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Russia and Iran Join CWC; Membership Total Reaches 104

IN EARLY NOVEMBER, the reach of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) extended considerably when Russia, possessor of the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons, and Iran, suspected by the United States of pursuing offensive weapons programs, deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN secretary general.

President Boris Yeltsin deposited Russia's instrument November 5 after nearly eight months of parliamentary deliberations. On October 31, the Duma (lower house of Parliament), had approved the treaty by a vote of 288 75, with two abstentions. The upper chamber, the Federation Council, unanimously approved the accord five days later.

Iran's November 3 ratification, which surprised some observers, leaves several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Syria, still outside of the regime.

Under the terms of the treaty, Russia and Iran are required to submit data declarations on their chemical weapon stockpiles and relevant facilities within 60 days from their dates of ratification. They must also be prepared to accept intrusive inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)—the treaty's implementing body—at any site which a state party suspects of housing chemical weapon activities.

The CWC, which bans the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons and mandates their destruction, will enter into force for Russia on December 5. Thus, instead of being a full voting member for the entire second Conference of States Parties (CSP) from December 1 to 5, Russia will only be able to vote on the last day of the meeting. The CSP reviews compliance with the treaty and is expected to take up several substantive matters, including how much financial responsibility a state will bear for inspections on its territory, a primary concern for Russia.

Because Russia was not among the 87 "original states parties" (those ratifying before the treaty's April 29 entry into force), Russian participation in the OPCW will, initially at least, be limited. Moscow will not immediately gain a position on the Executive Council—the governing body of the OPCW. Unless one of the five council member states from Russia's region (Eastern Europe) relinquishes its seat, Moscow will have to wait until the next election cycle in May 1998 to gain representation on the council.

During the six months of treaty operation prior to Russian ratification, Russian inspectors and staff were absent from the ranks of the OPCW. In November, processing for employment of Russians will be initiated by the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, which is responsible for the treaty's inspection regime.

Russia's membership adds a degree of legitimacy to the OPCW and substantially advances the universality of the treaty. President Bill Clinton, in a November 5 statement released by the White House, called the completion of Russian ratification, "an important step forward in achieving our mutual arms control objectives." By joining the CWC, Russia brings the total number of states parties to 104 (64 signatories have yet to ratify), and commits itself to destroying its 40,000 ton stockpile of blister and nerve agents within 10 years—with an option for a five year extension—at an estimated cost of $5 billion to $6 billion, according to Russian officials.

The Duma's ratification contained language reflecting a Yeltsin administration pledge that roughly 20 percent of destruction costs would be offset by international assistance. According to Russian officials, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy and the European Union have indicated a willingness to assist with the destruction program.

The United States has allocated $171.9 million through fiscal year 1998 for chemical weapons destruction projects and an additional $22.2 million through fiscal year 1998 for demilitarization of chemical weapons production facilities in Russia. Germany has also assisted with Russian chemical weapons destruction, contributing an estimated $20 million by the end of 1997.

U.S., Russian Missile Commanders Agree to New Transparency Measures

GENERAL EUGENE Habiger, commander in chief of U.S. Strategic Command, and Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev, head of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, have agreed to an exchange of officers for the purpose of observing each other's nuclear command and control procedures. In a November 4 Defense Department briefing, Habiger outlined the nature of these exchanges and indicated that, on the basis of his observations and conversations with high level Russian officials during his October 22 28 visit to Russia, he is confident that Moscow's nuclear arsenal is safe and secure.

During his trip, Habiger examined a nuclear weapons storage facility at Kostroma, a rail mobile SS 24 ICBM base located approximately 300 kilometers northeast of Moscow. Habiger said he was impressed with its safety and security procedures and was assured that Kostroma was "representative" of ICBM bases throughout Russia. As an example of these security measures, he said access to nuclear weapons in Russia requires the presence of three people, whereas the United States has a two person policy.

Under the proposed exchanges, which could begin within the next few weeks, a team of four or five Russian specialists would visit a U.S. ICBM base to observe the safety and security procedures instituted at nuclear weapon storage facilities. A team of U.S. specialists would also have similar access in Russia. Habiger and Yakovlev also agreed to establish a so called "shadow program," under which Russia would send the equivalent of a wing commander, a squadron commander, a flight commander and a missile crew member to the United States to shadow their respective counterparts for a one week period. A similar U.S. team would pay a reciprocal visit to a Russian missile base.

Habiger said he also had access to various Russian nuclear command and control centers, from the national level down to the unit level. In an apparent effort to alleviate lingering concerns about an accidental or unauthorized Russian nuclear launch, he stated that these centers seek to function in a "fail safe" mode, whereby any one of the centers (even at the unit level) can inhibit the launch of an ICBM.

During his Pentagon briefing, Habiger also discussed Russia's plans to modernize its strategic nuclear forces. He said the single warhead SS 27, which will constitute the backbone of the Russian ICBM force under START II, is expected to achieve initial operational capability around the middle of 1998. Habiger noted that Russia laid the keel for a new class of ballistic missile submarines (known as the Borey) in the fall of 1996, which is expected to become operational around 2005. As for its bomber force, he said Russia has a research and development program for a new air launched cruise missile and that new Blackjack bombers may come on line in the near future.

