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“Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.”

– George Stephanopolous
ABC News
January 1, 2005
EU / NATO

Interview with Sergey Kislyak, Russian Ambassador to the United States

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A Fresh Start?

An Interview with Russia's Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Russia's new ambassador to the United States, has assumed his post at a critical time in U.S.-Russian relations and at a point when presidential transitions are underway in both Moscow and Washington. Kislyak has served in a number of senior foreign policy positions in Moscow. Most recently, he served as Russia's deputy foreign minister where he played the lead role on arms control and nonproliferation issues. On November 14, Arms Control Today spoke with Ambassador Kislyak about his views on a number of issues in U.S.-Russian strategic relations, including missile defense, future strategic arms reductions, the status of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and Russian views on how to deal with Iran's nuclear program.

ACT: Mr. Ambassador, with President-elect Barack Obama taking office in January, could you briefly outline the most important and urgent issues that you think must be addressed to improve the U.S.-Russian strategic and security relationship?

Kislyak: I think there are many questions that need to be looked at. Our relations have not been in the best state during the last years, but at the same time, they are not entering the Cold War as some are suggesting. We do work on a number of issues that are important to the United States and Russia, and we are going to continue, but certainly we can do much better.

Once I was speaking here, I think addressing the bar association, and they were asking me, "What is one thing you want to do differently?" I said, and I'd like to repeat it, that what we would like to see happen is that the United States will treat Russian interests the same way that the United States would like to see Russia treat American interests. That would be the magic formula because we have a lot of interests that are common. These interests transcend the spectrum of issues that are usually enumerated in this respect. Certainly, nonproliferation is one. Combating terrorism, extremism in all its forms, among other things, is another. A new added challenge that we all face is the possibility of a nexus between terrorism and nuclear materials. We have started working on this issue, I would say, very successfully. It is one of the few examples of us working together as one and being successful. We started this initiative of the two presidents, Mr. [Vladimir] Putin and Mr. [George W.] Bush, and now we have in two years over 70-plus countries joining us.[1] So it is an example of how we can work, addressing challenges together to the benefit of the security of Russia and that of the United States.

I think that if we limit ourselves only to these few challenges that everyone is talking about, that would be a big disservice to the interests of your country and mine. We have economic relations that are developing pretty fast. Irrespective of the ups and downs in the political dialogue between the two of us, the economic relations are booming. That's something to be encouraged.

I do not have figures for this year, and most probably the current financial crisis will have its impact on the economic exchanges as well, but we can easily expect 30-plus billion dollars of trade this year between the two of us. That is quite a significant change, I would say, from four years ago when it was three times less. We saw in the last years an increase in mutual investment, and I underscore the word mutual, because Russian private business has invested here almost with the same rate, if not higher, than U.S. business has invested in Russia. That is also very good because that helps normal, friendly interaction between our societies, and that is a good underpinning for overall relations as well.

Certainly for you, the most important thing is the security area, and it has always been very important for our relations. I would like to underline, it is of primal importance for the stability in the world, and for the stability of our relations, but I think that it would be less than prudent to focus exclusively on our relations in the security area. Our relations should not be limited only to the content of arms control. It must be larger, and I think people tend to benefit from that.

ACT: One of the more immediate security challenges facing the United States and Russia is the December 2009 expiration of START, including its verification regime.[2] Obama has told this magazine that he wants to work with Russia to "make deep cuts in global nuclear stockpiles" during his first term and "extend the essential monitoring and verification provisions of START I prior to its expiration." Would Russia be willing to extend START if necessary?

Kislyak: It is difficult to say what you mean by "extend." Do we extend it the way it is, do we extend it for five years, do we extend it for two? All of these questions need to be discussed between our two teams.

If you ask me where we are currently, having discussed all these issues for quite a long period of time, I would say unfortunately I cannot report to you that we are satisfied with the level of agreement between us and the current administration of the United States on this particular issue. We have quite different views as to what the follow-on to START should be. We think there needs to be an extension of START, preserving the main systematic structure of the agreement, which does not mean we need to carbon-copy the agreement. It is large and had a very strong emphasis on the destruction of weapons that have been fulfilled completely by the United States and Russia.[3] We need to focus on things that do provide guarantees for stability in the future. That would certainly include limitations on delivery vehicles. Also, we need to be sure deployment modes do not change in a way that will be threatening to each other. Those elements of START that can provide stability for the future, we want to preserve in the future agreements.[4]

With lowering levels, I am not discussing with you now what the exact numbers I think that need to be filled in. It is something that should be negotiated between the delegations. One should not negotiate through the press, but I am trying to help you to understand how we see the follow-on to START. Sometimes the treaty was criticized for being too lengthy and too complicated. I would say it was not too lengthy because it was addressing challenges that we had at the time of the signing of the agreement. We were entering a process that was new to us, new to you. That was the first agreement to practically reduce strategic components of both sides.

But by now, after the treaty is almost completed, we have accumulated a wealth of experience on how to implement it. We are now concerned about taking pieces that we know how to implement and to import them in the follow on agreement that would be providing guarantees for the stability of the future. One of the most important things for us is that [the START follow-on] addresses delivery vehicles because you have to be sure that the deployment modes of both sides would not be any more threatening than they are now. Hopefully, they will be less so, more predictable, and at a lower level. That has always been our philosophy and position on this issue, whereas the philosophy of the U.S. government is a little bit different. What our [U.S.] colleagues are suggesting basically is not a follow on to START but rather an extension or a follow-on to the Moscow Treaty.[5] Those are two different treaties, but they are mutually complementary. The Moscow Treaty, partially at least, was relying on the verification procedures and the system of mutual exchanges provided for in START. Those are two complementary things and not substitutes for one another. What we would like to see happening is that we have a follow-on to START that will be picking up those elements that are still important today and would provide extended stability in our relations, hopefully at the lower levels covering everything: delivery vehicles and [warhead] deployments. A Moscow Treaty plus the follow-on to START would do the trick.

ACT: A hybrid approach?

Kislyak: It is not a hybrid. The Moscow Treaty is there. It is valid until 2012. Currently, we have to resolve the issue on what is to succeed START. The first discussion on what we are going to have afterwards needs to be taken before December of this year. The treaty will expire unless anything else is created or decided in a year. If we do not have anything in January 2010, we will wake up, all of us, in a situation where there are no limits on delivery vehicles and no limits on anti-ballistic missile defense.[6]

I'm asking myself, are we going to be better off in terms of providing stability in our relations and in the world context? I think it would be a very unfortunate, if not dangerous, situation, because it is a kind of free-for-all of strategic arms and we might lose the mutual constraints provided for on a mutual voluntary basis by arms control agreements.

ACT: Just to clarify a little bit, in terms of the extension, you are not ruling out the possibility of an extension? Does the Russian government consider the current meeting, the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC) that is happening in Geneva, sufficient under the treaty terms to invoke the principle that it is fulfilling the treaty requirement that, to extend the treaty, the parties must meet on the matter at least one year before START expires?[7]

Kislyak: We need to talk to the others and to form the view that will be reflecting the use of our arms. As I said, I do not negotiate in the press. I am not going to do here today the job that is going to be done in Geneva. What I am suggesting is that we have a follow-on agreement that would come into force as soon as possible. That is the maximum that we can do, and that is what is needed to be done.

We see a particular situation in the United States where you have a regime and a presidential transition, which is certainly important for you, and it is very important for us, because we want to understand better what is going to be the policy of the new administration on all of these issues. We certainly have read what President[-elect] Barack Obama had said when he was running for the presidency. There are a lot of interesting things in his statements, including the interview that you referred to.[8] We hope it provides a basis for serious negotiations, and we are certainly more than willing to do so.

ACT: Can you be a little bit more specific in terms of what Russia is looking for in terms of which verification provisions from START should be continued? It was not clear if you wanted those in the future agreement.

Kislyak: Yeah, we do want the follow-on to be providing for verification, exchanges of information, and transparency. It is not that we favor just political declarations. We want to be sure that if we do have an agreement, the agreement needs to be verified and that the American side will be as compliant as we are.

As to the particularities of what we want-once again, I do not negotiate in the press.

ACT: Former President Vladimir Putin said at one point that Russia would be prepared to reduce its strategic forces down to 1,500 warheads or less.[9] That has been interpreted in different ways. What does that mean in terms of whether those warheads would be counted under the SORT [Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty] system or START? Can you provide any clarification of what he meant or what was meant in those comments?

In moving forward in talks with the United States on strategic systems, what is Russia's view about how best to deal with the United States' interest in converting some of the strategic systems that are armed with nuclear warheads to conventional warheads? How might that be taken into account in these future discussions?[10]

Kislyak: First of all, the numbers. We are certainly willing to go lower. That has always been our position, even at the time of negotiating the Moscow Treaty. The number of 1,500-there is nothing magic about it. Those are the numbers as a target that we are willing to negotiate with our American colleagues on. So whatever the mechanism is for arriving at this number, we are willing to be open and stick together. What we want to see happening is the mutual constraints provided for in START should not be lost because they do provide stability and are one of the important things that also should be preserved and should not be discarded.

As to the idea of converting nuclear strategic weapons into conventional weapons, we are very much concerned about this concept. We don't believe that, so far, that there is a mechanism that would ensure that it would not be destabilizing. We have been told that this conversion of strategic delivery vehicles into non-nuclear ones would not affect Russian security, but that's easily said. It is difficult to understand how it could be guaranteed; how one can be relaxed about a number of delivery vehicles, that can be reconverted at any time, and secondly can have strategic missions. So, we do not agree in principle because we do not know of any guarantees that it is not going to be threatening to our security.

ACT: Russia has criticized U.S. exploration of new or modified nuclear warheads and suggests that such pursuits will trigger a new arms race, whereas Russia also modernizes its nuclear forces and regularly produces warheads. Why is it seemingly acceptable for Russia to upgrade its nuclear forces but not the United States?

Kislyak: I am not sure that I know of the programs that you are referring to. We have armed forces maintained on the current level. We do not create new types of weapons. They [strategic forces] are modernized, but we are not creating new nuclear weapons. What we are sometimes concerned about when we hear that new types of weapons are being created is that this creates new means of employing nuclear weapons and making them more usable.

ACT: Would Russia be willing to consider joint limitations on warhead production?

Kislyak: That would need to be explored through negotiations. First of all, we need to agree that we go further. So far, we have not been able to achieve that. As I said, if we do agree to go further [in terms of arms control agreements]. Then one can explore mechanisms that would reassure that neither side will go above that [level]. So far, a lot of the things you ask sound a little bit theoretical because the first priority for us in negotiating with our American colleagues is to agree on what we want to do beyond START. I am not sure I can report to you today that we have satisfied that [requirement].

ACT: To date, U.S. and Russian arms control treaties have focused on strategic weapons. Yet, many analysts outside Russia have raised concerns about the size and security of Russia's stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons, as well as whether Russia has fulfilled past commitments to reduce these weapons.[11] Under what conditions would Russia be willing to provide a full accounting of these systems and start verifiably disposing of them?

