Despite a flurry of summer meetings between top U.S. and Russian officials on offensive and defensive strategic forces, Moscow remains unconvinced by U.S. arguments to abandon the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. (Continue)
In a May 1 speech at National Defense University, President George W. Bush said that the United States “must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM Treaty” and replace it with a “new framework.” Bush offered few details about what such a strategic framework would look like, but he reaffirmed his intention to deploy ballistic missile defenses and further reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (Continue)
From an arms control perspective, the first 100 days of George W. Bush's presidency have been a disaster. President Bush has demonstrated that he believes, and intends to implement, his campaign rhetoric condemning past arms control accomplishments and even the concept of arms control itself. Unless he changes direction, Bush will have effectively demolished the arms control regime that has been painstakingly built over the past 30 years. (Continue)
Joint Chiefs of Staff 'Uncomfortable' With Start III Reductions Below 2,000-2,500
Russia Ratifies START II, Extension Protocol; ABM-Related Agreements Also Approved
THE FIRST ROUND of U.S.-Russian "discussions" on START III and the ABM Treaty ended August 19 without any apparent progress, casting a shadow on the Clinton administration's plans to resolve treaty issues before June 2000, when it will decide whether to deploy a limited national missile defense (NMD) system. During the talks, which began August 17 in Moscow, Russia continued to argue that NMD deployment would upset strategic stability and spark a new arms race. The Russians did propose, however, that the sides deploy a maximum of 1,500 strategic warheads each under START III instead of the 2,000–2,500 limit agreed to by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin at the Helsinki summit in March 1997. Further consultations on these issues are planned for September in Moscow. (Continue)
HOPING TO RESTART their interrupted strategic dialogue, the United States and Russia held face-to-face meetings in June at the Group of Eight summit in Cologne, Germany. During talks, both sides agreed to press for ratification of START II and to hold dual-track "discussions" later this summer on both START III and possible amendments to the ABM Treaty that would allow deployment of a limited national missile defense (NMD) system. The Clinton administration is expected to make an NMD architecture decision in the coming months so that it can determine what specific treaty amendments deployment would require. However, a decision on whether to deploy an NMD system will not be made until June 2000. (Continue)
The U.S.-Russian arms control agenda is in serious trouble.