"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018

EU Urges Middle East Meeting in 2013

Kelsey Davenport

The European Parliament passed a resolution Jan. 17 calling for a conference to be held in 2013 on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

The meeting was supposed to be held last December, but was postponed.

The resolution “deplores the postponement” of the meeting and urges the conveners and the member countries of the European Union to ensure that the conference takes place “as soon as possible in 2013.” The resolution said that key elements of the zone should include compliance by all countries in the region with comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, including adherence to an additional protocol that gives the agency greater latitude to carry out inspections; a ban on fissile material production for weapons; and accession by all states in the region to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The commitment to hold the 2012 meeting was a key part of the final document of the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. (See ACT, June 2010.) Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the UN secretary-general were named the conveners of the conference; Finnish Undersecretary of State Jaakko Laajava later was chosen as the facilitator.

The meeting was scheduled for December in Helsinki, but the conveners announced Nov. 23 that the conference would be postponed due to disagreements on “core issues” and to “present conditions in the Middle East,” according to the U.S. statement. At the time of postponement, no deadline was set for rescheduling or holding the meeting, although Russia called for it to be held as soon as possible in 2013.

Before the postponement announcement, all of the countries except Israel that are expected to be part of the proposed zone verbally committed to attending the meeting, although there were indications that Iran said it would attend only after learning that the conference would be postponed. (See ACT, December 2012.)

In a Jan. 22 statement to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), Wafaa Bassim, the Egyptian representative to the CD, called on the co-conveners “to set, without further delay,” a date for the conference before the NPT preparatory committee meeting that is scheduled to be held in Geneva from April 22 to May 3.

According to news reports, the ministerial statement issued at the end of a Jan. 13 Arab League meeting in Cairo said that the group would consider boycotting the NPT preparatory meeting if action was not taken.

In a Feb. 11 e-mail to Arms Control Today, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official also called for action but without referring to the boycott. He said “steps should be taken” to encourage Israeli participation, but “not at the cost of further delay.” He also said the current domestic situation in Egypt made pushing for the conference “less of a priority issue” for the foreign ministry than it has been in the past.

The U.S. State Department did not respond by press time to a request for information on the steps the United States is taking to reschedule the conference, but Laura Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to the CD, said in a Jan. 22 statement that the United States stands by its commitment to hold a conference that is “meaningful” and “includes all states of the region.” The statement urged the states to “engage directly with each other to bridge conceptual differences.” The EU resolution also referenced the importance of all countries in the zone participating in the conference when it is convened.

Russia will continue to work actively toward convening a meeting, Alexey Borodavkin, Russia’s representative to the CD, said Jan. 22.

The European Parliament passed a resolution Jan. 17 calling for a conference to be held in 2013 on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

NATO agrees on new arms control body

By Oliver Meier A German Luftwaffe Tornado fighter-bomber capable of carrying nuclear gravity bombs. (BERLIN) On Feb. 8, NATO agreed on the mandate of a new arms control body. Allies tasked the "Special Advisory and Consultative Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Committee" to prepare a dialogue on confidence building and transparency measures on tactical weapons with Russia. Potentially, the new body could also deal with other arms control-related issues, including a dialogue between Russia and the United States about further nuclear cuts. Agreement in principle to establish a...

NATO Divided Over Arms Control Panel

Oliver Meier

Continuing a long-standing stalemate, NATO foreign ministers at a Dec. 4-5 meeting in Brussels were not able to agree on a mandate for a new arms control committee, according to diplomats who were briefed on the meeting.

The main point of contention is the proposed duration of the new committee, which would include all 28 NATO countries, the diplomats said.

Participants in a NATO summit in Chicago last May had expressed a common interest in forming the panel, but could not agree on its overall mission. French officials insist that committee members work toward the achievement of a specific goal, namely, engaging Russia in talks on tactical nuclear weapons. In contrast, German officials have been pushing for a permanent committee that would allow its members to discuss a broader set of issues. (See ACT, June 2012.)

In the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review report issued on May 20, the allies had agreed to take on the task of “developing detailed proposals on and increasing mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.” At the Chicago summit, the allies had assigned the new committee the task of developing a package of confidence-building proposals on tactical nuclear weapons, which would then be discussed with Russia.

Continuing a long-standing stalemate, NATO foreign ministers at a Dec. 4-5 meeting in Brussels were not able to agree on a mandate for a new arms control committee, according to diplomats who were briefed on the meeting.

Reports of German Nuclear Pledge Denied

Oliver Meier

Contrary to widespread reports, the German government has not made a commitment to its fellow NATO members to modernize its nuclear-capable Tornado aircraft, German and NATO officials said in interviews last month.

