"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."
– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Press Releases

NMD Bill Clears Congress as Senate Re-Examines ABM Treaty

Craig Cerniello

IN LATE MAY, the House approved legislation stating that it is U.S. policy to both deploy an "effective" national missile defense (NMD) system "as soon as is technologically possible" and to "seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces." The bill, which is identical to a measure adopted by the Senate in mid-March, will now be sent to President Clinton, who is expected to sign it. The legislation will not alter the administration's plans to make a decision in June 2000 on whether to deploy a limited NMD system. Clinton has already stated that the decision will be based on four key criteria: technological readiness, the maturity of the so-called "rogue state" missile threat, cost factors and arms control considerations.

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee conducted a series of seven hearings throughout April and May on ballistic missile defenses and the ABM Treaty, in anticipation of a vote this year on several amendments to the treaty that were signed in 1997 but have not yet been submitted to the Senate. Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) had given the White House a June 1 deadline for submitting the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on ABM Treaty succession as well as two agreed statements establishing a "demarcation line" between strategic and theater missile defenses. The Clinton administration will not meet Helms' deadline, however, because it has refused to submit the ABM amendments for Senate advice and consent until Russia has ratified START II. Failure to transmit these agreements has already prompted Helms to freeze all committee action on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to question the validity of the so-called "flank agreement" to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (See story.)

After the adoption of two amendments, dealing with reductions in Russian nuclear forces and appropriations of funding, the Senate on March 17 passed legislation, sponsored by Thad Cochran (R-MS), calling upon the United States to deploy an effective NMD system against limited ballistic missile attack "as soon as is technologically possible." (See ACT, March 1999.) That same day, Clinton endorsed the Cochran bill as amended because it made clear that no final decision had yet been made on NMD deployment and recognized the importance of cost and arms control factors in such a decision.

On March 18, the House approved a one-sentence bill, sponsored by Curt Weldon (R-PA), stating "That it is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense." This version, however, did not have White House support because it made no mention of the basic criteria for deployment. In a compromise designed to ensure passage of NMD legislation this year, the House accepted the Cochran language on May 20 by a vote of 345-71.

In voting for the Senate language, Weldon argued that the two amendments were meaningless and accused the administration of deferring an NMD deployment decision until 2000 so that Vice President Al Gore could announce U.S. intentions to field such a system in the midst of a presidential campaign.

Not surprisingly, Russia continued to denounce U.S. interest in NMD. "By pursuing a policy of creating and deploying a [NMD] system, which is banned by the ABM Treaty, the U.S. ignores the opinion of an absolute majority of the states of the world, which justifiably regard such a policy as directly undermining global security and stability," a Russian Foreign Ministry official stated May 27.

ABM Treaty Under Siege

In a series of hearings heavily stacked against supporters of the ABM Treaty, several prominent former government officials argued that the strategic rationale for the 1972 accord no longer exists and that the United States must either negotiate substantial modifications allowing for NMD deployment or exercise its right to withdraw.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the principal architect of the ABM Treaty, argued on May 26 that the United States must deploy missile defenses for both strategic and moral reasons. "Strategically, because of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the missile technology to deliver them. Morally, because the doctrine of mutual assured destruction…is bankrupt," he said. Former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey also argued on May 5 that the logic behind the ABM Treaty "seems dated now," in light of the end of the Cold War, the increasing possibility of an accidental or unauthorized Russian nuclear launch and the emerging rogue-state ICBM threat.

Nevertheless, Kissinger and Woolsey concluded that it would be better for the United States to negotiate amendments to the ABM Treaty than to simply withdraw—a point also made by former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Strategic Command General Eugene Habiger on May 5 and former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger on April 20. Earlier, on April 15, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger called for U.S. abrogation, claiming that an effective defense could not be deployed under the treaty.

Some witnesses—most notably Stephen Hadley, former assistant secretary of defense during the Bush administration, and Keith Payne, president of the National Institute for Public Policy—also advocated a return to the 1992 U.S.-Russian dialogue on global missile defense cooperation. President Boris Yeltsin surprisingly endorsed such a concept in January of that year, when he said Russia was prepared to "develop, then create and jointly operate a global defense system, instead of the Strategic Defense Initiative system." (See ACT, January/February 1992). There does not appear to be any official U.S. or Russian interest in such a proposal at present.

Witnesses were divided on the issue of whether the technology exists to deploy an effective NMD system. While Bill Graham, former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Reagan administration, and General John Piotrowski, former commander-in-chief of U.S. Space Command, argued that it was technologically feasible to deploy an effective NMD, Richard Garwin, a well-known expert on nuclear weapons who served on the Rumsfeld Commission, and David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed to the system's limitations and inherent vulnerability to countermeasures.

The panelists were also split on the legal status of the ABM Treaty. Attorneys Douglas Feith and David Rivkin asserted on May 25 that the treaty had lapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union and that it could only be revived by the Senate. UC-Davis law professor Michael Glennon, however, testified that the ABM Treaty remains in force today and will continue to be in force even if the Senate rejects the MOU on succession—a view shared by the Clinton administration.

NATO Strikes Against Yugoslavia Cloud U.S.-Russian Arms Control

 Craig Cerniello

DRAMATICALLY underscoring Russian anger at NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov turned his plane around over the Atlantic and canceled a March 23–25 visit with Vice President Al Gore in Washington to discuss a broad range of issues, including arms control. Yet the degree to which the air strikes, which began March 24, will impede U.S.-Russian progress on arms control remains unclear, as setbacks on START II and "Y2K" cooperation were balanced by progress on the highly enriched uranium (HEU) purchase agreement and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (See CFE story.)

