Login/Logout

*
*  

"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."

– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Press Releases

U.S. Considers Retargeting Iraqi Sanctions Regime

Alex Wagner

Looking to strengthen the deteriorating sanctions regime imposed on Baghdad after the Persian Gulf War, the Bush administration is considering focusing the restrictions solely on Iraq's proscribed weapons programs. According to Secretary of State Colin Powell, the most "attractive" approach to boosting international support for the regime would involve "eliminating those items in the sanctions regime that really were of civilian use and benefited people and focus exclusively on weapons of mass destruction."

During the past year, the sanctions regime, which the United Nations put in place after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and which severely restricts Iraq's economic interaction with the rest of the world, has appeared to weaken considerably. Reported violations include rampant smuggling of goods into and out of Iraq, Iraqi receipt of oil surcharges not authorized by the United Nations, and illegal exports of oil from Iraq via its pipeline with Syria.

International support for the regime has also waned, with Russia, France, China, and Arab states voicing strong criticism about the humanitarian impact the sanctions are having on ordinary Iraqi citizens. After returning from a late February tour of Mideast capitals, Powell expressed concern that "more and more nations were saying let's just get rid of the sanctions, let's not worry about inspectors, let's just forget it."

Although the Bush administration has yet to provide any details about its proposal, press reports have indicated that it is considering removing controls on almost all consumer goods exports to Iraq and allowing Iraq's neighbors to purchase Iraqi oil at discounted prices in return for cooperating with the sanctions overhaul. According to the administration, the net impact of such a policy would be to encourage regional support for sanctions, discourage smuggling, and focus international efforts on inhibiting Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Depending on the nature of the changes, alterations to the sanctions regime would need approval from the UN committee that oversees the Iraqi sanctions or the UN Security Council.

The administration appears to have received support for modifying the sanctions regime from Iraq's neighbors. Referring to Powell's recent trip to the region, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "We found substantial support for the idea of keeping tight controls on weapons, on money, on smuggling, and taking steps to tighten up on those things at the same time as we were able to smooth out the flow of civilian goods to the civilian population." Russia and France have also expressed interest in the proposal.

The administration's suggested approach does not appear to address Baghdad's continued noncompliance with UN Security Council resolutions demanding inspections to verify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction programs. No weapons inspectors have been allowed in Iraq since December 1998, when the United States and Britain launched three days of punitive airstrikes against Iraq for its failure to cooperate fully with inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM).

While expressing support for inspections in an interview published March 5 in The Washington Times, Vice President Richard Cheney said the U.S. priority was to revitalize the sanctions regime and then to work on reintroducing inspectors to Iraq. "I think we'd like to see the inspectors back in there," Cheney said, but "I don't think we want to hinge our policy just to the question of whether or not the inspectors go back in there."

Baghdad has not reacted favorably to U.S. interest in modifying the terms of the sanctions and has said that, even if sanctions were lifted, it would not allow weapons inspectors into Iraq unless every other country in the region, including Israel, was subjected to the same scrutiny.

BWC Ad Hoc Group Meets With 'Mixed' Results

Seth Brugger

The Ad Hoc Group of states party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) ended its first session of the year February 23 with some progress on major outstanding issues but without Chairman Tibor Tóth issuing a "chairman's text," which appears necessary to help resolve the most contentious matters.

Summarizing the session's results as "mixed," Tóth said in his closing remarks that the negotiations are in an "extremely difficult phase" but that a "prevailing constructive mood" has emerged. Tóth had been expected by some to issue his text—which will contain proposed solutions to outstanding issues and could replace the current draft protocol—in time for this session. However, the chairman reportedly held off in large part to give the new Bush administration time to conduct a review of U.S. policy on the protocol.

Led by Ambassador Donald Mahley, head of the U.S. delegation, the review began in February after the end of the latest session and is reportedly due for completion at the end of March. According to a senior U.S. official, it is a "fundamental review" that will make recommendations to the administration on how to proceed.

The Ad Hoc Group has met a number of times each year in Geneva since 1995 to negotiate a legally binding protocol to strengthen the convention, which outlaws biological weapons but contains no verification mechanisms.

During the latest session, which began February 12, the group made some progress on resolving certain long-outstanding verification-related issues. According to the U.S. official, the delegations took steps forward on accepting the concept of having "transparency visits" being done on a random basis and deciding whether "clarification visits" should be allowed at undeclared facilities or restricted to declared facilities.

They also progressed in their deliberations on initiating inspections. According to the official, "It's probably the first time in a year that subject has been brought up and anybody has had a constructive discussion of it."

However, other highly disputed issues remain unsettled. One such topic is whether states-parties should be able to maintain national export controls or whether such controls should be part of a multilateral framework applied uniformly to all states-parties, the U.S. official said.

As part of this debate, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have called for the establishment of a panel that would have the power to review and overturn denials of requests for biotechnology transfers. Western states, including the United States, oppose such measures, asserting that such a regime would infringe too much on their national sovereignty and interfere with established national export controls.

The delegations also disagree on what types of facilities should submit declarations. According to the U.S. official, Washington wants to ensure that the protocol is not ambiguous about which facilities should be declared. It is also "adamant" that "the declaration of facilities should not be limited to the United States or Western countries."

