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former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
Press Releases

Russia Reduces CFE-Limited Weapons in Georgia

Wade Boese

Starting to fulfill a November 1999 pledge to reduce its weaponry and to close two military bases in Georgia, Russia loaded a train with weapons and military equipment for shipment out of Georgia on August 4. The Russian weapons relocation may help lessen Moscow's current non-compliance with specific Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty "flank" limits that cap Russian arms levels in its Northern and Southern border regions. Russia's total military holdings are below overall CFE limits.

Last November, the 30 states party to the CFE Treaty—which limits the number of tanks, artillery, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that states-parties can hold between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains—agreed to overhaul the treaty to reflect the post-Cold War European security environment. (See ACT, November 1999.) The November 19 "adaptation agreement" replaced the original treaty's two equal bloc limits for NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact with a system of individual national limits. The adaptation agreement needs to be ratified by all CFE parties before the new structure and limits can enter into force.

In conjunction with the adaptation agreement, the CFE parties adopted a Final Act, which included a number of political, not legally binding, commitments by several countries. Russia pledged to reduce its ground treaty-limited equipment in Georgia to a maximum level of 153 tanks, 241 ACVs, and 140 artillery pieces by the end of 2000. In addition, Moscow committed to closing two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001.

At a July information exchange this year, Russia declared a total of 141 tanks, 482 ACVs, and 166 artillery pieces stationed in Georgia. Meeting the lower levels and closing the two bases, according to a Georgian official, is expected to total some 14 or 15 trainloads of weapons and equipment. Once Russia's holdings comply with the limits pledged in the Final Act, Moscow will not be obligated to ship additional weaponry out of Georgia; therefore, not all of the weapons located at the two bases being disbanded will necessarily leave Georgia.

Although Georgia and Russia have yet to settle on the total cost of the operation or how to divide up the amount, the United States has authorized up to $10 million to assist the effort. On July 14, at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Britain recommended creation of a voluntary fund for helping Russia complete the withdrawal and pledged approximately $148,000. The OSCE formally established the fund on August 23, and other countries have expressed interest in contributing.

The ultimate destination of equipment shipped out of Georgia is unclear at this time. Georgia is located in the so-called CFE flank zone, which caps the total amount of ground weaponry that can be deployed in the northern and southern flanks of Europe. The zone encompasses 10 countries entirely and portions of Russia and Ukraine.

Under a May 1996 agreement, the limits applied to Russia's flank zone were increased (to 1,800 tanks, 3,700 ACVs, and 2,400 artillery) while Russia's original CFE flank limits (1,300 tanks, 1,380 ACVs, and 1,680 artillery) were applied to a smaller region within the flank zone. Russia is exceeding the larger limits by about 800 to 1,000 ACVs, while being only slightly above its tank and artillery limits. If Russia transports its excess Georgian weaponry entirely out of the flank zone, it would help reduce this treaty noncompliance, which has been exaggerated by Russia's ongoing conflict in Chechnya.

NATO's 19 members state they will not ratify the adaptation agreement until all parties have complied with the limits it sets forth. Though Russia is provided more lenient weapons limits under the November 1999 adaptation agreement—the larger flank limits on the original zone are eliminated and the reduced zone's ACV limit is increased to 2,140—Moscow is still over the permitted ACV level. Only Belarus, which announced its action on June 9 at a meeting of CFE parties, has ratified the adaptation agreement.

While noting that a "number of technical issues remain to be resolved," the U.S. government stated it is "pleased" that Russia started the Georgian withdrawal process. Russia has made little progress in similar vows in the Final Act to withdraw or destroy all its CFE-limited arms, totaling some 350 to 375 weapons, in Moldova, which does not want Russian equipment stationed on its territory. Russia pledged to complete this task by the end of 2001.