START II Delayed—Again

Primakov, recognizing that the NATO air strikes had poisoned the political climate for START II ratification, asked the Duma on March 26 to postpone its consideration of the treaty. The next day, the Duma overwhelmingly adopted a 16-point resolution condemning NATO's military action and recommending that the Russian government "temporarily revoke" the draft START II resolution of ratification submitted by President Boris Yeltsin only days earlier.

On March 16, the START II ratification process—sidetracked by the U.S.-British air strikes against Iraq in December (see ACT, November/December 1998)—had resumed when the Duma forwarded to Yeltsin the resolution of ratification produced by International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin and Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich. Under Russian legislative procedures, only the president can submit ratification bills to the Duma.

Also on March 16, Primakov warned on national television that if Russia failed to ratify START II, the United States would withdraw from the ABM Treaty, creating the possibility of a new arms race.

On March 17, the Duma almost unanimously approved the first "reading" (an initial step in the legislative process) of a separate bill guaranteeing funding for Russia's strategic nuclear forces through 2010. Popkovich had argued that resolving such financial issues was necessary for ratification of START II. Two days after the vote, the Duma announced that it would debate START II ratification on April 2.

Yeltsin submitted the Lukin-Popkovich bill to the Duma on March 22, clearing the way for its approval. When NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia began on March 24, however, momentum for START II ground to a halt.

Despite their opposition to the NATO action, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev defended START II during the special March 27 Duma session on the Balkan crisis. During his sixth annual address to the nation on March 30, Yeltsin also expressed Russia's continuing support for the START process.

Y2K Cooperation on Hold

On March 26, an official from the Russian Ministry of Defense told Interfax that in response to the NATO air strikes, it would cease cooperation with the U.S. Defense Department on the so-called "Y2K" problem, whereby computers mistakenly interpret the digits "00" as 1900 instead of 2000. Malfunctions caused by this problem could have serious consequences in areas such as early warning.

During a February 18-19 meeting of the Defense Consultative Group—a regular forum for discussions between the Defense Department and Ministry of Defense—the United States had proposed creating a temporary joint early-warning center in Colorado Springs to help monitor foreign ballistic missile launches during the transition to the new millennium (roughly mid-December 1999 through mid-January 2000). The United States also offered to work with Russia about management techniques and key technologies that could be used to combat Y2K-related problems.

The United States and Russia have already agreed to create a permanent joint early-warning center on Russian territory. The center is part of an agreement made at the Moscow Summit in September 1998 for the two nations to share, on a continuous and real-time basis, early-warning information on the worldwide launches of ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles. (See ACT, August/September 1998.) Because of the complexity of the negotiations over implementation of the summit agreement, however, this permanent center will not be completed in time to deal with the Y2K problem.

Prior to the NATO air strikes, Russia had responded positively to the U.S. proposal for a temporary joint early-warning center. A Defense Department spokeswoman stated that despite the March 26 Ministry of Defense statement, the department has not received any official communication from Russia regarding cancellation of Y2K cooperation and is still making preparations for the Colorado Springs facility.

Nuclear Redeployment Rejected

As a gesture of defiance toward the NATO air strikes, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution on March 24 calling upon the government to abandon its non-nuclear status. (Ukraine returned the last of its strategic warheads to Russia in 1996.) Just two days later, however, President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine would not reconsider the nuclear option. These developments came about one month after Ukraine destroyed the last of its 130 SS-19 ICBMs in accordance with START I.

In Belarus, which likewise transferred its last strategic warheads to Russia in 1996, speculation about the restationing of nuclear weapons has persisted for quite some time, especially in connection with NATO enlargement. Responding to these latest rumors, President Alexander Lukashenko said on March 25 that "Minsk has not asked for the return of nuclear weapons" and no state will be allowed "to wave Belarus at the West like a big stick."

Progress on HEU Implementation

Though the cancellation of Primakov's U.S. visit forced the postponement of the formal session of the Gore-Primakov Commission, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov did co-chair a meeting of the commission's newly established Nuclear Policy Committee.

On March 24, Richardson and Adamov signed an agreement facilitating implementation of the 1993 HEU accord, under which the United States is to purchase, over a 20-year period, Russian low-enriched uranium (LEU) that has been blended down from 500 metric tons of HEU removed from dismantled nuclear weapons. Russia had threatened to terminate the purchase agreement because it believed that it was not being fairly compensated for the natural uranium component of the LEU deliveries, worth approximately one-third of the $12 billion deal. (See ACT, August/September 1998.)

The new agreement, which calls for the United States to buy the natural uranium from the 1997–1998 Russian LEU shipments, was made possible by the simultaneous completion of a commercial contract between Russia and three Western companies (Cameco, Cogema and Nukem) for the future purchase of the Russian natural uranium.

U.S. Announces New Arms Sales To Middle East Worth Billions

Wade Boese

IN MARCH the Pentagon announced more than $5 billion in arms deals, including advanced surface-to-air and air-to-air missile systems, with several Middle Eastern countries. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, on a March 4-12 trip to the region to bolster support for Washington's air campaign against Iraq, agreed to sales to Egypt worth $3.2 billion and sales of air-combat missiles to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In addition, on March 26 the Pentagon notified Congress of a $2 billion proposed sale of fighter planes to Israel.

