"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Press Releases

Congress Releases Pentagon Report Criticizing Clinton NMD

Wade Boese

An internal Pentagon report evaluating the performance of the Clinton administration’s national missile defense (NMD) system was released June 26 by Congress. The August 2000 document, which had not been previously released to the public, was part of the Pentagon’s Deployment Readiness Review and informed President Bill Clinton’s September 2000 decision not to authorize NMD deployment. (See ACT, September 2000.)

Prepared by Philip Coyle, then-director of the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation, the report suggested that “significant delays” in development and testing would likely require the Pentagon to restructure the NMD program if it was to meet a 2005 deployment date. The report assessed that the program had fallen behind schedule at a rate of 20 months every three years. (See August 2000 Pentagon Report on NMD Technology for excerpts of the report.)

Coyle noted that the next intercept attempt was scheduled for early 2001, after being rescheduled from a May 2000 testing date, and that the first test of the system’s actual booster had slipped from early 2000 to early 2001.

Those two tests have still not been conducted. The intercept test may take place in July or August, and the first booster test is now tentatively scheduled for August or September but could slip further.

Although the report said flight-test delays were the “most visible,” it said hang-ups in simulation and ground testing could have an “even greater impact” on the program because they will be used to test intercept scenarios that cannot be flight-tested. The report contended that the equipment and technology needed to conduct simulation and ground testing is “immature” and inadequate.

Coyle also described the intercept attempts themselves as not being realistic enough. The report noted that intercept altitudes are low and that the closing velocities are too slow. Also, targets are more easily tracked during tests than under real conditions because, during tests, they start close to the radar tasked with detecting them and move away from it. In a real intercept, the target missile would actually start far away from the radar and move toward it, resulting in a later detection.

Ultimately, the report stated that the “most challenging” task facing any intercept attempt during the midcourse stage would be discriminating between the target and decoys. The report found that the mock warhead and decoy balloon used in the system’s three intercept tests to date are easily distinguishable from one another. It recommended the introduction of more sophisticated decoys that better mimic the mock warhead and tests that involve multiple interceptors and targets.

In addition, Coyle noted that before the tests the exoatmospheric kill vehicle, which seeks out and collides with the target in space, had received information to allow it to discriminate between the target and decoy. In general, he recommended that the practice of conducting rehearsed intercept tests, in which the “target complex, target trajectory, and the time of launch” are known beforehand, eventually be discontinued.

Representative John Tierney (D-MA), who worked for the release of the August report, explained that he did so because the report “details serious flaws in the missile defense program which the administration appears determined to deploy years before it is ready.” He added that he believed “it is imperative that the Congress and the public be fully informed of the immaturity of the system and the serious problems encountered in testing.” The Pentagon withheld the report for more than eight months after Congress asked for it and then requested that it not be made public.

DOD Mulls Missile Defense Test Site; Plan Could Violate ABM Treaty

Wade Boese

The Pentagon is planning to add a missile defense test site in Alaska, a move that could violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

A spokesperson for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) indicated that, as part of the Bush administration’s ballistic missile defense testing program, a “test bed…will be set up” by adding an Alaska test range for “all [missile defense] systems…including ground-based interceptors.” The test bed would encompass, roughly, the triangular area bounded by the new test site in Alaska, the existing U.S. test site in the Marshall Islands, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where test target missiles are launched. It would allow the testing of a greater number of missile trajectories under more realistic conditions and could be ready by a “2004-2007 timeframe,” according to the spokesperson.

At a June 28 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) noted that BMDO Director Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish had briefed senators earlier in June on the option of having up to 10 “test” missiles in Alaska that could be “available for operational deployment.” According to the BMDO spokesperson, placing ground-based interceptors in Alaska would be aimed at improving testing, but the missiles “could be used in an emergency” if the technology had progressed enough.

Under the ABM Treaty, which proscribes Washington and Moscow from building nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, ABM systems and components under development and testing are to be “located within current or additionally agreed test ranges.” In a common understanding to the treaty, the United States declared two test sites—White Sands, New Mexico, and Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands—and stated that “ABM components will not be located at any other test ranges without prior agreement between our Governments.”

