The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) entered into force in February.
In March 29 remarks prepared for a nuclear policy conference in
Russian official statements have indicated a willingness to discuss tactical nuclear weapons, but only in conjunction with other issues. With regard to tactical weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “We are ready to discuss this very complex topic in the framework of a comprehensive approach to strategic stability.” He also called for “coordinated effort” on missile defense.
The ratification statement of the Russian State Duma says that
questions concerning potential reductions and limitations of non-strategic nuclear arms must be considered in a complex of other problems of arms control, including deployment of a ballistic missile defense system, plans for creation and deployment of strategic delivery vehicles armed with non-nuclear weapons, [and] a risk of space militarization, as well as existing quantitative and qualitative disparity in conventional arms, on the basis of necessity to maintain strategic stability and strict observance of a principle of equal and indivisible security for all.
This article attempts to analyze the critical factors for making deeper bilateral, verifiable nuclear reductions possible, as well as the ways to resolve related problems. In the view of the authors, the most important issues are ballistic missile defenses, nonstrategic nuclear weapons, and conventional strategic arms.
Ballistic missile defenses are the key issue. On one hand, reducing the gap in the two sides’ attitudes toward missile defense would promote resolution of the two other issues. On the other hand, a lack of progress on missile defense will block dialogue on tactical weapons and conventional strategic arms as well as on further reductions of strategic nuclear arms.
Ballistic Missile Defense
The Russian expert community generally agrees that missile defenses affect strategic stability. Ballistic missile defenses undermine an adversary’s deterrent capability, giving the adversary incentives to build up offensive nuclear arsenals to compensate. Moreover, because missile defenses work much better against a limited attack, they create a dynamic in which a pre-emptive all-out strike would be an obvious choice for both sides in a crisis situation.
The Russian military is concerned about
This was the real reason for
Understanding that disagreement on missile defenses can not only block further reductions of nuclear arms, but also destroy New START, the Obama administration invited
What kind of cooperation is possible? Would it help remove
The goal of
If a NATO missile defense system is created, equipment for missile launch detection, tracking, and interception will be deployed in
Thus, the approaches of the parties to the missile defense problem are radically different, making the problem difficult to solve in the near future. However, it is possible and essential to undertake steps that would help to reduce the acuteness of the problem gradually.
First of all, it is necessary to renew the confidence-building measures and efforts to develop cooperation in missile defenses that were declared several times during the last 10 years. An important step in this direction would be the joint work on assessment of capabilities of third countries in the area of missile defenses in order to develop a common understanding of emerging threats. In particular, implementation of the Joint Data Exchange Center (JDEC) for the exchange of data from early-warning systems and notifications of missile launches agreed in 2000 or even of two centers (in Moscow and Brussels), as was proposed by President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with President George W. Bush in 2007, would facilitate that. Using these centers, the parties could exchange data on missile launches by third countries. In the future, JDECs and detection and analyses elements linked with them could form the basis of a common information subsystem of the joint missile defense systems that also would include independent command and control and interception systems.
Certain steps already are being taken. The United States proposed possible cooperation with Moscow that could include exchanging launch information, setting up a joint data-fusion center, allowing greater transparency with respect to NATO’s missile defense plans and exercises, and conducting a joint analysis to determine areas of future cooperation. The joint data-fusion center would allow Russian and NATO officers to have simultaneous access to missile launch data from sensors in NATO countries and Russia, giving both sides a full, real-time picture of potential threats. These centers would combine data from fixed and mobile radar sites, as well as from satellites.
These steps, if implemented, could alleviate Russian concerns about U.S.-NATO missile defenses in
Russian military experts also propose the following possible areas of cooperation in missile defenses:
• Renewal of joint computer tests of theater missile defenses, expanding their scope beyond theater missile defense to practical tests of real missile defense systems at test ranges
• Use of Russian test ranges and related infrastructure, as well as experience in the design of target detection and identification systems (and in some other areas) for development of interception systems
• Use of Russian space-launch capabilities, including converted ICBMs, for putting in orbit
Along with military cooperation, the parties should undertake joint diplomatic efforts on the limitation and elimination of missile threats within the framework of international regimes, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime, and by working directly with countries that could pose a threat.
Confidence-building measures in missile defense could include the search for points of common understanding, which is being conducted within the NATO-Russia Council and in Russian-U.S. dialogue. Work on missile defense projects that may not be ambitious but are mutually profitable, such as the examples listed above, could reduce existing tensions significantly and open even wider possibilities for cooperation.
Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons
One may find different definitions in the literature describing the class of nonstrategic nuclear weapons—tactical, substrategic, or short-range nuclear weapons. In this paper, the term “nonstrategic nuclear weapons” refers to
Although nonstrategic weapons are not covered by arms control agreements, the unilateral and reciprocal initiatives adopted by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, led to a significant reduction of
According to Russian officials, the number of Russian nonstrategic weapons currently is less than 25 percent of what it was in 1991. Unofficial estimates of Russia’s nonstrategic arsenal vary from 2,000 to 5,000, but the most reliable sources agree that Russia currently has about 2,000 such weapons in its active stockpile. According to official information, all Russian nonstrategic weapons were removed from their delivery vehicles and placed at central storage facilities located within Russian national territory so that adequate measures to ensure their safety and security are implemented.
Although the new Russian military doctrine, adopted on February 5, 2010, does not provide any specific information on missions and roles for nonstrategic weapons, many Russian experts believe that
Given these factors, and the recent NATO decision to preserve
There is a belief in the nongovernmental community that including nondeployed strategic weapons on the agenda of negotiations could induce Russia to enter negotiations on nonstrategic weapons. The United States has more than 2,000 nondeployed strategic weapons, many more than Russia has. In the past, the inventory of
Technical reasons are linked to the fact that establishing control over nonstrategic nuclear weapons as well as nondeployed strategic weapons means application of transparency and verifications measures over nuclear warheads themselves. However, the
Therefore, taking the foregoing into consideration, attempts to include nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Russian-U.S./NATO negotiations do not look promising. Under such circumstances, coordinated unilateral initiatives with regard to nuclear weapons seem preferable, although such initiatives would not be legally binding. First of all, such unilateral initiatives could be aimed at the introduction and development of transparency measures in
Transparency measures could be implemented in two phases. First, arsenals of
In the first stage of implementing transparency measures,
• share information about the total number of nondeployed nuclear weapons eliminated since 1992;
• share information about the number of nuclear weapons associated with different types of delivery systems that were completely eliminated in accordance with the unilateral commitments in 1991 (e.g., land mines and artillery shells);
• share information annually on the total number of nuclear weapons in the first category (active arsenal) and on the locations at which the weapons are stored, with each side undertaking commitments that weapons of this category will stay only in declared storage sites; and
• declare that they have no plans to transfer weapons from the second (to-be-eliminated) category to the first category.
This exchange of information could be implemented confidentially, in accordance with the national legislation of each side.
Another initiative that could greatly facilitate progress on establishing a verification regime over nonstrategic nuclear weapons would be unilateral commitments by
In the second stage, the sides could
• exchange information on the number of nondeployed nuclear weapons associated with each type of delivery system;
• permit visits to the facilities where weapons of the first category are stored, the purpose being to confirm that the number of weapons stored does not exceed the declared number;
• provide evidence of elimination of weapons of the second category; and
• permit visits to weapons storage facilities of the second category on completion of weapons elimination procedures.
The implementation of the second phase will require an agreement on the protection of sensitive information provided by the sides, for example, location of storage facilities.
In parallel with the implementation of the above initiatives, Russian and
Strategic Conventional Arms
Over the last several years, the Russian side has suggested more than once that further steps in U.S. and Russian nuclear arms reductions cannot be made without taking into account existing U.S. programs to develop strategic systems armed with non-nuclear weapons. Russian officials also emphasized the existence of a strong link between the Pentagon’s prompt global-strike concept, which serves as a framework for development of strategic non-nuclear arms, and ballistic missile defense programs. Linked together, these developments are seen in Russia as a threat to the survivability of its future strategic forces.
Over the last few years, these types of risks have been accentuated in documents reflecting views of the Russian military-political leadership. Both “The National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation Until 2020” and “The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation,” adopted in 2009 and 2010, respectively, list deployment of strategic conventional precision-guided weapons systems as one of the main risks for Russia, along with the development and deployment of strategic missile defense and the militarization of space.
The views on the
Although the Russian military industry was given the task of developing precision-guided munitions, the relevant budget allocations are not comparable to those assigned to
The Russian side insisted that the issue of strategic conventional arms become a topic of the New START negotiations. The treaty contains the following measures:
• Numerical limits on ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), ICBM and SLBM launchers, and deployed warheads on conventional ICBMs and SLBMs
• Transparency measures with respect to strategic delivery systems equipped for conventional armaments if similar systems equipped for nuclear armaments exist (ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines, heavy bombers)
• Limited transparency measures with respect to strategic delivery systems equipped for conventional armaments if similar systems equipped for nuclear armaments have been eliminated or converted to systems equipped for conventional armaments (cruise-missile submarines, heavy bombers)
One should underscore that New START limits strategic conventional arms to a much lesser extent than did the original START, which expired in 2009. Moreover, the new treaty does not prohibit development of some types of strategic arms that were banned by the previous treaty.
