An ACA Panel Discussion With Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., John Rhinelander, Matthew Bunn, David Albright and Daryl Kimball
Before its annual membership meeting and luncheon on March 26, the Arms Control Association (ACA) presented a panel discussion on the arms control issues facing the Clinton administration in 1999, including national missile defense and the ABM Treaty, "loose nukes" in Russia, the inspections stalemate with Iraq, and efforts to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Panelists included Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., ACA president and executive director; John B. Rhinelander, ACA vice-chairman and former legal advisor to the U.S. SALT I delegation that negotiated the ABM Treaty; Matthew Bunn, assistant director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at Harvard University; David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security; and Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers.
Below is an edited version of the panelists' remarks and the question and answer session that followed.
It is generally a good idea not to discuss controversial on-going events while they are in mid-course; however, I think that before turning to a discussion of the events of the last year something must be said about Kosovo, which comes at a most difficult time. The past year has been a bad one for arms control. There is little progress and some retrogression to report. We meet today in the shadow of NATO bombings over Kosovo. Whatever one's view of the wisdom and legitimacy of this action, I think one thing is clear: the casualties of these events will include arms control progress, and U.S.-Russian relations, at least in the short term.
Administration experts assure us that they are confident that the Russian economy is in such a disastrous state that Russia will quickly overcome any misgivings or bitterness about the current event in order to obtain U.S. and international financial support. I believe, however, that the planning of the strike to coincide with Primakov's long-scheduled U.S. visit to discuss arms control matters is an unprecedented, insensitive and contemptuous action on the part of the United States and NATO. I think the image of Primakov turning his plane around over the Atlantic, having talked with the Vice President and failing to obtain assurances that the strikes would not begin during his visit, and the image of Yeltsin pleading with Clinton for half an hour just before the strikes began, not to undertake them, will live a long time in the Russian mind and influence the course of events in a negative fashion. Unless the administration takes some really heroic steps to reassure Russia, and Russia shows a forbearance that is most uncommon among national states whose advice has been ignored, the prospects for Duma ratification of START II—and further progress in strategic reductions—during the final two years of the Clinton administration are very poor indeed.
Now, let me turn briefly to the area of strategic arms. The tragedy of the past year has been a series of U.S. actions that seem almost calculated to dissuade the Duma from ratifying START II. Under Primakov, the Russian government accelerated its efforts to build Duma support for START II and made really a major effort that appeared to be successful. By the end of 1998, the Duma appeared to be prepared to move ahead on ratification, despite their concerns about NATO and frustration with their own military problems. In fact, on December 25th, the Duma was scheduled to vote approval of the treaty. However, the U.S. massive bombing against Iraq resulted in the postponement of this action. Nonetheless, the Russian government's effort was sufficiently strong that despite this development, clearly undertaken contrary to Russian advice, the Duma still seemed prepared to ratify START II. At this point Secretary Cohen made his statements that could only be interpreted by an observer as indicating that the United States had essentially made the decision to deploy an ABM system subject only to the checking out of the technical availability of the hardware. Despite efforts by the White House to restate that our position remained as it had been, I think the damage had been done. Nevertheless, Primakov and the government still pressed ahead to get the Duma to ratify START II, and a date was set to resume the debate and come to a vote on April 2. This of course is now no longer operational as a result of the U.S.-NATO decision to start massive and continuing bombing of Yugoslavia. Now, this too may pass away, but, I think the window of opportunity for START II ratification will also pass away. Assuming we can get through the next month which will include the 50th anniversary of NATO, where one cannot preclude calls for further expansion of NATO to include the Baltic states, and possible further action regarding deployment of a national missile defense system, the Duma will in the not too distant future go on leave and will begin campaigning for their elections in the fall.
Briefly let me touch on the ABM Treaty and the national missile defense [NMD] debate which John Rhinelander will discuss in some detail. I think the situation is much more serious than it was a year ago. Seizing on the North Korean partially successful test of a three-stage missile, and the Rumsfeld report—which I think is a classic example of a worst-worst assessment of a technical situation, leading to completely unrealistic conclusions as to the likelihood of the deployment of ICBMs by the so-called rogue states—the national missile defense lobby has undertaken a much increased effort, compared with a year ago, to pin down a formal commitment to an NMD deployment decision. The Cochran bill, which was just passed by the Senate, has been seized upon by the press and by political supporters as indicating that there is now an overwhelming majority of people in support of a ballistic missile deployment. Actually, as amended by the Democrats, the Cochran bill consists of two, or more, incompatible elements, since it simultaneously calls for the deployment of an effective system as soon as technically possible, but also directs as U.S. policy to continue negotiated reductions in offensive strategic missiles. Theoretically in limited circumstances these might be compatible policies, but in practice I think they are not compatible and almost a classic oxymoron. The amendments allowed Democrats to vote for the now meaningless bill and kick the issue down the road.
As we speak, the Congress is trying in conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills. How this emerges will be a significant factor in the public and international image of U.S. intentions.
Let me turn briefly to non-proliferation, which of course is closely related to the bilateral strategic relationship between the United States and Russia. While there have been some successes in the last year, overall the situation can only be characterized as worse than a year ago. And the only consolation is that it might have been a lot worse. First, and I'm just going to make a few comments here because David Albright will go into this in more detail, the Indian and Pakistani tests were clearly a major setback to the non-proliferation regime. In a larger sense, they did not change the strategic picture because the two countries simply came out of the closet. Actually, the event has had less impact than many people anticipated, and certainly less than was anticipated by those who are fundamentally hostile to arms control as a method of improving U.S. security. On balance, I think the administration has done a reasonable job, maybe the best job one can do with this difficult problem. It has taken a posture not to ostracize India and Pakistan from the world community, which is impractical and undesirable, but at the same time not to give them any benefits or special recognition as a result of their undertaking this action, and to make clear that they will not be treated as nuclear-weapon states. How successful this approach will be remains to be seen.
In the case of Iraq, there has certainly been a major setback to the arms control regime. Saddam Hussein, who is clearly in gross violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, has managed, by perseverance, to engineer a situation where UNSCOM has been thrown out of the country, and he is no longer under the intense inspections that he had been in the past. Moreover, the patience of many countries is running thin on continuing UNSCOM and sanctions. However, in I believe an extremely shortsighted and unwise operation of using UNSCOM as an umbrella for its unilateral intelligence operation, the U.S. has done a great deal to take the onus off of Saddam Hussein for his actions, and has made it unlikely that UNSCOM, in anything near its present form, will be able to return to Iraq. More seriously, I think the U.S. action is going to raise longer term questions about transparency measures we're interested in—in Russia and elsewhere in the world. It may also raise questions about the acceptability of on-site inspections, if they become looked on as synonymous with U.S. intelligence operations to gather information on unrelated activities.