However, in 1978, Washington and Moscow agreed—in a deal made public in 1993—that a new test range would be considered “additionally agreed” if it was “consistent” with the treaty’s prohibitions on a nationwide defense or a “base for such a defense.” A party building a new test range would simply have to notify the other party of its plans no later than 30 days after starting “construction or assembly” of ABM launchers or radar at a new range.

Whether Pentagon plans for adding the Alaska test site for a national defense would be permitted by the 1978 agreement is unclear. If any interceptors at the new range could be “available for operational deployment,” as Kadish reportedly told senators, then the new site would presumably violate the treaty, which limits operational U.S. strategic missile interceptors to a single North Dakota site.

In addition, if the Alaska test range is integrated with other test sites, it could, at some point, be viewed as a “base” for a nationwide defense and, hence, a treaty violation.

When asked repeatedly at the June 28 Armed Services Committee hearing whether any of the Pentagon’s new budget request would be used for activities that would violate the ABM Treaty, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded, “We don’t know for sure,” claiming that it would depend, in part, on how fast technologies evolved. Later, the secretary added, “Not to my knowledge.”

Bush Team Reaffirms Missile Defense Plans; Dems Leery

Wade Boese

In June, senior Bush officials reiterated the administration’s intention to press forward with ballistic missile defenses as quickly as possible, but leading Senate Democrats warned against precipitously abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Adding an additional note of caution, the top Pentagon official overseeing missile defense programs warned Congress about the risks of rushed testing.

Preceding President George W. Bush to Europe, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told his counterparts at a June 7 NATO defense ministers’ meeting that the Bush administration would follow through with its commitment to deploy ballistic missile defenses to protect the entire United States, U.S. forces deployed abroad, and U.S. allies and friends. But Rumsfeld did not detail any specific plans, saying the exact types of defenses would be determined by testing and would evolve over time.
In his prepared remarks, the secretary explained that the U.S. objective would be to deploy layered defenses targeted at intercepting “handfuls of missiles, not hundreds” during their various stages of flight—boost, midcourse, and terminal. Rumsfeld contended that even “test assets to provide rudimentary defenses” would likely be deployed.

Rumsfeld told the allied defense ministers that it was “inescapable” that U.S. plans would require “moving beyond” the 1972 ABM Treaty, which proscribes Washington and Moscow from building nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles or the base for such defenses. The treaty also bars developing, testing, and deploying sea-, air-, space-, and mobile land-based ABM systems or components.

Bush and his senior officials say it is the treaty’s testing prohibitions that pose the most immediate conflict with their missile defense plans, arguing that the treaty blocks a full exploration of all possible defenses. Rumsfeld maintains that the United States must move past the treaty to allow the Pentagon to conduct necessary tests, though he has not specified what planned testing would violate the treaty.

Administration officials admit they are uncertain as to when their missile defense plans would run afoul of the ABM Treaty, but all say it is inevitable. En route to the NATO meeting, Rumsfeld ventured that the point of violation would vary depending on the pace of testing programs and which lawyer one consulted. Secretary of State Colin Powell has simply said that the exact timing is unknown. When that point is reached, however, Washington “will get out of the constraints of the treaty,” Powell declared during a June 17 interview on Fox. He added that Bush has said the United States will not be stopped by an almost 30-year-old treaty.

Speaking a day after Rumsfeld made his case to NATO, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) described himself as “mystified” that the administration wants to commit billions of dollars to an as-yet-unproven concept. He cautioned that, if Republicans “rush” missile defense, it could be an “embarrassment to them, to the country.”

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who now chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and will be in charge of marking up the Pentagon budget, suggested in May that the committee should not support funding for activities that would violate the ABM Treaty.

Levin and other Democrats grilled Powell and Rumsfeld on missile defense in separate June hearings. On June 20, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, questioned the hurry to abandon the ABM Treaty, saying he was aware of no missile defense tests currently scheduled before 2003 that “even gets us close to a violation of ABM.” Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), at an Armed Services Committee hearing with Rumsfeld the next day, expanded on the same theme, saying, “All of the wringing of hands of the abrogation of the treaty seems to me a little premature before something has been developed.”

Democrats also criticized the administration’s contention that it might deploy a system before it had been fully tested. Both Rumsfeld and Powell said that fielding a system before it has been completely tested is not the same thing as fielding a nonfunctional system. “We of course would not deploy anything…if we didn’t think it would work,” Powell declared. However, he added, that “does not necessarily mean that you have to wait until every last test has been concluded.”

