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"[Arms Control Today is] Absolutely essential reading for the upcoming Congressional budget debate on the 2018 #NPR and its specific recommendations ... well-informed, insightful, balanced, and filled with common sense."

– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
Disarmament

U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Agreements at a Glance

June 2017

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: August 2019

Over the past four decades, American and Soviet/Russian leaders have used a progression of bilateral agreements and other measures to limit and reduce their substantial nuclear warhead and strategic missile and bomber arsenals. The following is a brief summary.

Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements

SALT I

Begun in November 1969, by May 1972, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) had produced both the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which limited strategic missile defenses to 200 (later 100) interceptors each, and the Interim Agreement, an executive agreement that capped U.S. and Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) forces. Under the Interim Agreement, both sides pledged not to construct new ICBM silos, not to increase the size of existing ICBM silos “significantly,” and capped the number of SLBM launch tubes and SLBM-carrying submarines. The agreement ignored strategic bombers and did not address warhead numbers, leaving both sides free to enlarge their forces by deploying multiple warheads (MIRVs) onto their ICBMs and SLBMs and increasing their bomber-based forces. The agreement limited the United States to 1,054 ICBM silos and 656 SLBM launch tubes. The Soviet Union was limited to 1,607 ICBM silos and 740 SLBM launch tubes. In June 2002, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty.

SALT II

In November 1972, Washington and Moscow agreed to pursue a follow-on treaty to SALT I. SALT II, signed in June 1979, limited U.S. and Soviet ICBM, SLBM, and strategic bomber-based nuclear forces to 2,250 delivery vehicles (defined as an ICBM silo, a SLBM launch tube, or a heavy bomber) and placed a variety of other restrictions on deployed strategic nuclear forces. The agreement would have required the Soviets to reduce their forces by roughly 270 delivery vehicles, but U.S. forces were below the limits and could actually have been increased. However, President Jimmy Carter asked the Senate not to consider SALT II for its advice and consent after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, and the treaty was not taken up again. Both Washington and Moscow subsequently pledged to adhere to the agreement’s terms despite its failure to enter into force. However, on May 26, 1986, President Ronald Reagan said that future decisions on strategic nuclear forces would be based on the threat posed by Soviet forces and not on "a flawed SALT II Treaty.”

START I

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), first proposed in the early 1980s by President Ronald Reagan and finally signed in July 1991, required the United States and the Soviet Union to reduce their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,600 delivery vehicles, carrying no more than 6,000 warheads as counted using the agreement’s rules. The agreement required the destruction of excess delivery vehicles which was verified using an intrusive verification regime that involved on-site inspections, the regular exchange of information (including telemetry), and the use of national technical means (i.e., satellites). The agreement’s entry into force was delayed for several years because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and ensuing efforts to denuclearize Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus by returning their nuclear weapons to Russia and making them parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and START I agreements. START I reductions were completed in December 2001, and the treaty expired on Dec. 5, 2009.

START II

In June 1992, Presidents George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin agreed to pursue a follow-on accord to START I. START II, signed in January 1993, called for reducing deployed strategic arsenals to 3,000-3,500 warheads and banned the deployment of destabilizing multiple-warhead land-based missiles. START II would have counted warheads in roughly the same fashion as START I and, also like its predecessor, would have required the destruction of delivery vehicles but not warheads. The agreement's original implementation deadline was January 2003, ten years after signature, but a 1997 protocol moved this deadline to December 2007 because of the extended delay in ratification. Both the Senate and the Duma approved START II, but the treaty did not take effect because the Senate did not ratify the 1997 protocol and several ABM Treaty amendments, whose passage the Duma established as a condition for START II’s entry into force. START II was effectively shelved as a result of the 2002 U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty.

START III Framework

In March 1997, Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed to a framework for START III negotiations that included a reduction in deployed strategic warheads to 2,000-2,500. Significantly, in addition to requiring the destruction of delivery vehicles, START III negotiations were to address “the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads…to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions including prevention of a rapid increase in the number of warheads.” Negotiations were supposed to begin after START II entered into force, which never happened.

SORT (Moscow Treaty)

On May 24, 2002, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT or Moscow Treaty) under which the United States and Russia reduced their strategic arsenals to 1,700-2,200 warheads each. The warhead limit took effect and expired on the same day, Dec. 31, 2012. Although the two sides did not agree on specific counting rules, the Bush administration asserted that the United States would reduce only warheads deployed on strategic delivery vehicles in active service (i.e., “operationally deployed” warheads) and would not count warheads removed from service and placed in storage or warheads on delivery vehicles undergoing overhaul or repair. The agreement’s limits are similar to those envisioned for START III, but the treaty did not require the destruction of delivery vehicles, as START I and II did, or the destruction of warheads, as had been envisioned for START III. The treaty was approved by the Senate and Duma and entered into force on June 1, 2003. SORT was replaced by New START on Feb. 5, 2011.

New START

On April 8, 2010, the United States and Russia signed New START, a legally binding, verifiable agreement that limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 700 strategic delivery systems (ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers) and limits deployed and nondeployed launchers to 800. The treaty-accountable warhead limit is 30 percent lower than the 2,200 upper limit of SORT, and the delivery vehicle limit is 50 percent lower than the 1,600 allowed in START I. The treaty has a verification regime that combines elements of START I with new elements tailored to New START. Measures under the treaty include on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring. The treaty also provides for the continued exchange of telemetry (missile flight-test data on up to five tests per year) and does not meaningfully limit missile defenses or long-range conventional strike capabilities. The U.S. Senate approved New START on Dec. 22, 2010. The approval process of the Russian parliament (passage by both the State Duma and Federation Council) was completed Jan. 26, 2011. The treaty entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011 and will expire in 2021, though both parties may agree to extend the treaty for a period of up to five years. Both parties met the treaty’s central limits by the Feb. 5, 2018 deadline for implementation.

Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements

Strategic Nuclear Arms Control Agreements
  SALT  I SALT II INF Treaty START I START II START III SORT

New START

Status Expired Never Entered Into Force Expired Expired Never Entered Into Force Never Negotiated Replaced by New START In Force
Deployed Warhead Limit N/A N/A N/A 6,000 3,000-3,500 2,000-2,500 1,700-2,200 1,550
Deployed Delivery Vehicle Limit US: 1,710 ICBMs & SLBMs
USSR: 2,347
2,250 Prohibits ground-based missiles of 500-5,500 km range 1,600 N/A N/A N/A 700
Date Signed May 26, 1972 June 18, 1979 Dec. 8, 1987 July 31, 1991 Jan. 3, 1993 N/A May 24, 2002 April 8, 2010
Date Ratifed, U.S. Aug. 3, 1972 N/A May 28, 1988 Oct. 1, 1992 Jan. 26, 1996 N/A March 6, 2003 Dec. 22, 2010
Ratification Vote, U.S. 88-2 N/A 93-6 93-6 87-4 N/A 95-0 71-26
Date Entered Into Force Oct. 3, 1972 N/A June 1, 1988 Dec. 5, 1994 N/A N/A June 1, 2003 Feb. 5, 2011
Implementation Deadline N/A N/A June 1, 1991 Dec. 5, 2001 N/A N/A N/A Feb. 5, 2018
Expiration Date Oct. 3, 1977 N/A Aug. 2, 2019 Dec. 5, 2009 N/A N/A Feb. 5, 2011 Feb. 5, 2021*

*New START allows for the option to extend the treaty beyond 2021 for a period of up to five years.

Nonstrategic Nuclear Arms Control Measures

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

Signed Dec. 8, 1987, the INF Treaty required the United States and the Soviet Union to verifiably eliminate all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Distinguished by its unprecedented, intrusive inspection regime, including on-site inspections, the INF Treaty laid the groundwork for verification of the subsequent START I. The INF Treaty entered into force June 1, 1988, and the two sides completed their reductions by June 1, 1991, destroying a total of 2,692 missiles. The agreement was multilateralized after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and current active participants in the agreement include the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are also parties to the agreement but do not participate in treaty meetings or on-site inspections. The ban on intermediate-range missiles is of unlimited duration.

Both the United States and Russia have raised concerns about the other side’s compliance with the INF Treaty. The United States first publicly charged Russia in 2014 with developing and testing a ground-launched cruise missile—the 9M729 missile—with a range that exceeds the INF Treaty limits.

Russia denies that it breached the agreement and has raised its own concerns about Washington’s compliance. Moscow has charged that the United States is placing a missile defense launch system in Europe that could also be used to fire cruise missiles, using targets for missile defense tests with similar characteristics to INF Treaty-prohibited intermediate-range missiles, and is making armed drones that are equivalent to ground-launched cruise missiles. On Oct. 20, 2018 President Donald Trump announced his intention to “terminate” the agreement citing Russian noncompliance and concerns about China’s missiles, and on Dec. 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Russia in “material breach” of the treaty. The Trump administration provided official notice to the other treaty states-parties on Feb. 2 that it would both suspend its obligations to the treaty and withdraw from the agreement in six months—per the treaty's terms—and "terminate" the agreement unless Russia returned to compliance by eliminating its ground-launched 9M729 missiles. 

On Aug. 2, 2019, the United States formally withdrew from the INF Treaty.

Presidential Nuclear Initiatives 

On Sept. 27, 1991, President George H. W. Bush announced that the United States would remove almost all U.S. tactical (nonstrategic) nuclear forces from deployment so that Russia could undertake similar actions, reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation as the Soviet Union dissolved. Specifically, Bush said the United States would eliminate all its nuclear artillery shells and short-range nuclear ballistic missile warheads and remove all nonstrategic nuclear warheads from surface ships, attack submarines, and land-based naval aircraft. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reciprocated on Oct. 5, pledging to eliminate all nuclear artillery munitions, nuclear warheads for tactical missiles, and nuclear landmines. He also pledged to withdraw all Soviet tactical naval nuclear weapons from deployment. Under these initiatives, the United States and Russia reduced their deployed nonstrategic stockpiles by an estimated 5,000 and 13,000 warheads, respectively. However, significant questions remain about Russian implementation of its pledges, and there is considerable uncertainty about the current state of Russia’s tactical nuclear forces. The Defense Department estimates that Russia possesses roughly 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons and the numbers are expanding. The United States maintains several hundred nonstrategic B61 gravity bombs for delivery by short-range fighter aircraft. 

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Country Resources:

Extending New START Is in America's National Security Interest


January/February 2019
By Frank Klotz

On December 4, 2018, the United States officially declared that Russia’s ongoing violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty constitutes a material breach of the treaty and that the United States will suspend its obligations under the treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance.1

U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in Prague on April 8, 2010, committing their nations to further nuclear arms cuts. (Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)If the United States ultimately follows through on this course of action, as seems likely, only one bilateral agreement would remain that mutually constrains the size of the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces. Moreover, that one agreement, the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), is due to expire in less than three years, that is, 10 years from the date it entered into force.2 The treaty’s terms, however, permit it to be extended for up to one additional five-year period with the approval of the U.S. and Russian presidents, without further review by the legislative bodies of the two countries.

Unlike the case with the INF Treaty, the U.S. Department of State has repeatedly certified that Russia is in compliance with the terms of New START.3 In addition, New START has been and remains in the military and national security interests of the United States. Thus, the most prudent course of action would be to extend New START before it expires in 2021 and thereby gain the time needed to carefully consider the options for a successor agreement or agreements and to negotiate a deal with the Russians.

