“I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

– Joseph Biden, Jr.
January 28, 2004

U.S., Bulgaria Reach Deal To Destroy Missiles

July/August 2002

By Alex Wagner

In an effort to clear Bulgaria’s path to join NATO, the United States and Bulgaria signed an agreement on May 31 to destroy jointly Sofia’s short-range SS-23 and Scud-B ballistic missiles as well as its FROG rockets.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher commended Bulgaria on May 31 for taking “a significant step forward in its strategic goal of joining Western security and economic structures.” Boucher added that Bulgaria’s SS-23s are “the last missiles of this type known to exist anywhere in the world.”

Under the agreement, Washington committed to fund the missiles’ destruction, which it aims to complete by the end of October.

The Bulgarian parliament ratified the agreement on June 12. It had already voted in December to decommission the SS-23s. At that time, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov said the parliament’s decision was “directly related” to Bulgaria’s bid to join NATO the following fall.

While the missiles’ destruction is not required for Bulgaria’s entry into NATO, scrapping them would likely please NATO members and facilitate Sofia’s entrance into the alliance. In an interview, a Bulgarian official said that the SS-23s are one of his country’s only modern weapons systems but that the security provided by NATO would make up for the loss of the missiles.

Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf visited Bulgaria in February to discuss the final arrangements of the deal and also succeeded in convincing Sofia to destroy its remaining Scuds and FROGs. Washington reportedly offered Bulgaria $7 million to help implement the project.

Although they are nuclear-capable, Bulgaria’s remaining 500-kilometer SS-23s are fitted with conventional warheads. It is thought that Sofia has eight of these missiles. How many Scud-Bs, which have a range of 300 kilometers, or FROG rockets, which can travel up to 70 kilometers, Bulgaria possesses remains unclear.

Bulgaria, along with East Germany and Czechoslovakia, received its SS-23s from the Soviet Union in 1985, two years before Moscow signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States. Under that treaty, Washington and Moscow pledged to destroy all their missile systems with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers within three years of the treaty’s entry into force. The Soviet Union “negotiated in bad faith” by failing to notify the United States of these transfers, according to Steven Steiner, Washington’s representative to a commission set up to facilitate the treaty’s implementation.

U.S., Bulgaria Reach Deal To Destroy Missiles

NATO, Russia Create New Joint Council

On May 28, NATO leaders, including President George W. Bush, joined with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Rome to create a new NATO-Russian body intended to enable greater cooperation between the 19-member alliance and Moscow.

The NATO-Russia Council will meet at least once a month at the ambassadorial level and twice per year at the level of defense and foreign ministers to discuss issues of common concern and, if possible, to take joint action. The 20 countries have agreed to conduct joint assessments of the current terrorism threat and the global spread of weapons of mass destruction. Other possible agenda items include crisis management, talks on theater missile defense cooperation, and pursuit of greater military-to-military contacts.

All decisions within the council are to be made by consensus. Yet Russia and NATO are free to act on their own, and Russia has no veto over any alliance decision or action. The White House explained May 28, “The NATO Allies retain the freedom to act, by consensus, on any issue at any time,” and they “will decide among themselves the issues” to be addressed by the council.

The NATO-Russia Council replaces the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC), which was established five years ago to mollify Russian opposition to NATO expansion by giving Russia a voice at NATO. The PJC failed by all accounts, and its breakdown was highlighted by Russia’s temporary suspension of its PJC participation to protest NATO’s 1999 military campaign against Yugoslavia.

Expectations are tempered about whether the new council will work better than its predecessor. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow cautioned in March that Russia needed to “overcome a legacy of mistrust and competition” with NATO and that the alliance needed to become “more open and more flexible in taking Russia’s views into account.”

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who will serve as chairman of the council, told the 20 leaders gathered in Rome that “the success or failure of this council will not be determined by me, but by you.”

Europeans Scrutinize Arms Sales to Israel

May 2002

In April, European legislators called for an arms embargo on Israel because of its military operation launched March 29 in the Palestinian West Bank. European governments have yet to act officially, although some, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, are looking at Israeli arms requests with greater scrutiny, effectively slowing or suspending arms deals with the Jewish state.

No European arms embargos have been imposed on Israel, although the European Parliament of the 15-nation European Union and the Parliamentary Assembly of the 44-nation Council of Europe—a negotiating forum founded in 1949 to protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe—have recommended imposing an arms embargo on Israel in separate April votes.

