"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Professor of History, Montgomery College
July 1, 2020
Press Releases

Clinton NMD Decision Welcomed Abroad, Reactions at Home Are Mixed

Wade Boese

World leaders from Europe to Asia welcomed President Bill Clinton's September 1 announcement that he would not deploy a limited national missile defense (NMD) system, but the response from U.S. politicians was mixed. While congressional Democrats, many of whom had called on the president to defer a decision, strongly supported the announcement, some long-time Republican advocates of missile defense criticized the action. Presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush quickly issued statements on the announcement but revealed little of their own plans.

Russia and China, the two leading opponents of U.S. missile defense plans, reacted positively but with relative reserve to the announcement, presumably reflecting an understanding that U.S. plans have been put on hold rather than shelved permanently. Russian and Chinese official press services reported, respectively, that Russian President Vladimir Putin said Clinton's announcement will help "strategic stability," while a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman described the decision as "rational." Both statements made it clear that the U.S. action did not remove the NMD issue as a point of contention.

China fears the U.S. system's real aim is to counter Beijing's small force of some 20 ICBMs, while Russia worries the proposed system could prove to be a "slippery slope," leading to much more capable and robust defenses that could eventually threaten its nuclear deterrent. Pentagon plans call for the U.S. defense to be comprised of 20 missile interceptors initially, but to expand to 100 interceptors within two years of deployment and then perhaps to as many as 250 total, split equally between two sites in Alaska and North Dakota. The system would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty and a subsequent 1974 protocol, which together prohibit national defenses against strategic ballistic missiles and limit the United States to a single regional defense located in North Dakota.

Meeting earlier this summer in Beijing, Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin had issued a joint statement July 18 criticizing U.S. NMD plans as "seeking unilateral military and security superiority." The two leaders warned that the program "will give rise to most serious negative consequences" and that any move to undermine the ABM Treaty would "trigger off another round of arms race."

A U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report dated July 25 made a similar point, warning that a U.S. missile defense would undermine strategic stability if Russia and China opted to respond by "enhancing their offensive nuclear capabilities." A classified U.S. national intelligence estimate, delivered to the White House the second week of August, also reportedly cautioned that Beijing could accelerate its strategic modernization plans and Russia could halt cooperation on non-proliferation efforts in response to a U.S. missile defense deployment. Concerns like these, shared across Europe, have cultivated wide-spread skepticism of and opposition to the proposed U.S. shield.

Not surprisingly, Clinton's announcement was received well throughout Europe. The French and German governments characterized the decision as "wise," while Italy's prime minister said it was "positive." British foreign minister Robin Cook termed Clinton's action a "measured approach," and NATO Secretary-General George Robertson described the decision as a "prudent course of action."

In his speech September 1, Clinton said that the United States "must" have allied support for its missile defense plans, and he acknowledged that the NATO allies "have all made clear" their preference that the United States pursue its missile defense plans without abrogating the ABM Treaty. By deciding against deployment for now, Washington will get "time to answer our allies' questions and consult further on the path ahead," Clinton said.

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 25, Secretary of Defense William Cohen repeatedly emphasized the necessity of allied backing for the U.S. defense to be effective. Without forward-deployed radar systems, which are planned for Britain and Greenland, Cohen said the United States would not be able to "see the missiles coming." Cohen testified that he believed U.S. allies would support Washington's plan if Russia could be won over. At the same time, he deemed it more likely that Russia would agree to modify the ABM Treaty if all U.S. allies supported the system. The defense secretary concluded that he believed Moscow's goal so far has been to "divide" the United States and its allies on the issue.


Domestic Response

Democrats in both houses of Congress hailed the president's decision, emphasizing that they did not oppose missile defenses but agreeing that deploying an unproven defense at the expense of relations with key U.S. allies and Russia could undermine U.S. national security. Congressman Tom Allen (D-ME), who organized a July 25 letter with 60 other representatives calling on the president to defer his decision, stated September 1 that Clinton had made a "wise, thoughtful decision."

Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Carl Levin (D-MI) both welcomed the additional time created by Clinton's decision to engage in further talks with Russia to win its agreement to modify the ABM Treaty. Biden, who joined with 30 Democratic senators on July 26 to demand that Clinton not take "any steps toward deployment at this time," said Clinton's action will permit time to "perfect our political approach to the ballistic missile threat, as well as our technology." Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) crossed party lines by also endorsing the president's decision, stating that a missile defense "cannot develop in a vacuum" and "must move forward on four parallel tracks—technology, Congress, our allies, and the Russians." There will be "dangerous consequences," Hagel stated, if one of the "tracks" is left "incomplete."

Not all Republicans shared Hagel's opinion. His Senate colleague, Jon Kyl (R-AZ), described the decision as a "capstone to a string of poor decisions that have left us defenseless." A spokesman for Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) charged the administration had already deferred the decision for "the last eight years."

Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), a fervent supporter of missile defenses, attacked Clinton as putting off "the day that our families will be protected from the threat of missile attack." After accusing Clinton and Gore of dragging their feet, Weldon called for a leader who "will stand up" and tell the world that the United States will deploy a missile defense.

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush declared within hours of Clinton's speech that he, if chosen president, would develop and deploy an "effective" missile defense at the "earliest possible date." The Texas governor said he welcomed the "opportunity to act where [Clinton and Gore] have failed to lead" and pledged that he would seek a defense to protect not only all 50 states but also "our friends and allies." Bush, who has claimed he would withdraw from the ABM Treaty if Russia would not modify the accord, provided no details as to what type of system he would pursue, though he has indicated he would explore all options, including laser-based systems.

Gore, in a statement released the same day, said that he agreed with Clinton's decision and that he would use the additional time to persuade Moscow to amend the ABM Treaty. Yet the vice president also stated he would not allow Russian opposition to block deployment if the defense was "affordable and needed." Gore also said he would work to ease Chinese concerns and would oppose defenses that "threaten to open the gates for a renewed arms race with Russia and a new arms race with China."

The vice president also welcomed the time made available for additional testing of the system before a deployment decision, which he said could be made at any time during the testing process. The extra time, according to Gore's statement, would provide the "opportunity to be more certain" that the NMD technologies would "work together properly."

Clinton Says No to NMD As Program Lags; Cites Technology Doubts and Foreign Concerns

Wade Boese

Citing a lack of confidence in the technology and detailing continued international opposition to U.S. missile defense plans, President Bill Clinton announced September 1 that he would not authorize deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system. Clinton said that leaving the deployment decision to his successor would not significantly affect the date when the defense could be fielded—a recognition that the program has fallen behind schedule due to test failures and growing development delays.

Clinton made his remarks in a hastily arranged speech at Georgetown University the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Declaring that progress had been made in developing the defense, Clinton nevertheless said that the United States "should not move forward until we have absolute confidence that the system will work." While minimizing the cost issue and arguing that the emerging missile threat is "real," Clinton maintained that doubts about the technology and concerns about the international reaction warranted not deploying the system now.

In order to meet a system operational goal of 2005, Pentagon plans had required the president to let construction contracts this fall for preparatory work to start next summer at Shemya, an isolated Aleutian island where an advanced X-band radar essential to the NMD system would be based. Originally deemed a deployment decision, top Pentagon officials began downplaying the significance of Clinton's decision as program problems mounted during the summer. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 25, said that Clinton's decision would not be a deployment decision but simply a move to prepare the radar site. A decision on actually building the radar, Cohen asserted, would be taken by the next president.

Though it did not explicitly say so, Clinton's statement indicated the contracts would not be awarded this fall, according to Samuel Berger, the president's national security adviser. The president will not proceed "with activity that might be called predeployment activity," Berger told reporters at the White House later the same day.

Cohen, the leading NMD advocate in the administration, had reportedly pressed the president to award the contracts just days before Clinton's speech. Cohen released a statement after the announcement, saying he supported the president's approach of having the "next President fully involved in decisions regarding the future of the program."


Clinton Makes His Case

Clinton signed legislation in July 1999 making it the policy of the United States to deploy an "effective" national missile defense "as soon as is technologically possible," but a day after signing the NMD act, he declared that the new law did not constitute a final deployment decision. Instead, Clinton said that he would make a decision in the summer of 2000 whether to deploy the proposed system based on four criteria: technological readiness, the status of the threat, cost, and the impact on overall U.S. national security, including arms control.

