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

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

U.S. Intelligence Estimate Warns of Rising Missile Threats

IN A NEW National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), summarized and submitted by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) as an unclassified report to Congress, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that "during the next 15 years the United States most likely will face ICBM threats from Russia, China and North Korea, probably from Iran and possibly from Iraq." While detailing the growing missile capabilities of the so-called rogue states, the report, released on September 9, noted that the Russian threat will remain the "most robust and lethal." Theater and national missile defenses will, according to the report, prompt countries developing missiles to respond by "deploying larger forces, penetration aids and countermeasures."

The NIC identified three key characteristics of the evolving missile threat. First, that the majority of missile proliferation is occurring below the ICBM (5,500-kilometer range) level. Second, many countries developing ICBMs "probably assess that the threat of their use" would deter, complicate or constrain U.S. action, despite Washington's recognized military superiority. Third, the probability of ballistic missile use against "U.S. forces or interests,"including with nuclear, chemical or biological warheads, has increased to a level higher than that experienced during most of the Cold War. The report further pointed out that "emerging long-range missile powers do not appear to rely on robust test programs," and may be willing to deploy missiles after a single test, thereby reducing the intelligence community's ability to provide adequate warning of ICBM deployment.

Overall, the NIC described the new missile threats as involving states with "considerably fewer missiles with less accuracy, yield, survivability, reliability, and range-payload capability" than those faced in the past. In comparison with Chinese and Russian ICBM stocks, the estimate emphasized that "initial North Korean, Iranian and Iraqi ICBMs would probably be fewer in number—a few to tens rather than hundreds or thousands."

The Rogue States

North Korea, using technology in its Taepo Dong-1 rocket, which was fired in a failed August 1998 attempt to place a satellite into orbit, is considered most likely to develop an ICBM capable of threatening the United States. With "an operable third stage and a reentry vehicle capable of surviving ICBM flight, a converted Taepo Dong-1 SLV [space launch vehicle] could deliver a light payload to the United States," the NIC report claims. (Emphasis in original.) But the NIC judged that it would be unlikely that the missile could carry a nuclear warhead, though a chemical or biological weapon payload is considered feasible.

Pyongyang's still-untested Taepo Dong-2, however, is more likely to be weaponized than the Taepo Dong-1, and with two stages would be capable of delivering "a several-hundred kilogram payload to Alaska and Hawaii, and a lighter payload to the western half of the United States." A third stage could enable delivery of the larger payload "anywhere in the United States." Though the report noted a Taepo Dong-2 test was probable, North Korea subsequently announced on September 24 a moratorium on missile tests while engaged in negotiations with Washington to improve bilateral relations. (See story.)

By copying North Korea's example of attempting to use the Taepo Dong-1 to launch a satellite, Iran is thought "likely to test a SLV by 2010 that—once developed—could be converted into an ICBM capable of delivering a several-hundred kilogram payload to the United States." The NIC admits, however, that intelligence analysts are divided over the likely timing of Iran's first flight test of an ICBM capable of reaching the United States. Estimates range from "likely before 2010" to "less than an even chance by 2015." (Emphasis in original.)

Despite the loss of much of Iraq's missile program infrastructure during and after the Persian Gulf War, the NIC reported that Iraq could test an ICBM threatening the United States by 2015. Baghdad, according to the report, is likely to try to emulate North Korea by extending the range of Scud-based ballistic missiles by using staging technology to develop an ICBM capability. As with Iran, analysts differ on the likelihood of Iraq testing an ICBM before either 2010 or 2015.

An ICBM capability by both Iraq and Iran could be accelerated through foreign assistance, the NIC warns. Russian missile assistance was cited as continuing to be "significant," while China was charged with continuing to "contribute" to missile programs in other countries. The report concludes that Moscow and Beijing are unlikely to sell "a complete ICBM, SLV, or the technologies tantamount to a complete ICBM."

Russia and China, which are credited with having "developed numerous countermeasures" to ballistic missile defense, are judged, however, as likely to sell technologies related to these countermeasures. The report assesses that North Korea, Iran and Iraq would probably "rely initially on available technology—including separating RVs [re-entry vehicles], spin-stabilized RVs, RV reorientation, radar absorbing material (RAM), booster fragmentation, low-power jammers, chaff, and simple (balloon) decoys—to develop penetration aids and countermeasures." The report concludes that "these countries could develop countermeasures based on these technologies by the time they flight-test their missiles."

The NIC further reported that countries could pursue non-missile delivery options to avoid missile defenses. Another factor that could prompt delivery by ship, truck or an airplane, according to the report, is that "initial indigenous nuclear weapons designs are likely to be too large and heavy for a modest-sized ballistic missile." The NIC asserts that covert delivery methods, though less impressive, could offer "reliability advantages" over a missile—an important consideration for countries with few nuclear weapons.

Russia and China

Though focused on emerging threats, the NIC observed that Russia's strategic forces will "remain formidable," but will "decrease dramatically...primarily because of budget constraints" to a level "well short of START I or II limitations." The probability of an unauthorized or accidental Russian launch, in the NIC's assessment, is "highly unlikely so long as current technical and procedural safeguards are in place."

The NIE-based report estimated that China, which currently only has about 20 ICBMs that can target the entire United States, will continue modernizing its strategic nuclear forces, introducing two solid-fuel ICBMs: the 8,000-kilometer DF-31 and a longer-range ICBM (usually termed the DF-41). The DF-31 will primarily be targeted at Russia and Asia, while the DF-41 will be directed against the United States.

While noting that Beijing has had the technical capability to develop multiple RV payloads for 20 years, the NIC estimates that Chinese deployment of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) on "a future mobile missile would be many years off." Ultimately, the NIC predicts Beijing "will likely have tens of missiles targeted against the United States, having added a few tens of more survivable land- and sea-based mobile missiles with smaller nuclear warheads—in part influenced by U.S. technology gained through espionage."

Fresh Controversy Over M-11s

The intelligence community's report produced new controversy over Pakistan's alleged November 1992 acquisition of Chinese M-11 short-range ballistic missiles. Long a red flag for those who believe the Clinton administration has deliberately ignored U.S. non-proliferation laws by not imposing sanctions on China, the report's outright assertion of the Chinese transfer prompted Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) to threaten to hold up a key U.S. State Department nomination until sanctions are imposed on Beijing. "The administration can adhere to the MTCR [Missile Technology Control Regime] law, which it has been flouting for the past six years, or it can make do without any assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation affairs," Helms said at a September 16 hearing.

