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Arms Control and the Helsinki Summit: Issues and Obstacles in the Second Clinton Term
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In conjunction with its March 26 annual luncheon, the Arms Control Association (ACA) held a panel discussion on the arms control issues facing President Bill Clinton following the outcome of the Helsinki summit, including NATO expansion, future strategic arms reductions and prospects for Senate approval of pending arms treaties. Panelists included:

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., ACA president and executive director;
Jack Mendelsohn, ACA deputy director;
John Rhinelander, vice chairman of the ACA Board of Directors; and
John Steinbruner, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The following is an edited version of the panel's remarks.

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.: Today, I am going to forgo the practice of the last several years of giving a review and grading the accomplishments of the Clinton administration during the last year, and confine myself to the comment that they have successfully graduated in the arms control area, but without great honors. They now are in the graduate program that will define for history what the accomplishments of the Clinton administration will be.

There are three major tests that the administration is going to face in the immediate future, and the outcome of these will clearly define what to expect over the next four years. One was the Helsinki summit, which we can now begin to assess. The second will be the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC]. And the third is the Duma's action on START II ratification. These events can indicate a very successful four years or, at the other extreme, they could suggest there will be little progress during this period.

In these three tests, President Clinton shares with President Yeltsin a particular handicap: they both suffer from a situation where there is almost a disconnect between the executive and legislative branches. In the area of security and arms control and foreign policy, I think the problem is probably more serious than we have seen, certainly in recent times.

Prior to the summit, there was general concern that the proposed expansion of NATO would prevent a successful summit and prevent agreement on any measures leading to the ratification of START II. As you know, the Duma has held up START II ratification for a number of reasons, but basically the Russians felt that START II was an inequitable agreement that would force them into a major, expensive buildup that they could not afford. There were also serious concerns in the Duma about U.S. intentions in the area of ballistic missile defenses, which would affect their willingness to enter into substantial reductions. Certainly, the initial outcome of the Helsinki summit was, in view of the low expectations, very favorable. But there are some very serious questions that remain, and it's not even clear in some instances what was and wasn't agreed to at the summit.

With regard to NATO expansion, it was formally stated that the two sides disagreed on the desirability and acceptability of expansion. Yeltsin, however, either through wisdom or weakness, accepted that he, in any case, could not stop the expansion process. He sought to get some amelioration for the problems that it would cause in Russian eyes. I think he got something, but less than the Duma and Russians would have expected. He did not get a formal charter between Russia and NATO outlining the limits of expansion and Russian rights, but rather a commitment to a document that was intended to minimize the potential consequences of disagreement. This document would seek, to some extent, to compensate Russian concerns. However, it was specifically indicated that it would not be a formal treaty but rather a heads of government document constituting a political commitment. This document does not exist, and it may not be that easy to formalize it between Russia and NATO. The Duma will be very disappointed in this outcome with regard to NATO expansion.

Much will be said about the pros and cons of NATO expansion, but I believe that the biggest danger involved, certainly from the perspective of arms control, is that it places Yeltsin in a very difficult political position. Not just Yeltsin, but all of those around him who are prepared and clearly desire to make progress in arms control and reduce the military burden on Russia's economy. It creates a situation where the nationalists and the former communists can attack both the outcome of the summit and Yeltsin himself.

At the summit, the presidents agreed on a framework for START III, and it was agreed that this would be negotiated after START II entered into force. A number of us have pressed for this type of solution&emdash;to have a pre agreement on a framework that would answer some, if not all, of the Duma's understandable concerns about the treaty. The agreement went further than I expected. In addition to calling for a limit of 2,000 to 2,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads by the end of 2007, it also calls for a variety of undefined measures to improve the transparency of the actual stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and of ways to assure that there will be elimination of the nuclear weapons themselves. Whether this will be just the beginning of a process or actually a solution of this very complex problem is not clear.

The good news is that these are necessary and very important measures for creating the circumstances where deep reductions&emdash;beyond the level of 2,000 to 2,500&emdash;are credible and can be carried out. The fact that these measures are now formally recognized is a major accomplishment. The potential bad news, however, is that it's going to be a long negotiation to encompass these measures as other than simply wished for first steps. This could defer completion of START III for a number of years.

Recognizing this, the presidents agreed on a specific proposal to immediately address the Duma's concerns, namely, a protocol to START II which would stretch out the elimination period called for under the treaty from the beginning of 2003 to the end of 2007&emdash;a deferral of five years. This deferral will be alleviated to some extent by the requirement that by the end of 2003, the systems covered by START II will have to have the warheads "deactivated," meaning, I assume, removed from the delivery systems. However, from the perspective of the Duma, this gives Russia the right to maintain the key weapons to have been eliminated under START II for an additional five years, in particular the 150 SS 18s which were the principal muscle in the Russian strategic forces. This protocol will, as I understand it, be included in the Duma's ratification process of START II and will then be submitted to the U.S. Senate as an amendment to the treaty.