In his September 1 speech, Clinton addressed these criteria, focusing on the technology and the strategic impact. He described the NMD technology as "promising" but declared that "the system as a whole is not yet proven." Clinton said that a successful intercept test (October 2, 1999) proved that it is possible "to hit a bullet with a bullet." Yet he noted the only other two intercept tests, conducted on January 18 and July 8 of this year, had failed and that questions about whether the system would be able to handle countermeasures, such as realistic decoys, remain unresolved.

Explaining that only three of 19 planned intercept attempts had been conducted and that the system's booster had not been tested at all, Clinton stressed the need for continued testing and authorized Cohen to continue with a "robust" testing and development program. "We need more tests against more challenging targets and more simulations before we can responsibly commit our nation's resources to deployment," Clinton stated.

Similar concerns about the realism of the NMD testing program had been raised in Congress earlier this summer when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced an amendment to the national defense authorization act requiring the Pentagon to conduct tests against "realistic" countermeasures before declaring a missile defense operational. Although it had the support of Philip Coyle, director of the Pentagon's office of operational test and evaluation, the amendment was defeated 52-48 on July 13.

Turning to the strong international opposition to the proposed U.S. system, Clinton further argued that the United States should not move forward with deployment "until we have made every reasonable diplomatic effort to minimize the cost of deployment." Russia and China—the only two states with ICBMs capable of striking the continental United States—staunchly oppose the system and close NATO allies, led by France and Germany, worry that the system will strain the transatlantic alliance and halt or reverse progress in arms control.

While declaring that no country can have a veto over U.S. plans, Clinton cautioned, "We can never afford to overlook the fact that the actions and reactions of others in this increasingly interdependent world do bear on our security." Clinton warned that a deployment decision needs to avoid "stimulating an already dangerous regional nuclear capability from China to South Asia." In addition, Clinton admitted Washington "must" have allied support because U.S. plans call for stationing NMD elements on allies' territory. Britain and Greenland are designated as sites for forward-deployed radars.

Central to international opposition to the proposed U.S. defense is the fact that it would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty banning national defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. The Clinton administration has aggressively pursued negotiations with Russia to amend the accord to permit the limited defense, but Moscow has rejected all U.S. entreaties. Clinton, who does not want to abrogate the accord, stated his decision to put off deployment will allow more time to try to "narrow our differences with Russia." He deemed it would be "far better to move forward [with an NMD system] in the context of the ABM Treaty and allied support."

Though Cohen had testified that his understanding was that White House legal advisers agreed that an actual breach of the treaty would not occur until the radar rails, on which the radar would rotate, are laid, other administration officials reportedly disputed the secretary's testimony. Pentagon plans called for the rails to be added to the building foundation in 2002, but Berger said all talk of when the treaty would be violated by U.S. construction activity is "kind of mooted" by the president's decision.

Clinton declared the United States could not solely rely on a missile defense to protect itself from emerging ballistic missile threats—a strategy he characterized as "folly." Instead, the United States should "explore the frontiers of strategic defenses, while continuing to pursue arms control, to stand with our allies and to work with Russia and others to stop the spread of deadly weapons," Clinton concluded.

Defending his decision, Clinton noted that the system, according to experts, would not likely be ready until 2006 or 2007 and that his decision would not affect that timeline. Cohen, in his July 25 testimony, said he agreed with former Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch, who headed an independent panel that reviewed and reported on the NMD program three times, that the "realism" of the 2005 date had been called into question.


The NMD Program

Cohen's assessment reflected growing uncertainty surrounding the program in the wake of the NMD system's latest test failure. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which oversees U.S. missile defense programs, is still conducting an analysis of what went wrong with the July 8 test. An early mishap in the booster stage prevented the defense from even attempting an intercept. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon reported August 10 that the cause of the failure may have been a circuit board on the booster that did not signal the system's exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) to separate from the booster. Once separated, the EKV is designed to seek out and collide with an incoming target, though the kill vehicle failed to do so in a January 18 test due to a malfunction in its internal cooling system.

Although on August 8 Bacon characterized the Defense Department as being "pretty sure" as to why the booster did not send a signal in the last test, he said the Pentagon had not yet "figured out how to respond to it." While Cohen testified that the next test, scheduled for October or November, could slip to December, the Pentagon now believes the test may take place in January.

The booster model that failed in the July 8 test is not the booster intended for use in the completed NMD system. Development of the actual booster is more than eight months behind schedule, and, according to Bacon, the delay is continuing to grow.

Scheduled for its first solo flight test last April, the booster may not be tested until next spring and will not be used in an actual intercept test until flight-test 8, one test later than originally planned. Those plans could also change because BMDO still intends to hold three solo flight tests of the booster before integrating it into an actual intercept test. Including the July 8 test, there have been five flight tests of the NMD system to date, three of which have been intercept attempts.

According to a BMDO spokesman, a number of issues are slowing construction of the actual booster. Installing a control system to stabilize the interceptor during the "burning" of its first of three boosters is one challenge and devising a system to lessen the booster's vibrations on the EKV is another. In a report last November, the Welch panel expressed concern that the EKV would not be able to handle the more severe vibrations of the actual higher-acceleration booster as opposed to the lesser vibrations of the current surrogate booster.

The Boeing company, which is contracted with managing the NMD program, released an August 10 statement declaring that it had only received half of a potential bonus it could have earned for the November 1999 to April 2000 period. The halved bonus signaled the Pentagon's displeasure with the prolonged booster development, as well as delays in delivery of software for conducting simulations of intercept tests. "We are dissatisfied and disappointed with our performance," the company stated. A Boeing spokesperson would not comment on the value of the bonus lost, though a company official said it can be earned back.

Earlier, on August 4, the company reassigned its manager of the NMD program to another position, explaining the move as a "transition" in the program from development to testing. The company has not named a permanent replacement.

U.S.-Turkey Copter Deal Flies Despite Human Rights

Wade Boese

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit announced July 21 that Turkey had chosen the AH-1Z KingCobra as the winner of its competition for the purchase of as many as 145 attack helicopters in a deal potentially worth more than $4 billion. The KingCobra will be the most advanced version of the Cobra attack helicopter series ever produced. The Clinton administration welcomed the potential sale despite opposition from many members of Congress who contend that Turkey has not met important "benchmarks" on human rights to allow the sale to proceed.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright first authorized U.S. companies to compete for the sale in December 1997. Turkey selected the AH-1Z, offered by Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, over two other finalists—the Italian-manufactured A-129 International and a joint Israeli-Russian helicopter, the KA-50-2. However, Ecevit reserved the option to begin negotiations with the Israeli-Russian team if terms on price, technology transfers, re-export conditions, and offsets could not be reached with Bell Helicopter. The initial contract will be for 50 of the "gunships," valued at approximately $1.5 billion, with options to purchase up to 95 more.

The AH-1Z, according to Bell Helicopter, will incorporate the latest technology, making it the "preeminent armed reconnaissance helicopter," and will provide "significant improvements over current armed helicopters in multi-mission capability and selective firepower." Advanced targeting sensors will enable the helicopter to track and acquire targets at "extreme ranges" during day or night. A Bell Helicopter spokesman said the newest Cobra will be the "best at what it is designed to do."

The U.S. Marine Corps is scheduled to procure 180 AH-1Zs, though their models will be remanufactured versions of existing AH-1Ws already in the field. Turkey's KingCobras will be newly manufactured with most of the actual work expected to take place in Turkey. Presumably, this will require substantial technology transfers. Initial deliveries of both models are to begin in 2004.

A U.S. Marine Corps spokesman said the Marines "support the international sale of the AH-1Z." The Pentagon typically supports exports of U.S. weaponry, maintaining that exports increase interoperability with friends and allies and reduce the per-unit cost of weaponry and spare parts procured by U.S. armed forces. The full benefits of exporting the AH-1Z cannot be calculated at this time, the Marine spokesman said, because it is not yet clear whether the Turkish model will use the same equipment as the U.S. model. Bell Helicopter is marketing the AH-1Z to other countries, including Australia and Poland.

In April, prior to the Turkish selection, 22 senators and 29 congressmen sent letters asking the administration to deny export licenses for attack helicopters to Turkey. Citing Turkey's past use of U.S. weapons against its minority Kurd population, Turkey's occupation of northern Cyprus, and Turkey's threats against its neighbors, the April 18 congressmen's letter, signed by the co-chairs of the Congressional Hellenic and Armenian caucuses, warned that the helicopters could provoke a "costly arms race." The letter implied that Turkey needed to devote its resources to rebuilding after a series of recent earthquakes instead of purchasing arms.

