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"[Arms Control Today is] Absolutely essential reading for the upcoming Congressional budget debate on the 2018 NPR and its specific recommendations ... well-informed, insightful, balanced, and filled with common sense."

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former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
EU / NATO

Russia Finishes Destroying Tanks

 

Fulfilling a commitment made a dozen years ago, Russia announced June 7 that it had completed the destruction of thousands of tanks moved east of the Ural Mountains in 1989 and 1990. The United States and its NATO allies confirmed and welcomed the Russian announcement.

In June 1991, Moscow pledged to destroy or convert to civilian equipment 6,000 tanks, 1,500 armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and 7,000 heavy artillery pieces to ease Western criticism over its repositioning of some 57,000 of these weapons east of the Urals. If Moscow had not moved the weapons, it would have had to destroy most of them under the terms of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty then being negotiated with NATO. Although Russia’s relocation of the weapons did not violate any of its international commitments, NATO saw it as contrary to the spirit of the CFE talks.

The CFE Treaty aimed to balance the conventional armed forces of NATO and those of the Soviet Union and its allies in Europe. The treaty’s weapons limits applied only to arms in Europe, which was defined as ending at the Urals. Any weapons east of the Urals would not have been counted against the Soviet Union’s limits.

Originally, the Kremlin was supposed to finish its reduction activities before the end of 1995, but it failed to do so. Russia then agreed in 1996 to complete the task by 2000.

Yet, NATO and Russia recognized that completing the tank obligation by the 2000 deadline might not be possible. As a stopgap measure, the two sides agreed that Russia could temporarily meet its reduction goals by substituting up to 2,300 ACVs in lieu of tanks. This agreement, however, did not obviate Russia’s original requirement to make militarily unusable 6,000 total tanks but simply gave Moscow more time to do it—a task it finally accomplished this month.

 

NATO-Russia TMD Cooperation In New Phase

The 19-member NATO alliance and Russia will begin trading technical information on their various systems to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles to see if the defenses could possibly work together or operate side by side in battle. NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson announced the new cooperation at a May 13 meeting in Moscow.

This new “interoperability” study is expected to take months, not years, and will cost approximately one to two million dollars, according to a NATO spokesperson. The objective is not for NATO and Russia to build a joint system, but to assess how their separate systems might function together.

A NATO-Russia Council ad hoc working group on theater missile defenses (TMD) will conduct the study. TMD systems do not include defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. Created in June 2002, the group recently completed a compendium of approximately 250 common terms for air and missile defenses in English, French, and Russian.

Lord Robertson expressed optimism about the new study, predicting that it would be “enormously productive in the future.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin first proposed the creation of a European TMD system in mid-2000. Russia later presented a vague proposal on the subject to NATO in February 2001. Some commentators interpreted Moscow’s efforts as an attempt to undercut the U.S. push to win acceptance of its strategic missile defense plans.

Senate Approves NATO Expansion For Seven New Members

Wade Boese

What a difference five years makes. The last time the U.S. Senate weighed extending NATO membership to new countries in 1998, senators debated for four days about how Russia might respond and how much adding new members might cost. But no such concerns marked the debate preceding the Senate’s unanimous May 8 vote endorsing alliance membership for seven additional countries.

With the foreign ministers of the seven candidate countries looking on from the Senate balcony, senators by a 96-0 vote approved the expansion of the 19-member alliance to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In 1998 the Senate backed the memberships of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland by an 80-19 vote.

This latest expansion moved the alliance even further east toward Russia and, for the first time, included countries that were part of the former Soviet Union—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Yet, Moscow barely batted an eyelash, unlike the previous round when it protested vehemently. The Kremlin’s subdued response to the growth of its Cold War-era foe reflects in part its warming relations with the West and the May 2002 creation of the NATO-Russia Council, which cemented a closer, more formal NATO-Russia relationship.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also soothed Russian concerns by pledging to accede to an updated version of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty once it enters into force. Moscow had repeatedly stated over the last few years that the three countries should not be admitted to NATO without being parties to the CFE Treaty, which limits the amount and location of heavy weaponry, such as tanks, that its states-parties can deploy.