Another joint statement addressed the long standing issue on the demarcation between theater missile defense [TMD] systems and national missile defenses. The document is somewhat ambiguous, but the U.S. interpretation, which was stated in a press conference on Monday [March 24] by Bob Bell, is rather clear cut and relaxes, significantly, the constraints on theater missile defenses. According to Bell, theater missile defenses&emdash;with the exception of space based interceptors, which are explicitly prohibited by the ABM Treaty&emdash;will have no constraints on them except that they cannot be tested against targets traveling at more than 5 kilometers per second, which is equivalent to a ballistic missile with a range of 3,500 kilometers.

This statement is a major step back from the position the Russians have held for a long time, and it's certainly not a step forward from the point of view of the integrity of the ABM Treaty. It's true that it calls for consultations between the sides and transparency in whatever they are doing, but neither side can veto the outcome. It's essentially self policing within these very limited constraints as to what will actually be done. It is not clear to me, at this point, how this will favorably influence the Duma's concern about the possibly open ended nature of the U.S. interest in upgrading and extending missile defenses into an area that clearly encroaches on the prohibition against national missile defense systems.

This presumably would be more acceptable to the Senate's interest in having minimum constraints on theater missile defense programs. But, for openers, it doesn't seem to have accomplished that purpose. Newt Gingrich came forward with an extremely strong statement denouncing this agreement in purple prose. Whether this will be the standard for the Republican leadership remains to be seen. What he was objecting to were any constraints at all on theater missile defenses; that is, presumably the constraints on space based interceptors.

The Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] will certainly be a second test of the administration. It is very important for this treaty to be ratified before the convention enters into force on April 29. Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to push for ratification&emdash;Yeltsin having submitted the convention to the Duma just prior to the summit.

As you all know, Senator [Jesse] Helms [R NC] and a small group of Republican senators have strongly opposed this bipartisan treaty, which was negotiated and signed under the Bush administration. Their approach initially was to design conditions on the resolution of advice and consent, which would prohibit the United State from submitting its instruments of ratification unless impossible conditions were met. In recent weeks, Helms has extended his attack to call for actual amendments to the treaty arguing this should be no problem, despite the fact that the convention has been signed by some 160 countries and ratified by 70 of them.

I would have said a day or two ago that the prospects for ratification by the April 29 deadline were less than 50 percent. The administration is making a very strong push, unlike its rather casual approach in 1996, and there are several high level negotiations going on, specifically between [Samuel] Berger and the principal conservative Republican senators, another one between Senator [Joseph] Biden [D DE] and Helms, and finally the efforts of Secretary of State [Madeliene] Albright to negotiate directly with Helms. Secretary Albright seems to have had a very successful exchange with Helms, who now says he thinks that he will hold hearings after the current recess and implied that the treaty will be brought to the Senate floor. On the basis of this, I would say today that the prospects are reasonably good that there will be some sort of solution to the CWC ratification problem, because once the treaty reaches the Senate floor it will probably be approved.

The thing we don't know is what this resolution of advice and consent may contain. Aside from the "killer" conditions that will have to be eliminated, some of the other reservations that are being discussed have far reaching implications that are very negative to arms control.

In addition, it's not clear what unrelated concessions Senator Helms may have obtained. He has called for the abolition of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency [ACDA] as a precondition to the CWC. He seemed very pleased with himself in the photographs of his meeting yesterday with Secretary Albright. I would suggest that term insurance rates on ACDA have probably gone up very sharply, and I don't know how many other institutions and activities may be in danger.

If the CWC fails to win Senate approval or it's kicked down the road a long way, it will certainly have a very serious, negative impact on the prospects for early Senate action on a number of even more important treaties, in particular the Comprehensive Test Ban [CTB] Treaty, signed last September, which is waiting in the wings for U.S. ratification.

Returning to the Duma, on the schedule that is implied in the Helsinki agreements, it will have to act in the not too distant future on START II; but it's hard to identify any time that is particularly auspicious for such action by the Duma. We have made a positive outcome significantly less likely by our espousal of NATO expansion. Certainly the question of how NATO expansion is going to relate, even hypothetically, to the Baltics, to Romania, to Ukraine, is going to be a very critical issue to the Duma in its action on the ratification of START II. It seems unlikely that there are any actions that could be taken at this late date that would defuse this problem from the perspective of Russian politicians. But I would hope that careful consideration is given to providing Russia significant additional assurances as to NATO intentions.