Dated April 14, the bipartisan letter by Senate members, including Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said they had understood that the administration had "pledged" in meetings with nongovernmental organizations and defense industry representatives that Washington would not support the sale of U.S. military equipment to Turkey unless it met several human rights benchmarks.

The senators wrote that the benchmarks reportedly included, among others, allowing freedom of expression, ending bans on political parties, and lifting the state of emergency in Kurdish regions. "By any objective analysis, Turkey has failed to meet the benchmarks," the senators wrote.

Assessing Turkey's 1999 human rights performance in a February 25 report, the U.S. State Department noted the Ecevit government had adopted initiatives to improve human rights conditions but that "serious human rights abuses continued." The report charged that limits on freedom of speech and press remain a "serious problem" and that southeastern Turkey, which is inhabited by the Kurds, remains a "serious concern."

President Bill Clinton, in a June 27 letter to Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), said that human rights would be considered in the license review process but asserted that "significant progress" had been made in the past year. Clinton further wrote that the United States should support Turkey's efforts to meet its "important obligations" to NATO and its legitimate defense needs.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) and 37 other senators sent a July 14 bipartisan letter to Albright underscoring their support for the sale, according to a congressional source. House members also wrote to the secretary in July to endorse U.S.-Turkish defense cooperation.

Once negotiations, which are now in the preliminary stage and likely to take several months, are concluded, the State Department will need to approve the contract and then notify Congress of the sale. Under the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, Congress will have 15 days to vote a joint resolution of disapproval to block the deal. With 38 senators already endorsing the sale, deal opponents are currently short of the two-thirds majority necessary in both houses of Congress to stop the sale.

Congress has never voided a sale once it has been formally notified. However, Turkey once canceled a buy of 10 SuperCobra helicopters in 1996 because of strong criticism within the United States. Currently, Turkey is flying nine SuperCobras from an earlier buy.

Politics and Pragmatism: The Challenges for NPT 2000

Lawrence Scheinman

States party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will convene April 24 for the treaty's sixth review conference—the first to take place since the landmark 1995 conference at which the treaty was extended indefinitely. The lack of anticipated progress in nuclear arms control and disarmament since that conference and the setbacks that have occurred, as reflected in the current status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and impending developments in missile defense, have led some analysts to question whether there is any possibility for a positive outcome at the 2000 conference or whether it might even result in disaster.

That perception severely underestimates the role and relevance of the NPT to international security and stability. While rhetoric is likely to be elevated and exchanges heated, the conference will not be a cataclysmic event for the non-proliferation regime. It is, however, a crucial moment for the treaty. NPT members will not only have to deliberate on the issues usually covered in this forum, they will also have to examine how two critical decisions made at the 1995 conference—the strengthening of the treaty review process and the issuance of "principles and objectives"—have fared in the past five years.

The decisions made at the 1995 conference did not impose conditions on indefinite extension, but they did reflect the feeling that with permanence should come full implementation of the treaty in all of its aspects, including not only non-proliferation and peaceful nuclear cooperation, but also the pursuit of negotiations, in good faith, on nuclear disarmament. By 1995, the NPT was already the most successful multilateral arms control agreement ever negotiated, but a significant number of states did not want their support for the principle of indefinite extension to translate into an endorsement of a permanent global division between the five nuclear-weapon states and all the rest. They sought to ensure that the nuclear-weapon states would not confuse treaty permanence with acceptance of the nuclear status quo.

Strengthened review and an elaboration of "principles and objectives" (benchmarks that largely paralleled, but in some cases went beyond, specific treaty provisions) were the means by which the parties collectively sought to reinforce and institutionalize bona fide accountability by all parties while validating the treaty and extending it indefinitely. The underlying assumption was, and remains, that with the end of the Cold War, the rationale for nuclear weapons diminished and along with it any reason not to pursue their ultimate elimination. The strengthened review and "principles and objectives" were complemented by a resolution on the Middle East that underscored the importance of universal adherence to the NPT. In particular, it expressed concern with the continued presence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in the Middle East and called on all states in the region to take practical steps toward establishing a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.

Given the current strain on U.S. relations with Russia and China over possible deployment of missile defense and the questions in some quarters about the depth of U.S. commitment to arms control, there is some concern that the upcoming conference could start the unraveling of the NPT regime. But it is essential to remember that it is in the interests of all members of the NPT, nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states alike, to keep the treaty strong. It is the only international instrument obligating the nuclear-weapon states to pursue nuclear disarmament. The treaty enhances security, allows for verification through international safeguards, and provides a basis for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is unlikely, therefore, that recent negative trends in arms control will overwhelm the conference—the need for a strong NPT transcends differences over specific arms control issues—but even if they do, no state is likely to threaten withdrawal.

The forthcoming review conference will address the full range of issues that habitually appear at these meetings, including compliance, international safeguards, peaceful nuclear cooperation, export controls, nuclear-weapon-free zones, and security assurances. However, three items are certain to occupy more time and attention than the rest: nuclear disarmament, the Middle East resolution and the broader issue of universality, and how to assess the effectiveness of the strengthened review process.

States cannot expect a review conference that results in the dramatic progress of the 1995 meeting, but if they exercise restraint and adhere to certain principles, incremental progress is possible, in spite of the disappointment over the pace of arms control achievements in the last five years.

Nuclear Disarmament

No issue at NPT review conferences has drawn more attention or been more controversial than nuclear disarmament. Divergent views regarding implementation of Article VI provisions on nuclear disarmament account for the failure of three of the five previous conferences to reach agreement on a final conference document, and the issue promises to be at least as contentious at the 2000 conference, if only because even modest expectations for progress following the 1995 conference have not been met.

The "principles and objectives" decision provided guidance on the question of nuclear disarmament. It included a reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states to pursue, in good faith, negotiations on effective measures relating to disarmament, and it identified three items to be achieved in the interest of full realization and effective implementation of Article VI: completion of negotiation of a comprehensive test ban treaty "no later than 1996"; "immediate commencement and early conclusion" of a convention banning further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and "determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon States of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons." This latter formulation implicitly endorsed an incremental approach to nuclear disarmament, acknowledging that disarmament on demand is not tenable and eschewing the appeals of some non-aligned states for a timebound framework.

The period between 1995 and 2000 saw both achievements and disappointments with respect to these items. On the positive side of the ledger, the CTBT negotiations were completed as called for. The treaty opened for signature in 1996, and it presently has 155 signatories, including the five nuclear-weapon states. The pace of U.S. and Russian reductions under START I continued to proceed ahead of schedule, and the number of deployed nuclear weapons steadily diminished. For their part, the United Kingdom and France have taken steps in support of nuclear disarmament by canceling weapons development programs, reducing existing weapons, and increasing transparency.

The United States and Russia also continued their dismantlement of retired nuclear weapons and related weapons facilities. They identified large quantities of nuclear material as being in excess of national security requirements and had it withdrawn from their stockpiles, never to return to use for nuclear weapons. The United States has identified 226 tons of fissile material as excess and committed it to be placed under safeguards, pursuant to its voluntary arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). A Russian storage facility at Mayak is slated to store plutonium removed from dismantled nuclear weapons and will be available for inspection as well. In addition, the United States, Russia, and the IAEA are working to develop a regime allowing the IAEA to verify that such materials remain irreversibly removed from weapons programs. Steady progress in implementing the 1993 agreement for the United States to purchase from Russia blended—down uranium produced from 500 tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium adds importantly to the overall effort to ensure transparency and irreversibility of nuclear reductions.

On the negative side of the ledger, however, are a number of countervailing events. Perhaps the most significant was the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT, a development regarded as a major setback not only for the treaty, but for disarmament in general. On the other hand, President Clinton's commitment to continue the U.S. moratorium on testing, the appointment of former General John Shalikashvili to head a task force to address the Senate's concerns with a view to reconsideration, and Congress's decision to fund the CTBT preparatory body provide hope for ratification at a later date. But for the moment, at least, U.S. standing in arms control has been dealt a blow, possibly diminishing its ability to exercise effective leadership at the review conference.