Habiger noted that the Russians did not modernize their strategic forces during the 1980s when the United States was moving forward with systems such as the B 2 bomber, the Trident submarine and the corresponding D 5 ballistic missile. As a result, he pointed out that Russia is pushing hard for a START III agreement in part because the service life of its systems, including the SS 18 ICBM, is "coming to an end."

Iraqi BW Program May Be Key to Standoff with UN

IRAQ'S BIOLOGICAL weapons (BW) program has emerged as a key factor in Baghdad's latest confrontation with the United Nations, and the United States in particular, with the chief UN weapons monitor suggesting UN inspectors may be getting closer to uncovering Iraq's BW potential.

The standoff continued through the first week of November after a high level UN delegation failed to convince Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to drop his October 29 demand that American UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors leave the country and UNSCOM cease overflights of U.S. operated U 2 aircraft used for verification activities. The UN Security Council immediately rejected Baghdad's demands, and Iraq threatened to shoot down the aircraft and turned away UN inspection teams due to the presence of American inspectors.

In a November 5 letter to the Security Council's president, Qin Huasan of China, UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler complained of Iraq's blockage of inspections and its moving of dual use items away from the view of UNSCOM monitoring cameras during the standoff. Butler warned the council that, in the absence of inspections, it would take Iraq "only a matter of hours to adapt fermenters to produce seed stocks of biological warfare agent."

During a November 5 interview on the "Lehrer Newshour," Butler said he questioned the timing of Iraq's October 29 ultimatum, given recent progress between Baghdad and UNSCOM. "I think one of the possible reasons why they did that was maybe because we were getting closer to putting the finger on their very serious biological capability," Butler said.

On October 16, Butler told the Security Council that Iraq's BW program remains "the area of deepest and ongoing concern" to UNSCOM. Ten days earlier UNSCOM had released a biannual report on Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions mandating the destruction and future monitoring of prohibited weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. Although the report noted "significant progress" in the missile area, resolving concerns that Iraq was possibly retaining a small force of prohibited missiles, and "important progress" in the chemical weapons program, the report was critical of Iraq's failure to fully disclose information on its proscribed BW program and Baghdad's continuing interference with inspections and the monitoring regime.

In response, the Security Council on October 23 approved Resolution 1134, which "condemned" Iraq's actions but fell short of language favored by the United States and Britain that would have imposed a travel ban on Iraqi officials associated with non compliance. Five council members—Russia, China, France, Egypt and Kenya—abstained from the vote, and some observers cited the apparent rift in the Security Council as one of the reasons Hussein issued his October 29 ultimatum.

An incomplete picture of Iraq's BW program has existed since UNSCOM was established in 1991, the same year Iraq acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention, which bans the use and production of BW weapons. Baghdad denied having an offensive program until 1995, when UNSCOM acquired evidence to the contrary and the defection of a high ranking Iraqi military officer compelled Iraq to admit to an extensive BW program that continued after the Gulf War. Although Iraq has submitted a number of full, final and complete disclosure (FFCD) reports on its BW programs, UNSCOM has not accepted any of the six official versions or four drafts intended to reveal the full scope of Iraq's BW research, weaponization and testing.

Following the submission of Iraq's latest FFCD on September 11, UNSCOM convened a panel of 15 BW experts in New York from September 29 to October 3 to review the declaration against past submissions and evidence gathered by UN inspectors. The panel called the problems arising from Iraqi non compliance "numerous and grave," and listed 11 areas of concern, ranging from weapons accounting to the defensive tone of the FFCD on the question of military involvement in the program.

One panel member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, noted that out of over 600 pages in the FFCD, only four to five pages addressed military involvement. "We will not gain a good insight into the BW program until the doctrine is revealed and the reasons for deception are presented in a credible fashion," the participant said. According to the panel, quantitative assessments of the program's "scale and scope" are not possible without such information.

UNSCOM's October 6 report termed Iraq's latest FFCD submission unsatisfactory and said it contained "no significant changes" from the previously rejected version that was submitted in June 1996. Specifically, the report said that unaccounted for anthrax growth media was sufficient "for the production of over three times more" than amounts stated previously. However, the panel member said actual anthrax production figures are significantly higher than three times the 8,500 liters declared by Iraq in October 1995.

In contrast to the BW program, UNSCOM reported a greater degree of success in the missile area in its October 6 report, saying it had accounted for 817 of 819 "imported combat missiles." In addition, all "declared operational missile launchers, both imported and indigenously produced," have been identified.

The report also cited progress in the chemical weapons area, including destruction by UNSCOM of large amounts of agent, precursor chemicals, munitions and production facilities. However, some 550 mustard agent filled artillery munitions declared by Iraq remain unaccounted for, and there are continuing questions regarding Iraqi research and production of the third generation nerve agent VX. UNSCOM believes that Baghdad may have produced much more of the agent than previously reported and continues "significant efforts" to conceal the program. To date, 614 tons of declared VX precursor chemicals remain unaccounted for by UNSCOM.