In conclusion, I believe that we have to be pleased with the Helsinki summit. It avoided an immediate impasse over NATO expansion, which would have closed off progress for years in the Clinton administration. I think we have Yeltsin to thank; whether as a reflection of his wisdom or weakness, Yeltsin was prepared to avoid a confrontation on this issue. However, I would emphasize that it's too early to tell whether Helsinki set the stage for major progress and further reductions, or simply for bitter domestic disputes both in Russia and the United States between the executive and legislative branches over next steps in arms control. If U.S. diplomacy for the next several years focuses on trying to force the NATO expansion issue against second thoughts in NATO and the United States and increasing Russian opposition, Helsinki will indeed have been a Pyrrhic victory.

Jack Mendelsohn: I'm going to try to deconstruct the summit from an arms control point of view. I submit that the purpose of this summit was to get START II ratified. Clearly, we did not change Moscow's mind on NATO expansion. And clearly, we did not resolve the ABM TMD issues. So, I think the proof of the pudding in the summit will be whether or not we get a START II ratification in the immediate future¾by Madrid or by the end of the year.

On NATO, it's quite clear what Yeltsin decided to do was to take the consolation prize and bring it back and see if it could be sold back in Moscow. Remember, there were three big issues holding up START II ratification. One of them was the emotional response to NATO expansion that's taking place in Moscow and the linkage placed on it by certain members of the Duma&emdash;if NATO expands, then we should not ratify START II. The second was problems inherent to START II; concerns that the Russians had about certain aspects of the treaty. And the third problem was getting a handle on U.S. high velocity TMD systems. Those were the three sets of problems that the summit tried to address.

The first one was a consolation prize&emdash;the charter. Whether Yeltsin can sell this as acceptable to delink NATO expansion from ratification remains to be seen. He did make an effort to point out how important it was that 16 nations would be signing it at the highest level and that this would be a binding document. And actually on some nations in Europe, it's likely to be a binding document. The distinction between politically binding and legally binding in some countries doesn't exist.

But, on the other hand, he misunderstood it. He made an explicit statement that in the charter there would be a commitment not to use Warsaw Pact infrastructure. Later, the U.S. briefers took great pains to disabuse their audience of that statement. So, it's not sure that Yeltsin actually even knows what's going to be in the charter or that it will be, again coming back to the original point, sellable in Moscow.

On START II, we did rather well on trying to deal with the inherent problems. We agreed to lower levels; 2,000 2,500, which you may remember was the original Russian position. But since they're now coincident in time, it's the START II START III levels. There isn't going to be a 3,500 level for any practical purposes, although, at some point they will get to 3,500 on the way to 2,500.

And secondly, we agreed to stretch out the time line to the end of 2007. That's also an original position. When was the treaty signed? In January of 1993. How long was it supposed to run? January of 2003. So basically, what we did is shift the 10 years to begin at the current date. It's understandable, and I think that will be a simple argument to make, when we go in front of the Senate and say: "Look, this was done in 1993. It isn't going to come into force until 1997, and it had a fixed date at the end." Clearly, it makes sense to move that fixed date.

The bottom line on the time extension is that we will deactivate to 3,500 by December 31, 2003. And we will eliminate&emdash;to 2,500&emdash;by December 31, 2007. Now, when the Russians ratify START II, they will ratify&emdash;at least as the current planning goes&emdash;an amendment or a protocol at the same time, saying, the treaty text notwithstanding, the implementation date is extended to 2007. That document, the extension document, comes back to the U.S. Senate for approval because the term of the original treaty will have been changed.

Now, I would submit that the most important thing in the summit was the time extension, not only because it relieves the mechanical financial problems related to START II, but because it gives Russia political breathing room, as well. It gives them time&emdash;and this is the argument that Yeltsin will make in front of the Duma&emdash;to evaluate the true impact of NATO expansion and the TMD programs on their own security interests.

I can't over stress this: What we have basically done is push the problems down the road in order to get START II up and running. And the Russian argument will have to be: We can do this because we've got more time.

One of the arguments that appeared constantly in the Russian debate was this double whammy scenario: "If we eliminate all of our weapons, including our SS 18s, in the year 2003&emdash;according to the original START scenario&emdash;in 2004 the U.S. begins deploying TMD. And in 2004, also, five years after the first tranche comes into NATO, the Baltics are invited to join." And that's the political breathing space, if you will, that we have given the Russians by the extension.

There will also be an effort in START III to deal with stockpiles and warhead destruction and special nuclear materials. Measures relating to the transparency of inventories, which we've been talking about with not much success in the past, are on the agenda for START III. Destruction of strategic nuclear warheads is on the agenda, as well. That's likely, again, like the transparency of inventories, to be a very, very difficult and perhaps prolonged negotiation. And one hopes that, although it's mentioned as part of START III, that if it becomes too difficult to deal with expeditiously that it could be separated from the simpler issue of START III lower levels.

