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"I want to tell you that your fact sheet on the [Missile Technology Control Regime] is very well done and useful for me when I have to speak on MTCR issues."

– Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi
Chair, MTCR
May 19, 2021
Daryl Kimball

Time for Leadership on the Fissile Cutoff

Daryl G. Kimball

Ending the production of fissile material—plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU)—for nuclear weapons is a long-sought and still vital nonproliferation objective. Last year, President Barack Obama pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), but talks at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) remain blocked, as they have been for nearly a dozen years.

The impasse led the UN secretary-general to convene a high-level meeting September 24. Many of the 70-plus states represented, including the United States, singled out Pakistan for abusing the consensus decision-making rule in order to prevent the CD from implementing its work plan.

Calling out Pakistan is an overdue but insufficient step. Stronger, more creative leadership from Washington and other capitals is needed to achieve progress. Indeed, many delegations at the high-level meeting warned that if negotiations on an FMCT do not begin next year, “other options” should be considered. Given Pakistan’s hard-line position on an FMCT and the ability of any one state to block consensus, there is no reason to wait that long.

Although India and Pakistan have more than enough nuclear firepower to deter a nuclear attack, Pakistani leaders consider the proposed FMCT a “clear and present” danger because it would prevent Pakistan from matching India’s fissile stockpile and production potential. Pakistan insists that other nations agree to discuss limits on existing fissile material stocks before talks can begin.

The United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France have all declared a halt to fissile material production for weapons, in part because each possesses sizable reserves of fissile material. China, which is estimated to have 20 metric tons of HEU and 4 metric tons of separated plutonium, is believed to have halted production for weapons purposes. Israel retains a fissile production capability outside of safeguards, but is not believed to be producing more material. North Korea has a small plutonium-production capacity, which it is legally obligated to put under safeguards and shut down.

Rivals India and Pakistan, however, remain in a fissile production “race.” India produces plutonium for weapons at two dedicated reactors and is estimated to have about 700 kilograms of separated plutonium, which is enough for about 140 bombs. It produces new plutonium at a rate of about 30 kilograms per year.

Pakistan has about 2 metric tons of HEU for its nuclear weapons and about 100 kilograms of weapons plutonium, which is enough for about 100 bombs. Pakistan has one plutonium-production reactor, is building two additional military production reactors, and is increasing its reliance on plutonium weapons. Each reactor can produce about 10 kilograms of plutonium per year.

India and Pakistan have roughly equal quantities of separated fissile material, but Pakistan worries that India may extract plutonium from spent fuel generated by its unsafeguarded power reactors, which could provide enough material for several hundred more bombs. Civil nuclear cooperation deals between India and nuclear supplier states also may free up its domestic uranium supplies for additional plutonium production.

Pakistan’s concerns about an FMCT likely will not be alleviated as long as India’s production potential remains greater. France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States should use what leverage they have to encourage India to exercise greater global nonproliferation leadership and restraint. When he visits India in November, Obama should invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare that India will not increase its rate of fissile production and will put additional nonmilitary reactors under safeguards. The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could help monitor whether India sticks to such a pledge.

If the CD cannot begin work by the end of its first session next year, the United States should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile production facilities that are not legally required to be under IAEA safeguards, as well as representatives from other key states. The initial focus should be to increase transparency and confidence regarding fissile production and fissile stocks and begin technical work on a targeted system for verifying a production halt.

Even if talks on a verifiable, global FMCT begin in Geneva, they may last many years. To hasten progress, the five original nuclear-weapon states should seek an agreement by all states with facilities not subject to safeguards to voluntarily suspend fissile production and place stocks in excess of military requirements under IAEA inspection.

Such a step would maintain pressure on Pakistan and is consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 1172, which calls upon India and Pakistan to “stop their nuclear weapons development programmes [and] cease any further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.” For Israel, which does not need more fissile material and has an aging reactor at Dimona, the moratorium would make a virtue out of necessity.

None of these options is easy or simple, but too much time has already been wasted at the CD. States that are truly serious about reducing the nuclear threat now must provide the leadership needed to build an effective fissile material control regime.