I do want to say something about the comprehensive test ban that Daryl Kimball will deal with in some detail. The test ban really is looked at as the litmus test of the willingness of the nuclear-weapon states to participate in arms control constraints on their capabilities, and to meet their obligations under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]. Well, this was signed two and a half years ago, it's been before the Senate a year and a half, and as you all know has been single-handedly blocked, with the support of the Republican leadership, by Senator Helms. This is really a scandalous situation with this important treaty—to not allow the Senate to carry out its constitutional responsibilities by preventing the treaty from coming to a vote.
The administration, which can take credit for there being a treaty in the first place, is saying the right things, but nothing is happening. I think it is a situation where it is not clear that the administration is taking actions to advance the ratification or really has a plan as to how it will do this. If we fail to get the CTB ratified, it is going to be a very serious step backwards in the arms control process because it will prevent the United States from voting in a conference, called for in the treaty, that can take place sometime after September of this year to figure out how to bring the treaty into force earlier. And, looking way down the road to the year 2000, which is getting closer, failure will put us in a very bad position at the 2000 review conference on the implementation of the indefinite extension of the NPT.
In conclusion, I would like to say that even before Kosovo, the administration's arms control policy seemed to be adrift and always appeared to be subordinate to other temporal developments, which, while they may seize the headlines, seem rather secondary to the objectives of arms control policy and our relations with Russia and China. I think the next few weeks and how the Serbian situation is handled will define whether there will be any hope for progress on the main elements of arms control during the final two years of the Clinton administration. [Back to top] John Rhinelander:
I would like to focus on what I call the politics of ballistic missile defense [BMD] and the ABM Treaty. The reason I refer to it as the politics of BMD is that we don't have the technology yet that works, since the tests are almost uniformly unsuccessful; we don't know what we would deploy if the tests were ever declared to be successful; and we don't have a clue as to what it is going to cost because we don't know what we're going to deploy. So rather than focus on these questions and their impact on the ABM Treaty, since I don't have the answers and I don't think the government does either, I'll talk about how we got here, how it's affecting other things, and how it may play out. I will focus first on the United States, then the U.S. and Russia, then the U.S. and NATO, and then the U.S. and the Far East.
As is usual in the United States—and I can say this as Rip Van Winkle, as if I've slept 10 or 12 years, as have others who were involved in SALT I, then some event occurs which wakes us up again—politics is driving the debate. First we had Reagan's Star Wars, and now we have the Republican Contract with America idea of a national missile defense deployment. Politics has always driven the major U.S. decisions on ballistic missile defense, far ahead of technological capability and frequently divorced from a strategic analysis, which is then done after the fact. This was true in the 1960s when Congress, as you recall, pushed ballistic missile defense on a reluctant President Johnson. One of the responses then to NMD systems was MIRV [multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle] technology. MIRVs would allow the United States to overcome any Russian ballistic missile defense, but MIRVs opened up a whole other can of worms.
In the 1980s, it wasn't the Congress but Ronald Reagan who announced, to the surprise of everybody, that the United States was going to build this dome that was to defend us all. Now, what we really have is the continuing aftermath of the Contract with America. Missile defense was one of the 10 points the Republican Party decided—based on a lot of polling—was a real winner. It was a winner with the Republican right, a winner in terms of fund raising, and "Defend America" is a terrific bumper sticker. So that's going forward.
I think what we have in Washington right now is a standoff, an agreement on the surface. The Clinton administration has declared that the United States will deploy an NMD when it is technologically possible, quietly saying if that ever comes. The Republicans on Capitol Hill say the United States should deploy a system as soon as we possibly can. At the moment, the administration is trying to take the issue off the front page for the rest of Clinton's term and keep it out of the elections as a major issue in the year 2000. It leaves it then to the next administration as to where we go and what happens. I understand that the National Security Council is now looking at six options in terms of what the United States could do. I don't know what the options are. Obviously, if we are going to negotiate with the Russians we need a negotiating position. It would, of course, be helpful if we knew what we wanted to do before we began to negotiate.
With regard to U.S.-Russian relations, Spurgeon has talked about how U.S. policy in Kosovo has seemed to have knocked out again the hope that the Russian Duma would ratify START II. I'm not optimistic the Russians will do it now. I was always hoping that next week they would do it but we're running out of next weeks. Whatever happens in the Balkans, however, the Russians have laid down a condition in their instrument of ratification that if the United States violates the ABM Treaty, as they understand it, or if we withdraw from it, basically START II is dead.
What you get down to, then, is a trade-off. If the U.S. wants to go for NMD without an ABM Treaty, which is basically the Republican position, there will be no limits on MIRVs—the fundamental part of START II that was a long-term U.S. objective. The conservatives on the Hill do not want to be put in the box of NMD deployment versus no MIRVs, but that I think is where it's going to end up. It's not going to be easy and neat. The Russian economy is falling apart and the Russian military is cannibalizing weapons now to keep others operating. But that trade-off is going to be the fundamental choice in the end. That dilemma hasn't arisen yet and will not become an issue in this country unless and until the Duma acts, and as I indicated a moment ago I am not optimistic that they will.
If, in fact, the United States is going to go forward constructively with Russia with regard to NMD, it's going to have to be by agreement. And that's going to depend upon what type of nationwide system we are going to deploy. If it's a single-site system, if it's confined to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and if there are no more than 100 interceptors, within those three parameters it's basically consistent with the present ABM Treaty. To the extent the system goes outside of those parameters, then obviously problems arise. If the NMD system becomes one of these super dreams, with space-based and sea-based systems, you effectively have to renegotiate all the substantive articles of the ABM Treaty. I don't know where the administration is going and they don't either.
I was in Europe about a month ago at NATO headquarters and in some of the Western European countries and a word came up which I hadn't heard in years: decoupling. In the current context it refers to the way the United States is going on NMD as well as some other issues; that is, we are decoupling the United States from Europe. Using that term used to be a very serious matter and a great concern. In Europe I heard this message loud and clear, and my sense is that nobody in Washington in the government is listening to that. I think that is a fundamental concern.
Another concern I heard was the dangers of NMD competition. If, in fact, NMD systems develop and the Russians begin to put up additional defenses—the system they have around Moscow now is lousy and has always been so—and if we share technology with them so they get a better system, then any idea that the French would take their nuclear forces down in a START III, START IV or START V agreement is not plausible. The French just won't do that. They will want to make sure they maintain a robust capability to penetrate any defense, and they will have no incentives to reduce their offensive forces.