In addition, full verification of proscribed missile warheads, especially chemical and biological weapon warheads, remains unresolved. While its declarations have varied over the years, Iraq now declares that it produced 80 such warheads (50 with chemical weapons, 25 for BW and five that UNSCOM has confirmed were consumed in trials). According to the biannual report, UNSCOM was able to confirm the destruction of 30 additional chemical warheads, but notes that "it is impossible to confirm the destruction of all of the [remaining] 45 special warheads because of the absence of data from Iraq." UNSCOM also suspects that "a number of additional special warheads" may exist.

Iraqi compliance in the nuclear weapons area is covered by the International Atomic Energy Agency in a separate report to the Security Council. In a November 9 interview on "Face the Nation," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "The nuclear file is the closest to being closed. But we are concerned there are still some components there."

Parties Complete Weapons Reductions Under Balkan Arms Control Accord

THE FORMER warring parties in the Balkans conflict have eliminated nearly 6,600 heavy weapons from their active forces to meet final reduction requirements under the June 1996 Agreement on Sub Regional Arms Control. Although an official assessment of the 16 month reduction period, which ended October 31, will not be announced until November 21, the State Department has called the process a "near total success."

Modeled after the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the agreement, a key goal of the 1995 Dayton peace accord, establishes numerical ceilings on tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), combat aircraft, attack helicopters and artillery that the parties could possess. Unlike the CFE Treaty, which imposed equal limits on two blocs of states, the sub regional agreement allocated ceilings according to each party's population on a ratio of 5:2:2 among Serbia (which forms the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Montenegro), Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia's limits were further divided on a ratio of 2:1 between two entities—the Muslim Croat federation and the Bosnian Serbs. (Because the actual weapons holdings for the parties were never officially released, estimated reduction requirements are derived from non governmental estimates.) (See table below)

Balkan Arms Ceilings (1995 Estimates1/Agreement Ceiling)
Country or Entity Combat
ACVs Artillery2
Serbia 280/155 110/53 1,300/1,025 1,000/850 4,000/3,750
Croatia 20/62 30/21 400/410 300/340 1,700/1500
Bosnia and Herzegovina --- /62 --- /21 --- /410 --- /340 --- /1,500
  • Muslim-Croat
0/41 12/14 135/273 80/227 1,500/1,000
  • Bosnian Serbs
40/21 30/7 330/137 400/113 1,600/500

SOURCES: Agreement on sub-Regional Arms Control; International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1995/96; and other sources.
NOTES: 1. Declared holdings were not made public. 2. Artillery pieces are all those with diameters of 75 millimeters or greater, including mortars.

While the ceilings for Serbia and Croatia corresponded closely with their actual holdings, thereby obligating them to make minimal reductions, the Bosnian Serbs have reduced their holdings in all five categories of "agreement limited armaments" (ALA) by more than half and in the case of artillery by two thirds, from 1,600 pieces to 500. Because the Muslim Croat federation's holdings were substantially less than its ceilings (except in artillery, which had to be reduced by 500 pieces), the federation will be able to more than double its numbers of tanks, ACVs and combat aircraft. The reductions comprised over 700 tanks, 80 ACVs, 60 combat aircraft and more than 5,700 pieces of artillery. According to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and State Department officials, the parties destroyed an overwhelming portion of their items; some weapons were exported, converted to non military purposes or placed on static display.

Originally, allegations of under reporting, particularly by the Bosnian Serbs, threatened to undermine the agreement, but throughout the implementation period all parties voluntarily increased their reduction responsibilities. The parties, which completed 185 inspections during the reduction process, are expected to conduct more than 50 inspections between November 1 and March 1 to verify compliance with the new ceilings. After this validation period, the parties will be obligated to accept an annual quota of inspections equaling 15 percent of their "objects of inspection" (any formation, unit, storage and reduction site with ALA) for the unlimited duration of the agreement.


'Train and Equip'

Occurring simultaneously with the arms reduction process, the controversial U.S. led "train and equip" program provided the Bosnian federation with $250 million worth of armaments ($100 million from the United States), including 45 M 60A3 tanks, 15 utility helicopters and 80 M 113 armored personnel carriers. Brunei, Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also contributed equipment, funding or training.

The Clinton administration initiated "train and equip" to provide the Muslim Croat federation with a defensive capability to ensure a stable military balance within Bosnia. Critics of the program, which include most U.S. European allies, assert that the program is creating a qualitatively superior federation force that will seek to redress its grievances through force if the international presence is withdrawn.

Ambassador James Pardew, the U.S. special representative for military stabilization in the Balkans, disputes such allegations, claiming that the Bosnian Serbs still hold the advantage because of their continued close relationship with Serbia and that, despite the federation's newer equipment, its forces lack sufficient training to constitute an effective counter against the Serbs. "Equipment is important, but it is only so much metal if you don't know how to use it effectively," Pardew said. He further stressed that "train and equip" reinforces the arms control agreement since continuation of the program is dependent upon the federation's compliance with the agreement.