There has also been little progress on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) in the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), largely because of the non-aligned states' efforts to link the beginning of negotiations to including talks on nuclear disarmament in the CD's work program. In the three years since completion of a CTBT, the conference, except for one brief moment at the end of 1998, has been deadlocked, unable to agree on a work program and therefore unable to begin FMCT negotiations. The barriers to progress grew when the start of negotiations was further linked to the establishment of an ad hoc working group on outer space, largely because of China's concern with U.S. missile defense plans. Although at one point it might have been possible to establish ad hoc working groups to address outer space and nuclear disarmament while beginning formal negotiations on a fissile material cutoff, China blocked that option this year by insisting that whatever arrangements apply to one subject should apply to all. Since all of the nuclear-weapon states except China oppose negotiation of nuclear disarmament in the CD and since the United States will not agree to negotiations (as distinct from talks) on outer space, there is presently no way to move forward on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

The progress that has been made on nuclear reductions is offset, in the view of many, by the stalled strategic reductions process. START II, signed seven years ago, still awaits action by the Russian Duma, and as a result, negotiations on START III have yet to begin. The impact that this lack of progress could have on the review conference is likely to be magnified by U.S. efforts to amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in order to deploy a limited national missile defense system (NMD). The fact that some high-level U.S. officials have threatened withdrawal from the treaty if Russia does not accommodate the changes sought by the United States has also raised questions about the continued level of U.S. commitment to arms control as a means of promoting national security and international stability.

The fact that a decision on whether to deploy a limited national missile defense system depends on considering not only the cost, threat, and technical feasibility, but also strategic factors, including arms control objectives, has not offset concern about the shape and direction of U.S. security policy and its impact on non-proliferation and disarmament objectives. In the view of many, including friends and allies, whereas the CTBT outcome can be explained to some extent by domestic political considerations, the move toward national missile defense at the expense of the ABM Treaty is a self-inflicted wound.

Negotiation with Russia of mutually acceptable adjustments to the ABM Treaty would dampen the effect of U.S. national missile defense plans. Progress in strategic reductions, based on the agreement at the 1997 Helsinki summit, to pursue START III, including a target of 2,000—2,500 deployed warheads and transparency measures related to warhead inventories and destruction, would dramatically enhance international confidence that arms control and disarmament will continue to play a role in national security and international stability. The recent election of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia may increase the prospects of striking an offense-defense deal that breaks the logjam of the past several years and opens the door to further progress in implementing Article VI.

But with the exception of Duma ratification of START II, which could occur soon, none of these things will happen in the few remaining days before the NPT review conference, and both Russia and China (which is perhaps even more affected by the NMD issue) are virtually certain to use the conference as a forum to attack the U.S. national missile defense initiative. It is well to recall that last year Russia, China, and Belarus introduced a resolution in the UN General Assembly aimed at rallying international support for the ABM Treaty and against U.S. attempts to weaken or abrogate the treaty in order to deploy missile defenses. The resolution obtained wide support with only Israel, Albania, and Micronesia joining the United States in opposition.

At stake here is an important consideration: whether outside disputes such as the national missile defense issue should be imported into the NPT review process, or whether, to the extent that such issues affect treaty implementation, the conference should limit itself to noting the issues and urging the parties directly involved to resolve them. While China and Russia will most likely attempt to raise the NMD issue and berate the United States, they should realize that they have little to gain by going beyond sharply worded rhetoric. Holding the conference hostage to external issues will not only fail to resolve the problem at hand, it also has the potential to corrupt the review process and undermine the treaty. Such a result is highly undesirable for all parties involved; and in the end, both China and Russia would benefit more from exercising restraint and preserving the review process's integrity.

One upshot of the frustration resulting from the recent lack of progress in arms control has been the crafting of a new plan of action by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) calling for unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral progress on nuclear disarmament. NAC is notable for the fact that its membership (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden) transcends classical political groupings and brings both moderate and more radical states together on nuclear issues. Their "new agenda" follows earlier proceedings, including a 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which stated that the Article VI obligation to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament includes an obligation to bring those negotiations to conclusion, and the Canberra Commission report of the same year, which called for phased, verified reductions without a timeframe, but endorsed the need for agreed targets and guidelines to drive the process.

The "new agenda" includes a call for re-examining nuclear postures, demating nuclear weapons from delivery vehicles, eliminating tactical nuclear weapons, negotiating a global legally binding negative-security-assurance treaty, and holding a conference on nuclear disarmament. The latter reflects a sense of futility in leaving matters to existing forums, such as the NPT review conferences and the Conference on Disarmament. The coalition has gathered increasing support for the thrust of its agenda—if not for all of the items contained therein—as reflected in a coalition-sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly last year, which won the support of 60 states and on which a significant number of NATO countries abstained rather than vote "no." The NAC is a voice that will have to be reckoned with at the review conference.

While the reach of some of the New Agenda Coalition's proposals seems to exceed the group's collective grasp, the underlying significance of pushing an agenda on nuclear disarmament cannot and should not be brushed aside. There are a number of objectives to be pursued looking toward 2005 that should be acceptable to the parties at large: a call for early entry into force of the CTBT; a beginning of negotiation on a treaty cutting off fissile material production for weapons purposes and a moratorium on further production of such material pending the conclusion of such a treaty; completion of START II and forward movement on START III discussions; and engagement of all five nuclear-weapon states in the nuclear disarmament dialogue.

Middle East Resolution and Universality

The politics of indefinite extension of the NPT included agreeing to a resolution on the Middle East that emphasized the importance of states in the region making progress toward establishing a regional zone verifiably free of weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear-weapon states in particular were called upon to "extend their cooperation and...exert their utmost efforts" in order to promote early achievement of this goal. The resolution had the effect of singling out one region among several that are sources of proliferation concern and gave Egypt, in particular, a basis for keeping the NPT review process focused on Israel, which, since 1998, is the only state in the region still not a party to the treaty.

NPT members have differed over the status of the resolution, with some contending that it does not have the force of an actual "decision," while others assert that the resolution, by whatever name, was an integral part of the package leading to the NPT's indefinite extension and was therefore intended to be implemented as fully as any decision. At the 1997 Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom), Egypt, supported by the Arab and non-aligned states, successfully argued that special time should be set aside in the second PrepCom to deal with the Middle East resolution. The issue was a focal point of sometimes acrimonious discussion in the second PrepCom and was a significant factor in its failure to produce a positive result.

A major point of contention was whether background documentation on implementing the Middle East resolution should be produced for the 2000 review conference. Behind this seemingly innocuous question was the deeper issue of whether the conference should expand its responsibilities beyond review of the NPT and risk becoming involved in regional conflicts over which it has no authority or control, in which not all regional parties are NPT members, and which could undermine the integrity of the review.

The Arab-Israeli dispute is much more complex and far-reaching than the issues involved in the NPT and cannot be resolved in the framework of NPT review. In fact, the first operative paragraph of the Middle East resolution "endorses the aims and objectives of the Middle East peace process and recognizes that efforts in this regard...contribute to...a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons," thus acknowledging that the peace process has a much broader responsibility than the NPT in addressing regional security issues.

At the 1999 PrepCom, Egypt and other non-aligned states cosponsored a proposal recommending the creation of a subsidiary body at the 2000 review conference "to consider and recommend proposals on the implementation of the resolution on the Middle East," making it clear that they will try to focus attention on the Middle East—and particularly Israel—at the review conference. Egyptian officials speak openly about their dissatisfaction with the regional insecurity that results from having a non-NPT neighbor with an active nuclear program not under international safeguards. Their objective is to engage the NPT community in the problem, and they see the 1995 resolution as having established an obligation to do so.

Unlike 1995, when several Middle East states were still not parties to the NPT, Israel is now the only non-NPT state in the region. That makes it more difficult for conference documents to refer to "parties in the region," instead of referring to "a single state" or naming Israel specifically. Efforts of the Arab states and their supporters to single out Israel could put considerable strain on the review.

What can be done and what the Arab states want done is not clear—whether formulating an action program to implement the resolution's operational paragraph that calls upon the nuclear-weapon states "to extend their cooperation and to exert their utmost efforts" in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, or issuing firmly worded statements of expectation that all states-parties concerned will undertake to make progress on achieving a regional zone.

The political difficulty with focusing only on the Middle East, and specifically Israeli non-adherence, is not just that it has the potential to embroil the conference in a controversy that exceeds its capacity, but also that it disregards the fact that three states in other regions-India, Pakistan, and Cuba—also remain outside the treaty, two of whom have taken the egregious step of conducting nuclear tests and declaring themselves nuclear states. The situation in South Asia is no less threatening to the non-proliferation regime than the Middle East, and conference attention to non-adherence in one region should be directly linked to non-adherence elsewhere and dealt with as a "class action."