Lieutenant General Kadish Testifies

Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, who oversees U.S. missile defense programs, testified June 14 before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee that “if we rush development imprudently, I will guarantee that we will get less-than-satisfactory results.” Although he did not rule out “rapid, aggressive development” if done prudently, he said that from his perspective “more testing is always better.”

When questioned about how the ABM Treaty impacts testing, Kadish answered that all testing has complied with the treaty. Referring to the proposed Clinton national missile defense (NMD) system, which employs a ground-based missile interceptor with an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) to destroy an incoming target, Kadish said that the treaty “hasn’t prevented us from doing what we need to do…per se.”

The treaty would bar ship-based interceptors or the Airborne Laser (ABL) from being tested against targets simulating strategic ballistic missiles. Currently, the ABL and U.S. sea-based missile defense programs are geared toward intercepting short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, but the administration is believed to be very keen on shifting those programs so they can deal with long-range missiles. (The ABL was the only missile defense project to get extra funding—$153 million—under the Bush administration’s supplemental fiscal year 2001 budget request.)

Kadish, however, said he did not believe that it was feasible in the near term to upgrade existing technology so that a ship-based interceptor could intercept missiles in their boost phase, as some missile defense advocates suggest. “We would have to undertake a major development program to make that happen,” he asserted.

The program furthest along in development and closest to deployment, according to Kadish, is the Clinton NMD system. He then acknowledged, “We have an awful lot of work to do, however.”

Pentagon Prepares Modest Cutbacks in Nuclear Arsenal

Philipp C. Bleek

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is taking steps to reduce modestly all three arms of the nuclear triad in what appears to be the first stage of the unilateral nuclear cutbacks promised by the Bush administration. The secretary said he intends to retire the Peacekeeper ICBM, reduce the number of deployed B-1B Lancer bombers by a third, and study converting two Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines to play a conventional role.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee June 28, Rumsfeld said that both he and the Air Force had concluded that the Peacekeeper missile, also known as the MX, was “not needed.” The Air Force is seeking $4.9 million for 2002 to prepare for Peacekeeper dismantlement. The missiles are scheduled to be taken out of service between 2003 and 2005, with final dismantlement activities concluding in 2007.

The Peacekeeper is the United States’ newest ICBM, deployed under President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. Like the heavy, multiple-warhead Russian ICBMs, the Peacekeeper must be eliminated under the START II agreement, whose entry into force remains stalled. Currently, the United States has 50 Peacekeepers deployed.

The administration is prohibited from reducing U.S. nuclear forces below START I levels by language first included in the fiscal year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act. Intended to prevent then-President Bill Clinton from unilaterally reducing strategic forces, the language specifies that Pentagon funds may not be used to “retire or dismantle” strategic weapons below set levels, including “50 Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim indicated at a June 27 press briefing that the administration was seeking “relief” from the restriction for all weapons systems, not just for the Peacekeeper missile.

That same day, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Representatives John Spratt (D-SC) and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) introduced the Nuclear Threat Reduction Act in both houses of Congress. The legislation would lift the restriction while also calling for reductions in the alert status of weapons and the acceleration of nuclear threat reduction efforts in Russia.

Rumsfeld also indicated in testimony to both houses of Congress that the Air Force had recommended reducing the fleet of B-1B Lancer bombers from 93 to 60 and reducing the number of B-1 bomber bases from five to two, a recommendation he indicated was already being implemented. The Lancer currently carries conventional weapons but is nuclear capable.

Lawmakers from states due to lose their bomber contingent expressed anger during the hearings. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), whose state is slated to lose its bombers, informed Rumsfeld that he was going to “make every effort” to block the decision until he is “confident” that it “fits into our national defense strategy.” Other lawmakers echoed his sentiments. Roberts was particularly upset by an Air Force memo he obtained that discussed the political necessity of maintaining bases in Texas and South Dakota, home to President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, respectively.

The plan to study the conversion of two Ohio-class submarines to carry conventional cruise missiles appears to have generated little congressional interest. The United States currently deploys 18 of these nuclear-capable submarines, each of which carries 192 nuclear warheads, but four of those submarines are due for retirement by 2003.