However, critics argue that the program reflects the fundamental shortcoming of the sub regional agreement: any party may import new equipment or improve its force's skills as long as numerical ceilings are not exceeded. Other critics point out that the war was primarily one of small arms and small artillery—equipment not included or deliberately exempted from the agreement—and the agreement therefore does little to control the weapons that would be used if hostilities resume.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military and arms control analyst at the Brookings Institution, believes that taken independently, the arms control aspect of Dayton and "train and equip" were a success, but when factored in with lingering tensions and the lack of any real political settlement, notably the agreement over how much refugee resettlement to allow, aspects of both could be "incendiary."

With the arms control provisions of the Dayton accords now completed, attention may turn toward the accord's call for the negotiation, under OSCE auspices, of a larger regional arms control agreement encompassing more of the states in and around the former Yugoslavia. An OSCE official said that the current parties are "anxious" to start such negotiations, but other states in the region have refused to commit to the talks, and ambiguity surrounding the Dayton accord's provisions could stall the process.

U.S., Russia Sign Agreements On Plutonium-Production Reactors

VICE PRESIDENT Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met in Moscow September 22 23 for the ninth session of the U.S. Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation, commonly known as the Gore Chernomyrdin Commission. During this session, the sides completed a set of agreements to convert Russia's three remaining plutonium producing reactors so that they no longer produce weapons grade plutonium. At a joint press conference in Moscow, Gore said the agreements make "a major contribution to the advancement of our non proliferation interests."

In June 1994, the United States and Russia signed an agreement under which Moscow would shut down the three reactors at Tomsk 7 and Krasnoyarsk 26, former secret nuclear cities now called Seversk and Zheleznogorsk, by the year 2000. (See ACT, July/August 1994.) Russia, however, would not allow the accord to enter into force until alternative sources of energy had been found, arguing that the "dual use" reactors provide most of the heat and electricity for the surrounding cities. After completing an alternative energy feasibility study in 1995, the United States and Russia determined that conversion of the reactor cores was the best way to meet civilian energy needs while also halting the production of weapons grade plutonium. Since then, the sides proceeded with the design and engineering phase of the core conversion project.

Under an agreement signed by Gore and Chernomyrdin on September 23, Russia is required to modify the three reactors by December 31, 2000. The modified reactors will continue to operate until they have reached the end of their normal lifetimes, taking into account safety considerations. In an effort to reduce Moscow's stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the sides agreed that fuel for the modified reactors will incorporate uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the agreement prohibits the United States and Russia from restarting any plutonium producing reactors that have already been shut down. The United States shut down all 14 of its plutonium producing reactors by 1989, while Russia has ceased operating 10 of its 13 reactors. The agreement, which enters into force immediately, further stipulates that any plutonium produced between now and the completion of the core conversion (as well as any HEU recovered after conversion) cannot be used in nuclear weapons.

In order to help ensure compliance with its provisions, the agreement contains a detailed annex on verification measures. In plutonium producing reactors that have already been shut down, for example, the United States and Russia will be permitted to install seals and other agreed monitoring equipment to provide assurances that the reactors cannot resume operation without being detected.

In addition, the Department of Defense and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) signed a separate Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) implementing agreement to facilitate core conversion of the reactors. In fiscal year 1997, Congress appropriated $10 million in CTR assistance for this project.

In a side letter to the implementing agreement, the Department of Defense stated that it intends to provide up to an additional $70 million in CTR assistance for core conversion purposes. The total cost of the project, which will be divided between the United States and Russia, is expected to be about $150 million.

The United States and Russia also signed two other agreements related to the core conversion of the plutonium producing reactors. The Department of Energy and MINATOM signed a memorandum of understanding dealing with liability concerns, while the chairmen of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Nuclear and Radiation Safety Authority of Russia issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of nuclear safety issues.

Russian Officials Deny Claims Of Missing Nuclear Weapons

THE CONTINUING debate over Russia's command and control of its nuclear arsenal intensified on September 7 when retired General Alexander Lebed, former secretary of the Russian Security Council, told the CBS news program "60 Minutes" that he believes more than 100 "suitcase sized" nuclear weapons are unaccounted for. Lebed's charge elicited an immediate response from several senior Russian government officials, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who denied the existence of these weapons—known in the West as atomic demolition munitions (ADMs)—and argued that the Russian arsenal remains safe and secure. The State Department also reiterated its strong confidence in Russia's command and control system. Lebed's account is detailed in a new book, One Point Safe, by journalists Andrew and Leslie Cockburn.

Although lacking in many specific details, Lebed told "60 Minutes" that the 1 kiloton weapons, once assigned to the Spetsnaz special forces of the former Soviet Union, are especially dangerous because they can be transported and detonated by a single person. Made in the form of a suitcase, he said these devices are not protected by launch codes and could be prepared in approximately 30 minutes, potentially killing 50,000 to 100,000 people if detonated in a large city. Lebed said he attempted to make an inventory of the weapons while he was Security Council secretary but was unable to complete it before being fired by President Boris Yeltsin in October 1996.