In a Sept. 5 article, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported that, at the May NATO summit in Chicago, Germany had reneged on its pledge to push for withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany and committed to spending 250 million euros to keep the nuclear-capable Tornado flying until at least 2024. Other German media outlets picked up the story, leading to allegations that Berlin is no longer advocating withdrawal of U.S. bombs from Germany, as promised by the government in 2009.

In interviews, however, the officials said that because there is no official estimate of the costs of keeping the Tornado in service beyond 2020, no such contribution could be pledged.

In a Sept. 10 interview, a senior NATO official dismissed the reported numbers as “nonsense.” He said that “only the text” of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review report was discussed at the summit, but not details such as the Tornado’s retirement date or life extension program costs. The report was adopted in Chicago to define NATO’s new mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces.

A senior German official confirmed that Berlin made no promises at the May summit on a specific date until which German nuclear-capable aircraft would be kept in service and that the government did not commit to spending a specific amount on keeping the Tornado flying. “On these particular issues, the German government entered no new commitments beyond those contained in the [posture review] report,” the official said.

The German government, like other members of NATO, agreed in the report to “ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective for as long as NATO remains a nuclear alliance.” This seemingly open-ended commitment to maintaining nuclear sharing appears to be at odds with the goal of all parties in the German parliament to work toward withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe and with the anti-nuclear mood of the population. Reacting to the article, opposition Social Democrats have pledged to put the issue of Germany’s role in nuclear sharing on the parliamentary agenda this fall.

Under nuclear sharing arrangements, the United States still deploys an estimated 180 to 200 tactical nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Büchel Air Base in Germany probably hosts 10 to 20 of these weapons. Some of the B61 gravity bombs deployed in Europe would be delivered by host-country aircraft in times of war.

The German government repeatedly has stated that it intends to keep nuclear-capable Tornado aircraft in service at least until 2020, but has so far refused to give a specific date when the planes will be phased out. The successor aircraft, called the Eurofighter, is not nuclear capable; and the government, in a Feb. 29 response to questions from Parliament, said it “has not examined the suitability of the Eurofighter/Typhoon as a nuclear weapons delivery system.”

The German Foreign Office reacted to the news reports by stating that Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the rest of the government “continue to work towards a reduction and withdrawal of substrategic weapons in Germany.”

It appears that the report in the Berliner Zeitung was based on an article by Karl-Heinz Kamp in the September/October issue of the German journal Internationale Politik. Kamp, who teaches at the NATO Defense College in Rome, argues in the journal that it would cost Germany 250 million euros to keep the Tornado flying in its nuclear role until 2024. The Berliner Zeitung article quotes Kamp and uses the same figures that he does, but does not indicate if its figures came from him.


This story is adapted from an article by Oliver Meier on Arms Control Now, the blog of the Arms Control Association.

Contrary to widespread reports, the German government has not made a commitment to its fellow NATO members to modernize its nuclear-capable Tornado aircraft, German and NATO officials said in interviews last month.

EU Details Plans for Space Code

Timothy Farnsworth

The European Union in late July provided details on its process of adopting an international code of conduct for outer space activities, clarifying why the process is not directly tied to any of the various existing UN forums and what the EU’s planned timetable is for negotiating the agreement.

In a July 31 statement to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, Jirí Blažek, second secretary in the EU delegation to the UN office in Geneva, explained why the EU decided to use an ad hoc process for negotiating a code rather than using existing UN forums such as the CD or the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. “[T]hese bodies only gather a limited number of countries, and we would like all countries wishing to participate [in] this process to be able to do so,” he said. The EU wants “to act swiftly for practical reasons, on a project which is non-legally binding, based on the acceptance of voluntary rules,” he said.

The code would establish “a political framework, which is absolutely compatible and complementary with other existing initiatives” including efforts in the United Nations, Blažek said. According to the statement, a “formal link could be established” between a future code and the UN.

Blažek also explained the timetable for negotiating a code. The EU introduced the latest draft June 5 in Vienna before more than 40 countries, officially launching a new phase in the process that seeks to expand the group of countries involved in the talks. (See ACT, July/August 2012.)

The next international experts meeting on the draft code is expected to take place in New York in mid-October to coincide with the convening of the UN General Assembly First and Fourth Committees, he said. (The First Committee deals with disarmament and other international security issues; the Fourth Committee covers “special” issues, including the peaceful uses of outer space.) This meeting will be a negotiating session and will be open to all UN members, Blažek said.

