Article 98 Agreements — Japan and Montenegro
Last week, I noted that Japan will become a member the ICC in October. Interestingly, the Japanese government has indicated that it will not consider signing an Article 98 agreement with the U.S. after accession. That refusal will not have much practical effect, although there are approximately 50,000 U.S. soldiers on Japanese territory, more than half of whom are stationed on Okinawa. Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see what the Bush administration’s reaction will be, given Japan’s symbolic importance to the ICC and Shinzo Abe’s open desire to form a closer military alliance with the U.S.
Indeed, the Bush administration continues to push for Article 98 agreements. Last month, the U.S. entered into an agreement with Montenegro, a move that — according to Condoleeza Rice — “establishes a basis for United States military personnel to operate in Montenegro for mutually agreed activities.” The Article 98 agreement will almost certainly worsen relations between the U.S. and Russia, which is already concerned with the Bush administration’s desire to construct an anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. (See Julian’s post here.)
Interestingly, neither the Czech Republic nor Poland have been willing to sign Article 98 agreements — unwillingness that John Bolton savagely criticized in 2005 when he was Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. I know nothing about the physical requirements of the ballistic-missile system, but I can’t help but wonder if the U.S. would consider relocating the system to Montenegro and/or its neighbors Albania or Bosnia-Herzegovina (which have also signed Article 98 agreements) if the Czech Republic and Poland do not start singing a different tune soon.