Russia’s mollified stance was reflected in the Senate debate. In 1998, several senators warned that NATO’s expansion would end rapprochement between Russia and the West and lead Moscow to increase its reliance on nuclear forces. This time, no senator voiced such worries. In fact, Russia was barely mentioned.

Instead, senators indicated that they are more concerned about problems posed to NATO from within rather than from outside. Several senators, led by Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Warner (R-VA), expressed concern that as the alliance grows it will become harder for the alliance to act because it makes decisions by consensus. Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) made the strongest statement, declaring, “I am concerned that the alliance has expanded to the point of becoming inefficient and unwieldy.”

Reflecting these concerns, the Senate passed a nonbinding amendment calling on the president to initiate a discussion at NATO on the consensus decision-making rule.

Underlying this Senate initiative, in part, was lingering resentment over the failure of some NATO members to stand firmly with the United States in confronting Iraq over its disarmament. Belgium, France, and Germany strongly opposed U.S.-led military action against Iraq, and Turkey did not grant the United States the use of Turkish territory for launching a northern invasion.

The amendment also called for the president to raise the “merits” of creating a process for suspending a country’s alliance membership if it “no longer complies with NATO principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” The process would potentially be applied to a country that became a dictatorship.

The amendment does not specify a U.S. position on either the consensus rule or the suspension issue but only suggests they be brought up for discussion.

Some senators acknowledged that the seven aspiring countries will not contribute much military manpower or might to the alliance, but they expressed confidence that the countries would be able to fill capability niches, such as detecting weapons of mass destruction and demining. They also said they hope the new members will reinvigorate the spirit of the alliance as a club of free-market democracies.

All NATO’s existing members must approve the seven countries’ bids to join the alliance. The United States was the third country to do so, following Canada and Norway. All NATO members agreed last November to extend invitations to the seven countries to join, and they are all expected to approve the seven states’ accession.

The Senate also declared that NATO’s door remains open and that these seven “will not be the last.” Albania, Croatia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have applied for NATO membership.

 

What a difference five years makes. The last time the U.S. Senate weighed extending NATO membership to new countries in 1998, senators debated for four days about how Russia...

Albania Has Chemical Arms; CWC Review Conference Meets

Kerry Boyd

While the United States invaded Iraq and sent its troops around that country on a so-far fruitless search for chemical and biological weapons, a European state quietly announced that it has chemical weapons. During a meeting of states belonging to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in mid-March, Albania stated that it possesses chemical weapons. A month later, 110 of the 151 CWC member states gathered to review the treaty, which bans all chemical weapons and requires their destruction, and agreed on several steps to enhance the treaty’s implementation.

Albania will soon start destroying its stockpile, according to Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director-General Rogelio Pfirter. Further information on the size and content of the country’s chemical stockpile is not yet publicly available, according to the OPCW.

A month after Albania’s declaration, CWC member states met in The Hague from April 28 to May 9 for the treaty’s first review conference since the treaty entered into force in 1997. At the end of the conference, states agreed both to a final declaration and a political declaration; the ability of states to agree to such declarations is often considered a sign of success for a conference.

The declarations released at the end of the conference reaffirm the states’ commitment to the convention’s goals and the importance of expanding the treaty’s membership to include countries that might have chemical weapons and are not party to the CWC. Thus, the conference accomplished two of the main tasks suggested in advance by Pfirter and several leading countries, such as the United States.

The final documents also emphasize the importance of improving the efficiency of the inspection regime mandated by the CWC. One of the United States’ primary goals at the conference was making inspections more cost effective. The OPCW expects the number of sites used to destroy chemical weapons to increase dramatically starting this year as the United States and Russia plan to open more demilitarization sites, and the organization has decided it must find ways to make inspections more efficient in order to fulfill its inspection responsibilities.

Delegates also agreed that national implementation of the treaty’s provisions is key to the convention’s effectiveness. Each state-party is required to adopt certain measures, such as enacting penal legislation, to implement the treaty on its own territory. States are supposed to inform the OPCW of such measures, but many have failed to do so. According to British delegate Denis MacShane, only one-quarter of member states have “implemented the necessary legislation covering all the key areas for enforcement” of CWC provisions.

