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"I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them."

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
Greg Thielmann

ACA Senior Fellow Talks Missile Defense at Penn State

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Siren Song: Strategic Missile Defense

Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association
Penn State University
March 3, 2011

Most of you in this audience will recognize sirens as mythical creatures from the Greek classics, dangerous bird-women, who lured passing sailors with their enchanting voices to shipwreck on the rocky shore.  Here is the encounter of Odysseus.  Warned in advance, Odysseus had his men stuff wax in their ears and had himself bound to the mast so that he could hear the sublime singing without dooming his crew to destruction.  Those with a more Germanic bent may visualize the maiden depicted by Heinrich Heine in his famous poem “Die Lorelei” -- Ihr gold'nes Geschmeide blitzet, and so forth.   The message is the same.  The girl’s face and voice are lovely, but if we don’t take our eyes off her and pay attention to the rocks, we’re all going down.  That is the thrust of my message today with regard to strategic missile defense – a siren song of our era.

Short Course

Before making my case, let me provide some context with a crash course on the weapons we’re talking about and a short review of the arms control treaties that have been reducing our bloated nuclear arsenals from their Cold War peak

First, The Weapons

Strategic offensive missiles are the ICBMs and SLBMs that can be launched from Russia to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental U.S. or vice versa, traveling 5,500 km in some 30 minutes.  The United States has only one missile defense system today that is designed to intercept such weapons, the Ground-Based Interceptor.  The so-called “GBI.” is a large multi-stage missile that destroys an incoming warhead by crashing a refrigerator-sized kill vehicle into it at extremely high speed.  The interceptor is guided by a variety of sensors -- one on the missile itself and others on satellites in space and in radars on the ground, like the Sea-Based X-Band Radar.  By 2020, current plans call for the U.S. to deploy a second type of interceptor missile, which can destroy ICBMs, the Aegis SM-3 IIB.  The other missile defense systems you read and hear about are for tactical or theater threats; they do not offer a means to defend against ICBMs.

Now, the Treaties

Less than one month ago, a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, called “New START,” entered into force between Russia and the United States.  This was the latest way station on the long and rocky journey toward a safer and saner world.  Some would say the journey began in 1963 when the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union signed a treaty banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere (LTBT).  That historic milestone was reached shortly after the world came to the brink of the abyss in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  It also followed the circulation of reports showing that fission bi-products from atmospheric nuclear testing, such as Strontium 90, were showing up in mother’s milk and baby teeth, all over the world.   Others would point to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the starting point.  This treaty required the five countries which then had nuclear weapons to start getting rid of them and the states which did not to forego the nuclear option.  While both of these treaties are in New START’s “family tree,” the first binding bilateral limit on strategic arms was the 1972 Interim Agreement coming out of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and known as SALT I.  The parent of New START is the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), signed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhael Gorbachev.  This treaty marked the first time the sides had agreed to specific numerical reductions in their strategic arsenals, to be accompanied by on-site inspections.

…and the Dead Ends

The journey to New START has also been marked by some detours and dead-ends.  The Carter Administration’s intention of ratifying the SALT II agreement of June 1979 became politically untenable once the Soviets invaded Afghanistan a few months later.  The START II agreement reached in 1994 was ultimately doomed by George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which had been in effect for 30 years.  And then there was the 2002 Moscow Treaty (aka SORT).  Although this treaty was ratified, it was deeply flawed, lacking verification provisions, a definition of the items being limited, a timetable for reductions, and durability.  (It was, in fact only scheduled to last one day at the end of 2012.)  Good riddance to that one!

The Sound of the Siren

Throughout the long and arduous quest to reduce nuclear arsenals, the strategic defense siren has been singing.  In listening to that song – like the boatman on the Rhine or the heroes of Greek mythology – Americans have been diverted from the deep water channel that provides an eventual way out of our existential dilemma.  Moreover, our boat is taking on water, and may, even now, be heading for the rocks.

The most successful communicator for strategic missile defense was the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.  Here are some excerpts from his famous “Star Wars” speech in March 2003:

“…rely[ing] on the specter of retaliation, on mutual threat [is] a sad commentary on the human condition. Wouldn't it be better to save lives than to avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability?

“What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

”…isn't it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war?

“I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.

“… tonight we're launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history.”

Adding to the impact of these stirring words, the Pentagon later provided film footage of ballistic missile interceptors smashing into target warheads at incredible closing speeds, producing brilliant explosions against the blackness of space.  Commentators contributed the powerful metaphor of “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”  A lobbying organization called “High Frontier” offered animated videos showing U.S. x-ray lasers in space zapping swarms of warheads careening toward the American homeland.  These fantasy scenarios were picked up by the mainstream media and run whenever the subject of advanced missile defenses was in the news. When the Cold War deflated the perceptions of nuclear danger, the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission on Foreign Ballistic Missile Threats and a 1999 National Intelligence Estimate picked up the slack.   Each offered shrill warnings about the rapidly growing ballistic missile threat to the United States and its allies from “rogue” states.  And for a quarter century, a cheering squad of missile defense enthusiasts has been nourished by Congressional appropriation of some $5-10 billion/year to universities, research labs, and weapons manufacturers.

Physics Lesson

I think it’s now time in my narrative to impart a few observations about rocket science and physics.  The first technical challenge with strategic missile defense is related to the extremely high velocity of warheads once the propulsion phase ends.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) travel on a ballistic trajectory like an artillery shell.  Their “boost phase,” when the rocket engines are firing, lasts only 5-7 minutes.  Then, the warheads’ carrier, or “bus” separates from the large booster stages.  At burnout, the ICBM warheads are traveling 7 kilometers per second through the void of space—much faster than shorter-range ballistic missiles that have been deployed by the North Koreans and Iranians.  ICBM warheads are therefore much harder to intercept.  They even travel faster than the defensive missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California.  With our current system “architecture,” we would probably get just one chance to look and shoot, before it was too late.

As the warheads travel through the mid-course phase in the vacuum of space, they are relatively small and have no heat signature, which could otherwise reveal their presence to infra-red sensors.  So very powerful radars must be used to detect and track these objects from thousands of kilometers away.  These very expensive and huge tracking radars themselves become very lucrative strategic targets in a crisis, because their destruction renders the entire missile defense system ineffective.  The U.S. system relies heavily on the Shemya radar located in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain and a sea-based X-band radar floating off Alaska in the North Pacific.  Whether or not they can survive at the outset of hostilities is a largely ignored issue.  Moreover, in a nuclear conflict, the radars’ performance can be significantly degraded by detonating a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere.

But the real glass jaw of strategic missile defense comes from the ease of spoofing the sensors.  The “bus” carrying the warheads can emit a cloud of chaff (composed of highly-reflective foil) as it releases one or more warheads so that the exact location of actual warheads is obscured. The bus can also deploy decoys (basically, mylar-coated balloons) along with the warheads.  During the warheads’ flight through space, most of their flight time, these decoys look the same as actual warheads to the radar.  There is much open testimony over the years about their effectiveness from those involved in designing ways to defeat Moscow’s strategic ballistic missile defense system in the late 60s and 70s.  There has been almost no operational testing of the current systems’ ability to discriminate warheads from decoys.