The proposed reductions mesh with Bush’s plans to reduce the size of U.S. nuclear forces. During a May 1 speech at National Defense University, Bush said that he intends to develop a new framework that would “encourage” cuts in nuclear weapons and that he is “committed to achieving a credible deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs.” (See ACT, June 2001.)

UN General Assembly Adopts Illicit Firearms Protocol

Wade Boese

Without a vote, the UN General Assembly adopted a protocol May 31 targeted at improving cooperation in clamping down on the illegal manufacturing of and trade in firearms. The protocol, which complements an existing UN convention on crime and will be legally binding, calls on states to mark each legally produced, exported, and imported weapon with identifying information and to set up proper licensing and authorization procedures for the commercial export of firearms.

Formally titled the “Protocol Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition,” the protocol will apply to any barreled weapon that can be carried by an individual and uses an explosion to discharge a shot, bullet, or projectile. Countries signing the protocol are to pass legislation criminalizing any illicit manufacturing and trafficking of such firearms, establish an effective export control system, and share information as well as technical experience and training with each other to enable cooperation in preventing illegal shipments of firearms. States-parties will also be expected to keep records for at least 10 years on their marking and transfer activities so that it will be possible to trace the movement of firearms across borders.

The measure, which is focused against organized crime and will not apply to government sales, is considered “law enforcement, not arms control,” according to a U.S. government official. The firearms protocol is the third to complement the November 2000 UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime—the other two are aimed at stopping the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking in persons, particularly women and children.

Originally, the firearms protocol was to be completed at the same time as part of a package, but disagreements concerning how weapons should be marked slowed work on the firearms protocol. China and others that do not use the Roman alphabet did not want to abandon their established marking method, but the United States, among others, worried that multiple marking systems would complicate the tracking of firearms and, if necessary, the prosecution of criminal activities. Eventually, the United States relented, though the protocol states that each firearm produced will be marked with a serial number, name of manufacturer, and country of origin, or “alternative unique user-friendly marking…permitting ready identification by all States of the country of manufacture.”

Modeled on a similar instrument adopted by the Organization of American States in 1997, the UN firearms protocol cannot enter into force until 40 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification and not before the main convention has entered into force. Countries that wish to join the firearms protocol must first join the broader convention.

Rules for U.S.-Swedish Arms Trade, Ventures Relaxed

Wade Boese

On June 14, the White House announced that Sweden, and therefore its arms companies, would be permitted to join a select group of countries that enjoy an expedited, relaxed, and simplified process for purchasing weapons from or participating in joint ventures with U.S. arms companies.

Last May, the Clinton administration unveiled 17 initiatives collectively referred to as the Defense Trade Security Initiative (DTSI) that, among other things, cut, consolidated, or sped up export licensing requirements for U.S. arms companies and their customers or partners in NATO, Japan, and Australia. (See ACT, June 2000.) Sweden will now be able to take advantage of the initiative, which was welcomed with open arms by U.S. arms manufacturers, who had argued that onerous U.S. export laws were costing them business.

The White House announcement, made while President George W. Bush was in Sweden for a summit meeting between the United States and the European Union, noted that Sweden is “one of six major European producers of aerospace and defense items.” During U.S. fiscal years 1996-1999, the U.S. government approved more than $1.3 billion in commercial licenses for exports of arms and military equipment to Sweden. (Countries can buy U.S. weaponry either through the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program or directly from a U.S. company in a commercial deal. DTSI applies largely to commercial deals.)

Also under the rubric of DTSI, Washington resumed negotiations with Britain and Australia in mid-May to exempt selected companies in those countries from having to obtain licenses for unclassified U.S. weapons or services. The negotiations, which are not expected to be concluded anytime soon, had been put on hold when the Bush administration took office. At this time, only Britain and Australia have been singled out for this general license exemption (in addition to Canada, which was exempted before DTSI’s inception) because the United States believes their export control systems are closest to U.S. standards.

U.S., Uzbekistan Sign Threat Reduction Agreement

Philipp C. Bleek

The United States signed an agreement June 5 with Uzbekistan that, according to Bush administration officials, will provide a “legal framework” for a range of cooperative threat reduction and military activities.

Signed by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in Washington, the accord is intended to facilitate three specific projects, according to the officials. Most notably, it will allow work on eliminating a biological weapons complex located on Vozrozhdeniye (“Renaissance”) Island in the Aral Sea.