The U.S. and British delegates urged states to implement national provisions required by the treaty, particularly penal legislation, arguing that such legislation is key to preventing terrorism involving chemical agents. MacShane spoke of suspected terrorist activity in the United Kingdom last winter that involved the development of the toxin ricin and the role British penal law played in helping to apprehend and prosecute the alleged terrorists.

The final declaration calls on member states that are lagging behind to submit information on national implementation measures by the next regular session of the Conference of the States-Parties, a decision-making body comprised of all CWC member states.

The states also agreed on the importance of assistance to help states protect themselves from chemical attack and emphasized the need for increased international cooperation in chemical science and technology—issues of particular importance to non-Western states.

Outstanding Issues

The final documents, however, do not address several concerns that states and nongovernmental organizations had going into the conference. At an open forum where nongovernmental experts spoke, concerns were raised about the increasing interest of certain states in so-called nonlethal chemical weapons, ranging from riot control agents to chemical incapacitants designed to render targets unconscious. A note from Pfirter to the review conference, released April 17, said states might want to discuss concerns related to nonlethal weapons. “These issues need to be carefully analysed so as to prevent any potential harm to the Convention,” the note says. At least two states-parties raised the issue of nonlethal weapons in their speeches at the conference, but neither the final declaration nor the political statement refers to the issue directly.

Another issue is Russia’s request for an extension on the 2007 deadline for destroying its entire chemical weapons stockpile—the largest in the world. On April 26, Russia finished destroying 1 percent of its stockpile, after receiving an extension on the original April 2000 deadline. (See ACT, June 2003.) Russia has said it will miss the April 2007 deadline for total destruction of Category 1 stockpiles—the most dangerous weapons. The treaty allows states to request an extension until 2012. The final declaration did not directly address Russia’s difficulty meeting deadlines, but it reaffirmed that possessor states are responsible for destroying their chemical weapons. It also, however, called on states with the ability to provide assistance to do so.

The United States is also not expected to meet the 2007 deadline, although, so far, it has met its interim deadlines and it has not yet requested an extension. “Since entry into force, we have met every treaty milestone, and to date have destroyed over 22 percent of our stockpile,” said Stephen Rademaker, U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control. He also noted that destroying the entire U.S. chemical weapons arsenal is expected to cost a total of $24 billion.

Confronting Problem States

Rademaker’s statement to the conference reflected the Bush administration’s approach to weapons of mass destruction: drawing attention to a few problem states and showing little interest in using inspection provisions. He listed Syria, Libya, and North Korea as states outside the treaty that are developing chemical weapons. “One step we must collectively take is to provide powerful incentives—both positive and negative—to those states remaining outside the Chemical Weapons Convention to join,” Rademaker said.

Continuing a Bush administration trend of breaking the diplomatic taboo against “naming names,” Rademaker also accused Iran, a CWC state-party, of stockpiling “blister, blood, and choking agents” and possibly making nerve agents. In response, the Iranian delegate called Rademaker’s statements “baseless allegations” and noted that, although Iran acquired some chemical weapons capability at the end of its war with Iraq in the 1980s, it has dismantled its production facilities under OPCW supervision. He reiterated Iran’s full support for the convention, highlighting Iran’s own tragic experience with Iraqi chemical attacks.

Rademaker also said the United States is working with Sudan to address U.S. concerns that the country has attempted to obtain the capability to produce chemical weapons.

He did not name any other states-parties but said more than a “dozen countries currently possess or are actively pursuing chemical weapons. While some…are not Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, others have representatives here in this room.”

Rademaker urged the organization to be bold in confronting states that are violating the convention and added that the United States has “made extensive use” of CWC provisions that allow countries to discuss concerns bilaterally. The United States, however, has not used the provisions allowed under the treaty to call for a challenge inspection of Iran or any other country it suspects of developing chemical weapons.