U.S.-North Korea Missile, Terrorism Talks Resume; North Korea Admits to Exporting Rocket Technology

Alex Wagner

The United States and North Korea resumed missile negotiations in July and terrorism talks in August as legislation was introduced in Congress to reimpose sanctions on Pyongyang. Following the talks—neither of which made any breakthroughs—North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly said that his country has been exporting missiles abroad, underlining assertions made by U.S. intelligence.

Kim's remarks were made during an August 13 luncheon with South Korean media executives at which he acknowledged that his country exports missiles to Iran and Syria in return for hard currency, according to South Korean press reports. A recent CIA report to Congress highlighted North Korea as the principal exporter of missile equipment and assistance to Syria and as one of the most active suppliers of ballistic missile-related goods, technology, and expertise to Iran.

North Korean export activities were taken up July 10-12 by Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn and Jang Chang Chon, head of North Korea's bureau on U.S. affairs. Their meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, marked the fifth round of bilateral missile talks. At a July 12 press briefing, Einhorn said the meeting covered developments since the last round of talks in March 1999 and U.S. proposals to end North Korea's missile exports and indigenous capabilities. Einhorn specified that in return for addressing U.S. concerns, the United States is "prepared to move step by step to full economic normalization."

Einhorn characterized the talks as "very useful" and said that he hopes to meet again with the North Koreans in the near future. However, on July 12, Jang "clarified" that North Korea would only continue the talks if the United States compensated Pyongyang "for the political and economic losses to be incurred in case we suspend our missile program." During the meeting, the United States had once again rejected North Korea's long-standing demand for $1 billion per year in return for the cessation of missile exports. "North Korea should not be receiving cash compensation for stopping what it shouldn't be doing in the first place," Einhorn said.

Following the talks, on July 13, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) introduced the North Korean Nonproliferation Act of 2000. The proposed legislation would require the president to reimpose sanctions on North Korea that were eased in June unless the president certifies that Pyongyang has not tested or proliferated missiles or missile technology. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)

Despite the recent easing of sanctions, some sanctions remain in place, including those derived from North Korea's classification as a state sponsoring terrorism. The second round of bilateral talks designed to discuss steps that North Korea must take to shed this classification were held August 9-10 in Pyongyang after a break since March.

Led by U.S. envoy for counterterrorism Ambassador Michael Sheehan and North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Gye Gwan, the talks were not able to reach a resolution. In return for removing North Korea from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, the United States wants North Korea to extradite members of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group and publicly condemn terrorism.

During his August meeting with South Korean media executives, Kim Jong-Il reportedly said that removal from the terrorist list is a precondition for resuming diplomatic relations with Washington. If that occurs, Kim told the executives that he would be willing to immediately establish full diplomatic ties, according to the Korea Herald.

Pakistan Clarifies Nuclear Export Control Guidelines

Alex Wagner and Seth Brugger

Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce issued a "clarification" on July 26 retracting a so-called public notice published two days earlier that had detailed guidelines for exporting nuclear-related items. The notice, published in local newspapers, listed procedures for how to obtain a "no objection certificate" from the Pakistani Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), which is necessary to export certain nuclear items. The public notice also included an application form for the certificate and listed the nuclear materials and equipment that require such a certificate.

The clarification said that procedures for exporting nuclear-related materials and equipment were still "under consideration" and would be made public in "due course," according to an August 4 Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement. A Ministry of Commerce press release further explained that the procedures were being drawn up to "inform the public that nuclear substances and related equipment cannot be exported from Pakistan, with the exception of those allowed by the PAEC."