However, others see the United States as trying to limit the number of facilities covered by the protocol in order to protect its national laboratories and biotechnology industry. While the U.S. position is supported by some non-aligned states, the European Union and other non-aligned countries want a more inclusive protocol regime. Although they differ on the details, these states argue that the more facilities the protocol covers, the stronger the regime.

Time is running short to resolve these issues. The group has aimed to complete the protocol by the fifth BWC review conference, but it has only seven weeks of negotiations scheduled before the conference starts on November 19.

To move forward on the disputed issues, Tóth has been conducting private informal consultations with the delegations for the past three sessions. During the last two sessions' consultations, the delegations presented their views to Tóth on various unresolved issues. This session, these discussions advanced to a "second generation," where the chairman presented his view of the situation, suggested possible ways forward, and collected more feedback, the U.S. official said.

Tóth has used this feedback to continually revise proposed solutions that he has been circulating since the previous session, held November 20-December 8. For the first time, during this session, Tóth put his proposals together as a package and circulated them for further comment. Although they do not tackle the most controversial issues, taken as a whole, the proposals appear to make up a good portion of what will become Tóth's chairman's text.

At the beginning of the session, Iran and China suggested that they would have reservations about the issuing of a chairman's text. However, at the end of the session, they did not openly object, and Tóth is reportedly likely to issue his text in time for the next session in April. The U.S. official said that Washington does not yet have a policy on the issuing of the text since the U.S. review is considering the issue.

Whether the chairman's text will replace the current draft protocol will depend on "the persuasive ability of the chairman, how close he's come to something which everybody can accept, and the mood of the negotiators," the U.S. official contended, adding that the text would not likely be open to many changes if adopted as a draft protocol.

At the end of the session, Tóth encouraged the delegations to review his proposals during the intersessional period and to explore further areas for compromise. He warned that, notwithstanding the prevailing "constructive spirit," the session's achievements, and "the readiness to move forward, the process is facing challenges as a result of the extremely limited amount of time available." He said that, if the group did not exercise "the necessary flexibility," then it might fail. The Ad Hoc Group is scheduled to meet again from April 23 to May 11.

'Foster Panel' Critiques Nuclear Weapons Complex

Philipp C. Bleek

A congressionally established panel has said that there are potentially serious shortfalls in the nuclear weapons complex and in the stockpile stewardship effort, which is intended to preserve U.S. nuclear weapons in the absence of underground testing.

The Panel to Assess the Reliability, Safety, and Security of the United States Nuclear Stockpile, known as the "Foster panel" after chairman and former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director John Foster, was established by the fiscal year 1999 National Defense Authorization Act to prepare three annual reports assessing the stockpile stewardship effort.

The group's February 1 report, the second of three, cites "funding shortfalls" and the lack of a "coherent strategy" as the most significant causes of "growing deficiencies in the nuclear weapons production complex," continued "slippage" in reaching program milestones, and "unacceptably high risks to the completion of needed weapon refurbishments." The group also says that recent security breaches have caused "deep morale and personnel problems" throughout the nuclear complex.

The panel makes a series of targeted recommendations to remedy what it terms a "disturbing gap" between the declared policy that maintaining the stockpile is a "supreme national interest" and actions that have been taken in support of that policy. In its primary recommendation, the panel calls for enhancing the United States' capability to produce fissile material cores for nuclear weapons, which would be required if serious defects were found in current weapons' cores.

The report also calls for the refurbishment of the nuclear weapons complex infrastructure, which it deemed would require an additional $300-500 million per year in funding. Fiscal Year 2001 infrastructure activities, including construction, repair, and maintenance, totaled about $1.6 billion. In addition, the panel states that a backlog of maintenance work amounting to $700-800 million must be dealt with.

The panel concludes that there is an "urgent need for a coherent vision, comprehensive plan, and programmatic commitment" and warns, "Failure to meet these needs would virtually guarantee that, in the decades ahead, the nation would face a crisis in the weapons program."

Testifying at a March 13 Senate subcommittee hearing, National Nuclear Security Administration head General John Gordon emphasized that "we don't need any more studies" and highlighted the fact that "every report, every study" has indicated that additional funding "approaching $500 million a year for at least the next ten years" is required to refurbish the nuclear weapons complex.

Putin Reaffirms Arms Sales, Nuclear Assistance to Iran

Wade Boese

Hosting a visit by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on March 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed that Russia would pursue new arms sales to Iran and complete construction of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Long critical of Moscow's relations with Tehran, Washington immediately expressed concern and warned Russia that selling advanced weapons and technologies to Iran could jeopardize better relations with the United States.

Early last November, the Kremlin notified the United States that on December 1 Russia would withdraw from a June 1995 agreement to end arms sales to Iran. Russia had not strictly adhered to the agreement, selling an estimated $200 million in weapons to Iran between 1996 and 1999, according to the Congressional Research Service. Nevertheless, the State Department believes the agreement succeeded in limiting Russian arms deals during the period, and it opposes Russia's abrogation of its commitment.

