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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Issue Briefs

Former Nuclear Commanders Support New START

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Volume 1, Number 13

Seven former U.S. military commanders of Strategic Air Command and U.S. Strategic Command have announced their support for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, New START.  In a July 14 letter to senators (PDF), the five Air Force Generals and two Navy Admirals wrote that they "strongly endorse [New START's] early ratification and entry into force" because "the treaty will enhance American national security."

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Volume 1, Number 13, July 29, 2010

Seven former U.S. military commanders of Strategic Air Command and U.S. Strategic Command have announced their support for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, New START.  In a July 14 letter to senators (PDF), the five Air Force Generals and two Navy Admirals wrote that they "strongly endorse [New START's] early ratification and entry into force" because "the treaty will enhance American national security."

The military commanders state in their letter that:

  • "[C]ontinuing the formal strategic arms reduction process will contribute to a more productive and safer relationship with Russia."
  • "We will understand Russian strategic forces much better with the treaty than would be the case without it. For example, the treaty permits on-site inspections that will allow us to observe and confirm the number of warheads on individual Russian missiles; we cannot do that with just national technical means of verification."
  • "[T]he post-treaty force will represent a survivable, robust and effective deterrent, one fully capable of deterring attack on both the United States and America's allies and partners."
  • "[T]he treaty provides no meaningful constraint on U.S. missile defense plans. The prohibition on placing missile defense interceptors in ICBM or SLBM launchers does not constrain us from planned deployments."

The letter was signed by General Larry Welch (USAF, Ret), General John Chain (USAF, Ret), General Lee Butler (USAF, Ret), Admiral Henry Chiles (USN, Ret), General Eugene Habiger (USAF, Ret), Admiral James Ellis (USN, Ret), and General Bennie Davis (USAF, Ret).

They join former U.S. Strategic Commander General James Cartwright (now Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and current U.S. Strategic Commander General Kevin Chilton and a growing list of current and former military leaders who have endorsed New START.  For additional names, please see "Why New START is Essential to U.S. National Security: What Bipartisan National Security Officials Are Saying." - TOM Z. COLLINA

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Posted: July 29, 2010

State Dept. Report Supports New START; Post's Initial Story Misleading

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Volume 1, Number 12

Today, the U.S. State Department released the unclassified version of its report, Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments. This report finds that Russia was in compliance with the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) "for the 15-year term of the Treaty." This fact should reassure the U.S. Senate that Russia would also comply with the New START treaty, which was signed by the United States and Russia in April and includes comprehensive verification provisions.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 12, July 28, 2010

Today, the U.S. State Department released the unclassified version of its report, Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments. This report finds that Russia was in compliance with the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) "for the 15-year term of the Treaty." This fact should reassure the U.S. Senate that Russia would also comply with the New START treaty, which was signed by the United States and Russia in April and includes comprehensive verification provisions.

A story in today's Washington Post, initially titled "Report Finds Russians May Not be in Compliance, Could Sink New START Pact," gave the misleading impression that the report found that Russia was not in compliance with START. That is not the case. The Post later changed the title of its story to the less hyperbolic, "Report findings about Russia could complicate debate on new START pact."

Even so, there is no reason the State Department report should complicate the New START ratification process, for the following reasons:

1. The report finds that Russia complied with START.

According to the report, "Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine were in compliance with the START strategic offensive arms (SOA) central limits for the 15-year term of the Treaty." The report notes that the United States had raised new compliance issues since 2005, and that "the United States considered several of these to have been closed." Residual issues related to "the complex inspection and verification provisions of the START Treaty" would be resolved by New START, which has a simpler, more streamlined verification system.

The State Department report should give senators additional confidence that Russia would comply with New START. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said last year that "Our experiences over many years have proven the effectiveness of the Treaty's verification provisions and served to build a basis for confidence between the two countries when doubts arose." Senators that have concerns about Russia's nuclear arsenal should support New START ratification since without New START there will be no on-site inspections of Russian nuclear sites. There is no substitute for the information provided by New START verification.

According to a July 14 letter from seven of the eight retired commanders of U.S. nuclear forces, "We will understand Russian strategic forces much better with the treaty than would be the case without it."

2. The report's findings on possible noncompliance have nothing to do with New START.

The State Department report finds that for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), "Russian entities have remained engaged in dual-use, biological research activities. There were no indications that these activities were conducted for purposes inconsistent with the BWC." As there is no verification protocol for the BWC, it is not surprising that ambiguities exist. This demonstrates the importance of ratifying New START so that its comprehensive verification provisions can take effect.

On the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the report finds that "Russia has completed destruction of its CWPFs [Chemical Weapons Production Facilities] scheduled for destruction, but has not met the CWPF conversion deadline." Not only is Russia out of compliance with its CWC deadline, but so is the United States. The CWC requires destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles by 2012 and due to the huge quantity of the stockpiles and the technical challenges of destroying them in a safe manner, both countries are behind schedule. Click here for more details.

Despite misleading stories in the media, the State Department report supports the ratification of New START and should in no way complicate the ratification process. - TOM Z. COLLINA and DARYL G. KIMBALL

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Posted: July 28, 2010

Eleven Reasons to Support New START: Responses to Treaty Critics

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Volume 1, Number 11

Ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed in April 2010 by the United States and Russia, is currently pending before the U.S. Senate.  Over the last three months, the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees have held over a dozen public hearings and built a formidable case in support of New START.  In particular, New START would increase U.S. security by reducing the nuclear threat from Russia, providing transparency and predictability about Russian strategic forces, and bolstering U.S. efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups and additional states.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 11, July 27, 2010

Ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed in April 2010 by the United States and Russia, is currently pending before the U.S. Senate.  Over the last three months, the Senate ForeignRelations and Armed Services Committees have held over a dozen public hearings and built a formidable case in support of New START. In particular, New START would increase U.S. security by reducing the nuclear threat from Russia, providing transparency and predictability about Russian strategic forces, and bolstering U.S. efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups and additional states.

This Arms Control Association Issue Brief responds to the most prominent questions and concerns that have been raised to date by treaty critics, including former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.).  Close scrutiny reveals that none of these concerns should stand in the way of prompt U.S. ratification of New START.

1.  Would New START reduce the nuclear threat from Russia?  Yes. Russia deploys approximately 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads, not counting bomber weapons in storage, according to the Congressional Research Service.  New START would limit this force to 1,550, meaning that hundreds of Russian nuclear warheads would no longer be deployed on ballistic missiles that could be aimed at the United States.  Moreover, New START would lock in these limits for the next decade or longer.

2.  Would New START provide transparency and predictability about Russian strategic forces?  Yes. Given START I's expiration last December, there is currently no bilateral system for monitoring Russia's nuclear forces.  New START would provide on-the-ground information about Russian strategic force deployments that the United States could not get any other way.  For example, satellites and other national intelligence assets cannot look inside Russian missiles and see how many warheads they carry, but New START's on-site inspection provisions would do just that.  The treaty would provide predictability about Russian strategic forces, allowing better-informed decisions about investments in U.S. nuclear forces and other military capabilities.

3.  Would New START bolster U.S. nuclear nonproliferation efforts? Yes. New START helps to demonstrate that the United States and Russia are keeping up their end of the bargain under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).  New START would increase Washington's leverage in seeking stronger non-proliferation measures, such as more effective nuclear inspections, tougher penalties for states that do not comply with nonproliferation obligations, and faster action to secure the most vulnerable nuclear weapons materials.  Improving the NPT system is essential to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorists and additional nations.

"The U.S. and the Russians are still the custodians of the nuclear age," former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft said July 23.  "We own 95 percent of all the nuclear weapons.  If we are unable between the two of us to make any progress in stability what [does] this do to our urging others not to proliferate, not to go to nuclear weapons because they're a danger to the world, while we sit there and fiddle while Rome burns?"