The Far East raises two questions. The U.S. move to put up a national missile defense is occurring at the same time that China is modernizing its own offensive forces, raising the question as to what the Chinese will do—the action-reaction cycle. U.S. theater missile defense [TMD] systems, though, raise even dicier questions. If we deploy TMDs in Japan or in cooperation with the Japanese, or more particularly if we do it on Taiwan or with the Taiwanese, we will raise fundamental issues. In the final analysis, if we do something with Taiwan and that encourages the Taiwanese to move toward declaring independence or something along those lines, the United States will have a first-order crisis with China. Again, I don't believe this issue is being looked at under a comprehensive overview.
I think that what we need now is a very comprehensive review of the trade-offs involving offensive and defensive forces, and we need it worldwide. The United States had one at the beginning of the Nixon administration in 1969, but it was much simpler in scope. We now need an assessment that includes Europe and the Far East, which is a major new part of the equation. Unfortunately, I don't see any chance at all of this taking place in the government during this administration. So basically, we are going to have a vacuum for the next two years, until we have a new president and a new administration, before this kind of effort is undertaken. And, of course, at the same time that this is going on we're going to have new elections in Russia. So I can see drift, and drift over the course of two years in this area is not good news. [Back to top] Matthew Bunn:
Spurgeon asked me to try to lift the mood a little bit by describing an area where progress is actually being made. Unfortunately I'm going to slam the gloom right back down by describing how far the progress is from what is genuinely needed to deal with what I believe is a very, very urgent threat to U.S. security. I'm going to talk about the various programs to deal cooperatively with Russia on getting rid of the dangerous leftovers of the Cold War. That's a very broad area; the United States is spending hundreds of millions in several departments, on activities ranging from dismantling missiles and submarines, to destroying chemical weapons, to re-employing biological weapons scientists in other pursuits.
I'm going to focus on what I consider to be the most urgent and problematic aspect of this whole agenda, which is securing and monitoring nuclear warheads themselves and the fissile materials needed to make them. Nothing could be more central to U.S. security than ensuring that nuclear weapons and their essential ingredients do not fall into hostile hands. And similarly, controlling warheads and fissile materials over the long term will be an essential complement to the missile and launcher limits that we have had in past arms control agreements if we are ever to achieve deep, transparent, and irreversible reductions in nuclear arms. So this issue of controlling warheads and fissile materials is absolutely central to the entire future of efforts to reduce nuclear weapons and stem their spread.
I'm going to describe, first, the threat as I see it from insecure nuclear material in the former Soviet Union; second, the programs that are in place to address it; third, a few current events and their likely impact; and finally, some proposals for things that we urgently ought to be doing to deal with the threat and seize the opportunities we now face, but are not yet doing. I want to leave you with four basic messages at the end of this; first, that this is an urgent, high-priority threat for the United States; second, that there is significant progress being made in a wide range of areas; but third, that there are urgent opportunities that are not being seized; and finally that, if we are to succeed in this endeavor, we are going to need a dramatic increase in sustained high-level leadership from this administration.
First the threat: Fortunately, the 20,000 or so nuclear warheads that are believed to exist still in Russia are thought to be comparatively secure. Nuclear warheads are large, they're easily countable and they're recognized as central to the military interest of the state. They are guarded by at least a reasonably professional force in the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. However, there have been some very serious issues related to the security of nuclear weapons, including an armed rebellion among several officers of the 12th Main Directorate which involved a couple of murders, the taking of hostages and an attempt to hijack an aircraft.
The nuclear material is another story. There are roughly 650 tons of nuclear material, directly usable in weapons, that are outside of weapons in the former Soviet Union: highly enriched uranium [HEU] and plutonium, spread among more than 50 facilities, probably more than 300 buildings. In 1996 the Director of Central Intelligence provided his assessment that not a single one of those facilities had adequate safeguards and security to prevent theft of this material. It's my judgment that that remains true today.
The former Soviet Union had an effective safeguards and security system that worked for 40 years. But it was designed for a very different world—a world of pampered, well-paid nuclear workers in closed facilities in closed cities in a closed society with closed borders and everyone under close surveillance by the KGB. That system has now collapsed. And even the Minister of Atomic Energy in Russia has said that the reduction in their ability to control nuclear material has been "immeasurable." They are now dealing with desperate, unpaid nuclear workers in an open society with open borders.
The basic threats that they designed against were not the trusted worker inside carrying material out, but the American spy getting in. So, for example, at most nuclear facilities in Russia there's no detector at the gate that would set off an alarm if someone were carrying plutonium out in their briefcase. While there are fences and guards outside, there are very few security systems inside the facilities. There are no measured inventories at any facility in Russia with more than a ton or so of weapons-usable material.
There is little security at many civilian facilities where spying was not a concern. At some of these facilities that I visited, you had basically one guard sitting at a desk who waves at you as you go in and out; the material is in what amounts to a high school gym locker with a padlock that would take two seconds to snap with an ordinary bolt cutter.
As a result of these kinds of conditions, there have been multiple, documented cases of theft of kilogram quantities of nuclear material.
The August crisis of last year made a bad situation catastrophically worse. The past fall and winter you've had a situation in which guards at nuclear facilities, who had been unpaid for six months, were literally leaving their posts to forage for food and refusing to patrol perimeters because they had not been issued warm winter uniforms. Facilities were unable even to operate the equipment that the United States had provided because they didn't have the money. In some facilities the electricity that ran the entire security system went down because the facility had been unable to pay its electricity bill.
The Department of Energy is taking emergency measures to deal with some of these kinds of issues: providing warm winter uniforms to guards of the Ministry of the Interior and arranging through commissaries at nuclear facilities to provide food to guards. But what is being done is a drop in the bucket compared to the need. And, in fact, in December of last year the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, announced they had foiled a theft of 18.5 kilograms of what they described as radioactive material suitable for the production of nuclear weapons. If that was in fact plutonium or highly enriched uranium it was the largest theft to date, the first time when it was enough material at once for a nuclear bomb.
In addition to this insecurity problem for non-proliferation, in the arms control area we have the fundamental problem of secrecy. The management of these materials is deeply shrouded in secrecy. Our estimates of the number of warheads in Russia are uncertain to plus or minus 5,000. What many people do not realize is that, although there is plenty of verification of how many missiles are being destroyed, there has never been verification by the United States of the dismantlement of a single nuclear warhead. (There is reason to believe, however, that the HEU being blended down for the HEU agreement comes from dismantled warheads.) The United States is not providing any funding to assist in the actual dismantlement of nuclear warheads at this time.