New START was signed in April 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. It entered into force in February 2011, following approval by Russia's Duma and Federation Council and after a particularly rancorous debate in the U.S. Senate. The treaty called for the continued reduction of the nuclear forces of both countries, which had begun in the Reagan era.4 It also put in place a comprehensive verification regime, including provisions for on-site inspections at each other’s nuclear-capable bomber, missile, and submarine bases, as well as routine data exchanges and notifications regarding specific activities associated with their respective strategic offensive arms.5 Both sides met the February 2018 deadline for reducing their existing nuclear forces to the treaty's mandated limits. In addition, as of late 2018, they had each conducted more than 140 on-site inspections and together had exchanged almost 17,000 notifications related to their strategic nuclear forces and facilities.6

Whether the current U.S. administration will opt to extend New START, as permitted by the treaty, is uncertain. Shortly after entering office in January 2017, President Donald Trump reportedly referred to the treaty as a “bad deal” during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the latter raised the possibility of extending the treaty.7 On the other hand, the U.S. president subsequently told reporters in March 2018 that he would like to meet with Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”8

Indeed, one of the issues that received considerable attention during the run-up to the July 2018 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki was whether the United States and Russia should agree during the meeting to extend New START.9 That did not happen. Putin did reveal, however, in an interview that he had “reassured President Trump [during the summit] that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it” but that questions regarding U.S. compliance would first have to be decided by “experts.”10

No Firm Position

The U.S. administration apparently does not have a firm position on whether to extend New START before it expires in 2021, nor has it publicly given any indication of when it might have one. In a postsummit follow-up meeting with his Russian counterpart, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, stated in August that the administration was “very, very early in the process of considering” what to do about New START.11 Bolton was a strong critic of the treaty before joining the administration. In congressional testimony in September, senior officials from the departments of State and Defense emphasized that U.S. policy toward extension of New START was still being deliberated within the administration. David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, noted that “any decision on extending the treaty will, and should be, based on a realistic assessment of whether the New START treaty remains in our national security interests in light of overall Russian arms control behavior.”12

So, the key question is whether it is in U.S. national security interests to extend New START before it expires in 2021. Significantly, many members of the one domestic constituency that ought to be the most concerned about the size and posture of the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces—the U.S. military—clearly believe that it is.

 

At first blush, it may seem counterintuitive that those in charge of the institution with responsibility for designing, developing, and operating nuclear-capable bombers and ballistic missiles would also support an agreement that places constraints on the number of those forces that can be deployed. Yet, ever since the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) started in 1969, U.S. military officers have been actively involved in the negotiations leading to nuclear arms control agreements as members of the U.S. negotiating teams and as participants in the interagency deliberations regarding U.S. goals and objectives. Admittedly, a principal objective of the military with respect to this process has been to ensure the U.S. negotiating teams were well versed in the practical realities of fielding and operating nuclear forces and did not inadvertently offer or accept proposals that would unduly impinge on the military's ability to effectively maintain its bombers and missiles and train their crews.

Arms Control Rationale

Senior U.S. military leaders have also accepted a more conceptually based rationale for supporting the nuclear arms control process. During the 1960s, several U.S. scholars and policymakers had advanced the notion that “armed readiness” and “arms control” can be simultaneously pursued as complementary approaches to protecting national security. Many of the seminal writings associated with this view were studied within military schools during the Cold War. For example, in the 1970s, all U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were required to take a semester-long course on U.S. defense policy that included excerpts from Thomas Schelling's and Morton Halperin's Strategy and Arms Control as assigned reading.13

Regrettably, the treatment of nuclear policy and arms control in professional military education has declined significantly over the past two decades as the focus of attention has shifted to the conduct of military operations in Southwest Asia and countering the threat of terrorism. Nevertheless, a generation of senior military leaders, schooled early in their careers in the classic texts of nuclear deterrence theory, have consistently cited, in their public statements and in their congressional testimony, the benefits that arms control agreements confer.

Foremost among these beliefs is the strongly held view that the transparency and verification measures in the more recent nuclear arms control agreements provide insight into the size, capabilities, and operations of the other side's nuclear forces beyond that provided by more traditional intelligence collection and assessment methods. For example, writing in support of the ratification of New START in 2010, seven former, four-star commanders of U.S. strategic nuclear forces stated that “we will understand Russian strategic forces much better with this treaty than would be the case without it.” They also emphasized that the treaty would contribute to a more stable relationship between the United States and Russia.14

Equally important to senior military leaders has been the role arms control agreements have played in constraining the size and, in certain instances, the capabilities of the other side's nuclear forces. The U.S.-Russian nuclear arms competition during the Cold War was fueled in part by a concern that the other side might achieve a technological breakthrough or build up its forces in such a way as to threaten the survivability of one's own nuclear forces and the ability to retaliate in response to nuclear aggression, thus increasing the incentives for one side or the other to strike or respond quickly, thereby undermining a fundamental prerequisite of stable, mutual deterrence.

Arms control agreements served to ameliorate this concern by capping the overall number of deployed nuclear forces, precluding either side from achieving an overwhelming advantage.15 For the U.S. military, this helped reduce uncertainty and enhance predictability about Russia's capabilities and intentions, allowing it to size and shape U.S. forces with greater confidence in the adequacy of its own investment plans and programs. It also helped free up funding for conventional military capability that might otherwise have been allocated to nuclear forces.