In May 1997, Lebed informed six members of Congress about these missing weapons during their visit to Moscow. Lebed told the delegation, led by Representative Curt Weldon (R PA), that he could only locate 48 out of the 132 suitcase sized nuclear devices. However, during his "60 Minutes" appearance in September, Lebed asserted that more than 100 out of an estimated total of 250 weapons are unaccounted for. Although uncertain about their location, he speculated that they could be somewhere in Georgia, Ukraine or the Baltic states.

Subsequently, former Russian government officials elaborated on Lebed's account. In a September 13 interview with Interfax, Lebed's former deputy, Vladimir Denisov, said he led a special working group in July 1996 to explore whether the weapons had been deployed. According to Denisov, the working group concluded within two months that there were no such devices in the active Russian arsenal and that all the weapons were in "appropriate" storage facilities. However, he said the group could not rule out the possibility that similar weapons were located in Ukraine, Georgia or the Baltic states.

Then, in a September 22 interview with the Russian network NTV, Alexei Yablokov, a former environmental advisor to Yeltsin, maintained that suitcase sized nuclear weapons were developed for the Russian KGB in the 1970s. "I have spoken to the people who made these bombs, so I know that they exist," he said.

Lebed's claim has provoked a sharp response from several Russian government agencies responsible for safeguarding nuclear weapons¾the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) and the Federal Security Service¾as well as key officials in the Yeltsin administration. While traveling in Lithuania just days before the "60 Minutes" episode, Chernomyrdin ridiculed Lebed's account as "absolute stupidity" and said that "all Russian nuclear weapons are under the total and absolutely reliable control of the Russian armed forces." Yeltsin's spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, also challenged the credibility of Lebed's claim. "Lebed is looking for pretexts to remind the people about himself. I believe this is not the best way," he said September 10.

That same day, MINATOM and the Federal Security Service issued strong statements contradicting Lebed's story. MINATOM stated that the existing Russian nuclear command and control system "guarantees full control over the nuclear charges and seals off any channels of their unauthorized movements." The statement also noted that all former Soviet strategic and tactical nuclear weapons have been returned to Russia, refuting Lebed's point that the weapons may be located in Georgia, Ukraine or the Baltic states. Moreover, the Federal Security Service, whose primary function is to block the unauthorized use of Russian nuclear weapons, declared that "no serious decrease in the security, let alone loss or theft, of nuclear weapons and their components has been detected."

On September 5, Vladimir Utavenko, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said "there are no nuclear bombs in Russia out of [the] control of the Russian armed forces." Utavenko also questioned the credibility of Lebed on this particular issue because "he never dealt with nuclear security questions and cannot know the situation."

Furthermore, Lieutenant General Igor Volynkin, head of the Defense Ministry's 12th Main Directorate (which controls the production, operation and storage of Russian nuclear weapons) said in a September 25 news briefing that such devices "were never produced and are not produced." Although admitting that the production of suitcase sized nuclear weapons is theoretically possible, Volynkin said it would be a "very expensive and ineffective undertaking" because they would only have a short life span and would require frequent maintenance.

In a September 5 State Department briefing, deputy spokesman James Foley said, "The government of Russia has assured us that it retains adequate command and control of its nuclear arsenal and that appropriate physical security arrangements exist for these weapons and facilities." Foley also said the United States is providing assistance to Russia under the Cooperative Threat Reduction ("Nunn Lugar") program to bolster the physical security of its nuclear storage facilities.

U.S., Russia Sign START II Accords; Yeltsin Pushes for Treaty

ON SEPTEMBER 26, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov signed a set of agreements related to START II, codifying commitments made by the United States and Russia at the Helsinki summit in March, as part of a joint effort to obtain approval of the treaty by the Russian Duma, the lower house of parliament. Just days before the signing ceremony, held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, the Yeltsin administration launched a renewed effort to win approval of START II.

At Helsinki, the United States and Russia agreed in principle to delay the START II deadline for the elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2007. The new treaty protocol, which must be ratified by each side before entering into force, preserves the accord's original 10 year reduction period, but instead of occurring from 1993 to 2003, the sides now have from 1997 to 2007 to complete the required reductions.

In addition, the United States and Russia issued a "Joint Agreed Statement" in New York that enables the United States to "download" (remove warheads from) Minuteman III ICBMs under START II "at any time before December 31, 2007." Previously, the United States was required to download its Minuteman IIIs within seven years of START I's entry into force (December 5, 2001). In a September 26 background briefing, a senior Clinton administration official said the Joint Agreed Statement provides for "reciprocity" because now the downloading of both Minuteman IIIs and Russian SS 19s under START II does not have to be completed until the end of 2007.

Albright and Primakov also exchanged letters codifying the Helsinki commitment that the United States and Russia will deactivate by December 31, 2003, all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles to be eliminated under START II (for the United States the MX ICBM and for Russia its SS 18 and SS 24 ICBMs) "by removing their nuclear reentry vehicles or taking other jointly agreed steps." Reflecting Moscow's interest in achieving a START III agreement, which will reduce the forces of each side to 2,000 2,500 deployed strategic warheads, Primakov's letter states that Russia expects the agreement to have entered into force "well in advance" of the START II deactivation deadline. Albright's letter takes note of Russia's unilateral declaration on START III.