An Israeli official said certain arms requests are not being acted on at their normal pace and that “some things are taking their time.” The official declined to go into further detail.

Although not taking formal action to cut off arms supplies to Israel, Germany has put off making a decision on whether to deliver spare tank parts requested by Israel. German export law restricts selling arms to regions in conflict.

The United Kingdom is now looking more closely at Israeli arms exports because London contests that it can no longer trust Israeli assurances that U.K.-supplied weapons will not be used in ways to which it objects. Israel agreed in November 2000 that British arms would not be used in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, but London revealed March 11 that it had determined Israel used converted U.K. tanks contrary to that agreement.

The United States, the largest arms supplier to Israel, has not suggested that U.S. sales to the country are in any jeopardy. The 1976 Arms Export Control Act, which governs U.S. arms transfers, states that U.S.-supplied weapons are to be used by the recipient for self-defense and internal security purposes. The Israeli official said U.S. officials have not called into question Israeli use of U.S.-supplied arms.

Appearing April 21 on NBC’s Meet the Press, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States is not considering cutting off any aid to Israel. Israel, which received roughly $2 billion in U.S. military aid this fiscal year, is the largest recipient of U.S. Foreign Military Financing grants, which the country uses to purchase U.S. weaponry as well as weapons produced by its own arms industry.

In April, European legislators called for an arms embargo on Israel...

U.S. Urges 3 NATO Countries to Buy U.S. Fighters

The U.S. government expressed disappointment with the Czech Republic and Hungary for their December moves toward acquiring non-American-made fighter jets. The rare public criticism of U.S. NATO allies comes as Poland also considers purchasing new fighter jets for its air force.

Speaking December 18, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland—all of which joined NATO in 1999—should not jeopardize more urgent military needs and reforms necessary for the three countries to work more effectively with NATO’s other 16 members by purchasing advanced fighter jets, which can cost up to tens of millions of dollars apiece.

But Boucher continued by saying, “If you’re going to buy [combat aircraft], buy American.” Adding that “we think we make the best,” he said that Secretary of State Colin Powell “has raised the interest of American companies in selling airplanes” during meetings with officials from the three countries.

The State Department’s public rebuke preceded Hungary’s December 20 signing of a deal to lease 14 JAS-39 Gripen fighters, which are co-manufactured by Sweden and Britain. The Czech Republic also moved closer in December to negotiating a contract for 24 Gripens, although the Czech parliament, which includes opponents of the deal, will have to approve it.

For its part, Poland is looking at an immediate lease of 16 fighters with a longer-term plan for a force totaling 60 new jets. In addition to the Gripen, Poland is considering the U.S. F-16 fighter or the French Mirage 2000-5 combat aircraft.

A U.S. defense official said that the United States will present a “very, very attractive offer” to Poland and that Washington will be more than willing to address any concerns Warsaw may have. The official said the U.S. interest in getting the sale—if Poland insists on buying aircraft—is for NATO members to possess arms that are combat proven and fully compatible with U.S. weapons systems. Although makers of the Gripen contend the plane will be NATO compatible, the defense official said that is easier said than done.

The Pentagon estimated in June that a sale of 60 U.S. F-16 fighters to Poland would cost $4.3 billion. This price tag includes missiles and bombs to arm the aircraft as well as U.S. training.

Russia Finishes Weapons Reductions in Moldova

On November 14, Russia completed the destruction or withdrawal of all its tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and heavy artillery from Moldova, fulfilling a pledge it made in conjunction with the November 1999 overhaul of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

Beating its end-of-2001 deadline by more than a month, Russia destroyed or withdrew from Moldova 364 weapons, including 108 battle tanks, 131 ACVs, and 125 pieces of heavy artillery. Of this total, Moscow destroyed all the tanks, 83 ACVs, and 48 pieces of heavy artillery.

Although completing its obligations regarding CFE-limited weapons in Moldova, Moscow still has an additional 42,000 tons of weapons and ammunition that must be withdrawn or destroyed as part of another November 1999 pledge to have no weapons or forces in Moldova by the end of 2002. In a November 22 statement to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Ambassador David Johnson noted that “preparations are well underway” for Russia to withdraw and destroy the ammunition.

