. The European Council has also adopted decisions in support of non-proliferation of WMD activities in Southeast Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Most notably, the EU has worked to improve the capabilities to combat the illicit trafficking and criminal use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials (CBRN) in several regions.12
To support and enhance its fight against the proliferation of WMD, the EU has launched two complementary initiatives aimed at creating permanent networks of experts. Firstly, the EU has launched a number of CBRN Centers of Excellence located in eight different regions across the world. Secondly, the EU has launched the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium, initially managed by four European think tanks. Together, the two initiatives may serve to bring together scientific and non-scientific experts on the nonproliferation of WMD.13
It should be noted that the EU has also been willing to use coercive measures to address the proliferation of WMD. These include, above all, UNSC and autonomous sanctions. Equally relevant, the EU has been supportive of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) since its launch in May 2003. PSI aims at curtailing the trafficking of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials, both among state and non-state actors. Brussels has fully endorsed the interception and seizure of proliferation-related materials by EU member states, as well as capacity-building measures to improve interception.14
Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament 37
Prospects for EU-Korea nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament cooperation
South Korea is one of only ten strategic partners of the EU. Furthermore, it is one of an even smaller group of so-called like-minded strategic partners also including, for example, Japan and the United States. Like-minded strategic partners share the EU’s values, such as democracy, human rights, or respect for the rule of law. Also, South Korea is the only country in the world with which agreements on the three key areas of politics, economics, and security have entered into force. These agreements are the Framework Agreement, the Free Trade Agreement, and the Crisis Management Participation Agreement. Over 35 bilateral dialogues, meetings, and working groups on issues ranging from international cooperation and development to cyber-security give substance to the relationship. In short, South Korea is one of the EU’s closest partners.
In the particular area of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, North Korea’s WMD program and proliferation activities are the key driver behind EU-Korea cooperation, as already mentioned. To get a European perspective on the prospects of cooperation on this issue, it is necessary to understand the EU’s North Korea policy and put it in the context of Brussels’ three nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament policies and their implementation actions as a starting point.
The EU has a policy of “critical engagement” toward North Korea. This means that the EU maintains engagement initiatives towards Pyongyang. Most notably, Brussels has a political dialogue with the Kim Jong-un regime, provides aid to vulnerable North Koreans, and supports educational and cultural initiatives.15 Having said that, engagement has taken a back seat in recent years. The bilateral dialogue has been interrupted since 2015, and aid and people-to-people exchanges have been decreasing. EU member states have hosted track-2 meetings with North Korea, and the European Parliament has maintained a dialogue with Pyongyang, which shows that support for engagement still exists. But North Korea's development of its nuclear program has limited its scope.
The critical component of the EU’s North Korea policy, on the other hand, has become more prominent in recent years. Above all, the EU has been implementing UNSC sanctions on North Korea, has adopted its own autonomous sanctions on the Kim Jong-un regime, and, more recently, has been pressing third countries to implement the sanctions regime on Pyongyang. Sanctions target North Korea’s nuclear program, other WMD programs, and ballistic-missile related programs.16 In other words, the EU’s critical, sanctions-based North Korea policy is directly related to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
The list of restrictive measures pursued by the EU in the context of UN Security Council and its own autonomous sanctions on North Korea include export and import restrictions of arms, dual-use goods, petroleum, crude oil, and a host of other materials; prohibition of the import by North Korea of foods, agricultural products, and machinery; prohibition of the export to North Korea of industrial machinery and transportation vehicles; restrictions on the provision of certain services; restriction on financial support for trade; prohibition on investment by North Korea; prohibitions and restrictions related to the financial sector; inspections and information sharing on transport to and from North Korea; the seizure and impounding of North Korean vessels suspected of involvement in illicit activities; suspension of scientific and technical cooperation; restrictions on admission and residence of North Korean nationals; freezing of funds and economic resources; and restrictive measures on specialized teaching or training, North Korean diplomatic missions and staff, and North Korean workers.17 This is a very comprehensive list going well beyond North Korea’s nuclear activities, as was the case with sanctions imposed before 2016. It shows that the EU's policy toward North Korea’s nuclear program has clearly taken a critical turn over the last two years.
Brussels’ critical approach toward North Korea’s nuclear program is further reinforced by its support for PSI. Originally set up to target Pyongyang’s proliferation activities,18 over the years PSI has become a useful tool for the interdiction of North Korea’s WMD, nuclear technology, and missile shipments. The EU itself, as well as all member states, are part of the initiative. Furthermore, the navies of member states such as France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom have been involved in the interdiction of North Korean shipments.19 That is, the EU is willing to use forceful measures to stop proliferation from North Korea.
This critical approach falls within the EU’s policy of building on effective multilateralism. Most notably, Brussels has sought to strengthen the role of the UN Security Council and to strengthen identification, control, and interception of illegal trafficking. This makes sense insofar as most of North Korea’s proliferation activities seem to have the Middle East as their final destination. Considering the difficulties in building a stable environment in the region and in cooperating with countries with which diplomatic relations could be better, it makes sense for the EU to focus on the source of proliferation activities.
From a European perspective, cooperation with Korea on the implementation of sanctions and the continuous use of PSI is desirable. After all, Seoul has made clear that it will continue to implement the existing sanctions regime on North Korea until the Kim Jong-un regime takes significant steps toward denuclearization. This also fits with the EU’s policy
Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament 39 of cooperating closely with partners. As explained above, this is the least developed of the three policies that the EU is pursuing to achieve non-proliferation and disarmament. It can be done through the regular EU-Korea Dialogue on Non-proliferation, Disarmament and Arms Control.
From the perspective of the EU, building on effective multilateralism in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program also involves supporting the work of international organizations. Most notably, IAEA. If the current inter-Korean rapprochement and, especially, US-North Korea engagement processes continue, there is potential that North Korea will take significant steps toward denuclearization. Previous agreements on the denuclearization of North Korea have fallen apart, among others, due to problems regarding the verification of Pyongyang’s compliance with its commitments.20 IAEA would be the key organization leading the verification process.21 South Korea is also a member of the IAEA. It is also a very active member. For example, Seoul acted as the Chair of the IAEA Nuclear Security Conference in 2016 at the ministerial level.22 And it has an interest in the verification of North Korea’s denuclearization. From a European perspective, IAEA is an organization that both the EU and Korea can work together to support.
Working with South Korea also involves bilateral cooperation. There is a deep level of trust between Brussels and Seoul, as illustrated by the agreements on the three key areas that they have signed. Furthermore, South Korea is a country with the necessary expertise and financial and human resources to work on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament - not to mention a strong incentive to do so due to North Korea’s nuclear program. Equally relevant, South Korea’s existing regulatory framework is similar to the EU’s.23 Plus, there is an existing forum in the form of the EU-Korea Dialogue on Non-proliferation, Disarmament and Arms Control that can be used as a platform to strengthen bilateral cooperation. From a European perspective, this combination makes Korea an ideal partner to deal with North Korean non-proliferation and disarmament. Indeed, former High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini frequently stressed cooperation with Korea on this issue.24