Ending the production of fissile material—plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU)—for nuclear weapons is a long-sought and still vital nonproliferation objective. Last year, President Barack Obama pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), but talks at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) remain blocked, as they have been for nearly a dozen years.

European Leaders Call for New NATO Nuclear Policies

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Volume 1, Number 24, September 29, 2010

In the run-up to the Nov. 19-20 NATO Summit in Lisbon, today a group of over 30 senior European leaders, including former Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers from Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Slovac Republic, and the United Kingdom, released a joint statement declaring that "NATO should make disarmament a core element of its approach to providing security."

Signed by former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, former U.K. Defense Secretary Des Browne, former Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes, and former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, among others, the statement arrives at a key time in NATO decision-making. The alliance is drafting a new Strategic Concept, which sets NATO policy on nuclear weapons and other issues for the next decade. This week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reportedly circulated a confidential draft of the document to NATO members for review. The final version is scheduled to be approved at the Lisbon Summit meeting.

One issue in play is the future of approximately 200 forward-deployed U.S. tactical nuclear bombs that are currently deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Introduced into Europe five decades ago to deter and, if necessary, use against a Soviet conventional attack, battlefield nuclear bombs serve no meaningful military role for the defense of Europe today. As Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright acknowledged at an April 8 briefing in Washington on the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review Report, NATO nuclear weapons do not serve a military function not already addressed by other U.S. military assets, including its 2,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

The possible loss or theft of U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear bombs poses an unacceptable risk of nuclear terrorism.

The signers of the statement note that key European states, including three nations that host U.S. nuclear deployments, are pressing for changes in NATO's outdated "nuclear-sharing" arrangements. They note that NATO policy should support and not undercut President Barack Obama's call for concrete actions to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons.

The European defense and foreign policy leaders recommend that the new NATO Strategic Concept should state that:

  • "NATO will promote both nuclear and conventional arms control and disarmament based on greater international transparency and accountability."
  • "There is an urgent need for reducing the roles and risks of nuclear weapons in security policies globally. NATO is prepared to make a significant contribution to that process."
  • "The fundamental role of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack."
  • "Non-strategic nuclear weapons have lost their original role of deterring massive conventional superiority. Therefore, NATO is willing to support a further reduction and consolidation of U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe."

The statement also calls on NATO to engage Russia on nuclear, conventional and missile defense policy, leading to the eventual elimination of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.

Successive U.S. administrations have sought to initiate talks with Russia on sub-strategic nuclear weapons, but Russia's increasing reliance on nuclear weapons and NATO's own nuclear policy inertia have stymied progress. Following ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, President Obama has pledged to pursue further reductions in all types of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons-deployed and non-deployed, strategic and tactical.

The European leaders' statement challenges NATO to conduct a full review of alliance nuclear policy in 2011 and to use that process to show leadership on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The European leaders find that "the challenge for NATO is now to simultaneously maintain its own cohesion while moving to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and further reduce urgent nuclear dangers," and that "the alliance has a responsibility to show more leadership on the nuclear challenges of the 21st century." - TOM Z. COLLINA and DARYL G. KIMBALL

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Volume 1, Number 24

In the run-up to the Nov. 19-20 NATO Summit in Lisbon, today a group of over 30 senior European leaders, including former Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers from Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Slovac Republic, and the United Kingdom, released a joint statement declaring that "NATO should make disarmament a core element of its approach to providing security."

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NATO's Nuclear Decision

Daryl G. Kimball

Some habits, even dangerous ones, are hard to break. The Cold War is long over, but there are nearly 200 U.S. tactical nuclear bombs on NATO military bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Russia, which has an even larger stockpile of tactical nuclear bombs, refuses to enter into talks to limit them, citing the U.S. deployments in Europe.

It is time for a change. Battlefield nuclear bombs serve no meaningful military role for the defense of NATO or Russia. The devastating power and inescapable collateral effects of such weapons make them inappropriate tools against non-nuclear targets, and the possible loss or theft of these weapons poses an unacceptable risk of nuclear terrorism.

As Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright acknowledged at an April 8 briefing in Washington on the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review Report, NATO nuclear weapons do not serve a military function not already addressed by other U.S. military assets, including its 2,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

Successive U.S. administrations have sought to initiate talks with Russia on substrategic nuclear weapons, but Russia’s increasing reliance on nuclear weapons and NATO’s own nuclear policy inertia have stymied progress. Following ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, President Barack Obama has pledged to pursue further reductions in all types of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons—deployed and nondeployed, strategic and tactical.

To increase the chances of success, the United States must persuade its NATO partners to eliminate the requirement for forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons in the alliance’s new Strategic Concept, due to be completed this November. If NATO can agree to eliminate its nuclear relics, Russia would more likely agree to further consolidate and verifiably dismantle its own stockpile. Otherwise, Russia will continue to use them as cynical justification to refuse to talk.

Earlier this year, five NATO members, including three that host tactical nuclear bombs, called on the alliance to review its outdated nuclear sharing arrangements. There is widespread recognition that there is no military reason to maintain the current NATO nuclear weapons policy, but there is no consensus about how to revise it.

Supporters of the status quo, such as France, still believe in the antiquated notion that U.S. tactical bombs in Europe reduce the incentive for a U.S. ally such as Turkey to pursue a bomb of its own. In reality, U.S. and NATO security commitments make the presence of these weapons irrelevant to Turkey’s defense. Furthermore, Ankara is on record in support of “the inclusion of all non-strategic nuclear weapons” in the disarmament process “with a view to their reduction and elimination.”

In April in Tallinn, Estonia, NATO foreign ministers met to discuss the issue. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened the door to change, but provided little helpful guidance. She argued that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance,” while saying that “the broader goal of the alliance must be to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons.”

Clinton suggested that, in any future reductions, "our aim should be to seek Russian agreement to increase transparency on non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe [and] relocate these weapons away from the territory of NATO members.”

Unfortunately, Clinton failed to state the obvious: The original rationale for deploying U.S. tactical nuclear bombs in Europe—to counter a Soviet land invasion—has disintegrated, and the weapons have become an obstacle toward the goal of reducing Russia’s residual tactical nuclear stockpile.

It is time for Washington to lead and for NATO to act. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is expected to circulate a draft of the Strategic Concept by the end of September so it can be finalized at the NATO summit in Lisbon. Rasmussen has a responsibility to ensure the discussion is transparent, open, and thorough.

For his part, Obama should make it clear that he supports the withdrawal of tactical nuclear bombs from Europe as a step toward his vision of a world without nuclear weapons. He can and should underscore that the United States can easily sustain its commitments to the common defense of NATO without forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons. NATO should announce it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, begin withdrawing its obsolete tactical nuclear forces from Europe, and formally invite Russia to engage in talks with Washington to verifiably account for, consolidate, and dismantle all tactical nuclear weapons held by each side.

If NATO members do not have sufficient time to agree on how to implement a new nuclear policy, they could launch a more comprehensive NATO nuclear posture review in Lisbon aimed at reducing the role and salience of nuclear weapons. NATO is a strong and dynamic alliance that simply does not need to cling to obsolete U.S. weapons of mass destruction to sustain transatlantic unity.

 

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Corrected online September 23, 2010. Original "Focus" stated that four NATO countries hosting tactical nuclear bombs called on the alliance to review its outdated nuclear sharing arrangements. The correct number is three.

Some habits, even dangerous ones, are hard to break. The Cold War is long over, but there are nearly 200 U.S. tactical nuclear bombs on NATO military bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Russia, which has an even larger stockpile of tactical nuclear bombs, refuses to enter into talks to limit them, citing the U.S. deployments in Europe.

New CEIP Proliferation Analysis on the CTBT

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According to a recent Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis by Daryl Kimball, President Obama should use the International Day against Nuclear Tests to reiterate his pledge to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

America Does Not Need to Test Its Nuclear Arsenal

[T]here is simply no technical or military rationale for resuming testing. Contrary to myth, the United States has never relied on nuclear testing to ensure that proven warhead designs still work, but rather to perfect new types of nuclear bombs, which the U.S. military no longer needs nor wants.