As if the problem were not difficult enough, the offense has another trick up its sleeve to defeat the defense. The warheads can be made to maneuver.  So to return to the earlier metaphor, it’s even harder to hit a bullet with a bullet when the first bullet starts to bob and weave.  Even though the U.S. has conducted flight tests with maneuverable re-entry vehicles, known as “MaRVs,” we never actually deployed any because other penetration aids were judged sufficiently effective.

My bottom line:  Missile defenses against ballistic missiles with conventional warheads may, in certain situations, contribute to national security, whether they are 20% or 80% reliable.  Missile defenses against nuclear-tipped intercontinental range ballistic missiles are worthless in deterring attack – think about “only” 20-40% of nuclear warheads getting through -- and disastrous in curbing the arms race.

The U.S. defense community has not been deaf to the lure of the siren song, but through most of the Cold War, it ultimately turned away.  It first gave up trying to protect the U.S. population from a deliberate Soviet missile attack, changing the mission of its ABM in the mid-sixties to protecting against a deliberate Chinese or accidental Soviet launch.  Then in the late-sixties it gave up population defense entirely by deploying interceptors around ICBM fields.  This was done in the hope of strengthening deterrence by affecting the exchange ratio in the Soviet calculus – how many attacking warheads would be needed to attack warheads in silos.  Finally, the U.S. won limits on the number and location of strategic defense radars and interceptors through the 1972 ABM Treaty, completely banning systems designed to provide ballistic missile defense of national territory.  The Pentagon and Congress later judged that even the U.S. ABM system allowed under the treaty was not worth the effort, and closed it down after only a few months of operation.  Indeed, it ultimately abandoned President Reagan’s “Star Wars” fantasy because Special Advisor Paul Nitze’s criterion could not be satisfied -- missile defense systems would have to be “cost effective at the margin,” meaning that they made no sense if an enemy could more cheaply counter a missile defense interceptor by adding an additional offensive warhead.

But alas, our ship of state did not make it free to open waters.

--  Spooked by a North Korean missile launch, the U.S. Congress passed the 1999 Missile Defense Act, which provided the legislative imprimatur to deploying a strategic missile defense system to defend U.S. territory against limited attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate)…”  Senate passage was almost unanimous; the House bill passed by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.

--  In 2001 President George W. Bush announced U.S. withdraws from the ABM Treaty, which had served for 30 years as a linch-pin of strategic arms control.  Previous UN General Assembly voting had shown strong international support for retention of the treaty.

-- At Bush’s direction, the Pentagon rushed to deploy strategic defenses in Alaska and California by 2004, even before they had been operationally tested.

--  This Alaska- and California-based system remain largely irrelevant in defending against the huge potential intercontinental ballistic missile threat we face today (from Russia and China).  And the threat against which they were designed to defend is still not even on the near horizon, seven years after deployment.

--  The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty acknowledges in its preamble the interrelationship between strategic offences and defenses, but the treaty text itself remained missile-defense-friendly – leaving U.S. missile defense plans unaffected and papering over a significant difference between the parties on the impact of strategic defenses.

-- The Senate’s Resolution of Ratification decrees that there will be no negotiation on US missile defenses.

We have thus bought time for implementing New START as the next step in nuclear arms reductions, but we’ve made negotiating follow-on reductions virtually impossible until our divergent views on missile defense are reconciled.

The View from Moscow

Russian reactions to the New START treaty and the U.S. missile defense program are complicated and conflicted. Moscow appears satisfied that it can proceed safely with modest reductions in strategic offensive systems under New START and has accepted NATO’s stated intention to develop territorial missile defenses for Europe.

However, Russian officials continue to voice concerns about future improvements in U.S. missile defense systems, as they did in Russia’s unilateral statement to New START, warning against a “quantitative and qualitative” buildup.  Moscow has been dubious for a long time about U.S. portrayals of a potential strategic threat from Iran and North Korea – in public and in confidential dialogue with the United States.[1] Even after Russia’s acceptance of NATO’s offer to cooperate on missile defense, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin openly declared, “Russia does not see any missile threats in northern Europe, so the [US] defense systems should not be deployed there.”[2]

Moscow appears to accept the logic of U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense, but remains skeptical such cooperation could ever lead to a safe and truly equitable joint relationship.  Russia demands full equality in the control of any cooperative approach to missile defense.  According to Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov, “We also want to ensure that Russia participates as an equal partner. Only then can a missile defense system be created that satisfies all sides.”[3]

In spite of President Medvedev’s upbeat rhetoric about his conversations at the November 2010 meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, his emphasis on “absolute equality” and endorsement of a side-by-side “sector-based” missile defense system appear to go far beyond the evolving concept articulated by NATO.  In fact, Medvedev’s characterization of his discussions does not seem consistent with the territorial defense plan outlined by NATO.  Moreover, his emphasis on the interrelationship between European missile defenses and Russian strategic offenses gives little support for the notion of a fundamental change in Russian strategic thinking.  According to Medvedev: “…countries still have their nuclear forces in place today, and when we look at missile defence we have to look too at the possible effects a European missile defence system could have on our nuclear forces.”[4]

So why are the Russians so paranoid?  The Cold War is over.  We’re both threatened by those crazy people in Iran and North Korea.  Why not cooperate to defend ourselves against the real potential enemy?

The Limits of Cooperation

It is possible that disparate U.S. and Russian assessments of the Iranian threat will begin to merge if the threat grows – and that continually improving US-Russian relations will permit an unprecedented level of missile defense cooperation.  Yet, there is reason to question whether such efforts will bear enough fruit to satisfy Russia’s concerns about the potential long-term effect of U.S. strategic missile defenses on Russia’s deterrent.  Consider the view from Moscow.  The U.S. internal debate on New START revealed great sensitivity within the executive and legislative branches of the US Government to granting Russia access to telemetry involving missile defense flight tests.  (Congress prohibits it.)  The United States has made clear that cooperation does not mean building a “dual key” system, requiring the involvement of each side to operate.  Sergey Rogov, Director of Russia’s USA and Canada Institute, comments that: “Russia and the United States hardly are ready to agree to create a joint missile defense.”[5] Both sides would likely wish to retain their ability to operate missile defenses independently of the other. This independence might actually contribute to stability in a crisis because each side would be confident of the ability to control its own assets, but it would not foster arms race stability because suspicions of intent would linger.

The most compelling reason to believe that cooperation will be insufficient is to imagine the United States in a position similar to Russia’s today.  Remember that the U.S. Senate had trouble even consenting to a nuclear arms control agreement that leaves U.S. missile defenses unlimited.  Unlike past strategic arms reduction treaties, New START did not pass overwhelmingly, even though it was a very good deal for us.  (It requires only modest reductions in U.S. offensive forces; it leaves force structures allowing the US to dominate treaty breakout contingencies; and it requires intrusive inspections that provide the US with critical information on Russian strategic forces otherwise unavailable.)  To expect the Russians to accept additional reductions in their strategic offensive forces without constraining U.S. options for expanding strategic missile defenses is unrealistic.

