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

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

U.S., Russia Still SORTing Out Nuclear Reductions

Nearly two years after concluding a treaty to reduce the size of their deployed strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, neither the United States nor Russia have finalized plans on how to accomplish that task.

Wade Boese


Nearly two years after concluding a treaty to reduce the size of their deployed strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, neither the United States nor Russia have finalized plans on how to accomplish that task.

U.S. and Russian government officials met April 8-9 in Geneva to officially update each other for the first time on their implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed May 24, 2002. Also known as the Moscow Treaty, the agreement commits the United States and Russia to operationally deploy fewer than 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads apiece by Dec. 31, 2012.

Washington currently deploys nearly 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads, and Moscow fields almost 5,000. These tallies do not account for stored strategic warheads or less powerful weapons known as tactical nuclear warheads that are not covered by SORT. The entire U.S. nuclear arsenal totals roughly 10,000 warheads, while Russia’s is estimated to be nearly double that.

SORT does not spell out how the United States and Russia should reduce their deployed nuclear forces, leaving each to proceed as it sees fit. In fact, the treaty leaves quite a bit of latitude: Warheads removed from deployment under SORT do not have to be destroyed but only stored separately from the missiles, bombers, and submarines used to deliver them. As Secretary of State Colin Powell explained to senators in July 2002 testimony, “The treaty will allow you to have as many warheads as you want.”

Still, the treaty does oblige the two sides to hold biannual meetings of a Bilateral Implementation Commission (BIC) to discuss their reduction activities.

George Look, a Department of State official who represents the United States in talks with Russia on START, headed the U.S. delegation to the first BIC meeting. Andrey Maslov, deputy director of the department for security and disarmament in Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led Russia’s delegation.

A Bush administration official told Arms Control Today on April 15 that the meeting “got off on a good foot” and involved an exchange of “future [reduction] plans to the extent they exist.” The official explained that both governments have “broad outlines” and some near-term benchmarks for lowering their deployed forces, but that exact schedules and specific force plans remain unsettled.

The official described Russian reduction plans and future force structure for 2012 as “less certain” than those of the United States.

Washington intends to cut its deployed forces to between 3,500 and 4,000 strategic warheads by 2007. To reach that interim goal, the Pentagon plans to complete deactivating all 50 10-warhead MX ICBMs (see sidebar) and finish converting four of its 18 Trident submarines from carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to conventional armaments.

U.S. reduction plans beyond this stage are not fixed because the Bush administration has been rethinking how the future U.S. nuclear stockpile—deployed and stored—should be comprised.

As a result, the administration has not sent Congress a stockpile memorandum detailing its nuclear force structure plans, which previous administrations had generally provided on an annual basis.

According to a congressional source, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld finally signed a stockpile plan recommendation for the president on April 19, but its contents remain unknown. The Department of Energy had approved the plan months earlier. The lag between the two departments’ approvals reportedly stemmed from their differences over how large the stored or reserve stockpile should be.

Two years ago, the Pentagon indicated it planned to store up to 2,400 nuclear warheads in a state of readiness, enabling them to be returned to service within weeks, months, or at most three years after being removed from deployment. (See ACT, March 2002.) This so-called responsive force would constitute only part of the U.S. nuclear warhead reserve. It is unclear to what extent this proposal made it into the recently recommended stockpile plan.

How many warheads to keep in storage and what their state of readiness should be are just part of the administration’s deliberations. It is also exploring new types of warheads out of concern that the existing U.S. arsenal is not tailored to deterring terrorists and rogue regimes.

Reflecting this current of thought, a task force of the Defense Science Board, an independent advisory body to the secretary of defense, issued a February 2004 report describing the U.S. nuclear stockpile as “aging” and “of declining relevance.” As a remedy, the report called for a shift toward warheads with lower explosive yields and more penetration capabilities to increase in potential adversaries’ minds the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons. Research into such new capabilities is currently underway.

The Defense Science Board report stated, “It is American policy to keep the nuclear threshold high and to pursue non-nuclear attack options wherever possible.” Still, the report added, “future presidents should have strategic strike choices between massive conventional strikes and today’s relative large, high-fallout weapons delivered primarily by ballistic missiles.”

 

 

 

 

Searching For Ways to Roll Back Nuclear Proliferation

Nearly a decade ago, Mitchell Reiss wrote an acclaimed book, Bridled Ambition, which sought to explain why some countries had chosen to abandon their nuclear weapons programs...

An interview with State Department Policy Planning Director Mitchell Reiss

Miles A. Pomper

Nearly a decade ago, Mitchell Reiss wrote an acclaimed book, Bridled Ambition, which sought to explain why some countries had chosen to abandon their nuclear weapons programs.

“Just as all cancers are not terminal, nuclear status is not immutable,” Reiss wrote. “With the proper treatment (and a dose of good luck), a serious illness can go into remission. Sometimes it can even be reversed.”