Russia and Iran did not finalize any specific weapons contracts during Khatami's four-day visit to Russia, but deals may be signed later this spring or early summer. The two sides did sign a number of agreements, including a Treaty on the Foundations of Mutual Relations and the Principles of Cooperation, aimed at expanding bilateral relations and trade.

Putin and other senior Russian officials have said only defensive weapons will be sold to Iran, but State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted on March 12 that Moscow has not been "quite clear" on what qualifies as defensive weaponry. Russian and Iranian press reports suggest that tanks, armored combat vehicles, fighter aircraft, helicopters, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and advanced S-300 air defense systems may all be on Iran's shopping list, though it remains unclear whether Iran could afford to purchase that amount of weaponry.

Putin justified the potential deals on March 12, stating that "Iran has the right to ensure its security and defense capability" and explaining that Russia has "economic reasons" for making such sales. Since assuming the Russian presidency, Putin has pushed to increase Russian revenue from weapons sales by trying to revive sales to old Soviet clients and seeking new arms markets and by reducing competition between Russian arms companies, which had been driving Russian weapons prices down.

Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee on March 14, Secretary of State Colin Powell implied that, if it wants improved relations with the United States, Russia should rethink to whom it sells arms. "It would not be wise to invest in regimes that are not following accepted standards of international behavior," Powell declared. The U.S. government classifies Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and believes Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons despite its legal obligation not to under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Depending on what types of arms Russia sells Iran, it could engender more than just ill will from Washington. The 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act calls on the United States to impose sanctions on countries supplying "destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons" to either Baghdad or Tehran. Other U.S. legislation prohibits U.S. foreign assistance funds from being sent to countries that deliver "lethal military equipment" to states sponsoring terrorism. A March 16 bipartisan letter to President George W. Bush from 29 U.S. representatives reminded him of this latter legislation and asserted that the results of Russia's March 12 meeting with Iran "warrants the immediate attention of the United States and requires appropriate, significant action."

Not directly related to Putin's visit with Khatami, on March 13 President Bush declared a national emergency with respect to Iran, an action necessary for keeping U.S. sanctions in place that have been mandated by executive orders. The national emergency expires every year on March 15, requiring an executive extension. Bush, according to a White House statement, extended the emergency because Iranian actions and policies "continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."

Although much of the recent U.S. criticism focused largely on Russia's almost certain future arms sales to Iran, Boucher added on March 13 that the United States did not think Russian cooperation with Iran in the nuclear sphere is "well advised." Russia has a contract to complete a nuclear reactor at Bushehr, and Putin stated that Moscow would finish the project even though work has been delayed, a holdup he attributed to "sluggishness on both the Iranian and Russian side." The reactor is scheduled to be completed in 2003.

Putin stressed that Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran is conducted "in accordance with the rules of [the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] and under its control." The IAEA is responsible for verifying that nuclear facilities and materials under its supervision are not used or diverted for weapons purposes.

Iran also reportedly again raised its interest in a second reactor for the same site after Russia finishes work on the current one. Putin may have alluded to Iran's plans during his March 12 remarks when he noted Tehran "has plans for expanding its nuclear power industry, and the Russian Federation, in accordance with international rules, is interested and willing to take part in the appropriate tenders for participation in this work."

Bush Puts N. Korea Negotiations On Hold, Stresses Verification

Alex Wagner

Adopting a harder line toward North Korea than that of his predecessor, President George W. Bush said March 7 that his administration would not immediately resume missile negotiations with Pyongyang left unfinished by the Clinton administration. The announcement differed from previous statements by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had indicated that the administration planned to pursue what appears to have been a nearly complete deal by the Clinton administration to end North Korea's missile development and exports.

Bush, who made his remarks during a joint press conference with visiting South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, expressed "skepticism" about North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and said that he has concerns about the ability to verify any agreement with a closed society like North Korea. Bush said he "look[s] forward to, at some point in the future, having a dialogue with the North Koreans, but that any potential negotiation would require complete verification of the terms of a potential agreement."

During the press conference, Bush also said that the United States is "not certain as to whether or not [the North Koreans] are keeping all terms of all agreements." The statement sparked some confusion because the United States has only one agreement with North Korea: the 1994 Agreed Framework, which ended Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. In a briefing following the conference, a senior administration official explained that, despite his phrasing, the president was referring to the potential verifiability of a future missile deal with North Korea. The official said that there are no indications North Korea is violating the Agreed Framework.

Bush's decision to put off negotiations contrasted with statements Powell had previously made on the administration's approach to North Korea. On March 6, Powell told reporters that "we do plan to engage with North Korea and pick up where President Clinton and his administration left off." Powell went on to say that "some promising elements were left on the table" and that the United States has "a lot to offer that regime if they will act in ways that we think are constructive."

However, emerging from the March 7 meeting between Bush and Kim, Powell shifted gears, emphasizing that there is "no hurry" to engage Pyongyang. He said that the administration is conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward North Korea and that it would, "in due course, decide at what pace and when we engage." Amending his remarks from March 6, Powell said that if "there was some suggestion that imminent negotiations are about to begin—that is not the case."