4.  Would New START significantly limit U.S. missile defense plans? No. "[T]he treaty will not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defenses possible," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said May 18.  The treaty's preamble acknowledges the interrelationship between offense and defense, and Russia has made a unilateral statement that if U.S. missile defense activities jeopardize Moscow's supreme interests, it may withdraw from the treaty.  Both sides have the right to say what they want in a unilateral statement, which has no legal impact on the treaty.  Both sides have the right to withdraw from the treaty, just as the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty during the Bush administration.  U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty did not lead to Russia's withdrawal from START I.

Article V of New START would prohibit both sides from converting launchers for ICBMs and SLBMs into launchers for missile defense interceptors, and vice versa.  The United States has no plans for any such conversions in the future.  Even so, some senators have expressed concern about this provision. The Wall Street Journal editorialized April 17 that "the Obama Administration may not currently plan to convert an ICBM silo into a
missile defense site. But Mr. Obama won't be in office beyond 2017, and a future President might want to. [New] START wouldn't allow it."

"It's a limit in theory, but not in reality," responded U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones in an April 20 letter to the Journal. "We have no plans to convert any additional ICBM silos. In fact, it would be less expensive to build a new silo rather than convert an old one. In other words, if we were to ever need more missile defense silos in California, we would simply dig new holes, which is not proscribed by the treaty."

Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger testified April 29, "I don't think that [New START] inhibits missile defense in a serious way."

5.  Is New START effectively verifiable?  Yes. "I think that when the testimony of the intelligence community comes to the Hill, that the [Director of National Intelligence] and the experts will say that they are comfortable that the provisions of the treaty for verification are adequate for them to monitor Russian compliance, and vice versa," Gates said March 26.

Schlesinger said April 29, "I think all in all that the verification possibilities under this treaty, though much more limited than START I, are still adequate."

On Site Inspections. The new treaty allows up to 18 on-site inspections per year for ten years, including direct monitoring of actual Russian nuclear warheads, something no treaty has allowed before.  Some senators have raised concerns about the fact that there are fewer actual inspections under New START than under START I.

However, Gates testified May 18 that, "for all practical purposes, the number of inspections [in New START] is about the same as it was," under START I.  That is because Type One inspections under New START can achieve two goals (confirm data on delivery vehicles and warheads) at the same time, and thus ten Type One inspections under New START equal 20 START inspections.  Together with the eight Type Two inspections, the 18 New START inspections are essentially equivalent to the 28 inspections permitted under START I.

Moreover, START I's 28 inspections had to cover 70 facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as the Soviet nuclear complex was spread across these four now-independent nations.  Today, all former Soviet nuclear weapons and facilities have been centralized in Russia, and New START's 18 inspections need to cover only 35 Russian sites.

Telemetry. New START does not limit new missile development and thus does not require telemetry sharing as under START I.  Even so, the new treaty still provides for telemetry sharing on up to five missile tests per year as a confidence-building measure. "Telemetry is not nearly as important for this treaty as it has been in the past," said Gates March 26. "In fact, we don't need telemetry to monitor compliance with this treaty," he said.

Votkinsk. Although the Bush administration agreed in 2008 to end mobile missile production monitoring at Russia's Votkinsk plant, under the new treaty Russia must notify the United States 48 hours before a new ICBM or SLBM leaves Votkinsk and when it arrives at its destination, which will facilitate monitoring by national technical means, such as satellites.

JCS Chairman Michael Mullen said March 26 that New START "features a much more effective, transparent verification method that demands quicker data exchanges and notifications."  The Joint Chiefs "stand solidly behind this new treaty," Mullen said.

6.  Can the United States maintain modern, effective, and reliable nuclear forces under New START?  Yes. "The reductions in this treaty will not affect the strength of our nuclear triad," Gates said March 26.  The Pentagon announced May 13 that it plans to meet the treaty's limits and still deploy up to 420 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs, each with a single warhead), 240 Trident Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs, each with multiple warheads), and up to 60 heavy bombers.  Moreover, the Obama administration is planning to invest $80 billion over the next ten years on modernizing the National Nuclear Security Administration's nuclear weapons production complex and refurbishing the nuclear stockpile, and an additional $100 billion over ten years to maintain and modernize strategic delivery systems.

The U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories have sufficient resources to maintain the reliability of all current warhead types through the ongoing Life Extension Program (LEP). New-design warheads and the renewal of nuclear testing are technically unnecessary and would undermine U.S. nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Gates said May 18 that the budget increases and the warhead life extensions "represent a credible modernization plan to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation's deterrent."

7.  Will Russia gain a strategic advantage from the bomber counting rule?  No. New START counts each deployed heavy bomber as one warhead, an arbitrary number since no warheads or bombs are typically deployed on U.S. or Russian bombers.  This is the same counting rule that START I used for bombers carrying short-range weapons.

Concerns have been raised that Russia could use this rule to maintain more warheads than the treaty limit allows.  Schlesinger said April 29 that, "A bomber can carry 16 to 20 [Air-Launched Cruise Missiles]. A force of 65 to 70 bombers could readily carry upwards of 500 additional weapons beyond the 1,550 limit. The official Russian press has already bragged that under the New START counting rules, Russia can maintain 2,100 strategic weapons rather than the 1,550 specified in the treaty."

This is true for both the United States and Russia, and thus does not provide Moscow any advantage.  Moreover, the Russian bomber upload potential is small compared to the United States' upload potential on its SLBMs.  For example, a U.S. Trident SLBM force of 240 missiles with 4 warheads on each would have a warhead upload potential of 960, since each missile has space for 8 warheads.  Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said May 5 that, "in an upload contest, I wouldn't want to bet against the United States of America."

8.  Would New START prohibit conventional global strike?  No. Conventional warheads that may be placed on ICBMs and SLBMs would be subject to the treaty limits, but in practical terms the Obama administration has no firm plans for "prompt global strike" and any future deployments are likely to be small.  For example, the Bush administration had planned to arm 28 Trident SLBMs with one conventional warhead each, and a program of this size would be essentially unconstrained by the treaty.  Gates said May 18 that the treaty "accommodates the limited number of conventional warheads we may need for this capability."

9.  Would theoretical rail-mobile missiles be covered by New START?  Yes. Questions have been raised about whether New START would count rail-mobile ICBMs--if they existed. New START does not define rail-mobile launchers for ICBMs because neither the United States nor Russia currently deploys them. Moscow used to deploy SS-24 missiles on rail-mobile launchers, but the last of these were retired in 2008, and the factory that built rail-based ICBMs in Soviet times is located in what is now Ukraine.

However, if either party in the future were to install an ICBM launcher on a rail car, that launcher would count under the treaty. The treaty limits all deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, defined as "a device intended or used to contain, prepare for launch, and launch an ICBM." Any ICBM launcher would be covered by this definition, regardless of whether it was deployed on a fixed site, on a road-mobile transporter, or on a railcar.  Treaty documents state that "New types of ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments, if developed by either party, would also be subject to the treaty."

10.  Should New START cover tactical weapons?  No. By design, New START covers U.S. and Russian strategic, or long-range, weapons.  Russian tactical weapons are a security concern, but they are not as high a priority as strategic weapons.  "In fact, most of Russia's tactical nuclear weapons either have very short ranges, are used for homeland air defense, are devoted to the Chinese border, or are in storage," Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) wrote July 8.

President Obama has said he wants the next U.S.-Russian treaty to deal with strategic and tactical weapons, both deployed and non-deployed, but that work on the next treaty would not begin until New START is in force. Ratification of New START is thus a prerequisite to reducing Russian tactical nuclear weapons, a bipartisan goal.

"But if there's no agreement on [New START], the chances of moving forward to discuss non-strategic nuclear weapons is close to zero," Scowcroft said July 23.

11. Should the Senate wait to ratify New START? No.
Given START I's expiration last December, there is currently no bilateral system for monitoring Russia's nuclear forces. The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) would remain in force until 2012, but it contains no verification provisions.