Now, there's also an agreement to talk about technical and organizational measures to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions. That has to do with the Russian concern, and our concern as well, that there could be a rapid reconstitution capability. In other words, there will be a lot of empty spaces on missiles as a result of downloading under START II and START III. The Russians have said they are quite concerned that we could easily reconstitute our forces. They would like to talk about ways to make this reconstitution more difficult.

I did a piece on START II in Arms Control Today a couple of months ago that talked about some ideas of getting rid of empty spaces on missiles to deal with this reconstitution problem. Another reconstitution issue that the Russians have been concerned about is the ease with which heavy bombers can be reoriented, or oriented, if you will, from strategic missions or conventional missions, and then from conventional back to strategic, because there's no obligation in START II to remove the nuclear launch capability wiring and systems from these reoriented bombers. These are the kinds of technical measures that they probably have in mind.

One other issue for START III is making the treaties unlimited in duration. As you know, they last 15 years and may be renewed for five year periods. The first START agreement is a five party agreement, and the second and third agreement are two party agreements, so there will have to be some kind of mixing and matching to get all of this together so START I, II and III run indefinitely.

In separable negotiations, the sides have also agreed to deal with sea launched cruise missiles [SLCMs] and tactical nuclear systems in general. Under START I, we have a politically binding agreement to limit the number of nuclear SLCMs, which have actually been taken out of the force but are not banned by START I. That's a Russian concern. On tactical nuclear systems, it's a U.S. concern that we don't have a good feel for how well the unilateral commitments in 1991 to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from the force have been implemented and carried out.

Both sides are arguing, "Look, as we go down to lower levels of deployed systems, the non deployed and non covered systems gain in significance, and we've got to begin to take a look at the hedge, the stockpile, the tactical nukes, the nuclear SLCMs, which are not explicitly dealt with in the reduction of deployed systems." In other words, the value of these stockpiles, of non deployed systems and tactical weapons, is greater as deployed levels reduce.

Let me talk a little bit about what happened on ABM and TMD. That's the third issue. Remember, we're trying to give Yeltsin a package that he can take back to the Duma and say, "Okay, we've had three problems that have impeded your action on the treaty. Here's the solutions I can present you." Will this package be adequate to convince the Duma to move on START II? We don't know the answer.

What did we get on ABM and TMD? Well, the Russians have for some time maintained that they needed to see the color of our money on high velocity TMD systems. What is it exactly we were prepared to do? And in effect, what we said we were prepared to do was very little, and we pushed this issue down the road as well.

The Russians wanted explicit constraints on testing programs for TMD, and they wanted explicit limits, geographic and numerical, on deployments. And they also were not prepared to give an "okay" to deployments. They got none of this in the package.

Basically, what they got was a very simple second phase agreement, which allows everything, and will be, I think, if there's not more to follow, destructive of the ABM strategic force reduction relationship that we have enjoyed in the past. They agreed that the targets will have restrictions on their range and speed. They agreed to a detailed information exchange on plans and programs for TMD.

And thirdly, they got a commitment not to do something we weren't going to do anyhow, which is not deploy space based kill vehicles. I said this carefully&emdash;"kill vehicles." There isn't a limit on other space based elements. So, that's the second phase agreement that the Russians can look forward to.

Will this be useful or not, or adequate or not for ratification? We don't know. They also got a series of "no plans" statements, which deal partly with the specific limits that they were trying to negotiate. They've got: "We have no plans to test high velocity TMD before the middle of 1999." So, we've got a couple of years there before these are actually going to come on board. They got: "We have no plans for land or sea or air based TMD with interceptor velocities above 5.5. And we have no plans for sea based TMD with velocities above 4.5. We have no plans to test against MIRVs and no plans to test against strategic re entry vehicles."

So that's the ABM part of the package that Yeltsin's going to bring back. He got a package of "no plans" statements. And he got a commitment to continue discussions on high velocity TMD. We agreed that any questions or concerns either side may have regarding TMD activities, including matters related to the agreement to be completed on the high velocity systems, can be discussed with a view to precluding violation or circumvention of the ABM Treaty.

The fourth part of the package that may be useful to the Russians is a recommitment by both sides to preserve the ABM Treaty, to prevent circumvention and to enhance its viability. And there's also a commitment that the scale of deployment of TMD, in number and scope&emdash;which, remember, the Russians were trying to get explicit limits on&emdash;will be consistent with programs confronting that side.