U.S. Upgrades Presence at OPCW

Rademaker also announced that the United States has appointed Ambassador Eric Javits as the U.S. representative to the OPCW, upgrading U.S. representation to permanent resident status. Javits was previously the representative to the Conference on Disarmament, and his reassignment is both a sign of U.S. annoyance at the impasse in that conference and an expression of U.S. support for the OPCW’s new director-general. The United States had led a campaign to oust the organization’s first leader, José Bustani, and successfully won a vote that removed him in April 2002. Pfirter became the new director-general in July 2002. (See ACT, September 2002.)

 

While the United States invaded Iraq and sent its troops around that country on a so-far fruitless search for chemical and biological weapons, a European state quietly announced that it has chemical weapons.

Senators, Scientists Say Congress Should Reject Bush Administration's Proposals for New Nuclear Weapons

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For Immediate Release: May 1, 2003

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, (202) 277-3478 or Christine Kucia, (202) 463-8270 x103

Washington, D.C.): The diplomatic and security costs of the Bush administration's proposals to explore new nuclear weapons far outweigh any marginal benefits such arms might yield, an expert panel led by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) warned April 29. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) issued a statement with the same message in conjunction with the panel discussion, sponsored by the Arms Control Association.

The Bush administration is asking Congress to continue funding research on modifying existing types of nuclear weapons to enable them to destroy deeply buried and hardened targets. It is also seeking a repeal of a 10-year-old prohibition, known as the Spratt-Furse Amendment, against research and development leading to the production of low-yield nuclear weapons.

Kennedy took issue with both of the administration's proposals. He noted that the "bunker buster" currently being researched would have a destructive potential 10 times that of the blast that destroyed Hiroshima and could "spew tons of radioactive waste into the atmosphere, with a devastating plume that could poison huge areas in its path." Kennedy also dismissed the concept of low-yield weapons, saying, "The precision-guided munitions and standoff weapons we have today make these mini-nukes unnecessary. They would be no more effective than conventional munitions, and would be far more dangerous to our troops."

Led by Kennedy, the panel warned that the administration's proposals send the wrong message to the rest of the world that the United States believes nuclear weapons have a battlefield role. The proposals threaten to breakdown the long-standing firewall between conventional arms and nuclear weapons and jeopardize what has become an international norm of the non-use of nuclear weapons, according to the panel.

Kennedy declared, "A nuclear weapon is not just another item in our arsenal, and it's wrong to treat it like it is."

Feinstein asked, "How can we effectively seek to dissuade others from developing nuclear weapons while we are going forward with the development of new nuclear weapons ourselves?" She cautioned, "If we are not careful, our own nuclear posture could provoke the very nuclear proliferation activities we are seeking to prevent."

Dr. Sidney Drell, professor emeritus at Stanford University, said that using nuclear weapons, either to respond to a chemical or biological attack or in a tactical situation against a deeply buried bunker is a "terrible idea." He added, "I think that's the most dangerous idea in the world that we face."

The administration contends that making nuclear weapons more "usable," by reducing their potential for causing civilian casualties or improving their effectiveness in destroying sites buried deep below the Earth's surface, would enhance the deterrent value of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Drell and Dr. Matthew McKinzie of the Natural Resources Defense Council contested the notion that a nuclear weapon could be developed to destroy a deeply buried target, yet cause little collateral damage. Drell said the concept is a "physical myth." Both physicists noted a nuclear weapon exploded just beneath the Earth's surface would actually create more fallout than one detonated above the target because the former casts more radioactive dirt and particles into the air. Drell noted that for a five-kiloton weapon to produce no fallout, it would have to be detonated about 350 feet deep, but "we don't know how to go below 50 [feet]."

Drell argued that instead of investing in new nuclear weapons, the United States would benefit more by improving its conventional weapons capabilities and means to gather accurate information and target suspected sites of concern.

Instead of approving the Bush administration's initiatives to explore new nuclear weapons, Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, recommended four other actions:

  • Maintain the current prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapons research.
  • Shift nuclear bunker buster funding to non-nuclear munitions research.
  • Reaffirm the U.S. nuclear test moratorium and focus stockpile stewardship efforts on surveillance and maintenance activities most useful to ensuring the reliability of the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal.
  • Clarify that as long as the United States possesses nuclear weapons, their role is limited to the deterrence of nuclear attack by other states.