Sen. Lugar said April 29 that, "without the New START treaty the United States lacks both the ability to carry out onsite inspections in Russia and the formal consultation mechanisms that monitor the Russian strategic nuclear program. It's essential that a verification system be in place so that we have a sufficient understanding of Russian nuclear forces and achieve a level of transparency that prevents miscalculations."

"If we don't get the treaty, [the Russians] are not constrained in their development of force structure and...we have no insight into what they're doing. So it's the worst of both possible worlds," General Kevin Chilton, STRATCOM Commander, said June 16.

Sen. Lugar wrote July 8, "Rejecting the Treaty would guarantee that no agreement on tactical nukes would occur. It also would mean giving up our human verification presence in Russia that has contributed greatly to strategic stability under the expired START I Treaty. Having inspectors on the ground in Russia has meant that we have not had to wonder about the make-up of Russian strategic forces. New START would strengthen our non-proliferation diplomacy worldwide, limit potential arms competition, and help us focus our defense resources effectively. It offers concrete national security benefits that will make the American people safer, and it should be ratified." - Tom Z. Collina

Additional Resources:

New START at a Glance http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/NewSTART

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START
http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/USStratNukeForceNewSTART

New START and Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Management: A Reality Check 
http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/newstartrealitycheck

Why New START is Essential to U.S. National Security: What Bipartisan National Security
Officials Are Saying http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/BipartisanSupportforSTART

The Value of New START Verification
http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/STARTVerification

New START text and official documents http://www.state.gov/t/vci/trty/126118.htm

 

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Posted: July 27, 2010

New START and Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Management: A Reality Check

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Volume 1, Number 10

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a few Senators cling to the erroneous belief that the United States is not "modernizing" its nuclear weapons production infrastructure and have said they would find it very hard to support New START if there is not a robust and adequately funded, long-term plan for “modernizing” U.S. nuclear weapons.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 10, July 26, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty promises to put Washington and Moscow back on the path of verifiable nuclear weapons reductions and cooperation on related nuclear security priorities. The treaty, which is now before the Senate, would:

  • mandate modest reductions in both sides arsenals to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads. Without New START, Russia could maintain a larger deployed strategic nuclear force;
  • replace the 1991 START verification regime, which expired last December and reestablish a system of intrusive on-site inspections and information exchanges to provide high confidence regarding compliance with treaty limits. Delaying New START ratification weakens the United States' ability to assess Russia's strategic nuclear capabilities.

For these and other reasons, the U.S. military establishment and a large, high-level, bipartisan group (http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/BipartisanSupportforSTART) of former senior national security officials strongly support prompt ratification of New START.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a few Senators cling to the erroneous belief that the United States is not "modernizing" its nuclear weapons production infrastructure and have said they would find it very hard to support New START if there is not a robust and adequately funded, long-term plan for "modernizing" U.S. nuclear weapons.

One Senator, Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), has taken these views to the extreme by threatening that he will not allow New START to come before the Senate "until I'm satisfied about some of these things," in comments reported July 23 in The New York Times.

Such tactics are unwarranted and irresponsible. A sober examination of the record reveals that:

  • the existing strategy for warhead life extensions can continue to maintain the effectiveness of the arsenal indefinitely;
  • a long-term, robust nuclear weapons "modernization" plan is in place;
  • the administration's long-term stockpile stewardship and management plan pledges more than enough resources to sustain the effort;
  • New START does not affect the strategy or the funding requirements to maintain an effective nuclear arsenal without nuclear test explosions.

As the Senate prepares to formally vote on New START in the next few weeks, it is important to separate fact from fiction by examining what the record says about the following issues:

1. Life Extension Programs Can Maintain the Stockpile for Decades

Since the United States ended nuclear explosive testing in 1992, the stockpile stewardship program was fortified to maintain the nuclear stockpile through non-nuclear tests and evaluations, combined with the refurbishment of warhead components. In 1996, the United States became the first nation to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Since then our nation has invested billions of taxpayer dollars in the nuclear weapons laboratories' science and technical base, stockpile surveillance and maintenance programs, advanced computer modeling, new experimental facilities, and studies on the aging of warhead materials to help inform future stockpile stewardship approaches.

As the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory said in a July 15 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "Because of the science we've developed, we now know more about nuclear weapons than we ever have."

Since 1994, each warhead type in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal has been determined to be safe and reliable through a rigorous certification process. Life Extension Programs have refurbished and modernized major warhead types and are scheduled to tackle the remaining warhead types in the years ahead.

Unfortunately, there remain some who erroneously believe that we cannot maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear arsenal in the future without a continuous program of nuclear test explosions. In truth, nuclear explosive testing has never been relied upon to check the reliability of proven U.S. nuclear warhead designs and is not needed to do so in the future.  

A September 2009 report by the JASON independent technical review panel concluded that the "lifetimes of today's nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence." The report also found "no evidence that accumulation of changes incurred from aging and LEPs have increased risk to certification of today's deployed nuclear warheads."

The JASON report also found that: "1) changes induced from component aging can be erased by a LEP, and 2) changes introduced by LEPs are carefully chosen and assessed --they are not random--so that each LEP to date has produced a warhead with higher confidence factors than the original."

2. A Robust Nuclear Modernization Program is Underway

The United States is continuing the process of upgrading all of its strategic delivery systems, the warheads they carry, and the production complex for the next 20-30 years or more.

The ten-year plan outlined in the Obama administration's "Section 1251" report to Congress calls for $80 billion over ten years for these NNSA weapons activities, and another $100 billion for updating or replacing strategic nuclear delivery systems. By any common-sense definition, this amounts to a very robust modernization plan that covers all aspects of the nuclear enterprise, including:

  • Enhancing nuclear warheads through NNSA's Life Extension Program (LEP). The W87 Minuteman warhead has already been refurbished to last past 2025, and NNSA is requesting $63 million for additional work on this warhead in FY 2011. The B61-7 and B61-11 bombs for the B-2 bomber were recently refurbished for an additional 20 years. In 2009, NNSA began delivery of refurbished W76 Trident warheads with service lives of an additional 30 years. NNSA is requesting almost $1 billion over the next five years for an LEP study on the W78 Minuteman warhead. This ongoing process can continue indefinitely.
  • Modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons production complex. The FY 2011 NNSA budget request includes large increases for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which would see its budget jump from $97 million in FY 2010 to $225 million in FY 2011. The Uranium Processing Facility at Oak Ridge would increase from $94 million to $115 million.
  • Maintaining and replacing strategic delivery systems, including complete rebuilds of the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and Trident II Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile. Minuteman can serve until 2030, and Trident is expected to last until 2042. The service lives of Trident Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines are being extended, and a new fleet of submarines is under development at an expected cost of $85 billion. The B-2 "stealth" bomber is being upgraded at a cost of $1 billion over the next 5 years. The Air Force is also planning to replace the Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote in his preface to the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), "These investments, and the NPR's strategy for warhead life extension, represent a credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation's deterrent."

3. Appropriators have fully backed the fiscal 2011 budget request

Senator Kyl has suggested that before New START is ratified, the Obama administration must demonstrate that Congress has endorsed its budget request for NNSA weapons activities. In a sign that the administration's plan is sound and sustainable, earlier this month the House Energy and Water Subcommittee appropriated all but $19 million of the administration's $7 billion request for fiscal 2011 NNSA weapons activities, a 10% increase from the year before with greater increases for stockpile stewardship programs. And last week, the Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee appropriated $10 million above the administration's request. For all intents and purposes, the net result i s a fully-funded program.

Nevertheless, for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the $9 million net reduction from the administration's budget request for NNSA weapons activities is a cause for alarm. In the July 20 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain suggested to principal undersecretary for defense policy Jim Miller that the failure to fully fund the budget request might be grounds for a presidential veto. Hardly.

Rather than hold New START and U.S. national security hostage for a few million more for the weapons laboratories, these Senators should recognize that rejection of New START--as well as further delay of CTBT ratification--will create greater uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy that could jeopardize the political consensus regarding the strategy and budget for maintaining the U.S. nuclear stockpile in years ahead.