Russia also declared in early November that it had completed its withdrawal from a military base in Gudauta, Georgia, which would belatedly fulfill a separate November 1999 commitment to disband two Russian military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001. But Georgia disputed the Russian declaration, claiming that several hundred Russian soldiers are still at the base. Moscow maintains the troops are peacekeepers.

NATO Ends Weapons Collection in Macedonia

On September 25, one day earlier than planned, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson announced that NATO had exceeded its objective of collecting 3,300 weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Labeled “Operation Essential Harvest,” the NATO mission began August 27 and officially ended September 26. NATO claims that during that period it collected 3,875 weapons, including 3,210 assault rifles and a total of four tanks and armored personnel carriers, as well as 397,625 mines, explosives, and ammunition from the rebels, who voluntarily handed over their weapons. The rebels and Macedonian troops had been battling each other since early this year.

NATO military officers in charge of the mission told reporters September 26 that the weapons turned in were of good quality and implied that the sum collected would substantially diminish the rebel’s military capabilities. The officers’ remarks were presumably aimed at dismissing criticism by some Macedonians that the rebels turned in decrepit, outdated weapons and that the total collected represented only a small portion of rebel-owned arms.

In exchange for the rebels voluntarily giving up their weapons, the Macedonian parliament is soon expected to pass reforms granting greater rights to ethnic Albanians, although it has been dragging its feet. Visiting Macedonia September 25, Robertson noted that the political process is “still incomplete” and called upon the parliament to act, warning that, if it failed to do so, the country risked “the bleak prospect of descent into a civil war.”

Russia Has Mixed Success With CFE Implementation

Wade Boese

Russia showed mixed success in July toward meeting commitments under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and related agreements, missing a July 1 deadline to vacate a military base in Georgia but reducing the number of weapons located in Moldova.

In November 1999, Russia committed to closing two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001, and to withdraw all its CFE-limited weaponry from Moldova by the end of 2001. The CFE Treaty caps the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that its 30 states-parties can deploy and store between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

Although it officially handed over control of a Russian military base in Vaziani, Georgia, to Tbilisi on June 29, Russia failed to vacate a base at Gudauta by the July 1 deadline. Moscow claimed the local population had blocked Russian efforts to leave the base and that Georgia had failed to take necessary steps to ensure a safe withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.

Georgia dismissed Russia’s claims, contending that it had proposed alternative ways for Moscow to complete its withdrawal, including destruction of weaponry located at the base, but that Russia had rejected these suggestions. In a July 2 statement released by its Foreign Ministry, Georgia called on Russia to “take immediate and exhaustive measures for timely and complete fulfillment” of its withdrawal obligations.

The two governments are now holding talks to find a compromise, including the possibility of allowing a few hundred Russian troops to remain at the base. They are also trying to negotiate terms for Russia’s withdrawal from two other Georgian bases, which Tbilisi wants done within a three-year period, while Moscow is seeking a time frame of up to 14 years.

In Moldova, Russia is facing a more immediate deadline for complete withdrawal of all of its weapons and forces by the end of 2002. Although Moscow is generally perceived to be dragging its feet on meeting this overall commitment, it made substantial progress in July and August on its obligation to reduce its CFE-limited weaponry by the end of this year. Of the108 T-64 battle tanks and 131 ACVs Russia had in Moldova, just 25 tanks and 57 ACVs remain as of August 28, according to a spokesperson of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is monitoring Russia’s reduction activities in Moldova. Moscow is scheduled to start eliminating 125 heavy artillery pieces in October.

Within its borders, Russia is abiding by its overall CFE Treaty limits but it continues to deploy tanks and ACVs above sub-limits that cap its weapons deployments in its northern and southern regions, according to data from a recent treaty information exchange. The Kremlin claims its non-compliance is necessary to combat “terrorism” in Chechnya.

Russia’s excess is relatively small, numbering not more than 20 tanks and some 130 ACVs above the sublimits, which were outlined in a November 1999 overhaul of the treaty that has yet to enter into force. The United States and its fellow NATO members have conditioned their ratification of the agreement on all states-parties being in compliance with its provisions.

There is speculation that, even though Russia is close to compliance, it is unlikely to reduce its weapons holdings below the sublimits for some time because it may want to send additional forces into Chechnya. The Kremlin may be calculating that it would face less international condemnation and scrutiny by further exceeding the limits than by coming into compliance and then exceeding the limits again.