This general view of the benefits of arms control as a complementary strategy to maintaining a survivable, reliable, and effective nuclear deterrence force has carried over to the current considerations of extending New START for an additional five years. In contrast to the noncommittal public statements of civilian national security officials this fall, senior military leaders have been more forthcoming. For example, in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in March 2017, General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, each expressed strong support for New START, the latter stating that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”16 Lieutenant General Jack Weinstein, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, publicly stated that same month that the treaty was of “huge value” to the United States, adding that it has “been good for us.”17 Trump's statements in October 2018 regarding a possible U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty has also prompted letters from former national security officials, including retired senior military officers, to salvage the INF Treaty and extend New START.18

Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command Air Force General John Hyten testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing March 8, 2017. He expressed support for New START, saying that that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.” (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)In addition to concerns about strategic stability and mutual deterrence, the U.S. military's support for New START reflects very practical considerations about current programs and defense budgets. The Defense Department has embarked on a comprehensive, multiyear effort to modernize its aging fleet of bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and nuclear submarines. The current “program of record” seeks to replace existing strategic nuclear delivery systems on a roughly one-for-one basis. The new systems would thus fit within the New START limits on deployed and nondeployed systems. Moreover, as long as these limits remain in force, Russian nuclear forces will also be constrained to current and predictable levels. Therefore, the U.S. military can assume with some confidence that its modernization program will be adequate to the task of providing for an effective deterrent for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, the U.S. nuclear sustainment and modernization program that Trump inherited from his predecessor, even within New START force limits, is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $1.2 trillion dollars over 30 years (in 2017 dollars and, therefore, higher when accounting for inflation).19 An unconstrained buildup would certainly cost far more. The United States and Russia would not necessarily embark on a significant buildup of their respective strategic offensive forces in the absence of New START or a subsequent agreement, but there would be no treaty obligations preventing them from doing so.

Finally, most senior military leaders acknowledge privately, but for understandable reasons do not state in public, that support for the current nuclear modernization program in Congress over the past decade has depended on a bipartisan consensus based in large part on a “grand bargain” that nuclear modernization and nuclear arms control will be pursued simultaneously. The change of leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives will surely test the resiliency of that consensus in the months ahead. Allowing New START to expire without anything to replace it, coupled with a possible formal withdrawal from the INF Treaty, would most likely place additional stress on that consensus, making it much more difficult to rally support for the current program of record to replace the existing force of aging nuclear delivery systems and revitalize the national laboratories and production facilities of the Department of Energy's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration.20

Viable Alternatives?

Are there any viable alternatives to extending New START that would provide U.S. military planners the same level of certainty about U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear balance and thus the adequacy of current and future U.S. nuclear deterrence capabilities? Although this topic requires considerable thought and discussion, a few general points can be ventured at this stage.

One possible option is to negotiate a new treaty that retains the most salient features of New START, such as limits on deployed forces and robust transparency and verification measures, but addresses matters of particular importance to the United States. The Senate resolution on ratification of New START had expressed concern about the disparity in the number of nonstrategic (theater) nuclear weapons possessed by Russia compared to the number of nonstrategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States in Europe, and the Obama administration sought to quickly follow New START with negotiations to deal with these systems.21 Those negotiations never took place. More recently, the United States has expressed concern about several new types of nuclear delivery systems that have been developed by Russia and publicly touted by Putin.22 Of course, in any negotiations for a new treaty, the Russians will have their own list of desiderata, including limiting U.S. missile defenses and the deployment of highly precise conventional weapons that could potentially be used to attack Russian nuclear forces and command, control, and communications systems. Even in the unlikely situation that these technically complex and politically fraught issues could be set aside or speedily resolved in the interest of negotiating a successor agreement, the process would still take time, certainly longer than the two years that remain before the treaty expires, if history is any guide.

 

Another option that has been floated is to replace New START with an agreement like the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, also known as the Moscow Treaty. Bolton has reportedly described this notion as a “possibility.”23 The treaty was signed by President George W. Bush and Putin in May 2002 after negotiations that lasted only six months. It required both sides to reduce the number of “operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons” to a level between 1,700 and 2,200. Unlike previous U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreements that included many pages of lengthy articles, protocols, and annexes, this treaty was less than two pages long, in large part because it did not include any verification provisions. For Bush administration officials, these were unnecessary because the treaty could rely on the verification regime established in the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which was still in force at the time and would be in place for at least another seven years.24 As it turned out, START I expired in 2009 with no replacement or verification mechanism in place until New START entered into force in 2011 and superseded the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

For these and other reasons, this treaty has been criticized as not being “serious arms control.”25 This charge belies a rather narrow view of what constitutes arms control. Despite its brevity, the treaty nevertheless codified in a legally binding manner the desire of both sides to significantly constrain the number of warheads and bombs deployed on ICBMs, on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and on nuclear-capable bombers. For the United States, this meant reducing the existing force of these weapons by roughly two-thirds. Moreover, because it was framed as a treaty, the agreement was subject to consideration by the U.S. Senate. The resolution of advice and consent to ratification was passed by a unanimous (95-0) vote, thus placing a bipartisan stamp of approval on the process of the further nuclear arms reductions that Bush had signaled he was willing to take unilaterally.26 If that is not serious arms control, it raises the question of what is.

Whether the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty constitutes a model for replacing New START is an entirely different matter. Treaty critics have a point in arguing that it was the product of a unique set of political and economic circumstances in both countries when it was negotiated and that the strategic context and relationship between the two countries are very different today. For example, if New START expires in 2021, there would be no legally binding verification regime in place to give either side the same level of confidence that the other was abiding by the terms of a successor agreement like the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. Given the emphasis the Congress has traditionally placed on verification and compliance, this would certainly be a political deal breaker.

A third possible option would be to allow New START to expire with U.S. and Russian presidents unilaterally or jointly declaring that their countries will voluntary abide by the existing limits. They could even add that they would continue to follow the major practices of the current verification regime (e.g., data exchanges, notifications, and on-site inspections). The notion of a less formal approach to arms control certainly has a respectable scholarly pedigree. In 1961, Schelling and Halperin wrote that “a more variegated and flexible concept of arms control is necessary—one that recognizes that the degree of formality may range from a formal treaty with detailed specifications, at one end of the scale, through executive agreements, explicit but informal understandings, tacit understandings, to self-restraint that is consciously contingent on each other’s behavior.”27

In fact, all of these elements have been part of the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship at some time and in some form and fashion. During the Cold War, for instance, the two superpowers developed certain norms and modes of behavior regarding military actions that were implicit and, in some cases, explicit in nature, such as avoiding situations in which their military forces might come into direct contact during a crisis or conflict. Whether a nonbinding, informal, or tacit agreement to limit the number of strategic nuclear forces possessed by Russia would provide the level of transparency and predictability that senior U.S. military leaders have come to value is questionable.