The island contains an extensive, well-documented Soviet-era complex, which one official estimated contains “more than 80 buildings.” U.S. officials plan to eliminate the complex’s facilities and to destroy residual stocks of biological weapons, including anthrax, currently stored there.

The project has some urgency because diversion of water for agricultural purposes has drastically lowered the Aral Sea’s water level. Some experts warn that land bridges could soon form between the island and the mainland, providing a conduit for animals to carry anthrax spores or other biological agents from the island.

The agreement will also facilitate work already underway under a pre-existing accord to dismantle a chemical weapons research facility located at Nukus. Furthermore, the agreement will permit Uzbek participation in a Defense Department biological material protection and control program that aims to enhance the security of pathogen collections at research facilities.

In addition, the accord provides a legal umbrella for possible future threat reduction cooperation, such as work between the Energy Department and the Uzbek government on enhanced safeguards for the country’s nuclear research reactor. This umbrella will also extend to defense and military contacts, such as joint military exercises.

According to the official, the agreement entered into force upon signing, superceding an existing “ministry-to-ministry agreement” between the two countries’ defense departments. It will expire in seven years. The official emphasized that more narrowly targeted implementing agreements must still be negotiated for each project, although the Nukus activities can proceed under an existing implementing agreement.

Rumsfeld Restructures Operation Of U.S. Space Programs

Wade Boese

Aiming to raise the profile of and accountability for U.S. defense and intelligence space-related activities, at the Pentagon on May 8 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced several changes to the way the United States oversees and operates its space programs. Most of the recommendations mirrored those outlined in a January 11 report by a congressionally mandated commission tasked with reviewing U.S. space activities, which Rumsfeld chaired until he was nominated to head the Pentagon. (See ACT, March 2001.)

Describing how reliant the United States is on space assets for both military and civilian purposes—from gathering intelligence on foreign militaries to enabling global communication to providing early-warning of missile launches—Rumsfeld said the United States needs to match the management and organization of U.S. space-related security programs with the “importance of space to the nation today.”

Rumsfeld argued that the heightened U.S. dependency on space makes the United States “somewhat vulnerable to new challenges.” He said the question is how to “deter and dissuade” others from attacking or interfering with U.S. space assets in possible times of tension. Approximately half of the roughly 700 operational satellites in orbit are U.S. commercial, civilian, or military satellites, according to U.S. Space Command.

Topping the list of Rumsfeld’s changes is the creation of an interagency Policy Coordinating Committee for Space within the National Security Council. The new committee will be charged with developing, coordinating, and monitoring implementation of any presidential policy guidance on space.

Aiming to increase attention devoted to space by senior military officials, as well as accountability, the command of Air Force Space Command will now be independent and headed by a four-star officer. Previously, this command was part of the responsibility of the commander-in-chief of U.S. Space Command, who also serves as commander-in-chief of North American Aerospace Defense Command.
In addition, the Air Force will now be designated the executive agent for space within the Defense Department, putting the service in charge of planning, programming, and acquiring space systems. Rumsfeld also tasked the Air Force with being ready for “prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations.”

Although some members of Congress had lobbied for the creation of a separate Space Force, Rumsfeld said that the cost and complexity of such an initiative could detract from the effort to increase joint war-fighting capabilities among the existing services. Rumsfeld also elected not to request creation of a new undersecretary of defense for space, intelligence, and information, one of the few recommendations from the January report of the “Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization” that he declined to follow.

When asked after his speech whether he intended to pursue space-based weapons, Rumsfeld dodged the question, saying his initiatives only focused on organizational issues. Pressed again, the secretary quoted from the 1996 U.S. National Space Policy, which says that the United States “will develop, operate and maintain space control capabilities to ensure freedom of action in space and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries.”

In its report, the members of the independent commission on space activities wrote that, although they appreciated that there is a controversy about weaponizing space, they believed the United States should “vigorously pursue the capabilities…to ensure that the President will have the option to deploy weapons in space.”

Then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) reacted to Rumsfeld’s May 8 speech by characterizing the possibility of space-based weapons as possibly “the single dumbest thing I’ve heard so far in this administration.” He warned that he believed Democrats, who became the majority party in the Senate following Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords departure in late May from the Republican Party, would be “universally opposed to doing something as foolish as that.”

