GT in the EU

An extraordinary education

Category: Transatlantic Relations (Page 1 of 2)

EU-US Transatlantic Relations Simulation

About a week ago, 18 of us were split into two teams: the European Union and the United States. Within each group, we were split once again into two topics: economy and security. Today was the day of the simulation.

We seated ourselves based on our topic, and the room was split into two groups of different topics. Our goal was to successfully discuss the future of the transatlantic relationships on the two specific issues in order to achieve cooperation in responding to such global matters. Theme of the economic policy was “The Global Aluminum Market,” and that of the security policy was “Russia: Partner, Competitor, or Threat?” The simulation began with presenting policy position statements of each working group. The four statements primarily included the current concerns of each group and future direction that the group wishes to work towards together with other groups.

Discussions began right after the final position statement was delivered. The main points of the four groups’ positions were as follows:

Economic Policy: The Global Aluminum Market

🇪🇺 European Union 🇪🇺

🇺🇸 United States 🇺🇸

• Bilateral collaboration
• Section 232 and tariffs on steel imports harmful
• Wishes to discourage china’s destructive behavior
• Disturbance of balance by chinese aluminum production
• Focus on aluminum’s role on trade and circular economy
• Developed anti-dumping claims
• Circular economy to reduce inefficiency and combat climate change
• encourages free global market

• Value multilateral trading system
• supports china’s development into open economy but not its illegal practices
• Encourages more effective
anti-dumping policies
• China subsidizes enterprises to sell
aluminum for cheaper prices
• Many jobs lost due to China
• Seeks implementation of tariff on
semi-manufactured aluminum and
aluminum classification, global tracking of imports
• Reaffirms right to regulate tariffs as it deems appropriate

Security Policy: Russia: Partner, Competitor, or Threat?

🇪🇺 European Union 🇪🇺

🇺🇸 United States 🇺🇸

• Increasing support to sovereignty,
democratic future of Ukraine
• Sanctions until Minsk Agreement implemented
• Wishes US reaffirmation of US commitment
to Alliance and its operations
• Hybrid warfare concerning
• Concern over protection of information
• Reliant on energy imports from Russia;
wishes to diversify energy supply
• Open to cooperation with Russia in future

• Russia as potential partner while
recognizing her as security threat
• Russian expansionism must be stopped
• Does not recognize Russian annexation of crimea
• Determined to reduce strategic importance of oil
to ensure free and competitive marketplace
• Plans to act as needed on case-by-case basis
in Syria on behalf of NATO interests
• Control cybersecurity through data sharing

After actively discussing our ideas for an hour and a half, we talked to our country groups while we had lunch. We attempted to make sure that each country did not have conflicting views. When lunch was over, we sat in our original seats and finalized views of both countries in one declaration. The declaration of each policy area was completed after about an hour of drafting, and afterwards, all groups combined the declaration into one document in order to create one joint declaration addressing both policies. The joint declaration was finally complete.

The simulation was really interesting especially because the EU and the US have very similar views and ideals on many aspects. Since they were so similar, true cooperation was key in order to settle any discrepancies. In many cases, compromise could be achieved fairly easily; for example, although EU was at first against extensive sharing of data with the US, after the US agreed on guaranteeing the privacy and re-sharing of information with other countries, it agreed to work with the EU to improve cybersecurity through data sharing. Likewise, it was difficult for the EU to have one strong voice for all policy areas because of the sheer number of different voices among 28 member states. There were some times when some countries in the EU favored a certain policy suggested by the US while other countries in the EU disapproved the idea. I think it was really great that we were able to simulate the cooperative process; it was a very interactive way to understand the challenges of such processes in transatlantic relationships.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry


Today, after a weekend spent learning about Swedish history and walking around Stockholm, including a visit to the Vasa Museum, we visited the Swedish Foreign Ministry and the Swedish Parliament. I will talk about the visit to the Swedish Foreign Ministry and my colleague will talk about the visit to the Parliament tomorrow.

At the Swedish Foreign Ministry, we were briefed by an Ambassador who now heads up the European section of the ministry.  He last served as Ambassador for Sweden to the Netherlands so his view points were unique and interesting.

He started off his presentation by talking about the complicated relationship that Sweden has with the European Union and about the history of Sweden. He made a point on the wars with Russia in the 18th century which changed Sweden and led to the policy of neutrality that it successfully upheld during both World Wars. After the Cold War, and during the economic crisis in the 1990s, Sweden saw the benefits of the European Union and joined in 1995 (with Austria and Finland) after a positive referendum in 1994. However, Sweden is not part of the Eurozone and in the last referendum on whether Sweden should join the Eurozone, the public voted not to. As with other site visits, the Brexit issue emerged and the official stated that the UK is an important ally for Sweden within the European Union and that a Brexit would force Sweden to seek other similar minded allies. Interestingly, he also mentioned that about 65% of Swedes are for TTIP and that public backlash has been minimal. This is certainly interesting since in other countries the same percentage is opposed to TTIP.

Sweden is one of the EU member states that is not part of NATO, but Sweden allows NATO to conduct exercises on Swedish territory and with Swedish troops. Sweden also contributes to NATO missions as well as to EU missions. I think that the most important point that the official made was that the EU allows small countries like Sweden to influence global politics.

Tomorrow we had back to Brussels!