Kislyak: First and foremost, on the security of these weapons, this issue has been talked about many times. In my opinion, having been involved in negotiations, I do not know of a single case where there has been a real problem with the safety and security of Russian nuclear weapons.

The United States has to work more seriously on how it deals with this issue. The latest reports on these issues that we know of indicates that a lot of things need to be looked at in this country.[12] I saw statements by the secretary of defense on this issue suggesting that there were decisions made in order to reinforce control of your stockpile and your components, and situations where some elements of them would find themselves in different countries. It is not acceptable, and we are certainly looking forward to seeing more control in this country of your components. As far as we are concerned, certainly, one cannot be complacent at any time, but the system of protection of Russian nuclear weapons is very, very stringent.

I remember, I think it was in Bratislava, that both sides, the presidents and the staffers and the advisers, had discussed the issue of safety of components of nuclear weapons. They agreed there was a good level of protection in both countries.[13] But one of the ideas was that we should never be complacent about it. That is something that is the case in my country. So I take exception to the notion that our nuclear weapons are insecure. Our strategic forces can be considered as secured.

As to lowering the scope of nuclear weapons in negotiations. I think we need to be aware that the nuclear weapons do not exist in isolation. It is also [a] part of military culture on both sides. We see that we have difficulties to even negotiate a follow-on to START that regulates the strategic component of [U.S. and Russian] forces.

At the same time, when you come, say to European situation, we see a lot of imbalances in conventional weapons. We see a very disappointing situation with the CFE [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe] Treaty. We still believe the CFE Treaty that was negotiated for the situation whenf two opposing military blocs existed still regulates the relations between two groups of countries. We see that one group is no longer and the other is expanding and taking bit by bit the quotas that were given to the group that is no longer there. Suggesting that the treaty doesn't work. It is something that is so surreal and does not provide the sense of stability, that we were forced to send [through the Russian moratorium] a strong signal to our colleagues that this situation should be corrected.

Some years ago ... on the initiative of Russia, we started negotiating the [adaptation] to the CFE Treaty that provides a little bit different approach.[14] It is not an ideal document either, but at least it does provide more predictability in this field by providing for two networks of limitations, not on the basis of groupings, but on individual membership to the treaty. We did expect that this treaty would have been in force already, say, five years ago. And what happens? Nothing. The adapted treaty has not entered into force. Our colleagues in the United States and NATO have decided not to start ratification of the treaty. The conditions for ratification, as far as we are concerned, are official; and we think that, first and foremost, there was lack of [NATO] interest in seeing it enter into force.

However, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus did ratify the [adapted] treaty, so we live in a very asymmetrical situation in terms of conventional buildups in Europe. I am not suggesting there are enormous buildups that are immediately threatening or deployed to prepare a tank attack, like we were concerned about in Cold War times. But the situation is that there is an expansion of conventional weapons in one grouping that is still there. The situation in the [conventional] arms control is not satisfactory.

ACT: Is it fair to say then that the quantity of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is not the main concern or the main motivation for why Russia would be prepared to retain its weapons?

Kislyak: It is one of them. We have always advocated the repatriation of all weapons to one's own territory. We do not keep nuclear weapons beyond the territory of Russia, and we have always advocated that it would be a good idea for the others to do the same [to keep them on their national territories].

ACT: If the United States was willing to withdraw those tactical nuclear weapons, would that change Russia's position on consolidating, reducing, or eliminating its tactical nuclear weapons?

Kislyak: It would certainly be a serious factor, but would it be enough? I think we need to have a little bit more complex discussion between us and the United States and between us and NATO on the security environment in Europe.

ACT: On the CFE Treaty, Russia last year suspended implementation of it.[15] When does Russia intend to resume implementation, and what actions will it take to bring the Adapted CFE Treaty into force?

Kislyak: Well, I do not believe that we are interested in resuming implementation of the current CFE Treaty [without it being adapted]. You know how the CFE Treaty works? You have the current CFE Treaty that is the old one, and we have an adapted treaty. The adapted treaty does not exist without the first one, so in order to have an adapted treaty in force, we have to have both (The old one to be adapted by the new one). So, the moment that the adapted treaty is in force, we will have both: the old one, as amended by the treaty of adaptation.

But legally speaking, we are already there. We have ratified the adapted treaty, so in a way, we are waiting for others to join us. It is not us blocking the treaty and implementation; it is us waiting [for the others].

ACT: The argument on the other side is that you have not fulfilled these political commitments.

Kislyak: Yes we have. We have fulfilled everything that is applicable to the CFE Treaty implementation.

ACT: What about the withdrawals from Moldova and Georgia that were supposedly tied to the Adapted CFE Treaty?[16]

Kislyak: No, no, no, we have done everything that is related to the treaty, we have withdrawn all TLE [treaty-limited equipment] from Moldova in time. But there are political agreements between us and Moldova and us and the United States on the political environment there. They are bilateral understandings. Same with Georgia, on the withdrawal of our bases. Our bases are no longer there, we have withdrawn them. But the Georgians also were under commitment to do several things, and they have failed to do so. But in any way all this goes beyond what was required to implement the treaty.

By the way, by the same token, one of the commitments of Istanbul for all of us, including the United States, was the ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty. It is yet to be implemented [by the West].

ACT: One of the major concerns of U.S. lawmakers regarding the pending U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation agreement (a so-called 123 agreement), is Russia's relationship with Iran.[17] What specific assurances can the Russian government provide members of Congress to ease their concerns about Russian sales of arms and civil nuclear systems to Iran, as well as Russian support for tougher UN Security Council sanctions on Iran?

Kislyak: Could I ask you, why do we need to provide assurances to the U.S. Congress? We provide assurances to the Russian parliament. So if the United States is interested in working with us in nuclear energy cooperation, that is fine. It is for the United States to decide what it is that it wants. If it wants to cooperate with us, the doors [for cooperation] are open. If we are asked to make our actions, our policies, reportable to the [U.S.] Congress in order for the U.S. to make decisions on cooperating with us, we are not interested in that kind of scheme. We are fully in compliance with our obligations, with our commitments. We have not violated any agreement with the United States or anybody else. Our cooperation with Iran is limited in the nuclear field to Bushehr. By the way, your president has welcomed the way we cooperate on Bushehr because a scheme for the project that was developed with the Iranians that is very reliable and provides an alternative, a visible alternative, to the need to develop an indigenous enrichment capability. Because we build the reactor, we provide the fuel, and we take it back.[18] This is the best way to provide access to nuclear energy and electricity derived from nuclear energy. It was also supported by Europe.

When it comes to the defense supplies you seem to be referring to, there are no inconsistencies with our obligations or the resolutions of the Security Council, because we do show restraint, and whatever we do is purely defensive and for deterrence. It is our policy, and it is reportable the Russian parliament and Russian people and not anybody else. If the United States is interested in working with us [in the field of nuclear energy], we will be more than ready to work together, but it needs to be based on mutual respect and the mutual respect of interests. I think there are all sorts of reasons why we could and should cooperate in this field because both of us can do a lot in order to promote nuclear energy. That is something that most probably for the coming 20-30 years will be the alternative of choice to fossil fuel, and I do not know of any other [alternative] source of energy that can be employable in the foreseeable future but nuclear energy. All other renewable energies are either in scarce supply or the technology has yet to be developed to the point where it becomes competitive.

So we will see, all of us, significant development of nuclear energy in a lot of countries, in yours as well. We also embarked on an ambitious program to expand nuclear energy production. Currently we have, I think, 16 or 17 percent of electricity produced in my country from nuclear energy sources, and we will expand it to 25 [percent] within maybe 15 or more years. It is an ambitious program. We are going to make it. At the same time, we have a lot of things that are of interest to your industries. You might be interested in [our]technologies, so we are very much mutually complementary. But unless we have a bigger [legal] framework for that, there can be no reliable interaction between our respective businesses. If the United States wants to work with us, we would be more than willing to do so.

There is another initiative by the two presidents, and that is to develop alternative sources of nuclear energy for the rest of the world that are less prone to proliferation. We are offering the multilateral enrichment center and your president has launched the idea of the GNEP [Global Nuclear Energy Partnership].[19]

ACT: As for the multinational enrichment center, Angarsk, do you know when that is going to open?[20]

Kislyak: I am not sure I know the date.

ACT: Have you concluded a safeguards agreement with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] for Angarsk?

Kislyak: Well, we have a number of countries that have joined [the project], Kazakhstan being the first, Armenia being the second. As far as I understand, there will be several other countries that will be knocking on the doors pretty soon. We are very lucky that it is getting up and running and will be operational pretty soon.

It is a concept that I think can be very helpful to countries that are interested in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It would make it possible for them not to seek their own enrichment facilities. They could use the benefits of these multilateral centers that would be fully under the IAEA safeguards. We hope it will be also to their economic advantages. But what is most important, they have ready-made vehicles to use in order to get, in a reliable fashion, participation in the management element of it, all of the enrichment services, which does not mean that any of the non-nuclear-weapon countries or any other countries would have access to the technology. So, we are, like, offering a Mercedes if you know how to shift gears and drive the car, but there will be somebody else, specialists, who will take care of your engine. That is the kind of service we are offering.

ACT: Iran has unfortunately not taken up Russia's offer to make use of Angarsk. The United States and Russia share the challenge of dealing with Iran's ongoing enrichment program, as well as Iran's construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor.[21] Just briefly, in your view, what do the United States and Russia and other members of the Security Council need to do in the near future to fortify the existing strategy or adjust the existing strategy to persuade Iran to suspend its enrichment program and comply with the IAEA investigation of its past nuclear activities?

Kislyak: Well, I do not believe we need to reinvent the strategy. This strategy has two basic components. One is based on decisions made by the IAEA Board of Governors enumerating for the Iranian government what needs to be done to return credibility to its program. The Security Council has adopted already four resolutions that are beefing up the requirements of the IAEA.

So there have been strong but measured signals of the international community to Iran that it is expected to comply with the IAEA requirements. And that was reinforcing the latest [U.N. Security Council] resolution from September. It [the September resolution] was short but, I think, very important, with a serious message. What needs to be done also is to try to engage in discussion with Iranian colleagues and work out the benefits, for them and for all of us, if they do cooperate with the requirements. The six [China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States] have produced a package of ideas which I think is a good one. It provides for the Iranians, if they choose to pick it up and to develop it with us through negotiations, an excellent opportunity to expand cooperation not only with us, but also with Europeans, with the United States, with China, on a very, very broad range of issues, including nuclear energy, even scientific research, and many other things that would help them to be more integrated into the world economy. That is an offer of cooperation by countries "from the Atlantic to the Pacific" to our Iranian colleagues. That is something we try to reinforce when talking with Tehran. We are very much interested in seeing the Iranian government understand that this package is an honest one. We are satisfied that the American government is more and more involved in promoting this package. We saw Bill Burns, together with us, at the Geneva meeting back in the summer, which I think was a good message reinforcing that if we do have an agreement on this package, the United States will be part of it.[22] That is a very important part. There are a lot of concerns on both sides. There is a lot of mistrust on both sides that needs to be overcome. That is the track that, I think, is a little bit underdeveloped so far, and we need to work more on that.