During the signing ceremony in New York, Albright said, "Together, the ABM and START II documents we will sign here today should pave the way for the Russian Duma to ratify START II, and that will trigger deep reductions in our arsenals." Primakov said the agreements "will determine the progress of the disarmament process for many years to come" and are "an important step" in the implementation of the Helsinki joint statements.

In recent weeks, the Yeltsin administration has accelerated its efforts to achieve Duma support for START II. On September 15, Yeltsin instructed Primakov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev to begin the process of convincing the skeptical Duma that START II is in Russia's national security interest. During their meeting, Yeltsin reportedly said, "We are secure with 1,000 warheads, let alone with" and "We must prove to the legislators that START II is advantageous and necessary for us."

The next day, Primakov and Sergeyev briefed influential members of the Duma on the foreign policy and military implications of START II for Russia. According to various press reports, their presentation was not well received. Alexei Mitrofanov, chairman of the Geopolitics Committee, said, "This agreement [START II] was reached on the crest of a political wave when Russia was making concessions on everything. Now we have to bite back." Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the powerful Communist Party, said, "Today we were not convinced that START II should be ratified." Likewise, Lev Rokhlin, chairman of the Defense Committee, claimed that START II ratification "will complete the ruin of the Russian army."

However, Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the International Affairs Committee, stated "We don't want to be engaged in politics now. Instead, we must listen very carefully to the top experts in the country on these issues. General Sergeyev is one of them." In addition, the Russian defense minister said the briefing "yielded good results" and that the sides "reached a better understanding on many issues." Following Primakov's September 22 meeting with President Clinton at the UN General Assembly in New York, National Security Advisor Samuel Berger also indicated that the Russian foreign minister "had some higher degree of optimism" that the Duma would eventually approve START II than in previous meetings.

Most observers expect the Duma to vote on START II (as amended) by the end of this year or beginning of 1998. In his September 8 remarks before the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Robert Bell, senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, said that once Russia ratifies START II, the Clinton administration plans on submitting a package of arms control agreements to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. This package will include the START II protocol and associated documents; an amendment, which has not yet been completed, making START I unlimited in duration; and three other agreements related to the ABM Treaty.

Clinton Steps Up Effort To Enact 1985 Sino-U.S. Nuclear Agreement

IN ANTICIPATION of the October 29 summit in Washington between President Bill Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, U.S. and Chinese officials have been working to improve Beijing's non proliferation credentials, once again under attack in Congress and key to the long delayed implementation of a Sino U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement. The 1985 agreement, potentially worth billions of dollars to the U.S. nuclear industry in the coming years, has never been activated because successive administrations have been unable to certify to Congress that China is not assisting proliferant states in acquiring nuclear weapons.

With the Clinton administration apparently moving closer to making that determination, possibly as the centerpiece of the Washington summit, the Chinese government has sought in recent weeks to address U.S. concerns about its nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation with Iran and Pakistan, its weak export control system and its commitment to international non proliferation norms. In July, Beijing's proliferation record was called into question when an unclassified CIA report labeled China as "the most significant supplier of [weapons of mass destruction] related goods and technology to foreign countries" during the second half of 1996.

While it is unclear whether China's recent actions will finally open the door to Sino U.S. nuclear commerce or deflect congressional moves to change Beijing's behavior by threatening sanctions, the Sino U.S. non proliferation dialogue appears to be moving forward. In late July, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen told Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that China would formally join the Zangger Committee at its next meeting in mid October. China is the only declared nuclear weapon state that is not a member of the 31 nation exporters group, which provides a so called "trigger list" to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of sensitive nuclear items that would require safeguards under the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if transferred to a non nuclear weapon state.

Unlike the related Nuclear Suppliers Group (which China has refused to join), whose members require "full scope" safeguards (coverage of all of a nations nuclear facilities by the IAEA) as a condition for the transfer of nuclear materials or technology, Zangger Committee members may transfer trigger list items to safeguarded facilities in countries that also possess unsafeguarded facilities (for example, India, Israel and Pakistan). Beijing reportedly has conditioned its Zangger membership on the continuation of the committee's current export rules.

Some observers believe that China might use this more relaxed standard to assist unsafeguarded facilities—especially those in Pakistan—by using legitimate transfers as a cover and conduit for illicit sales. China's long standing nuclear supply relationship with Pakistan has been a significant impediment to the implementation of the Sino U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement.

U.S. officials have also been pressing China to end its nuclear cooperation with Tehran, as part of the Clinton administration's policy to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons by obstructing its civil nuclear commerce. Although Iran remains an NPT party in good standing, administration officials argue that even peaceful nuclear activities¾which Iran is entitled to pursue under the treaty¾provide skills and experience that aid Tehran in its drive to develop nuclear weapons. China has reportedly already cancelled plans to build a uranium conversion plant (for the production of uranium hexafluoride, a gas used in isotope separation processes) and a research reactor in Iran, though it is unclear whether Beijing's actions are due to U.S. pressure or Tehran's financial difficulties.

As part of China's effort to improve its non proliferation credentials, China's State Council, or cabinet, issued new rules on September 11 governing the sale of nuclear technology. The new export controls, which formalize a 1996 commitment to the United States to halt transfers to unsafeguarded facilities, mandate government review and licensing of all sales of nuclear technology and materials, and require end use guarantees from recipient countries.