U.S. Nuclear Labs Are Well-Funded

The Obama administration’s strong support for higher nuclear weapons laboratories’ budgets—$80 billion over the next 10 years—should also help change attitudes. Key House and Senate appropriations committees have approved the administration’s $7 billion request for fiscal 2011 nuclear weapons complex activities, a 13 percent increase from the year before. Senators of both parties should recognize that further delay of CTBT ratification would create greater uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy that could jeopardize the emerging political consensus for higher funding to maintain the shrinking U.S. nuclear stockpile in years ahead.

We Can Accurately Detect Nuclear Tests

The United States’ capability to detect and deter possible cheating by other countries will also be significantly greater with the CTBT than without it. The CTBT and its global monitoring network, international data center, and option for on-site inspections would augment existing U.S. national test monitoring assets.

The Time for the CTBT Is Now

Nuclear testing is a dangerous and unnecessary vestige of the past. U.S. inaction on the CTBT is self-defeating and counterproductive. The United States has neither the intention nor need to renew testing, yet its failure to ratify the CTBT undermines both U.S. leadership credibility and the United States’ ability to improve the detection and deterrence of testing by others.

Following the approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), President Obama should undertake the major high-level campaign that will be needed to push the CTBT through the Senate in 2011. And it is the Senate’s responsibility to the nation to reconsider the CTBT on the basis of an honest and up-to-date analysis of the facts and issues at stake.

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According to a recent Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis by Daryl Kimball, President Obama should use the International Day against Nuclear Tests to reiterate his pledge to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

250 Days and Counting: Close the Verification Gap

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Volume 1, Number 17, August 11, 2010

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) promises to modestly reduce the still enormous number of deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads--from more than 2,000 to 1,550 or less each--on no more than 700 delivery systems. Approval of New START would open the way to reductions in other types of nuclear weapons, including tactical nuclear bombs, which are a target for terrorists.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is planning to vote on New START on September 15 or 16 and the full Senate could vote on the treaty soon thereafter.

As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted in remarks earlier today, prompt Senate consideration and approval of New START is vital because it would fill the verification gap created by the expiration of the original START I and its system of on-site inspections and data exchanges.

"When the Senate returns, they must act, because our national security is at risk," Clinton stated. "There is an urgency to ratify this treaty because we currently lack verification measures with Russia which only hurts our national security interests. Our ability to know and understand changes in Russia's nuclear arsenal will erode without the treaty. As time passes, uncertainty will increase. With uncertainty comes unpredictability, which, when you're dealing with nuclear weapons, is absolutely a problem that must be addressed. Ratifying the new START treaty will prevent that outcome."

For these and other reasons, a long list of current U.S. military leaders and former senior national security officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations have endorsed prompt ratification of New START.

Opposing New START Means Opposing Limits on and Verification of Russia's Arsenal

Unfortunately, some senators, including Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who once argued against rigorous verification of nuclear arms reductions with Russia, now suggest that the new treaty may not provide enough and are suggesting New START consideration should be delayed.

In 2003, Kyl called START I and its monitoring provisions a "700-page behemoth" that "would not serve America's real security needs." He now says about New START: "it's not clear that the treaty's verification provisions are adequate."

That assessment is wrong and fails to recognize that for 250 days since START I expired there has been no verification system in place. As Secretary Clinton noted in her August 11 remarks:

"This treaty will provide for inspections that the United States would not otherwise be able to hold. For 15 years, START provided us access to monitor and inspect Russia's nuclear arsenal. START, as you know, expired last December. It, therefore, has been more than eight months since we have had inspectors on the ground in Russia. This is a critical point. Opposing ratification means opposing the inspections that provide us a vital window into Russia's arsenal."