According to a former senior U.S. official, North Korea had been prepared at the end of the Clinton administration to stop its missile development and missile exports in exchange for international satellite launch services and nonmonetary compensation, respectively. Writing in The New York Times March 7, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Clinton's special adviser on North Korea, characterized such an agreement as "tantalizingly close."

The former senior official noted, however, that the problem of how to verify and monitor an agreement, in addition to the status of Pyongyang's current missile inventory, had remained unresolved. Powell indicated this was one reason the Bush administration was reviewing its options before proceeding. "What was missing in what had been done was how one would put in place any kind of monitoring or verification regime. And the North Koreans had not engaged on that in any serious way in the period of the Clinton administration," he said in March 8 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Powell also said that the administration would consider issues beyond missile negotiations in its policy review, including whether the conventional military balance on the Korean Peninsula should be considered simultaneously with missile talks—a course the Clinton administration had avoided. "There's a huge army poised on the demilitarized zone, pointing south, that is probably as great a threat to South Korea and Seoul and regional stability as are weapons of mass destruction. Should that be included in a negotiation with the North Koreans?" Powell asked.

In what may have been a reaction to Bush's comments, on March 13 Pyongyang canceled cabinet-level discussions with Seoul hours before they were set to begin. On March 15, North Korea threatened to "take thousand-fold revenge" on the United States "and its black-hearted intention to torpedo the dialogue between North and South [Korea]." The statement, issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, called Washington's new policies "hostile" and noted that Pyongyang remains "fully prepared for both dialogue and war."

 

Congress Reacts

Following Bush's demand for verification in dealings with North Korea, Republican leaders in the House and Senate urged the administration to reconsider the terms of the Agreed Framework, under which North Korea is to be provided with two light-water reactors.

On March 9, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jesse Helms (R-NC), along with Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Bob Smith (R-NH), sent a letter to Bush calling for the administration to abandon the reactor project in favor of "several clean-burning, coal-fired power plants to meet North Korea's civilian energy needs." The letter called into question Pyongyang's "track record" and said that "North Korea's regime hardly can be trusted with [light-water reactor] technology, or with fissile material."

In a March 13 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Henry Hyde (R-IL), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, also championed replacing the light-water reactors with conventional power plants while stressing the need for comprehensive verification in light of past actions by North Korea.

Congressional Democrats urged Bush to continue to pursue a negotiated solution to U.S. concerns over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile capabilities. In a March 6 letter to Bush before his meeting with Kim, the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate, as well as the ranking members of the International Relations and Foreign Relations committees, encouraged the president to work with South Korea to address North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and said that, if he does so, they "stand ready to support" him.

EU to Send Delegation to Korean Peninsula

Following President George W. Bush's decision to put off missile negotiations with North Korea, the European Union (EU) announced it would send a high-level delegation to the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking at the EU summit in Stockholm, President of the European Council and Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said March 24 that he, EU Secretary-General Javier Solana, and EU External Affairs Commissioner Christopher Patten hope to visit Seoul and Pyongyang before the end of May. Persson said he planned to broach "a broad agenda" with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, including discussions on missiles. Sweden currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU and has had diplomatic relations with Pyongyang for the past 26 years.

According to a senior Swedish official, the EU discussion is intended to be "complementary" to both the North-South peace process and any further U.S.-North Korean security negotiations. The official stressed that it is "important that the U.S.-North Korean discussions resume" and said that the dialogue on missile negotiations "cannot and should not" be taken up without the United States.

However, in a March 24 interview on Swedish television, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh reportedly stated that the unanimous decision by the 15 EU leaders to send the delegation came about because "it's becoming clear that the new U.S. administration wants to take a more hard-line approach toward North Korea." Lindh went on to say that such a policy "means that Europe must step in to help reduce tension between the two Koreas, not least because the outside world is so worried about North Korean missiles." —A.W.

Pentagon Report Highlights Hurdles for Missile Defenses

Wade Boese

In its latest annual report, released March 2, the Defense Department's office of operational test and evaluation expressed strong concerns about the testing program for the U.S. national missile defense (NMD) system and highlighted several technical challenges confronting U.S. theater missile defenses. The review office also disputed the contention that a sea-based theater missile defense currently under development could be simply or quickly modified to defend against strategic ballistic missile attacks.

As part of its annual assessment of all Pentagon weapons testing programs, the office of operational test and evaluation reviewed the Pentagon's several ballistic missile defense programs, all of which are still proceeding under the Bush administration. The completed evaluations buttressed Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish's common cautionary refrain about the difficulties of building missile defenses, that "this is rocket science." Kadish is director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which oversees U.S. missile defense programs.

Designed to protect all 50 U.S. states from strategic ballistic missile attacks by intercepting warheads as they cruise through space, NMD is the most high profile of the missile defense programs. The system will initially consist of 20 ground-based missile interceptors deployed in Alaska supported by advanced radars and eventually two new satellite constellations.

In its evaluation of the NMD program, the review office noted that the system represented only a "limited functional representation of the objective system" because only prototype and surrogate NMD elements were being tested. For example, none of the five flight tests to date, three of which have been intercept attempts, have employed the system's planned actual booster, which is still under development.