The Enduring Reality of the Interrelationship Between Missile Offense and Defense

The nuclear age carries a consistent core message concerning the interrelationship between strategic missile offense and strategic missile defense: a defensive buildup creates pressures for offensive countermeasures – and in such a competition, offenses are likely to cancel out the intended benefits of the defenses.  The offensive response occurs for two reasons:  First, because of the obvious need to compensate for the potential degradation in target coverage that could result from the other side’s ability to intercept incoming warheads; And second, because the missile defense programs tend to arouse suspicions about motives.  When the Soviets started deploying missile defenses around Moscow in the 1960s, the US found it “intensely threatening to our security,” according to distinguished scientist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, writing in 1964, “The fear of Soviet ABM[s]…seems to be more deeply felt than the fear of Soviet offensive forces.… This logic …led many people … to consider the Soviet ABM program as primarily intended to allow the Soviet Union to attack the U.S. without fear of retaliation.”[6]

A contemporary reference to the offense-defense interrelationship can be found in September 2010 remarks of U.S. Strategic Forces Commander Gen. Kevin Chilton: “As we develop missile defense capability, we don’t want to develop it in such a manner that the Chinese would feel that their assured response, their deterrent, is put at risk, because that would encourage them to build more intercontinental missiles or capabilities.”[7]

More Shields; More Swords

Although many missile defense advocates contend that missile defenses discourage the proliferation of offensive missiles, empirical evidence shows just the opposite.  Missile defense systems encourage opponents to hold on to their offensive missiles or create more of them.  This is what happened with the U.S. response to the Moscow ABM system in the 1960s; with the Soviet Union’s response to Reagan’s “Star Wars” in the 1980s; with China’s response to Taiwan’s deployment of Patriot anti-tactical missile defenses in the 1990s.  During the last decade, Iran’s considerable build-up of medium-range missiles has occurred in the face of Israel’s extensive build-up of missile defenses; Pakistan’s continuing build-up of nuclear tipped missiles has occurred as India launched its own missile defense effort.

The end of the Cold War and rapprochement between the US and Russia have helped convince the last four U.S. Administrations to alter the original mission of missile defense.  Instead of protecting against a catastrophic potential attack from Russia, the current objective is to protect against much more limited threats from “rogue” states.[8] Technical and budgetary obstacles have kept a lid on some of the more fanciful visions of the Reagan administration regarding lasers, particle-beam weapons, and space-based systems, narrowing the focus to more down-to-earth capabilities such as the GBI missiles currently deployed and a souped-up version of the SM-3 theater system (the Block IIB) that would give it anti-ICBM capabilities.  This system is in early development and is planned for deployment in 2020 under President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach.  [Slide 5] Both systems are likely to be in the spotlight during negotiations of a post-New START agreement.

Some, like former Secretary of State Condi Rice, believe that the offense-defense dynamic was broken by U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002.[9] Yet, this interrelationship cannot be severed by unilateral action or simply dismissed as an attribute of the Cold War, for it flows not from history or treaty language, but from physics and psychology.

The governments in Washington and Moscow, which control the vast majority of the world’s long-range ballistic missiles, demonstrate today the same dynamic on strategic missile defense they have demonstrated for decades.  One side pursues a major missile defense program; the other side seeks to limit it through negotiations and mitigate its impact through improvements in its own offensive forces.  However, there is one major difference: Moscow and Washington have changed sides.

The Siren Song Surges

During a long period of equilibrium under the conceptual foundation of the ABM Treaty, the sides were able to cut in half their huge offensive arsenals.  But the siren song surged and safe passage around the rocks is again threatened.

Following passage of the Missile Defense Act of 1999 and U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty three years later, the conventional wisdom appears to have hardened around the notion that missile defenses should forever remain outside the arms control realm.  The 2010 elections would appear to have increased congressional determination to reject any limits on missile defenses. Changes in the New START resolution of approval constitute evidence of increased Senate resistance to such limits.

If we want further reductions in nuclear weapons and better protection against them spreading to other countries, we need to tone down or tune out the siren song of strategic missile defense.

One Approach

One approach to tackling this dilemma would be simply to create a strategic missile defense interceptor limit in parallel with limits on offenses, for example, reducing to a ceiling of 1,000 strategic offensive warheads and 100 strategic defense interceptors. The limit also could be geographical because the vulnerability of Russian ICBMs to interception by SM-3 IIBs would be affected significantly by the location of deployments.  Limits on the number deployed near Russia’s borders would be superficially similar to the numerical and geographical limits on strategic ABM interceptors in the ABM Treaty.  But the purpose of that treaty was to prevent the deployment of nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses, principally through qualitative limits on radar construction.  Breakout potential then was controlled further by quantitative limits on strategic interceptors—200 in the original treaty, lowered to 100 in 1974—and by clearly demarking the performance characteristics of strategic and nonstrategic interceptors as was done in a 1997 agreement.[10]

In contrast to their position when the ABM Treaty was in force, the Russians now have conceded the principle of permitting nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses.  They acknowledged in New START’s preamble that “current defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the parties.”  Indeed, the number of strategic interceptors that were allowed even under the amended ABM Treaty was much higher than the number of U.S. ground-based strategic interceptors deployed today and it’s probably in the vicinity of the number needed for the US to cope with likely contingencies from Iran and North Korea in the 2020s. Even after adding the upgraded SM-3 IIB systems envisioned for the end of the decade under Obama’s plan, total numbers still would be within the limits on strategic missile interceptors last enumerated in the ABM Treaty.  In 1997, Russia agreed that the performance of the original SM-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)  interceptors were “non-strategic” and therefore should not create an obstacle to continued reductions in strategic nuclear forces as they become operational over the next five years.

We need to begin opening up a public dialogue on the real-world opportunity costs of opposing all missile defense limits. This dialogue should extend to U.S. NATO allies in Europe and the Pacific who directly face shorter-range ballistic missile threats from hostile states.  Let’s check this out.  Consider whether you would be able to answer yes to each of these questions:

-- Is a highly reliable missile defense potential likely to be affordable in the decade ahead, even assuming that it is technically achievable?

-- Is the value of unconstrained U.S. strategic missile defenses superior to the value of achieving additional reductions in Russian strategic offensive systems and of adding strategic nondeployed and tactical systems to the list of weapons to be cut?

-- Is keeping missile defenses unconstrained worth risking the chance of limiting the growth in Chinese strategic forces?

--  Indeed, can one even contemplate successful pursuit of nonproliferation if efforts to stem vertical proliferation grind to a halt as a result of missile defense deployments?

Unless we can confidently answer “yes” to each of these questions, it’s time to consider realistic alternatives to unconstrained growth in strategic missile defenses.  Put some wax in your ears to block out the siren song and let’s head for open water!

 


[1] A February 24, 2010, Department of State cable, released by WikiLeaks, reporting on December 22, 2009, talks on missile threat assessments between U.S.-Russian delegations in Washington revealed significant differences in the two countries’ official, classified assessments of Iranian and North Korean ballistic missile capabilities.

[2] Mikhail Fomichev, “European Missile Defense System Either With Russia or Against Russia – NATO Envoy,” RIA Novosti, December 2, 2010.

[3] “Moscow Wants to ‘Participate as an Equal Partner,’” Der Spiegel, October 27, 2010.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Sergey Mikhaylovich Rogov, “The ‘Window of Opportunity’ Is Open,” Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, May 28, 2010.

[6] Freeman J. Dyson, “Ballistic Missiles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 1964, p. 18.

[7] Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, “Nuclear Deterrence, START, Arms Control, Missile Defense and Defense Policy,” Presentation at the NDU Foundation Congressional Breakfast Seminar Series, September 13, 2010.

[8] A small but increasingly influential minority of missile defense advocates, such as Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), have explicitly called for broadening the objectives of missile defense to include providing territorial defense against Russia and China.

[9] See, for example, Condoleezza Rice, “New Start: Ratify, With Caveats,” The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2010.