Pursuing any of these options or some variant or combination of them will certainly take time. Given the current state of U.S.-Russian relations and the fact the 2020 presidential campaign for all intents and purposes has already begun, it is highly unlikely that two years will be sufficient to accomplish the task. Whatever happens, the existing mutual limits on strategic nuclear forces and the associated transparency and verification measures of New START should not be allowed to expire without replacement. It is manifestly in the best interests of the United States and Russia to agree to extend New START as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the last minute to broker a deal.

Difficult Environment

The difficulties of getting to “yes” on an agreement to extend New START, much less an entirely new nuclear arms control agreement or treaty, should not be underestimated. As noted earlier, the U.S.-Russian relationship is currently burdened by sharp differences in the nuclear realm, such as compliance issues and development of new strategic capabilities. The INF Treaty compliance disputes, in particular, cast a shadow over the prospects. In December, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed this out. “I will obviously not make this decision. I’ll make recommendations,” he said. “But it’s very difficult for me to envision progress in extending (New START)…if the foundation of that is non-compliance with the INF Treaty.”28

To make matters worse, U.S.-Russian discussions on nuclear matters have virtually ground to a halt. They certainly do not exhibit the same intensity, nor do they occur with the same frequency as they did during the Cold War and the first two decades thereafter. Efforts to hold “strategic stability” talks over the past two years have unfortunately faltered due a lack of purpose and seriousness on both sides and as Washington and Moscow take various “retaliatory” measures against one another that render holding talks on any topic politically problematic.

Yet, even at the height of the Cold War and despite profound differences in many other aspects of their relationship, the United States and Russia managed to engage in substantive official and unofficial (Track II) discussions on strategic nuclear matters and, over time, to develop a deeper understanding of each other’s points of view and concerns. Moreover, this ongoing dialogue laid the groundwork necessary to successfully negotiate several different nuclear arms control agreements over a 40-year period. The best way to start the process of addressing the factors that currently cloud the nuclear relationship between the two countries would be to launch a new, more robust series of discussions on nuclear deterrence and arms control involving current and former U.S. and Russian diplomats, senior military officials, and technical experts and to consciously insulate that dialogue from other vagaries in the overall bilateral relationship.

Finally, the current political situation within the United States will present challenges in achieving a broad domestic consensus in support of extending New START. In November, bills in support of doing so and bills designed to constrain the administration's freedom of maneuver on the issue were introduced in the Senate and the House.29 Whether any of the proposed language will ever become law is questionable, especially given the new reality of divided control of the two chambers.

Yet, Congress may well become the focus of debate on extending New START before it expires, especially given the executive branch's current reticence to elaborate its views in public. Proactively engaging members of Congress and their staffs in discussions on how nuclear arms control in general and New START in particular serve U.S. military and national security interests would be time well spent.

 

ENDNOTES
 

1. U.S. Department of State, “Press Availability at NATO Headquarters,” December 4, 2018, https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2018/12/287873.htm. On the same day, the United States’ European allies “strongly supported” the U.S. finding of material breach. NATO, “Statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty Issued by the NATO Foreign Ministers,” December 2018, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_161122.htm.

2. For the text of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), see U.S. Department of State, “New START: Treaty Text,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/c44126.htm (accessed December 16, 2018).

3. U.S. Department of State, “Annual Report on Implementation of the New START Treaty,” January 2018, p. 4, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/280780.pdf.

4. The treaty limits each side to an aggregate total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments (each such heavy bomber is counted as one warhead toward this limit); and 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.

5. U.S. Department of State, “New START,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/ (accessed December 16, 2018).

6. U.S. Department of State, “New START Treaty Inspection Activities,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/c52405.htm (accessed December 16, 2018). The United States actually carried out more reductions than Russia. The number of systems removed can be derived by comparing the aggregate numbers held by both sides in February 2011 to those held in February 2018. Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC), U.S. Department of State, “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," June 1, 2011, https://2009-2017.state.gov/t/avc/rls/164722.htm; AVC, “New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," Feburary 22, 2018, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/newstart/278775.htm.

7. Jonathan Landay and David Rohde, “Exclusive: In Call With Putin, Trump Denounced Obama-Era Nuclear Arms Treaty - Sources,” Reuters, February 9, 2017.

8. Jenna Johnson and Anton Troianovski, “Trump Congratulates Putin on His Reelection, Discusses U.S. Russian 'Arms Race,’” The Washington Post, March 20, 2018.

9. For example, see Alexandra Bell and Kingston Reif, “A Real Triumph for Trump: Extend New START,” Breaking Defense, July 14, 2018.

10. “Chris Wallace Interviews Russian President Putin,” Fox News, July 16, 2018.

11. Karen DeYoung, “Bolton and His Russian Counterpart Discuss Arms Control, Syria and Iran,” The Washington Post, August 23, 2018.

12. Kingston Reif, “Republican Senators Back New START,” Arms Control Today, October 2018.

13. Mark E. Smith III and Claude J. Johns Jr., eds., American Defense Policy, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1968), pp. 116-128. Smith and Johns were members of the Department of Political Science faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

14. General Larry Welch et al., Letter to Senator Carl Levin et al., July 14, 2010, https://s3.amazonaws.com/ucs-documents/nuclear-weapons/New-START-Letter-2010.pdf.

15. Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), pp. 9–14.

16. Military Assessment of Nuclear Deterrence Requirements: Hearing Before the Committee on Armed Services, 115th Cong. 29 (2017). See Stephen Young, “New START Is a Winner,” Union of Concerned Scientists, March 16, 2017, https://allthingsnuclear.org/syoung/new-start-is-a-winner.