These four recommendations are further detailed in "New Nuclear Policies, New Weapons, New Dangers"—a new Arms Control Association report on the Bush administration's misdirected approach to nuclear weapons. The report is available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/newnuclearweaponsissuebrief.asp.
(Also available as a PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

A full transcript of the briefing with Senator Kennedy is also available online at http://www.armscontrol.org/events/newnuclearweapons_apr03.asp.

Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) statement is available at http://feinstein.senate.gov/03Releases/r-arms.htm.

# # #

The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies to address security threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as conventional arms.

 

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An Extra Year for Russian Withdrawal from Moldova

Wade Boese

Acknowledging that Russia would not meet its end-of- 2002 deadline to withdraw all of its military equipment and troops from Moldova, the 55-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) took note December 8 of a Russian pledge to finish the task within the coming year.

Russia committed in November 1999 to withdraw all of its heavy weaponry limited by the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty from Moldova by the end of 2001 and to remove the rest of its military forces from the country by the close of 2002. Moscow completed the first part of its withdrawal on time, but implementation of the second has barely been started. (See ACT, September 2002.)

By the end of 2002, Russia had shipped a total of eight trainloads of weapons and equipment out of Moldova. Approximately another 100 trainloads of weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment remain. Equipment to help destroy some of the more than 40,000 tons of stockpiled ammunition is still sitting at a local airport after arriving in Moldova last April and June.

Moscow contends that it is not to blame for the lagging withdrawal. Russian military forces in Moldova are located in the Transdniestria region, which is an enclave of ethnic Russian separatists. The Kremlin claims that the separatists are blocking their withdrawal and demanding that Russia compensate them for removal of the weaponry and equipment, in part by writing off a $100 million gas debt owed by the region to Russia.

Russia’s failure to withdraw its forces from Moldova, as well as its lingering dispute with Georgia over how long Russia has to abandon two bases in that country, are holding up entry into force of a 1999 revision of the CFE Treaty. NATO countries insist that Russia fulfill its withdrawal commitments in Moldova and Georgia before the 19 members of the alliance ratify the updated treaty, which requires ratification by all 30 CFE states-parties for it to become legally binding.

The adapted CFE Treaty is designed to limit the amount of heavy conventional weaponry allowed on each of its states-parties’ territory rather than balancing the arsenals of NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact, as did the original treaty, which was signed in 1990.

Acknowledging that Russia would not meet its end-of- 2002 deadline to withdraw all of its military equipment and troops from Moldova, the 55-member...

Senator Lugar Outlines Priorities for Controlling Weapons of Mass Destruction in Arms Control Today

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For Immediate Release: December 3, 2002

Contact: Daryl Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107 or Peter Scoblic, (202) 463-8270 x108

(Washington, D.C.): Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declares in an article published this month in Arms Control Today that "enormous opportunities" now exist to secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction that could be used to harm the United States. The senator identifies ten top disarmament priorities, ranging from eliminating Russia's chemical weapons to improving worldwide nuclear reactor safety.

In his article, "The Next Steps in U.S. Nonproliferation Policy," Senator Lugar argues that although much has been achieved in the past decade, more can and needs to be done. He urges his fellow lawmakers to show leadership and act resolutely if terrorists and rogue states are going to be denied the weapons and technology that could be wielded with devastating results against the United States and around the globe.

But Senator Lugar, who cosponsored the first legislation with Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) in 1991 to help countries of the former Soviet Union guard and dismantle their lethal arsenals, warns that Congress is letting important weapons destruction opportunities slip away because of its unwillingness to devote the necessary attention and resources to such activities in a timely fashion. "The weapons and materials of mass destruction targeted by Nunn-Lugar are too dangerous to leave to the whims of congressional holds and roadblocks," Lugar writes.

The senator further states, "It is incomprehensible to me that, at a time in which our country is involved in a worldwide war against terrorism, Congress is refusing to permit the utilization of tested and proven concepts to address the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction."