In spite of the agreement reached, the problem of strategic conventional arms may become a sticking point even for implementation of New START. When the Obama administration submitted New START to Congress, it made clear that it does not contain any constraints on testing, development, and deployment of current or planned prompt global-strike systems. Perhaps to reinforce this argument, the Department of Defense has decided not to develop systems for conventional prompt global-strike missions based on traditional ballistic missiles and instead to explore boost-glide concepts that have a nonballistic flight trajectory. According to the article-by-article analysis of New START by the U.S. Department of State, it is the view of the U.S. side that not all new kinds of weapons systems of strategic range would be new kinds of strategic offensive arms subject to New START. Specifically, the Obama administration stated that it would not consider future strategic-range non-nuclear systems that do not otherwise meet the definitions of the treaty to be new kinds of strategic offensive arms for purposes of the treaty. A similar understanding was expressed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s and full Senate’s resolutions of advice and consent to ratification.
The Russian side adheres to an entirely different interpretation. The federal law on New START ratification states that all strategic offensive arms, including new types of offensive arms with strategic range, are subject to the treaty provisions.
The question of applicability of the provisions of New START to any new kind of strategic-range offensive arms should be resolved within the framework of the Bilateral Consultative Commission prior to the deployment of such new kinds of arms. Existing differences could be resolved, provided that the sides demonstrate openness and a readiness to build mutual confidence. In particular, transparency in the
Negotiations on limiting strategic non-nuclear arms, which seem possible only within the framework of a wider bilateral dialogue on further nuclear arms reductions, could be an additional mechanism for overcoming disagreements. Although the current
At the same time, one should acknowledge that
It also is unclear whether
Because such problems can only be solved in a context of a broader bilateral dialogue on further nuclear reductions, progress in this direction also depends on
U.S.-Russian cooperation on the search for complex solutions to the problems identified above can be possible only if each side takes into account the other’s security concerns. If such concerns are taken into consideration and the two sides succeed in resolving the issues discussed above, one may be able to speak about the development of more confident relations between the
Anatoly Diakov is director of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, where Eugene Miasnikov is a senior research associate and Timur Kadyshev is a senior research scientist.
1. Donilon said, “A priority will be to address Russian tactical nuclear weapons. We will work with our NATO allies to shape an approach to reduce the role and number of
2. Treaty With Russia on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (Treaty Doc. 111–5), 111th Cong., 2d sess., Congressional Record, Vol. 156, No. 173 (December 22, 2010): S10982 (hereinafter New START ratification resolution).
4. “On the attitude of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the RF on questions of reductions and limitations of strategic offensive arms,” January 25, 2011, http://ntc.duma.gov.ru/duma_na/asozd/asozd_text.php?nm=4764-5%20%C3%C4&dt=2011 (text of the statement to the resolution of the State Duma concerning the ratification of New START) (in Russian). Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are by the authors.
9. Vasiliy Lata and Vladimir Maltsev, “Missile Defenses: Artificial Deadlock or Window of Opportunities in NATO-Russia Relations,” Indeks Bezopasnosti, N1 (96), Vol. 17 (Spring 2011), pp. 113-122 (in Russian).
12. See, in particular, Viktor Yesin, “Will the European Missile Defense Project Be Implemented?” Voenno-Promyshlennyj Kurier, January 19, 2011 (in Russian); Vladimir Dvorkin, “Either There Will Be a Joint Missile Defense, or…” Voenno-Promyshlennyj Kurier, February 19, 2011 (in Russian).
15. Oliver Meier, “NATO Revises Nuclear Policy,” Arms Control Today, December 2010.
17. “Statement of the Delegation of the Russian Federation at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference Under Article VI of the Treaty,” New York, April 11, 2002, www.ploughshares.ca/abolish/NPTReports/Russia02-2.pdf.
20. “Gen. Nikolay Makarov:
21. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Information and Press Department, “Remarks and Response to Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Press Conference on 2010 Foreign Policy Outcomes,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 13, 2011.
22. Steven Pifer, “After New START: What Next?” Arms Control Today, December 2010.
23. See, in particular, Dmitry Medvedev, Speech at Helsinki University, Helsinki, April 20, 2009, http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2009/04/20/1919_type82912type82914type84779_215323.shtml; Dmitry Medvedev, Address to the 64th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 24, 2009, http://archive.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2009/09/24/1638_type82914_221817.shtml.
25. Eugene Miasnikov, “Strategic Conventional Arms: Problems and Solutions,” Indeks Bezopasnosti, N 1 (96), Vol. 17 (2011), pp. 123-130, http://pircenter.org/data/publications/sirus1-11/Analysis-Miasnikov.pdf (in Russian).
26. Tom Collina, “
28. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Treaty With Russia on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty), 111th Cong., 2nd sess., 2010, Exec. Rep. 6, 92-93; New START ratification resolution.