The State Department has long insisted that the evidence regarding the M-11 transfer is insufficient to satisfy the high threshold needed to impose sanctions for shipments of whole missiles (so-called Category I transfers). The Clinton administration did impose so-called Category II sanctions on China in August 1993 for missile-related materials and technology transfers, and has urged Beijing to join the MTCR.

China obtained relief from the U.S. sanctions in October 1994 by pledging to observe the MTCR's "guidelines and parameters" and end sales of whole ground-to-ground missiles capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload 300 kilometers or more. Subsequently, China has reportedly continued its trade in missile components and technologies, which are covered by MTCR while Beijing considers joining the regime.

North Korea Freezes Missile Tests; U.S. to Lift Sanctions; Perry Report Released

Howard Diamond

THE UNITED STATES and North Korea took limited reciprocal steps in September toward strengthening bilateral ties, ending Pyongyang's development and export of long-range missiles, and improving the security of Northeast Asia. President Clinton announced September 17 that he was suspending the sanctions that have been in place since North Korea's 1950 invasion of South Korea. Seven days later, Pyongyang's official news agency, quoting a foreign ministry official, declared that North Korea "will not launch a missile" while negotiations to comprehensively improve relations are ongoing. The moves followed five days of bilateral talks in Berlin.

At a September 17 briefing on the president's decision to lift sanctions, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the understanding reached in Berlin, together with a recently completed review of U.S. policy by former Defense Secretary William Perry, had put the United States on "a new and more hopeful road," but she added that U.S. cooperation "is not a one-way street." Albright pointed out that the sanctions could be quickly re-imposed at any time and that the administration was prepared "to go down a different road altogether" to defend U.S. interests if necessary.

The president's waiver of sanctions did not require congressional approval, and will take several months to implement as officials from the departments of Commerce, Transportation and the Treasury work to draft new regulations. The sanctions lifted were imposed under the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Defense Production Act, and the Commerce Department's Export Administration Regulations. They cover imports of North Korean goods, exports of U.S. goods to North Korea, investment in commercial economic sectors in North Korea, remittances to North Korean nationals, and shipping and commercial flights to and from North Korea.

Still in place are U.S. non-proliferation and counter-terrorism controls, which prohibit trade of all munitions list, dual-use and missile technology-related items; any type of U.S. foreign assistance to Pyongyang; support for loans to North Korea through international financial institutions; and financial transactions between U.S. citizens and the North Korean government. U.S. sanctions imposed on North Korea for missile technology proliferation also remain in place, barring trade with missile-related sectors of the North Korean economy. North Korean assets in the United States remain frozen, and North Korean claims against the United States will remain unsettled.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) applauded the Clinton administration's actions on September 21, describing them as consistent with U.S. obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework, which froze the Yongbyon plutonium production facilities. The KCNA noted, however, that the U.S. lifting of sanctions came "belatedly" and was not "comprehensive." Pyongyang also reiterated its position that peace on the Korean peninsula will require removal of the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and a bilateral peace agreement. Washington expects a visit in the coming weeks by a senior North Korean official to resume discussions on normalization of relations.

Perry Review Completed

Guiding the Clinton administration was William Perry's recently completed review of U.S. policy toward North Korea. After briefing the president, congressional leaders and Japanese and South Korean officials in September, Perry released an unclassified version of his policy review on October 12. Though Perry and other U.S. officials had made some of its contents known in previous weeks, the published report provided a clearer understanding of the rationale for the Clinton administration's actions following the September talks with North Korea in Berlin and Perry's trip to North Korea in May 1999. (See ACT,April/May 1999.)

President Clinton appointed Perry to conduct the policy review in November 1998 following North Korea's August launch of its Taepo Dong-1 rocket and the discovery of an underground construction site in Kumchang-ni thought to be potentially useful for nuclear weapons-related activities. (Inspection by U.S. officials later showed the Kumchang-ni site to be poorly suited to nuclear activities.)

While confirming the importance and accomplishments of the Agreed Framework, Perry's report notes that there have been several important changes in the region since the nuclear agreement was reached in 1994. First, Pyongyang's ballistic missile development and export activities, combined with "possible continuing nuclear weapons-related work," have newly jeopardized regional security. Also, under the leadership of Kim Jong-Il, North Korea's economic and humanitarian crises have greatly worsened.

The South Korean government has opened up new opportunities on the peninsula through President Kim Dae Jung's policy of "engagement" with the North, according to the report. Also, Japan's critical support for the Agreed Framework has weakened because of Pyongyang's August 1998 missile test and the prospect of further North Korean missile tests overflying Japan. Finally, Chinese interests in North Korea have become more closely aligned with those of the United States and its allies because of Beijing's concern that Pyongyang's missile activities could lead to a U.S.-led Asian missile defense system.

Perry's report concludes that while military deterrence on the Korean Peninsula remains strong, continued North Korean nuclear and missile activities could jeopardize the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and even of the United States. The United States and its allies would be able to triumph convincingly in any military confrontation, the report notes, but only at a catastrophic cost in lives and money. Perry asserts that Washington should therefore attempt to advance U.S. interests cooperatively if Pyongyang is willing, and failing that, to strengthen its containment of the North Korean threat.

Perry recommends that Washington adopt "a new, comprehensive and integrated approach to…negotiations with the DPRK" in order to achieve a "complete and verifiable" cessation of North Korea's nuclear weapons- and missile-related activities, including "testing, production and deployment of missiles exceeding the parameters of the Missile Technology Control Regime, [as well as] export sales of such missiles and the equipment and technology associated with them."

To win Pyongyang's support for the cooperative approach, the Perry report suggests that the United States and its allies "reduce pressures" on North Korea "in a step-by-step and reciprocal fashion." The report continues, "If the DPRK moved to eliminate its nuclear and long-range missile threats, the United States would normalize relations with the DPRK, relax sanctions that have long constrained trade with the DPRK and take other positive steps that would provide opportunities for the DPRK."