The Foreign Ministry statement also highlighted Pakistan's "impeccable" export control record. It maintained that Pakistan's export control procedures are "vigorously applied" and that "unauthorized transfer of sensitive materials from Pakistan does not arise." It also stressed that "Pakistan is unilaterally and unequivocally committed not to export any sensitive materials, equipment and technologies to any other country." In addition, the ministry said that Pakistan is "considering further procedures to strengthen its export controls" with the United States. The last U.S.-Pakistani meeting that discussed this subject was held in June. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)

Pakistani nuclear export policy is governed by three Statutory Regulatory Orders (SRO) issued in July 1998, February 1999, and August 1999. The July 1998 SRO completely prohibits the export of fissionable material. The other two SROs require the PAEC to issue a "no objection certificate" for the export of nuclear "substances," radioactive material, or nuclear energy-related equipment, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Other "substances" listed in a 1984 ordinance also require such a certificate. Since the nuclear materials listed in the public notice reportedly included plutonium, enriched uranium, and heavy water—all materials used in nuclear weapons manufacturing—the public notice seems to have conflicted with the July 1998 SRO.

The U.S. State Department downplayed the public notice in an August 4 statement saying the notice appeared only to be "regulations" that are "drawn from international control lists." The statement added that the regulations do not appear to authorize or solicit the sale of nuclear materials and that Pakistan has been engaged in talks with the United States and other countries regarding its export controls. The statement welcomed the regulations "as an important further step in that direction."

Israel Halts Chinese Phalcon Deal

Wade Boese

Aiming to end a prolonged public dispute with Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told President Bill Clinton on July 11, the first day of a U.S.-brokered Middle East peace summit, that Israel would not complete a 1996 deal that would have given China its first advanced airborne early-warning (AEW) capability. Although upsetting China, the Israeli cancellation averted U.S. congressional threats to withhold aid to Israel if the AEW deal went forward. Washington and Tel Aviv are now holding high-level talks on strengthening their "strategic relationship" and avoiding similar future conflicts.

The United States went public last fall with its long-held opposition to the estimated $1 billion deal for four Phalcon radar systems when the first Russian-supplied plane destined for China arrived in Israel to be outfitted with the system. Designed to provide simultaneous long-range tracking of multiple air and surface targets, the Phalcon radar system, according to U.S. government officials, could impact the Taiwan Strait military balance in China's favor.

Citing the "need to help intimate relations" with the United States during and after the summit, Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, publicly announced on July 12 that it would stop implementation of the Phalcon deal. The announcement emphasized that Israel considered itself to be "together with the United States in the midst of an effort to achieve historic decisions which are related to [Israel's] vital interests." While the summit ended July 25 without a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, reported Israeli expectations are that if a future peace deal is concluded with the Palestinians or Syria, the United States will provide significant military and financial assistance to Israel.

In announcing the cancellation, Israeli spokesman Gadi Baltiansky stated Israel would "continue to look for ways to implement the [Phalcon] deal" if circumstances changed. However, U.S. congressional and administration sources, as well as an Israeli official with close knowledge of the issue, said the deal is off. The Israeli official noted that "no one" expects circumstances to change in the short or medium term.

Barak resisted U.S. calls earlier this year, even in personal meetings with Clinton and Defense Secretary William Cohen, to void the sale. (See ACT, May 2000.) Describing the final decision as "difficult," the Israeli official pointed to a combination of Cohen's April 3 visit, when he forcefully voiced U.S. concerns, and rising opposition by U.S. Congress members, including long-time Israel supporters, as turning points in Israeli thinking on the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and four other senior senators sent a bipartisan April 6 letter to Barak expressing their "deep concerns" with Israel's military cooperation with China and warned it could negatively affect U.S.-Israeli relations. The senators implied that Israel would risk the potential "multi-billion dollar U.S. aid package" being discussed as part of a possible peace agreement with Syria if the Phalcon deal went forward.

Representative Sonny Callahan (R-AL), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, proposed legislation to hold back Israeli aid worth $250 million—the value of one Phalcon system—unless the Pentagon certified that the deal did not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Clinton requested a total of $2.82 billion in U.S. aid for Israel over the next fiscal year.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) also filed, but never officially introduced, the Callahan language on the Senate side. Helms, according to one of his spokesmen, "expected more from an ally than to provide this type of weapon system to a potential adversary." Remarks by Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh in mid-June suggesting Israel could cut imports from the United States if Washington cut aid had further raised Helms' ire.