During his nine-nation visit, Cohen announced on March 11 the sale to Egypt of 200 M1A1 tank kits, 24 F-16C/D fighter aircraft, and one Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3)missile battery. While Cairo has already bought 555 M1A1 tank kits, 154 F-16C/D and 40 F-16A/B fighters, this marks its first purchase of the Patriot, designed to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. The PAC-3 missiles that Cohen pledged to the Egyptians—more advanced than Patriots previously supplied to Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—are currently under development and have yet to be delivered to U.S. forces.

Cohen also offered 26 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) to Bahrain on March 6 and an undisclosed number the following day to Saudi Arabia, which during 1990–1997 topped all other countries with $67.5 billion in arms purchases. Both countries will arm previously supplied U.S. F-16 and F-15 fighters with the beyond-visual-range missiles, enabling their pilots for the first time to engage multiple targets simultaneously at medium range (approximately 50 kilometers) and to "fire and forget."

The May 1998 announcement of the sale of AMRAAMs to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—which conditioned a $5 billion direct commercial purchase of 80 U.S. F-16 fighters on inclusion of the missiles in the deal—signaled that the United States would make AMRAAMs available to other Arab states.

Prior to the UAE offer, Israel had been the only Middle East state with AMRAAMs, though Qatar had ordered the Mica, a French missile with somewhat similar capabilities, in August 1994.

On his March 8 stop in the UAE, Cohen met with government officials to discuss outstanding issues in the proposed F-16 purchase. Washington has so far refused UAE requests that it release the software codes used in the F-16's on-board electronic warfare systems. As in the earlier AMRAAM negotiations, the UAE has threatened to take its fighter buy elsewhere if its demands are not met.

Cohen also offered to share U.S. early-warning information on ballistic missile launches in the Middle East with the six Persian Gulf states he visited. Citing Tehran's testing of its 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3 missile in July 1998, the United States has been lobbying the Persian Gulf states to join in development or acquisition of ballistic missile defenses for the region.

Defending the latest arms deals, Cohen said that the United States was merely responding to its allies' legitimate security needs. In Egypt, he added that if Washington did not meet Cairo's arms requests, Egypt would feel "insulted" and turn elsewhere. Cohen also stated that if "any nation…wants to call upon the United States because of our technological superiority then we are of course eager to be of assistance."

On his last stop in Israel, though, Cohen reassured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States remains committed to "Israel's qualitative edge and military capability to protect its people." For his part, Netanyahu expressed little concern over the Egyptian sales, noting that the United States became Cairo's main arms supplier following the 1979 Camp David accords.

Israel's new request for 50 F-16C/D fighters adds to the proposed purchase of 60 F-16C/D or 30 F-15I fighters notified to Congress last September. The Israeli Defense Ministry has yet to determine the exact timing or the final quantity and models of the purchase, part of the Israeli air force's modernization. Yet by requesting a larger number of fighters now, Israel may be hoping to secure better pricing and financing for long-term purchases. According to an informed source on the Israeli military, a decision is likely prior to the first round of parliamentary and prime ministerial elections on May 17.

CFE Parties Outline Adapted Treaty; Limits to Allow NATO Growth

Wade Boese

DESPITE MOSCOW'S anger at NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia, as well as continued opposition to NATO expansion, Russia joined the United States and the 28 other states-parties to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on March 30 in signing a preliminary agreement for adapting the Cold War-era treaty to the current security environment. The agreement is not legally binding, but will guide negotiations within the Vienna-based Joint Consultative Group (JCG)—the treaty's implementing body—for replacing the treaty's bloc-to-bloc structure with a system of national and territorial limits.

Though both Moscow and Washington welcomed the agreement, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement cautioned that the "decision does not cover the entire spectrum of problems of adaptation." Russia, which has sought through CFE adaptation to blunt some of the ill effects of NATO expansion, had demanded that talks conclude before the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland formally joined NATO (which occurred March 12). The adaptation negotiations, on-going since January 1997, are now expected to be wrapped up by November.

Signed in 1990, the CFE Treaty capped the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters—referred to as treaty-limited equipment (TLE)—that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. To prevent conventional force buildups in the center of Europe, the treaty employed a concentric zone structure that permitted larger TLE deployments the farther one moved away from the fault line between the two alliances.

Under an adapted treaty, there will be 30 separate national limits, each covering all five TLE categories, rather than two balanced bloc limits. Each country will also have a territorial ceiling capping the total amount of ground TLE, both national and foreign, allowed within its borders. For countries in the flank zone—created to limit the amount of ground TLE in the northern and southern flanks of Europe—territorial ceilings will be set equal to national ceilings. Therefore, if any flank country wants foreign forces on its territory, its actual TLE holdings must be lower than its national limits by at least an amount equivalant to the foreign TLE. A Russian proposal for territorial ceilings on combat aircraft and attack helicopters failed, as NATO argued that such equipment is too mobile to be verified on a territorial basis.

As part of the March 30 accord, all CFE parties agreed to prospective national limits except Azerbaijan, which claimed it was unable to declare such limits at this time. The sum of the proposed national limits for NATO's 19 members is lower than the their current entitlements (roughly 80,000 compared to 89,026) but much higher than their actual holdings of 64,091. Therefore, NATO will not have to remove or destroy TLE to meet the projected limits.