In sum, the best the Russians got were a series of challenge points, in addition to the very, very bare bones second phase agreement. Will that be a convincing package for the Duma that they can control TMD? I think that Yeltsin will have to argue, as he will on NATO expansion, that as a result of the extension of the reductions of strategic forces under START II, Russia retains its leverage on TMD. Now, you may not find that a convincing argument, and it may not be one, but that's going to have to be the basic argument that he's going to make. Rather than having eliminated all of its strategic forces by 2003, as I have said earlier, and then at 2004 having to face the TMD deployments, they got a discussion forum, they got challenge points and they retained leverage. It's not bad leverage, because the reduction process will be ongoing and that strengthens the Russian hand there. But clearly the Russian hand is weakened at the table. They've agreed to a phase two agreement which has absolutely no explicit constraints on high velocity TMD systems.

John Rhinelander: By my count, there may be as many as eight to 10 treaties during Clinton's second term, and I am going to focus on five of them. I would say it's uncertain at best what, if anything, is going to get through; the one exception being the Chemical Weapons Convention.

I would like to offer three general observations on the U.S. treaty process. First, it's very, very difficult. It takes two thirds of the Senate to approve a treaty, and that is not easy, under even the best of circumstances, when you're dealing with a controversial subject. Second, when you're dealing in a partisan setting where the Senate and the White House are controlled by different parties, the process is not impossible, but almost impossible. The third point, which is my rule, came to me during the Carter administration when the Republicans were controlling the Senate and Howard Baker was their majority leader; it's simply that you could only get one controversial treaty through the Senate every two years, at most. In the Carter years, it was a choice between the Panama Canal and SALT II treaties. The choice was the Panama treaty, which was important to get through. Baker led the charge against SALT II, which is not what he would have done in other circumstances.

Then we get to the Russian side, which, of course, is new. In the old days, we had a rubber stamp process and it was relatively easy. Now, I would say the Duma is probably corrupt, it's incompetent and it's dominated by communists and nationalists, which isn't a good combination.

The first treaty of importance is the Chemical Weapons Convention. It will enter into force on April 29 because more than the minimum number of 65 states have already ratified it. It's not a question of whether the CWC enters into force; it's a question of whether the U.S. will be an original party when it does. I believe that if the Senate votes before then, the treaty will get the necessary votes and it will get them by a very large margin. If the vote is not held before April 29, I don't think you will get a positive vote. So, I think the deadline is going to force a positive vote.

If the Senate does vote positively, then, of course, the debate swings over to the Duma. At one point, people were saying that the Duma would have an easier time with the CWC than it would with START II. I don't know whether that's still the case. Yeltsin has now sent the CWC before the Duma.

My own sense is the Senate will give its advice and consent. I have felt this for a number of weeks, and I think that's about as clear as you can have in this uncertain town. There will be something like 21 understandings with the resolution of ratification, but these will not be reservations. The CWC prohibits reservations, which are conditions changing the treaty and which have to go to other parties. The 21 conditions will include things such as the legal right or the legal obligation on the part of the president to respond with the full panoply of our arsenal if chemical weapons are ever used against us. I haven't seen this condition in writing yet, but I don't believe that it can possibly be legally binding on a future president. It's good rhetoric domestically, but it's bad rhetoric internationally.

Second, as you know, the Senate has given its advice and consent to START II and we're waiting for the Duma to act. My personal assumption is if the Duma vote is going to be favorable, it's going to have to occur before the NATO summit in July. If there is no vote before then, it's going to get so complicated with the negotiations on the new entries to NATO that you won't get a vote.

There are four negatives as to why this Duma vote won't happen. First, Yeltsin's health, both physical and political, has to be the biggest uncertainty of all. Yeltsin has never pushed START II. He announced he was going to support it, but I'm not sure that he is physically up to it. Even if he were, I'm not sure he would have the stamina or the money to get it through. It's going to be one very expensive proposition to get START II through the Duma. Second, the major focus in Moscow, from what I understand, is the budget. Domestic issues, such as unpaid salaries and unpaid taxes, are swirling around in Moscow. Third, I think personally the ABM Treaty amendments agreed to at Helsinki regarding TMD systems will probably be viewed in Moscow by those who care about it as a negative. But all of those factors are swamped by the fourth one, which is NATO enlargement. There isn't a single member of the Duma who approves of it, and I think that could well still be the killer of START II.

At the same time, there are two positive factors in the START II debate. The first is the START III framework agreement that reduces the number of warheads; the second is the five year extension to the elimination period under the treaty. If the Duma goes forward and does it right by my way of thinking, they would not make the five year extension part and parcel of the original approval of START II. They would take note of it, but they wouldn't make it a condition. This way, they would approve the treaty and it wouldn't have to come back to the Senate, and START II then enters into force.