17. Aaron Mehta, “Air Force Nuclear Officer: New START Treaty Is ‘Good for Us,’” Defense News, March 2, 2017.

18. Rick Gladstone, “In Bipartisan Pleas, Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaty With Russia,” The New York Times, November 8, 2018.

19. U.S. Congressional Budget Office, “Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046,” October 2017, pp. 1–2, https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/53211-nuclearforces.pdf.

20. For information on the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) modernization plans and programs, see NNSA, U.S. Department of Energy, “Fiscal Year 2019 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan—Biennial Plan Summary: Report to Congress,” October 2018, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/10/f57/FY2019%20SSMP.pdf.

21. “Treaty With Russia on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms,” Congress.gov, n.d., https://www.congress.gov/treaty-document/111th-congress/5/resolution-text (accessed December 16, 2018).

22. Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review,” February 2018, p. 8, https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF. See Anton Troianovski, “Putin Claims Russia Is Developing Nuclear Arms Capable of Avoiding Missile Defenses,” The Washington Post, March 1, 2018.

23. DeYoung, "Bolton and His Russian Counterpart Discuss Arms Control, Syria and Iran." As undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton was a key figure in the negotiations that led to the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

24. For the text of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty and related documents, see U.S. Department of State, “Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions (The Moscow Treaty),” May 24, 2002, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/trty/127129.htm. The author was one of these nuclear policy and arms control officials in the Bush administration.

25. For example, Steven Pifer, “John Bolton Keeps Citing This 2002 Pact as an Arms-Control Model. It’s Really Not,” Defense One, November 4, 2018.

26. For example, see Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by the President to Students and Faculty at National Defense University,” May 1, 2001, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/05/20010501-10.html.

27. Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control (New York: The Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), p. 77.

28. Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed, “Russia Must Scrap or Alter Missiles U.S. Says Violate Arms Treaty,” Reuters, December 6, 2018.

29. For example, Office of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, “Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Senator Cotton Introduce the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act,” November 28, 2018, https://cheney.house.gov/2018/11/28/stopping-russian-nuclear-aggression-act/; Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren, “Warren, Merkley, Gillibrand, Markey Introduce Bill to Prevent Nuclear Arms Race,” November 29, 2018, https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-merkley-gillibrand-markey-introduce-bill-to-prevent-nuclear-arms-race.

 


Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Frank Klotz was undersecretary of energy for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration from 2014 to 2018 and commander of Air Force Global Strike Command from 2009 to 2011.

The difficulties of getting to “yes” on an agreement to extend New START, much less a subsequent strategic
nuclear arms control accord, should not be underestimated.

The Guterres Disarmament Agenda


January/February 2019
By Randy Rydell

The adage “where you stand depends on where you sit” aptly summarizes the state of the literature and policies on disarmament today, especially nuclear disarmament. Hence, the nuclear-weapon states and their allies defend their possession of such weapons as fully consistent with their international disarmament commitments.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at a news briefing after presenting his disarmament agenda at a conference at the University of Geneva on May 24, 2018 in Geneva. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)Meanwhile, the non-nuclear-weapon states maintain that the “grand bargain” in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has not been implemented. In frustration, many in civil society, working with several governments, are promoting the newly concluded Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

One characteristic of this predicament is the entrenched nature of the positions and the lack of any sense that the protagonists are pursuing opportunities for dialogue in good faith. In terms of communication across these political lines, one finds two models: a “dialogue of the deaf” and a “dialogue of the like-minded.” In such a climate, dialogue degenerates into parallel monologues guided by the spirit of a zero-sum game regulated by a bizarre form of rules that could have come from the Marquess of Queensberry, complete with rounds, a winner and loser, and boisterous audiences, minus a referee and prohibited punches. This has long been the case inside and outside the UN multilateral disarmament machinery.

Rejecting this business-as-usual approach, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched his disarmament agenda with an address at the University of Geneva on May 24, 2018.1 The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) simultaneously released a 73-page non-paper that elaborated this new agenda,2 and in October, it issued the agenda’s implementation plan.3

This article will describe the initiative’s key themes and proposals and identify those features that represent continuity or change relative to proposals advanced by his predecessors. It will also discuss obstacles to implementation and opportunities for progress. Finally, it will reflect on the broader role of the United Nations, its Secretariat, and its secretary-general in advancing global disarmament objectives.

Continuity

That a UN secretary-general would speak out on disarmament should hardly evoke surprise. After all, each leader since 1946 has addressed the issue as a UN priority, especially nuclear disarmament. Dag Hammarskjöld referred to nuclear disarmament in 1955 as the UN’s “hardy perennial,” while U Thant stressed the social and economic costs of the Cold War. Kurt Waldheim elaborated on disarmament at length in his annual reports on the work of the UN. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar presided over the establishment in the Secretariat of the Department for Disarmament Affairs. Boutros Boutros-Ghali approached disarmament as part of a larger process of peace building. Kofi Annan often addressed disarmament in his speeches, emphasizing the norm-setting role of the UN and its contributions in strengthening the multilateral principles of disarmament.

Guterres’ immediate predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, was also a prominent advocate for disarmament. He was the first incumbent secretary-general to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, and the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He created the post of high representative in the new Office for Disarmament Affairs, and he was the first secretary-general to offer his own comprehensive disarmament proposal, which addressed nuclear weapons, conventional arms, missiles, space weapons, and military spending.4

All of these secretaries-general recognized that real progress, especially in nuclear disarmament, depended on actions by member states. They understood well that the lack of progress was a reflection of the interests and priorities of states, not any failure on the part of the UN. They knew the severe limitations facing their initiatives absent a good faith effort by states to fulfil their disarmament commitments.

Overall, their combined intention was less to cause disarmament than to cultivate a political environment conducive to progress on a global level. They sought to raise questions, gather data, and identify specific actions that would advance disarmament goals, elevate priorities, rally support among concerned member states and civil society groups, and educate the public about how disarmament advances the principles and goals of the UN and its charter.