The United States proposed a TLE limit of 7,590, far below its current entitlement of 13,088 but more than twice its actual TLE holdings of 3,465. Germany undertook the second-largest NATO reduction in TLE (963), while Canada, Greece, Norway, Portugal and Turkey offered no TLE cuts. For its part, Russia proposed a reduction of 385 TLE from its current entitlement of 28,601.

States-parties agreed that territorial ceilings may be exceeded for notified military exercises and peacekeeping missions sanctioned by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. These "basic temporary deployments" cannot exceed 153 tanks, 241 ACVs and 140 artillery pieces in any one country.

Countries outside the treaty's flank zone will in times of crisis be permitted "exceptional temporary deployments" of up to 459 tanks, 723 ACVs and 420 artillery pieces above territorial ceilings. In the event of any temporary deployments larger than the "basic" level, a conference of states-parties will be convened within seven days for the host and stationing countries to explain the deployment. Simultaneous exceptional temporary deployments will be permitted.

Russia, eager to limit the NATO presence in new alliance members, had opposed exceptional temporary deployments, but pledges by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to lower TLE ceilings eased some of Moscow's concerns. By the end of 2003, the territorial ceilings for the three new NATO members (covering both national and foreign equipment) would be smaller than their current national entitlements. In a reciprocal move, Russia pledged not to increase TLE holdings in its northern flank and in the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Since CFE's entry into force in 1992, Russia has pressed for larger TLE limits in—or abolition of—the flank zone, where Moscow claims serious security concerns, particularly after the war in Chechnya. According to the March 30th agreement, however, the flank zone will be retained in an adapted treaty.

Though none of the 12 flank countries will be allowed to increase its overall TLE flank limit, Moscow did secure an increase in an ACV sub-limit. In accordance with a May 1996 agreement that will enter into force this May, Russia's ACV total for the original flank zone was set at 3,700, of which 1,380 could be located in a "reduced flank zone." Under the March 30 agreement, that smaller limit is proposed to grow to 2,140. In return, Russia cannot temporarily deploy any ACVs in the reduced flank zone and must reduce Russian TLE stationed in Georgia, as well as withdraw Russian TLE from Moldova.

The agreement emphasizes the need for host country consent for stationing of any foreign TLE. Nevertheless, to guard against unwanted foreign TLE stationing, Moldova renounced its right to temporary deployments.

The CFE Treaty currently limits the amount of TLE that can be deployed in active units, with the remainder confined to Designated Permanent Storage Sites. (Both active and stored TLE count against overall limits.) Under the adaptation agreement, states may shift TLE from storage sites to active units but must eliminate four pieces of TLE for every one moved to active units.

To keep track of all the above activity, the parties agreed to adopt an "enhanced regime of verification and information exchange." Under an adapted treaty, the number of annual inspections that a country must permit on its territory will rise from 15 to 20 percent of its Objects of Verifications—military units and other sites with TLE. The parties will also negotiate specific transparency and verification measures for temporary deployments.

Negotiators at the JCG will return to work on April 12. Outstanding issues include clearing up a discrepancy of approximately 2,100 TLE between the total amount of equipment that the eight successor states to the Soviet Union committed to eliminate and the amount that the Soviet Union would have had to eliminate based on Soviet data at the signature of the treaty. Much of the unclaimed TLE is thought to be derelict or not under government control.

UN Panel on Iraq Recommends 'Reinforced' Monitoring Regime

John Springer

IN A MARCH 27 report to the UN Security Council, a UN panel formed to review the status of Iraqi disarmament concluded that inspections and monitoring remain necessary to prevent the reconstitution of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. The panel, 14 of whose 20 members came from the two bodies overseeing Iraq's UN-imposed disarmament—the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—recommended a "reinforced ongoing monitoring and verification" system that would be, "if anything, more intrusive than the one so far practiced."

Chaired by Brazilian Ambassador Celso Amorim, the panel is one of three called for by the Security Council on January 30 to review UN policy toward Iraq. (The other panels are examining humanitarian issues in Iraq and missing Kuwaiti property and POWs.) Iraq's refusal to cooperate has effectively killed the UN inspection and monitoring program, and Russia has called for UNSCOM's elimination.

The disarmament panel's conclusions, however, are generally supportive of the beleaguered commission.

The report noted that "the bulk of Iraq's proscribed weapons programs has been eliminated," but stated that continued inspections remain necessary because of outstanding issues in most major weapons categories, especially biological weapons, where "critical gaps need to be filled." With Iraq continuing to block all international inspections, the panel urged that "in one way or another, Iraq will have to be engaged by the Security Council, sooner rather than later." Yet it left to the Security Council the task of devising new means of eliciting Iraqi cooperation.

The panel did recommend that UNSCOM use UN employees as inspectors wherever possible, rather than relying on experts loaned by various governments; it also stressed that monitoring and verification activities should be used only to fulfill Security Council resolutions. Such statements reflect recent reports that the United States used UNSCOM to spy on Iraqi security and military services.

On March 2 The Washington Post published an extensive report that U.S. intelligence services secretly rigged UNSCOM equipment and offices to eavesdrop on Iraqi military communications. The equipment was installed in 1996 to enable images from UNSCOM cameras in Iraqi installations to be transmitted to UNSCOM's Baghdad headquarters. Yet according to The Washington Post report, which cited "knowledgeable U.S. officials," the U.S. technicians who installed and operated the equipment also hid antennas in it to intercept microwave transmissions between Iraqi commanders and their units.