ACT: Russia has asserted that the Bush administration has pursued several policies that threaten to upset U.S.-Russian strategic relationship and stability. Foremost among these is this administration's effort to base 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a new radar in the Czech Republic. Why is Russia concerned about 10 interceptors, and why does it keep threatening to target the proposed U.S. installations?

Kislyak: It is not about 10 interceptors per se. We certainly understand that these 10 interceptors and the radar stationed in Czech Republic are not isolated components. They are elements of strategic anti-ballistic missile deployment. We see this for the first time, as far as I understand in history, that the United States is planning to deploy strategic components of its forces in Europe. It is close to us. This is about destabilizing deterrence. There are several bases of stragetic offensive force in the European part of Russia that will be within range of this system. What is planned to be deployed is not just an observation or [early] warning radar, this is a battle management radar. We understand that most probably it is not the last [planned] deployment in the region. There might be others. I do not know when or where. We see it not as 10 innocuous missiles being deployed. We see it as an element of a bigger picture. This picture seems to be increasingly destabilizing, and potentially more destabilizing in the future. That is the concern.

ACT: What measures or actions could the United States take to mitigate Russian concerns about the proposed deployment?

Kislyak: We had proposed an alternative idea of cooperating against what was the stated goal for this deployment and that is to offset the possibility that the deployment would appear threatening to other countries.[23]

ACT: Is there any possibility that your government and the Obama administration could build on this administration's proposals for joint threat assessment, limiting interceptor deployment, and pursuing a joint missile defense architecture?[24]

Kislyak: What we had proposed was to join our monitoring systems including our radar station in Azerbaijan. There would be a system strategically located in the region that might be of service in the future of missile defense. What we were proposing was to create a joint monitoring system that would be giving all of us on a joint basis the possibility to monitor what is happening and what is not happening. That is equally important.

We also proposed that we will conduct a discussion as to what we can do and need to do together in order to offset any possible threat if and when it appears. We do not see a credible threat to the United States appearing any time soon, at least not in my opinion, to strike the United States from this region [the Middle East]. To threaten the U.S. from that region one has to have missiles of 8,000 to 11,000 kilometers range, and I do not see an industry in this region that would be capable any time soon to produce that kind of system.

When it comes to arguments about the need to protect Europe, I do not believe Europe asked for protection. It was decided for Europeans without consulting Europeans. The problem is that we also have specialists on ballistics and trajectories and mathematics, and we understand that, had it been the goal to protect Europe, maybe we would have used a different scheme of deployment to protect all of Europe. So if this is not to protect the United States and it is not to protect Europe and if there is no threat to offset, then the only "clientele" as they say, for this system would be Russia. Russian territory is very close, and we have components of strategic deterrence there. That is the concern. We are concerned that this system is an added element (close to our borders) to the overall effort to undermine strategic deterrence. And we, you and us, have not yet abandoned strategic deterrence.

ACT: Bush discussed with Putin a few months back, I believe at Sochi, the possibility of limiting the scope of that deployment, in addition to the Russian proposal that you just outlined.[25] Is that a realistic area for future discussion because you did just say that the concern is not 10 interceptors per se, but the possibility of a broader and more robust missile defense capability of the United States?

Kislyak: No, these elements will be serving as part of a layered defense. Nobody was offering to us any limitations of the strategic missile defense of the United States. I never heard of any proposals of that kind. It is not nearly enough [to alleviate Russian concerns] because we have had that kind of discussion in the past and we have raised our concerns. To be honest, we have not seen those concerns always being taken seriously.

ACT: Last fall, Russia and the United States called on other states to adopt the same restrictions on their missile programs as are currently followed by the United States and Russia under the INF[Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty.[26]

Kislyak: Yes.

ACT: During the campaign, Obama said he would seek to expand this to a worldwide effort.[27] Russia also outlined efforts of a broader treaty limiting missile deployments. What is the international response to these initiatives, and what is Russia's plan to advance them?

Kislyak: First and foremost, there was a good response from the United States because immediately after proposing this advance, the United States supported the joint statement in New York by our two countries that calls for making this commitment global. We have started discussing this issue with many countries. The response is certainly not necessarily universal and immediately welcoming, but we did not expect it to be an easy exercise. We need to talk to countries, to discuss with them their security concerns. It is something that we are going to put a lot of work into, but respectful work. Respectful work with the countries you want to be partners in that kind of commitment. If we do have the United States working with us, I think we stand to benefit from this.

ACT: Russia is a strong proponent of negotiating an agreement to prevent an arms race in outer space.[28]

Kislyak: Yes, we are.

ACT: U.S. officials contend there is no arms race in space and that Russia's proposals are neglecting to address the real danger of terrestrial based anti-satellite systems. What is Russia's response to the U.S. arguments, and why has Russia made outer space a priority?

Kislyak: We made it a priority because we are concerned if you start an arms race in outer space, you would not be able to disinvent it. It is going to be destabilizing if it is allowed to take place. The notion that there is no arms race in outer space does not sound to us credible because we are concerned that there will be programs in the future that might lead to the deployment of striking weapons in outer space. That is a problem. I remember there were a number of statements, even by experts outside of the government here, that had begun to advocate that kind of program should be accelerated. We understand there is a lot of thinking about this and, at some point in the discussions about the strategic defenses in your country, there were ideas to deploy various versions of weapons into outer space.

So, this issue has not been withdrawn from the table. We are concerned if that happens and if others would have to reciprocate, if we will bring the competition into outer space, it [space] will become increasingly destabilized and, in the long term, strategically dangerous. It will undermine also the ability of countries to explore outer space for peaceful purposes. So, there are many components why one can be concerned. We are very much satisfied that a lot of countries with supported us in a vote for resolutions at the United Nations. The appreciation of the problem seems to be almost universal. It is only the United States that does not join us yet. We will see what the future will bring to us.

ACT: Since the early 1990s, Russia and the United States have been working together on cooperative threat reduction programs.

Kislyak: Yes.

ACT: Obama has said that he'd like to secure the most vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.

Kislyak: In the United States? (Laughs.)

ACT: Everywhere. I think it was everywhere.

Kislyak: That is fine, because it is part of our joint effort in the global initiative on combating nuclear terrorism. It is one of the goals that we share, and we need to help the others secure nuclear materials.

ACT: Russia has been taking more responsibility and management of these programs. Does Russia have priorities and budget and plans for continuing the security upgrades and maintaining them now that more responsibility has shifted to Russia in this area?

Kislyak: It has always been our responsibility. We have never shifted this responsibility to anybody else. So, whatever assistance was offered, especially in the first years after the decomposition of the Soviet Union, was rather technical and sometimes financial help in providing the necessary equipment. All of this started with our effort to bring nuclear weapons back from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, when the governments of those countries decided, and we applauded them, to abandon nuclear weapons. In order to help abandon this heritage from the Soviet Union, we had to move significant numbers of nuclear weapons to the territory of the Russian Federation. We had very limited time. That kind of operation has never been done by any other country, anytime in the world. Whatever you did, for your own purposes, and what we did [before] were very, very small efforts if compared to the one that we had to undertake. At that time, the United States offered some help to us. That was the origin of the program. We received some technical equipment. We received some fire extinguishers and equipment, a lot of specialized small things that we were missing in big numbers, that we did not have at that time, and we needed in big numbers, immediately. It was very helpful, it helped to create a culture of cooperation [between the two countries].

ACT: Is there a program for maintaining this?

Kislyak: Of course there is. It is not going to disappear in Russia because we are a responsible country first of all. We are responsible and frank with the Russian people. Knowing what has been done, I am very comfortable with Russian concern for the safety of such systems in Russia.

ACT: Many former U.S. statesmen are now calling for a renewed emphasis on making progress toward the goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons. Do Russia's leaders see this goal as feasible? Do they share the views of Kissinger, Schultz, Perry, Nunn, and many others, that the nuclear-weapons states can and should move quickly on concrete steps to realize this goal?[29]

Kislyak: As the ultimate goal, yes, but in order to achieve this goal, a lot of things need to be done. Certainly the lower you go, the more complex the situation becomes. As we go down, we need to be sure that nuclear weapons are not going to appear in other countries. You need to work toward increasing the guarantees of nonproliferation at first. Secondly, we need to have all other [nuclear-armed states] on board. Third, while we are moving toward this goal, how are the other components of security to be assured? It is complex. It is a very, very complex goal, but it is a noble goal. We can work toward this goal. It has always been our commitment in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but we need to take first steps first.[30] The first priority for us and probably for you, today, is to decide what is going to follow-on to START. That would be a first step. That is a very good goal that needs to be worked on, I'm afraid, for quite a long period of time.

ACT: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, we appreciate your time.


[1] The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism was announced by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in July 2006 at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg. The voluntary initiative aims to improve participating governments' efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials and weapons and to strengthen national laws criminalizing nuclear proliferation activities.

[2] START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) I calls for the reduction in the number of Russian and U.S. strategic nuclear arsenals of each party. Signed in July 1991, START I entered into force in December 1994. START I runs for 15 years with an option to extend the treaty for successive five-year periods. Extension provisions call for parties to meet at least a year before the treaty expires in December 2009. Neither the United States nor Russia supported a five-year extension. For a discussion on what might follow START I, see Alexei Arbatov and Rose Gottemoeller, "New Presidents, New Agreements? Advancing U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Control," Arms Control Today, July/August 2008, pp. 6-14.

[3] All member states to START I met the agreed December 5, 2001, implementation deadline.

[4] The basic terms of START I call for reductions in delivery vehicles and deployment modes, so that seven years after the entry into force of START I and thereafter, numbers do not exceed 1,600 deployed ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers for each side. It also limits the number of warheads attributed to ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. No more than 4,900 may be on ICBMs and SLBMs, 1,540 on heavy missiles, and 1,100 on mobile ICBMs.

[5] The Moscow Treaty, also known as the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), was signed by Bush and Putin in 2002 and came into force in June 2003. SORT differs from START I in that it limits the number of operationally deployed warheads, whereas START I only limits "accountable" warheads attributed to their delivery vehicles. SORT calls for both parties to limit their nuclear arsenal to 1,700-2,200 operationally deployed warheads each.

[6] The now-defunct Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on May 26, 1972, and entered into force on October 3, 1972. The treaty barred Washington and Moscow from deploying nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. The United States withdrew from the treaty on June 13, 2002.

[7] On November 17, 2008, Representatives of the United States of America, The Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine met in Geneva, Switzerland to consider whether to extend the 1991 Treaty. According to a Nov. 21 State Department fact sheet, "the requirement of the Treaty to meet on the issue prior to December 5, 2008, is fulfilled." The fact sheet noted that the Parties "will continue to consider the issue and note that a decision on this issue can be made up until the date of expiration of the Treaty on December 5, 2009.