4. New-Design Warheads Not Necessary, But Are Still An Option

The April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) Report establishes that the United States will not resume nuclear testing and "will not develop new nuclear warheads. Life Extension Programs will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs, and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities."

This is a prudent and technically sound approach. Given the success of the ongoing U.S. warhead Life Extension Program, there is currently no technical need for new-design warheads and renewed nuclear testing.

To minimize the risks posed by changes to warhead components--particularly the nuclear components in warhead primaries and secondaries--the JASON group has recommended against unnecessary replacement of nuclear components not validated by nuclear test experience. A 2006 NNSA study concluded that weapons plutonium is not affected by aging for 85 years or more.

The directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons labs have strongly endorsed the NPR's approach. In their April 9 joint statement, they said:

"We believe that the approach outlined in the NPR, which excludes further nuclear testing and includes the consideration of the full range of life extension options (refurbishment of existing warheads, reuse of nuclear components from different warheads and replacement of nuclear components based on previously tested designs), provides the necessary technical flexibility to manage the nuclear stockpile into the future with an acceptable level of risk."

Nonetheless, some have suggested that this policy will stifle the creative and imaginative thinking of lab scientists.

In fact, as NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino made clear in an April 14 House Armed Services hearing, the NPR will allow the national nuclear weapons laboratories to "study all options for ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of our nuclear warheads, and we'll do so on a case-by-case basis."

In a June 25 letter (http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/Gates-Chu%20to%20Foster-25Jun10.pdf) to John Foster and other former lab directors, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Energy Secretary Steven Chu wrote that "The Laboratory Directors ... will be expected to provide findings associated with a full range of LEP approaches and to make a set of recommendations based solely on their best technical assessment of each LEP to meet stockpile management goals. [T]his is essential to exercising the full suite of skills needed to sustain the nuclear deterrent."

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee July 15, Michael Anastasio, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, concurred, stating that "we have both the authority and the responsibility to explore, on a case-by-case basis, what's the best technical approach for each weapon system, to extend its life well into the future."

If at some point in the future it becomes evident that the replacement of certain nuclear components is the most cost-effective way to improve warhead reliability, safety, or surety, that option remains available, but to pursue it, it must be authorized by the President and by Congress.

Conclusion

Lingering concerns that the United States does not have a plan and the budgetary resources to maintain and modernize its nuclear forces are based on myth, not reality. And, contrary to outdated thinking, there is no technical or military reason to resume U.S. nuclear testing or to pursue new-design nuclear warheads to maintain and enhance the safety, security, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Obama administration has put forward a plan and a budget for maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal that is more than adequate. The fiscal year 2011 budget request of $7 billion for NNSA weapons activities has been adopted by the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees. The long-range plan calls for annual increases, totaling $80 billion over ten years. If over the course of the next several years there are additional program costs, future Presidents and Congresses can make appropriate changes--up or down--to the budget.  

It would be tragic if Senators allowed concerns over these and other issues to prevent them from supporting New START and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would reduce the very real nuclear weapons threats posed by other nations. - DARYL G. KIMBALL

Posted: July 26, 2010

The Value of New START Verification

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Volume 1, Issue 9

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in Prague April 8, will increase U.S. and global security by significantly reducing the nuclear threat from Russia, provide transparency and predictability about Russian strategic forces, and bolster U.S. efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups and additional states.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 9, July 21, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in Prague April 8, will increase U.S. and global security by significantly reducing the nuclear threat from Russia, provide transparency and predictability about Russian strategic forces, and bolster U.S. efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups and additional states.

The promise of further, verifiable reductions in the huge Cold War nuclear arsenals has already enhanced U.S. credibility in efforts to rally global support for urgent nonproliferation efforts, yet the full benefits of New START for U.S. security can only be realized after the treaty is ratified and enters into force. This is particularly true for restoring the transparency of Russian strategic forces lost when the original START expired in December 2009. Absent the new treaty’s extensive verification provisions (see summary below), the United States will steadily lose clarity on the current status of the most lethal potential threat it faces: Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal.

A long list of current military leaders and former senior national security officials in both Republican and Democratic Administrations have endorsed New START (see: Why New START is Essential to U.S. National Security: What Bipartisan National Security Officials Are Saying). One important reason for this support is that New START reestablishes a robust system of monitoring and data exchanges regarding the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.

Nevertheless, a handful of critics are seeking to raise concerns about New START and delay its ratification. For example, Paula DeSutter, former Assistant Secretary for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, alleges in a July 12 lecture published by the Heritage Foundation that New START is “much less verifiable” than START I.

Such concerns are unwarranted and comparing the verification provisions of the two treaties misses the point. As the full Senate examines New START in the coming weeks, it is important to consider the several common-sense reasons why New START’s verification system is essential for U.S. security:

New START is effectively verifiable.
The updated system of information exchanges and enhanced on-site inspections under New START would provide high-confidence that Russia is complying with the new, lower limits on deployed strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems. That the treaty was negotiated in close consultation with, and sensitive to the requirements of, U.S. defense and intelligence agencies helps explain why it has received such broad-based support.

START I was then, New START is now.
Superficial comparisons of the two treaties’ verification systems are misleading. The verification system of START I was designed to monitor compliance with a different treaty, with a different (and more complex) set of limits, in a different political context.  The country being monitored and its nuclear weapons complex were significantly larger and less well understood then than now. There were 70 facilities in four countries then subject to inspection, many never previously seen by U.S. personnel on the ground. There are now only 35 facilities in one country to be inspected, many quite familiar to U.S. inspectors from past visits. New START’s more streamlined and up-to-date verification system should be judged by its capabilities to provide confidence that the respective parties are complying with the specific limits of the new treaty, not the different limits of the one that has expired.

Trust but verify.
There is a reason President Reagan’s favorite Russian proverb, “trust but verify,” is so often quoted. Absent effective verification, arms control agreements are unlikely to provide confidence that the parties to the agreement are in compliance. Without such confidence, the value of arms control for reducing tension and safely lowering defense expenditures is severely limited. For example, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) of 1972 contained no verification provisions; massive violations by the Soviet Union occurred before the ink was dry, but their scope was only fathomed much later.

Mindful of the lessons of arms control history, the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated an entire category of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, and the 1991 START agreement, which cut strategic nuclear arsenals in half, contained comprehensive verification provisions. In both cases, robust verification protocols provided each side with high confidence the other was implementing the treaty-mandated reductions and limitations.

The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) mandated further, significant cuts in deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads. Yet President George W. Bush and his team, including Paula DeSutter, decided not to pursue any new means of verifying SORT-mandated warhead reductions, instead relying on derivative evidence of compliance based on START I’s verification provisions for attributing warhead numbers from launcher limits.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration did not seek to negotiate a new treaty before leaving office or even to extend START I’s verification system to bridge until 2012 when the SORT limits would apply. As a result, President Obama was handed a strategic arms control verification regime scheduled to self-destruct before the end of his first year in office.

The Obama administration negotiated New START in record time, but not before the expiration of START I in December 2009 ended on-the-ground access by U.S. inspectors to Russian strategic nuclear deployment sites.

Until New START is approved by the Senate, insight into the only potential existential threat the United States faces will continue to diminish.

There is no substitute for the information provided by New START verification
While “national technical means” such as satellite surveillance provide the foundation for understanding and evaluating information collected on Russian strategic forces, cooperative measures such as notifications, data exchanges, and on-site inspections are essential building blocks in providing high confidence that treaty obligations are being met. The Cold War provides numerous examples of how verification provisions can help identify suspicious activities, provide opportunities to resolve issues based on erroneous assumptions, or take appropriate and timely action in response to violations.

If you’re worried about Russian nuclear forces, you better keep a close eye on them.
Critics of New START seem to argue that Russia is already planning to reduce its strategic nuclear forces below the warhead and delivery vehicle limits negotiated, whether or not the new treaty enters into force, so there’s no point in locking in lower levels. At the same time, when it comes to discussing New START verification, they hypothesize bizarre scenarios such as Russia deploying missiles on launchers that were not designed to hold them or deploying MIRVed ICBMs on heavy bombers. Critics also worry that the Russians will slip additional warheads on missiles that are listed as having fewer warheads, escaping the notice of on-site inspectors.