I think a conservative lawyer would tell them that the better way for the Duma to protect its own interests is to make this a condition to START II ratification. It would be an amendment, which would change the terms of the treaty and require that the treaty come back to the Senate for its advice and consent. In our diplomatic history, we have one example where this happened, I think it was between the U.S. and Turkey, three times. The ball bounced back and forth and each time the parties changed it. In the end, it never got through.

I don't think we're going to get there because I don't think the Duma is going to approve START II in the first place. That's my own judgment. If I'm right, it will have important consequences politically between the U.S. and Russia because this is what Helsinki was about. If it wasn't enough, I think it can lead to a deterioration in relations. Programs like Nunn Lugar are going to be in further trouble on the Hill.

The third treaty that would go to the Senate would be the two TMD amendments to the ABM Treaty dealing with lower velocity and higher velocity systems. There is also a third amendment, which adds new parties&emdash;Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan&emdash;to the ABM Treaty. It is my opinion that adding successor states of the former Soviet Union to the ABM Treaty should not be viewed as an amendment which would require advice and consent of the Senate. Unfortunately, those who are in power in the Senate see otherwise, and they're looking for all kinds of ways to make mischief.

Clinton is going to run into trouble with the Republicans on two fronts. First, some Republicans say there are no limits on TMD systems, so what you have here are basically limits that didn't exist before. Those who say this, including the Wall Street Journal editorial page, are absolutely dead wrong. Treaty Article VI was explicitly put in there by the U.S. because of our concern over Soviet surface to air missile [SAM] systems. Second, a lot of the Republicans just don't want the ABM Treaty; they don't want anything done to give a positive spin to the treaty, so anytime it's mentioned they will vote against it.

I would congratulate the administration, and Bob Bell in particular. Bob has stressed time and time again that we need these amendments for the U.S. legally to go forward with the testing, and ultimately the deployment, of most of these TMD systems. That is correct. But I predict that there is not a chance in hell that the Senate is going to give its advice and consent to these amendments. If I'm correct in this, then the question is: What happens when we begin to test and deploy, and we haven't approved the changes which would make it legal? I don't know what the time period for that is; it partly depends on the funding from Congress. To me, the good news is that because of the cost limitations, budget problems and the continuing failure of key tests, the limits on TMD systems are going to be generated back in the U.S. The funds for taking six programs forward won't be there. These are going to be the real tests, perhaps more so than the new, elastic ABM Treaty agreed upon in Moscow.

The fourth treaty I want to mention is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the CTBT, which was signed in September 1996. It needs 44 ratifications, including India, which has announced it will not ratify it. It also needs the U.S. I think it is clear that the Senate will not give its advice and consent. Look at the troubles we're having with the CWC, which was first proposed in the Reagan administration and completed under the Bush administration, where more than half of all the Bush people, including former Secretary of State James Baker, had been strong supporters of it. You don't have that situation with the CTBT, which both administrations were adamantly against. So, I don't think there's any chance of getting the CTBT through a Republican controlled Senate.

Now, that's the bad news. The good news is there is a way to get 90 or 95 percent of it and the president could do it alone. The president could state that the substantive provisions of the treaty not to test further are now legally binding on all those who signed it, as long as the treaty is pending for ratification or has been approved and it has not yet gone into effect. That is a legally compelling case and a way which would avoid the non action by the Senate. ACDA agrees with this position. John Holum, the director of ACDA, made a speech about that last September. But the administration has not yet made a decision on that because there is opposition elsewhere in the administration.

The fifth treaty I would mention involves NATO enlargement. If you talk to people in the administration, expansion is a done deal and it's going to go sailing through the Senate. I think that is wrong. The United States and the other members of NATO will be negotiating between July and December the protocols and agreements with the new members. This will turn 1998 into the year of ratification. The fact that [Senate Majority Leader] Trent Lott [R MS] has now come out publicly in favor of expansion clearly improves the chances for Senate action. But my own sense is that it's still very uncertain whether the Senate will give its advice and consent when it comes to that point in time.

There are at least four factors to consider. The first, of course, will be the cost. Cost figures are all over the lot. The administration is trying to low ball it, saying the new entries and the European allies will pick up much of the cost. I think that won't prove to be the case. Secondly, most members of the Senate don't have a clue as to what the NATO treaty is really about. They wouldn't know what Article V states if they had to answer a multiple choice question. When they understand what is there, I think it will raise some concerns. I can see opposition coming from both the left and the right, particularly if everything is not peaceful in Europe. If we have our forces out of Bosnia by then and Bosnia goes back to where it was earlier, I think it will chill the view of some as to whether we want to keep enlarging NATO and have the automaticity of Article V, as it is presently stated. Finally, you've got the fact that some people are going to be left out, particularly the Baltics, which is a big political issue in this country. I'm not sure that's going to help the process of getting the first stage&emdash;and maybe the only stage&emdash;of NATO enlargement through.