Blažek also said the process could require up to three experts meetings; a diplomatic conference could take place in 2013 “if negotiations go smoothly,” he said.

The European Union in late July provided details on its process of adopting an international code of conduct for outer space activities, clarifying why the process is not directly tied to any of the various existing UN forums and what the EU’s planned timetable is for negotiating the agreement.

The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and the Adapted CFE Treaty at a Glance

August 2017

Contact: Daryl KimballExecutive Director, 202-463-8270 x107; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, 202-463-8270 x104

Negotiated during the final years of the Cold War, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is often referred to as the "cornerstone of European security." The treaty, signed on November 19, 1990, eliminated the Soviet Union's overwhelming quantitative advantage in conventional weapons in Europe by setting equal limits on the amount of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

The CFE Treaty was designed to prevent either alliance from amassing forces for a blitzkrieg-type offensive, which could have triggered the use of nuclear weapons in response. Although the threat of such an offensive all but disappeared with the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, member states have repeatedly touted the enduring value of the treaty's weapons limits and inspection regime, which provides an unprecedented degree of transparency on military holdings.

Original CFE Treaty

The principal features of the original CFE Treaty are:

Treaty Limited Equipment (TLE): NATO and the former Warsaw Pact were each limited to 20,000 tanks, 30,000 ACVs, 20,000 heavy artillery pieces, 6,800 combat aircraft, and 2,000 attack helicopters for the treaty's area of application. Member states of each alliance then divided their respective "bloc" limit among themselves, in effect creating national limits. (The Soviet Union's limits were subsequently parceled out among eight of its successor states in 1992.) To prevent any country from amassing a significant asymmetrical stockpile of weapons, the treaty prohibits a single state from possessing more than a third of the TLE total.

As of January 2007, NATO's 22 CFE states-parties claimed collective holdings of 61,281 TLE versus a cumulative limit of 101,697. Russia reported holdings of 23,266 TLE against limits of 28,216.[2] Russia has not provided detailed reports to CFE since 2007.

From 1992 through 2008, CFE states have reduced more than 52,000 pieces of conventional armaments under the treaty. Many states reduced their holdings more than required – with over 17,955 voluntary reductions or conversions below treaty limits. States also carried out some 6,000 CFE inspections through 2008.[3]

Concentric Zones: The CFE Treaty has four concentric zones capping the deployment of tanks, ACVs, and artillery radiating out from the center of Europe (much like a shooting target). The innermost zone with the smallest limits incorporates Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, while the fourth and largest zone encompasses the entire treaty area. (There are no zone limits for combat aircraft and attack helicopters.)

The Flank Zone: To alleviate concerns that either alliance would launch a flanking maneuver against the other, the treaty placed specific limits on the number of tanks, ACVs, and artillery for Europe's southern and northern flanks, including portions of Russia. Moscow has consistently sought to abolish the flank zone as it considers the limits to be unfair because it is the only country (aside from Ukraine) that has specific limits on where it can deploy TLE in its own territory. Russian concerns were partially met in 1996 when the CFE parties agreed that Russia's original flank zone limits would apply to a smaller area, while Russia's original flank territory would have larger limits. Moscow's total CFE limits, however, remained the same. Although Russia has been in noncompliance with even the higher May 1996 flank limits, Moscow has remained within its overall treaty limits and has repeatedly stated that its flank noncompliance is only temporary.

Transparency: CFE states-parties have carried out more than 4,000 on-site inspections.

Adapted CFE Treaty

Should it enter into force, the principal features of the adapted treaty are:

National Ceilings: Each country will have a specific limit on tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters—collectively referred to as treaty-limited equipment (TLE)—that it can deploy in the treaty’s area of application, which covers the area between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

Territorial Ceilings: Each country with territory in the treaty’s area of application will have a cap on the total number of tanks, ACVs, and heavy artillery that can be deployed within its borders. This restricts national and foreign-stationed TLE. During the adaptation negotiations, NATO refused Russia’s persistent efforts for similar caps on combat aircraft and attack helicopters.

Most countries, including Russia and new NATO members, agreed to set territorial ceilings equal to national ceilings, in effect requiring a state’s own TLE on its territory to be lower than its national ceilings if that state wanted to host foreign-stationed forces. A host country must give advance consent for any foreign TLE deployments.  Both Russia and Ukraine will have subceilings establishing areas in which their ground TLE deployments on their own territories will be limited within their overall limits.