Alternatively, if Pyongyang refuses to cooperate, the United States and its allies should "take firm but measured steps to persuade the DPRK" to pursue the cooperative approach and not upset the regional security balance. The details on what disincentives should be considered are listed in the still-classified version of the review. But Perry's report makes clear that "the U.S. and allied steps should seek to keep the Agreed Framework intact and avoid, if possible, direct conflict."

Russia, China, U.S. Allies Condemn Senate Defeat of Treaty

THE SENATE'S REJECTION of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on October 13 (see story) drew a barrage of criticism from Russia and China, as well as from U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. Although Moscow and Beijing have indicated that they will continue to adhere to the CTBT, which they both signed in September 1996, pressures to resume nuclear testing may intensify in the absence of U.S. ratification. The nuclear weapons establishments in both countries have long opposed the CTBT, presumably because they are more dependent on nuclear testing than the United States, which has a sophisticated stockpile stewardship program.

Russian and Chinese Reactions

In an October 14 statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "We express our regret and serious concern about the Senate's refusal to ratify this treaty, at all stages of the development of which the U.S. Administration took the most active part and was the first to sign it. This decision delivers a serious blow to the entire system of agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, [e]specially to the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

One week before the Senate vote, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin had announced that the Russian government was in the process of finalizing its CTBT ratification documents for the Duma, the lower house of parliament. However, the Duma is unlikely to consider the treaty anytime soon, given its concern over the Senate vote and its need to complete action on START II, which was submitted more than four years ago. Parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1999 may also complicate efforts to make serious progress on CTBT ratification.

On October 14, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it "deeply regrets" the Senate's rejection of the CTBT, but ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue indicated that Beijing would continue to observe its moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in effect since 1996, and would intensify its efforts to ratify the treaty.

Allied Reactions

Just days before the vote, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made a highly unusual plea to the Senate not to reject the CTBT. "Failure to ratify the [CTBT] will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation. The stabilizing effect of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, extended in 1995, would be undermined. Disarmament negotiations would suffer," they wrote in an October 8 New York Times op-ed.

Such sentiment was echoed the day after the Senate vote. An aide to Chirac said, "The president expressed his dismay. This decision is a setback to the process of non-proliferation and disarmament." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he was "deeply disappointed" by the vote and Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping called it an "absolutely wrong" decision. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy stated, "A world accustomed to U.S. leadership in the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament can only be deeply disturbed by this turn of events, which will be welcomed by those who remain uncommitted to that cause."

George Robertson, the newly appointed secretary-general of NATO and former British defense minister, called the Senate action "very worrying."

"We've got to persuade the American Congress that this is in the interest, not just of international security, but also of the United States, and I hope that we can do that and this is not a permanent position," he said in an October 14 radio interview.

U.S. allies in Asia were equally disapproving of the Senate rejection, with strong criticism coming from the Japanese, South Korean and Philippine foreign ministries. "The adverse effects are inestimable…We had hoped for the U.S.'s leadership in nuclear disarmament and in preventing nuclear proliferation," said Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono. Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon called the U.S. vote "an enormous blow to all our efforts to make the world a safer place to live in."

Of particular concern was the potential reaction from South Asia, where the Senate vote weakens the Clinton administration's ability to persuade India and Pakistan to sign the CTBT and refrain from conducting further nuclear tests. But in an encouraging development before the vote, New Delhi hinted that it might be prepared to sign the treaty once its new parliament was in place. Brajesh Mishra, India's national security adviser, stated October 3, "Consensus is building in the country about our stand on the CTBT, and after the parliament meets, we will be in a position to take concrete steps." Moreover, one day after the vote, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh stated, "India will not stand in the way of entry into force of the CTBT." However, because the treaty cannot come into effect without U.S. ratification, much of the pressure on India and Pakistan to ratify has been lifted for the time being.

Belgrade, KLA Move Forward on Arms Control, Disarmament

THREE MONTHS AFTER the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from the embattled province of Kosovo, Yugoslavia has renewed its implementation of the June 1996 Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has been certified as having completed its demilitarization. Also in September, talks on creating a "regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia" were resumed.

A week after the March 24 onset of NATO's 11-week bombing campaign, Belgrade formally suspended its participation in the subregional agreement, which limits the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters that the parties to the agreement can possess. As part of the agreement, Yugoslavia (comprised of Serbia and Montenegro), the two entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina (the Muslim-Croat federation and the Bosnian-Serb-controlled Republica Srpska) and Croatia annually exchange information on and allow inspections of their military holdings.

At a September 23-24 meeting of the parties, the first under the agreement since Belgrade's unilateral suspension, Yugoslavia agreed to complete its scheduled inspections, including those that had been postponed, by the end of the year. Belgrade will conduct a total of four inspections and will permit five on its forces.

In addition, Yugoslavia provided an updated accounting of its military holdings, which prior to the NATO bombing campaign had equaled Belgrade's ceilings for all five weapons categories (1,025 tanks, 850 ACVs, 3,750 artillery, 155 combat aircraft and 53 attack helicopters). Yugoslavia reportedly claimed its largest reduction, roughly a third, in combat aircraft, while reporting almost negligible changes in holdings for tanks and ACVs and slight reductions in artillery and attack helicopters.

For its part, NATO, in a September 16 press briefing, claimed to have carried out "successful strikes" against 93 tanks, 153 armored personnel carriers, 339 military vehicles and 389 artillery and mortar sites. These figures do not appear to correspond with Yugoslavia's revised holdings reported under the subregional agreement, suggesting that NATO may have overestimated its damage inflicted on Yugoslav forces, that Yugoslavia may have held equipment in excess of its limits, that Yugoslavia may have under-reported its losses, or some combination of the three.

If Yugoslavia wants to replace lost weapons up to its ceilings, Belgrade must provide evidence of each piece of equipment destroyed before a replacement can be acquired under the subregional agreement. Belgrade, however, is currently subject to a UN arms embargo and cannot import any weapons.