Now a top aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Reiss is trying to turn some of his academic prescriptions, which included “dollar diplomacy,” U.S. leadership, and preservation of the global nonproliferation regime, into diplomatic reality.

Reiss was named the Department of State’s director of policy planning in August, putting him in charge of its in-house think tank. The appointment came just as Powell and other administration officials were grappling with both short- and long-term challenges to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT, which has been endorsed by all but a handful of nations, seeks to block the further spread of nuclear weapons and encourage their elimination.

On Reiss’s “to do” list has been seeking a way to end North Korea’s nuclear program and similar suspected efforts by Iran. He is also looking at longer-term proliferation problems, from technological changes that could make it increasingly difficult to uncover covert weapons programs to a growing market for civilian nuclear reactors in Asia.

In an April 9 interview with Arms Control Today, Reiss offered his views on all of these subjects. Shunning diplomatic boilerplate for verbal jousting, he demonstrated that he has not abandoned his academic roots altogether. He cracked jokes, battled over ideas, and eagerly poked holes in what he viewed as false preconceptions about the Bush administration’s approach to arms control concerns.

“Part of what I want to do in this interview is just start conversations,” Reiss told ACT.

Drawing an analogy to manufacturing and distribution techniques that were pioneered commercially by Japanese manufacturers and are now used worldwide, Reiss said he is concerned that nuclear proliferators could soon follow suit. Such “just-in-time” proliferation he said, would mean that materials for nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons materials would no longer be stockpiled but only brought together when they need to be used.

“The concept works beautifully in the private sector, and there’s no reason why it can’t work for the bad guys,” Reiss said. “But this will create enormous challenges for the [International Atomic Energy Agency], for the Nuclear Suppliers Group [an export control clearinghouse for most of the major countries with civilian nuclear industries], for all the countries of the world, in order to prevent continued nuclear proliferation.”

In particular, Reiss said this strategy might pose particular problems for on-site inspections—a key tool of international nonproliferation regimes.

“I think on-site inspections certainly are important—essential in some cases,” Reiss said. ”Still, there is a concern that you can inspect a place one day and there will be nothing there, and you come back the next week and everything will be there.”

One of Reiss’s few public speeches since assuming his new post tackled the subject of ending North Korea’s nuclear program (See ACT, April 2004.) In his 1995 book, he pointed to a 1994 agreement that the Clinton Administration made to freeze Pyongyang’s proliferation program as an arms control success story, although he warned that it might well unravel.

Today, he contends that the kind of limited agreement struck by the previous administration is no longer useful, arguing that, like Libya, Pyongyang has to make a “strategic determination” to disarm. “I don’t know [if] North Korea will follow Libya’s lead,” Reiss acknowledged, but said that Tripoli’s recent disarmament does provide an appropriate model.

“[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il faces a choice,” Reiss said. “He can continue to depend on the kindness of strangers, overseeing a devastated economy with an isolated population, or he can join the 21st century. He also has the historic opportunity to do what his father never did, which is to create a stable, peaceful relationship with all his neighbors.”

In making this argument, Reiss draws on his academic research. Officials in the nine countries he surveyed, he said in his book, witnessed the demise of the Soviet Union and “realized that nuclear arsenals and their boundless expansion were unnecessary, even counterproductive, to larger economic and political objectives.”

Reiss also dismissed criticism that the Bush administration’s preference for a multilateral format had needlessly delayed a resolution of the nearly two-year-old crisis. Instead, he said that the six-party talks had succeeded in forging a “united front” among the five other participants in the talks—the United States, South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan—leaving Pyongyang little diplomatic wiggle room.

“There’s utility in forcing them to be a little bit franker, a little bit more open and honest, than they were when they could play one off the other,” Reiss said, adding, “I think they realize that the other five countries are lined up against them because all five are opposed to North Korea having nuclear weapons.”

For a complete transcript of the interview click here

 

 



 

 

 

 

Law of the Sea Convention Marooned in Senate

A handful of Republican senators are warning that U.S. accession to the UN Law of the Sea Convention might undermine a U.S.-led initiative to intercept dangerous weapons as well as U.S. sovereignty...

Wade Boese


A handful of Republican senators are warning that U.S. accession to the UN Law of the Sea Convention might undermine a U.S.-led initiative to intercept dangerous weapons as well as U.S. sovereignty. Their opposition has helped hold up Senate consideration of the treaty, despite Bush administration and Pentagon support.

With 145 states-parties, the Law of the Sea Convention sets maritime rights and rules for the world’s oceans. The United States warmed to the treaty in 1994 after it was amended to address U.S. concerns about its deep seabed mining provisions that had blocked U.S. signature of the convention when it was first negotiated in 1982.

Despite White House and Pentagon blessings, the treaty has not since been ratified by the United States, in part because of vehement opposition from Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who had been the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until he retired last year. Helms opposed the treaty for a number of reasons, including his long-standing distaste for multilateral organizations.