If one is really worried about such implausible scenarios, one should be more rather than less eager to return U.S. weapons inspectors to the sites where such violations could occur.

Others who once argued against rigorous verification of nuclear arms reductions with Russia now suggest that the new treaty may not provide enough. Senator Jon Kyl, who in 2003 praised SORT for its brevity and called START I and its monitoring provisions a “700-page behemoth” that “would not serve America's real security needs,” now says about New START that “it's not clear that the treaty’s verification provisions are adequate.” Kyl and others warn that the Senate should not “rubberstamp” New START.

The Senate has been diligent in taking a close look at New START, with the appropriate committees already holding 14 hearings and scheduling two more on all aspects of the treaty, examining all of the relevant reports in the process, including the National Intelligence Estimate on the verifiability of the pact and the reports on Russian compliance with past and present treaties. However, this due diligence should be followed expeditiously by debate on the floor and a vote by the full Senate. Partisan political considerations should not be allowed to threaten national security by delaying New START ratification and compromising our ability to assess Russia’s strategic nuclear capabilities.

The danger of delay was succinctly highlighted by General Kevin Chilton, U.S. Strategic Forces Commander, in Senate testimony June 16: “Without New START, we would rapidly lose insight into Russian strategic nuclear force developments and activities, and our force modernization planning and hedging strategy would be more complex and more costly.”

START I—and its Cold War-era verification system—expired in December 2009. New START would fill the verification gap with a streamlined set of verification procedures – taking advantage of past precedents established by the original START, but adding innovations better suited to the specific limits of the replacement agreement.

Conclusion: Without ratification and entry into force of New START, there will not be an effective, treaty-based monitoring system for Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. The Senate should heed the vast majority of U.S. national security experts who are calling for ratification of New START and its comprehensive approach to verification as soon as possible. We are sitting in the front row, but with the curtain closed; we need to get on with the show. - GREG THIELMANN

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New START Verification Provisions at a Glance

•  Regularly updated data exchanges are required across a range of systems and activities (Protocol: Part Two). These exchanges facilitate understanding, enhance confidence in force estimates, and provide the basis for more productive resolution of differences.

•  An extensive list of notifications is provided in the treaty.  For example, movement of forces into and out of deployed status must be announced within five days (Protocol: Part Four, Section II) and Russia must notify the United States 48 hours in advance when a new ICBM or SLBM leaves the Votkinsk missile production facility (Protocol: Part Four, Section III), enhancing the prospects that such movements will be captured by satellite surveillance. Notifying such events reduces tension, avoids misunderstandings, and facilitates the monitoring of compliance. By receiving tip-offs of relevant activities, the sides can better target their technical collection assets and correctly assess non-hostile activity.

•  On-site inspections provide information unavailable in comparable quality through other means. New START allows 18 on-site inspections annually (Protocol: Part Five, Section VI), fewer than START, but offering a higher percentage of the total number of sites to be inspected considering the far smaller strategic forces infrastructure possessed by Russia today.

Moreover, unlike START, the new treaty allows inspectors to perform multiple activities during each visit. Permissible inspection activities include: confirming the number of re-entry vehicles on deployed ICBMs and deployed SLBMs; confirming numbers related to non-deployed launcher limits; counting nuclear weapons onboard or attached to deployed heavy bombers; confirming weapon system conversions or eliminations; and confirming facility eliminations.

The new treaty outlines two types of inspections: Type One inspections allow for the inspection of sites with deployed and non-deployed strategic systems (10 per year); Type Two inspections allow for inspection of sites with only non-deployed strategic systems (eight per year).

•  Unique identifiers are assigned to each ICBM, SLBM, and heavy bomber for the first time in a strategic arms control agreement. These identifiers will be included in applicable notifications. Inspectors have the right to read the unique identifiers on all designated ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers located at the inspection site during on-site inspections (Protocol: Part Five, Section VI).

•  Confidence-building measures help promote transparency and predictability. For example, both states have agreed to exchange annually on a parity basis telemetric information on up to five ICBM and SLBM launches from the previous year (Protocol: Part Seven). Another example is the conducting of exhibitions to demonstrate the distinguishing features and to confirm technical characteristics of new types or variants of nuclear delivery vehicles or former nuclear delivery vehicles (Protocol: Part Five, Section VIII).

•  A forum for compliance discussions, the Bilateral Consultative Commission, is established to facilitate compliance and cooperation. This body will meet twice a year in Geneva, unless otherwise agreed. Issues regarding compliance or implementation of the treaty may be raised in this body by either side (Protocol: Part Six).

For additional analysis, see: ACA Threat Assessment Brief: New START Verification: Up to the Challenge (PDF) May 17, 2010.

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Posted: July 21, 2010

Why New START is Essential to U.S. National Security: What Bipartisan National Security Officials Are Saying

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Volume 1, Number 8

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed by the United States and Russia in April, has garnered substantial support from the U.S. military establishment and former senior national security officials, both Republicans and Democrats.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 8, July 19, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed by the United States and Russia in April, has garnered substantial support from the U.S. military establishment and former senior national security officials, both Republicans and Democrats.  

The Treaty puts Washington and Moscow back on the path of verifiable nuclear reductions and cooperation on related nuclear security priorities.  New START will limit both sides to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed delivery vehicles, about 30 percent below the existing warhead limit.  New START will replace the 1991 START verification regime, which expired last December, with a more up-to-date system to monitor compliance, which is essential for strategic stability and predictability.

Today, the Consensus for American Security, a new bipartisan group of military leaders, including former Secretary of State George Shultz, Chief Negotiator of the first START agreement Ambassador Richard Burt, Lieutenant General John Castellaw USMC (Ret), Lieutenant General Robert Gard USA (Ret), Vice Admiral Lee Gunn USN (Ret), Lieutenant General Donald Kerrick USA (Ret), Rear Admiral Rose Levitre USN (Ret), and others, announced its support for New START (see http://www.securityconsensus.org).

The following are some of the most prominent recent statements of support.


Current Senior U.S. Military Leaders

·  Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense; Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2010:

"The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership--to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent. For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result--on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people."

·  Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Senate Armed Services Committee, June 17, 2010:

"I am pleased to add my voice in support of ratification of the New START treaty and to do so as soon as possible. We are in our seventh month without a treaty with Russia. This treaty has the full support of your uniformed military . . . the conclusion and implementation of the New START Treaty is the right thing for us to do - and we took the time to do it right."

·  General Kevin Chilton, STRATCOM Commander; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 16, 2010:

"If we don't get the treaty, [the Russians] are not constrained in their development of force structure and...we have no insight into what they're doing. So it's the worst of both possible worlds."

·  Lt. General Patrick O'Reilly
, Missile Defense Agency Director; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 16, 2010:

"Throughout the treaty negotiations, I frequently consulted the New START team on all potential impacts to missile defense. The New START Treaty does not constrain our plans to execute the U.S. Missile Defense program."


Former Senior U.S. Government Officials


·  James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense and former Director of Central Intelligence, Nixon and Ford administrations; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 29, 2010:

"I think that it is obligatory for the United States to ratify [New START]...[F]or the United States at this juncture to fail to ratify the treaty in the due course of the Senate's deliberation would have a detrimental effect on our ability to influence others with regard to particularly the nonproliferation issue."

·  Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor, Ford and George H.W. Bush administrations; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 10, 2010:

"[T]he principal result of non-ratification would be to throw the whole nuclear negotiating situation into a state of chaos, and the reason this treaty is important is over the decades we have built up all these counting rules, all these verification procedures and so on, so that each side feels, 'Yes, we can take these steps.' If you wipe those out, you're back to zero again..."