The Clinton administration had confirmed previous reports that it had installed equipment in Iraq to intercept coded radio transmissions by Iraqi security services. (See ACT, January/February 1999.) The eavesdropping operation described in The Washington Post, however, differed from that separate operation in two critical respects: It was conducted without UNSCOM's knowledge and was designed to gather information unrelated to UNSCOM's mandate of uncovering Baghdad's proscribed weapons capabilities.

Spokesmen at the White House and the State Department, citing intelligence considerations, refused to comment directly on the March 2 report. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler and former UNSCOM head Rolf Ekeus all denied knowledge of a such an operation.

Annan, Butler and Ekeus expressed concern that charges of U.S. exploitation of UN monitoring and inspection efforts could hamper efforts at verifying future arms control agreements.

More immediately, the charges could also shape future Security Council debates over Iraq, bolstering calls for UNSCOM's elimination. Butler has already announced that he will not request reappointment when his current term of office ends in June.

Airstrikes Continue

Meanwhile, U.S. and British aircraft continued to strike air-defense-related targets in Iraq while enforcing the no-fly zones in the northern and southern parts of the country. At a March 11 press conference in Cairo, Defense Secretary William Cohen said that "we would not be striking anything if Iraq was not trying to shoot down our pilots." According to Cohen, Iraq has committed approximately 100 violations of the no-fly zone and fired more than 20 surface-to-air missiles at U.S. and British warplanes.

Senate, House Approve Bills Calling for NMD Deployment

Craig Cerniello

ON MARCH 17, following the addition of two amendments—one calling for continued nuclear force reductions with Russia—the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Thad Cochran (R-MS) stating that it is U.S. policy to deploy an "effective" national missile defense (NMD) system "as soon as is technologically possible." The next day, the House approved an unamended bill backed by Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), which states simply "That it is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense."

A House-Senate conference committee will meet after the Spring recess (March 27 to April 11) to reconcile differences between the two bills. The Clinton administration has endorsed the Senate language because it recognizes the importance of U.S. arms control objectives.

Congressional approval of the bills, both of which were first introduced last year, came less than two months after Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced a major restructuring of the administration's NMD program. (See ACT, January/February 1999.) Although the administration has added $6.6 billion to its fiscal years 2000–2005 defense budget to support an NMD deployment option, no decision on deployment is scheduled until June 2000 at the earliest.

Amending the Cochran Bill

The White House had threatened to veto the original version of the Cochran bill because it based an NMD deployment decision on just one factor: technological readiness. In a February 3 letter to Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), National Security Adviser Samuel Berger stated that the administration's deployment decision would reflect four criteria: the proposed system's effectiveness based on the state of NMD technology; whether the long-range ballistic missile threat to the United States from so-called "rogue states" had materialized as quickly as anticipated; the cost of NMD deployment and the effect of deployment on arms control.

The White House withdrew its veto threat—and most Senate Democrats withdrew their objections to the bill—after the Senate adopted two amendments on March 16 by identical 99–0 votes. The first amendment, sponsored by Cochran, revises the original bill to state that "It is the policy of the United States to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate) with funding subject to the annual authorization of appropriations and the annual appropriation of funds for National Missile Defense" (amendment in italics).

The second amendment, introduced by Mary Landrieu (D-LA), declares that "It is the policy of the United States to seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces."

President Clinton praised the amended bill, which passed 97-3, in a March 17 statement. "By specifying that any NMD deployment must be subject to the authorization and appropriations process, the legislation now makes clear that no decision on deployment has been made," he said. Clinton added that "By putting the Senate on record as continuing to support negotiated reductions in strategic nuclear arms, the bill reaffirms that our missile defense policy must take into account our arms control objectives." The amended bill does not, however, make an NMD deployment decision contingent on progress in arms reduction.

Furthermore, some observers have argued that the administration softened its position on NMD by supporting legislation that does not explicitly address all four of its deployment criteria. Yet Clinton reiterated in his statement that the administration's deployment decision will be based on the same four factors outlined in Berger's February 3 letter. In a March 18 briefing, Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon also said that the amended Cochran bill will not alter the administration's schedule for making an NMD deployment decision next year.

On the morning of March 18, hours before a scheduled vote on the Weldon bill, approximately 250 House members received a rare, 90-minute classified briefing on the missile threat to the United States. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the Rumsfeld Commission described the results of their July 1998 report to Congress, in which they concluded that the United States may have "little or no warning" before facing a long-range ballistic missile threat from rogue states, such as North Korea, Iraq and Iran. (See ACT, June/July 1998.)

In the House floor debate (as well as that of the Senate), the question of whether the United States would soon face a rogue-state ICBM threat was not as heavily contested as in the past, probably due to the cumulative effect of the Rumsfeld report, the August 1998 North Korean test of the Taepo Dong-1 missile, and Cohen's January 20 NMD announcements. Recent allegations of Chinese espionage at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1980s also heightened perceptions of U.S. vulnerability to missile attack. Instead, the congressional debates covered such issues as the effectiveness of "hit-to-kill" technology, the cost of deployment, the future of the ABM Treaty and the impact of NMD deployment on the START process.

The vote in the House (317-105) was much closer than in the Senate because the Republican leadership refused to allow the introduction of amendments. A senior administration official said on March 26 that the White House had not changed its position on the unacceptability of the Weldon language should it survive the conference committee.

Consistent with their reaction to Cohen's January 20 NMD announcements, Russia and China were critical of the developments on Capitol Hill. In a March 18 statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "We are talking here of a serious threat to the whole process of limiting nuclear weapons and to the stability of a strategic situation which has taken decades of international agreements to build up," a point reinforced two days later by Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi also warned on March 18 that NMD development "will have a negative impact on the global strategic balance."