KLA Disarmed

On September 20, KFOR Commander General Mike Jackson certified the KLA, the ethnic Albanian separatist group in Kosovo, as having complied with a June 21 agreement to turn over its weapons. The wearing of KLA uniforms and insignia also ceased on midnight September 20 as part of the agreement for the KLA to demilitarize, which was explicitly called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

In an assessment released October 6, KFOR reported that the KLA had voluntarily handed over more than 36,000 weapons. On September 16, Yugoslavia called the KLA disarmament a "farce," charging that only outdated weapons were being turned over. The estimated 17,000-member KLA has only handed over 6,831 rifles and 737 machine guns by KFOR's own accounting. KFOR has confiscated some 1,300 rifles and 300 pistols from KLA members and took more than 300 weapons from Serbs. A KFOR spokesperson said October 12 that the international force was continuing to confiscate weapons on a "daily basis," and explained that KFOR "never pretended that every individual would comply [with the demilitarization agreement]."

To help win the KLA's support for demilitarization, the United Nations agreed to the establishment of a 5,000 man Kosovo Protection Corps, which will initially be composed of a "significant portion" of former KLA members. The Kosovo Protection Corps, which will be permitted a "trust" of 2,000 weapons (only 200 of which can be in use at one time), will be charged with responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. Both Moscow and Belgrade denounced the creation of the Corps.

Regional Talks

Twenty nations, including Yugoslavia, met in Vienna on September 6 to revive discussions on finding "lasting solutions for the stabilization of South-Eastern Europe." The talks, however, made little headway as many of the participating states are preoccupied with completing an adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty by mid-November (See feature).

When resumed in earnest, the talks, which are called for under Article V of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, are not expected to address weapons limits because only four states in the region—Albania, Austria, Macedonia and Slovenia—are currently without such limits.

Security Council Unable to Reach Consensus On Iraq for Genereal Assembly Meeting

DESPITE CONCERTED DIPLOMATIC efforts surrounding the September 22 opening of the 54th session of the UN General Assembly, the permanent five members of the Security Council (P-5) could not reach a consensus on resuming weapons inspections in Iraq or lifting economic sanctions. Senior officials from Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States met in London September 15 and in New York September 20. A September 23 meeting between the P-5 foreign ministers and the UN secretary-general resulted only in a bland statement calling for "the full implementation of the relevant Council resolutions."

UN weapons inspections and verification efforts ceased in December 1998 when Iraq broke off cooperation with the UN after four days of punitive air and missile strikes by the United States and Britain. Prompted by frustration with Baghdad's "cheat-and-retreat" strategy to prevent the elimination of its proscribed weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the U.S.-British strikes fractured the Security Council's 1991 consensus to compel Baghdad to disarm in compliance with Resolution 687 before it would lift the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Since the strikes, Baghdad has maintained that it will not consider further UN weapons inspections or verification activities until economic sanctions are eased. UN officials in Iraq have reported an ongoing humanitarian crisis, which they have attributed to the sanctions. A September 13 report by the State Department, however, asserts that under the UN's oil-for-food program Iraq is importing more food than before the Persian Gulf War, and that Baghdad's politically inspired misallocation of food and medicine is responsible for the population's suffering. (To compensate for previous revenue shortfalls due to low oil prices, the Security Council decided October 4 to lift the current half-year ceiling on Iraqi oil sales from $5.256 billion to $8.296 billion.)

Since the December raids, Iraq's case for sanctions relief has been made with increasing vigor by France, Russia and China. Resolutions offered by Paris, Moscow and Beijing have proposed quick relief from most import and all export sanctions for Iraq, together with the creation of a monitoring system to prevent large-scale re-establishment of Baghdad's weapons programs.

The United States continues to insist that demonstrable cooperation from Iraq on revived weapons inspections must precede any sanctions relief; that Iraq must meet the Security Council's existing standards for disarmament; that relief from sanctions should be temporary, requiring regular council re-approval; and that sanctions relief should be limited to exports and investments in Iraq's oil-producing capabilities. Washington backs a proposal sponsored by Britain and the Netherlands, which has reportedly won the support of all Security Council members except France, Russia, China and Malaysia. A resolution of the situation is not expected in the near future.

Congress Approves DOE Reorganization; Clinton Leaves Control With Energy Secretary

UNWILLING TO VETO the fiscal year 2000 defense authorization bill, President Clinton approved the partial separation of the nation's nuclear weapons complex from the Department of Energy (DOE) on October 5, but infuriated congressional advocates of the reorganization by transferring control of the new National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) back to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. Proposed in the wake of allegations of Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear weapons labs, the reorganization called for in the defense bill would have provided the new nuclear agency substantial independence from DOE in establishing its own safety, security, environmental and counterintelligence policies, contrary to the administration's preference.

Initially opposed to the plan, Secretary Richardson finally gave his support in July after negotiating with the Senate for greater DOE control of the agency, but a House-Senate conference later altered the bill to give the NNSA more independence. When the House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed the revised bill in September, Richardson threatened to recommend the president veto the bill, but reversed his position after the White House indicated that a veto was unlikely because of the legislation's strong bipartisan support and inclusion of a widely popular pay raise for military personnel.

But after signing the bill October 5, President Clinton stunned Congress when he ordered Richardson to "perform all duties and functions" of undersecretary for nuclear security, the position formed to lead the NNSA. In explaining his decision, Clinton warned that the new law would impair Richardson's ability to fulfill his obligations as Energy Secretary and jeopardize changes in security and counterintelligence functions that he had already made.

Richardson was further instructed to assign DOE employees to "a concurrent office within the NNSA" in order to "mitigate the risks to clear chain of command presented by the Act's establishment of other redundant functions by the NNSA." Finally, Richardson was ordered to operate the new NNSA in compliance with existing federal environmental laws and standards. The president's statement also made clear that no candidate for the undersecretary position would be offered for the Senate's approval until Congress had remedied the reorganization plan's "deficiencies."

The president's instructions outraged several members of Congress who had worked to draft the law. In a letter to the president, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Floyd Spence (R-SC) strongly protested the president's signing statement, warning that unless reversed, the president's decision would "certainly serve to strengthen already substantial support for creating an agency entirely independent of DOE to manage the nation's nuclear programs." (Emphasis in original.) Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) also made clear his anger at Richardson and the administration, describing the president's action as "an absolute frontal attack."