Earlier this year, BMDO projected the booster's first flight test, previously scheduled for early last year, could happen as soon as March, but a BMDO spokesperson said March 23 that the test will not take place before August because of additional design and material changes to the booster. The number of solo flight tests of the booster scheduled before it is used in an actual intercept attempt has also been trimmed from three to two.

The NMD test program, according to the Pentagon review office, is "not aggressive enough to match the

pace of acquisition to support deployment and the test content does not yet address important operational questions." Specifically, the office did not feel that the flight testing is realistic enough with regard to intercept altitudes and closing velocities. It also asserted that the decoys planned for deployment with the targets in future testing are too simple and noted that established nuclear powers already use countermeasures that are more sophisticated. BMDO responded that it was exploring options to make the testing more stressful.

Aside from flight tests, the review office pointed out that a key tool for running simulations of intercept scenarios that cannot be flight-tested was delivered late and not fully developed, thereby preventing it from being used in any "significant" way. In addition, the office faulted integrated ground tests of NMD system elements as being "unrealistic" because of simplification and the low number of objects used in testing scenarios.

The report recommended that, when assessing system performance, more weight should be given to the discrimination capabilities of the system's radars and the exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV), which is designed to seek out and collide with an incoming warhead in space. Ultimately, the EKV's ability to discriminate will be the "biggest challenge" for the NMD system to work properly, according to the evaluation. All other NMD tasks appear to be technologically possible, the report stated.

The review office declared that any successful intercept would be a "significant achievement" but cautioned the success would need to be viewed within the context of the testing program's limitations. Of the three NMD intercept tests, the first resulted in an intercept while the last two failed.

Theater Missile Defenses

In addition to the proposed NMD system, the United States is also developing defenses to protect deployed U.S. forces from attack by slower and shorter-range theater ballistic missiles. Not counting laser-based and cooperative defenses, the Pentagon is working on four different theater missile defense systems: Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD); Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3); Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (NATBMD); and Navy Theater Wide (NTW).

A mobile ground-based system intended to intercept incoming theater ballistic missiles inside and outside the atmosphere during their mid-course and early terminal phases, the THAAD system experienced six straight intercept failures, starting in December 1995, before achieving two successive hits in 1999. While characterizing the THAAD program as having made "significant progress," the office of operational test and evaluation noted that the two intercepts demonstrated only a "limited integrated system performance."

The THAAD missile is now undergoing a redesign to address problems identified in the earlier flight tests. The missile's "reliability, testability, producibility, and affordability" must be increased, according to the Pentagon review office, and the entire system should be exposed to "extreme operating environments" to validate that it will work wherever deployed. The Defense Department is calling for five successful intercepts with the redesigned missile before moving further with the program.

Whereas THAAD is targeted at upper-tier threats, the PAC-3 system will be focused on lower-tier threats, such as cruise missiles, aircraft, and tactical ballistic missiles in their terminal stage. PAC-3 has achieved six intercepts in six attempts, but due to delays in software development and unexpected hardware problems, only one flight test involved what the review office deemed a "production representative" PAC-3 missile. Five of the successful intercepts were also conducted against what the review office described as "limited threat representative targets."

Moreover, other tests of the PAC-3 ground system revealed a number of "reliability" and "high priority" problems concerning difficulty in identifying, classifying, discriminating, and tracking targets. These problems must be fixed before the PAC-3 ground system is fielded, the report stated.

Largely built upon upgrades to existing weapons systems—mainly the Aegis combat system, which can track more than 100 targets simultaneously, and the Standard Missile, which is used for air defense—the NATBMD is a "technically solid" program, according to the review office. But the Navy has not conducted a live test to prove the system can acquire, track, and intercept a theater ballistic missile. The NATBMD system will be ship-based and is envisioned as protecting coastal cities and amphibious forces against short- to medium-range ballistic missiles.

While tests have shown that the Aegis system can track a ballistic missile, the review office cautioned that the system could have difficulty in simultaneously defending against ballistic missiles and performing its anti-air-war function. In addition, the complexity of upgrading the Aegis' Weapons System computer program may have been "underestimated" the report stated.

The proposed Navy Theater Wide system, which will be tasked with intercepting medium- and long-range theater ballistic missiles from the late ascent phase through the early descent phase, rests upon more substantial upgrades to the Aegis system and the Standard Missile. The review office expressed concern about the Aegis system's autonomous ability to perform the required detection and tracking functions, particularly its ability to locate a smaller target (when compared with airplanes, as the system was originally designed to track) at a much greater distance. Other potential problems are whether the infrared seeker on the NTW's warhead will be able to adequately discriminate between the target and debris and whether it could be blinded by its own propellant plume.

Although geared toward countering theater ballistic missiles, some missile defense advocates have suggested that NTW could be adapted or upgraded relatively easily to permit it to intercept strategic ballistic missiles in their boost phase, when the rocket engines are still burning. However, the review office asserted such a change in mission would require "major upgrades."