[8] "Arms Control Today 2008 Presidential Q&A: Democratic Nominee Barack Obama," September 24, 2008, www.armscontrol.org/system/files/20080924_ACT_PresidentialQA_Obama_Sept08.pdf.

[9] See "Statement of Russian President Putin on Strategic Reductions and Preservation of the ABM Treaty," Arms Control Today, December 2000, p. 30.

[10] The Global Strike Initiative is a Pentagon initiative that would convert some long-range SLBMs to deliver conventional warheads instead of nuclear ones. See Wade Boese, "Panel Endorses U.S. Global Strike Initiative," Arms Control Today, June 2007, pp. 34-35.

[11] Collectively known as the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs), President George H. W. Bush and Premier Mikhail Gorbachev both announced unilateral strategic reduction measures in the fall of 1991. The United States alleges Russia still has not fulfilled all of its PNI destruction commitments, and Moscow opposes the continued stationing of hundreds of U.S. tactical nuclear gravity bombs in Europe, which the PNIs did not cover. See Oliver Meier, "NATO Mulls Nuke Modernization, Security," Arms Control Today, September 2008, pp. 37-39.

[12] In August 2007, a B-52 flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, unknowingly carrying six nuclear warheads. See Zachary Hosford, "Congress, Pentagon Probe Nuke Overflight," Arms Control Today, October 2007, p. 48. Additionally, the Pentagon revealed in March 2008 that four classified fuses to nuclear weapons had been mistakenly shipped to Taiwan in August 2006. See Jeremy Patterson, "Taiwan Fuse Shipment Reveals Nuclear Security Gaps," Arms Control Today, May 2008, pp. 46-47. In response to the mishandlings, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed a task force headed by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger to review nuclear security and command and control and fired the Air Force secretary and chief of staff.

[13] The Bratislava Initiatives were announced in a joint statement on nuclear security cooperation issued by Bush and Putin in February 2005. Both presidents reaffirmed commitments to making securing vulnerable materials a top priority, as well as to work together on energy, counterterrorism, and space cooperation. These initiatives have contributed to efforts to remove highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Poland and Libya, secure U.S.-origin HEU around the world, and convert HEU-fueled reactors to operate on low-enriched uranium (LEU).

[14] The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, signed in November 1990, set equal limits on the amount of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the former Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. With the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the Soviet Union after the Cold War, CFE Treaty states-parties overhauled the treaty in November 1999. The Adapted CFE Treaty replaces the bloc and zone weapons limits with national and territorial arms ceilings, and Russia notified signatories of its intended suspension of the original CFE Treaty in July 2007.

[15] See Wade Boese, "Russia Suspends CFE Treaty Implementation," Arms Control Today, January/February 2008, p. 46.

[16] After three years of negotiations, the Adapted CFE Treaty was concluded and signed at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul in November 1999.

NATO members' concerns regarding Russian compliance to the adapted treaty imperiled the official signing of the agreement. Several states, including Russia, made last-minute political commitments in an package called the "Final Act" to quell these doubts. Under the agreements, several NATO members pledged not to increase their territorial ceilings of treaty-limited equipment (TLE), and Russia agreed to reduce its TLE in Georgia and withdraw its military presence from Moldova.

Only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have ratified the adapted treaty. The United States and NATO allies have conditioned their ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty on Russia fulfilling its Final Act pledges. See Wade Boese, "CFE Adapted at OSCE Summit in Istanbul," Arms Control Today, November 1999, p. 23.

[17] See Miles A. Pomper, "U.S.-Russian Nuclear Agreement Faces Delay," Arms Control Today, September 2008, p. 37.

[18] Russia has been working on the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant, a light-water reactor located near the city of Bushehr. Germany initiated construction of the plant in 1975 but withdrew from the project following the 1979 Iranian revolution. Russia took over construction in 1995, and since then, the project has been met by continual delays for technical, financial, and political reasons. In 2005, Iran agreed to return the spent fuel from the plant back to Russia, thereby reducing some of the political sensitivities regarding the reactor. In December 2007, Russia began to deliver fuel for the plant, which is currently slated to become operational in early 2009.

[19] The Bush administration launched the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) in 2006, and 25 countries have now signed its statement of principles. Bush administration officials have claimed that GNEP, which seeks to develop new nuclear technologies and new international nuclear fuel arrangements, will cut nuclear waste and decrease the risk that an anticipated growth in the use of nuclear energy worldwide could spur nuclear weapons proliferation. Critics assert that the administration's course would exacerbate the proliferation risks posed by the spread of spent fuel reprocessing technology, be prohibitively expensive, and fail to significantly ease waste disposal challenges without any certainty that the claimed technologies will ever be developed. For more information, see Miles A. Pomper, "GNEP Membership Grows, Future Uncertain," Arms Control Today, November 2008, p. 50.

[20] Early in 2006, Putin and his nuclear energy chief, Sergey Kiriyenko, announced the Global Nuclear Infrastructure Initiative, which envisaged Russia hosting four types of nuclear fuel-cycle service centers as joint ventures partly financed by other countries and involving the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). One would be a proposed International Uranium Enrichment Centre (IUEC) at Angarsk in Siberia. A second would involve reprocessing and storage of spent nuclear fuel. A third would deal with training and certification of nuclear personnel, especially for new nuclear countries. A fourth would involve joint research and development.

The Angarsk proposal itself existed in two parts: an enrichment center and a fuel bank. By 2007 the Russian Duma approved enabling legislation that would grant participating countries the right to partake financially in the facility. Russia legally established the IUEC in September 2007 as a joint stock company. A deal had already been signed with Kazakhstan by the time shares were issued in November 2007. Kazakhstan purchased 10 percent of the shares. At that time, Armenia also indicated its interest in joining, a step that was taken through an exchange of notes in February 2008. In July 2008, Ukraine also offered to buy a 10 percent share in the center, and its proposal has been accepted by Kazakhstan. Russian officials have said that they anticipate wrapping up negotiations with Ukraine by the end of 2008. Russia invited Slovenia to join the center, but it has not yet done so. The eventual plan is for Russia's share to drop to 51 percent as other partners are admitted. In order to address concerns regarding the spread of technology, the IUEC will be structured in such a way that no enrichment technology or classified knowledge will be accessible to the foreign participants. Any IAEA member state is eligible to participate.

In December 2007, the Russian government took the decision to include the enrichment center in the list of facilities it is willing to submit to IAEA safeguards. Safeguards are also to be applied to a 120-ton LEU stockpile that is to be set aside, separately, as a fuel bank for foreign nuclear reactors in the event of a supply disruption for political reasons unrelated to nonproliferation. Although an agreement between the IAEA and Russia on the safeguards arrangements was originally expected to be concluded in the first half of 2008, no such agreement has yet been finalized. For more information, see Fiona Simpson, "Reforming the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Time Is Running Out," Arms Control Today, September 2008, pp. 12-19; Miles A. Pomper, "The Russian Nuclear Industry: Status and Prospects," Centre for International Governance Innovation (forthcoming).

[21] Iran has been making preparations for the construction of a 40-megawatt heavy-water research reactor near the town of Arak since the 1990s and began construction on the plant in 2004. The site was made public in 2002 by an Iranian dissident group, prompting an IAEA investigation at the previously undeclared site. Iran claims that the reactor will be used to produce medical isotopes, but the configuration of the reactor also makes it suitable for producing high-quality plutonium for nuclear weapons. Because of this concern, the UN Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend construction of the reactor. The IAEA has also requested that Iran provide updated design information for the reactor. Iran has not cooperated with the Security Council or the IAEA regarding these measures and continues construction of the plant, which is slated for completion in 2011. Iran completed construction of a heavy-water production plant to provide heavy water for the reactor at the same site in 2006.

[22] Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns participated in a July 19 meeting between the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany and Iran to discuss proposals addressing Iran's nuclear program. Burns' participation marked a reversal of U.S. policy prior to the meeting in which Washington refused to send a representative to meetings with Iran until Tehran complied with UN demands.

[23] See George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol, "European Missile Defense: The Technological Basis for Russian Concerns," Arms Control Today, October 2007, p. 13.

[24] See Wade Boese, "U.S. Reaffirms Europe Anti-Missile Plan," Arms Control Today, July/August 2007, pp. 23-24; Wade Boese, "Report: No Progress on Missile Defense, Nukes," Arms Control Today, October 2007, p. 40.

[25] See Wade Boese, "Bush, Putin Leave Arms Disputes Unsettled," Arms Control Today, May 2008, pp. 27-28.

[26] The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The negotiation of the INF Treaty was the first time the USSR and United States had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification. By the treaty's implementation deadline of June 1, 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union had destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles. States-parties' rights to conduct on-site inspections under the treaty ended on May 31, 2001. In recent years, Russia has raised the possibility of withdrawing from the INF Treaty.

[27] "Arms Control Today 2008 Presidential Q&A: Democratic Nominee Barack Obama."

[28] Russia is a vocal supporter of an international agreement against the weaponization of space and has supported the creation of an ad hoc committee of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to focus on the issue. In February 2008, Russia and China co-sponsored a proposal at the CD to ban weapons in space. See Wade Boese, "Russia Pushes Pacts as U.S. Kills Satellite," Arms Control Today, March 2008, pp. 50-51.

[29]See George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007, p. A15; George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, "Toward a Nuclear-Free World," The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008, p. A13. For a more in-depth discussion, see George P. Shultz, Sidney D. Drell, and James E. Goodby, eds., Reykjavik Revisited: Steps Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2008).

[30] Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligates "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Description: 
Interviewed by Daryl Kimball and Miles Pomper

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NATO Mulls Nuke Modernization, Security

Oliver Meier

Reports about security problems at U.S. nuclear weapons bases in Europe have led to renewed calls from parliamentarians of European allies for an end to NATO's nuclear weapons-sharing arrangements. But a senior NATO official interviewed by Arms Control Today rejected the reports about security problems, predicted a continuation of NATO's nuclear weapons policies, and called for a modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.

"There is no question that nuclear weapons deployed in Europe are safe and secure," Guy Roberts, NATO deputy assistant secretary-general for weapons of mass destruction policy and director for nuclear policy, told Arms Control Today Aug. 14.

On June 19, Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists released the classified findings of a February U.S. Air Force blue ribbon review (BRR), which he had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The "Air Force Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures" found that most European sites where U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed "require significant additional resources to meet [Department of Defense] security requirements."

The review had been launched following an August 2007 incident in the United States, when a B-52 bomber flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana wrongly and unknowingly armed with nuclear cruise missiles. (See ACT, July/August 2008. )

Security at U.S. Bases in Europe

NATO keeps details of its nuclear deployments secret, but Kristensen estimates that the United States probably still deploys between 150 and 240 B-61 bombs in Europe. Under nuclear sharing arrangements, as many as 140 weapons can still be assigned for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, none of which have their own nuclear arms. These weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime but can be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war. Other states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) have repeatedly criticized these arrangements as contradicting the NPT, because they would permit control of nuclear weapons to pass to countries who have forsworn the possession of such weapons under the treaty. (See ACT, June 2008. )

Despite the fact that European nuclear weapons bases were notified in advance of the visits by the U.S. Air Force inspectors, the review still found several deficits in security provided by European allies that host U.S. nuclear weapons on their territory, noting "inconsistencies in personnel, facilities, and equipment provided to the security mission provided by the host nation." Examples of areas with shortcomings include support buildings, fencing, lighting, and security systems. The review also criticized the use of conscripts and unionized security personnel for security tasks.