At the Foreign Ministry




On Friday, we took a break from the hustle and bustle of Paris to visit Normandy, and it was truly a moving experience. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial included an extensive exhibit that explored the events surrounding D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. D-Day refers to the day the Allied forces landed in Normandy to drive out the German troops from France during World War II. On June 6, 1944, U.S, British and Canadian divisions landed on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches in what some regard as one of history’s greatest amphibious assaults. The Battle of Normandy would continue for the next three months and resulted in over 10,000 Allied casualties. It was significant in that it not only paved the way for the victory of Allied powers over German troops, it also demonstrated a strong sense of solidarity among the Allied powers, creating a special bond between those nations that is still seen in the international arena today.

D-Day assault routes in Normandy.

D-Day assault routes in Normandy.

The displays in the museum did such a beautiful job capturing the story of D-Day with great detail and honoring those who lost their lives in battle. I tried to use my most vivid imagination to understand what the soldiers went through during that time as well as the sacrifices they and their families made. The thought of young men the age of the guys in our group going into battle with a rifle in hand to fight in a land thousands of miles away from home is something that still continues to astound me.

The graves of the fallen

The graves of the fallen in Normandy.

The most sobering experience for me was when we reached the end of the museum, and there were frames with the faces of several soldiers that were lost/wounded in battle. I felt lingering goosebumps and a knot in my throat as I went through each story, trying to imagine what they went through in those final moments. Afterwards, we made our way to the graves and the memorial featuring the statue of “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.”

We spent the rest of our time walking down the shoreline of Omaha Beach. The cool seaside breeze was definitely a nice change from the Parisian heat wave we’d encountered all week. There, we saw families enjoying a day at the beach, with children gleefully running to and from the shoreline and dogs relentlessly chasing seagulls. With July 4th following the next day, I found the trip to be a nice reminder of what our country stands for and an appropriate way to observe our Independence Day while being so far away.

Statue of

Statue of “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.”

IFRI and Iran’s Nuclear Crisis

At IFRI we had a speaker addressing the Iranian Nuclear Crisis and France’s interest in the issue. The issue centers around Iran’s enrichment of Uranium past being just fuel-grade. Fuel-grade Uranium does not require as much U-235 than weapons-grade Uranium, so this enrichment has caused skepticism among the international community towards Iran’s intentions. But this is not news, this has been the case for many years. France’s interest in this affair lies both in the security threat of Iran to Europe as a whole and in their role as one of the major nuclear powers (along with the US). Current negotiations are hoped to be completed by the end of this year and provide a medium- to long-term solution to this crisis. Specifically, a solution that is long-term enough to be effective and sustainable, but short-term enough to not be affected by changing regimes. Our speaker mentioned how nuclear fuel is at the center of these negotiations, because if an alternative fuel or means of acquiring fuel could be found, the crisis would be solved, for the most part.

Now that that is out of the way, it’s time to get to the purpose of this post: I asked a technical question regarding the fuel situation, one that probably only 4 people in the room could’ve hoped to understand, at least in my opinion, and one of which, the speaker, flat out stated that he had no clue about what I was talking about, because of his lack of research into that specific matter (though he still answered to the best of his abilities). My question was about the use of Thorium as a fuel source for Iran that would both mitigate the conflict and benefit the scientific community. The purpose of this post is to give a basic nuclear engineering background for my fellow students (and speakers, if they happen to read this) to be able to better understand this and to maybe get some basic publicity for what is a very realistic solution to this problem.

The use of Thorium as a fuel source is very easy to adapt to because few modifications would have to be made to Iran’s current nuclear reactors. Thorium, as a fuel, naturally mainly comes in the form of Thorium-232, which is considered “fertile.” “Fertile” means that the material is not fissile (able to undergo fission), but can be bred to become a fissile element (U-233). Uranium-233 is the element that actually undergoes fission in the Thorium fuel cycle. Fission and breeding both occur in generally the same process, so if Iran wanted to collect U-233 to make bombs, they would have to shut down their reactors and remove the fuel. Because of this it is an easy safety check to Iran because we just have to track their waste stream. Also, U-232 which is non-fissile and not fertile, and also a part of the Thorium fuel cycle, cannot be chemically separated from the U-233, and so acts as an inherent proliferation guard. In addition to this, U-233 is universally considered to be completely not effective as weapons material and thus poses little more risk than a dirty bomb. Dirty bombs are conventional explosives laced with radioactive materials, and thus much easier to develop than nuclear weapons for terrorists or rogue nations. Also, Thorium is more than 3 times as abundant as Uranium, so would be a much cheaper fuel for Iran. And in addition to this, because the most common form, Thorium-232, is the fertile isotope and the one that would be used, no enrichment facility would be needed in Iran, which is also at the center of the issue with Iran. Because of the ease of tracking U-233 in the waste stream, the fact that U-232 acts as a natural guard against proliferation, the relative ease of adaptation for Iran to use Thorium-232 (the only natural isotope of it) as a fuel, and the abundance of Thorium, it is of my opinion that this is a very realistic solution to this issue with Iran, one that should be near the center of the discussion if it is not already. Now, I am only a first year nuclear engineer, so I am not extremely well-versed in all of the implications of Thorium as a fuel for Iran, but I do feel that from the knowledge I do have, it would be very successful in ending this crisis. Also, the use of Thorium as a fuel would pose benefits to the scientific community because it has only been very scarcely used throughout history. So, the use of this by Iran would not only improve political relations with the West, but help increase its scientific standing in the international community, which could pose future benefits for Iran as a nation, as well. Thus, I believe that both France and the US, along with all other nations that are parties to the negotiations with Iran, should at least consider this in their solution and maybe do more research into the technical background of this and whether or not it truly is plausible solution.

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