New Elements

Although consistent with the views of his predecessors, the Guterres agenda contains some new elements that help to distinguish it from their proposals.

Guterres, who became secretary-general in January 2017, had been known for his competent service as Portugal’s prime minister and for his work in humanitarian affairs, having served as the UN high commissioner for refugees. As a candidate for secretary-general, he did not identify disarmament as his top priority, a stance that might not be helpful in gaining the support of the permanent members of the Security Council, which are the five NPT-recognized nuclear powers (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Yet in announcing a detailed, comprehensive disarmament agenda a year later, he clearly identified this set of issues as a personal priority and a hallmark of his incumbency.

His proposal coincides with a growing interest in multilateral arenas in the humanitarian approach to disarmament. This approach is prominent in the deliberations of the UN General Assembly and in meetings of the NPT parties. The General Assembly’s adoption of the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty in 2017 and the subsequent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize later that year to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons were direct reflections of that approach.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the current UN high representative for disarmament affairs and the secretary-general’s most senior adviser in the Secretariat on disarmament matters, also comes from a background in humanitarian affairs, most notably on issues relating to refugees and development. In the UN Secretariat, the Guterres/Nakamitsu team no doubt will have the strong support from governments and civil society groups advancing the humanitarian approach to disarmament. This, in turn, will help in gaining recognition from elsewhere in the Secretariat of the importance of disarmament to the advancement of virtually all formal UN goals as set forth in the UN Charter.

Thus, in contrast to his predecessors, Guterres has placed himself at the vanguard of a significant political movement in support of concrete progress on disarmament matters. He will undoubtedly face obstacles in convincing other parts of the UN family of the importance of disarmament in advancing their own issues—obstacles that former High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane collectively called the “disarmament taboo”—but his humanitarian credentials and his explicit linkage of disarmament to development, peace-building, and other UN mandates will likely help in overcoming many of these obstacles. The greatest barriers, however, remain those that have faced his predecessors: the unwillingness or inability of the nuclear-weapon states to fulfill their disarmament commitments and the broader, misguided assumption that national security is a direct function of the weapons a state possesses.

Broad Themes

Guterres framed his agenda to advance three priorities, each embodying a humanitarian theme: “disarmament to save humanity,” focused on weapons of mass destruction; “disarmament to save lives,” dealing with conventional arms control; and “disarmament for future generations,” examining challenges posed by new technologies.5 His agenda combines many overarching themes.

Comprehensive disarmament. The Guterres agenda is not simply a nuclear disarmament proposal. Instead, it offers a comprehensive approach to disarmament that resembles the venerable UN goal of “general and complete disarmament under effective international control,” a subject on the General Assembly’s agenda since 1959 and which the assembly declared in 1978 was the UN’s “ultimate goal” in this field.6 Although the non-paper makes only a passing reference, the agenda clearly draws on decades of efforts to advance this goal in multilateral arenas.

Then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C), a prominent advocate for disarmament, looks at a model of the 1945 nuclear bombing in Hiroshima at the Peace Memorial Museum on August 6, 2010. Ban was the first UN secretary-general to attend a Peace Memorial Ceremony on the anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima. His successor, António Guterres, became the first UN secretary-general to an annual commemoration of the attack on Nagasaki, held August 9, 2018. (Photo: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)This is quite significant because critics of disarmament have constantly declared that disarmament is a naive and even dangerous approach to dealing with security issues. They argue that nuclear disarmament would create inviting new opportunities for conventional war. They point to the problem of cheating, as disarming countries would inevitably become vulnerable to what amounts to general and complete noncompliance.

A comprehensive approach, by contrast, incorporates wider security issues in its treatment of disarmament. It recognizes the relationship between nuclear disarmament and conventional arms control and hence the need to pursue both simultaneously. It emphasizes verification, transparency, irreversibility, universality, and binding legal commitments. It recognizes the social and economic opportunity costs of excessive military spending, a problem also identified in the UN Charter (Article 26). It associates disarmament and arms control as vital to the future of international peace and security and frames the relationship between disarmament and security as mutually reinforcing and interdependent. The contrary view, that security is a prerequisite for disarmament, is heard from nuclear-weapon states to explain their failure to disarm.

International malaise. In making his case for disarmament, Guterres, in his agenda document, emphasizes the risks associated with the world “on the brink of a new Cold War,” characterized by a “deteriorating international security environment,” “unrestrained arms competition,” and “surreptitious interference in domestic political processes and the increasing pursuit of malicious and hostile acts just below traditional thresholds for the use of force.” He regrets the decline of multilateralism and the lack of disarmament negotiations. He calls the current nuclear risks “unacceptable” and “growing.”

The norm against using nuclear weapons. Guterres endorses the joint statements by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” adding that “[a]ny effort to expand the possible range of situations in which nuclear weapons are designed to be used could be destabilizing and jeopardizes the 72-year practice of non-use.”

Challenges facing the UN. Guterres has a great deal to say about UN shortcomings in advancing disarmament. He states, “Despite [its] proven benefits, disarmament is not well integrated in the work of the United Nations in conflict mediation and prevention. And its tool set needs to be brought up to date, especially in the collection and use of data.” He affirms that “the total elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations. But our efforts towards this end remain in a state of severe crisis.” He has recommendations for improving the relevance and work of the General Assembly First Committee on disarmament and international security, the Conference on Disarmament, the UNODA, and even his own Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.

Various dimensions of disarmament. More than his predecessors, Guterres stresses the risks facing urban populations from the lack of progress on disarmament and the perpetuation of military confrontations worldwide. “Civilians,” he states, “continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict around the globe.” He stresses that “humanitarian and security considerations are not mutually exclusive, and they both underpin and lend urgency to all the efforts of the international community…. As armed conflict has moved from open fields and into villages, towns and cities, the humanitarian impact has been devastating.”