Even in the Middle East context alone, focusing only on Israel ignores the fact that within the region there is still the problem of non-compliance of Iraq, an NPT member. The question, in other words, is not only one of adherence and universality, but also one of compliance. Egypt, however, refuses to address the Iraqi situation even though the Middle East resolution clearly references implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 687 as a step toward establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.

One approach to this problem would be for the parties to craft a conference statement calling upon those states not party to the treaty to exert all efforts possible to work toward the adoption of regional measures that draw them closer to the global non-proliferation regime with the ultimate objective of joining the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states. In the case of the Middle East, as Israel has already endorsed the concept of a regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction, bilateral efforts could be undertaken—even at unofficial levels—to encourage Israel and the Arab states to begin a dialogue to explore the technical, administrative, and institutional attributes of an eventual zonal arrangement.

An approach along these lines would address both the specific Middle East issue and the broader question of universality. The resolution on the Middle East notwithstanding, in order for the 2000 review conference to be successful, a balanced approach that responds not only to one regional concern, but also to the general principles of universality and treaty compliance will be required.

Strengthened Review

The purpose of strengthening the review process in 1995 was to give more focus and definition to treaty review and, in particular, to give structural support to the principle of accountability. The decision institutionalized the five-year review conferences and stipulated that they not only evaluate past implementation of the treaty, but also identify "areas in which and the means through which, further progress should be sought," thus giving them agenda-setting responsibilities, exemplified by the 1995 agreement on "principles and objectives."

The decision on strengthened review was even more innovative with respect to the Preparatory Committee meetings, which traditionally had been confined to making procedural arrangements for review conferences. Under the strengthened review process, the PrepComs were mandated to meet in the three consecutive years before review conferences and to "consider principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality, and to make recommendations thereon to the Review Conference." They were also charged with recommending, where appropriate, the establishment of subsidiary bodies within the three main committees, through which the business of the review conferences is mainly conducted. The purpose of these bodies would be to provide more focused consideration of specific issues relevant to the treaty than might be available if left to the main committees.

Some states, however, are concerned that relying on subsidiary bodies to address treaty-relevant issues could adversely affect the principle of comprehensive and balanced review by focusing attention on a select few issues. They maintain that the establishment of subsidiary bodies should therefore be exceptional rather than routine. At the last of the three PrepComs leading up to the 2000 review conference, South Africa and Egypt proposed recommending to the review conference that subsidiary bodies be established on nuclear disarmament and on the Middle East resolution, but the proposal lacked consensus support. In fact, consensus agreement could not be reached on any substantive recommendations to the review conference, and as a result, none were sent forward. This has led to criticism and calls for revision of review procedures.

But the PrepCom process also had some very positive dimensions that must not be overlooked and should be built on. There was considerable progress in the more traditional arena of PrepCom activity (procedural preparations and recommendations to the review conference), thus ensuring that the review conference will not lose valuable time deciding how to organize itself, who should chair the main committees, and what documentation to have available for substantive discussion. More importantly, considerably more time and attention was devoted to substance in the first three PrepComs than at any time before. The nuclear-weapon states, for example, took the initiative in detailing their activities in the field of nuclear disarmament, including weapons reductions, program cancellations, retirement of fissile material from weapons and stockpiles, and its placement under international safeguards. Arguably, the PrepComs have already become established forums for the nuclear-weapon states accounting for their activities vis-a-vis disarmament, thereby lending the issue sustained attention.

On balance, however, what is evident from the experience of the PrepComs under the new regime is that theory has not transitioned smoothly into practice. While agreement could be reached on the principle of a strengthened review process, it is clear that there is not yet a consensus on what the scope of the process should be and how it should be implemented. Some states take a fairly strict constructionist view of the decision and seek to avoid undue encroachment on what they regard as the province of the review conference, while others favor a more liberal interpretation, implying decisional authority for PrepComs and their near replication of a full-blown review.

It is evident that serious attention needs to be given to clarifying the role and responsibility of institutions charged with implementing the strengthened review process in order to make it more effective. However, it would be a mistake to rush to judgment on the strengthened review process as a failure as some, whose expectations may have been unreasonably high, seem inclined to do.

Innovative approaches to improving the process have been suggested and ought to be aired and discussed at the review conference. Among these is a suggestion put forward by Canada to consider an article-by-article review of the treaty instead of allocating issue clusters to main committees for review and recommendation. Others have suggested that ways be found for PrepComs to forward broadly, but not unanimously, supported proposals or suggestions to review conferences, which could then determine how to consider them.


Reflecting on these challenges, it is not difficult to understand why there is foreboding about the 2000 review conference and why some observers speak in terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty being "under siege" or "at risk." High-visibility events such as the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT, U.S. plans to deploy a limited national missile defense, and the stalemated START negotiation process have raised concerns about whether the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states remain committed to arms control and disarmament and to Article VI of the NPT.

The fact that the NPT does not meet security concerns as fully in the Middle East as it does in other areas and that Arab states seek to focus NPT institutions on Israel and to treat its non-adherence discretely rather than as an integral part of the broader problem of universality creates a political situation that adds strain to an already pressured review process.

The inability of the PrepComs to fulfill their purpose in forwarding recommendations for consideration by the review conference and the apparent differences of interpretation over the meaning of the decision on strengthening the review process give added basis for frustration and disappointment.

Tempering these considerations is the fact that through its norms, rules, and verification arrangements, the NPT benefits all states, even those who complain about its inequities or limitations—and even non-adherents. For most states, the political and security costs of a damaged or weakened treaty would outweigh any possible benefit to leaving the treaty, and that reality should place some limits on the demands they make at the review conference. The issues that will be raised at the conference are important, but they are not inherently treaty-breakers—at least not yet. If sensitivity is not displayed at the conference and beyond and the issues linger unattended, they could eventually threaten the viability of the treaty and non-proliferation regime. But it is in the interest of most states, if not all, to ensure that however strongly contested some issues may be and however forceful the debate becomes, the situation not be allowed to get out of hand.

Optimizing the probability of an outcome that maintains commitment to and confidence in the NPT will be enhanced if participants adhere to certain principles. First, states must keep expectations in line with plausible outcomes, avoid grand-design strategies, and strive for incremental adjustments and improvements that look ahead to 2005. This means acknowledging, without targeting blame, that the past five years have not been very conducive to taking great strides forward on all but a few of the objectives set forth in 1995. At the same time, states must recognize that some very substantial progress was made: negotiations on several new nuclear-weapon-free zones were completed, a strengthened international safeguards regime addressing the problem of detecting clandestine nuclear activity was finished, the number of nuclear weapons was reduced, weapons programs were cancelled, and fissile materials were irreversibly withdrawn from weapons programs.

Second, states must collectively affirm their commitment to the treaty and approach the review with the intention of finding mutually acceptable formulations for characterizing both past developments and future objectives. A possible resolution to the problem of producing final documents for the review conference would be a two-document approach—one that reviews the past and includes very disparate views; and a second that expresses consensus agreement on the treaty's importance to national security and international stability and that affirms the unequivocal support of all NPT members to fulfill their obligations and invest political will in bringing about a strengthened NPT regime by 2005. A future-oriented, agenda-setting document that draws consensus support is far more significant for the NPT than one assessing what has and has not happened, and it should therefore be the focus of attention.

Consideration should also be given to identifying and endorsing goals to be pursued in the next five years: for example, entry into force of the CTBT, commencement and conclusion of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, revitalization of the START process, and the progressive engagement of all five nuclear-weapon states in an Article VI process. Non-nuclear-weapon states should consider the objective of bringing into force the additional protocol on strengthened safeguards. The nuclear-weapon states should seek to reach some measure of accommodation on the issues that now divide them, or at least agree to seek bilateral resolution of those issues, rather than letting them hinder the larger purposes of the NPT.

Third, every effort should be made to ensure that the review undertaken is both balanced and comprehensive, that the treaty's objective of universality is strongly endorsed, and that all non-adherents are called upon to take all possible steps to adhere to the norms of the treaty. In the case of the Middle East, this would mean calling upon the states of the region to move ahead with preliminary exploration of the technical, administrative, and institutional parameters of an eventual zone free of weapons of mass destruction. States with influence with countries in the region should seek, bilaterally, to encourage progress in this regard, whether through official meetings or unofficial dialogue. In South Asia, this would mean urging India and Pakistan to make every effort to fulfill the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1172, issued in 1998 after their nuclear tests, which called on the two states to halt their nuclear and missile programs and urged them to join the NPT and CTBT regimes. This would underscore that the NPT parties will never consider their actions legitimate.