The pact, however, has long enjoyed the backing of the current chairman and top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.). With his support, the Foreign Relations panel unanimously approved the accord Feb. 25 and sent it to the full Senate for a vote. Other key lawmakers urging passage include Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

They want the Senate to act soon because the convention becomes open to amendment this November. “If the United States is not party to the Convention at that time, our ability to protect Convention rights that we fought hard to achieve will be significantly diminished,” Lugar said in a Feb. 25 statement

Some conservative Republicans, such as Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), have opposed the convention on the basis that it could hinder the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which is a coalition of 14 states committed to stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction and missiles in transit. “I am concerned about…being able to board and search ships,” Inhofe said March 23.

Bush administration officials and the Pentagon say such fears are unwarranted. “Far from impeding PSI, joining the convention would actually strengthen the United States’ PSI efforts,” John Turner, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international, environmental, and scientific affairs, said in March 23 testimony.

In an April 7 letter supporting U.S. accession to the convention, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers wrote, “The rules under which U.S. forces have operated for over 40 years to board and search ships or to conduct intelligence activities will not be affected.” He also stated that the convention “ensures the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to operate freely across the vast expanse of the world’s oceans under the authority of widely recognized and accepted international law.”

Despite its rhetorical support for the treaty, the administration does not appear to be pressing the Senate to act. A senior administration official told Arms Control Today April 21 that “[t]he administration fully supports the Law of the Sea Convention. The issue of timing of Senate action is properly addressed to the Senate leadership.”

Confronted by the conflicts within his own party, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has not scheduled the treaty for review. Frist aides did not respond to inquiries asking why the convention had not been put on the Senate calendar.


 

 

 

 

U.S. Defends New Nuclear Weapons Research

U.S. research into new nuclear weapons designs will not spur other states to do the same nor impede U.S. nonproliferation efforts, the Bush administration asserted in a March 31 report to Congress...

Wade Boese


U.S. research into new nuclear weapons designs will not spur other states to do the same nor impede U.S. nonproliferation efforts, the Bush administration asserted in a March 31 report to Congress. Other world officials suggest otherwise.

The Bush administration sought and won a repeal last year of a decade-old legislative ban on research into low-yield nuclear weapons with explosive power equal to or below five kilotons. (See ACT, December 2003.) Although granting the administration’s request, Congress demanded the administration assess by March 1 of this year how the repeal might affect efforts to halt worldwide nuclear proliferation.

Summing up its findings, the administration reported, “[T]here is no reason to believe that repeal has had or will have any practical impact on the pursuit of nuclear weapons by proliferating states, on the comprehensive diplomatic efforts ongoing to address these threats, or on the possible modernization of nuclear weapons by China or Russia.” The Departments of Defense, Energy, and State jointly submitted the report.

This conclusion contrasts sharply with the view of the United Nations top nuclear official, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei. In a Feb. 12 piece in The New York Times, ElBaradei wrote, “We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security—and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.”

Top foreign officials from other states, such as Canada and Sweden, have echoed ElBaradei. Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds lamented March 16, “[W]e see a trend towards an increased emphasis on nuclear weapons as part of security strategies and signs that a new generation of nuclear weapons might be in the making. Such pursuits would undermine the credibility of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and could prompt a new arms race.”

In addition to researching new low-yield weapon designs, the Bush administration is exploring possible modifications to existing nuclear weapons to destroy targets buried deep underground better.

Administration officials justify the development of new nuclear weapons on the grounds that they are responding to changes in threats to U.S. national security. They cite the necessity of convincing terrorists and rogue regimes that the United States would use nuclear weapons if need be. They claim that, in the absence of smaller or modified nuclear weapons, U.S. enemies may nurture a dangerous doubt about the willingness of U.S. policymakers to unleash a nuclear attack, fearing large numbers of civilian casualties or international censure. “Nuclear modernization efforts may well strengthen deterrence by altering an adversary’s perception of what the United States is able to do, or might be prepared to do in a crisis,” the report declared.

Yet, development of newer or smaller nuclear weapons would not translate into an increased willingness to actually use them, according to the report.

During an April 6 appearance in Washington, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov deemed it a “dangerous thing” to advance nuclear weapons as a possible tool to thwart terrorists. The Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted Yuri Baluyevskiy, another leading Russian defense official, in an April 9 article as contending, “If the nuclear weapons which were formerly seen only as a political instrument of deterrence become battlefield weapons, that will be not simply scary but super scary.”

To be sure, Russia could be subject to the same criticism. Russia possesses the largest arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons and concluded a nuclear exercise predicated on countering terrorism in February that the Kremlin touted as its largest in 20 years.

