The Proliferation Security Initiative Table Top Exercise (PSI TTX), held in Zagreb in November 2013, revealed a general lack of a legal framework for effective WMD counter-proliferation and consequence management as well as lack of coordination and interoperability among partners and within nations. It was therefore concluded that success in countering WMD proliferation would invariably be enhanced through cooperation at the regional and the broader international level.
By October 2014 the team, formed by the representatives from the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MFEA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Republic of Croatia as a facilitator, had developed a clear mid-term objectives Roadmap and a general plan for the regional C-WMD Network project. The project was formally launched in 2015 with the aim of supporting the development or refinement of national strategies/response plans and for enhancing regional cooperation in the field of WMD counter-proliferation among SEE countries as a joint project between U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), Republic of Croatia, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) International Counter-proliferation Program (ICP), Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation (hereinafter: external stakeholder).
The following SEE countries joined the C-WMD Network: Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Moldova, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania and Republic of Serbia, with Republic of Croatia as a mentoring nation in the first phase of the project.
The first phase of RACVIAC C-WMD Network project focused on the design, review, and adoption of national WMD counter-proliferation strategies.
This Phase I of the C-WMD Network was an outstanding success story by any measure encompassing eight (8) countries that adopted a comprehensive national WMD counter-proliferation strategy and two (2) countries that still had to finish their national staffing procedure thus significantly raising the profile of combating WMD as a facet of national policy.
It is vital to appreciate that the overall goal of the C-WMD Network was not just to create national WMD counter-proliferation strategies but rather to foster regional C-WMD cooperation.
At the beginning of 2020 the process of strategy development was all but complete and the achievements were considerable, including the development of policy based on sound risk assessment, subject-matter awareness, and the shifting and reallocation of resources to tasks. The C- WMD Network countries improved national interagency cooperation in this area and, substantially, information sharing and interdepartmental command, control, and communication.
The first meeting of Phase II of the C-WMD Network project, held in February 2020, focused on a comprehensive discussion on the way ahead for the overall C-WMD Network with a focus on four new projects and deeper regional cooperation.
Following significant investment in the identification of discrete projects for Phase II tentative agreement has been reached on the following four areas of cooperation:
- Development of a Regional C-WMD Risk Atlas, led by North Macedonia
- The Creation of a Common Approach to Bio-Security and the Malicious Use of Life Sciences, led by Romania
- Establishment of a Regional Dual-Use and Emerging Technologies Hub, led by Croatia, Montenegro and Kosovo*
- Annual Trends Assessment Conference, led by Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is worth emphasizing that within the C-WMD Network, besides our permanent partners such as U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) International Counter-proliferation Program (ICP) and Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), cooperation has been established with various other important national and international entities such as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Department of Energy (DOE) and European Space Agency (ESA), just to mention a few.
Among these new partners we would like to especially single out the DOE with whose adjunct, Battelle Memorial Institute, RACVIAC signed an agreement in 2021 to assist DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in advancing nuclear security initiatives in SEE.
Finally, within the Network, and in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Republic of Croatia, C-WMD network launched a series of five workshops addressing the Nuclear Security Detection Architecture Awareness, concentrating on such topics as nuclear security threats and risks, management systems, information and human resources and sustainability. The overall goal of the NSDA series was to raise awareness and provide nations with the knowledge and tools to develop, implement, and sustain indigenous national-level detection capabilities thus supporting the development of C-WMD National Strategies.
Taking into consideration all that has been mentioned above we can conclude that the C-WMD Network has achieved immense results in the last six (6) years thus creating a credible foundation for the continuation of regional WDM counter-proliferation cooperation in the future.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. (In accordance with Arrangements regarding regional representation and cooperation).