Temporary Deployments: A country’s territorial ceilings can be exceeded by 153 tanks, 241 ACVs, and 140 artillery pieces for military exercises and temporary deployments. In “exceptional circumstances,” countries outside the original treaty’s flank zone, which limited ground TLE in the northern and southern flanks of Europe, can temporarily exceed their territorial ceilings by 459 tanks, 723 ACVs, and 420 artillery pieces. “Temporary” is not defined, but regular notifications are required for TLE exceeding territorial ceilings.

Transparency: States-parties will be required to permit inspections of 20 percent of their “objects of verification,” which are military units down to the regiment level and storage, repair, and reduction sites with TLE present.

Annual reports on the actual location of tanks, ACVs, and artillery are required if they are different from their designated peacetime location. Quarterly reports must detail by territory the actual location of tanks, ACVs, and artillery, as well as the total number of combat aircraft and attack helicopters in the entire treaty area. Changes of mor e than 30 tanks, 30 ACVs, or 10 artillery pieces on a state’s territory must be reported. Any increase by 18 or more combat aircraft or attack helicopters in a country’s holdings in the entire treaty area must be notified to all states-parties.


CFE members signed an adaptation agreement in 1999 to update the treaty’s structure to reflect the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and an expanding NATO alliance. The revised agreement jettisons the bloc-to-bloc and zonal limits of the original treaty and replaces them with a system of national and territorial ceilings. The adapted treaty will enter into force when all 30 states-parties have ratified the agreement. However, only Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine have ratified, and Ukraine has yet to deposit its instrument of ratification. As a result, the original treaty remains in effect.

Meanwhile, the United States and its NATO partners in CFE have refused to ratify the new treaty until Russia first complies with its new weapons limits and with the commitments Moscow made in the CFE Final Act and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Istanbul Summit Declaration. The Final Act and Declaration are political, not-legally binding documents concluded along with the adapted treaty. They set out additional commitments by CFE states-parties on future weapons deployments, including pledges by Russia to withdraw its treaty-limited weapons and military forces from Georgia and Moldova.

In 2002, Moscow declared that it had met the adapted treaty’s weapons limits. NATO accepted this claim but repeated that Russia must still fulfill its commitments with regard to Georgia and Moldova before NATO states would ratify the adapted treaty. Moscow was especially displeased at NATO’s decision not to ratify because four new NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia) are not party to the original treaty and therefore have no arms limits. No provision exists for additional countries to accede to the original treaty; they must wait to join the adapted treaty once it enters into force.

Citing the ongoing delay of the adapted treaty’s entry into force, Russia issued a Dec. 12, 2007 statement “suspending” its implementation of the CFE Treaty. (The treaty does not contain a provision for suspension, only withdrawal.)  Under suspension, Moscow stated that it will not participate in treaty data exchanges, notifications, or inspections. Although the Kremlin noted that it has no plans for arms buildups, it also declared that it would not be bound by the treaty’s limits. NATO members, including the United States, called on Russia to reverse course and declared their intention to continue implementing the treaty "without prejudice to any future action they might take."

Recent Efforts Stall

Sporadic efforts have been made since 2007 to bridge the divide. Beginning in 2010, the Obama administration sought to resolve the CFE dispute through the development of a draft “framework” for new negotiations to strengthen the CFE Treaty regime. But by mid-2011, the talks stalled as Russia could not agree to the principle of host-country consent or to a resumption of compliance with the original CFE Treaty.

In response, the U.S. Department of State announced in a Nov. 22, 2011 press release that Washington “would cease carrying out certain obligations” under the CFE Treaty with regard to Russia, putting the future of the 1990 pact in serious doubt.

At a press briefing the same day, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the decision means that the United States “will not accept Russian inspections of our bases under the CFE [Treaty], and we will also not provide Russia with the annual notifications and military data called for in the treaty.” She added that “it is our understanding that a number, if not all, of the U.S. NATO allies will do the same.”

According to the press release, Washington “will continue to implement the Treaty and carry out all obligations with all States Parties other than Russia” and will not exceed the pact’s numerical limits on conventional armaments. The United States would resume full CFE Treaty implementation “if Russia resume[d] implementation of its Treaty obligations,” according to the statement.

If CFE members [1] cannot get the treaty back on track, there is concern that Russian will increase its reliance on tactical nuclear weapons to defend itself from what Moscow now sees as NATO’s conventional superiority in Europe.


1. CFE States-Parties: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

2. Crawford, Dorn. "Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE): A Review and Update of Key Treaty Elements," Arms Control Bureau, Department of State, January 2007. The limits are the entitlements permitted under the original 1990 accord. Under the 1999 Adapted CFE Treaty, the cumulative national weapons limits for NATO members currently bound by the original CFE Treaty equal 92,678 arms.