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Feb. 18 that Russia might match U.S. arsenal changes. “As other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, then Russia will also need to ensure it has new-generation arms and technology,” Putin said.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration insisted in its report that “we believe there is relatively weak coupling between Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons [research and development] efforts.”
Already anticipating how its new nuclear weapons research will be received at a review conference of nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) states-parties next year, the administration set out to blunt the expected condemnation in its report. “Nothing in the NPT…prohibits the United States from carrying out nuclear weapons exploratory research or, for that matter, from developing and fielding new or modified nuclear warheads,” the report asserted. It further dismissed criticisms of U.S. nuclear policy as misguided because the United States has consistently reduced its nuclear arsenal and “[t]he nuclear arms race has, in fact, been halted.”

 

 

 

 

After Long Delay, Energy Department Releases Weapons Advisory Committee Report

Succumbing to pressure from nongovernmental groups and members of Congress, the Department of Energy has finally turned over a closely held report...

Gabrielle Kohlmeier


Succumbing to pressure from nongovernmental groups and members of Congress, the Department of Energy has finally turned over a closely held report by an internal advisory committee that critiques the department’s weapons and nonproliferation activities. Although generally favorable toward the “vision and scope” of the strategic plan of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the report questions the prioritization of NNSA activities, as well as several Bush administration initiatives, including enhancing test-site readiness and researching advanced nuclear concepts.

The report, finalized March 1, 2002, is composed of two subcommittee reports of an NNSA advisory panel established to review science and technology programs related to the nuclear weapons stockpile and detection of nuclear weapons proliferation. The Defense Programs subcommittee reviewed science and technology in the Stockpile Stewardship Program, while the Nuclear Nonproliferation subcommittee assessed science and technology in the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. The NNSA advisory group was created in 2001 by then-NNSA administrator John Gordon, who wanted the committee to reflect diverse scientific and philosophical viewpoints. Among the 15 members of the panel were subcommittee lead coordinators Jeremiah Sullivan and Raymond Jeanloz; James Schlesinger, who has served as secretary of energy and secretary of defense; and physicist and arms control specialist Sidney Drell. But the group was disbanded in mid-2003 by newly appointed NNSA administrator Linton Brooks. (See ACT, September 2003.) Requests for the committee’s reports from both nongovernmental groups and congressional officials remained unsuccessful until March when Global Security Newswire obtained a copy in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The report offers a positive appraisal of various NNSA programs and operations, pronouncing that “there is a great deal that is progressing well.” It does, however, express concerns over certain operational inefficiencies and several individual programs. Particular criticism was leveled at management of the stockpile life extension program as well as at test readiness and advanced-concepts design initiatives, two areas for which the Bush administration has requested large budget increases the last few years. (See ACT, March 2004.)

The panel warned that NNSA’s stockpile life-extension program, which certifies and assesses the performance, safety, and reliability of aging or refurbished weapons, had modified its procedures in a way that risked introducing uncertainties into the reliability of the weapons.

The report also suggested that NNSA claims that the United States would require at least two to three years to restart nuclear testing are exaggerated. Indeed, the report asserts that the committee had been told that, even without additional preparations, the United States might be able to perform a test in as little as three to six months. The report elaborates that test readiness “cannot be further evaluated without considering specific scenarios.”

The NNSA’s advanced concepts initiative, which includes research on low-yield nuclear warheads and so-called nuclear bunker busters, also elicited concern. (See ACT, March 2003.) The report noted that the purported advanced concepts presented to the committee “did not involve any radical departures from previously considered (or even implemented) systems.” It also complained that “concepts that have been discussed quite forcefully in recent times have yet to be examined in sufficient technical depth to determine that their potential military benefits justify the costs involved.” Congressional budget appropriators expressed similar concerns last November when they cut administration budget requests and attached conditions on the release of funds for research for the current fiscal year. (See ACT, September and December 2003.) In its recommendations for improving efficiency, the NNSA advisory committee urged that all new design concepts be thoroughly reviewed.

The reasons for the protracted disclosure of the report to the public and members of Congress remain unclear. In an interview with Arms Control Today, Jeanloz, the lead coordinator of the stockpile stewardship subcommittee, said the panel had “no intent to find fault or to give a pat on the head, but to make a critical assessment.” Jeanloz speculated that the new NNSA leadership may have just wanted to be doubly sure that the report did not contain sensitive information.

On the other hand, Sullivan, the lead coordinator on the defense nuclear nonproliferation subcommittee, indicated that the failure to release the report was part of NNSA’s general discomfort with an outside advisory board. He told Arms Control Today that “NNSA just didn’t know what to do with an advisory committee. Much of what we wanted to do was to establish that [the Energy Department] had valuable resources and expertise that are important to present and future issues of nonproliferation—nuclear and chemical and biological.” Sullivan underscored the significance of the advisory committee’s termination, averring that “every organization of that size and importance needs an independent review.”