NATO Collects Weapons in Macedonia

On August 27, NATO launched a mission to collect 3,300 weapons that ethnic Albanian rebels in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia agreed to surrender in exchange for expanded political rights. The mission, known as Operation Essential Harvest, is expected to last 30 days.

After months of escalating conflict between Macedonian troops and ethnic Albanian guerrillas, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski—fearing a civil war—requested June 14 that NATO help disarm the rebels. NATO agreed but predicated its support on four conditions: a ceasefire; a political agreement among Macedonia’s main political parties, including representatives from both the majority Slav and minority Albanian populations; a voluntary disarmament plan acceptable to the rebels; and an agreed understanding on how NATO would conduct its operation.

After determining that these conditions had been met, on August 22, NATO authorized the full deployment of its weapons collection task force, numbering close to 5,000 troops. The United States did not supply any ground forces, but it is providing medical and logistical support.

Some estimates put the total number of rebel-owned weapons in Macedonia at more that 80,000. However, NATO operation commander Major General Gunnar Lange countered on August 26 that his mission’s target of 3,300 weapons—more than 2,950 assault rifles, 210 machine guns, and 130 mortars and anti-tank weapons—was “very close to our own estimates” of rebel stockpiles. NATO will not ferret out and confiscate weapons in Macedonia, only taking those turned in voluntarily.

Lange also disputed claims that Operation Essential Harvest is merely a gesture, saying it would be a “very real and substantial effort to remove the combat effectiveness” of the Albanians. Speaking August 29, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson added that NATO troops had recently stopped some 2,000 weapons and 150,000 rounds of ammunition from being smuggled into Macedonia.

Once the rebels give up their weapons and disband, the Macedonian parliament, in exchange, will pass reforms codifying ethnic Albanian rights. As part of that compromise, parliament promised to begin the reform process after NATO collected one-third of the projected 3,300 rebel weapons. NATO reached that mark on August 30

Countries Conclude Balkan Talks

On July 18, 20 countries, including the United States, wrapped up more than two years of troubled negotiations aimed at bolstering confidence- and security-building measures among states in and around the war-torn Balkans. However, the talks’ final four-page document is modest, consisting mostly of voluntary steps countries may take to build on existing commitments.

Article V of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which ended fighting among Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, called for negotiations “establishing a regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia.” A chairman for these talks was not appointed until December 1997, and it took Article V participants, including all the countries in southeastern Europe and other interested countries, nearly a year to agree on a mandate. They ultimately decided not to negotiate an arms control treaty capping weapons levels.

Instead, the talks’ objective became obliging Yugoslavia to undertake commitments similar to those in the Vienna Document. A product of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Vienna Document aims to foster transparency and cooperation among the now-55 OSCE member states and calls on countries to exchange information on their militaries, provide notice of certain military exercises, and host foreign military visits.

But the Article V negotiations lost their impetus after Yugoslavia joined the OSCE last November, thereby pledging to adhere to the Vienna Document, following the October ouster of long-time Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. As a result, the “Concluding Document” of the Article V process merely includes several references encouraging countries to expand upon or enhance measures outlined in the Vienna Document. A commission will meet at least once a year to review implementation of the Concluding Document, which will become effective January 1, 2002.

Bush Meets Opposition to Missile Defense While in Europe

Wade Boese

Although President George W. Bush expressed satisfaction during a mid-June visit to Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin and other European leaders had showed “receptivity” to his intention to develop a new strategic framework, including missile defenses, Putin and key NATO leaders reiterated their concerns with U.S. plans and warned the United States against pushing ahead alone.

On his first visit to Europe since winning the presidency, Bush traveled to five nations in five days, beginning with Spain on June 12 and capping the tour with his first meeting with Putin June 16 in Slovenia. In between these stops, Bush attended a NATO heads-of-state meeting and a summit with the 15-nation European Union.

At each stop, the president delivered the same message, urging his counterparts to “think differently” about preserving their security in the post-Cold War era, when Russia is no longer a NATO enemy, and rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, are seeking long-range ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

The president further argued that this new world necessitates building ballistic missile defenses that would require Washington and Moscow to “set aside” the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prohibits nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. However, Bush presented no specifics on his missile defense plans or the other elements of his nascent strategic framework, such as unilateral strategic reductions. “We are open as to what form [the new strategic framework] takes,” national security adviser Condoleezza Rice explained to reporters June 15.