3. U.S. Department of State, Adherence To and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, And Disarmament Agreements And Commitments, July 2010, p. 28, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/145181.pdf

Conventional Arms Issues

Country Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Senator Lugar Honored for National Security Work

Senator Lugar inspects a Soviet SS-18 ICBM being readied for destruction in 2002. Photo Credit: Office of Senator Richard Lugar By Kelsey Davenport The American Security Project (ASP) honored Senator Richard Lugar (R–Ind.) on Wednesday for his extensive contributions to national security as the first recipient of an ASP award for leadership in national security . ASP will annually present "the Lugar Award" to an individual that embodies the Senator's efforts to solve pressing national security concerns. As a former intern in Senator Lugar's Washington DC office, I felt honored to be present...

Key Senator May Oppose New Treaties

Tom Z. Collina

A key Republican senator who voted for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) threatened to block future treaties, citing what he said was the failure of the Obama administration to keep its promise, made in talks with the Senate over New START in 2010, to increase funding for nuclear weapons programs.

At a June 21 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that he was “highly disappointed” that the administration had not requested as much for nuclear weapons in fiscal year 2013 as it said it would in 2010. Corker, who faces an August primary challenge, said he “would be very reticent to agree to any treaty with this administration on any topic, until something changes as it relates to the commitments on this START treaty.”

The White House has indicated that it is seeking a ratification vote on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea later this year, may seek approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty next year, and eventually may ask for a Senate vote on a follow-on treaty to New START.

Corker may become the ranking Republican on the committee in the next Congress, as the current ranking member, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), lost his primary election in May. If the Republicans win control of the Senate in November, Corker could become chairman of the panel.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the current committee chairman, addressed Corker’s criticism by saying that the administration has been “working hard” to provide increased support for weapons programs “at a time when almost all other budgets are being slashed.” Kerry pointed out that, for fiscal year 2012, the administration had requested the full amount projected in the November 2010 funding estimate, known as the 1251 report, but that it was “the House of Representatives that cut the funding below the request, not the president, and not the Senate.” For fiscal year 2013, the administration is requesting a 5 percent increase for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons funding over the 2012 amount, he noted. (See ACT, April 2012.) The NNSA, which is a semiautonomous agency in the Department of Energy, is responsible for maintaining the nuclear weapons production complex.

The fiscal year 2012 congressional appropriation for NNSA weapons funding was $416 million, or 4 percent, less than the administration’s $7.6 billion budget request, which matched the 1251 report’s projection for fiscal year 2012. Under the Senate resolution of approval for New START, this shortfall triggered a requirement that the administration report to Congress on how to address any funding gap. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta submitted this report on June 5, finding that the fiscal year 2013 request meets military requirements “even during a time of pronounced fiscal austerity” and that “no additional resources are requested.”

NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino testified June 21 that “we [will] have the resources we need” if Congress approves the administration’s full fiscal year 2013 request. “I’ve seen an unprecedented level of commitment on the part of [the] executive branch towards taking care of our nuclear security enterprise,” he testified.

House, Senate Differ

Corker stopped short of suggesting, as his House colleagues have, that New START should not be implemented unless the funding levels specified in the 1251 report’s 10-year projection are requested and appropriated.

In the House, Republican leaders such as Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, are trying to prevent the implementation of New START as well as additional reductions. The fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House on May 18, includes language that could block arsenal reductions under New START if the administration does not increase its spending request for certain nuclear weapons-related projects, for which the Pentagon and the NNSA did not ask.

In a May 15 statement, the administration issued a warning that it may veto the defense bill over these provisions, which the White House said would “impinge on the President’s ability to implement the New START Treaty and to set U.S. nuclear weapons policy.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee, which completed its version of the defense bill on May 24, did not seek to link New START implementation to additional funds for modernization. Instead, the committee found that “the linkage between nuclear modernization and the New START Treaty’s implementation is sufficiently established.”

At the June 21 hearing, Lugar said he was “very concerned by attempts to force U.S. withdrawal from the New START Treaty or suspend its implementation. We should not risk either the transparency achieved by the Treaty nor the reliability and performance of our strategic nuclear forces.”

Kerry said that “those who say we should just walk away from New START” have to explain how “retaining more nuclear weapons than our military advisers say we need, and how having less insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal” would be beneficial. “We need to see the logic of that,” Kerry said.