What are we doing to deal with this nightmarish situation? There are dozens of programs in place, which fall, in my view, into about five categories. First is preventing theft and smuggling—direct measures to improve security at nuclear facilities, train and equip forces to interdict smuggling, and so on. Second is stabilizing nuclear custodians—trying to provide alternative employment for nuclear scientists and workers to reduce the desperation that can provide incentives for theft and smuggling. Third is monitoring stockpiles and reductions—building a regime of transparency, inspections, data declarations and so on, to reduce this current of secrecy.
Fourth is ending production of additional fissile material. If your bathtub is overflowing, one of the first things you have to do is try to turn off the tap. We are working with the Russians on that, because today, believe it or not, Russia continues to produce more weapons plutonium, not because they need the plutonium, but because those reactors also provide essential heat and power to hundreds of thousands of people in Siberia who would otherwise be out in the cold, quite literally. Fifth is getting rid of these enormous stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
Let me just say a couple of words about where we are on each of those. On the first and most urgent—preventing theft and smuggling—there are a variety of programs. We are working to improve security at individual sites in the former Soviet Union [FSU] that have fissile material. Also, there is a separate program in the Department of Defense on improving security for warheads. We're building a large facility at one nuclear city to store fissile material from dismantled nuclear warheads. The progress is dramatic—when compared to essentially a standing start in 1994—in that there is now cooperation underway involving every facility in the former Soviet Union where there is highly enriched uranium or plutonium. There are alarm systems being installed, detectors being installed, new fences being built. But we are far, far away from where we need to be; most of the work remains to be done. Most material in the FSU is in buildings whose security has not been substantially improved. There have still been no major inventories, as I mentioned. And we have little idea how to sustain the improvements in security over the long term in a Russian economy that does not appear to be poised for growth.
Secondly, on programs to stabilize custodians: We have in the State Department what is known as the International Science and Technology Center and in the Department of Energy the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program, both of which are employing thousands of former weapons scientists in useful civilian work with essentially short-term grants. But the question is how we move from that to sustainable employment over the long term in a much-shrunken Russian nuclear weapons complex. That problem is the focus of a new Nuclear Cities Initiative, but that is just a beginning, and the challenges it faces are huge.
Third, on transparency—this is particularly depressing—formal START III talks are not underway and are not likely to start anytime soon, so there are no formal talks on the big transparency issues between the two governments. However, the U.S. and Russian labs are already working together to develop, jointly, the technologies and procedures to verify the dismantlement of nuclear warheads and to build confidence in the inventories of warheads and materials that exist. Unfortunately, the FSB and the other security forces in Russia are clamping down increasingly on both information and access to facilities; the current situation in Kosovo will only make that worse. The plutonium production reactor conversion has suffered the perils of Pauline, but it's my hope that those reactors will be converted in 2002 so that they will no longer produce weapons plutonium.
On disposition of excess material, the highly enriched uranium purchase agreement is probably the most important initiative we have now with Russia in this area. It provides a financial incentive to dismantle warheads, destroys hundreds of tons of nuclear material, and provides desperately needed cash to the Russian nuclear complex. However, there's a lot more than 500 tons, which is what we are buying now, of excess Russian uranium and we need to begin to grapple with that issue.
Plutonium is a fundamentally more difficult problem, because it's not worth anything, and so the question of where the money will come from to get rid of excess Russian weapons plutonium is fundamental. There are negotiations underway on the disposition of 50 tons of plutonium from the United States and Russia, but the House, in its infinite wisdom, has just attempted to pull the rug out from under them by rescinding most of the money that Senator Domenici had provided last year and sending it off to pay for Hurricane Mitch assistance instead.
In terms of current events, the Expanded Threat Reduction package, announced in Clinton's State of the Union address, amounts, in the case of these nuclear material programs, essentially to not slashing programs that had previously been planned to be slashed, so when they say they've increased spending by 70 percent, what they mean is 70 percent compared to what they had previously planned to spend. When you ask how much more money is being asked for this year to secure Russian nuclear materials compared to what was appropriated last year, the answer is minus $7 million. So, while that package has many useful elements, it is not likely to solve this problem.
Primakov's departure last week is certainly bad news, but it is very encouraging to me that Adamov, the Minister of Atomic Energy, in fact stayed—he must have gotten permission from Primakov to do that—and completed negotiations on fixing the highly enriched uranium deal with a government and a commercial contract on marketing the natural uranium component. And there were a number of other deals that the United States made a lot of progress on with Adamov this week.
So it's my belief that while things involving access to secret information and facilities will be severely damaged by the downturn in political relations, many programs will in fact continue because they are very much ingrained already and very much in the Russian interest.
Finally, let me just say a couple of words about what we ought to be doing. There are opportunities that MINATOM is ready to pursue, to improve security for these nuclear materials and to shrink their nuclear weapons complex, that we are not pursuing simply because we are not allocating enough money and enough resources of creativity and leadership within the government. I have listed specific proposals elsewhere. (See the Jump-START report in ACT, January/February 1999, and http://www.ceip.org/programs/npp/bunn.htm)
The fundamental issue is that this broad complex of programs cannot possibly succeed, cannot possibly be integrated and pursued with the level of energy and creativity that's required, without a dramatic increase in sustained high-level leadership on the part of the administration. They really need to appoint someone whose full-time mission at the political level within the White House is dealing with the proliferation threat from the former Soviet Union, on the model of bringing William Perry back on board to deal with North Korea or even on the model of Bill McCaffery and the drug war. Until we do that, I think we are in danger of passing on to our children a much more dangerous world than the one we had.
President Clinton told us Wednesday night that the risks of acting are far outweighed by the risks of failure to act. My question is why he fails to understand that in this case, where the stakes for U.S. security are so much higher. [Back to top]
I'm not sure if I am pessimistic or optimistic. If I take a long view, I'm probably optimistic, but if I look at the short term, say the next two years, I'm probably pessimistic. The long-term view really is based on the optimism of the early 1990s about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. In the early ninties, there were dramatic successes: South Africa verifiably dismantled its nuclear arsenal—the only country with an indigenous nuclear weapons program ever to do so; Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus decided not to inherit nuclear weapons and eventually joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states; and Argentina and Brazil had by 1990 decided not to have a nuclear explosives arms race.