UNWILLING TO VETO the fiscal year 2000 defense authorization bill, President Clinton approved the partial separation of the nation's nuclear weapons complex from the Department of Energy (DOE) on October 5, but infuriated congressional advocates of the reorganization by transferring control of the new National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) back to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. Proposed in the wake of allegations of Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear weapons labs, the reorganization called for in the defense bill would have provided the new nuclear agency substantial independence from DOE in establishing its own safety, security, environmental and counterintelligence policies, contrary to the administration's preference. (Continue)

Senate Rejects Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; Clinton Vows to Continue Moratorium

IN A MAJOR setback to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and U.S. credibility, the Senate decisively rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on October 13 by a vote of 51-48, marking the first time that it has defeated a security-related treaty since the Treaty of Versailles nearly 80 years ago. Immediately following the largely party-line vote, President Bill Clinton pledged that he would keep fighting for the CTBT and that the United States would continue its moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in effect since 1992. Despite his assurances, the vote sent shock waves throughout the world, drawing strong condemnation from Russia and China as well as American allies in Europe and Asia. (See story.)

Just 12 Days

In September 1996, President Clinton became the first world leader to sign the CTBT, which prohibits "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion." One year later he submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent. However, Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), whose Foreign Relations Committee has jurisdiction over treaties, repeatedly stated that the CTBT was a low-priority item and that it would only receive consideration after the committee had voted on two unrelated sets of agreements not yet submitted by the administration: the 1997 amendments to the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

This logjam persisted for almost two years until July 1999, when all 45 Democratic senators signed a letter urging Helms to conduct hearings on the CTBT and report it to the full Senate for debate. (See ACT, July/August 1999.) When Helms snubbed the request, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) threatened to hold up Senate business unless the treaty received floor consideration. "This is going to be a tough place to run if you do not decide to bring this issue to the floor of the Senate and give us the opportunity to debate [the CTBT]," he warned on September 8.

Confident that the Republicans already had the votes to defeat the treaty, Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) called for a quick vote—a move that surprised the Democrats and most observers. Forced to choose between a vote after limited debate or no vote at all until the next Congress, the Democratic leadership, in consultation with the White House, reluctantly agreed to Lott's proposal. On October 1, a unanimous consent agreement was reached under which the Senate would bypass the Foreign Relations Committee and vote on the CTBT on October 12 after just 18 hours of floor debate. Under the terms of the agreement, the Republican and Democratic leaderships were each permitted to introduce only one amendment to the resolution of ratification, thereby curtailing the administration's ability to craft a resolution that could have addressed the stated concerns of some senators.

The White House was highly critical of the truncated process. "This is not what the Founding Fathers meant by advise and consent. This is hit and run," National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said October 2. Two days later, White House press spokesman Joe Lockhart argued that the lack of attention given to the CTBT was unprecedented. By way of comparison, he noted that the ABM Treaty had received eight days of hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee and 18 days of consideration on the Senate floor; the INF Treaty had received 23 days of committee hearings and nine days of floor consideration; and START I had received 19 days of committee hearings and five days of floor consideration.

White House Launches Full-Court Press

Faced with the unanimous consent agreement, the White House immediately launched a highly visible campaign to achieve ratification. In an October 4 photo opportunity with his national security team, Clinton made the case for the treaty and responded to charges that the Central Intelligence Agency is unable to determine whether Russia is secretly conducting low-yield nuclear tests at its Novaya Zemlya facility. He argued that while such tests are difficult to detect, the treaty gives the United States "new tools" to ensure compliance, such as the creation of an International Monitoring System (IMS) consisting of 321 monitoring stations located throughout the world and the ability to request an on-site inspection if suspicious activity cannot be adequately clarified.

Clinton repeated his call for ratification during an October 5 signing ceremony for the defense authorization bill and a pep rally the next day at the White House, which included participation from the present and past chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as a number of the 32 Nobel laureates in physics who had publicly endorsed the CTBT. "The best way to constrain the danger of nuclear proliferation and, God forbid, the use of a nuclear weapon, is to stop other countries from testing nuclear weapons. That's what this test ban treaty will do. A vote, therefore, to ratify is a vote to increase the protections of our people and the world from nuclear war. By contrast, a vote against it risks a much more dangerous future," Clinton said.

Congressional Hearings Begin

Other key Clinton administration officials argued for ratification during three days of congressional hearings held October 5-7, only one of which took place in the Foreign Relations Committee. The hearings focused on two issues: whether the United States could effectively verify if countries were adhering to the CTBT and whether the United States could maintain a safe and reliable nuclear arsenal solely through its stockpile stewardship program.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on October 6, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Henry Shelton, as well as former chairman General John Shalikashvili, argued that the United States should ratify the CTBT with the six safeguards that President Clinton established in August 1995 as conditions for U.S. entry into the test ban. (See sidebar.) In particular, they pointed out that Safeguard F would allow the United States to withdraw from the CTBT under the standard "supreme national interests" clause in the event that the secretaries of defense and energy (as advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council, the commander-in-chief of U.S. Strategic Command and the heads of the three nuclear weapons laboratories) could no longer certify that a weapon critical to the U.S. nuclear deterrent was safe and reliable. With respect to verification, the witnesses argued that even though some low-yield nuclear tests might go undetected, such tests are not militarily significant.

Challenging these views, former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger testified that in the absence of underground nuclear testing, confidence in the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would inevitably decline. Schlesinger was particularly critical of the fact that the treaty bans all tests in perpetuity. In addition, he said that the stockpile stewardship program will not be fully operational for another 10 years.

Sparring over these issues continued October 7, when the Armed Services Committee received testimony from Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and the directors of the three nuclear weapons laboratories (John Browne of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bruce Tarter of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Paul Robinson of Sandia National Laboratories). Although Richardson was confident about the abilities of the $4.5 billion-per-year stockpile stewardship program, the three lab directors were much more cautious, stating that the United States was heading into "uncharted waters" and that there were no guarantees that the program would be successful. However, when pressed on this point by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the lab directors said they supported the CTBT provided that there is full funding for the stewardship program and that the six safeguards are adopted by the Senate. Clarifying their views in a joint statement issued the next day, the lab directors wrote, "While there can never be a guarantee that the stockpile will remain safe and reliable indefinitely without nuclear testing, we have stated that we are confident that a fully supported and sustained stockpile stewardship program will enable us to continue to maintain America's nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing."