New START on Track

As Corker accused the administration of breaking its promises, administration witnesses argued that New START was advancing U.S. security interests. Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, testified that the treaty, which entered into force in February 2011, “is providing ongoing transparency and predictability regarding the world’s two largest deployed nuclear arsenals” while preserving the U.S. ability to maintain a strong nuclear deterrent.

In the treaty’s first year, the United States and Russia conducted the maximum of 18 on-site inspections, Gottemoeller said. So far in the second year, Russia has conducted eight inspections, and the United States has conducted seven. These inspections have taken place at intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missile, and heavy bomber bases, as well as at storage facilities, conversion or elimination facilities, and test ranges, said Gottemoeller, who was the lead U.S. negotiator of New START.

On the issue of when the United States plans to reduce its arsenal to New START levels, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon testified that the Pentagon plans to “make most of the reductions in deployed systems towards the end of the seven-year reduction period,” or by 2018. By then, the United States, which currently deploys 1,737 warheads, 812 delivery systems, and 1,040 launchers, must meet the treaty’s limits of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads, 700 delivery vehicles, and 800 launchers.

Creedon testified that initial reductions will come from the conversion or elimination of systems that were counted under the 1991 START but are no longer maintained “in a deployable status.” These previously retired systems, often referred to as “phantoms” because they are no longer deployed but still counted under the treaty, include 50 empty Peacekeeper ICBM silos at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, 50 empty Minuteman III ICBM silos at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, three excess ICBM test silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; and 34 B-52G and 13 B-52H bombers currently stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The estimated cost to eliminate or convert these systems is $47 million, she said.

A key Republican senator who voted for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) threatened to block future treaties, citing what he said was the failure of the Obama administration to keep its promise, made in talks with the Senate over New START in 2010, to increase funding for nuclear weapons programs.

NATO Fields Interceptors Without Russia

Tom Z. Collina

NATO now has an “interim capability” for its U.S.-built missile interceptor system, the alliance announced at its May 20-21 summit in Chicago, but the future of NATO-Russian cooperation on missile defense remains uncertain.

The announcement of NATO’s capability, which is part of the so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach, was expected, as was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to attend the summit in protest. (See ACT, April 2012.) Russia had wanted the cooperation agreement to be worked out before NATO went ahead with the interceptor system.

When NATO leaders first endorsed U.S. missile interceptor plans for Europe in late 2010, NATO and Russia agreed to explore ways to cooperate on missile defenses. Since then, however, the two sides have been unable to agree on the specifics of that cooperation, with Moscow seeking binding assurances that the system would not undermine its security, which Washington refused to provide. Although there has been no agreement in this area, both sides say that the door to cooperation remains open.

According to a May 20 White House summary, “interim capability” means that, in a crisis, NATO could assume operational command of the U.S. missile interceptor system in Europe, currently composed of an Aegis-equipped ship with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) IA interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea, an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey, and a command and control center in Germany.

The U.S. Department of Defense has been directed to transfer operational control of the radar to NATO, but SM-3-armed ships in the area would operate under NATO control only “when necessary,” the summary said. NATO designated its most senior military commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, to oversee the missile defense mission, the White House said.

Future phases of the European system include increasingly capable SM-3 interceptor deployments at sea and on land in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018). The current interim capability would be followed by “initial operational capability” in 2015 and “full operational capability” in 2018, the White House said. Phase four of the system, including SM-3 IIB interceptors with some capability against long-range missiles, would be deployed in 2020.

“NATO will now have an operationally meaningful ballistic missile defense mission. It will be limited in the initial phase, but it will expand over time,” U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said at a May 20 press briefing at the summit. “It will, as of today, provide real protection for parts of NATO Europe against ballistic missile attack,” he said. Daalder declined to specify which nations in southern Europe would be protected, explaining that “a wide variety of places” could be protected because “the ship can be moved.”

The next SM-3 interceptor to be deployed, the IB, hit its target in a May 10 test, according to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Last September, the system failed in its first intercept test. This interceptor would be deployed on land in Romania by 2015 and on ships at sea.

Richard Lehner, an MDA spokesman, declined to say whether the test included countermeasures such as decoys that an enemy likely would use to try to overwhelm the defense. “We don’t divulge presence of countermeasures for any missile defense tests,” he told Reuters May 10.

Moscow’s Concerns

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern that the SM-3 IIB, which is supposed to be deployed in 2020 and is still on the drawing board, could fly fast enough to threaten its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) based in western Russia. At a May 3-4 missile defense conference in Moscow, Nikolai Makarov, chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, raised the possibility of delivering pre-emptive strikes against NATO missile defense systems if the alliance goes ahead with current plans. In addition, Russia tested a new ICBM on May 23 that the military said was designed to evade U.S. defenses.