Some members have agreed, deploring the loss of a critical, independent review of NNSA programs. In a letter to Brooks, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) cited the disbanding of the advisory committee as an indication that the Energy Department “is seeking to close itself off from any independent outside expert advice regarding its nuclear weapons programs.” No comparable panel has been established to evaluate NNSA programs since the dissolution of the advisory committee last year.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S., North Korea Jockey For China's Support as Working Group Nuclear Talks Approach

As North Korea and the United States prepare for a new round of multilateral talks concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear program, both sides are lobbying for the support of China...

Paul Kerr


As North Korea and the United States prepare for a new round of multilateral talks concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear program, both sides are lobbying for the support of China in an effort to gain diplomatic leverage in future talks.

In April, Vice President Dick Cheney and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visited Beijing within a few days of one another. Both discussed the status of the six-party talks designed to resolve a nearly two-year-old nuclear crisis. China, which provides North Korea with vital supplies of fuel and food, is one of the six parties and the host of the talks.

Soon after the two visits, China announced that a long-stalled “working group” meeting of lower-level officials would take place May 12. The talks, which will be conducted in Beijing, are designed to set the stage for a meeting of higher-level officials before the end of June.

The recent nuclear crisis began in October 2002, when the United States reported that North Korea admitted to pursuing a covert uranium-enrichment program, which can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. As the crisis escalated, Pyongyang also restarted a plutonium-based nuclear program that had been frozen since 1994 by an agreement with the United States. Since then, the two countries have participated in three rounds of multilateral talks with China, including two rounds of six-party talks. The negotiations have made little apparent progress.

During the most recent round of six-party talks held in February, the parties— which also include South Korea, Japan, and Russia—agreed to meet again by the end of June and to form a “working group” of lower-level officials to prepare for the next round. (See ACT, April 2004.)

The visits by Cheney and Kim reflect the diplomatic importance Beijing has assumed since the crisis began. Pyongyang and Washington have both consulted with Beijing repeatedly, attempting to enlist its support for their positions. In an April 9 interview with Arms Control Today (see page 31), Department of State Director for Policy Planning Mitchell Reiss described China as a “mediator” in the dispute, adding that it has “the most influence on the North. And so to get [it] on board…gives us much more weight in these negotiations.”

In an April 15 speech at Fudan University in Shanghai, Cheney similarly argued that pressure from China and the other participants was important to “persuade” North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program. Cheney also indicated that Pyongyang’s neighbors should demand that it yield to U.S. demands as a condition for improved economic relations with them, suggesting that “the sad state” of its economy will force the regime to comply.

U.S. officials have previously suggested that North Korea’s economic weakness provides other governments with a source of diplomatic leverage, but U.S. intelligence agencies have stated that North Korea shows no signs of imminent collapse. (See ACT, December 2003.)

Warning that a nuclear-armed North Korea could both provoke a regional arms race and supply nuclear weapons technology to terrorists or other governments, Cheney also implied that the United States might lose patience with its diplomatic efforts. “It is important that we make progress in this area. Time is not necessarily on our side,” he said. Undersecretary of State John Bolton underscored Cheney’s point April 27, declaring that “simply continuing to talk…is not progress.”

North Korea itself has said that delays in resolving the dispute will give it more time to build its nuclear arsenal. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Kim met with high-ranking Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, during his April 19-21 visit. Washington did not become aware of the meeting until shortly before it began, a State Department official told ACT April 28.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported April 21 that the two leaders agreed to “jointly [push] forward the six-party talks process” and Kim promised North Korea “will continue to take a patient and flexible manner and actively participate in the six-party talks process, and make its own contributions to the progress of the talks.”

Kim noted that North Korea’s negotiating stance “remained unchanged,” according to an April 22 state-run Korean Central News Agency statement.

North Korea has said it will dismantle its nuclear weapons program, but only in a series of steps synchronized with significant U.S. concessions.

Pyongyang’s proposal has not swayed Washington, which says North Korea has failed to meet the U.S. bottom-line demand that any dismantlement agreement be “complete, verifiable, and irreversible.” Washington has said bilateral relations could improve if North Korea carries out such a disarmament program, but claims it will not “reward” Pyongyang for doing so, and refuses to specify how it will respond to such North Korean concessions.

Although Kim’s pledge may lend credence to South Korean press reports that Beijing pressured North Korea to soften its negotiating stance, two other recent Chinese decisions underscore Beijing’s reluctance to go along with a U.S. strategy to isolate Pyongyang. Instead, Beijing appears intent on retaining its role as an “honest broker” between North Korea and the United States.

Xinhua reported April 21 that the two countries agreed to “further develop bilateral economic and trade cooperation.” Additionally, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated April 22 that Beijing decided to increase its aid to Pyongyang.

Moreover, China joined South Korea and Russia during the last round of talks in pledging energy assistance to North Korea “on certain conditions.” Additionally, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official told reporters during the talks that the U.S. goal of North Korean nuclear dismantlement is “not enough” and that North Korea’s “concerns should be addressed.”