·  Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor, George W. Bush administration; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 10, 2010:

"I think you do need to see this treaty in context of really a 20-year effort spanning Republican and Democratic administrations. And what it does, even if budgetary and modernization considerations push the forces down, this does provide some transparency, some predictability into the relationship. And quite frankly, it's an indication of one more thing where Russia and the United States have found it in their interest to work together cooperatively. And that's an important contribution to the overall environment between Russian and U.S. relations."

·  James Baker
, former Secretary of State, George H.W. Bush administration; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 19, 2010:

"[New START] appears to take our country in a direction that can enhance our national security while at the same time reducing the number of nuclear warheads on the planet."

·  Henry Kissinger
, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, Nixon and Ford administrations; Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 25, 2010:

"The treaty before this Committee is an evolution of the START treaties begun in the Reagan administration and elaborated by its successors of both parties . . . The current agreement is a modest step forward stabilizing American and Russian arsenals at a slightly reduced level. It provides a measure of transparency; it reintroduces many verification measures that lapsed with the expiration of the last START agreement; it encourages what the Obama administration has described as the reset of political relations with Russia; it may provide potential benefits in dealing with the issue of proliferation."

·  George P. Shultz
, former Secretary of State, Reagan administration, and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA); letter to Sens. John Kerry and Richard Lugar, July 14, 2010:

"We strongly endorse the goals of [New START]-to achieve a near-term reduction of nuclear weapons with mutually agreed verification procedures...  [W]e urge the Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification of New START as early as is feasible."

·  Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State, George W. Bush administration; with former Senator Howard Baker (R-TN); former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, Carter administration; former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, Reagan administration; former Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO); former White House Chief of Staff Kenneth M. Duberstein, Reagan administration; former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE); former Senator Nancy Kassebaum-Baker (R-KS); former Governor and 9/11 Commission Chair Thomas Kean (R-NJ); former Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH); and former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY); joint statement, June 24, 2010:

"Now is the time for a thorough and balanced national discussion about nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. But we must remember that a world without a binding U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons agreement is a much more dangerous world. We, the undersigned Republicans and Democrats, support the new START treaty..."

(For the full statement, see http://psaonline.org/downloads/START.pdf)

·  William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense, Clinton administration; NBC News interview with Andrea Mitchell, April 8, 2010:

"It's a big deal in the sense the optics that here the two biggest possessors of nuclear weapons have agreed to reduce their inventories significantly, although we're nearly down to those numbers already. So it's not that much of a substantive cut where we are today, but it's a significant reduction from where we started from. And secondly, there is not really that much of an impact upon the U.S. forces because we still have was we call a triad -- air, land and sea. So I think it's significant in terms of the optics and the appearance and the fact that we are now working more closely with the Russians."

·  Linton F. Brooks
, former START I negotiator and former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations; Arms Control Association briefing, April 7, 2010:

"[Y]ou'll hear concerns by some that [New START] may or may not be a good idea but you can't possibly accept it because the U.S. nuclear weapons program is in disarray. And I think the administration's answer to that is the fiscal 2011 budget with a very substantial increase for my former home, the National Nuclear Security Administration. And I will say flatly, I ran that place for five years and I'd have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration and I just - nobody in government ever said 'my program has too much money' and I doubt that my successor is busy saying that. But he is very happy with his program and I think it does put us on a very firm, firm basis."

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Posted: July 19, 2010

The UN Sanctions' Impact on Iran's Military

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Volume 1, Number 7

One of the most significant aspects of the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran has received the least attention - the ban on major weapons deliveries. Yet the weapons embargo is likely to have the most consequential impact of all on Iran's national power and prestige by promising to significantly reduce Iran's military capability in the months and years ahead.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 7, June 11, 2010

Note chart below on Russian and Chinese Equipment Subject to U.N. Sanctions

One of the most significant aspects of the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran has received the least attention - the ban on major weapons deliveries. Yet the weapons embargo is likely to have the most consequential impact of all on Iran's national power and prestige by promising to significantly reduce Iran's military capability in the months and years ahead.

Some initial media coverage of the P-5 agreement to sanction Iran did not even mention the resolution's embargo on the transfers of heavy weapons, their spare parts, and related training and maintenance assistance.[1] The overall verdict of pundits and press commentators on the June 9 sanctions resolution has been largely negative, with most of the public discussion focused on efforts by Russia and China to "water down" provisions favored by the United States[2] and the ultimate absence of stringent measures to target Iran's energy sector.

Yet the Russians and Chinese, along with ten other members of the UN Security Council, voted to subject Iran, for the first time, to an embargo on creating and maintaining the most import sinews of military strength. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 directs all states to "...prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Iran...of any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems... or related materiel" and "shall prevent the provision to Iran...of technical training, financial resources or services, advice, other services or assistance related to the supply, sale, transfer, provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of such arms and related materiel..."[3]

This prohibition affects not only the ballistic missiles, which are the presumed delivery vehicle for any future Iranian nuclear weapons, but also the submarines, aircraft and anti-ship missiles, which pose the most significant threats to the safe operation of shipping through the Persian Gulf. The embargo on tanks, artillery, and armored combat vehicles also affects directly the strike elements of any Iranian forces posing an invasion threat to Iran's neighbors.

History Lessons
History provides a dramatic illustration of the potential impact on Iran of a weapons embargo. During the reign of the Shah, Iran's military was largely equipped with U.S. and British weapon systems. With the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, this relationship came to an abrupt end and the Iranian military - including the second most powerful air force in the Middle East - began rapidly to atrophy. However, in those days, the Soviet Union and China were willing to step into the breach, essentially re-equipping the military forces of the Islamic Republic.[4]

After providing significant numbers of fighter aircraft, armor, artillery, and three modern diesel submarines, Russian transfers have tapered off in recent years. Russia was active through most of the past decade in selling air defense systems and in 1998 had licensed Iranian construction of 2,000 anti-tank missiles over a ten-year period. The last direct transfer of equipment from Russia to Iran was the 2006-2007 delivery of 750 SA-15 Gauntlet short-medium range surface-air missiles and 29 more advanced SA-15s (Tor-M1s). Russia's 2007 deal to supply the sophisticated and longer-range S-300 air defense system has not been carried out. Although exclusion of this system from mandatory sanctions has been described by critics of Resolution 1929 as a "loophole," that resolution also "calls upon all States to exercise vigilance and restraint over ...all other arms" as well.[5] There are strong indications that, accordingly, Moscow's freeze on the S-300 transaction will continue.[6]

China was also an important supplier of tanks and artillery to Iran during the 8-year Iraq-Iran War and, in the last two decades, has been the source of ten missile-firing fast attack boats and 565 C801/802 anti-ship cruise missiles, which the U.S. Department of Defense describes as "an important layer in Iran's defense of or denial of access to the (Persian) Gulf and Strait of Hormuz."[7] Indeed, Iran's potential to interfere with crucial oil shipments through the Persian Gulf is of more acute concern to the international community today than any threat of an Iranian invasion.

Iran needs Russian and Chinese Military Assistance
Today, Tehran remains principally dependent on Russia and China for manufacturing and maintaining the most sophisticated core of Iran's arsenal for offensive military operations. It is all the more significant then, that in the latest round of negotiations on UN Security Council sanctions, Russia and China agreed to a total cutoff of these  weapons for Iran - including spare parts and technical training.

Iran has been creative and energetic in mitigating the impact of past supply chain cut-offs on its front line weapons systems through black market acquisitions and shifting to the use of asymmetrical tactics. With its oil wealth, it can offer large incentives for countries and individuals to circumvent sanctions. Therefore, it will not only be important for states to abide by the arms embargo, but to also use the resolution's own enforcement mechanisms to inspect and seize shipments suspected to be in violation of the embargo.

UN blockage of Iran's traditional sources of weapons will be politically and economically costly for Tehran. Finding a substitute for its principal suppliers will not be easy. It will be forced to adopt compensatory measures requiring more time and more money, and probably to less effect. To be rebuffed in this way by the two countries on which Iran has relied for protection on the UN Security Council is a political as well as a military blow to the regime, raising domestic questions about the government's competence in managing foreign affairs.