Let's Make a Deal

Meanwhile, recognizing that the 67 votes needed for ratification were not there, Senators Daschle and Lott began a behind-the-scenes dialogue as early as October 5 on ways to postpone the vote and prevent a humiliating blow to U.S. credibility abroad. Lott said he was willing to put off the vote as long as Clinton requested the delay and agreed not to bring up the CTBT during the remainder of his presidency.

In the days that followed, as it became even clearer that the treaty would be soundly defeated, Clinton met Lott's first demand and requested that the vote be postponed, but he was not willing to rule out the option of resubmitting the treaty before leaving office. Efforts to reach a deal were further complicated by the fact that Senate rules required all 100 senators to agree to change the original unanimous consent agreement in order to postpone the vote. A small but powerful group of conservative senators—including Helms, James Inhofe (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Robert Smith (I-NH)—indicated that they would block any attempt to delay the vote because they believed the treaty should be defeated.

As the floor debate opened on October 8, the Clinton administration and Senate Democrats increased their efforts to postpone the vote. That same day, in an unprecedented appeal, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder published an op-ed piece in The New York Times imploring the Senate to ratify the treaty. Also on October 8, the states participating in the Vienna conference on bringing the CTBT into force issued a declaration calling upon those states that had not yet ratified the treaty to do so. (See document.)

The Endgame

Efforts to delay the vote went down to the wire. On October 11, Clinton put his request for a postponement in writing, but still would not agree to put off the vote until 2001. In his letter to Lott and Daschle, Clinton said, "I firmly believe the Treaty is in the national interest. However, I recognize that there are a number of Senators who have honest disagreements. I believe that proceeding to a vote under these circumstances would severely harm the national security of the United States, damage our relationship with our allies, and undermine our historic leadership over forty years, through administrations Republican and Democratic, in reducing the nuclear threat."

On October 12, the day before the vote, the sides came close to reaching a deal. In return for a delay, Daschle pledged that he would not bring up the CTBT for a vote before 2001 barring "extraordinary circumstances," an implicit reference to the resumption of nuclear testing in South Asia. Although Daschle and Lott tentatively agreed on this language, the deal fell through when the same small group of conservative senators objected.

The Democrats also tried to remove the CTBT from the so-called "executive calendar," an unusual parliamentary maneuver that would have required only a simple majority (51 votes). Although 62 senators, including influential Republicans such as Pete Domenici (R-NM), Richard Lugar (R-IN) and John Warner (R-VA), indicated in an October 12 letter to Lott and Daschle that their preference was to delay the vote, the majority leader did not give Republicans his blessing to support the procedural move, thereby making the vote a test of party loyalty that was later defeated by a 55-45 vote.

When the roll was finally called on October 13, the resolution to ratify the CTBT (including the six safeguards that Daschle had submitted as an amendment) was defeated by a 51-48 vote with one abstention. (See the voting record.) Forty-four Democrats voted for ratification as did four Republicans: John Chafee (R-RI), James Jeffords (R-VT), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Arlen Specter (R-PA). Fifty Republican senators and one independent (Robert Smith of New Hampshire) voted against ratification, and Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) voted "present." The treaty fell 19 votes short of achieving the necessary two-thirds majority necessary for ratification.

Clinton Goes on the Offensive

Just hours after the vote, Clinton reassured the world that the fight for the CTBT was "far from over" and announced that the United States would continue its moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in effect for the past seven years. He also called upon Russia and China (which have signed the treaty but not ratified) as well as Britain and France (which have signed and ratified) to continue their moratoria on nuclear testing.

In his October 13 statement outside the Oval Office, Clinton strongly condemned the Senate's action. "For two years, the opponents of this treaty in the Senate refused to hold a single hearing. Then they offered a take-or-leave-it deal: to decide this crucial security issue in a week.… They rejected my request to delay the vote and permit a serious process so that all questions could be evaluated. Even worse, many Republican senators apparently committed to oppose this treaty before there was an agreement to bring it up, before they ever heard a single witness or understood the issues. Never before has a serious treaty involving nuclear weapons been handled in such a reckless and ultimately partisan way," he said.

Clinton continued his assault on the Republican Party in a press conference the next day. He characterized the Senate vote as "partisan politics of the worst kind" and charged treaty opponents with showing "signs of a new isolationism." Clinton argued that the Senate majority "has turned its back on 50 years of American leadership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction" and that they "are betting our children's future on the reckless proposition that we can go it alone; that at the height of our power and prosperity, we should bury our heads in the sand, behind a wall."

Lott quickly denied that partisan politics played any role in the CTBT's defeat. "We have some of the most thoughtful senators that have ever served in this body that said that this treaty was not verifiable, that it was fundamentally flawed, and it should not be ratified," he said in an October 14 press conference. Furthermore, Lott accused the administration of not effectively lobbying for the treaty. "I was demanded and forced into having a debate and a vote. And so when we agreed, then they said, 'Well, wait a minute; there may not be the votes to ratify this treaty.' Well, I wonder why. Because we had been doing our work. We'd been checking into it," Lott said.

Given the Senate's action along party lines, there is the real possibility that the CTBT will become an issue in the 2000 presidential and congressional elections. Following the vote, Vice President Al Gore condemned the "partisan" way in which the Senate handled the CTBT and pledged to resubmit the treaty for ratification if he is elected president next year. Earlier, on October 5, leading Republican contender George W. Bush announced that he is opposed to the CTBT as are other Republican candidates, such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who voted against the treaty. Bush did say, however, that he supports the current moratorium on nuclear testing.

Nuclear Safeguards Necessary for U.S. Ratification of the CTBT

A: The conduct of a Science Based Stockpile Stewardship program to ensure a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons in the active stockpile, including the conduct of a broad range of effective and continuing experimental programs.

B: The maintenance of modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology which will attract, retain, and ensure the continued application of our human scientific resources to those programs on which continued progress in nuclear technology depends.

C: The maintenance of the basic capability to resume nuclear test activities prohibited by the CTBT should the United States cease to be bound to adhere to this treaty.