[10] The “New York Agreements on Theater Missile Defense and ABM Treaty Successor States,” signed by the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine on September 26, 1997, included two “Agreed Statements on Demarcation,” identifying 3 kilometers per second as the critical performance parameter separating prohibited “higher velocity” theater missile defenses from permitted “lower velocity” theater missile defenses. For the text of the agreements and statements, see www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_scc1.htm and www.fas.org/nuke/control/abmt/text/abm_scc2.htm. For a summary of the agreements and statements, see

www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/pack.

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Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association at Penn State University.

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Strategic Missile Defense: A Threat to Future Nuclear Arms Reductions?

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January 26, 2011
By Greg Thielmann

 

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With Russia’s ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the stage is now set for new discussions between Washington and Moscow on further steps toward reducing the two states’ enormous nuclear arsenals that together comprise more than 90 percent of total nuclear weapons worldwide.  Based on statements in Russia’s ratification documents and the statements of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, continued U.S.-Russian disagreements on missile defenses threaten to undermine those future talks.  U.S. policymakers need to consider ways to prevent strategic missile defense system development and deployment from becoming an obstacle to progress in enhancing stability and reducing nuclear dangers. In his latest Threat Assessment Brief, ACA’s senior fellow Greg Thielmann analyzes the nature of the U.S.-Russian missile defense challenge.

Description: 

With Russia’s ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the stage is now set for new discussions between Washington and Moscow on further steps toward reducing the two states’ enormous nuclear arsenals that together comprise more than 90 percent of total nuclear weapons worldwide.  Based on statements in Russia’s ratification documents and the statements of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, continued U.S.-Russian disagreements on missile defenses threaten to undermine those future talks.  U.S. policymakers need to consider ways to prevent strategic missile defense system development and deployment from becoming an obstacle to progress in enhancing stability and reducing nuclear dangers. In his latest Threat Assessment Brief, ACA’s senior fellow Greg Thielmann analyzes the nature of the U.S.-Russian missile defense challenge.

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365 Days, Zero Inspections: Ratify New START

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Volume 1, Number 40, December 3, 2010

One year ago this Sunday the United States lost its ability to "look under the hood" of Russia's nuclear forces.  U.S. on-site inspections in Russia ended last Dec. 5 along with the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Fortunately, the United States can restore those inspections by ratifying New START, which currently sits before the Senate.  President Ronald Reagan advised us to "trust, but verify," and it is no wonder that his secretary of state George P. Shultz--along with the secretaries of state from the past five Republican presidents--support New START.

Shultz, Henry A. Kissinger, James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Colin L. Powell wrote in the Dec. 2 Washington Post:

Since the original START expired last December, Russia has not been required to provide notifications about changes in its strategic nuclear arsenal, and the United States has been unable to conduct on-site inspections. Each day, America's understanding of Russia's arsenal has been degraded, and resources have been diverted from national security tasks to try to fill the gaps. Our military planners increasingly lack the best possible insight into Russia's activity with its strategic nuclear arsenal, making it more difficult to carry out their nuclear deterrent mission.

The verification provisions in New START are crucial to the U.S. ability to monitor Russian strategic forces. There is no substitute for on-the-ground information gathered by treaty-authorized inspections. Satellites and other intelligence assets cannot look inside Russian missiles to see how many warheads they carry, but U.S. inspectors under New START verification provisions would do just that.

Closing the Verification Gap

New START allows up to 18 on-site inspections per year, including direct monitoring of Russian nuclear warheads, something no treaty has allowed before.  Although the original START permitted 28 inspections, it had to cover 70 facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as Soviet strategic forces were 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.

Moreover, New START's "Type One" inspections, which occur at bases for deployed missiles and bombers, can achieve two goals at the same time (confirm data on delivery vehicles and on warheads), for which two inspections would have been required under the original START. Together with the eight "Type Two" inspections of non-deployed systems, the 18 New START inspections would yield more critical data than the 28 inspections under START.

The updated system of information exchanges and enhanced on-site inspections established by New START would, in conjunction with satellites and other "national technical means," allow the United States to verify compliance with the treaty's lower limits on deployed strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

Treaty is Verifiable

After hearing testimony in closed session from U.S. Intelligence Community witnesses, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) concluded in its Oct. 1 report that "the New START Treaty is effectively verifiable."  A July 30 letter from Secretary of Defense Gates to the committee reported the same conclusion from the nation's defense leadership:

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Chiefs, the Commander, U.S. strategic Command, and I assess that Russia will not be able to achieve militarily significant cheating or breakout under New START, due to both the New START verification regime and the inherent survivability and flexibility of the planned U.S. strategic force structure.

The yawning gap in the collection of strategic information will get wider the longer New START remains in limbo. Without New START in force, the U.S. Intelligence Community will not be able to predict with high confidence the status of Russia's nuclear forces, and both sides will be tempted to engage in more-costly force modernization and hedging strategies.

Speaking about New START ratification, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Nov. 16: "I think the earlier, the sooner, the better. You know, my thing is, from an intelligence perspective only, are we better off with it or without it? We're better off with it."

Prompt ratification of New START is the only way to close this verification gap. Failure by the Senate to approve New START would not only delay the re-establishment of an effective inspection and monitoring system for U.S. and Russia strategic arsenals, but would also kill prospects for limiting Russian tactical weapons, undermine U.S. nonproliferation leadership, and jeopardize U.S.-Russian cooperation in other fields, including containing Iran's nuclear program and support U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

New START's 20-Year Bipartisan Legacy

The first U.S. on-site inspection of Soviet nuclear-armed missiles took place 22 years ago on July 1, 1988 as part of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.  Previous treaties, such as 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, or SALT, did not allow for on-site monitoring but principally depended on "national technical means" such as satellite reconnaissance.  Satellites, valuable as they are, cannot look under roofs or inside missiles like human inspectors can.  INF's on-the-ground inspections were a major breakthrough in the Cold War, allowing increased transparency, predictability, and stability between the United States and Russia.

New START and its verification system is a direct descendant of the INF Treaty, which was negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified in 1987 by a Senate vote of 93-5.  After that, START I was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and passed the Senate 93-6.  START II, which never entered into force, was signed by President Bush in 1993 and passed 87-4.  President George W. Bush signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) in 2002, which passed in the Senate 95-0.

SORT limits, which do not kick in until the end of 2012, do not have a treaty-based verification system.  Aware of START I's pending expiration, in April 2008 President Bush agreed with Russian President Putin to seek a legally-binding post-START agreement, which was ultimately not realized before the Bush administration ended.

It fell to the Obama administration to negotiate a treaty to sustain this 20-year, bipartisan practice of intrusive on-site inspections.  New START provides a more streamlined and cost-effective set of verification procedures based on the original START and add new innovations, including direct monitoring of actual deployed nuclear warheads.

New START would modestly reduce U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads, from more than 2,000 today to 1,550 or less each on no more than 700 deployed delivery systems. Approval of New START would open the way to further reductions in other types of nuclear weapons, including tactical nuclear bombs, which are a prime target for terrorists.

The Time to Act Is Now

New START was submitted in May, and since then the Senate has held 18 hearings and four briefings, and the administration has answered almost 1,000 questions from senators. If the treaty is delayed into the new Congress, the Foreign Relations Committee would have to hold a new vote and new senators could ask that new hearings be held. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) said Nov. 17 there would be "endless hearings, markup, back to trying to get some time on the floor.... It will be some time before the treaty is ever heard from again."