Many countries, led by China and Russia, are already pressing the United States to negotiate an agreement at the UN Conference on Disarmament to prevent an arms race in outer space, something Washington has refused to do. (See CD Reconvenes, Stalemate Likely to Continue.)

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars states from stationing weapons of mass destruction in space and forbids military activities on celestial bodies, and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty proscribes the development, testing, and deployment of space-based ABM components or systems.

Bush Pushes New Strategic Framework, Missile Defenses

Wade Boese

In a May 1 speech at National Defense University, President George W. Bush said that the United States “must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM Treaty” and replace it with a “new framework.” Bush offered few details about what such a strategic framework would look like, but he reaffirmed his intention to deploy ballistic missile defenses and further reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Arguing that, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world today is “vastly different” than when the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was signed in 1972, Bush said U.S. security needs to be “based on more than the grim premise that we can destroy those who seek to destroy us.” Negotiated by President Richard Nixon with the Soviet Union, the ABM Treaty proscribed nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles and barred the development, testing, and deployment of sea-, air-, space- and mobile land-based ABM systems or components. Without nationwide defenses, both countries had confidence that the other would not risk a nuclear attack, knowing that it would be vulnerable to a retaliatory strike.

In addition to barring the United States from “exploring all [missile defense] options,” Bush charged in his speech that the ABM Treaty “perpetuates a relationship [with Russia] based on distrust and mutual vulnerability” and therefore must be replaced. The president did not detail what should replace the treaty, except to say that the resulting relationship with Russia should be “reassuring, rather than threatening.”

The alternative to the ABM Treaty “might be a framework, might be another treaty,” Secretary of State Colin Powell ventured in a May 14 interview with CNN. “We’re not sure what it is yet. We are not foreclosing any option,” he said.

Bush did not repeat his campaign statement that the United States would withdraw from the ABM Treaty if Russia refused to negotiate amendments to permit a U.S. strategic ballistic missile defense. Nevertheless, he and other administration officials have made it clear that they do not think the accord is useful to U.S. security.

Prior to Bush’s speech, a top State Department official told the Danish parliament on April 25, “We believe the ABM Treaty will have to be replaced, eliminated, or changed in a fundamental way.” When asked on May 11 whether the United States may in the end continue the treaty, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher answered, “I don’t think we have raised that possibility.” He later added, “We have come to the conclusion that this treaty is outdated and not important or relevant to the current strategic situation.”

A key characteristic of the current strategic situation, according to the administration, is that, unlike the Soviet Union, so-called rogue states seeking weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles, such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran, may not be deterred from attacking the United States by the prospect of U.S. nuclear retaliation.

Without missile defenses, the president argued, the United States and others could be susceptible to nuclear blackmail by rogue states. Citing Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the president said the international community would have “faced a very different situation” if Baghdad had possessed a nuclear weapon, implying that U.S. efforts to form a coalition to evict Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait would have been a much more difficult task or would have failed because of the significantly higher stakes of intervening.

To guard against these new post-Cold War threats, as well as to protect against accidental launches of strategic ballistic missiles, Bush said his administration, “working with Congress,” would deploy missile defenses. The president noted he had already charged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with exploring “all available technologies and basing modes” for effective missile defenses in order to protect the United States, its deployed forces, and U.S. friends and allies.

Bush briefly mentioned the prospect of land-, air-, and sea-based defenses and that the administration saw “substantial advantages” to intercepting missiles in the boost phase during the first few minutes of flight, when the rockets are still burning, the missile is moving relatively slowly, and no countermeasures have been deployed. But he admitted that there is still “more work to do to determine the final form the defenses might take.”

Bush did not mention space-based defenses, but Rumsfeld said the following day that, in addition to land-, air-, and sea-based defenses, space-based options “are all things that need to be considered.” Rumsfeld subsequently stated on May 8 that the Pentagon office overseeing missile defenses had identified “eight, 10, or 12 different things…that they think merit attention.”

Though the administration has not yet determined the specifics of its future missile defenses, it has been clear about what the system will not be. Appearing May 6 on NBC, Rumsfeld described as “unfortunate” that some people used the term “shield” in talking about missile defenses, claiming the word suggested greater capabilities than the administration envisions. Instead, Rumsfeld explained the proposed Bush defenses would only protect against “relatively small numbers of ballistic missiles.”