Citing the Aegis system's limited detection and tracking range for strategic ballistic missiles, the review office concluded the Aegis' radar is "not capable of supporting NMD-class engagements." The planned NTW Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), which just completed its first successful flight test involving all of its three stages in January, lacks the velocity needed for ascent-phase or mid-course intercepts and would need "major propulsion upgrades," according to the report. In fact, the SM-3's burnout velocity is less than half of what is needed to engage strategic ballistic missiles in mid-course trajectory. The review office also assessed the NTW kill vehicle's detection and divert velocity capabilities as being inadequate for "NMD endgame performance" and noted that the NTW warhead does not meet the NMD mission requirement of being "nuclear hardened."

Taken together, these "major shortcomings," according to the review office, led it to conclude that neither NTW nor even a five-year upgrade of the NTW system could be considered a "viable sea-based NMD option." The Defense Department is currently conducting a review of its ballistic missile defense options.

Top Pentagon Officials Make Case for Layered Missile Defense

Wade Boese

While the Bush administration is continuing its review of U.S. missile defense options, the Pentagon's top two officials in March revealed a clear preference for a future layered missile defense unconstrained by the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

In an interview published March 18 in The London Sunday Telegraph, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, appeared to be making the case for a layered defense consisting of multiple types of anti-ballistic missile systems, including sea-based systems. Wolfowitz asserted that "the best thing is to attack a missile several different ways" because that approach maximizes the chances of intercepting it. Rumsfeld added that that was the reason "people say that eventually one would anticipate that you'd have something that would be not a single system, but a layered system with flexibility and some redundancy."

In the interview, Wolfowitz said the "most attractive" time to shoot down a missile is when it is in the boost phase, which is when it is moving most slowly and its rocket engines are still firing, making it an easier target. The deputy secretary suggested that a sea-based missile interceptor would be "very effective" for boost-phase intercepts and stated that there is nothing "physically" preventing an anti-strategic ballistic missile from being stationed on a ship. (A Pentagon review recently reported that there is no near-term sea-based NMD option. See Pentagon Report Highlights Hurdles for Missile Defenses.)

As a presidential candidate last year, President George W. Bush campaigned against the Clinton administration's proposed limited national missile defense (NMD), which would initially consist of 20 ground-based missile interceptors stationed in Alaska to protect the U.S. homeland from strategic ballistic missile attacks. Bush described the system as "flawed" and said his administration would look into different technologies and deploy effective missile defenses "at the earliest possible date" with an expanded mission of protecting U.S. friends and allies in addition to U.S. territory and troops.

Rumsfeld asserted in the March 18 interview that the Clinton administration did "no real work" on missile defense because it had only one approach—developing a ground-based system—with the aim of staying "broadly" within the ABM Treaty. Rumsfeld said that would not be the case with the Bush administration, explaining, "We've asked our people to look at missile defense unconstrained by the [ABM] Treaty."

The 1972 ABM Treaty and its 1974 protocol proscribed nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles but permitted 100 missile interceptors at a single site for a limited regional defense. The treaty further outlawed the development, testing, or deployment of sea-, air-, space-, and mobile land-based systems or components, thereby limiting permissible defenses against strategic missiles to ground-based designs.

Rumsfeld, who characterized the treaty as "ancient history" at his Senate confirmation hearing, declared in the interview that he does not see the accord as "having a central role in strategic stability." He said that at some point the United States would need to make changes to the treaty. As a candidate, Bush said that he would withdraw from the treaty if Russia did not accept U.S. proposals for amending the accord to permit a U.S. missile defense deployment. Russia rejected all Clinton efforts to amend the treaty.

At his February 27 confirmation hearing, Wolfowitz testified that the United States, hopefully with Russian cooperation, needs to relax ABM Treaty restrictions, explaining his view that U.S. NMD development over the past 10 years would have been very different "if the ABM Treaty hadn't been there or if it had been modified." According to Wolfowitz, the administration wants to "find the most effective, least expensive, and least provocative way" of developing a defense.

Earlier in the month, Rumsfeld reaffirmed Bush's campaign pledge that whatever missile defense system is pursued, the objective will be to protect all 50 U.S. states, deployed U.S. troops, and U.S. allies. Speaking on March 8, Rumsfeld declared that he no longer thought of missile defense in terms of "national" and "theater" systems. According to Rumsfeld, this purpose of such a unified approach is to avoid creating "significant differentials in vulnerabilities" between the United States and its allies. "One has to recognize that it's every bit as important to us…and to have our allies feel equally secure to the extent that's possible," the secretary stated.

For the time being, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which oversees U.S. missile defense programs, is continuing work on the Clinton NMD. In February, a Pentagon spokesman noted that Rumsfeld had directed BMDO to "press on" with system testing and research, although no initial site preparation or construction activity in Alaska has been authorized. If the Bush administration opts to continue the Clinton system, it would be expected to approve construction by the end of 2001 if it hoped to start building in 2002.

Bush Administration Blunts International Opposition to NMD

Wade Boese

Two months into its term, the Bush administration's continued efforts to build foreign acceptance of, if not support for, U.S. deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) appear to be paying some small dividends. In mid-March, a top Chinese official, while still vehemently objecting to U.S. plans, welcomed talks with Washington on the issue. Meanwhile, Germany has edged away from its past opposition to NMD, and France has publicly quieted its criticism, although neither country has embraced the idea.