China has also responded positively to Washington's concerns about the diversion of a U.S. supercomputer delivered in February to the China Scientific Institute in Beijing, but subsequently transferred to the Changsha Institute of Science and Technology, operated by the Chinese military. Beijing has agreed to return the computer, capable of 2,700 million theoretical operations per second, to the manufacturer, Sun Microsystems in California.

Despite the apparent upswing in Sino U.S. proliferation relations, congressional critics of the administration's "constructive engagement" policy continue to seek legislative means to change China's policies on proliferation and human rights.

Most recently, on September 12 Senator Spencer Abraham (R MI) and eight co sponsors, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R NC), introduced the "China Policy Act of 1997." The legislation includes a number of provisions containing sanctions authority against Chinese officials and companies, and would tighten U.S. export controls on supercomputers that were relaxed by the administration in 1995.

Russian-Iran Ties Remain Issue At Gore-Chernomyrdin Meeting

THE CLINTON administration's ongoing campaign to convince Russia to sever its civil nuclear ties with Iran was rebuffed once again by Moscow during the latest session of the Gore Chernomyrdin Commission September 22 23. Russian officials also rejected, at least publicly, continuing U.S. and Israeli claims that Iran's ballistic missile programs are advancing with the help of illicit Russian technology transfers, although Moscow has agreed to continue a high profile joint investigation into the alleged transfers that utilizes sensitive U.S. intelligence.

The administration is under increasing pressure from congressional critics to adopt a tougher stance toward Moscow for its continuing nuclear relationship with Tehran and its inability, or unwillingness, to control missile related exports by the country's vast military industrial complex. On September 30, a bipartisan group of nearly 100 senators and representatives sent a letter to President Clinton stating that the Russian transfers pose "a direct threat to U.S. security," and that Congress is "moving to mandate a cutoff of assistance to Russia if these dangerous activities do not cease." The letter was drafted by Senator Jon Kyl (R AZ) and Representative Jane Harman (D CA).

In 1995, Russia signed a $800 million contract with Iran to complete the construction of a 1,000 megawatt (electric) light water reactor at the Bushehr nuclear complex on the Persian Gulf coast, where the German company Seimens had suspended work on two reactors following the 1979 revolution. Iran, a signatory of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, reportedly has already paid Russia $80 million for the project, which is scheduled to be completed by 2001. Installation work at the reactor site may begin in mid 1998.

Despite the fact the facility will be under safeguards, the United States has long pressed the Yeltsin administration to pull out of the Bushehr project, arguing that any support for Iran's civil nuclear power program will indirectly assist Tehran's covert drive to acquire nuclear weapons. During their meeting in Moscow, Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the commission's co chairmen, held extensive discussions on the Bushehr project but Moscow again refused to give ground.

The latest controversy involving alleged Russian missile related transfers emerged in January, when the White House was informed of an Israeli intelligence report identifying several Russian entities that had aided Iranian programs aimed at developing intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). Since the Israeli intelligence report first surfaced, Russian officials have repeatedly denied claims that Russia is assisting Iran's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs. Gore raised the issue of Russian missile related transfers at the previous Gore Chernomyrdin Commission meeting in February, as did Clinton during his March summit with Yeltsin in Helsinki.

In Moscow, Gore and Chernomyrdin were briefed by Frank Wisner, the president's special envoy on the missile issue and former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and India, who is heading the joint investigation, which was launched in August, along with Yuri Koptev, director of the Russian Space Agency. Interestingly, Koptev was identified in the Israeli intelligence report as one of only two senior Russian officials directly linked to Iran's missile programs. Wisner and Koptev are scheduled to meet again in early November.

Following his meeting with Chernomyrdin, Gore said, "[O]ne of the new lessons of this report [by Wisner and Koptev] is that it is obvious that there is a vigorous effort by Iran to obtain the technologies that it needs to build a ballistic missile and to build nuclear weapons." Gore, who also met with President Boris Yeltsin during his Moscow visit, said "there is no doubt in my mind" that the two countries "share the same concern" about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Russian officials, however, continued to deny the supply link. At a September 26 Kremlin news conference with French President Jacques Chirac, Yeltsin said, "There is nothing further from the truth. I again and again categorically refute such rumors."

According to the Israeli assessment, which was first reported in The Washington Times on September 10 and the gist of which has largely been confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies, several Russian entities have provided Iran with key missile technology and know how. The named entities include the Russian Space Agency; Rosvoorouzhenie, the country's principal arms exporting agency, and its unidentified aerospace director; the Bauman Institute; NPO Trud; and Polyus. The Israeli report also identified China's state owned Great Wall Industries Corporation as a supplier.