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency reports that U.S. threat reductions programs in Russia, commonly known as Nunn-Lugar, have aided the deactivation of more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and the destruction of nearly 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), another 350 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and almost 100 bombers. Russia has at least another 7,000 warheads left to deactivate and nearly 1,000 ICBMs, 600 SLBMs, and 100 bombers awaiting destruction. In addition, Russia possesses an estimated 40,000-metric-tons of chemical weapons requiring elimination.

Yet, Senator Lugar adds that reduction activities cannot be limited to Russia, but expanded to counter potential proliferation risks around the world. "It is critical that the United States lead in establishing a global coalition capable of exerting pressure on states to cooperate with the safeguarding, accounting, and (where possible) destruction of weapons and materials of mass destruction," he says.

Lugar's article and his top ten disarmament priorities can be accessed at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_12/lugar_dec02.asp.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

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NATO Expands; Members Support Iraqi Disarmament

December 2002

By Wade Boese

At a November 21-22 summit marked by invitations to seven countries to join the alliance, NATO endorsed disarming Iraq, creating a military force capable of fighting anywhere in the world on short notice, and studying missile defenses against all ranges of ballistic missiles. Perfect harmony eluded the summit, however, as Germany and the United States squared off over what happens if Iraq refuses to disarm.

Meeting in Prague, the 19 leaders of NATO members invited Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to begin accession talks immediately with the goal of becoming full-fledged members by May 2004. Since its 1949 creation, NATO has expanded four times, the last being the 1999 addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.

The seven new invitees combined have roughly 227,000 active military personnel and military budgets this year totaling $2.8 billion, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. By comparison, U.S. active duty strength numbers more than 1.4 million troops, and the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2003 is $355 billion.

President George W. Bush downplayed concerns that the seven new members might be unable to contribute much militarily to the alliance’s collective defense due to their small and mostly non-Western forces, saying November 18, “I do believe they can contribute something really important, and that is they can contribute their love for freedom.”

While moving the alliance closer to Russia’s borders and including for the first time a remnant of the former Yugoslavia—Slovenia—the new round of expansion was most notable because of the invitations to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the three Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union. The summit was the first time that NATO invited any country of the former Soviet Union to join the alliance.

Russia, NATO, and CFE

Moscow, which vigorously protested NATO’s last expansion and wrung pledges from the alliance in May 1997 that it had no intentions or plans to deploy nuclear weapons or permanently station substantial numbers of armed forces on new members’ territories, seemingly resigned itself to the latest expansion, issuing only periodic and muted objections.

Russia’s most common criticism was that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are not party to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which limits the deployment and stationing of conventional weaponry in Europe for 30 countries, including the United States. The three cannot join the CFE Treaty, however, because it does not allow countries to accede. Washington contends that NATO membership and CFE participation are two separate issues.

Nevertheless, the Baltic countries have reportedly indicated that they would favorably consider acceding to an updated version of the CFE Treaty negotiated in 1999 once it enters into force. But that treaty’s entry into force is stalled because NATO members have conditioned their ratification of the revised treaty, which requires all current CFE members to ratify it for it to become legally binding, on Russia fulfilling past pledges to shut down bases and withdraw its forces in Georgia and Moldova. The Kremlin is behind schedule in completing those commitments. (See ACT, September 2002.)

In their November 21 summit communiqué, NATO leaders appeared to suggest to Moscow that future Baltic CFE participation depended upon Russian compliance with its withdrawal commitments. The NATO statement read, “We welcome the approach of those non-CFE countries, which have stated their intention to request accession to the Adapted CFE Treaty upon its entry into force.” It further stated, “We urge swift fulfillment of [Russia’s] commitments on Georgia and Moldova, which will create the conditions for Allies and other States Parties to move forward on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty.”

Hosting Bush in St. Petersburg a day after the expansion announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented that Russia did not believe NATO enlargement was justified, but he added, “We do not rule out the possibility of deepening our relations with the alliance.”

NATO repeated that it would keep its door open for other European democracies to join and that Russia is no longer an enemy or threat, but Moscow has said it has no interest in becoming a member. Albania, Croatia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, however, were passed over on their membership requests.

United Front on Iraq for Now

Although largely devoted to expansion, much of the summit discussion focused on Iraq. NATO issued a statement declaring its support for UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and calling on Iraq to comply “fully and immediately.” The leaders further stated that NATO would take “effective action” to support the UN mission.