U.S., N. Korea Reach Agreement On Suspect Site Inspection

 Tom Pfeiffer

U.S. EFFORTS TO persuade NorthKorea to address continuing concerns about its nuclear- and missile-relatedactivities met with limited success in March, with Pyongyang finally agreeing to allow U.S. inspections of an underground facility that U.S. officials suspect might be related to a covert nuclear weapons program. The progress came in the midst of a comprehensive review of the Clinton administration's North Korea policy by former Defense Secretary William Perry, who concluded his second visit to Northeast Asia since being named policy coordinator last November.

The continuing suspicions about the North's nuclear ambitions nearly derailed U.S. funding last year for implementing the 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework, under which Pyongyang agreed to freeze and eventually eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Last fall some lawmakers threatened to halt U.S. funding for heavy fuel oil deliveries to North Korea because of concerns over the suspect site and Pyongyang's continuing missile activities.

The administration's policy has come under increasing attack by congressional critics—particularly after North Korea's August 1998 flight test of its three-stage, medium-range Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile which overflew Japan—who claim that U.S. policy has failed to halt Pyongyang's proliferation activities. Although a last-minute appropriation funded the administration's $35 million request for the oil, the funds will not be available until the end of March and only if the president can certify the North is not conducting nuclear activities outside the 1994 accord. The New York agreement on U.S. inspections should address some of those concerns.

May Inspection Scheduled

On March 16, the United States and North Korea issued a joint press statement outlining the cooperative steps agreed to after their fourth round of "access" talks, held February 27 to March 15 in New York, regarding the North's underground activities near Kumchang-ni village. U.S. officials are concerned that the huge underground facility, located 40 kilometers northwest of Yongbyon, may be related to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, which remains frozen under the Agreed Framework. Although North Korean officials have said the Kumchang-ni site is related to national security purposes, Pyongyang denies the facility is nuclear related. The talks were led by Ambassador Charles Kartman and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan.

According to the joint statement, North Korea "has decided to provide the United States satisfactory access…by inviting a U.S. delegation for an initial visit in May 1999, and allowing additional visits to remove U.S. concerns about the site's future use." In return, the United States "has decided to take a step to improve political and economic relations between the two countries." That step is the initiation of a bilateral pilot agricultural project, to be run by American non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to improve potato production in North Korea. The NGOs will also manage a food-for-work program in the North, with the food contributed by the UN World Food Program (WFP).

During the earlier rounds of the talks, North Korea had reportedly sought $300 million in compensation for allowing the United States access to the site, as well as additional U.S. commitments of food aid to help alleviate the North's continuing famine. But U.S. officials made clear that the United States would not pay for access to the suspect site, and that the provision of U.S. food aid would be based on humanitarian concerns and not linked to political issues.

However, critics of the administration's North Korea policy continue to focus on the perceived linkage between pledges of food aid to Pyongyang and U.S. efforts to engage the North on the nuclear and missile issues. Some press reports suggest that a "confidential document" attached to the New York agreement commits the U.S. government to provide 500,000 tons of food aid to North Korea this year in exchange for the inspections. (During the New York talks, North Korea reportedly sought 1 million tons of aid in exchange for allowing U.S. access to Kumchang-ni.) In 1998, the United States pledged 500,000 tons of aid in response to WFP appeals, and on March 22 the Department of State announced that the United States will provide an additional 100,000 metric tons of food aid to fill nearly half of the donation shortfall from a WFP appeal in December 1998.

Missile Stalemate

In contrast to the progress on the nuclear issue, the United States and North Korea remain at odds over U.S. efforts to seek negotiated limits on Pyongyang's ballistic missile programs. During the fourth round of talks March 29 and 30 in Pyongyang, U.S. and North Korean negotiators were able only to agree in principle to hold additional talks.

The Clinton administration wants North Korea to constrain its development, testing and export of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles, including space launch vehicles, steps the North has flatly rejected. According to press reports, the North has sought $3 billion in compensation over three years for forgoing commercial sales, which the United States has rejected.

The missile stalemate comes at a critical time in Northeast Asia security developments. In February 2 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet said, "I can hardly overstate my concern about North Korea…. In nearly all respects, the situation there has become more volatile and unpredictable." In sharp contrast to a CIA assessment offered last summer in response to the Rumsfeld Commission report (see ACT, June/July 1998), Tenet now warned that North Korea could soon have the capability to deliver large payloads (such as a nuclear weapon) to the continental United States.

Pyongyang's emerging missile prowess, particularly its unsuccessful attempt to launch its first satellite on the three-stage Taepo Dong-1 last August (which caught U.S. intelligence by surprise), has fuelled the already hot debate in the United States and among its Asian allies on the development and deployment of strategic and theater missile defenses.

The North's missile brinkmanship has also pushed South Korea to renew its effort to terminate its 1990 agreement with the United States limiting its offensive missile capabilities to systems with ranges up to 180 kilometers. The missile issue was raised again in January during the annual meeting of the U.S.-South Korea SecurityConsultative Meeting between Secretary of Defense William Cohen and South Korea Defense Minister Chun Yong Taek. According to a joint communique issued after the meeting, "The two ministers discussed the issue of readjusting [the South's] current voluntary restraint on missiles…."