Indeed, despite Reiss’ insistence during the April 9 interview that the United States is able to form a “united front” against North Korea with the other four participants, China has consistently pressed for North Korea and the United States to show greater “flexibility” in the talks. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated April 15 that resolving the dispute requires “greater flexibility and pragmatism from the other five parties.”

 

 

 

 

NATO Expands, Russia Grumbles

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following...

Wade Boese


Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following the March 29 addition of seven new members into the Western military alliance. In an April 6 speech in Washington, Ivanov struck the shrillest note among Russian leaders in a persistent yet resigned chorus opposing NATO’s growth.

Ivanov depicted Moscow’s view of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joining NATO as “calm, but negative.” Ivanov, who attended a NATO-Russian meeting on combating terrorism the day before, said that a window of opportunity remained for a meaningful NATO-Russian partnership but warned that the West should not allow it to become a “small vent shaft” or close altogether by forsaking Russian interests.

NATO’s recent expansion marked the second time that states from the old Soviet military bloc joined their previous Cold War rivals and the first to include former Soviet republics, in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. NATO welcomed Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into its ranks in 1999.

At the heart of NATO membership is a guarantee that an attack against one member will be considered an attack against all. In recent years, NATO has augmented its traditional role of defending its members’ territories with military action and deployments outside its members’ borders, such as in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Russia objects to such activism. It also charges that the newest round of expansion will enable the alliance to deploy an unlimited amount of weaponry next to Russia’s borders in the three Baltic states, which are not bound by the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. The CFE Treaty balanced the number of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could deploy in Europe.

Four NATO fighter jets started patrolling the three Baltic states’ airspace following their formal accession to the alliance. NATO, which now numbers 26 members, described the overflights as “routine policing.”

Although NATO contends that its expansion is not aimed at Russia, Ivanov appeared unconvinced. He declared that the Kremlin has “no illusions about the reasons why the Baltic states were admitted into NATO and why NATO airplanes…are being deployed there.” Ivanov explained, “It has nothing to do with a fight against terrorism and proliferation.”

Russia is urging that the Baltic states accede as soon as possible to a 1999 adapted version of the CFE Treaty. However, the three states cannot do so yet because the updated treaty, which supplants the original treaty’s arms limits on the two former Cold War military blocs with national limits for each state-party, has not entered into force. The original CFE Treaty, which has no provision for nonmembers to join it, is still in force and will remain so until all 30 existing CFE Treaty states-parties formally approve the adapted version.

NATO members are refusing to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty until Russia fulfills military withdrawal commitments related to Georgia and Moldova. In conjunction with the 1999 overhaul of the CFE Treaty, Moscow pledged that it would withdraw all of its military forces from Moldova by the end of 2002 and conclude negotiations with Georgia to close Russian bases on its territory by the end of 2000. Russia has not fulfilled either pledge. (See ACT, December 2003.)

While pressing Moscow to complete these actions, NATO is seeking to reassure Russia that its fear about unrestrained armaments in the Baltic states is unwarranted. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have all promised to apply for CFE membership once the adapted agreement enters into force.

Moreover, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Russian President Vladimir Putin April 8 that “neither old nor new NATO members have any intention to station significant numbers of troops on their territories.”

Standing alongside Scheffer, Putin said Russia intends to “do all we can to ensure that relations between Russia and NATO develop positively.” Still, he labeled NATO expansion as a “problem” that did not address current security threats, such as terrorism.

Both Ivanov and Putin cautioned that any buildup of NATO military infrastructure near Russia’s borders would influence future Russian defense and security policies.

Secretary of State Colin Powell April 1 dismissed Moscow’s concerns that the West wants to hem Russia in. While noting the Pentagon’s interest in shifting U.S. bases around in Europe to respond better to troubled regions or terrorism, Powell said overall U.S. troop strength in Europe would decrease.

Nevertheless, Powell indicated NATO and the United States would remain vigilant against any Russian strong-arm tactics on its periphery. “Russia will try to exercise its influence and I think it’s something that we will have to watch and we’ll have to deal with,” Powell stated.

 

 

 

 

New Life for the MX Missile?

A vestige of the Cold War, the mammoth, 10-warhead MX missile is on schedule to become history next fall just like the superpower conflict that spawned its creation...

Wade Boese


A vestige of the Cold War, the mammoth, 10-warhead MX missile is on schedule to become history next fall just like the superpower conflict that spawned its creation. Yet, Pentagon planners are already contemplating the missile’s possible reincarnation.

Air Force Space Command has deactivated 26 MX intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), also known as “Peacekeepers,” and has 24 more to go, according to spokesperson Michael Kucharek. The last MX missile is supposed to be disassembled by September 2005.

The Bush administration is deactivating the entire MX force as part of its efforts to reduce the number of operationally deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads to comply with the terms of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty negotiated with Russia in 2002.