START I Was Then; New START Is Needed Now

Other New START skeptics such as Paula DeSutter, former Assistant Secretary for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation under George W. Bush, claim that New START is "much less verifiable" than START I. They complain that there were more inspections allowed under START I than under New START.

Such comparisons are superficial and misleading. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified May 18, "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 I inspections.  Together with the eight Type Two inspections, the 18 New START inspections are essentially equivalent to the 28 inspections permitted under START I.

From the U.S. perspective, the Soviet Union's strategic nuclear complex was also significantly larger and less well understood than that of Russia today. START I's 28 inspections had to cover 70 facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.  Today, New START's 18 inspections need to cover only 35 Russian sites.

New START's verification system is more than adequate. New START would provide a more streamlined, cost-effective set of verification procedures based on the original START, and add new innovations-including direct monitoring of actual deployed nuclear warheads-that are better suited to provide high confidence that each side would comply with the new treaty.

Bottom Line

Until New START is approved by the Senate, the United States will rapidly lose insight into Russia's strategic nuclear forces, forcing both sides to engage in more costly force modernization and hedging strategies.

Both the United States and Russia should approve the treaty without conditions and without delay. - DARYL G. KIMBALL

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Volume 1, Issue 17

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) promises to modestly reduce the still enormous number of deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads--from more than 2,000 to 1,550 or less each--on no more than 700 delivery systems. Approval of New START would open the way to reductions in other types of nuclear weapons, including tactical nuclear bombs, which are a target for terrorists.

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The Nuclear Danger 65 Years After the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings

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Volume 1, Number 16, August 6, 2010

The first nuclear bomb detonation in July 1945 and the surprise attacks on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of that year ignited a global debate about the role, the morality, and the control of nuclear weapons that continues to this day.

Then as now, some judged that the catastrophic dangers inherent in nuclear weapons outweigh any justification for their existence or at least for large numbers of such weapons, leading them to seek meaningful nuclear restraints. Others considered nuclear weapons to be legitimate military and political instruments and  argued for an ever increasing array of nuclear capabilities. Still others, including much of the American public, have embraced some elements of both perspectives.

Since the bombings in Japan, nuclear weapons have not been used in a military attack. Yet they have left a trail of devastation, including: cancer victims from the fallout from atmospheric nuclear test explosions, contaminated workers and radioactive and toxic pollution from nuclear weapons production plants.

Although the U.S.-Soviet superpower competition that gave rise to the development,  testing, and deployment of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear delivery systems ended some twenty years ago, many of the weapons and the policies developed to justify their possession and potential use persist.

Today, Russia and the United States still possess nearly 20,000 nuclear bombs--more than 95 percent of the world total. In addition to the United States and Russia, there are now seven more nuclear-armed nations: the U.K., France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

As the new film Countdown to Zero explains very well, the overall number of nuclear weapons has declined and their use is viewed as increasingly unacceptable, but the nuclear weapons danger remains too high.

  • many U.S. and Russian weapons remain primed for quick launch;
  • nuclear weapons material stocks remain insecure;
  • some states continue to produce nuclear bomb material;
  • a few states still refuse to ratify the global treaty banning nuclear testing, which would help block the development new and more sophisticated bombs;
  • some states retain the option to use nuclear weapons in conflicts that begin with conventional weapons.
  • there is a risk that additional countries may utilize "peaceful" nuclear technologies to produce fissile material for bombs.

The nuclear status quo cannot hold. We must act by moving quickly to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons. Countries with nuclear weapons must reduce the role and number of their nuclear weapons and all countries must support strengthened barriers to prevent proliferation.

U.S. leadership is essential to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, beginning with bipartisan support for common sense steps, including ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which the Senate will vote on in September, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which should be reconsidered next year.

However one feels about nuclear weapons and their role, it is essential for all of us to understand the horrific effects of nuclear weapons and work together to prevent their use ever again.

This week, as the world marks the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Arms Control Today reprises the following annotated photo essay (PDF) to help recall the human consequences of nuclear war in ways that words cannot describe. - DARYL G. KIMBALL

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Volume 1, Number 16

The first nuclear bomb detonation in July 1945 and the surprise attacks on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of that year ignited a global debate about the role, the morality, and the control of nuclear weapons that continues to this day.