There were other successes as well. The 1994 Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea certainly was a great relief when we successfully avoided a potential military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula because of that deal. In Iraq, there were great expectations that we were entering a new era of on-site inspections, where intelligence agencies, the IAEA and other types of inspectors could work together synergistically to detect very small covert programs that would have been inconceivable to detect just a few years earlier. This cooperation provided evidence that those programs actually existed and established mechanisms to destroy or stop those programs. Experience gained from that approach was employed in South Africa to make that exercise more effective and in North Korea to generate evidence that Pyongyang was actually hiding something.
Yogi Berra said, "It's not over till it's over." In many cases of proliferation, it's not over then. The last year has certainly been filled with reminders of that. The nuclear tests in South Asia surprised many of us. We had hoped that the engagement the Clinton administration had started would prevent these tests. There was also disappointment that the inspection effort in Iraq had completely collapsed. And certainly the activities in North Korea left one pessimistic about a political resolution there, although there is now hope that the North will allow inspections of underground facilities that might be used in connection with a nuclear weapons program. In addition, some like myself who were quite hopeful that a fissile material cutoff treaty could be negotiated, or that negotiations would at least start this year, are quite worried that the talks may not begin this year because of the opposition from countries, particularly Pakistan. The cutoff treaty is vital if we are to succeed in capping or constraining the arms race in South Asia and building the necessary base for deep cuts in nuclear arsenals.
The reality in Iraq is that the December bombing ended inspections, at least as we know them. The ongoing controversy over U.S. spying activities involving UNSCOM has certainly complicated the creation of any new inspection regime. So knowing when inspections will resume is very unclear now. There is some comfort in knowing that it will take Iraq a while to reconstitute an indigenous capability to make highly enriched uranium or plutonium. I think a couple of years is the worst case, but one has to assume that the Iraqis are starting now. It would be foolish to assume otherwise.
Since 1992, when people started to design the ongoing monitoring and verification regime in Iraq, the big loophole has been the acquisition of fissile material abroad, particularly in Russia. That problem is much worse now. The Iraqis are quite capable of launching incredibly secret procurement efforts; we would not have found out about some of Iraq's past efforts except that Iraq admitted to them. In some cases, we actually knew the people who were involved on the other end of these procurement efforts. On the IAEA inspection I was on, Iraq said it had been approached 200 times in the last 10 years with scam offers of nuclear weapons fissile material, or red mercury. The Iraqis always said they turned all those offers down.
However, when you look at their procurement record, they were approached on many occasions and some of those offers they accepted. The Iraqis are very careful and they are very leery of most people who would approach them, and certainly they are leery of ideologues, rip-off artists and middle men who don't have some clear record of covert dealings.
So I think we have to worry that with no inspections in Iraq, Iraq will be more motivated to pursue this route. Matt Bunn portrays a picture in which we are not likely to find out about Iraq's procurement efforts in Russia, and we are not likely to find out about Iraq turning that material into nuclear weapons, or at least nuclear explosives, inside Iraq. I also don't see any indication that Saddam Hussein has backed off from his mission to acquire nuclear weapons. He really sees it as something that could make him the leader of the Arab world and could be very politically useful in various of his ambitions. He might miscalculate and he might be deluding himself about what might happen. But as long as he or similar people are in power, that ambition is going to be there. He's not going to become the leader of the Arab world by flaunting biological weapons or chemical weapons.
Because of the difficulty of preventing or detecting the theft of fissile material in Russia, it is critical that the inspections in Iraq get back on track. There is an ad hoc disarmament committee created by the Security Council that is trying to find some resolution to this problem. The Brazilian chair of the committee, which, in fact, met this week, has produced a report. However, I think we have to be realistic that inspections that are much weaker or are structured much differently than the existing ones may be doomed to failure, and it may be better not to do anything, pending a time when adequate inspections can be resumed. We do not want to set up a system that cannot work. I think turning the nuclear file over to traditional IAEA safeguards and turning the chemical over to the Chemical Weapons Convention organization are probably not going to work in Iraq under the present circumstances.
Spurgeon mentioned the spying. Now my experience with the IAEA action team—I've had no experience with UNSCOM—is that certainly many IAEA member-states were well informed about what was being learned. There were only a small number of permanent inspectors on the action team; most inspectors came from IAEA member-states, often the United States. Many U.S. inspectors who worked in Iraq also worked on Iraq when they were back at their regular jobs at the national labs. So there was a great deal of information going back and forth about what was being learned in Iraq. What's new though is that the United States—the creator of this intrusive, effective inspection arrangement—decided to exploit the inspection regime for other purposes, and this has sent a chill through the whole system. Some of the impact of these revelations will be mitigated by the tightening up that is going happen at the permanent international inspection agencies, like the IAEA, where spying will be monitored more carefully internally. How it will play out in the context of Iraq, however, is unclear at this time. Certainly, Iraq will exploit this development as much as it can, as one would expect.
A longer-term concern is how countries like Iran might exploit this controversy. In Iran, things have been actually more hopeful this past year because of the election of President Mohammed Khatemi. His people have been interested in allowing more nuclear transparency in exchange for some Western nuclear cooperation. It's unclear how the other forces in Iran will react to these charges of U.S. spying. It's always difficult to get inspections, and if you're worried that someone is stealing your commercial or national security secrets, it's even harder.
In the next month or two, the U.S. will have to get engaged on Iraq and take some stand, and may just veto anything other members of the Security Council propose. There is a sense now that the U.S. would rather not get involved, and I think the current bombings in Yugoslavia reinforce that view. The U.S. doesn't have much support for its traditional policies, and it's going to be an uphill battle selling the case for continued sanctions. Certainly, it will be hard selling this idea of overthrowing Saddam.
Next month, former Secretary of Defense William Perry is going to report on U.S. policy toward North Korea. That report was mandated by Congress, which is increasingly critical of the Clinton administration policy. This concern is generated by several problems that are not going away. Let me just state the obvious ones. There are suspicions that North Korea is lying and playing the U.S. as a sucker. The U.S. never learned where North Korea was developing or producing nuclear weapons. We still don't know if they have enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons, and there have been estimates that they even have more than that. There are many questions that remain unresolved about their program, and the Agreed Framework was intended, in part, to work these things out. But I don't think it was envisioned in 1994 that this process would go on so long. Here we are five years later and we're still a couple of years from the point where North Korea has to come clean or else have the Agreed Framework discontinued. That is only going to make it harder to maintain support for the Agreed Framework.
The other thing is that the agreement is based on an unprecedented approach. In a sense, you are trying to obtain compliance after a country has clearly violated an international treaty or norm, in part by providing rewards. There is a whole history in non-proliferation of rewarding good behavior—if you sign a treaty you receive something in return, like the bargain in the NPT. But this other approach is unprecedented and it is very vulnerable to criticism. So, we'll see how the administration deals with North Korea. Hopefully it will go well. I think alternatives to the administration's approach are few and far between and probably riskier than the current approach despite its criticisms and obvious problems.