D: Continuation of a comprehensive research and development program to improve our treaty monitoring capabilities and operations.

E: The continuing development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities and operations to ensure accurate and comprehensive information on worldwide nuclear arsenals, nuclear weapons development programs, and related nuclear programs.

F: The understanding that if the President of the United States is informed by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy (DOE)—advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council, the Directors of DOE's nuclear weapons laboratories and the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command—that a high level of confidence in the safety or reliability of a nuclear weapon type which the two Secretaries consider to be critical to our nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified, the President, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the CTBT under the standard "supreme national interests" clause in order to conduct whatever testing might be required.

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The Voting Record Voted Against Ratifying the CTBT

Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Wayne Allard (R-CO), John Ashcroft (R-MO), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Thad Cochran (R-MS) Susan Collins (R-ME), Paul Coverdell (R-GA), Larry Craig (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL), William Frist (R-TN), Slade Gorton (R-WA), Phil Gramm (R-TX), Rod Grams (R-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Charles Hagel (R-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jesse Helms (R-NC), Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Trent Lott (R-MS), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Connie Mack (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Don Nickles (R-OK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), William Roth Jr. (R-DE), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Bob Smith (I-NH), Olympia1 Snowe (R-ME), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Craig Thomas (R-WY), Fred Thompson (R-TN), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), George Voinovich (R-OH), John Warner (R-VA)

Voted for Ratifying the CTBT

Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Joseph Biden Jr. (D-DE), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Breaux (D-LA), Richard Bryan (D-NV), John Chafee (R-RI), Max Cleland (D-GA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Thomas Daschle (D-SD), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Edwards (D-NC), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Graham (D-FL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), James Jeffords (R-VT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Robert Kerrey (D-NE), John Kerry (D-MA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Daniel Moynihan (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Robb (D-VA), John Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Voted Present

Robert Byrd (D-WV)

Source: U.S. Congressional Record

Fewer Countries Submit Arms Trade Data to UN Register

FEWER COUNTRIES VOLUNTEERED reports on their exports and imports of major conventional weapons to the 1998 UN Register of Conventional Arms than in any previous year of the register's operation. Yet, the register, dated August 13 with an addendum of October 7, covered much of the 1998 arms market, as most major arms exporters, with the key exception of China, submitted weapons trade data. (Russian data, submitted October 15, was not yet available.) The United States accounted for nearly half of all reported 1998 arms exports worldwide.

Aimed at revealing build-ups of conventional arms, the voluntary register calls on countries to annually report their imports and exports of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships and missiles and missile launchers. Countries may also provide information on their military holdings and domestic weapons procurement, as well as relevant arms trade policies. Iraq's acquisition of large stocks of conventional weapons prior to its invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent 1990-91 Persian Gulf War served as the impetus for establishing the register in January 1992.

Annual register participation has generally exceeded 90 countries, but this year only 74 have reported to date. Many of the countries not participating in the 1998 register that have in previous years are those that submit "nil" reports for both imports and exports. Some are suspected of merely being late with their replies, which is common. Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic participated for the first time.

Only two countries, Israel and Iran, reported from the Middle East, while Lesotho, Madagascar and South Africa were the only African countries to take part. Arab states typically boycott the register, charging that it is inadequate because it fails to account for weapons of mass destruction. African states, on the other hand, largely abstain from the register for its lack of small arms categories. In addition, less than a third of Latin American and Caribbean states reported on their arms deals or lack thereof.

China suspended its register participation indefinitely last year to protest U.S. inclusion of arms shipments to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province. For 1998, Washington reported 355 weapons exports to Taipei.


A total of 22 countries, including 18 European states, reported 5,622 exports, the lowest export total during the register's seven years of operation. The lack of Russian and Chinese data and the completion of most of the arms deliveries for agreements signed during the post-Gulf War weapons-buying boom account for much of the reduced export total from past registers, which generally totaled more than 7,500 weapons.

The United States ranked first with 2,713 exports, equaling the combined export totals for the next 10 highest weapon suppliers. (The United States revised its data upward from the original submission of 2,700 exports made in May.) Poland moved into second place with a total of 1,018 exports, which was a shipment—initially imported from Bulgaria—comprising 18 120mm mortars and 1,000 mortar rounds to the Congo. The United Kingdom held the third spot with 594 exports, 416 of which were cruise missiles to the United Arab Emirates.

Exporter data revealed Europe as the top destination of arms shipments with a total of 1,625, while the Middle East, including Egypt, received a total of 1,423 weapons. Five exporters—the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Canada—accounted for all the reported exports to the Middle East. Iran claimed 11 weapon imports from Russia.

Missiles and missile launchers (2,465) accounted for 43 percent of the reported weapons exports. In the Middle East, missile deliveries to eight countries accounted for two-thirds of reported arms shipments. Missile systems, according to exporter data, also constituted approximately 55 percent of all Asian and European imports.


Thirty-nine countries reported more than 4,866 total arms imports. (Australia and Singapore listed "several" for their missile imports.) Discounting Poland, which exported its import of 1,018 artillery items, Bangladesh ranked as the top importer with 825 weapons. Bangladesh cited Italy, Yugoslavia, China and France with supplying a total of 465 artillery pieces and China with 232 tanks. Other leading importers included South Korea, which totaled 530 missile systems from the United States, Thailand (359 imports) and Chile (330 imports).

As in past years, little of the exporting and importing data corresponded. For example, the United States claimed exporting only 27 missiles to South Korea. Many of the discrepancies stem from a lack of importing data or differing national accounting procedures for imports and exports. Whereas some countries count an export as physical departure from its territory, others may base it on title transfer.