But fissures appeared in NATO’s stand, most sharply between the United States and Germany, regarding what would constitute effective action. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said November 21 that effective action would be “whatever it takes to make sure that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, however, said Germany would not support military action.

U.S. officials downplayed the rift, arguing that the important point is that all NATO members currently agree Iraq must disarm, and Rice said that “we’re not yet at the stage of talking about military action.” Just minutes earlier, however, Rice had told reporters that “the United States is at this point talking to countries, consulting about what might be necessary, what capabilities might be necessary if military action takes place.”

Preparing NATO to Fight

Despite the lack of unanimity over employing military force against Iraq, NATO leaders supported a U.S. initiative to create a roughly 21,000-troop NATO Response Force (NRF) capable of fighting around the globe on as little as seven days’ notice. Use of the force would require consensus by NATO’s decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.

Expected to be initially ready by October 2004 and fully operational by October 2006, the force is to be comprised of sea, air, and ground assets and be able to operate independently for up to a month. NATO will rotate troops through the new force every six months.

Establishment of the NRF stems from the alliance’s shifting focus of defending against a massive conventional attack from the east to the more disparate and asymmetrical threats posed by rogue states and terrorism.

Also reflecting its changing threat assessment, NATO agreed to study missile defenses against all ranges of ballistic missiles. Before the U.S. June 13 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that barred defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, key NATO members had publicly opposed U.S. missile defense plans to protect against long-range ballistic missiles, but there is now growing acceptance of the concept.


NATO Expands; Members Support Iraqi Disarmament

Baltics Deny Plans to Deploy NATO Nuclear Weapons

October 2002

By Christine Kucia

Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia denied Russian allegations in September that they would station tactical nuclear weapons on their territories if they joined NATO.

An unnamed Russian defense ministry official told Interfax news agency September 16, “We have information that some Baltic heads have already expressed their readiness to deploy any type of NATO weapon, including tactical nuclear arms,” if those countries join the alliance. NATO members are expected to approve the accession of the three Baltic countries at a November 19-21 summit in Prague.

Officials from the Baltic states denied that their countries would deploy nuclear weapons on their territories as NATO members. Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins blasted the Russian official’s remark as “provocation” and said that “the [Latvian] government has not considered such an issue,” according to a September 16 Baltic News Service (BNS) report. He characterized the Russian comment as “an intentional wish to…create fear and panic among people” prior to the NATO meeting. Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s defense minister, told BNS the fears were “ungrounded.”

Estonia’s defense ministry spokesman, Madis Mikko, was somewhat more equivocal, saying that “in the foreseeable future there are no plans” to deploy NATO nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported September 17. He added, however, that Estonia has not completely ruled out the option.

The possibility that nuclear weapons would be stationed in the Baltics, which serve as a buffer region between Russia and NATO member Poland, has been a source of tension between the alliance and Moscow over the last decade. In an attempt to address Russian concerns, the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act specified that NATO members have “no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members” and that they do not foresee the need to do so.

For their part, the three Baltic countries have kept a wary eye on Kaliningrad, the small Russian enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland. Media reports in January 2001 alleged that Russia had moved tactical nuclear weapons into the region—a claim Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently denied. (See ACT, January/February 2001.) In response to the recent Russian speculation about the Baltic countries housing NATO nuclear arms, Lithuania’s Linkevicius told BNS, “We might have similar fears about Russia’s nuclear weapons deployed in Kaliningrad region.”

Despite the Russian allegation, the candidacy of the Baltic states for entry into NATO appears to be on track, with the alliance prepared to extend invitations to the three countries along with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in November, according to a September 26 Washington Post article. Ginte Damusis, Lithuanian ambassador to NATO, said in an interview the same day that although the formal announcement is still several weeks away, work on membership preparations is continuing. Discussions on areas of practical cooperation between the alliance and Russia are “moving forward” in the NATO-Russia Council, the body established in May 2002 to facilitate greater cooperation and dialogue, Damusis said. (See ACT, June 2002.)