With regard to South Asia, a current concern is trying to figure out whether India is going to test again or sign the CTBT. I'm certainly worried that if it does sign the CTBT in September, it may test again before then. I don't think India has really solved the problem of how to build a hydrogen bomb, and it might feel compelled to test again. There are also reports by experts that India may not sign the CTBT despite its recent public announcement. Certainly, if the U.S. doesn't ratify there might be trouble.
In the end, India and Pakistan are quite open about what they are doing. As I mentioned earlier, Pakistan is at the forefront of efforts to block negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty at the Conference on Disarmament. They certainly have a motivation to keep making more fissile material. As a worst case, they believe India has a stockpile of 800 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium, although most people would put it down around 200 to 300 kilograms. Pakistan sees itself as vastly inferior and wants to dramatically increase its own stockpile of fissile material. That it is a very unstable situation.[Back to top]
If there is a theme that seems to be emerging from these presentations on arms control in the last years of the century, it might be that the nuclear threat is somewhat diminished, but it's still there and it continues to evolve. At the same time, the opportunities for improving security and for seizing historic opportunities are often elusive and are certainly infrequent.
There's a line in the Coalition on Nuclear Dangers' brochure on the CTBT, from John F. Kennedy, that is very appropriate to each of these presentations, which is: "we have an obligation to use whatever time remains to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons—to persuade other countries not to test, transfer, acquire, possess or produce such weapons." I'm going to address the prospects for seizing one of those precious opportunities: the chance to realize the test ban.
Rather than review for this very knowledgeable audience the numerous reasons why the test ban is of great importance, let me outline the status of treaty ratification and then identify three basic factors that could affect the outcome of the CTBT debate and whether it will enter into force.
To begin with, it is extraordinarily important to consider that the fundamental conditions for U.S. ratification of the CTBT, and even for near-term entry into force of the treaty, are already in place.
The CTBT has the strong, stated support of the president. In his last State of the Union address, as in the previous five, he identified the CTBT as a major priority; he called on the Senate to approve the treaty this year. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Secretary of State Albright and Energy Secretary Richardson have reiterated this call to action by the Senate. Secretary Richardson said in the first week of March that the administration will be mounting a Cabinet-wide effort to secure Senate approval.
The CTBT has the support of America's most senior military leaders, including four of the last five chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CTBT has the support of the Energy Department and the laboratory directors, who in the past, as we all know very well, have blocked efforts to achieve a CTBT. And the lab directors, addressing one of the major concerns about the treaty—the safety and reliability of the enduring arsenal—agree that their Stockpile Stewardship program will allow for the maintenance of a safe and reliable arsenal into the indefinite future.
The CTBT has the support of a number of key moderate Republicans who are needed to secure the 67 votes—the two-thirds majority—necessary to Senate approval for ratification, though only a handful have publicly expressed their support thus far. The CTBT has overwhelming support from national opinion elites, including newspaper editors. By our count, since the CTBT was transmitted to the Senate in September 1997 there have been more than 75 pro-CTBT editorials and fewer than five opposing treaty ratification. The treaty has the overwhelming support from American voters of all political stripes and types. Although David Albright is a little more pessimistic than I am, the fact that India and Pakistan may indeed sign the CTBT this year opens up a possibility for entry into force that was not present a year ago, since all 44 states necessary to achieve treaty entry into force may indeed ratify in the not-so-distant future.
Let me address the key protagonists and where they are in this debate. As everyone here knows, Senator Jesse Helms has single-handedly held up treaty consideration in the United States Senate and continues to be the major impediment. Despite broad bipartisan support for the CTBT, even from members of his own party, he has blocked consideration in the Foreign Relations Committee. And with the backing—shortly after the Indian and Pakistani tests—of Senator Lott, he prevented consideration of the CTBT by the full Senate.
Senator Lott recently warned the press that the Democrats would be the party blocking legislation this year as the House and Senate try to get back to doing the people's business after the impeachment trial. But clearly, Helms, at least on this issue, is the one who is holding the CTBT hostage to unrelated political objectives. He reiterated an ultimatum that he made last year, with a few more specific points, in a letter to the president in January, which was published in The Wall Street Journal on January 22. He has set a deadline of June 1 for the president to transmit to his Foreign Relations Committee the ABM protocols—which are not likely to go to the Senate any time soon because of the effect of the Kosovo situation on Russia and the Duma. He's also asking for the president to transmit the Kyoto global climate change protocol—another agreement that is not headed to the Senate any time soon because of the numerous bilateral arrangements that the United States is seeking with Third World countries to work out their ability to conform to that treaty. Until the president does those two things, Senator Helms has said, he will not consider those treaties that are on the president's agenda.
Helms' primary argument, and the argument of the small minority of senators against the CTBT, is that the United States can't afford to forego testing, not just because of safety and reliability concerns, but because the United States needs to be able to develop and produce new types of nuclear weapons, a requirement that the Bush administration deemed unnecessary back in 1992. Senator Helms' tactics are more easily understood when one considers the fact that, if the CTBT were to reach the floor it would, in all likelihood, get the 67 votes necessary. Consequently, the only alternative for Senator Helms and treaty opponents is to block action—in other words, to kill the treaty simply by not allowing it to go forward.
That kind of approach risks that the Senate leadership may be blamed for the severe consequences of lack of action on the comprehensive test ban. I'll just tick off a few of those here.
Blocking U.S. consideration of the CTBT is certainly going to make the job of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott much more difficult as he meets with his counterparts in India and Pakistan. It's going to give India and Pakistan a very convenient reason not to move forward with signature or ratification on the test ban. Denying the Senate the opportunity to consider the CTBT will also deny the United States a role in the upcoming special conference on CTBT entry into force. Of course, not moving forward on the CTBT seriously erodes the U.S. ability to use the year 2000 NPT conference as a platform for fighting global proliferation and certainly undermines our ability to fight proliferation in areas from North Korea to Iraq and elsewhere. Finally, it undermines our ability to augment, through the treaty, the existing test ban monitoring and verification systems.
While the Republican Party sees some advantage in trying to highlight their differences with the president on foreign policy matters, they are vulnerable to many of the same arguments and lines of criticism that they are now leveling at the Clinton administration on its China policy. For instance, those who are concerned about the damage to U.S. security from the alleged espionage by the Chinese seeking W88 warhead technology have to consider the fact that China needs more than the design information to advance its nuclear weapons program. Countries like the United States and China need to be able to test that information in the field in order to put long-range strategic nuclear weapons into their arsenal with confidence.