Wider Impact
Two of the world's most pressing proliferation challenges, Iran and North Korea, are now subjected to nearly comprehensive arms embargoes and a variety of other restrictions in response to their behavior. These actions by the UN Security Council help to send a message to potential future proliferators that they can expect a similar response, and would need to weigh a risky nuclear weapons program with the degradation of their overall military capabilities. - GREG THIELMANN, with MATTHEW SUGRUE

1 See, for example: David E. Sanger and Mark Landler, "Major Powers Have Deal on Sanctions for Iran," New York Times, May 18, 2010.
2 See, for example: Christopher R. Wall, "Weak Tea; The U.N. sanctions against Iran have been watered down to almost nothing." June 8, 2010
3 UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (S/2010/283), paragraph 8
4 North Korea also played a role in providing ballistic missile help during the last two decades, but Iran's indigenous ballistic missile technology is now generally superior to what North Korea has to offer.
5 UNSC 1929, paragraph 8
6 See, for example: Anna Malpas, "Russia moves to scrap Iran missile sale," AFP, June 11, 2010
7 "Unclassified Report on Military Power of Iran," Department of Defense, April 2010

Selected Russian and Chinese Equipment Subject to U.N. Sanctions (June 2010)[i]

Russia Russia flag

Designation

Description

Amount[ii]

Year(s) Delivered[iii]

Navy

Type-877E/Kilo

Submarine

3

1992-1993; 1996

Aircraft

MiG-29/Fulcrum-A

Fighter Aircraft

~34

1990; 1991

Su-24MK/Fencer-D

Bomber Aircraft

~12

1991

Mi-8/Mi-17/Hip-H

Helicopter

~47

2000; 2000-2001; 2002-2003

Su-25/Frogfoot-A

Ground Attack Aircraft

6

2006

Ground Forces

BMP-1

Infantry Fighting Vehicle

~400

1986-1989

BMP-2

Infantry Fighting Vehicle

~413

1993-2001

T-72M1

Tank

~422

1993-2001

D-30 122mm

Towed Gun

~100

1998-2002

BTR-60PB

Armored Personnel Carrier

~200

1986-1987

Missiles

R-27/AA-10 Alamo

Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile

~150

1990-1991

China Russia flag

Designation

Description

Amount

Year(s) Delivered

Navy

Hudong

Fast Attack Craft (Missile)

10

1994-1996

Aircraft

F-6

Fighter Aircraft

~16

1982-1984

F-7A

Fighter Aircraft

~5

1986

F-7M Airguard

Fighter Aircraft

30

1993; 1996

Ground Forces

Type-59-1 130mm

Towed Gun

~626

1982-1984; 1985-1986; 1987; 1992

Type-63 107mm

Multiple Rocket Launcher

~550

1981-1987; 1986-1990

WZ-120/Type-59

Tank

~300

1982-1984

D-74 122mm

Towed Gun

~100

1985-1986

HY-2 CDS

Coastal Defense System

~7

1986-1987

WZ-121/Type-69

Tank

~500

1986-1988

WA-021/Type-88 155mm

Towed Gun

~15

1991

CSS-8 TEL

Surface-to-Surface Missile Launcher

~30

1990-1994

WZ-501/Type-86

Infantry Fighting Vehicle

~90

2001-2009

Missiles

C-801/CSS-N-4/Sardine

Anti-ship Missile

~245

1987; 1995-1998; 2006-2009

HY-2/SY-1A/CSS-N-2

Anti-ship Missile

~150

1986-1987; 1988-1994

M-7/CSS-8

Surface-to-Surface Missile

~200

1990-1994

C-802/CSS-N-8

Anti-ship Missile

~320

1994-2009

Fl-6

Anti-ship Missile

~205

1999-2009

TL-6/C-704

Anti-ship Missile

~10

2005


i System designations, types, amounts and years derived from SIPRI arms transfer database, http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/page/trade_register.php.

ii Amount represents the total number of systems delivered from 1980-2009. Figures preceded by a “~” are estimates.

iii Years separated by semi-colon indicate separate transaction periods.

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Posted: June 11, 2010

Momentum Building for U.S. Accession to the Mine Ban Treaty

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Volume 1, Number 6

Last week, 68 Senators delivered a letter applauding President Obama for his decision to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. landmine policy. That review, drawing in members of the Defense and State Departments and the National Security Council, is ongoing and will provide the president with advice on whether the United States should change policy and accede to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 6, May 25, 2010

Last week, 68 Senators delivered a letter applauding President Obama for his decision to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. landmine policy. That review, drawing in members of the Defense and State Departments and the National Security Council, is ongoing and will provide the president with advice on whether the United States should change policy and accede to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty.

In their statement, the bipartisan Congressional group said, "We are confident that through a thorough, deliberative review the Administration can identify any obstacles to joining the Convention and develop a plan to overcome them as soon as possible."

With the support of Senators, members of the House of Representatives who also wrote a letter to the President last week, as well as national and international nongovernmental groups, momentum is building for the United States to accede to treaty, which bars the use of victim-activated antipersonnel landmines and sets timelines for clearance of mine-impacted areas and the destruction of existing stockpiles.

The substantial bipartisan support for a change in U.S. policy is due to the substantial security, diplomatic, and humanitarian benefits of U.S. accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.

The United States No Longer Uses-Nor Does It Need-Antipersonnel Landmines
The United States is not known to have used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, and has not produced them since 1997. Globally, the use, transfer, and production of these weapons have essentially ceased. Despite significant military engagements in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has found other solutions than to use the weapons banned by the treaty. Mines currently in place in South Korea are not under U.S. ownership and pose no barrier to U.S. accession to the treaty. This year, the United States will also officially reject any future use of persistent mines, bringing it into even closer alignment with the treaty.

In the 1990s and again in 2001, a significant number of retired senior military leaders recommended that the United States join the treaty, including Gen. David Charles Jones (former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Gen. John R. Galvin (former Supreme Allied Commander Europe), and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (former Commander, Operation Desert Storm).

Although he did not explicitly call for the United States to join the treaty, General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff publicly stated May 13 in response to a question about landmines that there are weapons that "may be effective as lethal agents but they...have a social and cultural bias against them for good reasons.... The reality is...it is about the politics, it is about the people.... [I]f you ignore that, then your ability to actually wage and succeed in conflict is lost because you're trying to influence somebody's mind at the end of the day."

The desire to retain so-called "smart mines" remains the key difference between the treaty and U.S. policy, but because self-destructing mines are still indiscriminate and do not always self-destruct as expected, their use has been rejected by treaty members. Command detonated landmines, those with a "man in the loop," are permitted, however, and exist in the U.S. stockpile.

U.S. Accession Would Strengthen the Taboo Against Landmines and Enhance U.S. Global Leadership
Today, 156 countries are states-parties to Mine Ban Treaty, including all NATO members except the United States (Poland has already signed and intends to ratify the treaty in 2012) and all Western hemisphere countries with the exception of Cuba and the United States. Last year, for the first time, the United States officially attended a meeting of treaty states-parties and was widely welcomed.

A U.S. decision to accede to the treaty will immediately put pressure on hold-out states to join the accord. In many cases, countries use U.S. inaction as an excuse for delay.

Already, many states not party to the treaty indicate support for it through an annual UN General Assembly resolution on landmines. In 2009, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Oman, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tonga, and the United Arab Emirates voted for the UN resolution, which invites all states to join the accord.

The bottom line is that the United States does not use or need the antipersonnel landmines prohibited by the treaty. Any perceived military utility is far outweighed by the substantial humanitarian and diplomatic benefits of U.S. accession.

A Majority of the Senate Supports a Shift in U.S. Policy on the Mine Ban Treaty
As a senator, Barack Obama recognized the need to revise the outdated U.S. policy on landmines. In September 2008, he told Arms Control Today that: "In general, I strongly support international initiatives to limit harm to civilians caused by conventional weapons.... I will regain our leadership on these issues by joining our allies in negotiations and honoring U.S. commitments to seek alternatives to landmines."