Perry's Policy Review

In early March, Perry visited China (including Taiwan), South Korea and Japan as part of his review of U.S. North Korea policy. Last October, Congress mandated the appointment of a "policycoordinator" as part of its approval for U.S. funding for theKorean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the international consortium that is implementing the 1994 nuclearagreement.

In March 12 remarks at the National Press Club following his return from Asia, Perry said U.S. policy must be "harmonious" with South Korean policy, the so-called "sunshine" policy of South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. "It would be the height of arrogance and folly for the United States to believe it could have a policy on Korea that was different from the policy, in particular, of the South Korean government," he said.

At the same time, however, Perry said he would recommend the United States adopt "sterner measures" if Pyongyang rejects U.S. political and economic gestures in exchange for curbs on its nuclear and missile activities. Perry's review of U.S. policy and his recommendations are expected by the end of March.

CD Ends First '99 Session Without Agreement on Work Program

Wade Boese

THE 61-MEMBER UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) finished the first third of its 1999 negotiating session in Geneva on March 26 without beginning any negotiations. Despite a repeat of last year's consensus to work on a fissile material cutoff treaty, these negotiations have not been renewed as the Group of 21 (G-21) non-aligned countries have pressed for inclusion of nuclear disarmament and preventing an arms race in outer space in the CD's work program. The United States opposes formal negotiations on both issues, and without agreement on an initial work program, talks on any subject cannot start.

Due to international concerns that a U.S. national missile defense (NMD) may include space-based components, Secretary of Defense William Cohen's January 20 announcement on funding for NMD deployment sparked strong calls, particularly by the non-aligned and China, for the CD to address the space issue. China proposed on March 11 the establishment of an ad hoc negotiating committee to prevent the "weaponization" of space, while Pakistan and others have used the broader term of "militarization," which could include satellites used for military purposes. Whereas most delegations favor an ad hoc committee of some type for negotiations, Washington objects to any committee, even one whose mandate is limited to deliberating.

Long-standing disagreements over nuclear disarmament, however, continue to be the largest hurdle to adopting a work program. Though the non-aligned favor formal negotiations on a phased program of nuclear disarmament, the G-21 have stated a willingness to explore options between formal negotiations and last year's troika construct, in which the past, present and future presidents of the conference consulted member delegations on nuclear disarmament. Some Western states, including Canada and Germany, expressed readiness to discuss nuclear disarmament. Yet the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom remain adamantly opposed to formal negotiations.

Despite the consensus for negotiating a cutoff treaty, members remain deeply divided over the treaty's scope. Pakistan reiterated its long-standing position that the treaty should account for fissile stockpiles, arguing that Islamabad could not agree to a treaty that would "freeze inequality." The five nuclear-weapon states, India and Israel—which have larger fissile stockpiles than Pakistan—oppose including stocks.

On March 18, Canada called on the nuclear-weapon states to deal with fissile stockpiles in parallel with cutoff negotiations by increasing transparency through declarations and taking steps to reduce stocks "irreversibly," such as disposition of declared excess fissile material. Canada also criticized the nuclear-weapon states for failing to undertake a formal production moratorium. While all five have reportedly ceased fissile production for weapons purposes, Beijing and Paris previously rejected Washington's proposal for a joint declared moratorium prior to the 1995 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review and extension conference.

A few states, including Austria, Canada and South Africa, called on the CD to address small arms and light weapons, while Bulgaria, on behalf of 22 members, recommended negotiations on a transfer ban for anti-personnel landmines. Mexico responded that the conference did not have the necessary expertise to deal with either issue.

The conference will reconvene for the second part of its 1999 negotiating session on May 10, the same day that the third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2000 review conference of the NPT opens in New York.

China Warns U.S. on East Asian Missile Defense Cooperation

Howard Diamond

AMID GROWING concern in Washington about missile proliferation in Asia and Chinese espionage in the United States, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright left on February 28 for two days of meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing. Although her mission is primarily economic in nature, Albright is expected to try to reassure Beijing about the administration's missile defense plans and to press China to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Senior Chinese officials, alarmed by the administration's interest in deploying theater missile defenses (TMD) in East Asia, have begun warning of profound strains in U.S.-Chinese relations if U.S. missile defense plans include Taiwan or undermine Beijing's own strategic deterrent. In an interview in the February 1 Defense News, Ambassador Sha Zukang, director-general of the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that China was not concerned about "what we call genuine TMD." Rather, explained Sha, "What China is opposed to is the development, deployment and proliferation of antimissile systems with potential strategic defense capabilities in the name of TMD that violate the letter and spirit of [the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty] and go beyond the legitimate self-defense needs of relevant countries."

Since North Korea's launch of its three-stage Taepo Dong-1 missile in August 1998, Washington has talked with officials from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan about development of an East Asian missile defense capability. Sha warned that inclusion of Taiwan in a U.S. TMD system would constitute "a serious infringement of China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and would lead to "severe consequences."

Further, on February 25 the Financial Times quoted an unnamed senior Chinese official who protested that creation of a U.S.-East Asian missile defense would be inconsistent with the MTCR and would thus entitle Beijing "not to follow the rules of this regime and undertake cooperation on missiles and missile technology with third countries." In a January 12 speech in Washington, Sha argued that "many of the technologies used in anti-missile systems are easily applicable in offensive missiles" and termed potential U.S. cooperation with Japan or Taiwan on TMD a form of missile proliferation.