In decommissioning the MX group, the four-stage missile is taken apart in sections, beginning with its payload, and then the sections are shipped to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, for storage. The Pentagon plans to maintain the MX missile silos, rather than blow them up, in order to keep them available to house future missiles.

A February 2004 report by a task force of the Defense Science Board, an independent advisory body to the secretary of defense, recommended redeploying MX missiles armed with conventional warheads so as to be able to hit targets around the globe in no more than 30 minutes.

The Air Force Space Command plans to review the proposal as part of a study beginning this month. That effort will examine what systems should be developed to replace hundreds of U.S. Minuteman III ICBMs whose service lives start to expire in 2018. The United States currently deploys 500 Minuteman IIIs armed with 1,200 nuclear warheads.

 

 

 

 

GAO: Deployment Looms, But Missile Defense Remains Unproven

Some Pentagon projects to build missile defense systems are showing progress, but it remains uncertain whether key elements set for deployment this September will work as intended...

Wade Boese


Some Pentagon projects to build missile defense systems are showing progress, but it remains uncertain whether key elements set for deployment this September will work as intended, according to an April 2004 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO).

“System effectiveness will be largely unproven when the initial capability goes on alert at the end of September 2004,” the GAO concluded in its latest critical review of U.S. missile defense programs. The congressional watchdog further charged that lawmakers and other policymakers might not be fully aware of the various defenses’ true capabilities because the programs are always in flux and lack criteria and benchmarks for measuring progress.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) oversees research and development of U.S. missile defenses. It is currently striving to field the initial elements of some of those systems by this September in accordance with a deployment goal set by President George W. Bush in December 2002.

A long-range ballistic missile launch by North Korea, which has not flight-tested such a missile, is postulated as the near-term threat driving the fall deployment. MDA Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish testified to senators April 21, “[W]e have very high odds of engaging and successfully destroying the threats that we think we’re going after right now.”

The GAO did report that construction of the new ground-based interceptor base at Fort Greely, Alaska, remains on track, but it said that the initial deployment would be scaled back during 2004 and 2005.

Current MDA plans comprise deploying up to 20 ground-based interceptors at two sites, putting nine sea-based interceptors aboard three ships, and upgrading two land-based radars and outfitting 10 ships to help track enemy ballistic missiles.

Earlier plans called for up to 20 sea-based interceptors and 15 ships with improved missile-tracking capabilities. The number of deployed ground-based interceptors is also likely to fall short of expectations because of interceptor test and production delays, GAO predicted.

Moreover, GAO questioned whether the interceptors that will be deployed would work as intended. The report pointed out that both the ground- and sea-based interceptors have had problems with their kill vehicles and that subsequent technical fixes have not been verified through flight testing. The kill vehicle is the component designed to seek out and collide with an enemy warhead in space.

More broadly, the interceptors have only been subjected to a modest number of “highly scripted” developmental tests that do not replicate realistic conditions—a limitation that GAO recommended should be remedied by subjecting the systems to more challenging experiments.

The Pentagon has heard such critiques in the past and replied as it has before that real-world testing of missile defenses is only possible after the systems are built and deployed.

Under its new spiral development approach, the Pentagon aims to field weapons systems earlier in their development cycle and improve them incrementally. Such an evolving system is more responsive to new or changing threats and provides some defensive capability sooner rather than later, the Pentagon argues.

Although acknowledging that such flexibility may be useful in helping defenses keep pace with threats, GAO reported it also diminishes program accountability.

GAO called upon MDA to establish future cost, schedule, and performance baselines for its programs, so Congress can exercise better oversight and the armed services can more accurately budget how much a particular defense will cost them to procure and operate.

Current MDA estimates place the cost of missile defense programs at $53 billion between fiscal year 2004 (which began Oct. 1, 2003) and fiscal year 2009, but GAO said the total does not include figures for buying, producing, operating, and maintaining future systems. The sum does include deploying the initial missile defense elements because those activities are categorized as research and development.

One system experiencing significant cost overruns and development delays is the Airborne Laser (ABL), which is a plane armed with a laser to destroy ballistic missiles soon after their launch. Earlier estimates put the system’s development cost at $2.5 billion and projected that the first aircraft might be available as early as 2003, but the program’s budget has doubled and its earliest deployment date has slipped by at least two years. GAO said the program’s difficulty was “substantially underestimated.”

GAO judged two other MDA programs more favorably. It assessed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles near the end of their flights as ahead of schedule and below budget and the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), designed to track ballistic missiles from orbit, as “on track for meeting performance requirements.” GAO cautioned that unforeseen problems could still arise.

Ground-Based Midcourse Missile Defense* Intercept Tests

DATE
RESULT
Oct. 2, 1999 Hit
Jan. 18, 2000 Miss
July 8, 2000 Miss
July 14, 2001 Hit
Dec. 3, 2001 Hit
Mar. 15, 2002 Hit
Oct. 14, 2002 Hit
Dec. 11, 2002 Miss

*Formerly known as National MIssile Defense.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Lifts More Sanctions on Libya

The White House announced April 23 that it is easing additional sanctions on Libya as a reward for Tripoli’s progress toward dismantling its chemical and nuclear weapons programs...