Callahan dropped his legislation after Israeli Ambassador David Ivry informed the congressman of Israel's decision to stop the sale. Speaking to the House that day, Callahan called the cancellation a "tremendous step in the right direction." Helms' spokesman described the senator as "greatly relieved" by Israel's decision.

Barak, according to Baltiansky, expressed his "sorrow" by letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin for Israel's cancellation of the deal and reassured him that Israel attached "great importance to her relations with China." Israel started marketing arms to China in 1979.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said July 13 that the deal should be "honored" and that no other country should interfere in Chinese relations with other states. Later that day, Cohen, who was in Beijing when Israel announced its plan, said Jiang raised the issue as one of "concern." Cohen acknowledged U.S. opposition to the sale, but denied it reflected any attempt to "contain China."

Clinton announced July 27 that the United States would conduct a "comprehensive review" to improve U.S.-Israeli relations, including the maintenance of Israel's "qualitative edge" and the modernization of the Israeli military. Although State Department officials would not comment on the talks, the first round of which took place August 7 to 9 in Washington, they reportedly included discussions of Israel vetting with the United States arms sales to specific countries—China, India, Pakistan, and Russia.

DOE Simulates Nuclear Explosion; GAO Faults Ignition Facility

Philipp C. Bleek

IN A MAJOR accomplishment for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Stockpile Stewardship Program, scientists at the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories announced in July that they had succeeded for the first time in modeling the explosion of a thermonuclear weapon in three dimensions. Soon after, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report in mid-August strongly criticizing both the department and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for oversight and management failures of the controversial National Ignition Facility (NIF).

Stockpile Stewardship is a $4.5 billion per year program intended to safeguard the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal in the absence of nuclear tests. The program includes many elements, among them an advanced effort at the computer modeling of nuclear explosions, termed the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative. Also included is the over-budget and behind-schedule National Ignition Facility, intended to use lasers to recreate the pressures and temperatures present in a nuclear explosion. DOE has termed the NIF an "essential component" of the stewardship effort, but critics have strongly questioned its relevance to the central goals of the program.

Los Alamos National Laboratory reported in late July that nuclear scientists working under the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative had successfully modeled a thermonuclear secondary detonation in three dimensions during a 42-day simulation. The simulation, completed April 30, ran on Los Alamos' Blue Mountain supercomputer, the third-fastest in the world, with assistance from Sandia National Laboratory's Red supercomputer, currently the fastest in the world.

Last December, Livermore scientists utilized their lab's Blue Pacific supercomputer to model the behavior of a thermonuclear primary, the boosted plutonium fission bomb that provides the energy necessary to trigger a combined fission-fusion reaction in the secondary, which is responsible for most of the destructive yield of a thermonuclear weapon.

Three-dimensional modeling allows scientists to perform more realistic simulations than they could with the two-dimensional simulations previously feasible. Laboratory scientists expect to receive a new generation of more powerful supercomputers within the next five years, significantly shortening the required processing time and making successive analyses possible within a shorter time frame. Scientists require repeated analyses to effectively model the consequences of changes in the various components of a stockpiled weapon, such as ageing of the fissile material or chemical high explosive. More computing power will also facilitate higher resolution modeling.

Despite rather optimistic media coverage in the wake of the successful simulation, "virtual nuclear tests" remain a distant prospect. According to Los Alamos spokesman Jim Danneskiold, scientists "hope within a few years to be able to accurately simulate some of the physics involved in nuclear explosions."


GAO Criticizes NIF

The General Accounting Office issued a report August 17 that sharply criticizes DOE for "inadequate oversight" and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for "poor management" of the National Ignition Facility. Perhaps most damaging, officials associated with the program apparently told GAO that they knowingly submitted unrealistically low budget estimates to Congress in order to secure approval for the project, believing that "the value of NIF to the future of the Laboratory overshadowed potential cost concerns."