The bottom line is that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is fundamental to national and regional security and international stability. Its preservation is critically important to building a durable world order. Success can only benefit all; failure can only cause all to lose. Progress toward the NPT's objectives is not always linear—it has been and will continue to be vulnerable to the international political and security environment in which the treaty exists. That reality imposes an obligation on the treaty's collective membership to be responsible in the demands that they make on treaty fulfillment while nevertheless always keeping their eyes on the ultimate prize: a world free of nuclear weapons.

Lawrence Scheinman, former assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for nonproliferation and regional arms control, is distinguished professor of international policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

States party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will convene April 24 for the treaty's sixth review conference—the first to take place since the landmark 1995 conference at which the treaty was extended indefinitely.

U.S., Russia Reassess Reactor Conversion Agreement

Philipp C. Bleek

U.S. AND RUSSIAN officials are reassessing a joint project to convert Russia's three military plutonium-production reactors to civilian use. During a meeting in Moscow with a high-level U.S. delegation in late January, Russian officials expressed interest in halting the conversion and instead replacing the reactors with conventional power plants. They asked that the United States stop spending on the conversion effort until the alternative could be adequately studied, according to a senior administration official. In response to the request, conversion has been suspended and an independent assessment of the cost of constructing conventional power plants is being commissioned by U.S. officials.

After a February 13 Washington Post article reported that Russian officials wanted to abandon the core conversion effort, the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry press service quickly clarified the Russian position in a February 15 release: "Russia is not pulling out of the Russian-U.S. project for converting nuclear reactors producing weapons-grade plutonium to civilian needs, but will choose the option that suits Russia best."

Russian officials indicated to the U.S. delegation that replacing the reactors with conventional power plants would cost an estimated $230 million, most of which would be provided by the United States. The cost of converting the reactors, originally slated at $80 million, has expanded to approximately $300 million, making the construction of conventional plants preferable from a fiscal perspective. Although some senior U.S. officials have expressed doubt about Russia's cost estimate, one senior administration official closely involved with the negotiations says that the $230 million figure "tracks closely with current U.S. estimates."

The original agreement to halt Russian military plutonium production, a major Clinton administration non-proliferation goal, was formalized in 1994 and was originally supposed to replace Russia's three military plutonium-production reactors with conventional power plants. Although it has no use for the plutonium they produce, Russia continues to run the reactors because they generate heat and electricity for the closed "nuclear cities" in which they are located, Seversk (formerly Tomsk-7) and Zheleznogorsk (formerly Krasnoyarsk-26). But the agreement was changed to its present form in 1997, after the United States concluded that constructing conventional power plants could cost as much as $1 billion—a sum Congress was unlikely to approve. Instead, the United States and Russia agreed to keep the reactors online, but to convert their cores from natural uranium to highly enriched uranium (HEU) in order to minimize plutonium production.

The reactor conversion effort, while initially finding broad support, became increasingly controversial, and last December, Russian officials formally advised a visiting U.S. delegation led by Michael Stafford, a State Department negotiator with the Bureau of Arms Control, that Russia was considering abandoning the 1997 agreement.

Russian and American nuclear experts had raised doubts about the feasibility and safety of the core conversion project in the months prior to December's announcement. According to a report by Russian nuclear regulators provided to U.S. officials in September, the three military reactors are in such poor physical condition that conversion could result in a Chernobyl-like accident. Several prominent American nuclear experts, among them Princeton University's Frank von Hippel and Harvard University's Matthew Bunn, both former White House non-proliferation advisors, have also argued that because it is easier to construct a rudimentary nuclear weapon with HEU than with plutonium, conversion to an HEU core could actually increase proliferation risks.

The next high-level meeting to discuss the issue is currently scheduled for mid-March.

U.S., Russia Negotiate Spent Fuel Reprocessing Moratorium

Philipp C. Bleek

DESPITE DENIALS BY a high-level Russian official, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says that it has reached an agreement "in principle" to suspend Russia's reprocessing of civil reactor-generated spent fuel. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced the "new initiative" in a February 7 statement accompanying the release of DOE's fiscal year 2001 budget, which requests an additional $100 million for non-proliferation efforts in Russia. The timing of the announcement appears to have been intended to ease congressional approval of the requested funds. However, following Richardson's speech and press reports indicating that a deal on a moratorium had already been concluded, Richardson's Russian counterpart publicly denied that any agreement existed.

News of the deal first appeared in The New York Times, which reported February 7 that Russia had "promised to stop" producing plutonium by reprocessing civil spent fuel. The following day, Richardson was quoted by The Washington Post as saying, "We have an agreement in principle. The Russian assurances are strong enough so that we put it in our budget." A reaction from Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov quickly followed. "There are no agreements with the United States on plutonium, there have not even been any official talks to that end," he said in an interview with Interfax published February 9.

Senior DOE officials maintain that an agreement on a reprocessing moratorium had evolved in negotiations over the past several months and was reportedly confirmed during a January visit to Moscow by Undersecretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. However, as a result of the premature U.S. announcement, Adamov appears to have come under fire from other ministries in the Russian government and been forced to state publicly that no agreement had been formally negotiated.

Persuading Russia to stop reprocessing spent fuel from civilian reactors has been a stated U.S. policy goal since President Carter announced in 1977 that the United States would cease reprocessing civil spent fuel. Despite U.S. persistence, Russia has continued reprocessing spent fuel from some of its 29 civilian reactors, as well as spent fuel returned from Eastern Europe, generating almost a ton of weapons-usable plutonium every year.

Through ongoing high-level negotiations, Washington has introduced various incentives into a deal on a possible moratorium. The agreement currently under negotiation, first presented to Russian officials last summer, offers $100 million to fund bilateral threat reduction efforts in Russia (in addition to the $250 million DOE currently spends on such programs), including $45 million for spent fuel storage and material protection, control and accounting; $20 million for joint long-term research on "developing nuclear fuel cycle options that maximize technological barriers to proliferation"; $30 million for new efforts to safeguard military-origin material; and $5 million for research into long-term spent fuel storage options.

While DOE officials remain optimistic that the agreement can be formalized in the coming months, a number of key issues will need to be resolved. Portions of the funding are contingent on Russia curtailing its nuclear cooperation with Iran, but it remains to be seen whether the relatively small amount of aid the United States is offering will be sufficient to convince Russia to cut back its lucrative nuclear ties with Iran, which are potentially worth several billion dollars.

Also at issue is the length of the moratorium. DOE seems to be seeking a long-term commitment to end reprocessing of civil spent fuel. Russian officials have stated that they are considering a moratorium for a decade or two but would reserve the option to resume reprocessing once plutonium-utilizing power reactor technology has matured. It is also unclear whether the moratorium would apply only to spent fuel generated in Russia's reactors, or whether Russia would also have to cease reprocessing spent fuel returned from Eastern Europe, a practice that currently generates significant revenue for Russia's nuclear industry.

According to a senior DOE official, the United States has indicated to Russia that agreement on a moratorium and curtailed nuclear cooperation with Iran are stepping stones to increased U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear cooperation, including a possible international spent-fuel repository in Russia and development of a proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactor, initiatives currently sought by Russia.

CD Deadlock Continues as U.S. and China Square Off

Wade Boese

IN A MOVE THE UNITED STATES and China reiterated competing negotiation priorities and sharply criticized each other at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) during February, lowering the likelihood that the 66 conference members will soon reach the required consensus on a work program to start negotiations. Beijing is seeking formal negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, while Washington, the sole country blocking outer space negotiations, wants to commence work on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

Chinese Ambassador Hu Xiaodi declared on February 10 that the conference should negotiate a legal instrument to prevent the weaponization of outer space by prohibiting the "testing, deployment and use of any weapon system and their components in outer space" and limiting the "use of satellites for military purposes."

U.S. Ambassador Robert Grey responded on February 17 that a fissile material cutoff treaty remained Washington's first priority and that the time was "not ripe" for outer space or nuclear disarmament negotiations—another priority of China, as well as the Group of 21 non-aligned movement. The United States, according to Grey, is prepared to discuss these topics in a "suitable context," which is understood to mean in ad hoc working groups.