According to Israeli intelligence, Iran is developing two IRBMs¾referred to as the Shahab 3 and the Shahab 4—that are based on North Korea's 1,000 kilometer range Nodong missile. Iran reportedly has provided financial support for North Korea's missile development programs, and according to one Israeli intelligence report has received at least a dozen of the missiles from Pyong yang. The Shahab 3's estimated range of 1,300 to 1,500 kilometers would put parts of Israel within its reach, and its estimated payload capability of 750 kilograms would allow the delivery of a nuclear warhead. Reports suggest this missile could enter production as early as 1999. The Shahab 4 has a reported range of 2,000 kilometers with a payload of 1,000 kilograms. Some observers believe that the Shahab 4 is based on Russia's SS 4 IRBM, the technology for which Russia has been accused of transferring to Tehran. Gore raised the SS 4 issue at the February meeting of the commission, but Chernomyrdin denied any such transfers had taken place.

During his September 23 press conference with Gore, Chernomyrdin reiterated Russia's commitment to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the 29 nation export control forum which Moscow formally joined in 1995. "We are not diverging from our commitments and even if somebody wishes to diverge from these commitments, they will not have their way," Chernomyrdin said. "There is no question of any missile deliveries."

Should the Clinton administration determine that the missile related transfers took place, the Russian entities could only be sanctioned under U.S. laws enforcing the MTCR if Russia, as an MTCR member, failed to take judicial or other enforcement action against the entities after confirming the violations had occurred. The sanctions, if applied, would bar the entities from doing any business with the U.S. government, as well as competing for contracts for future work.

The Russian Space Agency, in particular, is under close scrutiny because of its extensive contractual ties to U.S. agencies. In the last several years the U.S. government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Russian space program, funding that may become the target of congressional critics of the administration's approach to ending Moscow's nuclear and missile related ties with Iran.

Deadlock Continues to Plague CD Through Final 1997 Session

THE DEEPLY DIVIDED UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) concluded its final session of 1997 on September 9, having failed to agree on a work program during the year and—for the first time in its 19 year history—to establish a single ad hoc negotiating committee. Although the CD's 61 members had approved an agenda early in 1997, they were unable throughout the year to narrow their differences over the priorities for the Geneva based forum.

The current impasse has resulted in a split between the "Group of 21" non aligned states, which considers nuclear disarmament the CD's top priority, and a number of Western countries generally aligned with the nuclear weapon states (minus China), which favor the early negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty and possibly an anti personnel landmine accord that complements the ongoing "Ottawa Process." Efforts by the non aligned states during the 1997 conference to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a time bound nuclear disarmament framework, which might include a fissile ban component, were repeatedly rejected. Compromise proposals by Japan and New Zealand to appoint a special coordinator or establish a nuclear disarmament committee failed to acheive consensus.

Although the stalemate over nuclear disarmament dominated much of the CD's time this year, the conference was also unable to agree on negotiating mandates for any of the six other arms control related items which appear annually on its agenda. These issues include prevention of nuclear war, prevention of an arms race in outer space, new types of weapons of mass destruction, comprehensive disarmament, negative security assurances and transparency in armaments.

Addressing the CD at the beginning of its third and final session, Ralph Earle, deputy director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, told the conference that a fissile ban would be "an important measure in the overall process of nuclear disarmament," and that without it "the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament would be decreased significantly." The U.S. delegation also made it clear that the United States would continue to favor bilateral negotiations with Russia as the most expeditious way to ensure continued progress in nuclear disarmament, at least for the foreseeable future.

On the final day of the session, the U.S. representative, Katharine Crittenberger, criticized the "all or nothing approach" that some delegations pursued during the 1997 conference and said there seemed to be a lack of desire and will to achieve substantive results. Days earlier, Munir Akram of Pakistan said some delegations' positions were so rigid that the CD was unable to carry out its responsibilities, and criticized the handful of states that had refused to allow the CD to begin negotiations on nuclear disarmament. However, a British diplomatic source familiar with the debate said the "onus is on the threshold states" of India, Israel and Pakistan.


Landmine Debate

Although anti personnel landmines were not formally included on the CD's 1997 agenda and the "Ottawa Process" overshadowed the talks in Geneva, there was some optimism during the final session that the conference would be able to address landmines in 1998. Ambassador John Campbell of Australia, the CD's special coordinator on landmines appointed during the second session, recommended that the conference postpone further discussions until after the Ottawa treaty is signed in December and the CD can determine how to best complement the Ottawa Process.

On September 9, Campbell told the conference a majority of states favor, or at least do not oppose, addressing the landmine issue when the conference opens its 1998 session in January. He also said the mandate with the greatest support is a step by step approach to eventual elimination that begins by addressing exports, imports and transfers.

During a September 26 ceremony at the United Nations marking the handover of the Ottawa text, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said, "[The] treaty will serve not only as a complement but also as an inspiration for greater and swifter progress" in the CD's work toward a total ban. "Together, the two avenues can truly lead to a worldwide prohibition, including all countries affected by landmines," Annan said.

The CD's three other special coordinators, who were appointed in August to address the effective functioning of the conference, membership expansion and review of the CD agenda, all reported that divergent views of the delegations prevented them from making recommendations. The conference rejected a request to allow the coordinators to hold intercessional consultations before the 1998 conference convenes. The CD's sessions in 1998 are scheduled for January 19 to March 27, May 11 to June 26, and July 27 to September 9.


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