Some congressional leaders, rightly or wrongly, are criticizing the Clinton administration for not being tough enough on China on human rights and non-proliferation issues. Yet many of those same congressional leaders—Jesse Helms, for one—are supporting efforts to introduce legislation that would lift the few existing sanctions on India and Pakistan for five years without any sort of consideration about whether India and Pakistan take nuclear risk reduction actions, such as signing the CTBT.
A final note that the Republicans and CTBT opponents may need to consider: The CTBT is not only good policy but is also widely supported by the public as a solution to the public's highest-ranking foreign policy goal. Many of you may have seen the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations survey of American public opinion that came out just a couple of weeks ago, which reports that, while the public's interest in foreign affairs issues is near an all-time low, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is the highest foreign policy goal of the United States—with 82 percent calling it very important.
The American public also supports a test ban in overwhelming numbers. As many of you might know from reading ACT, the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers commissioned bipartisan surveys that showed that three out of every four American voters, including Republicans and Democrats in all regions, support Senate approval of the CTB. [The Coalition polling data is available at http://www.crnd.org]
The second key protagonist in the CTBT debate is the Clinton administration. The main question is whether the administration is going to be able to meet its stated goal of getting the Senate to ratify the CTBT and to make good on its repeated pledge to treat this as a very high national security priority. The powerful arguments in favor of CTBT and the historic opportunity to ratify it are only as good as the political will and leadership available to take advantage of those arguments and seize the historic opportunity.
The administration has not yet mounted the high-level, Cabinet-wide effort that Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson mentioned in his speech at the National Press Club, and obviously the Kosovo crisis will make it more difficult for the national security team to move forward to organize that effort. While the failure of the Clinton administration to make good on the opportunity to reach an agreement with Russia on START is tragic, and other failed opportunities are very unfortunate, these failures highlight the enormous opportunity the CTBT presents. It is within the power of the president and the administration to move forward on the CTBT; they do not require Russian support at the moment. The administration should recognize that the CTBT could rescue it from an unfortunate non-proliferation and disarmament legacy.
Three factors could alter the current stalemate on the CTBT in the Senate. The first is, as I mentioned, the possibility of Indian and Pakistani signature on the CTBT. It is very difficult to assess how likely they are to sign; it's my understanding that there is a very good possibility that by May or June either one or both may do so. Reports indicate that Pakistan is willing to sign the CTBT regardless of whether India does. Pakistan, of course, has a much more difficult economic situation and is much more interested in releasing itself from the economic burdens that the sanctions have created. With Indian accession to the CTBT clearly within reach, the CTBT critics' argument of last resort—that the treaty will never enter into force—would be stood on its head. If India and Pakistan were to sign, this would give great momentum to the CTBT effort.
Secondly, while unlike many other treaties, the CTBT does not have a firm legal deadline for action, a clear political deadline is fast approaching. Article XIV of the treaty stipulates that if by the third anniversary of the opening for signature—which is this September 24—all 44 states have not ratified, a majority of the states party to the treaty may request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations that a special conference be convened to expedite the treaty's entry into force. While the powers of this special conference are somewhat vague, they are far reaching. This conference provides those countries that have ratified, such as Great Britain, France, Japan and others, a significant opportunity to try to push for global ratification and entry into force.
Finally, the solution to the CTBT stalemate in the Senate ultimately involves some sort of conversation between the president, Senator Lott, the Secretary of State and Senator Helms on issues of interest to all of them. As we can see, there are a number of issues at play and it is difficult to predict how these parties might reach an agreement on forward movement. But the first step is to begin this conversation and pay attention to the very real priorities and difficulties that face us on the CTBT and in other areas. [Back to top]
Questions & Answers:
Q: Could you please elaborate on your remarks about the fears of de-coupling in NATO if the U.S. deploys a national missile defense?
Rhinelander: We were talking over there about ballistic missile defense—in particular the national missile defense of the United States. While there are some supporters of NMD here who want to encourage the Europeans to build their own defense, the Europeans have no interest in doing so. They therefore see the U.S. shielding itself under a system that would defend it while Europe remains unprotected. And they see this as "fortress America." This goes back to what Charles de Gaulle was talking about years ago. I hadn't heard that concern raised in years and years and it was a shocker when I heard it.
Q: What should be the outcome of this offensive-defensive review, in your view? Should it be a new START III negotiation on offensive-defensive issues?
Rhinelander: I guess my preferred outcome would be to foster a cooperative or decent relationship with Russia and China, where we can begin to deal with some of these questions, and I don't see that occurring in the short term. In terms of the substance, I think we should be focusing on the deep cuts on offensive strategic systems. As the next step, we should be keeping NMD—whatever we can negotiate with the Russians at the margins—within a framework of initial deep cuts to offensive systems and the goal of getting down to hundreds each at a later stage. It is fundamental to focus in on the immediate threats we have out there with all the warheads. Moreover, we have a whole new world we're going to have to deal with in terms of Asia as we approach deep cuts—complications which I personally haven't thought through. But I think you need to look at it comprehensively and then we have to get these weapons down, radically down, and in the end deal with the warheads and the fissile materials, which is what Matt Bunn has talked about. Unless and until we deal with those significantly and comprehensively, I think the ultimate threat of the loose nukes is going up rather than down, and we're wasting time. But I don't personally see the external conditions or the conditions within the administration as favorable to what I think has to be done, unfortunately.
Q: What is the consequence of drift to the issues that you're involved in? Can we have real cooperation, for example, in the warhead dismantlement area, without START III?
Bunn: In terms of the consequences of drift on START II and START III and ABM for the warhead and fissile material agenda, I think it will be quite damaging for making any progress on transparency of warhead dismantlement, not only because you won't be entering into formal negotiations on those matters, but because the increasing tension in the relationship is leading to more and more crackdown on access to facilities. That kind of thing gets embedded after you've been trying to overcome a barrier for a while and failing: It makes it that much more difficult to overcome that barrier when the negotiations finally do get going.
So I think drift is very dangerous to even long-term progress. But I would argue that even if the Duma is failing to ratify START II, if the president of the United States exerted some leadership, there are things that could be done. I believe that taking a page from the Bush-Gorbachev playbook, you could have some rapid reciprocal initiatives that could corral, put under monitoring and commit to dismantlement thousands of nuclear warheads—addressing perhaps some of the Russian tactical warheads that are our concern and our reserve upload warheads that are a Russian concern. This could be done very quickly, without formal negotiations. This would put us in a good position to lock those reciprocal initiatives in with a real START III negotiation.