Unlike the Clinton administration, which largely neglected Asia on U.S. NMD plans and upset U.S. allies by focusing first on winning Russian acquiescence while taking their support for granted, the Bush administration from the outset has promised to consult fully with all interested countries. At the same time, Bush officials have emphasized they will not be dissuaded from their objective and have expressed confidence in their ability to persuade others to eventually accept a U.S. defense.

Starting a March 14 speech by noting, "It is no news that China is opposed to the U.S. NMD program," Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang declared that he wanted to "make it clear that…we are ready to have a dialogue and discussion with Americans [on NMD]." The head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control and disarmament department, Sha pointed out that only through consultations could the two sides "enhance mutual understanding and narrow down the differences." Sha, who in his speech equated NMD with "drinking poison to quench thirst," said Washington and Beijing need to talk "no matter how serious [the] issue."

While declaring that China does not want a confrontation with the United States over missile defenses, the ambassador warned that China will "not allow its legitimate means of self-defense to be weakened" and that Beijing wants to preserve "existing mutual deterrence" between China and the United States. Currently, China, which possesses roughly 20 ICBMs capable of reaching the United States, fears a U.S. national missile defense, no matter how limited, could negate its small arsenal, making China vulnerable to a U.S. first strike or eliminating its ability to deter the United States from intervening militarily in Asia, particularly with regard to Taiwan.

Like the Clinton administration did, Bush officials have declared that the system will not be directed at China, but at other states, such as North Korea and Iran, that are pursuing long-range ballistic missiles. Sha rejected this assurance, saying the United States has "over-exaggerated" such threats. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that only those who would threaten the United States or its friends and allies should be concerned about a U.S. defense.

Sha repeated long-standing Chinese charges that a U.S. missile defense could start another arms race, including one extending into outer space, and could possibly spur increased missile proliferation. Sha said that for those reasons China, which is already known to be modernizing its strategic forces, hoped Washington would abandon its plans. He added that China "should have reason to be confident that we can deal with it" if there is a U.S. deployment.

The ambassador further said that China does not oppose theater ballistic missile defenses (TMD) "utilized to protect a country's troops and for air defense purpose[s]," and he applauded the Russian proposal for a European TMD. But Sha warned against any U.S. transfer of TMD to Taiwan and against any system that could play a role in or serve as a "front" for a wider missile defense.

A week after Sha's speech, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen raised the missile defense issue with both President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington. A senior administration official told reporters March 22 that at the meeting Bush reiterated that a defense would not be a threat to China. When asked whether there was now a better understanding between the two countries on the issue, the official replied "I wouldn't go that far…you'd have to ask his side if they felt that."

Visiting Washington a week later on March 29, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed interest in Germany playing a future part in U.S. missile defenses if they were deployed. "Certainly, when it comes to the involvement and also participation in terms of industrial policy, certainly we'll be interested," Schroeder answered when asked by a reporter whether Germany would be willing to participate in a system.

However, Schroeder noted there were many issues that needed to be looked into, such as whether a missile defense will work, who will be covered, and how it will impact global disarmament and relations with Russia and China. Bush described himself as "grateful" that Schroeder was interested in the U.S. point of view, and the chancellor, who has been a leading European voice expressing reservations about U.S. missile defense plans, said he was "very pleased" that the president was open to discussion about the questions he had posed.

Quite vocal about its missile defense concerns last year, France has quieted its public protests following the Bush administration's promise to hold consultations with allies. A French official explained that France still has the same concerns it expressed in the past about the "potential negative effects" of missile defense but that it will raise those issues in private. Like Berlin, Paris seems to be reserving judgment on U.S. plans until it has had an opportunity to discuss them with Washington.

Russia has continued to voice its opposition to U.S. plans, and on March 6, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, a critic of missile defenses, noted after a meeting with Powell that she had not changed her position. Lindh also said that the European Union presidency, which Sweden currently occupies, does not want to see the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty threatened.

South Korea Clarifies Position on NMD

After South Korean President Kim Dae Jung signed a February 27 joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin that called for the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to be "preserved and strengthened," Seoul rushed to explain that it is not opposed to a U.S. national missile defense (NMD).

Kim's signature of the statement was widely reported as evidence that South Korea was siding with Russia against U.S. missile defense plans, but Seoul announced the next day that it was "engaged in a serious review of the NMD issue" and that reports characterizing South Korea as opposing or indirectly criticizing missile defenses "have no factual ground." Seoul further pointed out that the controversial statement was a direct quotation of other statements that Washington has signed over the past year, including one that was issued by the nuclear-weapon states at the 2000 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

After meeting President George W. Bush at their March 7 summit in Washington, Kim reiterated to reporters that the joint South Korean-Russian statement "in no way reflects our position on NMD issues" and added that he "regretted the misunderstanding." In a joint U.S.-South Korean statement issued that day, the two leaders recognized that there were new threats in the world and that countering them would require a "variety of measures, including active non-proliferation diplomacy, defensive systems, and other pertinent measures."