Paul Kerr


The White House announced April 23 that it is easing additional sanctions on Libya as a reward for Tripoli’s progress toward dismantling its chemical and nuclear weapons programs and eliminating its long-range missiles. Libya had pledged to end the programs in December 2003.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said President George W. Bush “terminated the application of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) with respect to Libya and the Department of the Treasury has modified sanctions imposed…under the authority of the International Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).” The decision will permit “the resumption of most commercial activities” between the two countries, McClellan added.

The ILSA allowed the United States to punish foreign companies for certain investments in Libya’s oil and gas industries, as well as for providing goods or services contributing to Libya’s ability to acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. President Ronald Reagan imposed sanctions against Libya under the IEEPA in January 1986 after its involvement in terrorist attacks in Europe the previous month.

Despite Washington’s decision, Libya remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Countries on that list are subject to several sanctions, including prohibitions on arms exports, economic assistance from the United States, and Department of Defense contracts. The United States is also required to oppose loans to such countries from international financial institutions and impose export controls on dual-use items.

McClellan said that “the necessity of ending any tie to terrorist groups or activities will continue to be a central issue in relations with Libya.” Tripoli agreed to terminate its support for terrorism as part of its December agreement.

Libya also remains subject to some other sanctions. Direct flights are still prohibited, and Libyan assets in the United States remain frozen.

Still, McClellan stated that Libya “has taken significant steps [toward] eliminating weapons of mass destruction programs,” praising Tripoli’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention and adoption of an additional protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement. The latter gives the IAEA additional authority to check for clandestine nuclear activities.

The United States has removed all of Libya’s longest-range missiles and most elements of its nuclear weapons program. Libya has destroyed its chemical weapons-capable munitions and agreed to destroy the remaining chemical agents. (See ACT, April 2004.)

Washington’s decision, which Libya’s official JANA news agency called a “victory” the same day it was announced, follows a February announcement that the United States was removing all travel restrictions to Tripoli and allowing “U.S. companies with pre-sanctions holdings in Libya...to negotiate the terms of their re-entry into operations” there.

The possibility of ending sanctions has provided leverage to U.S. diplomacy with Tripoli. Former State Department official Flynt Leverett wrote in January that the United States offered to lift sanctions as “an explicit quid pro quo” for Libya’s dismantling its weapons, although a senior administration official denied in December that “specific discussion[s] about lifting sanctions” took place. Additionally, Secretary of State Colin Powell implied during a February congressional hearing that U.S. officials explicitly held out lifting sanctions as a reward for Tripoli’s continued implementation of its December commitments.

The United Nations permanently lifted its sanctions on Libya in September 2003 after Libya complied with its remaining obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions. (See ACT, October 2003.)

McClellan also announced other U.S. diplomatic efforts. Specifically, the United States will “drop [its] objection” to Tripoli’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization, and the Department of State “intends to establish a U.S. liaison office in Tripoli, pending congressional notification.”

The United States closed its embassy in Tripoli in 1980 but currently has an interests section in the Belgian Embassy there. An interests section is a small diplomatic mission housed in another country’s embassy, used for contacts between countries that do not have full diplomatic relations. A liaison office flies the U.S. flag and is an intermediate step to full diplomatic relations.

McClellan added that Libya’s disarmament efforts have “set a standard that we hope other nations will emulate.” U.S. officials have repeatedly held up Libya’s “strategic decision” to eliminate its weapons programs as a model for other countries, such as Iran and North Korea, to follow. (See ACT, April 2004.)

UN Security Council Praises Libya

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council issued a statement April 22 welcoming Libya’s disarmament efforts and taking “note” of a March resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors. That resolution found that Libya’s past clandestine nuclear activities “constituted non-compliance” with its IAEA safeguards agreement but also praised Libya’s subsequent cooperation with the agency, as well as its dismantlement efforts. (See ACT, April 2004.) IAEA safeguards agreements are designed to provide assurance that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty do not divert civilian nuclear programs to military purposes.

Because of Libya’s cooperation, the resolution requested that IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei report Libya’s noncompliance to the Security Council “for information purposes only.” The IAEA is required to report findings of noncompliance to the Security Council, which then has the option of taking action against the offending government. The Security Council did not do so, instead “commending” Libya for its cooperation in its recent statement.

Washington has been trying to involve the Security Council in condemning two other countries’ nuclear programs. The United States wants the IAEA board to find Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreement but has not yet been able to persuade the board to do so (see page 26). The IAEA referred North Korea to the council in February 2003, but no action has been taken. (See ACT, April 2003.)

 

 

 

 

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