A proposal, circulated in late January by the conference president, that all three issues be addressed in ad hoc working groups would be a "step backward," Grey said, pointing out that the CD agreed on an ad hoc committee for cutoff negotiations in 1995 and 1998. Conference subsidiary bodies and negotiations do not carry over to the following year; rather, they must be renewed by a new work program each year.

Grey characterized recent conference statements lamenting the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament as "too negative an appraisal." He noted the United States had dismantled 13,000 nuclear warheads over the past decade and that Russia and the United States were exploring lower weapons levels in START III. Washington is seeking a range of 2,000 to 2,500 deployed strategic warheads, while Moscow wants to reduce to some 1,500.

Responding to a January 27 Chinese statement that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) had been "trampled on," Grey acknowledged that the U.S. Senate's October 13 rejection of the treaty was a "setback." Grey stressed, however, that President Clinton has made it "abundantly clear that the fight is not over" and that, in the end, Clinton is convinced the United States will ratify the CTBT.

Grey defended U.S. efforts to amend the 1972 ABM Treaty to permit deployment of a limited national missile defense (NMD). He argued that weapons of mass destruction and advanced delivery means had regrettably spread and concluded that "those who allowed it to happen should have known what the consequences would be."

Deflecting a Chinese charge that the United States exercises a "double standard towards arms control and disarmament agreements," Grey said four of the five nuclear-weapon states had reduced nuclear weapons holdings and increased transparency, while one state was modernizing its forces and not increasing transparency.

Hu gave a rebuttal the next week, arguing that for a country "always taking the lead" in developing nuclear weapons it was "hypocritical" to criticize others for modernizing arsenals. Hu challenged the United States to commit to a no-first-use policy, while warning that a U.S. NMD would "open the door to the weaponization of outer space."

The CD will break for a recess on March 24 and resume on May 22, following the April 24-May 19 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty five-year review conference.

Missile Defense Program Under Excessive Pressure, Pentagon Report Says

Wade Boese

IN AN ANNUAL report covering the operational and live-fire testing of 161 military systems, the Defense Department called the current national missile defense (NMD) program high-risk and described the planned deployment readiness review as an "artificial decision point." In the report, released February 14, Philip Coyle, director of the Defense Department's office of operational test and evaluation, assessed the NMD program as being under undue pressure, as well as being driven by "schedule" rather than "event." While evaluating program officials as doing an "excellent job," Coyle warned that schedule-driven pressure has historically resulted in "a negative effect on virtually every troubled DoD [Department of Defense] development program."

Despite the program's January 18 test failure, which the Pentagon now believes resulted from a coolant leak, other high-level officials had contended the program remained on track. President Clinton, weighing such factors as the missile threat and arms control considerations, is scheduled to decide this summer whether or not to approve NMD deployment.

An intercept test—the third of a total 19—is scheduled for mid-May. Noting that the last intercept test failed and that the successful October 2 test was aided by a large decoy balloon deployed with the target, Coyle recommended the readiness review allow for a thorough analysis of the upcoming test.

A complete test analysis consists of three stages and takes 90 days, according to Lieutenant Colonel Richard Lehner, spokesman for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which oversees U.S. missile defense programs. However, Lehner said BMDO is "confident that there should be more than enough information" from the May test and previous tests to conduct the review as scheduled.

However, according to Coyle, review "information based on a few flight tests with immature elements will be limited." The report noted that the next test will be the first to integrate all NMD prototype or surrogate elements together except for the "objective booster," which will be integrated in an intercept test in 2001.

Current testing relies, in part, on data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) beacon on the target ICBM to help plan the intercept, as well as assist in mid-range tracking. Though deeming use of GPS data suitable for early developmental testing, Coyle asserted that such methods do not "stress the NMD system in a realistic enough manner to support acquisition decisions."

Coyle assessed the flight tests as being limited in "operational realism and engagement conditions." Intercept velocities safely permitted during tests, Coyle observed, are "on the low end of what might occur in a real ICBM attack." Coyle also suggested testing targets "may not be representative of threat penetration aids, booster, or post-boost vehicles" that the real system would face, but he attributed that shortcoming to insufficient information about the real threat. Coyle also recommended re-evaluating use of a large decoy balloon during testing and noted that no flight tests against multiple targets are planned.

The NMD program will rely heavily on computer simulations and ground testing to measure the system's capability against more demanding threats. Yet the model for conducting the simulations is unlikely to be completed "in time to allow for a rigorous system analysis" before the review, and the current ground testing methods to measure the EKV's lethality cannot replicate the high closing velocities expected in real NMD intercepts, the report noted.

BMDO Still Confident

BMDO Director Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish testified before a congressional joint subcommittee February 16 that the NMD program has been "executed along a high-risk schedule," though he disputed it was under any "undue pressure."

In his prepared statement, Kadish defended the system and the recent failed test, saying, "We learn a lot from our testing successes and failures." In fact, he argued the most recent test demonstrated the X-band and upgraded early-warning radar systems' and the battle management command/control and communication system's capability under "very stressful conditions."

Kadish attributed the January 18 test failure to a "plumbing problem." A leak or constriction in a plumbing line carrying coolant to the EKV's two infrared sensors is believed to have prevented the sensors, which guide the EKV to the target during the final seconds, from functioning properly. Kadish said fixing the problem should not have a "major impact" on the upcoming test.

When questioned as to how an intercept failure in May would impact the June review, Kadish first observed that "our criteria says we have to have two intercepts to proceed because that's prudent to do." He then noted that should "the leadership" still want to hold the review, BMDO would "present what we knew at the time."

Assessing the Threat

Clinton has stated that his deployment decision will rest on four criteria: the system's technological readiness, the status of the threat, financial costs and arms control considerations. Secretary of Defense William Cohen asserted his view in February that the technology is close, the costs affordable and the threat threshold crossed.

Speaking at an annual security conference in Munich, Germany, on February 5, Cohen touted the U.S. NMD to European defense officials, many of whose governments are not supportive of the proposed system, as a way to guard against being "blackmailed." Cohen explained that the United States never wanted to be in a position of not "responding to any threat to our national security interests" simply because a state has a limited ballistic missile capability. He hypothetically asked how many states would have joined the 1990-91 coalition against Iraq if Baghdad could have struck their homelands using ICBMs with nuclear warheads.

Robert Walpole, national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, testified before a Senate subcommittee on February 9 that in the coming years the United States is "more likely to be attacked with weapons of mass destruction from non-missile delivery means" than by missiles. Walpole further stated that countries working on ballistic missiles would develop "various responses" to missile defenses and could develop countermeasures by the time they flight-test their missiles.

U.S. officials most frequently identify North Korea as the greatest emerging missile threat, but J. Stapleton Roy, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, described the Pyongyang threat as being at a "tertiary level" to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 2. Roy warned that if Russia or China concluded that Washington "was pursuing interests in fundamental conflict with their own," they could respond, respectively, by halting the strategic reduction process or by adding warheads to existing ICBMs. (See news story.)

Russia and China Still Opposed

Despite administration efforts to convince Russia that the proposed NMD system will not undercut the Russian deterrent, Moscow has refused U.S. proposals to amend the 1972 ABM Treaty, which bans both countries from deploying national missile defenses. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters in Moscow after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on January 31 that it would be a "grave mistake" to amend the ABM Treaty.

Though Albright claimed to be "encouraged" by her first meeting with Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding arms control issues, including the ABM Treaty, she subsequently told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 8 that "to date, Russian leaders have opposed any modification in the ABM Treaty." Most recently, Russia told the 66-member UN Conference on Disarmament on February 24 that Moscow wanted to "unambiguously state" that ABM Treaty adaptation negotiations with the United States were not being held and that this position would not change.

During a February 17-18 trip to Beijing, U.S. officials, led by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, made no headway in convincing China, which has only some 20 ICBMs, that the missile defense is directed at so-called "rogue" states. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters after the talks that China viewed the NMD system as harmful to global stability, as well as U.S. interests.

NATO allies have also withheld endorsement of the system. French Minister of Defense Alain Richard told a Washington think-tank in a February 22 speech that France fears a U.S. NMD system could "fuel a new arms race" and that the United States should not commit to deployment without first reaching a "satisfactory outcome" with Russia.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon both stated in recent trips to Washington that the British share the U.S. threat assessment. While Hoon said on January 27 that Britain "will want to be helpful," he cautioned that "there are issues that have to be addressed." The United Kingdom and Greenland, a territory of Denmark, are viewed as sites for two of the NMD's five planned upgraded early-warning radar systems.