The 1998 UN Register of Conventional Arms: Top 10 Reporting Exporters and Totals

Region/Country Battle Tanks ACVs Heavy Artillery Combat Aircraft Attack Helicopters Warships Missiles & Launchers Total
United States 120 441 128 232 24 6 1,762 2,713
Poland     1,018         1,018
United Kingdom 65   45 12   4 472 594
Ukraine 137 36     25   29 227
France 95 16 1 28 4   70 214
Netherlands 123 34       1   158
Germany 35 107       5   147
Bulgaria 140             140
Slovak Republic   11         122 133
South Africa   21 24         45
Total for All Countries Reporting Exports 792 737 1,277 282 53 16 2,465 5,622

Conference on Disarmament Completes Another Barren Year

ON SEPTEMBER 8, the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) ended its annual 24 weeks of talks without launching any arms control negotiations for the second time in three years. China and members of the Group of 21 (G-21) non-aligned movement, led by Pakistan, would not allow fissile material cutoff treaty negotiations, which no countries publicly opposed, to begin without a work program agreement. At the same time, sole U.S. refusal to negotiate on the agenda item of prevention of an arms race in outer space and the continued unwillingness of the nuclear-weapon states, minus China, to hold formal talks on nuclear disarmament prevented the now 66-member conference from passing a work program.

The long-standing dispute between the nuclear-weapon states, except China, and the G-21 over how to address nuclear disarmament was superseded this year by a growing clash over the outer space issue. NATO's 11-week bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, particularly the May 7 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, further soured the CD atmosphere.

Secretary of Defense William Cohen's January 20 announcement on funding for deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system and President Clinton's subsequent July 22 signing of legislation that made it U.S. policy to deploy an NMD system as soon as "technologically possible" provoked a wave of calls, led by China, for the CD to hold negotiations on arms and outer space. Chinese CD Ambassador Li Changhe set the terms of the CD debate on May 27 by noting that Beijing, among others, believed that the "importance" of outer space, as well as nuclear disarmament, was "no less than" that of a fissile cutoff.

While CD members neared, but did not reach, a compromise on nuclear disarmament that would have established a working group for exchanging views on the issue, the United States, which claimed that there is no arms race in outer space, remained steadfast in its opposition to outer space talks.

In closing remarks on September 7, U.S. Ambassador Robert Grey decried the 1999 session as "especially impoverished." He did, however, note that "at least the parameters of the debate have been clarified," which provides the "possibility of preparing the CD to begin work rapidly in the next session." Grey also pledged that he would "take advantage of any flexibility that may exist on the part of my government" so that a work program could be achieved next year.

Not everyone shared Ambassador Grey's cautious optimism. French Representative Hubert de la Fortelle, in his closing statement, described the conference as "gravely ill" and termed the prospects for the 2000 session as "very bleak." He further charged that the "practice of links, all or nothing, was in the process of killing an irreplaceable organization."

Finland, speaking for the European Union, called for an early decision on cutoff talks next year. Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram, however, circulated a statement by Islamabad's Foreign Secretary warning that if India intended to manufacture 400 or more nuclear warheads—as hinted at by one of the designers of India's August 17 draft nuclear doctrine (See ACT, July/August 1999)—then "neither India nor Pakistan could accept the conclusion" of a fissile material cutoff treaty.

The CD's 2000 session will be divided into three parts: January 17-March 24, May 22-July 7 and August 7-September 22.

Little Progress Made at START/ABM Talks

Craig Cerniello

THE FIRST ROUND of U.S.-Russian "discussions" on START III and the ABM Treaty ended August 19 without any apparent progress, casting a shadow on the Clinton administration's plans to resolve treaty issues before June 2000, when it will decide whether to deploy a limited national missile defense (NMD) system. During the talks, which began August 17 in Moscow, Russia continued to argue that NMD deployment would upset strategic stability and spark a new arms race. The Russians did propose, however, that the sides deploy a maximum of 1,500 strategic warheads each under START III instead of the 2,000–2,500 limit agreed to by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin at the Helsinki summit in March 1997. Further consultations on these issues are planned for September in Moscow.

In an attempt to get their bruised relationship back on track after the Kosovo conflict, the United States and Russia had agreed at the June 18–20 Group of Eight summit in Cologne, Germany, to hold discussions on START III and the ABM Treaty this summer. (See ACT, June 1999.) Building on this progress, Vice President Al Gore and then-Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin announced at the conclusion of their July 27 meeting in Washington that discussions on these issues would begin in Moscow the following month. The consultations, which were conducted by John Holum, Clinton's nominee for undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, and his Russian counterpart, Grigory Berdennikov, took place despite the August 9 shake-up in the Russian government in which Yeltsin fired Stepashin, later replacing him with Vladimir Putin.

Although the United States did not propose specific amendments to the ABM Treaty during the talks, senior Russian officials made their position quite clear. "We do not see any variant which would allow the U.S. to deploy a [NMD] system and at the same time maintain the ABM Treaty. If this takes place, talks on a START III treaty will be ruined, as well as the existing START I and START II agreements," said Berdennikov on August 19. Furthermore, he warned that NMD deployment would compel Russia "to raise the effectiveness of its strategic nuclear armed forces and carry out several other military and political steps to guarantee its national security under new strategic conditions."

These views were echoed by Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, head of the Russian Defense Ministry's department for international military cooperation. "The ABM Treaty is the basis on which all subsequent arms control agreements have been built. To destroy this basis would be to destroy the entire process of nuclear arms control," he said August 20. Despite this rhetoric, the United States and Russia once again characterized the ABM Treaty as a "cornerstone of strategic stability" in an August 19 press release.

Concerning nuclear reductions, the United States and Russia "reaffirmed" their readiness to begin official negotiations on START III as soon as the Russian Duma ratifies START II. The sides also noted their strong commitment to the START II ratification process and the treaty's entry into force. Russia's proposal to lower START III levels stems from the concern that it will have to downsize its strategic forces over the next decade because of obsolescence and mounting economic problems. However, there is no indication that the United States is considering reductions below the 2,000–2,500 warhead level agreed to at Helsinki.

THE FIRST ROUND of U.S.-Russian "discussions" on START III and the ABM Treaty ended August 19 without any apparent progress, casting a shadow on the Clinton administration's plans to resolve treaty issues before June 2000, when it will decide whether to deploy a limited national missile defense (NMD) system. During the talks, which began August 17 in Moscow, Russia continued to argue that NMD deployment would upset strategic stability and spark a new arms race. The Russians did propose, however, that the sides deploy a maximum of 1,500 strategic warheads each under START III instead of the 2,000–2,500 limit agreed to by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin at the Helsinki summit in March 1997. Further consultations on these issues are planned for September in Moscow. (Continue)


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