During President Clinton's June 1998 trip to China, Beijing had said it would actively study joining the MTCR, which seeks to restrict the transfer of ballistic missiles and missile technology for systems capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload 300 kilometers or more. Since 1994 China has partly adhered to MTCR requirements by refraining from selling so-called Category I items—whole missiles or their major subsystems. According to a February CIA assessment, however, Beijing continued to trade in missile components and technology (Category II items) in the first half of 1998.

Sino-U.S. relations have chilled since Clinton's trip, with two recently issued reports highlighting the concerns of critics of the administration's engagement policy. On February 25, the Defense Department presented Congress with a report claiming that China has built up its M-9 and M-11 short-range missiles opposite Taiwan for the past five to six years and may deploy as many as 650 missiles by 2005. China currently has deployed about 150 missiles, up from about 60 in the early 1990s.

The second report, an unclassified version of which was released by the administration on February 2, came from a special House panel created in June 1998 to determine whether launching U.S. satellites on Chinese rockets had provided China with unauthorized information that could aid the development of its strategic nuclear arsenal. Led by Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA), the bipartisan panel unanimously concluded that space-related trade with Beijing, as well as Chinese espionage directed at U.S. nuclear laboratories, had harmed U.S. security over the past two decades. The panel called for a tightening of U.S. export controls and increased efforts to prevent Chinese espionage.

The administration disputed the panel's recommendation on export controls. On February 23, however, the administration rejected a proposed $450 million communications satellite deal between Hughes Electronics Corporation and a Chinese consortium with strong ties to the Chinese military. According to Aviation Week & Space Technology, the United States had never previously blocked the sale of a commercial satellite.

U.S. Sanctions Russian Entities for Iranian Dealings

 Howard Diamond

AGAINST A BACKDROP of deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations, the Clinton administration on January 12 announced the imposition of economic sanctions on three Russian entities for sharing nuclear and missile technology with Iran. National Security Adviser Samuel Berger announced the sanctions on the Moscow Aviation Institute, the Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology, and the Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology (known as NIKIET) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's annual non-proliferation conference in Washington. "The administration has authority to act against entities that violate international nonproliferation standards," stated Berger, "and we will use this authority to protect our security."

The sanctions, which indefinitely block all trade with, U.S. government assistance to, or U.S. government procurement from the three entities, were applied under a July 1998 executive order that broadened the range of both sanctionable activities and sanctions. In that month the Clinton administration sanctioned seven other Russian entities as part of a successful effort to block sanctions legislation in Congress that the administration regarded as excessively rigid. (See ACT, June/July 1998.)

Moscow, already angered over U.S. air strikes on Iraq in December, harshly criticized the U.S. announcement, with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov describing Washington's decision as "counterproductive to U.S.-Russian relations." A Foreign Ministry statement on January 14 declared the U.S. allegations "completely groundless" and said the three entities' activities are "fully consistent with Russia's domestic legislation and its international obligations in the area of missile and nuclear non-proliferation." On January 23, however, First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, Russia's economics chief, was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, "Some of the cases [the Americans] have presented turned out to be true."

State Department spokesman James Rubin acknowledged on January 13 that initial Russian efforts to prevent illicit technology transfers—including the adoption in January 1998 of a "catch-all" export rule—had produced "a significant amount of success." However, said Rubin, "movement in the right direction has stopped, and there has been a steady deterioration in this area."

Ambassador Robert Gallucci, the U.S. special envoy for non-proliferation, said at the Carnegie conference that Moscow has failed to prosecute either the seven firms previously sanctioned by Washington or two other firms named by Moscow in July 1998 as being under investigation.

In December 1998 a U.S. delegation led by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott went to Moscow to press for stronger enforcement of Russia's non-proliferation commitments. At the time, Rubin warned that failure by Moscow to crack down on missile technology transfers to Iran would prevent the United States from raising the quota of U.S. satellites that can be launched on Russian rockets from 16 to 27. Each launch is worth between $40 and $100 million.

Two of the newly sanctioned entities, NIKIET and Mendeleyev University, are alleged to have provided technology helpful to Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons. NIKIET was previously run by Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov, a strong advocate of civil nuclear cooperation with Iran. Moscow agreed in 1995 to complete Iran's 1,000-megawatt light-water Bushehr nuclear power plant for $800 million, but at the request of the United States promised not to sell Iran uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing technology. Adamov traveled to Tehran in November 1998 to discuss accelerating construction of the Bushehr reactor and possibly building an additional three reactors at the site.

A December 15 story in The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. intelligence community believes Russian entities are trying to sell Tehran a 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor and a uranium conversion facility, while Russian scientists are alleged to be advising Iran on how to produce heavy water and nuclear-grade graphite. Coupled with technology for reprocessing spent fuel to extract plutonium, these technologies could enable Iran to produce one or two bombs' worth of fissile material per year.

The Moscow Aviation Institution, the third sanctioned entity, is alleged to have provided assistance in flight control for Iran's ballistic missile program. Addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 2, CIA Director George Tenet stated that "Russia has continued to assist the Iranian missile effort" and that "Iran will continue to seek longer range missiles and to seek foreign assistance in their development." The CIA's biannual report, "Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction," said that Iran has begun production of its 1,300-kilometer-range Shahab-3 missile, first flight-tested in July 1998.

Yet Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said on February 7 that the Shahab-3 will be the "last military missile Iran will produce." According to Shamkhani, the Shahab-4, which is alleged to have a range of 2,000 kilometers and may be based on the Soviet SS-4, will be used only as a space-launch vehicle.


Subscribe to RSS - Press Releases