There are four or five other treaties that will probably come up during the second Clinton administration, and I think they have no chance of getting through the Senate. These include two nuclear free zone treaties. They're important in the non proliferation world, but I don't see them moving. Then we may have a follow on [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe] CFE Treaty. The map is already agreed upon but CFE II is going to take further negotiations. It's not clear to me how long that will take. It could be done by this summer, as some have suggested, but I think that's probably going to overload the system.

START III is another one. Obviously, you don't get to START III unless you get START II into effect. If you do get START II into effect, START III is not going to be a simple adjustment of the numbers. So, I don't think it's going to be negotiated within this period of time, and even if it were, remember we weren't very fast getting the advice and consent to START II.

Finally, you have the so called compliance protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention [BWC]. This is not yet negotiated. When the BWC was signed in 1972, it was done without any kind of on site inspection or enforcement regime. It is absolutely necessary to do. If, in fact, that is done in time, it's going to be controversial because the industry there is not going to be onboard as the chemical industry is with the CWC.

In summary, if we don't get the CWC and START II, then we will have arms control really going into a deep freeze, and that is going to adversely affect relations. I think we will get the CWC, and how it will play if we don't get START II is anybody's guess. In terms of new initiatives, we have to go by means other than formal agreement. George Bunn wrote back in 1969, "by agreement or otherwise." I think we have to be going by "otherwise," that is, parallel unilateral actions of one kind or another. It's been done in the past, as with the Bush Gorbachev arrangements on tactical nuclear weapons. We simply have to go that way with imagination, and not bring any more formal agreements before the Senate or the Duma because I just don't think we're going to get action.

John Steinbruner: Over the longer term, the most important fact to keep in mind is that the Russian military is not in a viable position. They can't sustain the burdens that are imposed upon them with the financing available in the security circumstances they face. They can't perform any of their basic missions to anything like historical standards. That is a core problem of security in Europe. We don't have that problem in sight yet, and therein lies the issue of the longer term.

NATO expansion promises at the moment, under the current formula, to seriously aggravate that problem. In the first instance, I would argue, because expansion really does embody a principle of discrimination. That is big trouble for the Russians. It's saying we will incorporate into our security arrangements those people who are culturally most similar to us, as we define that. We made it very clear that the Russians are not about to qualify any time soon. I don't think we can overemphasize the importance of that.

I would compare that formula to the separate but equal formula for the education system in the United States in the pre civil rights era. Everybody thought this was defensible. Many people defended it. In retrospect, we can see that wasn't destined to make it. I don't think the principles we're currently using for security in Europe are going to make it, either, for the same reason&emdash;they're fundamentally discriminatory. And the reason is that the Russians need quite the opposite under the conditions there.

But there's a less philosophical issue related to the situation I just described: The process of NATO expansion is predictably putting some very serious and dangerous pressures on Russian nuclear weapons operations, and we have to worry about their reactions. What they've been telling us&emdash;and we should listen carefully&emdash;is that this is driving them into broad reliance on nuclear weapons to cover virtually all the primary missions. And we should note that from the perspective of the Russian military, the forward expansion of NATO potential&emdash;and that is what's going on, despite the rhetoric&emdash;is very bad news indeed because it brings U.S. tactical war operations that much closer to the full array of sensitive targets that, in principle, we might take on.

That means that their nuclear weapons operations, which are already basically on a hair trigger policy, get all the more committed to that. They have to react very quickly, in principle, if there's ever any trouble, and they basically don't have the assets to do that safely. They don't have the early warning system or defense system that would enable them to manage such a situation. So, we're driving them down a very dangerous track: broad reliance on nuclear weapons configured for very rapid reaction because of the pressure they feel potentially from Western operations.

Now, I don't want to exaggerate at the moment how dangerous this is, yet they're talking this way. They haven't done very much of what would actually be involved in implementing such a policy. But this is, to put it mildly, the wrong track to be driving them down, and we ought to realize that is the track that we're driving them down.

The third element of the situation that is troublesome is the reason why they are relying on, or saying that they have to rely on, nuclear weapons is that their conventional force establishment is basically in shambles. They cannot finance it; they are not financing it. In order to preserve internal coherence and standards of operational safety, they badly need to cut the size of their forces to levels that they can finance. The chances of their doing so under current conditions are as close to zero as anything gets, because they're telling themselves that, ultimately, they have to aspire to the full requirements of providing for their own security. It's very hard to believe that a planning system will tell itself you can do with less than 1.5 million people&emdash;which is their current aspiration&emdash;and do all the missions that they traditionally say they can do, particularly in the Far East. It's a big problem in that regard. And that, of course, is not even on the table in the CFE Treaty discussions.