The United States has already gone a full year without on-site inspections in Russia.  We must not wait another year to resume them.

As the five former GOP secretaries of state wrote, it is "in the national interest to ratify New START."  It is time for senators on both sides of the aisle to come together to strengthen U.S. and global security by completing the process of "advice and consent" with a floor vote. --TOM Z. COLLINA and GREG THIELMANN

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Volume 1, Number 40

One year ago this Sunday the United States lost its ability to "look under the hood" of Russia's nuclear forces. U.S. on-site inspections in Russia ended last Dec. 5 along with the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Fortunately, the United States can restore those inspections by ratifying New START, which currently sits before the Senate.

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New START Clears the Path for Missile Defense

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Volume 1, Number 39, December 1, 2010

It is ironic that critics of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) use missile defense as an excuse to oppose Senate approval. In reality, New START clears the path for missile defense, as shown by the recent U.S.-NATO agreement to deploy new missile defenses in Europe.

Moreover, contrary to recent media reports, there is no U.S.-Russian "secret deal" to limit U.S. missile defenses--only a public effort to cooperate. Washington overtures to cooperate with Moscow on missile defense are nothing new; they began under President Reagan and continued under George W. Bush.

New START is missile defense-friendly

The only missile defense "constraint" of any kind in New START is the prohibition on converting long-range missile launchers for use by missile defense interceptors. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, testified to Congress that there are no plans to convert launchers, and that if any new missile defense launchers were needed, it would be quicker and cheaper to build new ones. None of the critics have explained how this provision limits U.S. missile defense options in the real world. Moreover, O'Reilly explained that the treaty "...actually reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program [compared to the 1991 START agreement]," by allowing the launch of missile defense targets from airborne and waterborne platforms.

Some treaty critics also complain that New START's preambular language recognizes the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms. Yet including this simple truism in the preamble did not lead to any numerical or qualitative limits on missile defenses in the treaty. Moreover, the preamble also notes that "current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties" - a Russian acknowledgement that the 30 U.S. strategic ballistic missile interceptors currently deployed do not threaten Moscow's strategic nuclear retaliatory capability.

Also objectionable to critics is a (non-binding) Russian unilateral statement that New START "may be effective and viable only in conditions where there is no qualitative or quantitative build-up" in U.S. missile defense system capabilities and that such a build-up could prompt Russia to withdraw from the treaty. The United States issued its own unilateral statement in response, explaining that U.S. missile defenses "are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia," and that the United States intends "to continue improving and deploying its missile defense systems in order to defend itself against limited attack."

NATO endorses U.S. missile defense plan

The United States has made clear that New START would not prevent U.S. missile defense deployments. To prove the point, at the Nov. 19-20 Summit in Lisbon, NATO agreed to endorse the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to missile defense and the initial phase will become operational next year. The PAA provides a clear roadmap for U.S. development and deployment of future missile defense systems in Europe--during New START's duration--that is more responsive to present and near-term missile threats from Iran.

In Lisbon, NATO and Russia agreed to resume theater missile defense exercises and discuss ways to cooperate on missile defense in the future. According to the State Department, U.S.-Russia and NATO-Russia cooperation on missile defense is "intended to help improve our defensive capabilities, strengthen transparency, and reduce Russia's concerns about the United States' missile defense efforts by providing it with further insight into the nature of and motivations for U.S. and NATO ballistic missile defense plans and programs."

Talks on Cooperation, Not Limitation

Recent media reports implying that the United States was engaged with Russia in "secret talks" to limit missile defense are overblown and misleading. The administration made no secret of the fact that it was talking with Russia on missile defense cooperation and has been clear it is not discussing limitations.

At a June 17 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Gates stated: "Separately from the treaty, we are discussing missile defense cooperation with Russia, which we believe is in the interests of both nations." Moreover, the talks were not about limiting missile defense plans, but cooperating on them. "Such talks have nothing to do with imposing any limitations on our programs or deployment plans," said Gates.

U.S.-Russian efforts to cooperate on missile defense have roots in the Reagan administration, which offered to share missile defense technology with the Soviet Union. More recently, in 2004, under the George W. Bush administration, the United States began seeking a Defense Technical Cooperation Agreement (DTCA) with Russia. This agreement would have addressed a broad range of cooperative research and development activities, including missile defense. The last DTCA discussions with Russia were held in 2008.

Bush administration Assistant Secretary of State Stephen G. Rademaker said in 2004, "We want missile defense cooperation to be an important part of the new relationship the United States and Russia are building for the 21st century."

The Obama administration decided to pursue a more limited agreement that would only address missile defense cooperation, know as a Ballistic Missile Defense Cooperation Agreement (BMDCA). According to the State Department, the proposed BMDCA would "establish a framework to allow for bilateral BMD cooperation, including: transparency and confidence building measures; BMD exercises; data sharing; research and development; and technology sharing." The U.S.-proposed BMDCA specifically states that "This agreement shall not constrain or limit the Parties' respective BMD plans and capabilities numerically, qualitatively, operationally, geographically, or in any other way."

The Bottom Line

New START is a missile defense-friendly treaty. It does not constrain U.S. missile defense plans in any way. Nor is the United States engaged in secret side deals with Russia to limit missile defenses.

Failure to approve New START this year will jeopardize the current opportunity for the United States and Russia to work together effectively on missile defense. - TOM Z. COLLINA AND GREG THIELMANN

 

 

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Volume 1, Number 39

It is ironic that critics of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) use missile defense as an excuse to oppose Senate approval. In reality, New START clears the path for missile defense, as shown by the recent U.S.-NATO agreement to deploy new missile defenses in Europe.

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Close the Verification Gap: Ratify New START

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Volume 1, Number 35, November 19, 2010

The United States is approaching the first anniversary of losing its treaty rights to inspect Russia's nuclear forces "up close and personal," which expired along with  the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) last December.  Given that the United States has an opportunity to restore those inspections under the New START treaty, one has to wonder why some U.S. Senators are reluctant to promptly approve ratification of New START. In a stunning upending of President Reagan's admonition to "trust, but verify," critics of the agreement appear not to want to take advantage of the treaty's intrusive inspections to assure compliance.

It is small wonder that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, is "extremely concerned" about the time that has already lapsed without inspections.

U.S. Strategic Forces Commander Gen. Kevin Chilton warned that: "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... the worst of both possible worlds."

At the heart of the urgent pleas from senior military officers and security officials is an appreciation of the need to implement verification provisions in New START , which are crucial to the U.S. ability to monitor Russian strategic forces. There is no substitute for on-the-ground information gathered by treaty-authorized inspections. Satellites and other intelligence assets cannot look inside Russian missiles to see how many warheads they carry, but U.S. inspectors under New START verification provisions would do just that.

On-Site Inspections. New START allows up to 18 on-site inspections per year, including direct monitoring of Russian nuclear warheads, something no treaty has allowed before.  New START's "Type One" inspections, which occur at bases for deployed missiles and bombers, can achieve two goals at the same time (confirm data on delivery vehicles and on warheads), compiling as much data as two inspections under the original START agreement. Together with the eight "Type Two" inspections of non-deployed systems, the 18 New START inspections are essentially equivalent to the 28 inspections under START.