Officials from NATO states and NATO headquarters have rejected the review's findings and methodology. Roberts said that "there is nothing new in the BRR report. The report contains no security issue that NATO wasn't aware of." Roberts explained that security issues are continuously monitored by NATO through the Joint Theater Management Group, which reports quarterly through the vice-chairman of the High Level Group to the Nuclear Planning Group, which decides on the nuclear policy of the alliance. "Based on these reports, a number of enhancements are being implemented. The BRR report did not add anything new."

During a June 25 parliamentary debate in Berlin, Thomas Kossendey, German assistant secretary for defense, argued that the report and related discussions in NATO have "demonstrated that we do not need to worry" about the security of nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. In a July 1 meeting of the Dutch Defense Committee, Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop also maintained that safety and security at the Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands are in good order.

Volkel, alleged to host up to 20 U.S. nuclear weapons, is one of four European air force bases operated by NPT non-nuclear-weapon states where Kristensen says U.S. B-61 nuclear bombs are deployed.

NATO officials also condemn the review for being misleading. "If conscripts are used to provide security, so what? These are well-trained soldiers," Roberts told Arms Control Today. "And the necessity to repair a support building is not necessarily a security issue. If there is a hole in a fence, that gets repaired," he said.

European officials also argued that the report was unfair because the Air Force inspectors applied stricter U.S. security standards, applicable to the inner perimeter of the actual nuclear weapons storage area, to the outer perimeter that is guarded by allies. As a result, NATO does not see any need to take additional measures to improve the security at European nuclear weapons bases.

NATO is angry at the U.S. Air Force for not consulting or at least advising NATO before the report was issued. "This was released without prior warning, and the information regarding the security of nuclear weapons stored in Europe is inaccurate and misleading," Roberts said. "In my view, the report also contains sensitive information, much of which should not have made it into the public domain, even under the Freedom of Information Act."

Nuclear Weapons Consolidation?

Kristensen claimed that the review triggered a consolidation of U.S. nuclear weapons at fewer European bases. Citing anonymous sources, he indicated that one U.S. Munition Support Squadron (MUNSS) will be withdrawn from one national base in Europe, possibly Ghedi Torre in Italy.

MUNSS are units specially trained to guard nuclear weapons storage sites. Withdrawal of such a unit would signal an end of the nuclear mission of a base.

Roberts refuted rumors that NATO is considering a redeployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. "There is no discussion whatsoever in NATO about consolidating nuclear weapons at fewer bases," he told Arms Control Today.

Renewed German Debate on Nuclear Weapons

The report about security problems at nuclear weapons bases triggered a new debate about the utility of NATO nuclear weapons deployments, particularly in Germany. During a June 25 parliamentary debate in Berlin, representative of all parties with the exception of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel) reacted to the news of security leaks by calling for a withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from German territory.

Rolf Mützenich, arms control spokesperson of the Social Democrats, who share power in a coalition with the conservatives in Berlin, argued that weapons should be withdrawn from Büchel, the German air force base where Kristensen says up to 20 B-61 warheads are still stored. Mützenich called for a global initiative on short-range, tactical nuclear weapons. He sought to dispel fears of a loss of influence in NATO should Germany end nuclear deployments and said that U.S. nuclear weapons had been withdrawn in 2005 from the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, without any negative implications for Germany's national security or role in NATO. (See ACT, September 2007. )

Supporters of Germany's continued involvement in nuclear sharing argued that nuclear deterrence not only is essential for national security but also gives Berlin "the possibility to influence a decision about the use of nuclear weapons within NATO," as Kossendey argued. But other conservatives indirectly conceded the problems with security of NATO's nuclear weapons. Christian Democratic Union arms control spokesperson Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg warned that politicians should not "ride on a wave of populism or else we will some day be as insecure as the weapons in Büchel."

Meanwhile, some other parliamentarians continue to press for new arms control initiatives on tactical nuclear weapons. For example, in a joint article published on May 7 on the Web site atomwaffenfrei.de, Mützenich; Patrick Vankrunkelsen, a member of the Belgian parliament; and Sergei Kolesnikov, a member of the Russian Duma, called for an end of the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, including western Russia.

NATO's Nuclear Inertia

The increasing pressure on the alliance to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons comes as NATO is conducting an internal review of its nuclear deterrence posture and nuclear deterrence requirements for the twenty-first century. (See ACT, September 2007. ) NATO, however, seems to be thinking about modernization of nuclear forces rather than about reduction.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in June 12 remarks to the press during the NATO defense ministers council, said that "there was talk about modernization of both policies and capabilities" within the alliance. He argued that NATO had already reduced its nuclear forces substantially and maintained that among alliance members "there was no dissent from the fact that we needed a nuclear deterrent in NATO and needed to keep it modern."

In his Arms Control Today interview, Roberts provided further details of options to renew U.S. nuclear forces in Europe. He argued that NATO member states will have to make some difficult choices about modernizing nuclear forces. "There is a recognition by member states and NATO that dual-capable aircraft are aging. The B-61 is a weapon that will need to be upgraded or replaced if NATO wants to maintain a credible and capable nuclear deterrent." (See ACT, July/August 2006. ) Roberts said that the proposed so-called reliable replacement warhead (RRW) is currently the only option to replace aging U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, beyond 2015. "If the RRW program is not going ahead, there will be a need for a life extension program for the B-61."

Launched in 2004, the RRW program aims to produce warheads that will ostensibly be safer, easier to maintain, and more reliable than the estimated 5,400 warheads in the current U.S. stockpile. Congress has eliminated nearly all funding for the program because it wants to review U.S. nuclear policy before deciding whether to proceed with the development of a new type of warhead. (See ACT, January/February 2008. )

But Roberts said that NATO's review of long-term deterrence requirements is unlikely to result in fundamental changes in nuclear weapons policies. He pointed out that so far no NATO member state has questioned the basic requirements of NATO's nuclear posture or nuclear sharing, stating that "[w]e at NATO and NATO member states fully embrace extended deterrence. There is no debate on this question." Roberts said that discussions are likely to produce a report only by June 2009, after an April 2009 summit, when NATO is expected to launch a review of its 1999 Strategic Concept. "The report on nuclear weapons doctrine would nevertheless feed into discussions on a new Strategic Concept which we hope can then be approved at a 2010 summit," he said.

Reports about security problems at U.S. nuclear weapons bases in Europe have led to renewed calls from parliamentarians of European allies for an end to NATO's nuclear weapons-sharing arrangements. But a senior NATO official interviewed by Arms Control Today rejected the reports about security problems, predicted a continuation of NATO's nuclear weapons policies, and called for a modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.

U.S. Signs European Anti-Missile Deals

Wade Boese

The Bush administration has moved closer toward its goal of establishing long-range anti-missile outposts in Europe, completing basing agreements recently with the Czech Republic and Poland over Russian objections and threats. The earliest that site construction could start is late next year if lawmakers in the United States and the two host countries back the effort.

U.S. talks with the Czech Republic and Poland to host a missile tracking radar and 10 long-range ballistic missile interceptors, respectively, stretch back to at least 2004, although official negotiations began early last year. Concerns about Iran's ballistic missile programs drive the effort, say U.S. officials. Russia, however, sees itself as the target and vigorously denounces the project, warning periodically that the sites, if built, will be in Russia's nuclear crosshairs.

Meeting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the day the U.S.-Polish pact was signed, Polish President Lech Kaczynski Aug. 20 expressed optimism that his country's legislators would approve the project. A few weeks earlier, a similar statement likely would have been seen as wishful thinking given that a majority of Poles reportedly opposed the plan, but Polish public opinion shifted after Russian armor and aircraft pounded Georgia beginning Aug. 7.

Although Polish government officials have not drawn a connection, Russia's show of brute force might have been a factor behind Polish and U.S. negotiators reaching a deal on the anti-missile site Aug. 14 after more than 18 months of talks. In an Aug. 17 interview with Fox News, Rice said Russia's actions had stiffened the attitudes of some of its neighbors, citing as one example "Poland, the fact that we are moving forward on missile defense." She also denied any official linkage, stating Aug. 20 "the timing, of course, is simply the timing of when the agreement was completed."

Yet, Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat who is now executive director of the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis, told Arms Control Today Aug. 20 that he saw a "direct correlation" between the U.S.-Polish pact's conclusion and the Russian-Georgian conflict. He contended that the Polish government became more willing to make a deal in order to stay in step with its public's changing mood as Russia pressed its attack.

Prior to the Russian-Georgian fighting, Poland was seeking increased U.S. military assistance and weapons supplies, including shorter-range anti-missile systems, as part of a final agreement. The negotiated deal only commits the United States to establish a consultative mechanism with Poland to discuss its military modernization needs and to deploy to Poland a single Patriot battery, which typically consists of five missile launchers. Patriot interceptors are designed to counter aircraft and short- to medium-range ballistic missiles.

A principal negotiator of the pact, John Rood, the acting U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters in Warsaw Aug. 20 that the deployment of the U.S. Patriot battery was "significant" because it meant that there would be two U.S. sites on Polish territory. Polish officials have been clear that their interest in hosting U.S. missile interceptors has much less to do with protecting against a possible Iranian missile threat than developing a closer relationship with the United States.

The Czech Republic did not make similar demands as Poland in its negotiations with the United States, enabling an accord to be reached much earlier, on April 3. It was formally signed July 8. Unlike the Polish deal, the text of the Czech agreement has been made public.

The Czech agreement grants the United States exclusive control of the base and operation of all missile defense activities, although the Czech Republic is to be informed "promptly" of any "engagements." Washington is to pay the full cost of building, operating, and maintaining the site. The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) estimates that costs for initially getting both the Czech and Polish bases up and running will be as high as $4 billion.

U.S. personnel at the Czech base are not to exceed 250 in number, and the Czech government will maintain an office with a representative and staff there. The agreement requires Prague's approval of all site visits by non-U.S. foreign personnel. Russia had appealed for permanent liaisons at the proposed U.S. anti-missile sites, but the Czech and Polish governments adamantly objected, recalling their past Cold War histories of unwillingly hosting Soviet forces.

The agreement is scheduled to be submitted to the Czech parliament in September, and a Czech diplomatic source told Arms Control Today Aug.19 that a vote could take place the following month. When Polish lawmakers might vote on the U.S.-Polish accord has not been announced. The two basing pacts are legally-binding executive agreements, but both contain withdrawal clauses that can lead to their termination.