As the letter from more than two-thirds of the U.S. Senate makes clear, there are viable alternatives to the use of anti-personnel mines prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty and there is strong support for review and change in U.S. landmine policy. At the conclusion of his review of the Mine Ban Treaty, the President should:

  • announce that the United States has determined that it no longer needs to and will no longer use the weapons banned by the treaty;
  • indicate his intention to transmit the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent;
  • immediately begin planning for destruction of the U.S. landmine stockpile and identify (and, if necessary, make) any changes to U.S. military doctrine that are necessary to bring U.S. war planning into alignment with the treaty; and
  • reaffirm the United States' intention to remain a global leader in mine clearance and victim assistance.

By acceding to the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States would advance its security interests, improve the conditions on the ground for civilians and U.S. soldiers in conflict zones, and reestablish U.S. global leadership. - JEFF ABRAMSON

 

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Posted: May 25, 2010

Iran-Turkey-Brazil Fuel Deal Has Potential if Iran Provides Follow-Up Steps

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Volume 1, Number 5

Iran's agreement to ship 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey as part of an nuclear fuel exchange agreement brokered by Brazil and Turkey is a potentially positive development, but one of limited value without the appropriate follow-through.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 5, May 17, 2010

Iran's agreement to ship 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey as part of a nuclear fuel exchange agreement brokered by Brazil and Turkey is a potentially positive development, but one of limited value without the appropriate follow-through.

The 1,200 kilograms of LEU is enough for one bomb's-worth of highly-enriched uranium if that material were further processed. Removing this LEU from Iran would be beneficial for delaying the time when Iran would have a viable strategic reserve of material that could be used for nuclear weapons, but it would only be a short-term measure which does not address long-lasting concerns regarding Iran's history of secret nuclear activities and its lack of transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The primary purpose of a similar, IAEA-backed, arrangement tentatively agreed to last October was to build trust between the P5+1 group (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran, providing a stepping stone to broader negotiations on a long-term resolution to Iran's nuclear program. The 3-country joint declaration cites Iran's decision to continue to negotiate with the six powers, and the real value of this fuel exchange arrangement will be measured by whether or not Iran is willing to do so constructively.  

Other Questions Remain
A number of details must also be addressed for this agreement to have a nonproliferation value, including clarifying the circumstances in which Iran could require the return of the LEU back to its territory.  In particular, the joint statement does not address Iran's ongoing work to produce 20 percent-enriched uranium. Tehran claimed earlier this year that it would further enrich some of its LEU stockpile to this higher level to provide fuel for its Tehran Research Reactor. However, since the fuel swap arrangement would result in Iran receiving the necessary reactor fuel from abroad, there would no longer be any reason for it to continue this additional enrichment or keep the 20 percent uranium it has already produced, which is closer to weapons-grade levels. The IAEA and the countries involved in the October negotiations (France, Russia, and the United States) should insist that Iran cease this work as part of any fuel deal.

The Fuel Swap and UN Sanctions
The preliminary fuel exchange agreement will undoubtedly impact the ongoing UN Security Council discussions on a fourth round of sanctions on Iran. Council members, including Brazil and Turkey, should keep in mind that the sanctions discussions were not taking place because Iran did not agree to a fuel exchange deal last October. Rather, sanctions were being considered to respond to Iran's failure to cooperate with the IAEA on a number of levels, including the construction of the Qom enrichment facility in secret, and for failing to comply with UN demands to suspend enrichment.

Since Iran has not resolved those concerns, and since today's joint declaration  makes no mention of Iran's willingness to improve its transparency and cooperation with the IAEA, there is no reason to abandon the UN sanctions discussion. It is worrisome, in fact, that the joint statement appears to re-interpret a critical linkage in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) between a non-nuclear-weapon state's right to peaceful nuclear energy with its obligation to adhere to IAEA safeguards by claiming that Iran has such a right merely "without discrimination." Should Iran work to resolve some of these concerns with the IAEA, in compliance with its NPT obligations, then there would be no need to pursue additional sanctions.

Moreover, the fact that Iran abandoned its own long-held stipulations regarding the fuel swap at the time that a P5 consensus on additional sanctions had been emerging demonstrates that such international pressure and the threat of sanctions itself can have an impact. Russia and China in particular should keep this in mind as it suggests that their willingness to consider placing such pressure on Iran can help to temper Tehran's hard-line stance.  

The United States and its partners should welcome any prospects for postponing the time when Iran would have a viable strategic reserve of material that could be used for nuclear weapons, and that have the potential to lead to constructive negotiations to resolve the nuclear issue. Whether the latest fuel swap agreement brokered by Brazil and Turkey accomplishes those goals, however, depends on the appropriate follow-up by Iran. - PETER CRAIL

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Posted: May 17, 2010

Senior Defense Officials Support New START

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Volume 1, Number 4

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed by the United States and Russia on April 8, 2010 has garnered substantial support from current and former senior national security officials and the U.S. military. As the Senate prepares for formal hearings on New START to begin next week, the following are some of the most prominent recent statements of support.

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Issue Brief - Volume 1, Number 4, May 13, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed by the United States and Russia on April 8, 2010 has garnered substantial support from current and former senior national security officials and the U.S. military. As the Senate prepares for formal hearings on New START to begin next week, the following are some of the most prominent recent statements of support.

Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, from The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2010:

"The U.S. is far better off with this treaty than without it."

"[T]he treaty is buttressed by credible modernization plans and long-term funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure that supports it."

"The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership-to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent. For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result-on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people."

Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), Ranking Member, Foreign Relations Committee, April 29, 2010:

"I support the New START treaty and believe that it will enhance United States national security."

James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense, Nixon and Ford administrations; former Director of Central Intelligence, Nixon administration; from his April 29, 2010, Senate testimony:

"I think that it is obligatory for the United States to ratify [New START]. And any treaty is going to have limitations, questionable areas. There are some in this treaty. We need to watch them for the future, but that does not mean that the treaty should be rejected."

"[F]or the United States at this juncture to fail to ratify the treaty in the due course of the Senate's deliberation would have a detrimental effect on our ability to influence others with regard to particularly the nonproliferation issue."

"[I]t is an overstatement to say that nothing in the treaty inhibits missile defense. I don't think that it inhibits missile defense in a serious way, however."

"I think all in all that the verification possibilities under this treaty, though much more limited than START I, are still adequate."

Linton F. Brooks, former START I negotiator, former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Bush administration; from his April 7, 2010, remarks:

"[Y]ou'll hear concerns by some that the treaty may or may not be a good idea but you can't possibly accept it because the U.S. nuclear weapons program is in disarray. And I think the administration's answer to that is the fiscal 2011 budget with a very substantial increase for my former home, the National Nuclear Security Administration. And I will say flatly, I ran that place for five years and I'd have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration and I just - nobody in government ever said 'my program has too much money' and I doubt that my successor is busy saying that. But he is very happy with his program and I think it does put us on a very firm, firm basis."

"The Russians may issue a statement saying that they have the right to withdraw if we deploy defenses to threaten the strategic balance. They issued such a statement in 1991; we issued a statement right back and both of them went into the dustbin of history. I think it would be - it is for the Senate to decide whether this treaty deserves ratification. I think it does. It would be tragic if we allowed Russian statements made for domestic purposes to derail it." - TOM COLLINA and VOLHA CHARNYSH

Sources:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The Historical and Modern Context for U.S.-Russian Arms Control, April 29, 2010. http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/20100429/

ACA Annual Meeting: Next Steps on Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction, April 26, 2010.  http://www.armscontrol.org/events/AnnualMtg2010transcript

ACA Press Briefing: Understanding New START and the Nuclear Posture Review, April 7, 2010.  http://www.armscontrol.org/events/STARTandNPRBriefing

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Posted: May 13, 2010

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