Moreover, the original START's 28 inspections had to cover 70 facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as Soviet strategic forces were 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. Telemetry, or missile flight test information, was needed under START I to determine the maximum number of warheads that might be loaded onto Russian ballistic missiles. Since New START requires data exchanges on the actual warhead loading of each deployed missile and allows direct on-site inspections to confirm this, telemetry sharing is no longer required.  Even so, New START provides for telemetry sharing on up to five missile tests per year as a confidence-building measure.

Mobile Missile Production Monitoring. Although the George W. Bush administration agreed in 2008 to end mobile missile production monitoring at Russia's Votkinsk plant, the new treaty requires Russia to notify the United States 48 hours before a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) leaves Votkinsk and when it arrives at its destination, which will facilitate monitoring by national technical means.

The updated system of information exchanges and enhanced on-site inspections established by New START would, in conjunction with "national technical means," allow the United States to verify compliance with the treaty's lower limits on deployed strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

After hearing testimony in closed session from U.S. Intelligence Community witnesses, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) concluded in its October 1 report that "the New START Treaty is effectively verifiable."  A July 30 letter from Secretary of Defense Gates to the committee reported the same conclusion from the nation's defense leadership:

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Chiefs, the Commander, U.S. strategic Command, and I assess that Russia will not be able to achieve militarily significant cheating or breakout under New START, due to both the New START verification regime and the inherent survivability and flexibility of the planned U.S. strategic force structure."

The longer New START remains in limbo, the wider will be the yawning gap in the collection of strategic information. Without New START in force, the U.S. Intelligence Community will not be able to predict with high confidence the status of Russia's nuclear forces, and both sides will be tempted to engage in more-costly force modernization and hedging strategies.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Agence France-Presse on Nov. 16: "I think the earlier, the sooner, the better. You know, my thing is, from an intelligence perspective only, are we better off with it or without it? We're better off with it."

Prompt ratification of the new treaty is the only way to close this  knowledge gap about  the only weapons that pose an existential potential threat to the United States. Failure by the Senate to approve New START would not only delay the re-establishment of an effective U.S.-Russian inspection and monitoring system, but it would undermine U.S. nonproliferation leadership and jeopardize U.S.-Russian cooperation in other fields, including joint efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program and support U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

The Time to Act Is Now, Not Later

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee performed due diligence in examining the treaty over a six-month period and voted its bipartisan endorsement by a 14-4 margin in September. Eighteen Senate hearings had been held and over 900 questions for the record had been answered. It is now time for senators on both sides of the aisle to come together to strengthen U.S. and global security by completing the process of "advice and consent" with a floor vote.

Senator Richard Lugar, SFRC ranking minority member, issued a clarion call to his colleagues on November 17 to finish the job in the lame duck session: "Every senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty."  - GREG THIELMANN

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Volume 1, Number 35

The United States is approaching the first anniversary of losing its treaty rights to inspect Russia's nuclear forces "up close and personal," which expired along with  the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) last December.  Given that the United States has an opportunity to restore those inspections under the New START treaty, one has to wonder why some U.S. Senators are reluctant to promptly approve ratification of New START. In a stunning upending of President Reagan's admonition to "trust, but verify," critics of the agreement appear not to want to take advantage of the treaty's intrusive inspections to assure compliance.

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New START: A Missile-Defense-Friendly Treaty

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Volume 1, Number 31, November 16, 2010

One of the biggest ironies in the debate over ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is that critics use the agreement's treatment of missile defense as an excuse to oppose Senate approval. In reality, New START is conspicuous for its lack of significant constraints on strategic ballistic missile defenses. The Barack Obama administration's negotiation of a missile-defense-friendly-treaty is particularly remarkable considering that missile defense constraints appear to have been an important objective of the Russian negotiators.

Missile Defense Myths About New START

That this barking dog did not bite has not stopped some advocates of strategic missile defenses from complaining loudly about "unilateral constraints on missile defenses." Yet the only missile defense constraint of any kind is the treaty's Article V prohibition on converting intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers for use as launchers of missile defense interceptors. With regard to this provision, Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, has testified to Congress that retaining the silo conversion option was not sought by the United States because there were no plans to exercise it; if any new missile defense launchers were needed, they could be more quickly and less expensively acquired through the construction of new silos. None of the critics have explained how this provision limits U.S. missile defense options in the real world.  Moreover, Gen. O'Reilly told a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year that: "The New START treaty actually reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program [present in the 1991 START agreement]." START I prohibited the launch of missile defense target vehicles from airborne and waterborne platforms.

Some missile defense acolytes have also complained about New START's non-binding, preambular language recognizing the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms and that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced. Yet including this simple truism in the preamble did not lead to any numerical or qualitative limits on missile defenses in the treaty itself. Moreover, the preamble continues with the assertion that "current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties" - a striking acknowledgement by Russia that the 30 strategic ballistic missile interceptors currently deployed by the United States do not threaten Russia's strategic nuclear retaliatory capability.

A final complaint of critics stems from the unilateral "Statement of the Russian Federation Concerning Missile Defense." Following a practice used by both parties to past strategic arms treaties, Russia provided a formal warning that New START "may be effective and viable only in conditions where there is no qualitative or quantitative build-up in [U.S. missile defense system capabilities]" and that a build-up in U.S. missile defense capabilities that "would give rise to a threat to [Russia's strategic nuclear force potential]" is one of the "extraordinary events" mentioned in Article XIV of the treaty, which could prompt Russia to exercise its right of withdrawal.

In response to Russia's statement, the United States issued its own unilateral statement explaining that U.S. missile defenses "are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia," and that the United States intends "to continue improving and deploying its missile defense systems in order to defend itself against limited attack...." This language will undoubtedly provoke criticism in the Duma's consideration of the treaty, but is not expected to prevent ratification.

Put simply, New START would mandate verifiable reductions of Russian and U.S. strategic offensive nuclear forces without placing limits on strategic defensive forces. Moreover, the United States has made clear in its unilateral statement that the treaty would not prevent it from improving and deploying missile defense systems. The subsequent adoption of President Obama's Phased Adaptive Approach has provided a clear and logical conceptual roadmap for U.S. development and deployment of future missile defense systems in Europe during the treaty's duration. Obama's cancellation of plans for deploying unproven, strategic missile interceptors in Poland constituted a shift in emphasis to regional, non-strategic systems, more responsive to present and near-term missile threats from Iran. Russian civilian and military leaders have indicated that they do not feel threatened by U.S. theater missile defense systems based in Europe.

Missile Defense Politics vs. U.S. National Security

That the critics' line of argument is so contrary to the facts cries out for explanation. Most of these critics probably know full well that New START protects rather than jeopardizes U.S. missile defense options during the next decade. They realize that the treaty has broad support among present and former senior military and security officials. They should also understand that without New START in force, the U.S. intelligence community would not be able to predict with high confidence the status of Russia's nuclear forces, and both sides would be tempted to engage in more-costly force modernization and hedging strategies.

However, since missile defense programs are so popular in Congress, rallying to their defense is a convenient subterfuge. Spurious charges and snipe hunts for imaginary secret understandings between U.S. and Russian negotiators to curb missile defenses are useful excuses for delaying the Senate vote. Ideological opponents of arms control hope that likely Senate approval may be derailed by stalling a Senate vote until the 112th Congress convenes or by provoking a negative Russian reaction. Some missile defense enthusiasts worry that future compromises with Russia might limit U.S. programs. They find that withholding support for treaty approval now increases leverage with Congress to secure future budgets and to insert qualifying language in the Senate's resolution of approval, which builds firewalls against negotiating future limits on missile defenses.