Congress has made Czech and Polish parliamentary approval of their respective agreements a condition for funding Pentagon requests to start building the anti-missile sites. Current law also forbids the Pentagon from spending money to acquire or deploy the 10 interceptors designated for Poland until the secretary of defense certifies that the interceptor model can work, following "successful, operationally realistic flight testing." Although some missile defense proponents in Congress are suggesting that the Russian-Georgian conflict justifies relaxing the conditions to accelerate congressional funding for the deployment, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the strategic forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, released an Aug. 20 statement that "Congress will continue to insist...that the secretary of defense certifies the system is operationally effective before any funds can be used for acquisition or deployment."

The MDA plans to conduct the first flight test of the interceptor in 2009 and then two target intercept attempts in 2010. The interceptor will be a modified version of the approximately two dozen U.S. strategic interceptors currently deployed in Alaska and California. Since 1999, versions of those interceptors have scored seven hits in 12 attempts, but the Pentagon's weapons testing office assessed earlier this year that those tests have not been "sufficient to provide a high level of statistical confidence in [the system's] limited capabilities."

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has generally said he would support missile defense efforts if they are effective and not too costly. His Republican counterpart,Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), is a strong advocate of missile defense and called the recent U.S.-Polish agreement "an important step."

The Bush administration has moved closer toward its goal of establishing long-range anti-missile outposts in Europe, completing basing agreements recently with the Czech Republic and Poland over Russian objections and threats. The earliest that site construction could start is late next year if lawmakers in the United States and the two host countries back the effort. (Continue)

Georgian Conflict Clouds Future Arms Pacts

Wade Boese

Russia's August military intervention into and diplomatic recognition of two separatist Georgian regions casts doubt not just on their future political status but also that of a pair of already languishing treaties limiting battlefield weapons in Europe.

The fate of the 1999 Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty for several years has been tied to the presence of hundreds of Russian military "peacekeepers" located in the disputed Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as the separatist region of Transdniestria in Moldova. NATO members have maintained they will not ratify the arms treaty, preventing it from taking effect, until Russia withdraws its forces as it pledged to do when it joined 29 other countries in signing the adapted agreement.

If brought into force, the adapted accord would introduce fresh limits for those countries on their tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters, replacing similar caps that currently apply from the 1990 CFE Treaty. (See ACT, November 1999. ) Russia last December suspended its participation in the original treaty, faulting NATO members' failure to act on the adapted treaty and their unwillingness to adjust some arms limits to Russia's satisfaction. (See ACT, January/February 2008. )

In the aftermath of Russian-Georgian fighting that erupted Aug. 7 and ended with an Aug. 15 ceasefire, it appears that the Russian contingent in the two Georgian enclaves, whose leaders have declared a permanent break from Georgia, will be larger and more heavily armed than before. For example, Russia allegedly is deploying some land-mobile short-range SS-21 ballistic missiles to South Ossetia. Russian forces also seem to be settling into positions in a so-called security zone as well as other checkpoints in Georgia outside the independence-minded regions.

U.S. officials decried Russia's piecemeal and slow military exit. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters Aug. 18 while en route to a NATO meeting that saw the 26-member alliance suspend its consultative forum with Russia, said, "[I]t is our very strong view that it didn't take that long for Russian forces to get in [to Georgia]; it really shouldn't take that long for them to get out."

Several present and past U.S. and foreign government officials interviewed in August by Arms Control Today said the Georgian situation does not bode well for the Adapted CFE Treaty. Jeffrey McCausland, a former director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council, said Aug. 15 that the recent conflict and its aftermath put the accord into a "deep freeze." The other current and ex-officials, many who asked not to be identified, voiced similar or starker assessments.

McCausland argued it will be "difficult" for some time to try and bring the adapted treaty into force because the leaders of NATO in general and the leaders of Georgia and Russia in particular are going to be more reluctant to "make major concessions" or "back down" with no agreed settlement on the contested Georgian territories. The Kremlin's Aug. 26 recognition of the two regions' claimed independence likely will further all sides taking harder lines. Another former senior U.S. official familiar with CFE Treaty matters told Arms Control Today Aug. 14 that it was "unlikely" any countries would soon "go full bore with clever diplomatic solutions" to move ahead on the Adapted CFE Treaty.

During the past several months, NATO had proposed to Russia that some alliance members would begin their national ratification processes of the adapted treaty in parallel with Russian troop withdrawals out of the breakaway regions in Georgia and Moldova, in contrast to conditioning ratification on the completion of the pullouts. (See ACT, May 2008. ) Only Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia have completed ratification of the adapted agreement.

Moscow for many years has pressed NATO capitals to follow suit and bring the revised treaty into force because it imposes more lenient limits on Russia's weaponry deployed in its Caucasus region and contains an accession clause, unlike the original treaty, that enables additional countries to adopt weapons ceilings. Former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are NATO members but are not party to the original CFE Treaty, meaning they have no current arms limits, which Russia says is unacceptable.

The past and current U.S. officials generally agreed that Russia was not thinking about the Adapted CFE Treaty when it ordered its forces into Georgia to respond to what Russia claims were Georgian provocations. Instead, McCausland argued, Moscow's priority was sending a message to Georgia, other Russian neighbors, and NATO about Russia's determination to preserve what it sees as its traditional sphere of influence. Severely criticized by Russia, NATO in April declared its intentions to eventually invite Georgia and Ukraine to become members. (See ACT, May 2008. ) NATO Aug. 19 reaffirmed that goal.

Just as the Adapted CFE Treaty's fate most likely was not at the forefront of Russian concerns when it initiated its military foray, the treaty's future will not be that high on any country's agenda very soon, speculated most of the officials interviewed by Arms Control Today. Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat who headed his country's delegation to CFE Treaty meetings in 1999, noted Aug. 20 that the accord was being relegated further to the sidelines by a conflict that actually underscored the importance of limiting conventional arms holdings.

The former senior U.S. official said that, in the near term, governments will have to think on a strategic level about the new period of relations Europe, Russia, and the United States appear to be entering. The official dismissed the notion that it might be a "return to the Cold War" but also contended that the assumption by many of the past two decades of a "benign European security environment" had to be questioned.

At a tactical level, some government officials of NATO members say the Georgian conflict might lead alliance members to discuss sooner than expected scaling back their implementation of the original CFE Treaty. When Russia started refusing inspections and halting treaty information exchanges and notifications as part of its suspension of the agreement, NATO members said they would continue to fulfill their treaty obligations but warned that they might stop if Russia failed to reverse course. Moscow has yet to revive its participation or give any indication that it plans to do so.

Foreign governments and international monitors are still trying to sort out how many Russian forces took part in the Georgian operation and where they were originally based. If Russia had been implementing the original CFE Treaty at the time, it is unlikely the amount of heavy weapons systems involved would have required treaty notifications on Moscow's behalf because of the presumed temporary nature of the deployments. The adapted treaty, however, includes more rigorous requirements on notifications regarding weapons-levels changes or transit and, if it had been in force, likely would have obligated Russia to share more information on its military movements before and during the Georgian conflict.

Russia's August military intervention into and diplomatic recognition of two separatist Georgian regions casts doubt not just on their future political status...

EU Levies Sanctions on Iran

Peter Crail

The European Union agreed June 23 to impose a new set of sanctions against Iranian individuals and organizations involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The new sanctions go beyond the measures contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1803, adopted in March, applying restrictions to persons and entities not designated by the resolution. Last year, the EU similarly adopted stricter measures than those required by two earlier council resolutions.

Resolution 1803 required all states to undertake efforts to prevent Iran from financing or procuring technology for its nuclear and missile programs. (See ACT, April 2008. )

Chief among the new sanctions was an assets freeze on Iran’s largest bank, Bank Melli, which will be required to close its offices in Hamburg, London, and Paris. Under the EU legislation, the 27-country group sanctioned Bank Melli for “providing or attempting to provide” support for firms associated with Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. Resolution 1803 called on but did not require states to “exercise vigilance” regarding their business with Iranian banks, in particular Bank Melli and Bank Saderat.

The EU has not taken similar steps against Bank Saderat, Iran’s second largest bank. A British diplomat explained to Arms Control Today June 27 that Resolution 1803 listed Bank Saderat for its financial connections to terrorist organizations, but the EU action was aimed only at entities engaged in proliferation, which include Bank Melli. The United States imposed financial restrictions on both banks in October 2007. (See ACT, November 2007. )

In addition to Bank Melli, the EU placed similar restrictions on 12 other entities, nearly all of which are Iranian defense firms. The EU also placed assets freezes and travel bans on 14 senior Iranian officials holding leadership positions in key military organizations and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which oversees Iran’s nuclear program.

A German diplomat told Arms Control Today June 19 that the EU had been waiting on the delivery of a revised proposal for negotiations by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany before adopting new sanctions (see page 37). The six countries have characterized the incentives offer and the UN sanctions as a “dual-track strategy” in which sanctions place pressure on Iran to comply with international demands while benefits are offered as part of a comprehensive package to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The diplomat further noted that, given the poor prospect of winning new support from China and Russia for additional UN sanctions on Iran in the near future, Western states will focus on ensuring the effective implementation of the three resolutions already adopted by the council, citing the lack of capacity of many states to control the export of the types of technologies listed under the sanctions.

The EU sanctions follow a visit to several European countries by President George W. Bush during which the trans-Atlantic strategy on Iran was a major topic for discussion. Following a June 10 U.S.-EU summit, the participants issued a declaration agreeing “to take steps to ensure Iranian banks cannot abuse the international banking system to support proliferation and terrorism.”

Iran has been wary of the increasing Western pressure on its financial institutions. According to the Iranian weekly Shahrvand-e Emrooz June 16, Tehran has moved about $75 billion worth of financial assets out of European banks in an effort to mitigate the economic impact of strengthened financial sanctions by the West.

Iranian officials appeared to have confirmed this financial shift recently. Mohsen Talaei, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, told reporters June 11 that Iran’s foreign exchange assets were in a “secure position now, ” adding that “part of Iran’s assets in European banks have been converted to gold and shares and another part has been transferred to Asian banks.”

 

The European Union agreed June 23 to impose a new set of sanctions against Iranian individuals and organizations involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The new sanctions go beyond the measures contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1803, adopted in March, applying restrictions to persons and entities not designated by the resolution. Last year, the EU similarly adopted stricter measures than those required by two earlier council resolutions. (Continue)

Rethink European Missile Defense

Daryl G. Kimball

Within weeks of entering office, the next U.S. president will be confronted with dozens of pivotal choices. One of the most important will be whether to install untested missile defenses in eastern Europe to deal with an Iranian missile threat that does not exist.

The decision should be easy. Deployment should be deferred until the system is proven effective in realistic tests, allies are on board, and a new agreement with Russia delineates the size and capability of strategic missile defenses.

Yet, after years of partisan posturing on missiles and missile defense, few decisions on the subject have been rational or easy. For more than a decade, proponents of missile defense have hyped the threat of long-range missiles from the likes of Iran and North Korea and pushed for anti-missile systems that are not ready for prime time.