Unfortunately, I don't see the leadership coming from this administration to pursue the kinds of initiatives that President Bush so wisely pursued, and frankly, some of the kinds of threats that those initiatives were designed to address in the Bush administration we're facing again today, and could be could be addressed through that kind of initiative.
Rhinelander: Until September 30 there's legislation on the books preventing such action but that legislation is annual legislation. I cannot believe it is going to be extended, so come October 1 we would be legally free as a domestic matter to do what he's talking about.
Bunn: That legislation applies only to deployed strategic weapons. And there is a possibility, I think, for a deal on the reserves on our side, which is what the Russians are worried about, and the tacticals on their side, which is what we're most worried about. If anyone's interested in that, I wrote a piece on it in the April 1998 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Q: Can you give us an objective assessment of these congressional votes on NMD deployment and the lack of a reaction thus far from the administration? Does this amount to a decision, in principle, to deploy—subject to tests and financing?
Keeny: No, I think this was, as Senator Biden said, political theater. The Democrats were concerned that they might not get enough votes to prevent overriding a veto, but more fundamentally they had succeeded in modifying the Cochran bill in such a way that it is really meaningless. It says, it's policy to deploy an effective defense of the 50 states, when it is technically feasible, and it is also the policy of the United States to pursue negotiated reductions in the Russian nuclear arsenal. I think they felt, voting for it 97-3, they had come up with a non-operational resolution that essentially kicked the problem down the road, because there is no possibility that all these things will be resolved by mid-2000. And this kicks the problem into the next administration.
I think the press failed to note not only what the senators said about their vote, but that the president issued a very strong statement saying that the administration would continue its policy and make a decision on deployment based on the emergence of the threat (which is vastly exaggerated), the demonstrated technical capabilities (which will be difficult to do because by mid-2000 none of the components of the proposed system will exist), the cost of the system, and the relationship of this to our arms control objectives and its compatibility with the ABM Treaty. Now, that is a presidential statement that leaves a lot of maneuvering room. So, I would say this issue really has not changed at all as to what the decision to deploy will be. Unfortunately, the press gave very minimal attention to exactly what was happening, and I think the impression exists in this country and in Russia, that we've essentially made the decision and we are just waiting on formalities for next year. I think that there is very little chance that even a weakened Clinton administration is going to make a formal decision on this in mid-2000. But the point here is whether the Russians and the Chinese perceive that the United States has made a decision.
Q: Do you believe that the administration and the country's elites have not yet really escaped the Cold War mentality when it comes to the nuclear culture? How long do you think it is going to take to throw off this Cold War nostalgia?
Keeny: I think this, more than anything, is political opportunism. Some right-wing Republicans may genuinely think you should spend more money on defending America from ballistic missiles, but I think that it is seen more broadly as a very useful political posture by the Republicans for the upcoming election. And I believe they are puzzled as to why it doesn't have more popular resonance. It was part of their Republican platform in the past and they see this as a sure-fire issue for 2000. But the fact of the matter is, there is remarkably little public response and support of a massive effort in this regard.
Rhinelander: I would say that the Republican Party basically has no leader and they are waiting for the nomination of a leader coming out of the year 2000. President Bush is basically on the sidelines; with his son as a candidate he's quiet. All you have for the Republicans are a babble of voices coming out of the Congress. No matter which party it is, that is not where you get leadership. Couple that with the fact that the president does not have foreign affairs high on his agenda, interest or his confidence level. I think you are finding a vacuum in this town, rather than leadership, and we have to wait until we have the next president, and then see where we are going.
Kimball: In the sense that politicians are trying to take advantage of these issues, yes that's a throwback. We all remember the bomber gap, the missile gap, even the mineshaft gap from "Dr. Strangelove," so in that sense it's old-think, but in another way the old-think might be somewhat useful these days. Ten years ago it would have been inconceivable that the Russian prime minister would have decided to turn around rather than head toward Washington, and we've seen such little reaction or statement of concern from the administration about that. To some extent the old concern and respect for the nuclear danger that existed ten years ago might be a little bit more appropriate today.
Bunn: It's not that everyone is still locked in a Cold War mentality, but there is a debate between two camps that are equally dangerous. There are the people who are locked in a Cold War mentality and the people who believe that now that the Cold War is gone, we don't have to worry about any of this any more. And I think that some in the administration fall in the latter camp. They basically feel, well, we can expand NATO; the Russians shouldn't get too upset, they understand they lost the Cold War. We can do this ABM thing; the Russians shouldn't get too upset—the real issues are IMF loans and so on. And I think that that is a fundamental and dangerous misreading of where the world is today. These threats are real and there are now opportunities for partnership for addressing them that didn't exist before and neither of those camps understands those opportunities.
Q: What is your reaction to the current U.S.-Russian face-off and [Director of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences] Sergei Rogov's statement that the current stalemeate is the first full Russian-American crisis since the end of the Cold War?
Rhinelander: First, Rogov has tended to be pessimistic in times past, but this time he may be very right. Secondly, there is even more of a political vacuum in Russia and this is going to last into the indefinite future. We have Duma elections coming up in December, presidential elections no later than in June 2000, assuming that President Yeltsin is alive that long. And whether or not a viable political government is going to emerge from that is unforseeable. Primakov, as I understand it, was prepared to come and deal on a whole range of issues which he had cobbled together and he was willing to take a risk. The plane took off originally against advice to come here, because he felt that this was his moment to do it. I think he feels, and I think this is what Rogov was reflecting, that the moment to do a number of things has passed. I don't disagree with that from what I've heard. I am, at the moment, very pessimistic in terms of the issues and the unintended consequences of the bombing in Kosovo. I think we are going to rue the day.
Q: Doesn't the argument put forth by NMD proponents—that the country is helpless without a national missile defense—undermine the credibility of our nuclear deterrent?
Keeny: I think that the whole discussion of the Rumsfeld report and all of the debate around it is totally misleading, both as to the likelihood that these threats will emerge and as to the fact that they would be terribly significant if they did. The notion is not credible that North Korea or Iraq with one nuclear weapon is going to attack the United States out of the blue and it is even less likely that they would threaten to do so and subject themselves to an overwhelming pre-emptive attack. So I think the fact that these threats have been grossly exaggerated should be emphasized because they do not constitute a basis for going to a national missile defense. There is not a credible reason to deploy it, and it would in fact probably not be useful in the remote and implausible likelihood that weapons might be delivered by those countries against this country.