There is a legitimate debate to be had over the chances of reconciling post-New START reductions in nuclear weapons with a build-up in U.S. strategic defenses at some point in the future. But the critics' distortion of New START as hostile to missile defense only raises suspicions that they fear an honest debate on the merits of this treaty and a frank discussion about the real opportunity costs of pursuing unconstrained strategic missile defenses in the future. - GREG THIELMANN

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Volume 1, Number 31

One of the biggest ironies in the debate over ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is that critics use the agreement's treatment of missile defense as an excuse to oppose Senate approval. In reality, New START is conspicuous for its lack of significant constraints on strategic ballistic missile defenses. The Barack Obama administration's negotiation of a missile-defense-friendly-treaty is particularly remarkable considering that missile defense constraints appear to have been an important objective of the Russian negotiators.

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Latest Critique of New START Verification Misses Mark

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Volume 1, Number 19, August 19, 2010

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged prompt Senate consideration and approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) which would return to the path established by the original START agreement toward lower, equal, and verifiable limits on the strategic nuclear forces of Russia and the United States. Without the new treaty, Clinton emphasized, "our ability to know and understand changes in Russia's nuclear arsenal will erode," resulting in increased uncertainty and unpredictability.

In a front-page article published August 17, The Washington Post outlined why Republican and Democratic national security experts are concerned about the inability to inspect Russia strategic nuclear bases for the first time in 15 years, following the expiration of START last December.

The danger of delay in ratifying the follow-on treaty 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."

This week, in response to new expressions of urgency, Paula DeSutter, George W. Bush's assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, tries to attack the adequacy of verification provisions in the New START agreement.  DeSutter's latest jabs not only miss the mark, but achieve new heights of chutzpah given her role in the Bush administration's failure to utilize earlier opportunities to maintain and update the U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear weapons verification regime.

Remember SORT?

DeSutter was the senior verification official of the administration that negotiated and promoted the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), a treaty with no definitions, no counting rules, and no verification provisions whatsoever. SORT required the United States and Russia to meet the treaty ceiling of 2,200 on strategic deployed warheads by December 31, 2012, the same day that treaty would expire. When SORT was presented to the Senate, the Bush administration claimed that SORT verification could be achieved indirectly through the ongoing implementation of START verification provisions, even though these provisions, along with the rest of START, were due to expire three years before the SORT limits went into effect.

At the time, DeSutter was highly dismissive of the need to extend START or to negotiate a START-type verification accord in the post-Cold War era. In a March 12, 2004, interview, DeSutter declared: "I don't see any problems at this point that would require us to [extend START beyond its 2009 expiration date]."

In 2007 she reiterated: "We don't believe we're in a place where we need to have the detailed lists [of weapons] and verification measures."  Although the Bush administration informed Russia (and the three other ex-Soviet parties to the treaty) that the United States did not require an extension of START, DeSutter now avers that it was the Obama administration that "let START expire," blithely suggesting Obama could have simply extended the original agreement until New START was ratified.

On-Site Inspection

In an effort to provide a substantive excuse for opposition to New START, DeSutter has also criticized the on-site inspection provisions of the treaty, arguing that "they represent nothing new."

In reality, the procedures, expectations, rules, and goals are indeed new and promise to be very effective. They are streamlined, less costly, and tailored to the specific limits of the new treaty. Moreover, they are more efficient, with each New START inspection permitting not only monitoring of the warhead loading of a deployed missile chosen by the inspecting party but also confirmation that the declared data on the number and types of deployed and nondeployed strategic offensive arms at an inspected base are accurate.

DeSutter mischaracterizes New START's innovative creation of "unique identifiers" for missiles and heavy bombers by stating that warheads would also have unique identifiers, which is not the case. She complains of the lack of warhead loading limits on individual missiles - knowing full well that this aspect of the treaty was sought by the U.S. military in order to be able to retain a hedge for uploading warheads without further reducing the number of Trident missiles and submarines. The greater "flexibility" of the deployed warhead unit of account in SORT was commonly highlighted by the Bush administration as an advantage over the attributed warhead framework used in START. DeSutter also fails to acknowledge that any exploitation of missile warhead upload opportunities by Russia under New START would mean that it would be allowed to deploy fewer missiles and bombers under the treaty's aggregate warhead limits.

The Role of Telemetry

DeSutter also contends that the less stringent telemetry provisions of the new agreement would result in a decline in U.S. insight into Russian strategic nuclear forces. This assertion ignores the fact that telemetry is no longer required to verify the New START limits, which are different from the throw-weight, missile-type, and warhead-counting rules of START. DeSutter's concern here is intelligence, not verification. If one is really worried about losing insight into Russian strategic nuclear forces, then one should consider the insight being lost every day that treaty opponents delay the entry into force of the extensive on-the-ground inspection provisions incorporated into the New START agreement.

Criticism of the Value of New START Rings Hollow

Unfortunately, President Bush and his team, including Paula DeSutter, did not seek to negotiate a new treaty before leaving office or even to extend START's verification system to bridge until 2012 when the SORT limits would apply. As a result, President Barack 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 wasted no time in negotiating New START within only one year and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee leadership also moved expeditiously to examine the treaty on its merits. It is now up to the rest of the Senate to complete the job, allowing U.S. inspectors to regain on-the-ground access to Russian strategic nuclear deployment sites.

If DeSutter is expected to lead the attack on the verification provisions of New START, she will first have to get her facts straight and then hope that no one remembers the negotiating record of the administration she last served. In the meantime, the fact remains that until New START is approved by the Senate, insight into the only potential existential threat the United States faces will continue to diminish. - GREG THIELMANN

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Volume 1, Number 19

In response to new expressions of urgency by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the need for ratifying the New START agreement, Paula DeSutter, George W. Bush's assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, tries to attack the adequacy of that treaty’s verification provisions.  DeSutter's latest jabs not only miss the mark, but achieve new heights of chutzpah given her role in the Bush administration's failure to utilize earlier opportunities to maintain and update the U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear weapons verification regime.

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The Iran Nuclear NIE of 2007: Revise, Reject, or Reiterate?

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Volume 1, Number 18, August 12, 2010

Comments by senior U.S. officials in 2010 have continued to endorse the principal conclusions of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities." This may come as a surprise for those accustomed to seeing that earlier document described by pundits and journalists as "flawed," or "erroneous." In fact, from the moment the NIE's sanitized Key Judgments were released in late November 2007, the estimate has been subject to virulent criticism, particularly by those who regret that it did not provide justification for a preventive attack on Iran's nuclear program.

Many critics have impugned the motives of its authors. Former CIA Director James Woolsey has called the NIE "deceptive."1 Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Ranking Minority Member (and former Chairman) of the House Intelligence Committee has called it "a piece of trash."2 There is some considerable irony in hearing such criticism from those intimately familiar with the inner workings of the intelligence community, who seemed to have sleep-walked through the serious professional lapses of the 2002 NIE on Iraq WMD.

It is time to take another close look at the claims made by the Iran Nuclear NIE in light of the critical choices now confronting policy makers.