For instance, in 1998 an influential commission chaired by Donald Rumsfeld dismissed earlier intelligence findings and warned that any nation with a well-developed, Scud-based missile infrastructure would be able to flight-test a long-range missile within five years. A decade later, neither Iran nor North Korea have successfully flight-tested intermediate-range or long-range missiles.

Rumsfeld’s report spurred missile defense acolytes to argue that testing and development of strategic missile defenses should no longer be constrained by the U.S.-Russian Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Over Russian objections, Bush withdrew from the treaty in 2002. Since then, the administration has poured roughly $8 billion a year into the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, conducted limited testing, and rushed a handful of ground-based strategic interceptors into Alaska and California ahead of the 2004 election.

In 2007 the administration announced plans for a new ground-based, long-range anti-missile system in Europe. It wants 10 interceptors in Poland and a new radar in the Czech Republic by around 2011. In response to sharp objections from Moscow, Bush has said the deployment is not intended to counter Russia and would be limited. Leaders in Moscow remain unconvinced, and Congress has withheld full funding until the interceptors can be proven to be effective and the host countries approve basing agreements.

Like Bush, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain enthusiastically supports missile defense as a way to guard against rogue-state “blackmail.” He has gone even further and asserted that missile defenses also serve “to hedge against potential threats from strategic competitors like Russia and China.” The presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, has voiced doubts about the effectiveness of strategic anti-missile systems and called for a greater emphasis on more capable short- and medium-range interceptors. Neither has addressed the European missile defense issue directly.

No matter who enters the White House, a course correction on the European component of missile defense policy is in order. If it is not already clear, the next president will soon realize that the case presented for the system simply does not stand up.

Although intelligence assessments suggest that Iran’s nuclear program requires urgent diplomatic action, it is not predicted to have a long-range missile capability until 2015 or later. Even if Iran were to acquire and threaten the United States or its allies with nuclear-armed missiles, such aggression could be deterred by other means.

The new president also will learn that strategic missile defenses cannot be relied on to protect in a real-world crisis. The new, two-stage interceptor for the European site has not yet been built, let alone tested. An October report from the Pentagon’s Office of Operational Test and Evaluation recommends at least three flights tests, a process that could not even begin until 2009 and would take several years to complete.

Meanwhile, the Polish government is demanding that the United States pay for costly upgrades to Polish air- and short-range missile defenses to counter Russian targeting of the proposed anti-missile site. Although other NATO allies have agreed to discuss the U.S. missile defense proposal, many are skeptical and have not endorsed it.

An open-ended deployment made over Moscow’s objections would also seriously impede work with Russia on a range of other vitally important issues, including strategic arms reductions, the prevention of nuclear terrorism, and curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Instead of choosing this path, the next administration should take the time needed to reach a new agreement with Russia for missile defense cooperation and avoid renewed strategic conflict. The key will be to agree to firm limits on the number of strategic missile interceptors that might be deployed in eastern Europe and elsewhere, as well as to complete a long-delayed joint early-warning center to build confidence and avoid miscalculation.

After decades of spending, ambitious timetables, and overstated threat warnings, it is past time to restore reason to missile defense policy by deferring deployment of a new anti-missile site on Russia’s border that is unnecessary and imprudent.

Within weeks of entering office, the next U.S. president will be confronted with dozens of pivotal choices. One of the most important will be whether to install untested missile defenses in eastern Europe to deal with an Iranian missile threat that does not exist.

The decision should be easy. Deployment should be deferred until the system is proven effective in realistic tests, allies are on board, and a new agreement with Russia delineates the size and capability of strategic missile defenses. (Continue)

Russia Unflinching on CFE Treaty Suspension

Wade Boese

Russia is denying foreign arms inspections as part of its decision last year to stop abiding by a treaty limiting conventional weapons in Europe. Claiming the current situation "cannot last indefinitely," the United States and its NATO allies are seeking to induce Russia to reverse its suspension with a proposal to resolve long-standing disputes related to the treaty.

Accusing Western countries of acting in bad faith under the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, Moscow Dec. 12 announced that it would freeze implementation of the pact. (See ACT, January/February 2008 .) The treaty, which limits the tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, attack helicopters, and combat aircraft that its 30 states-parties may station between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains, has no suspension provision.

Russia contends that because the treaty has a withdrawal option, a state-party may take actions short of that step. NATO members disagree, and there is some discussion, particularly within the U.S. government, on whether to declare Russia in noncompliance.

Meanwhile, some NATO members recently have "tested" the Russian suspension by requesting treaty inspections in Russia. Moscow has refused all of them, according to officials of NATO governments who spoke in April with Arms Control Today. One official noted that no other states, including close Russian ally Belarus, have followed the Kremlin's lead.

NATO warned in a March 28 statement that Moscow's suspension "risks eroding the integrity of the CFE regime." Still, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the secretary-general of the 26-member alliance, said April 4 that he is "not in [a] panic." He indicated his attitude would remain calm as long as both NATO and Russia continue to support a revised version of the CFE Treaty, which was negotiated in 1999 but has yet to enter into force.

The Adapted CFE Treaty sets national weapons limits for each country instead of imposing equal bloc limits on NATO and the defunct Warsaw Pact like the original treaty. Although outdated, the Cold War-era agreement remains in force until all of its states-parties ratify the newer instrument. Only Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia have completed that action, while Ukraine has finished all the necessary steps except depositing its instrument of ratification.

Russia is upset that the 22 NATO members bound by the 1990 agreement have not moved to ratify the 1999 version. NATO had maintained that Russia must first fulfill commitments to withdraw its military forces from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Russia made those political commitments at the Istanbul summit at which the Adapted CFE Treaty was concluded and signed. (See ACT, November 1999 .) 

Russia adamantly refutes the linkage. After an April 4 NATO-Russia Council meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin argued "there is no legal link" between the Adapted CFE Treaty and the so-called Istanbul withdrawal commitments. He described the "crisis surrounding the CFE Treaty" as one of the "serious obstacles" to better NATO-Russian relations.

The alliance has offered Russia a "parallel actions package" to end the stalemate. The proposal calls on NATO countries to begin their national ratification processes, some of which could take several months or longer, while Russia resumes its military withdrawals from Georgia and Moldova. Once Russia completes its withdrawals or reaches some other settlement acceptable to Georgia and Moldova, all NATO members would strive to complete ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty.

After the accord takes effect, NATO pledges it will seek to address other long-standing Russian concerns. For instance, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia-the four current NATO members not bound by the original CFE Treaty-have indicated they will join the adapted agreement and take on arms limits. The older accord does not have an accession option.

NATO members also vowed in the March 28 statement to consider future changes to their weapons ceilings "where possible." Russia complains that NATO's collective arms holdings are growing as the alliance expands. Since the original treaty's negotiation, NATO has added 10 members and recently offered membership to Albania and Croatia, committed to add Macedonia, and announced the intention to invite Georgia and Ukraine.

NATO further indicated that it would hear out Russian arguments on the "flank zone" limits, which restrict the amount of weapons Russia can deploy in its northern region near Norway and the Caucasus region in the south. Russia wants those limits abolished but supports keeping the zone limits on other states, such as Norway, Turkey, and Georgia. NATO, which has previously agreed to relax Russia's flank zone limits, opposes Moscow's current demands.

Progress on the NATO plan is complicated by the fact that the remaining Russian forces in Georgia and Moldova are in separatist regions. Russia argues that its troops, approximately 200 in Georgia and 1,200 in Moldova, are needed to help prevent renewed conflict. NATO maintains that foreign forces must have the consent of the government where they are located, which is not the case in Georgia and Moldova.

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NATO Summit Results Fall Short of Bush Goals

Wade Boese

President George W. Bush's top goals heading into his final NATO summit included winning support for U.S. policies to deploy strategic anti-missile systems in Europe and extend NATO membership to former Soviet allies and republics. The administration claimed success afterward even though the alliance agreed to less than Bush sought.

A priority for the Bush administration since early last year has been getting backing for its initiative to base 10 long-range ballistic missile interceptors in Poland and a missile-tracking radar in the Czech Republic to counter what Washington says is a growing Iranian missile threat. On April 3, the administration took one step toward its goal by concluding negotiations with the Czech Republic to host the radar. In a joint statement, the two governments said the agreement would be signed "in the near future." The agreement would then need to be approved by the Czech parliament, and U.S. lawmakers would need to fund the project for the radar to be built. U.S. negotiations with Poland remain unfinished. (See ACT, April 2008 .)

The administration's anti-missile project also got a boost at the April 2-4 NATO summit in Bucharest. In a final summit declaration, the leaders of NATO's 26 members stated they "recognise the substantial contribution" that the current U.S. proposal could make in protecting against long-range missiles. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates April 4 called the statement "significant," and many media stories blared that NATO supported missile defenses.

Certainly, the fact that European countries subscribed to a positive statement about the U.S. project was a boon for the Bush administration. Some NATO countries, such as France and Norway, have voiced various reservations with missile defenses. Moreover, Russia has been extremely hostile to the U.S. deployment proposal, and there is strong domestic opposition in the two countries where the systems are to be based.

Still, some officials of NATO governments told Arms Control Today in April interviews that the statement was not quite the victory that was portrayed. The Bush administration reportedly sought stronger language, such as "welcomes" or "supports," but settled for "recognise."

In addition, the officials noted that the alliance did not commit itself to developing any missile defenses. Instead, NATO agreed to "develop options" for systems to protect areas, particularly southern Europe, outside the notional coverage of the proposed U.S. system. Those options, NATO stated, would be reviewed in 2009, but the alliance did not say a decision to pursue any option would be made.

NATO is currently developing the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD), which is a command and control system intended to allow NATO members in an emergency to link up their separate sensors and missile interceptors against short- to intermediate-range missiles. Currently, nine NATO countries have or are developing various systems that could be linked by the ALTBMD system, which is supposed to be made initially operational in 2010.

Apart from the ALTBMD system, NATO has not been eager to work on missile defenses. In 2006, NATO leaders decided against initiating work on defenses to protect alliance members' territories and population centers against the full range of missile threats despite a 10,000-page study that found such defenses feasible. Some NATO members have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of such systems, their cost, and their potential for damaging relations with Russia.

In the Bucharest declaration, NATO members indicated they wanted to avoid a rupture with Russia over the U.S. missile defense project. The alliance stated it was "committed to maximum transparency and reciprocal confidence building measures to allay any concerns." It further encouraged Russia to respond positively to a package of recent U.S. proposals to ease Russia's worries that it is the true target of the initiative. Still, Gates noted April 1, "the Russians are probably...never going to like missile defense."

Similarly, Russia has consistently and vehemently protested NATO's drive to add new members. That effort was contentious even among NATO members at the Bucharest summit. The United States pushed for inviting Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia to join the alliance and offering Membership Action Plans to Georgia and Ukraine. Those plans pave the way for a country to be formally asked to become a member. Greece, however, objected to extending membership to Macedonia because it claims that country's name reflects territorial ambitions for a Greek province of the same name. Furthermore, many countries, led by Germany, opposed giving Georgia and Ukraine membership plans in order to avoid antagonizing Russia.