In its declaration at the Chicago summit, NATO sought to reassure Russia by stating that “NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities.” The declaration said the allies regretted “recurrent Russian statements on possible measures directed against NATO’s missile defense system” and welcomed Russia’s willingness to continue dialogue “on the future framework for missile defense cooperation.”

In addition to the legally binding commitment that NATO missile interceptors would not be targeted at Russia, Moscow has been seeking limits on numbers, velocities, and deployment locations of SM-3 interceptors. In one of the Russian presentations at the Moscow conference, Col. Evgeny Ilyin said ship-based interceptors in the Baltic Sea or Norwegian Sea traveling at speeds greater than five kilometers per second would be “a real threat to the Russian deterrence capability.” Slower interceptors do not pose the same level of concern, Ilyin said.

House Pushes East Coast Site

Meanwhile, on May 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which would increase spending on the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by $460 million above the $903 million requested by the Department of Defense. Of that additional amount, the bill would authorize $100 million to study the deployment of missile interceptors on the U.S. East Coast by late 2015. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this new project would cost $3.6 billion over five years.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and the leading proponent of an East Coast site, based his position on a forthcoming report by the National Research Council, an independent advisory group to the U.S. government. However, a summary of the report states that the current West Coast interceptor system “has serious shortcomings” and would have to be completely redesigned, retested, and rebuilt before it could be installed on the East Coast, making the 2015 time frame appear unrealistic.

The main conclusions of the council’s report, called “Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives,” were made public in an April 30 letter from report co-chairs L. David Montague and Walter Slocombe to the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The United States already has one site in Alaska and one in California, with a total of 30 deployed interceptors, to handle potential future attacks from Iran and North Korea. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test since 2008, with two failures in 2010. Neither Iran nor North Korea has yet deployed long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The Pentagon did not request funding for an East Coast site, and on May 10, the nation’s top military officer said there was no need for a third site. The current program “is adequate and sufficient to the task,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news briefing. “So I don’t see a need beyond what we’ve submitted in the last budget.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in preparing its version of the fiscal 2013 defense bill, did not authorize an East Coast site.

NATO now has an “interim capability” for its U.S.-built missile interceptor system, the alliance announced at its May 20-21 summit in Chicago, but the future of NATO-Russian cooperation on missile defense remains uncertain.

NATO Sticks With Nuclear Policy

Oliver Meier

Leaders from NATO’s 28 countries, meeting at a May 20-21 summit in Chicago, adopted a report that confirms the basic tenets of the alliance’s nuclear posture and lays the groundwork for future confidence-building talks with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons.

It describes the contributions of nuclear and conventional forces as well as missile defenses and arms control and finds that nuclear weapons remain a “core component” of NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities.

In 2009, Germany had triggered an extensive debate about the continued deployment of about 180 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons under NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey by promising to advocate withdrawal of U.S. weapons from Germany. (See ACT, December 2009.) At NATO’s Lisbon summit in November 2010, the allies launched the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, primarily to resolve differences among them on the future role of nuclear weapons and to define the mix between NATO’s different defense capabilities. (See ACT, October 2011.) The seven-page document that the NATO heads of state and government formally adopted on May 20 is the result of that review.

The report finds that NATO’s “nuclear force posture currently meets the criteria for an effective deterrence and defence posture,” but the allies also pledge to “ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective for as long as NATO remains a nuclear alliance.”

A senior Polish official said in a May 23 interview that this statement “is related primarily to the replacement of aging delivery means,” a reference to nuclear-capable aircraft in Europe that are scheduled to go out of service this decade. The U.S. life extension program for B61 gravity bombs in Europe, which will lead to the deployment of newer and more capable nuclear weapons after 2019, “is of secondary importance in this regard,” he said.

The report calls on NATO members “to develop concepts for how to ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies concerned in their nuclear sharing arrangements, including in case NATO were to decide to reduce its reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons based in Europe,” but a senior official from a western European country argued in a May 21 interview that this does not represent a significant departure from the existing perspective on nuclear sharing arrangements. That perspective is described in the 2010 Strategic Concept, which was adopted at the Lisbon summit.

A senior French diplomat said on May 22 that “France’s nuclear deterrent will not be directly affected by discussions on the possible reduction of tactical nuclear weapons but we still have to decide in which format such discussions could take place.” France does not commit any nuclear forces to NATO and does not participate in the alliance’s Nuclear Planning Group.