The National Ignition Facility has been plagued with a slew of problems since its inception. The most significant technical challenge has been an inability to construct optics that can withstand the lasers' anticipated intensity. Financially, the program, initially proposed at $400 million and funded by Congress at $1.1 billion in 1995, is now estimated by the Energy Department to cost about $3.3 billion, although GAO argues in its report that total costs could exceed $3.9 billion. (The latter figure includes NIF-related research that DOE chooses not to tally in the program's budget.) The GAO report also notes that the department expects completion of the necessary facilities, originally scheduled for 2002, to be delayed until 2008. And the report warns that project costs could grow even higher and completion could be delayed further, given unresolved technical issues.

DOE's fiscal year 2001 budget request includes more than $300 million for National Ignition Facility-related work, but Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson has indicated that the department will not seek additional appropriations to cover the NIF cost overruns; instead it will shift funds within the existing stockpile stewardship budget.

Given the potential for further dramatic cost overruns, Richardson's plan has fueled fears that the NIF could drain funding from other more central projects, hampering the stewardship effort. The GAO report recommends that funds not be reallocated to the NIF from the nuclear weapons program until DOE certifies that the selected cost and schedule plan "will not negatively affect the balance of the Stockpile Stewardship Program." The report also calls on Richardson to arrange for an independent review of remaining technical challenges that could "affect the project's cost and schedule risks."

In her July 28 response to the report, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Madelyn Creedon largely agreed with GAO's findings, but stated concern that the report "gives the impression" that DOE has "not taken appropriate action." According to the letter, the department is already meeting the review requirement with various independent analyses, most notably one from a task force chaired by John McTague, former science adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

Iran Tests

Alex Wagner

Iran announced July 15 that it had successfully conducted its second test of the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, demonstrating Tehran's continued interest and progress in missile development. The test comes amid continuing debate in the United States over the need to deploy a national missile defense.

Defense Secretary William Cohen stated in a July 17 press conference that the launch did "not come as a surprise" to the United States but rather confirmed the Pentagon's "anticipation" of continued progress in Iran's ballistic missile capabilities. In a 1999 report to Congress, the CIA had noted that Iran probably already had the capability to deploy a "limited number of the Shahab-3 prototype missiles in an operational mode."

While the Pentagon remains uncertain how many tests Iran would need to completely develop confidence in the Shahab-3, on July 18 spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters that for Iran the test was "clearly…a success" that moves it closer to having the confidence necessary for full deployment.

In early July, Iran announced the creation of five ballistic missile units under the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—an elite military organization that is responsible for the country's strategic military programs. Any deployment of the Shahab-3 would be administrated by the IRGC, which is directly controlled by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Shahab-3 is a 53-foot long, liquid-fueled, road-mobile missile derived from both the North Korean Scud-C and No Dong-1 and constructed with significant Russian technological and material assistance. With an estimated range of 1,300 kilometers and payload of 700 kilograms, it is the pre-eminent missile in the Iranian arsenal, capable of targeting all of Israel and U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, in addition to portions of Russia and Turkey.

The first test, conducted on July 22, 1998, was shown on Iranian state-run television and exploded 100 seconds after launch. Although Iran claimed it was a success, both U.S. government officials and regional analysts maintain that the 1998 test was a failure.

The latest test comes as the Clinton administration nears a decision on whether to proceed with the deployment of a limited national missile defense system. The development of advanced, long-range missiles by "states of concern," including Iran, has been used as the primary rationale for the system.

In February 1999, Iran's defense minister, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, announced that Iran was in the process of testing and developing motors for a Shahab-4 missile with a space-launch-vehicle capability. Derived largely from the Russian SS-4, the Shahab-4 is expected to have a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers. Cohen emphasized that he expects Iran will "continue to develop a longer-range missile range capability."

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.


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