The bottom line is that the planning system is very likely to hold for this 1.5 million person aspiration, and not be able to take on the more realistic program of cutting their forces to sizes that they might actually be able to finance and sustain, which is probably closer to 500,000 people. In this context, they're not going to do what they need to do, and that means we're embedding this increasingly burdensome and reactive nuclear weapons operation into a deteriorating force structure. And, to put it mildly, that's not a good thing to be doing. To put it more strongly, we're not going to survive this for two decades&emdash;unless we get onto a better track&emdash;without having a very, very bad experience.

Can we turn this situation into an opportunity? Can we bring these underlying issues to the surface and begin to deal with them? Can this process of NATO expansion, which is having a direct perverse effect, be turned into an opportunity to goad us into dealing with this underlying problem? Well, I might note that the problems I just mentioned would be virtually as serious if, magically, the whole process of NATO expansion disappeared. The problem simply is that it's exacerbating on the margin a deep, underlying problem and potentially obscuring our view of the problem. However, our opportunity may be that precisely because it is making it worse. This process might lead us to discover the problem and do something about it.

What do we need in order to do that? First of all, it sounds philosophical but it's extremely important, we need to project a constructive principle of engagement here that the Russians believe in. Believe me, we have not yet done that. The Russian military system does not believe, and I think we can forgive them for this, that we have truly benign intentions and that we do not intend to put them into a permanent position of inferiority and hold them there. We need to reassure them in that regard, and to present and develop a full scope policy of engagement. We have not yet done that.

Even if you imagine that we made some more systematic effort than we have currently done, however, rhetoric is not going to get us through this, even the most forthcoming and benign rhetoric. So, we have to have concrete measures to back that rhetoric up. What are the most important measures?

If we're trying to project an image that says: "We're not trying to isolate you, force you into deterioration or subordinate you. We are trying to help you solve your own security problems. We do have benign intentions," then probably the single most important thing we need to do is to respond to their currently intractable air defense problem. That is the thing that they probably worry about the most, in particular when they look at the European theater.

The way to do that is to integrate them into military air traffic control arrangements throughout all of Europe. This would have the effect of reassuring them, on a daily basis, that we aren't running any nefarious maneuver against them, and that they would have to be kicked out of the system for us to do that. Otherwise, there's no way of reassuring them, because they cannot create the capacities that such a system would require on their own anytime soon. So, I would say that provision is extremely important, and it has the virtue that at least the government, at the moment, has not ruled it out of bounds. They haven't yet done it, but they've been thinking about it.

Related to that, I think we ought to realize that we've got an agenda with regard to nuclear weapons that goes far beyond the scheduled reductions that are being talked about in START III. We have got to back the Russians out of the reactive posture that they're in, in order to achieve higher standards of operational safety, and there's no way of telling how much time we have to do this before it gets to be dangerous. But I would say it is a lot more urgent than the decade long implementation of START III that's now being talked about.

It is unwise for us to count on being able to get through a decade without improving the standards of safety within the Russian nuclear weapons operation. We're going to need much broader scope engagement in order to deal with that. Reducing the number of nuclear weapons is, in essence, a marginal matter from this point of view. We have not recognized as yet the urgency of that agenda. There is no way that the Russians are going to back off their current configuration, unless they do it in tandem with us under a very explicit discussion. That is a whole agenda that hasn't even been taken on.

The START III provisions under discussion do provide some seeds here. The sides are now discussing provisions to promote irreversibility, to directly control warheads and to enhance transparency. That is a good part of the agenda that will have to be developed to get at these underlying issues. So, you can see in the official discussion the small glimmerings, if you will, of the right sort of things to expand the talks. The bottom line is that we really need to enhance or advance or upgrade the prominence given to these provisions, and to begin to articulate their importance and develop them on a much more rapid schedule.

Similarly, the CFE discussion is potentially extremely significant, in that the Russians are not going to be able to solve their fundamental problem&emdash;which is they have a force structure too large to finance—unless there are general arrangements for reducing the size to levels that they can sustain. So, the good news is that the CFE talks go in that direction. The not so good news is that the CFE adaptation process has no hope of actually accomplishing this until Asia is included in the picture. Obviously, that's a big bite. It would require a fundamental reconceptualization of the whole thing, and more initiative conceptually and politically, than it's easy to believe in at the moment.

So, while struggling to be positive, let me say I think we're in fairly serious trouble here, and hopefully, the trouble will be the cause of our digging out of the hole. But we don't have the problem very fully in view here. We're not doing the sort of things that will be required to get hold of it, and we don't have anything like the 10 years scheduled under START to begin to deal with it. We've got to start hustling.

For more information please contact:

Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr. or Jack Mendelsohn

Posted: March 1, 1997