Those who had hoped that NATO’s renewed commitment to territorial missile defense might lead to a reduction of the role of nuclear weapons were disappointed. Ahead of the summit, newly elected French President François Hollande had made protection of the French nuclear deterrent a precondition of France’s support for missile defense. As a result, the posture review report states that “[m]issile defence can complement the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence; it cannot substitute for them.”

Arms Control Proposals

The report links changes in the alliance’s nuclear posture to Russia’s nuclear policy by stating that “NATO is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for non-strategic nuclear weapons assigned to the Alliance in the context of reciprocal steps by Russia, taking into account the greater Russian stockpiles of non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

Like NATO, Russia keeps the numbers and locations of tactical nuclear weapons secret, but is estimated to possess about 2,000 operational weapons.

In the report, NATO states that it wants “to develop and exchange transparency and confidence-building ideas with the Russian Federation in the NATO-Russia Council, with the goal of developing detailed proposals on and increasing mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.”

The western European official said that “NATO would like to enter into a dialogue with Moscow on this issue as quickly as possible,” but conceded that “realistically we might have to wait until after the U.S. elections. In the meantime, allies should try to elaborate the package of proposals they would like to bring to the table.”

The allies agreed to establish a new committee “as a consultative and advisory forum” on arms control issues, whose name and mandate will be decided by the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s highest decision-making body.

The Polish official predicted that the new arms control committee, which replaces the Weapons of Mass Destruction Control and Disarmament Committee set up in Lisbon, “will try to build its own identity and expand its role, including a general discussion of what role NATO can play in arms control and disarmament.”

The French diplomat, however, argued that the “added value” of the new committee is “to define the conditions for reciprocity of nuclear reductions.” He added, “We do not see a role for this committee in addressing the alliance’s nuclear posture or declaratory policy.”

Confusion on Nuclear Doctrine

Repeating language from NATO’s Strategic Concept, the report states that “the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote.”

Yet, in the report the allies attempted to reflect recent changes in the nuclear doctrines of the United Kingdom and the United States. Both countries pledged in 2010 not to use or threaten to use their nuclear weapons against members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that comply with their nonproliferation obligations, although the specific conditions of these negative security assurances differ slightly between the two countries.

The western European official said that “agreement on declaratory policy was among the most difficult issues” in drafting the report. In the end, allies merely “acknowledge” the “independent and unilateral negative security assurances offered by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.”

The French diplomat said that “the agreement in the [report] was a useful step because NATO now recognizes the value of national security guarantees.”

Because France does not assign any of its nuclear weapons to the alliance, NATO’s nuclear planners draw only on British and U.S. nuclear weapons. The posture review report notes that “the states that have assigned nuclear weapons to NATO apply to these weapons the assurances they have each offered on a national basis, including the separate conditions each state has attached to these assurances.”

Most officials described the impact of these statements on NATO’s nuclear policy as marginal at best. In contrast, during a May 22 conference call with reporters, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder called it “a very significant step” that “the U.S. policy as enunciated in the [2010] Nuclear Posture Review is now recognized by NATO as applying to U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.”

The western European official predicted that discussions on declaratory policy “will be off the table for the time being” even though the United States and some European allies were willing to go further on negative security assurances. An Italian diplomat in a May 22 interview said Italy was “open to a discussion on a declaratory policy specifically addressed to the nuclear forces assigned to NATO.”

What Next?

Official and independent assessments of the posture review report differ markedly. The French diplomat said it “is the best possible agreement, nobody had to cross any redlines, and the fundamentals of nuclear deterrence, as defined in NATO’s Strategic Concept, remained untouched.” By contrast, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), the co-chairman of the nongovernmental Nuclear Threat Initiative, argued in a May 21 statement that the report indicates “little progress in defining a clear strategy for changing the nuclear status quo and deserves, at best, a grade of ‘incomplete’.”

The Italian diplomat said that Rome is happy with the outcome because it “sets the stage for further debates on NATO‘s reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons.” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in a May 22 interview with Deutsche Welle, described the posture review report as “remarkable” because, “for the first time a security alliance like NATO has made disarmament a constituent part of its own strategy.” Daalder said the report represents “major progress” because “we now have an alliance firmly on record as wanting to reduce the reliance on nuclear weapons, wanting to find ways to shift the focus to other means of deterrence and defense and to do so on a consultative and reciprocal basis.”

Leaders from NATO’s 28 countries, meeting at a May 20-21 summit in Chicago, adopted a report that confirms the basic tenets of the alliance’s nuclear posture and lays the groundwork for future


Subscribe to RSS - EU / NATO