U.S.-Chinese Relations Strained Over Taiwan

Wade Boese

IN A MOVE that prompted U.S. warnings that any military action would cause "grave concern," Beijing issued a white paper February 21 expanding the circumstances under which it would use force to reunify Taiwan with China. Couched amid statements promoting peaceful reunification, Beijing's new threat caught U.S. officials off-guard because U.S.-Chinese relations had appeared to be on the mend after military ties between the two countries resumed in January. The timing of the paper precedes Taiwan's upcoming presidential election and follows the passage of pro-Taiwan legislation in the U.S. Congress.

Released by China's State Council just days after the visit of a high-level U.S. delegation, the white paper warned that China would use force if Taiwan indefinitely postponed reunification negotiations. In the past, China had threatened force only if Taiwan, which Beijing considers a part of China, declared independence or if a foreign power occupied the island. China did not attach a time frame to its new threat. According to a State Department official, China had previously stated in private that it would not wait indefinitely for reunification, but this was the first time China had explicitly linked that sentiment to the use of force.

However, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen denied on February 29 that the white paper signaled a change in China's Taiwan policy and claimed the paper was aimed at "urging the Taiwan authorities to sit down to hold talks and negotiations." The white paper said China would do "its best" to achieve peaceful reunification and that force would be the "last choice made under compelled circumstances." China pledged that Taiwan would "enjoy a high degree of autonomy" after reunification and that troops and administrative personnel would not be "stationed" in Taiwan.

The white paper described Taiwan as the "most crucial and most sensitive" issue between the United States and China. While U.S. officials reiterated long-standing U.S. policy that the content of the cross-strait dialogue is a matter for the two parties involved, State Department spokesman James Rubin described the new formulation as "unhelpful" and "counterproductive." Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 and acknowledges Beijing's position that Taiwan is part of China.

U.S.-Chinese relations further deteriorated last May following NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, leading China to suspend relations with the U.S. military. With a January 25-26 visit by Chinese Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai to Washington, those ties were resumed. The two sides agreed on a tentative program for renewing high-level visits and confidence-building measures, such as talks to prevent incidents at sea.

Military Balance in the Strait

According to the white paper, no country that has diplomatic relations with China should provide arms to Taiwan. Specifically, China attacked the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed on February 1, as "gross interference" in China's internal affairs. The legislation mandates closer ties between the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries, including certification of direct secure communications, and administration reports to Congress on Taiwanese arms requests, the Chinese threat and U.S. contingency planning for the Asia-Pacific region.

President Clinton's advisors would recommend vetoing the legislation if necessary, though it is less provocative than a Senate version of the act that authorizes the president to make specific weapons, including theater missile defense (TMD) equipment, available to Taiwan. Administration officials contend the act would raise tensions and, ultimately, undermine Taiwan's security. The Senate, in which support for the act is tempered by senators who back granting China permanent normal trade relations in line with Beijing's pending World Trade Organization membership, has yet to act on either version of the bill.

According to a Defense Department official, the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries currently "conduct informal dialogue" and Taiwan receives U.S. training for "defense articles and services" supplied by the United States. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are governed by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act and the 1982 Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqué. The former calls on Washington to help Taiwan "maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," while the latter includes a U.S. pledge not to "carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan" and not to sell weapons qualitatively or quantitatively exceeding those supplied in years prior to 1982.

Taiwan's pending request for four advanced U.S. destroyers with Aegis combat systems, designed to counter missiles and aircraft, has angered Beijing, though China is gradually modernizing its own navy. During the second week of February, China received the first of two Russian-built Sovremennyy-class destroyers, which will be equipped with the supersonic, sea-skimming, anti-ship Sunburn missile.

A Defense Department spokesman commented on February 10 that "this is a good ship" but noted that the destroyer would "not significantly change the balance of power" in the strait. Last year, the Pentagon reported to Congress that in 2005 Taipei would still possess a "qualitative edge over Beijing in terms of significant weapons and equipment." A follow-up report is under review.

The possible future sale or sharing of U.S. TMD systems to Taiwan is China's primary concern. Washington has not decided whether to sell such systems, but Walter Slocombe, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, said he made clear in the recent talks with Xiong that TMD is an issue, in part, because of Chinese missile deployments across from Taiwan.

China fired missiles into the waters off the coast of Taiwan prior to the island's first popular presidential election in 1996. Release of the white paper may reflect a more measured attempt by China to weigh in on this year's March 18 presidential election, in which the three major candidates, one of which causes particular concern in Beijing, are running very close.

No Breakthroughs at BWC Ad Hoc Group Meeting

Seth Brugger

THE AD HOC Group of states-parties to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) held its 18th session in Geneva from January 17 to February 4 without making any breakthroughs on the two central areas of contention—technical cooperation and compliance issues. However, the group, which is responsible for developing a legally binding protocol to the BWC, did make progress on text clarification and issued a new version of the rolling text.

The BWC outlaws biological agents and their means of delivery and requires states-parties to destroy or divert to peaceful purposes biological weapons-related material. However, the convention has no formal verification mechanisms. The Ad Hoc Group, led by Tibor Tóth of Hungary, has been meeting since January 1995 to develop a protocol that will provide the means for a verifiable and more effective convention, although only those BWC states-parties that ratify the protocol will be bound by its terms.

Since the summer of 1997, the Ad Hoc Group has based its negotiations on a rolling text, which, after over two years of debate, is approaching its final form. A number of articles have been largely agreed upon, including those dealing with confidentiality provisions, measures to redress a situation and ensure compliance, assistance and protection against biological weapons, national implementation measures, and legal issues.

Disagreement remains in the key areas of technical cooperation and compliance measures, however. The principal dispute on technical cooperation involves how the protocol should deal with the transfer of biological agents and dual-use equipment. At issue is a call by some Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) members for the protocol to establish a multilaterally negotiated export framework. Such a framework might not leave room for export control regimes such as the Australia Group, an informal body that coordinates export regulations related to biological and chemical weapons, an idea that is unacceptable to most Western states.

Concerning compliance measures, delegates agree that states-parties should submit declarations on facilities and activities related to the convention. They have agreed in general to initially declare past offensive and defensive biological weapons programs and to annually declare current biological defense programs, vaccine production facilities, maximum biological containment facilities, and facilities dealing with listed agents and toxins. But the group has yet to agree on what other kinds of facilities require declarations and what items facilities should declare.

The issue of how to follow-up declarations is also unresolved. Three types of "visits" are under consideration. The first, "randomly-selected visits" or "transparency visits," would be mandatory, infrequent and selected on a random basis to increase understanding of declared activities. Whether the visit should also verify the accuracy of a declaration is debated. The second type, "clarification visits," could be conducted if outstanding questions remain after consultations with a country possessing a disputed declaration. A state could also initiate a third type, "voluntary assistance visits," which would allow it to obtain technical advice or information on the protocol's implementation. The visit may also include provisions for technical assistance.

Some delegations have promoted compliance measures that would reduce the impact of the protocol on their countries. For instance, the U.S. delegation, deviating from the position of most Western countries, favors placing some limits on bio-defense facility declarations and does not approve of having randomly selected visits confirm the accuracy of a declaration because the United States houses a large bio-tech industry and bio-defense program. In a similar light, some members of the NAM oppose mandatory clarification visits since they believe they are more likely to be subjected to these visits than Western countries.

This strategy of trying to protect domestic facilities from visits is also reflected in the dispute over the scope of clarification visits. Some Western states want the visit to include undeclared facilities, while some non-aligned countries favor limiting the visit to declared facilities.

In addition to declarations and visits, the protocol includes a third compliance measure—investigations. This measure is subdivided into field and facility investigations, with a field investigation covering a suspect use or release of biological agents, and a facility investigation examining a suspect facility. While the types of investigations are agreed upon, the Ad Hoc Group has yet to concur on how the implementing body's executive council will initiate an investigation. Procedures for allowing a field investigation to explore a suspect facility are also not decided upon.

The Ad Hoc Group, which is supposed to try to complete the protocol before the BWC's fifth review conference in 2001, also has work remaining in other areas of the protocol, including the preamble, definitions, confidence-building measures, and general provisions. The next session is planned for March 13-31.


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