The most important conclusions from the fall of 2007 still obtain:

  • Iran had been working steadily on the facilities and expertise for enriching uranium, which would eventually allow it to make fissile material for a bomb, if it chose.  (Making fissile material is generally considered the most technically demanding and time consuming hurdle to developing a nuclear weapons capability.)
  • For many years, Iran had had a government-directed and clandestine nuclear weapons program (defined as: "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work"), but Tehran halted it in the fall of 2003 and the halt lasted at least several years.
  • The estimate indicated that the Department of Energy and the National Intelligence Council were less certain that the halt to these activities represented a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program.
  • Iran still faces significant technical problems operating its uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz, but would probably be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.
  • Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so. Only an Iranian political decision to abandon a nuclear weapons objective would plausibly keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons.

There has been no retreat from the key historical judgment that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and no advance to a conclusion that Iran had decided to develop nuclear weapons. According to open source information, foreign intelligence services have suggested that some level of nuclear weapons program activity has been underway since 2003. (See, for example, Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, June 28, 2010). It is reasonable to conclude that Iran wants at least to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons.

Yet Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, Jr., Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in early 2010 that: "The bottom line assessments of the NIE still hold true. We have not seen indication that the (Iranian) government has made the decision to move ahead with the program."3 The State Department's July 2010 Compliance Report stated flatly that: "Iran had a comprehensive nuclear weapons development program that was ordered halted in fall 2003."4

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reached a similar conclusion in his Annual 2010 Threat Assessment: "We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that bring it closer to being able to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."5

If a decision is made to manufacture and deploy nuclear weapons, CIA Director Leon Panetta claims that it would probably take a year for Iran to enrich sufficient uranium from its current stockpile of LEU (following the expulsion of IAEA inspectors) "and another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable."6

It would appear then that the long-anticipated "Memorandum to Holders," which is expected to update the 2007 NIE, is likely to revise it rather than revoke it by acknowledging that some kind of ongoing research on nuclear weapons is occurring, without questioning the validity of the 2003 halt that was detected or concluding that Iran has definitively decided to build a bomb. Iran's secret construction of a uranium enrichment facility near Qom, exposed and effectively neutralized in September 2009, deepened suspicions that Iran was interested in developing at least a breakout capability for clandestinely producing fissile material for weapons, independent of its existing LEU stockpiles, which are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, if there were shocking discoveries of unambiguous nuclear weapons intent in the revelations of defectors like Asgari and Amiri, one would have expected to see an alteration in the phraseology used by senior U.S. intelligence officials to describe Iran's nuclear program. This has not happened.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Government has decided to withhold from the American people even the bottom line judgment of the next estimate on this critical issue for U.S. security policy. This means that we will have to do our best to divine what our government thinks it knows and when it is making an educated guess. This also means that the public and the press will continue to be vulnerable to careless or deliberate misinterpretations of estimates by pundits with an axe to grind. - GREG THIELMANN

FOOTNOTES:

1-R. James Woosley, "Too Much Mr. Nice Guy," New York Times, May 6, 2010,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/opinion/07iht-edwoolsey.html.
2-Eli Lake, "Review: Iran never halted nuke work in '03," Washington Times, January 19,
2010,
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/19/review-says-iran-never-halted-nuke-work-in-2003/.
3-Gary Thomas, "US Defense Spy Chief: Iran Undecided on Nuclear Bomb," VOANews.com,
January 12, 2010,
http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/US-Defense-Spy-Chief-Iran-Undecided-on-Nuclear-Bomb-81256887.html.
4-State Department, "Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation,
and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments," July 2010, p. 66.
5-Dennis C. Blair, "Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," February 2, 2010,
http://www.dni.gov/testimonies/20100202_testimony.pdf.
6-Leon Panetta, Interview with Jake Tapper on ABC News: This Week, June 27, 2010.

Description: 

Volume 1, Number 18

Comments by senior U.S. officials in 2010 have continued to endorse the principal conclusions of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities." This may come as a surprise for those accustomed to seeing that earlier document described by pundits and journalists as "flawed," or "erroneous." In fact, from the moment the NIE's sanitized Key Judgments were released in late November 2007, the estimate has been subject to virulent criticism, particularly by those who regret that it did not provide justification for a preventive attack on Iran's nuclear program.

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Prompt New START Ratification Essential to Reducing Nuclear Threat

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Volume 1, Number 14, July 30, 2010

The signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the United States and Russia in April was an important step toward reducing the dangers posed by Cold War-era nuclear weapons, but the potential benefits to U.S. security can only be realized if the treaty is ratified. Until it is ratified, our focus on the most lethal potential threat to our nation will become increasingly blurred.

Consideration of New START by the U.S. Senate and Russia's Duma are well under way, but we are now in a race against the clock to get the job done. Ever since the original START expired in December of last year, the United States has been losing ground in understanding Russian strategic forces through the window of that treaty's comprehensive verification regime. In order to regain access to such vital information and to further reduce the huge nuclear arsenal left over from the Cold War, New START must be ratified.

The U.S. Constitution requires that two-thirds of the Senate concur in treaties made by the executive branch. Always daunting, this requirement is especially so in light of the highly partisan climate currently afflicting the Congress. The Foreign Relations Committee has the lead in providing Senate "advice and consent." Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ranking Minority Member Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) have presided over a series of thorough and balanced hearings on all aspects of the treaty. A long list of current and former senior security officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations have delivered testimony in support of ratification of the agreement, including President George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State James Baker and George W. Bush's National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, as well as former Defense and Energy Secretary James Schlesinger.

New START has bipartisan support because the treaty would keep Washington and Moscow on track to reduce their bloated Cold War nuclear arsenals by about 30 percent below current limits, continuing negotiated reductions launched in 1991 under START. New START would still leave a powerful and flexible U.S. nuclear force, more than enough to deter the extremely unlikely possibility of a nuclear attack by Russia or any other nation. Under New START, neither Russia nor the United States would deploy more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads - hundreds below Russia's current level.

New START would also enhance U.S. and global security by re-establishing a robust system for verifying each side's warhead and missile deployments. Gen. Kevin Chilton, U.S. Strategic Forces commander, explained in Senate testimony June 16 that: "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."

In a July 14 letter to senators, seven former U.S. military commanders of U.S. Strategic Command or its predecessor, Strategic Air Command, wrote that they "strongly endorse [New START's] early ratification and entry into force" and that "we will understand Russian strategic forces much better with the treaty than would be the case without it."

These hard-headed military assessments are very much in accord with my own conclusions from analyzing Russian strategic forces in the State Department's intelligence bureau and monitoring U.S. intelligence capabilities as a senior staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee. For following Russian nuclear forces, there is no substitute for the information acquired through implementation of strategic arms control treaty verification provisions.

Moreover, approval of New START will maintain the momentum behind U.S.-Russian cooperative programs to secure nuclear weapons-usable material and open the way for reductions of Russia's arsenal of smaller, more portable battlefield nuclear bombs, which are the most vulnerable to theft or loss to terrorist organizations.

The Senate should complete its careful examination of the treaty before coming to judgment, but it should not succumb to delaying tactics motivated by partisan politics. The benefits of New START for U.S. national security are too important. - GREG THIELMANN

Description: 

Volume 1, Number 14

The signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the United States and Russia in April was an important step toward reducing the dangers posed by Cold War-era nuclear weapons, but the potential benefits to U.S. security can only be realized if the treaty is ratified.

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The UN Sanctions' Impact on Iran's Military

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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.

Description: 

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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