The Russian defense official’s contention came as NATO and Russia struggle to construct an acceptable scenario for the Baltic states’ accession to the alliance. In addition to concerns about nuclear deployment in the Baltics, another hurdle was presented September 20 when a Russian official said in a NATO-Russia Council meeting that the Baltic countries should sign on to the adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty prior to their entry into NATO, according to a September 23 Reuters report. If the three countries participated in the CFE Treaty, it would limit the forces that NATO could potentially deploy on their territories.

However, Russia might be using the tactic to stall the NATO enlargement process, a NATO official told Reuters. The CFE Treaty was adapted in 1999, in part to allow new states to join the treaty, but all 30 states party to the original treaty must ratify the adapted version before new countries may accede to the agreement. So far, only two CFE parties have ratified the adapted treaty, with NATO countries refusing to ratify unless Russia withdraws its forces from Georgia and Moldova. (See ACT, July/August 2001.) NATO emphasized in discussions with Russia that enlargement and CFE should remain separate issues, the NATO official said.

 

Baltics Deny Plans to Deploy NATO Nuclear Weapons

NATO Accepts Russian CFE Compliance, But Wants More

September 2002

By Wade Boese

NATO members informed Russia in July meetings that they accept its claims of being in compliance with weapons limits set out in the adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, but they also urged Moscow to fulfill other CFE-related obligations regarding Georgia and Moldova.

Since the November 1999 update of the CFE Treaty, the 19-member alliance had been pressing Moscow to reduce the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and artillery it deployed in its northern and southern “flank” regions, which border Europe and the Black Sea. As part of the 1999 treaty overhaul, NATO agreed to relax the limits on the amount of heavy ground weaponry that Russia could keep in its flank areas, but Russia’s deployments still remained in excess of what was permitted.

The revised version of the treaty has not yet entered into force because NATO members conditioned their ratification of the adapted treaty on Russia complying with the accord’s terms. All 30 states-parties must ratify the adapted treaty for it to replace the original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990, which currently remains in force.

Russia declared early this year that it had met the revised limits, but NATO did not immediately accept the Kremlin’s claim and set out to verify it. Although NATO members concluded in July that there were still some uncertainties about Russia’s compliance, alliance members also found no evidence that Russian forces were exceeding their flank limits of 1,300 tanks, 2,140 ACVs, and 1,680 artillery pieces.

Despite being satisfied with Moscow’s weapons limit compliance, NATO members are still waiting before they ratify the adapted treaty because Russia has not fulfilled additional pledges it gave in November 1999 to withdraw its arms and forces from Georgia and Moldova. Russia has made some headway on meeting these commitments, but its efforts have stalled over the past several months.

Russia has disbanded two of its four bases in Georgia, although Georgian officials are unhappy with the number of Russian troops currently staying at one of the disbanded bases. Moreover, negotiations between Georgia and Russia on how long Russian forces could remain at the two other bases, which were supposed to be completed two years ago, have reached a stalemate. Georgia insists that Russian forces be gone within three years, while Russia wants 10 years to complete its withdrawal.

In Moldova, Russia withdrew all of its tanks, ACVs, and artillery as pledged, but it is at risk of missing an end-of-2002 deadline to completely withdraw all of its troops and equipment, including approximately 40,000 tons of stockpiled ammunition. Russia removed three trainloads of ammunition and destroyed some last year, but it has made no further progress since then.

Russia’s inactivity, in large part, stems from an ongoing conflict within Moldova. Russian troops and ammunition are located in the Transdniestria region of Moldova, which is under the control of ethnic Russian separatists, who are blocking Russia’s withdrawal efforts. The separatists are demanding that Moscow write off a $100 million gas debt before they let Russia resume its withdrawal.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring Russia’s withdrawal, recently reported that experts estimate that for Russia to successfully complete its withdrawal from Moldova by the end of the year, Moscow would need to ship out 20 railroad cars full of ammunition every two days. An OSCE official noted in an August 21 interview that Russia could still meet its withdrawal deadline but that “as each day passes, however, it becomes increasingly difficult.”

NATO Accepts Russian CFE Compliance, But Wants More

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