In the end, the alliance compromised. It officially invited Albania and Croatia to become members, declared Macedonia would be invited to join as soon as it resolved the name dispute with Greece, and agreed that some day Georgia and Ukraine "will become members." The alliance said a decision to extend membership plans to the two former Soviet republics could be made as early as this December. Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted to the news April 4 by warning that Russia would view "the appearance of a powerful military bloc on our borders...as a direct threat to the security of our country."

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President George W. Bush's top goals heading into his final NATO summit included winning support for U.S. policies to deploy strategic anti-missile systems in Europe and extend NATO membership to former Soviet allies and republics. The administration claimed success afterward even though the alliance agreed to less than Bush sought. (Continue)

Bush, Putin Leave Arms Disputes Unsettled

Wade Boese

Meeting for their final time as presidents, George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin extolled their efforts to move the United States and Russia beyond their Cold War confrontation. Yet, the two leaders left unresolved arms disputes rooted in that competition that have been a constant source of friction for their two administrations.

Organized on short notice, the summit took place April 5-6 in Sochi, Russia, on Putin's initiative. He had called for the meeting following a March meeting in Moscow of the two countries' top defense and foreign policy officials. (See ACT, April 2008 .) Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser, announced the trip March 26 and said its purpose was to "consolidate areas where we're cooperating together, maybe resolve some outstanding issues such as missile defense, and provide a platform for the relationship of the two countries going forward."

Agreements on the contentious issues of missile defenses, nuclear weapons, and conventional arms deployments in Europe, however, eluded the two presidents. Putin told reporters after the meeting that the "strategic framework" document the two leaders approved "does not provide any breakthrough solutions on a number of issues." In particular, he noted, "one of the most difficult issues was, and remains, the issue of missile defense in Europe."

Russia has blasted Bush administration plans to station 10 long-range ballistic missile interceptors in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic. Fearing that its nuclear forces are the true target, Moscow has dismissed U.S. assurances that the systems are to offset growing Iranian missile capabilities and warned that the proposed systems would be targeted by the Russian military. In Sochi, Putin reiterated that "our fundamental attitude to the American plans [has] not changed."

Still, Putin sounded a positive note about recent Bush administration proposals intended to ease Russian concerns about the anti-missile plan. He described the U.S. ideas as sincere and himself as having "certain cautious optimism," but he also trotted out the standard caveat that "the devil is in the details."

The specific U.S. proposals are secret, but their general nature is known. Among other measures, the United States has pledged to limit the systems it deploys to Europe and not activate them unless Iran demonstrates the capability to send a missile deep into Europe or against the United States. There also have been discussions of enabling Russia to keep tabs on the systems through sensors and Russian personnel at the U.S. deployment sites.

The latter proposal is an example of details potentially bedeviling a deal. Putin expressed interest in having Russian personnel at the proposed sites on a "permanent basis." But the Czech and Polish governments have indicated such an arrangement would be intolerable to the former Soviet satellites. The United States, meanwhile, has reportedly suggested that the Russian personnel could be liaison officers at the Russian embassies in the two countries and given access to the sites. How much access would be provided and under what conditions is unclear.

Bush and his advisers portrayed the meeting as a triumph on the missile defense issue, pointing to Russia's agreement to include a statement in the strategic framework document that if the U.S. proposals were "agreed and implemented," they would be "important and useful in assuaging Russian concerns." Bush described the outcome as a "significant breakthrough."

Pressed by reporters aboard the president's plane during the return trip to the United States, Hadley acknowledged that many details still must be worked out to soothe Russian concerns. He conceded, "[T]here's huge ifs here." Russian government experts have reportedly prepared dozens of questions for the Bush administration about its proposals.

In the strategic framework document, Bush and Putin also endorsed exploring a broader anti-missile architecture that would involve Europe, Russia, and the United States as "equal partners." Putin, who said that effort should be given priority over other anti-missile projects, stressed that "equal democratic access to managing the system" would be essential.

How that would be made to work and how seriously both governments intend to pursue that option is uncertain. Proposals for Moscow and Washington to work together on missile defenses have been floated intermittently over the past decades but have yielded few results. The two countries, however, are planning to conduct a "high-level dialogue" to assess ballistic and cruise missile threats that fall below the long-range threshold and "inventory options for dealing with them."

The strategic framework also reiterates the two governments' standard pledge to enact nuclear weapons reductions "to the lowest possible level consistent with our national security requirements and alliance commitments." Yet, the two presidents failed to agree on a way ahead. Putin observed that "we do have certain differences still in our basic approaches."

Russia wants a new treaty that limits both strategic warheads and delivery vehicles, while the Bush administration prefers an agreement focused on codifying some verification measures to last beyond the scheduled 2009 expiration of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which has an extensive verification regime. Moscow also favors a future treaty that would rely on the START warhead accounting rules rather than the method introduced by the Bush administration in the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which limits "operationally deployed strategic" warheads. Washington and Moscow have not reached a common understanding on what warheads are counted under that phrase.

Putin further noted that Russia and the United States remain at odds over the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which Russia suspended implementation of last December. Putin, however, expressed some satisfaction that the United States was "listening" to Russian concerns and trying to respond to them with a package of proposals.

The presidents did not fulfill some expectations that they might finally sign an agreement for nuclear trade and cooperation between their countries that was first initialed in June 2007. Instead, the strategic framework vaguely states the two sides will sign the agreement in the "near future."

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Meeting for their final time as presidents, George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin extolled their efforts to move the United States and Russia beyond their Cold War confrontation. Yet, the two leaders left unresolved arms disputes rooted in that competition that have been a constant source of friction for their two administrations. (Continue)

U.S. Edges Closer to Europe Anti-Missile Deals

Wade Boese

The Bush administration is making progress in negotiating with the Czech Republic and Poland to host controversial U.S. strategic anti-ballistic missile systems. A final deal, however, seems much closer with the Czech Republic than Poland, which is making greater demands on the United States.

U.S. talks with the two governments to station missile defense components on their territories date back at least four years (see ACT, July/August 2004), but official negotiations began early last year. At that time, Bush administration officials predicted the talks might only take months and U.S. site construction could start as early as this year. Now, early next year is the soonest construction may start, pending agreements with the two countries and funding from Congress. In its February budget request for fiscal year 2009, which begins Oct. 1, the Bush administration asked lawmakers for $719 million to fund the project after Congress cut spending last year that would have gone toward construction activities. (See ACT, March 2008 .)

The U.S. proposal aims to deploy 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland and an advanced missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic to counter what the United States asserts is a growing Iranian missile threat. The Missile Defense Agency has projected that Iran could develop an ICBM able to strike the United States by 2015, while Vice President Dick Cheney March 11 gave a longer estimate of “late in the next decade.”

Polish officials have indicated that Iran is not a significant factor in their willingness to explore hosting the U.S. interceptors, which are a modified and untested version of U.S. systems deployed in Alaska and California. Speaking Jan. 31 in Washington, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said that his country “does not feel directly threatened by Iran.”

One motivation behind Poland’s interest in the project is the belief that it will bolster ties with the United States. Sikorski argued that hosting the U.S. base “will make [U.S. and Polish] security mutually dependent for decades.”

Poland also sees the initiative as opening the door to additional U.S. weapons and military assistance. Visiting President George W. Bush March 10, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk noted that the “missile defense system and the modernization of the Polish forces…come in one package.” Bush promised Tusk that the United States would develop a “concrete and tangible” modernization plan for Poland “before my watch is over.”

Determining precisely what U.S. arms will be made available to Poland is a crucial issue in the U.S.-Polish negotiations. Michael Wyganowski, a former Polish diplomat and current executive director of the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis, told Arms Control Today March 20 that “what goodies the [United States] is willing to provide” will be important to Tusk’s ability to sell any outcome as a success to the Polish electorate.

Ambassador Stephen Mull, acting assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, is leading a U.S. assessment of Polish military modernization requirements. The study reportedly will take at least three months. Visiting Poland Feb. 29, Mull said the two sides will focus on “Poland’s air defense, command and control, and mobility needs.” The costs of any new Polish weapons procurement is expected to fall largely on Poland.

Moscow’s threat to target the planned bases is helping spur Warsaw’s interest in improving its air defenses, including the possible acquisition of shorter-range U.S. anti-missile systems. Russia maintains the proposed U.S. systems are secretly intended for use against it.

Poland has urged the Bush administration to sooth Russian anxieties about the project, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Moscow March 17 and 18 with that purpose (see page 33 ). They reiterated past U.S. proposals intended to ease Russian concerns, which include allowing Russian officials to monitor or visit the sites. One reported option is to permit designated officials at the Russian embassies in the two host countries to conduct short-notice inspections of the bases. Gates and Rice stressed that the host government would have to consent to any such arrangement, reflecting Czech and Polish unease with the notion of a Russian presence at military sites within their borders.

Although a Polish-U.S. agreement could take several months to materialize, talks with the Czech Republic seemingly are nearer completion. Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon’s press secretary, noted March 10 that it generally had been expected that an agreement would be announced Feb. 27 when Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek visited Washington.

During that visit, however, Topolánek said the two sides were stuck on “three words” related to “environmental protection.” Yet, he downplayed the disagreement as a “technical matter, which is going to be resolved very soon.” A Czech diplomatic source March 18 told Arms Control Today that a “common understanding” exists and all that is required is a “specific formulation.”

The diplomatic source further stated that Prague and Washington are close on both an agreement to host the U.S. base and a separate Status of Forces Agreement, which establishes the legal status of U.S. forces and property stationed in a foreign country. Poland also is negotiating two similar instruments with the United States. The diplomatic source indicated that the Czech Republic “will most probably not” link signing its agreements to the status of U.S.-Polish talks.

Both the Czech and Polish governments would prefer to have NATO’s endorsement of the project, but neither country is making that a precondition of concluding agreements with the United States. The 26-member alliance conducted an extensive study assessing the feasibility of protecting all members’ territories and population centers against long-range missile attacks but could not agree in 2006 on pursuing any strategic anti-missile systems. (See ACT, April 2007 .) NATO members are divided over the general issue, as well as the proposed U.S. system, and it is expected to be a point of discussion at NATO’s April 2-4 Bucharest summit.

In a report on the fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill, signed into law Jan. 28, lawmakers stressed that NATO should play a “central role” in European missile defenses and urged that any long-range U.S. system located there should be compatible with future NATO systems. That law requires the secretary of defense to certify that any long-range interceptors destined for deployment in Europe have passed operationally realistic flight testing. It also orders an independent study of alternatives to the Bush plan. The report is due to Congress near the end of July.

The Bush administration is making progress in negotiating with the Czech Republic and Poland to host controversial U.S. strategic anti-ballistic missile systems. A final deal, however, seems much closer with the Czech Republic than Poland, which is making greater demands on the United States. (Continue)

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