Speaking the day of Bush’s speech, Rumsfeld cautioned that early defenses would “certainly unlikely” be 100 percent perfect. In fact, the secretary noted, “Most systems are imperfect; that is to say for every offense, there’s a defense, and vice versa.”

Despite having declared the ABM Treaty irrelevant and having announced that the United States will deploy missile defenses, in his speech Bush assured other countries, including Russia, that he would not present the world with “unilateral decisions already made,” but consult with other capitals and seek their input on the “new strategic environment.” Prior to his speech, Bush talked by phone with the leaders of Germany, France, Canada, Britain, and Russia, as well as NATO Secretary-General George Robertson. The following week, senior administration officials departed on visits to nearly 20 countries to hold consultations on Bush’s vision of a new strategic framework. (See Missile Defense Consultations Abroad Yield Little Progress.)

Cutting the Arsenal

Although Bush’s May 1 speech focused on describing how the world has changed since 1972 and the need for missile defenses, Bush also said that his new strategic framework would include further cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, as well as non-proliferation and counter-proliferation activities.

“My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces,” Bush declared. These reductions are expected to be implemented unilaterally rather than through negotiations with Russia, though Bush would first need Congress to repeal legislation proscribing the president from unilaterally reducing U.S. strategic forces.
As with missile defense, Bush offered only a vague goal, saying that the United States will seek a “credible deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs.” An administration spokesperson interviewed May 17 said it is still “too early to talk about numbers.” The Pentagon is currently reviewing how many and what types of nuclear weapons will make up the future U.S. arsenal.

Russia and the United States agreed in March 1997 to begin START III negotiations to limit each of their arsenals to 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic warheads once START II, which imposes a ceiling of 3,500 deployed strategic warheads, enters into force. But those negotiations have not gotten underway because START II has yet to enter into force. During his campaign, Bush said it should be possible to go “significantly further” than the START II cap, but he did not indicate whether he would go as low as the proposed START III levels or Russia’s stated preference for cuts to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads.

In a May 1 speech at National Defense University, President George W. Bush said that the United States “must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM Treaty” and replace it with a “new framework.” Bush offered few details about what such a strategic framework would look like, but he reaffirmed his intention to deploy ballistic missile defenses and further reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (Continue)

Russia, Belarus Move Toward Open Skies Treaty Ratification

Wade Boese

As expected, Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, gave its approval of the Open Skies Treaty on May 16, a little less than a month after the Russian Duma, the more powerful, lower house, approved the accord on April 18. (See ACT, May 2001.) Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently signed the legislation, ratifying the accord on May 28.

In Belarus, which had adopted the position that it would act on the treaty once Russia did, the lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved the treaty 86-2 on May 3, and the upper house followed suit on May 17.

Kyrgyzstan is the only other country of the 27 signatories that has not ratified the treaty. However, its ratification is not needed for the treaty to enter into force, which will happen 60 days after both Moscow and Minsk have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Negotiated by NATO and the former members of the Warsaw Pact and then signed in March 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits states-parties to fly unarmed reconnaissance missions over each other’s entire territories. The sensors aboard the aircraft, including cameras, will enable the observing party to distinguish between tanks and trucks.

Each state-party is obliged to receive only a certain number of flights per year over its territory, referred to as its passive quota, and is restricted to the number of flights it may conduct over other states-parties, which is a country’s active quota. All countries with a passive quota of eight or more must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, which is why Russia and Belarus—the two share a quota of 42—must complete ratification before the accord becomes legally binding.

By the terms of the treaty, the first allocation of overflights, in which states-parties need only receive up to 75 percent of their passive quota for overflights, is good from the date of entry into force until the end of the following year. Therefore, if Moscow and Minsk quickly deposited their instruments of ratification within the next few months, the treaty would enter into force this year and states-parties would have only through the end of 2002 to get their observation aircraft certified, which could take several months, and conduct the first round of overflights. If the two capitals deposit their instruments of ratification later this year so that entry into force falls during early 2002, states-parties will have all of 2002 and 2003 to get the treaty running, allowing themselves a more leisurely schedule for getting aircraft certified and conducting the first round of overflights.


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