Speaking at a joint press conference after their meeting, Putin welcomed Bush’s premise that Russia and the United States were no longer enemies in a changing world with new threats, but he said that those threats needed to be “defined” before it could be decided how to tackle them. He later implied they could be addressed through means other than strategic defenses, such as diplomacy and nonstrategic or theater missile defenses. Putin, who had warned earlier in his remarks that “any unilateral actions can only make more complicated various problems and issues,” concluded by saying, “I think we can work out a common approach.”

In an extensive interview with selected U.S. journalists in Moscow two days later, Putin called for further consultations with the United States and appeared to open the door slightly on amending the ABM Treaty. Putin twice stated that Washington and Moscow should look at what specific provisions in the ABM Treaty prevent the United States from countering perceived threats. He noted that the treaty can be amended and that it does not rule out all defenses, originally allowing the two countries to deploy two regional defenses. A 1974 amendment to the treaty trimmed this allowance to one regional defense per country.
The Russian president further said that the two sides should discuss what the United States sees as the threat, what can be done about it, and what the Bush administration means when it says the U.S. defense will be “limited.”

If the United States acts independently and opts to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, Putin declared that Russia would pull out of START I and START II, which limit the number of U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads. If that happened, he explained that Moscow would be free to keep multiple warheads on its land-based ICBMs, an action proscribed by START II, and that Russia and the United States would lose the ability to monitor each other’s nuclear reductions. Top Russian officials have recently stated that more than 30 strategic accords are tied to the ABM Treaty.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have both dismissed the specter of a new arms race with Moscow, asserting that Russia must cut its arsenal because it cannot afford to maintain its forces at current levels and that U.S. missile defenses will be limited, thus posing no threat to Russia’s deterrent and removing any reason for Moscow to build up or alter its strategic forces.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 20, Powell explained that Russia should not worry about a limited U.S. defense because the two countries will remain vulnerable to each other’s missiles. “You can’t entirely do away with what has been known as mutual assured destruction [MAD],” Powell said. Bush, however, has equated MAD with the ABM Treaty, calling them both bankrupt relics of the past that should be left behind.

Putin was not alone in expressing concerns about U.S. plans during Bush’s European tour. French President Jacques Chirac warned that missile defenses could prompt other countries to step up efforts to acquire ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in order to overwhelm a U.S. defense, while Dutch Prime Minister Willem Kok counseled that a unilateral U.S. abrogation of the ABM Treaty “would not be the right approach.” Emphasizing the need for continued U.S. consultations on its missile defense plans, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that there are a “host of issues that need to be clarified,” a message Berlin has voiced repeatedly in the past several months.

After his June 13 meeting with the NATO allies, Bush acknowledged that “there’s some nervousness” about U.S. plans. But Bush also said that he thought he had made progress in convincing other leaders to accept his approach, claiming that their worries are “beginning to be allayed when they hear the logic behind the rationale.”

Rice seconded the president in a post-trip June 17 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” asserting, “We’re bringing people along with us.” U.S. officials have named Spain, Turkey, Britain, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as places where they say the Bush initiative received a positive reception.

Some of those countries, however, have cautioned that U.S. actions should not divide the alliance and that Washington needs to proceed cooperatively, not unilaterally. And some, particularly Britain, have said only that they understand why the United States is looking at missile defenses and that they are reserving judgment until they know program specifics. In the NBC interview, Rice said winning allied support would be needed to permit the United States “the full range of options in missile defense.”

Bush disputed accusations that the United States is acting alone, saying June 13, “Unilateralists don’t come around the table to listen to others.” Nevertheless, Bush officials have repeatedly declared that Washington will move forward with missile defenses.

The president vowed the United States would continue its foreign consultations, which have been universally welcomed, and he specifically charged Powell and Rumsfeld with carrying out “regular, detailed” discussions with their Russian counterparts. Putin noted that expert working groups would also be established to discuss specifics, such as identifying the threats. By the close of June, these proposals had not been given any shape yet, according to administration officials.

Although President George W. Bush expressed satisfaction during a mid-June visit to Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin and other European leaders had showed “receptivity” to his intention to develop a new strategic framework, including missile defenses, Putin and key NATO leaders reiterated their concerns with U.S. plans and warned the United States against pushing ahead alone. (Continue)


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