Daryl Kimball Discusses New START on All Things Considered

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On April 3rd, Daryl Kimball appeared on All Things Considered and provided his thoughts on prospects for New START, which will come up for a vote in the Senate in mid-September.  As he stated in a recent Media Advisory, he expects that this critical arms control treaty will be ratified with bipartisan support.  To read more of ACA's work on New START, please visit our New START Subject Resource Page.

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On April 3rd, Daryl Kimball appeared on All Things Consides and provided his thoughts on prospects for New START ratification.  As he stated in a recent Media Advisory, he expects that New START will be ratified with bipartisan support in the senate.

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State Department Arms Control Compliance Report Underscores Value of New START

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Volume 1, Number 15, August 2, 2010

The July 2010 U.S. State Department report Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements found that Russia was in compliance with the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which expired last December.  According to a senior  State Department official who testified before the Senate last week, this fact should reassure the Senate that Russia would comply with New START. New START's ratification and entry-into-force would provide the United States with the means to verify Russian compliance with the new treaty's lower ceilings for strategic deployed warheads and delivery systems.

Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation, told The Cable July 28, "We think [the compliance report] actually tells a good story about Russia and its willingness to resolve compliance and verification issues and should help ratification" of New START.

Last week's misleading coverage of the compliance report by The Washington Post and The Washington Times may have left some with the impression that Russia was not in compliance with START I.  That is not the case.

As the compliance report states on page 8, Russia was "in compliance with the START strategic offensive arms (SOA) central limits for the 15-year term of the Treaty."  Gottemoeller testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee July 29 that "Russia was in compliance with START's central limits during the Treaty's life span. Moreover, the majority of compliance issues raised under START were satisfactorily resolved. Most reflected differing interpretations on how to implement START's complex inspection and verification provisions."

The compliance report notes that "Notwithstanding the overall success of START implementation, a number of long-standing compliance issues that were raised in the START Treaty's Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC) remained unresolved when the Treaty expired on December 5, 2009." Gottemoeller told the Associated Press July 28 that these unresolved issues were minor technical matters that "went away when
START went out of force," adding there were "some concerns that we had about them, some concerns that they had about us."

The most significant disputes, like movement of Russian SS-27 mobile missile launchers and U.S. inspection of re-entry vehicles aboard certain Russian missiles, were resolved, Gottemoeller told the Associated Press.

The Washington Times incorrectly reported the compliance report said that Russia had "violated" START I.  This is also not the case.  Gottemoeller told the Associated Press that neither side accused the other of violating provisions of START at any point.

"Cheating implies intent to undermine a treaty," Gottemoeller told The Cable. "There's no history of cheating on the central obligations of START; there's a history of abiding by the treaty," she said.

The State Department compliance report should give senators additional confidence that Russia would comply with New START.  As Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said last year: "Our experiences over many years have proven the effectiveness of the [START I] Treaty's verification provisions and served to build a basis for confidence between the two countries when doubts arose."

New START Would Close the Verification Gap

Senators who have concerns about Russia's nuclear arsenal should support New START.  With the expiration of START I and its Cold War-era verification system, there are no longer any on-site inspections and detailed data exchanges between the two countries. 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.

Until New START is approved by the Senate, insight into Russia's strategic nuclear forces 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 for providing high confidence that treaty obligations are being met.

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."

Contrary to some misleading stories in the media, the State Department compliance report underscores the value of New START. - TOM Z. COLLINA and DARYL G. KIMBALL

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Volume 1, Number 15

The July 2010 U.S. State Department report Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements found that Russia was in compliance with the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which expired last December.  According to a senior  State Department official who testified before the Senate last week, this fact should reassure the Senate that Russia would comply with New START. New START's ratification and entry-into-force would provide the United States with the means to verify Russian compliance with the new treaty's lower ceilings for strategic deployed warheads and delivery systems.

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

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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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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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New START and Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Management: A Reality Check

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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

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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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