A March 23 South Korean press report later quoted Seoul's foreign minister, Lee Joung-binn, as saying that the United States had requested a statement of support for NMD at the summit but that South Korea had declined. Lee subsequently retracted his remark, but on March 26 he and 10 other cabinet ministers and senior presidential secretaries were replaced by Kim in a move interpreted as an attempt to better relations with Washington. —W.B.

Bush Reviews Threat Reduction Programs, Contemplates Cuts

Philipp C. Bleek

Following a strong reaction in Congress to reports of impending budget cuts to nuclear threat reduction efforts in Russia, President George W. Bush announced March 29 that his administration was conducting a "full review" of the programs. The assessment will be conducted by senior National Security Council officials and is expected to last six to eight weeks, according to an administration official.

The United States funds numerous programs, managed by several departments, to help Russia dismantle its nuclear weapons and secure its deteriorating nuclear weapons complex. Reports that the administration's budget proposal will suggest cuts for these programs first appeared in mid-March, based on government and private sources. The cuts are reportedly directed primarily at Energy Department non-proliferation efforts, with possible cuts to the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative.

Administration officials declined to provide specifics, but one official indicated that programs deemed "ineffective" by the recently launched review could be significantly scaled back or killed.

The size of the cuts under consideration remains unclear. Various sources have indicated that the Department of Energy (DOE) cutbacks will involve a relatively small reduction from this year's budget. However, any cuts would be significant because funding for key threat reduction efforts had been expected to increase considerably next year, and some programs will apparently be hit hard. Multiple reports indicate that the budget for the Nuclear Cities Initiative, which is working to create employment opportunities, will be cut from its current level of about $27 million to around $7 million, effectively crippling the program.

After being asked about the reported pending cuts at an impromptu White House press conference, Bush responded by stating that "we're reviewing all programs," citing a desire to ensure funds were being spent "in an effective way." Bush also emphasized that "we fully intend to continue to cooperate with the Russians" and that such cooperation is "in our nation's best interest."

Office of Management and Budget spokesman Chris Ullman noted in a March 29 interview that the review will not factor into the administration's initial budget proposal, due to be released April 9. But Ullman emphasized that the budget process between the executive branch and Congress allows considerable flexibility should the review conclude that either additional funding or cutbacks are necessary.

Threat reduction efforts in Russia enjoy bipartisan congressional support, and reports of impending cuts sparked significant concern on Capitol Hill. At a March 28 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called the reports "absolutely stunning," stating that he hoped "wiser heads would weigh in" to persuade the Bush administration to alter its apparent position. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) expressed concern that the administration "intends to take an axe" to "key" threat reduction programs and said he supports a ten-fold increase in Energy Department threat reduction spending. Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) also reiterated the call for substantial budget increases at the hearing.

A ten-fold increase in annual funding for DOE threat reduction efforts from about $300 million to $3 billion was advocated by a bipartisan panel report commissioned by the Energy Department and released in January. The report termed the deterioration of the Russian nuclear weapons complex "the greatest unmet national security threat to the United States." (See ACT, March 2001.)

Commission Warns U.S. Space Assets Vulnerable

Wade Boese

Tasked with reviewing the organization and management of U.S. national security-related space activities, a congressionally mandated commission issued a report January 11 faulting the government for neglecting U.S. space capabilities. The commission warned that U.S. space assets are vulnerable and recommended that Washington develop additional space capabilities for deterrence and defense—possibly including space-based weapons.

The 13-member "Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization," headed by Donald Rumsfeld until he was nominated to serve as defense secretary on December 28, noted that the United States is "more dependent on space than any other nation." This dependence, the commission reported, makes the United States an "attractive candidate for a 'Space Pearl Harbor.'" As evidence, the commission cited, among other examples, a Chinese news article that Beijing is exploring strategies to defeat the U.S. military in a high-tech and space-based war.

Because of U.S. dependence on space, the commission said Washington must remain engaged in shaping the rules and regulations for space use, cautioning that the United States should be leery of any agreement that could, even if unintentionally, restrict U.S. space activities. While the commission acknowledged the "sensitivity" surrounding weapons in space, it declared that ignoring the issue would be a "disservice." The commission further believed that conflict in space is a "virtual certainty" and that the United States should "vigorously pursue" capabilities to guarantee the option of deploying space weapons if necessary. China, Russia, and other countries are currently pressing for negotiations on preventing an arms race in outer space at the UN Conference on Disarmament, an effort Washington is opposing.

In addition, the report said the United States should review "existing arms control obligations in light of a growing need to extend deterrent capabilities to space." The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty proscribes the development, testing, and deployment of space-based systems or components for defending against strategic ballistic missile attacks.

The commission, comprised of several retired U.S. military officers who previously held space-related commands, spent six months assessing U.S. space activities. Much of the commission's report focused on critiquing U.S. government management of its space activities, concluding that current responsibility for space issues is spread too broadly, leading to insufficient attention, direction, and funding of U.S. space programs. As a remedy, the commission called on the president to make space a national priority and for the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence community, as first steps, to better organize their space commands to improve "responsibility and accountability."

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Press Releases