With regard to development goals, he says that “excessive spending on weapons drains resources for sustainable development. It is incompatible with creating stable, inclusive societies; strong institutions; effective governance and democracy; and a culture of respect for human rights.” Further, he says that “mobilizing sufficient resources in support of disarmament and arms regulation is critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Reflecting on nuclear-weapon risks, he says that this “demands that disarmament and nonproliferation are put at the [center] of the work of the United Nations,” emphasizing that “the existing norms for the disarmament and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons are mutually reinforcing and inextricably linked.”

Dialogue and negotiations. His agenda places a particularly heavy emphasis on the importance of “engagement, dialogue, and negotiations.” He stresses that “[i]n order to realize an improvement in the international security environment, it will be necessary for the international community not only to work to devalue the role of military options in seeking security, but also to revalue the role of political dialogue and negotiations for disarmament and arms control as the safer, smarter, and more effective means for achieving the same ends.”

New technologies. Guterres identifies several risks from emerging technologies, including lethal autonomous weapons systems, hypersonic glide vehicles, long-range conventional weapons, maneuverable re-entry vehicles, and cyberweapons. “We could even face the creation of cyberweapons of mass destruction,” he warns.

New partnerships. He addresses the importance of diversifying the base in support of disarmament. “Disarmament initiatives have been most successful when they involved effective partnerships between all the relevant stakeholders—governments, the expert community, and civil society organizations—as well as strong interest and support from the general public and well-functioning international negotiation forums.” He adds, “There also needs to be more efforts to include other actors with a stake in the disarmament processes, including from private sector and industry, in the work of the United Nations.”

Specific Actions

Ironically, Guterres’ proposals for nuclear disarmament in many ways are the most disappointing, especially regarding the details in the implementation plan. The recommendations read like a compilation of standard proposals routinely included in annual General Assembly resolutions, with very few innovations. He is in favor of reducing stockpiles, ensuring nonuse, reducing their role in security doctrines, constraining modernization, bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force, increasing transparency, developing verification, halting the production of fissile material for weapons, resuming disarmament and arms control negotiations, strengthening and expanding nuclear-weapon-free zones, adhering to the Iran nuclear deal, and supporting the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

There is very little discussion of exactly how states are to be persuaded to implement these desired actions. He offers a recitation of ends, but with respect to means, his heaviest emphasis is on the vague recipe for dialogue and engagement.

With regard to chemical and biological weapons, he emphasizes accountability and further progress on achieving universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention. He stresses the Security Council’s primary responsibility to halt further erosion of the norm against chemical weapons use by ending impunity and ensuring accountability for any use.

He calls for new leadership and unity among the Security Council and secretary-general to restore respect for the global norm against chemical weapons use, including through the creation of an impartial mechanism to identify those responsible for the use in Syria. He proposes the establishment of a UN core, standing, coordinating capacity to conduct independent investigations of the alleged use of biological weapons. He also draws a connection between other UN public health-related activities and efforts to respond to or prevent the use of biological weapons.

Guterres seeks establishment of risk reduction measures, including commitments not to introduce cruise missiles, and re-engagement with the international community to address issues related to missiles. He proposes a study by the UNODA and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) on the implications of long-range conventional weapons, including those using hypersonic technologies, and encourages the United States and Russia to “resolve their dispute” over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty constraints on long-range nuclear forces. (The United States announced its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty after the Guterres agenda was released.)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaks with María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, president of the 73rd General Assembly session, during the high-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26, 2018. At left is Izumi Nakamitsu, UN undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs. (Photo: Ariana Lindquist/UN)Conventional arms are the focus of several of the more innovative proposals in the Guterres agenda. He supports a political declaration relating to the use of such weapons in populated areas. He supports increased transparency and accountability on the use of armed drones while favoring the development of common standards for the transfer, stockpiling, and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles. He promotes more effective state and regional action on excessive and poorly maintained stockpiles. He recognizes the importance of exploring opportunities for regional dialogue on building confidence on military matters, including by encouraging mutual restraint in military expenditures and arms acquisitions, stockpiling, and transfers.

For the UN, he calls for creating casualty recording mechanisms among human rights components of UN peace operations. He supports the introduction of “civilian harm mitigation cells” within the military structure of UN and member states’ forces involved in conflicts. He says that the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy should include, as part of risk assessments, information from UN entities about the types of weapons and their use on the battlefield. He urges a strengthened and coherent UN interagency coordination on improvised explosive devices to ensure a whole-of-system approach.

Guterres says that he will pursue a new UN model for sustained funding for international assistance for the control of small arms and light weapons and will establish a UN multipartner trust facility through the Peacebuilding Fund to provide a more sustainable solution with a strong development focus. He calls on the UNODA and UNIDIR to study how knowledge of the impact of arms, especially excessive and destabilizing accumulations, can be incorporated into analyses of risk.

Addressing new and emerging weapons technology, his goals include preventing the emergence of new and destabilizing strategic weapons, including in outer space; fostering a culture of accountability and adherence to norms, rules, and principles for responsible behavior in cyberspace; exploring how UN entities can facilitate the exchange of information on new weapon reviews; facilitating the exchange of information and experiences between states on reviews of new weapons; working with scientists, engineers, and industry to encourage responsible innovation of science and technology; ensuring that humans remain at all times in control over the use of force; and making the secretary-general’s good offices available to contribute to the prevention and peaceful settlement of conflict stemming from malicious activity in cyberspace.

The Guterres agenda identifies some additional reforms, largely procedural, relating to the Conference on Disarmament, General Assembly, UNODA, and UNIDIR. More generally, it calls for efforts to improve coordination among the disarmament organs, reduce redundancy in their deliberations, utilize available expertise better and achieve more equitable representation, and undertake studies by the UNODA and UNIDIR on ways to better coordinate and integrate the work and expertise among the various disarmament bodies. Yet, there is little discussion of reforms needed in the Security Council, except with respect to arrangements to ensure accountability for chemical or biological weapons use.

The agenda calls for efforts to facilitate strategic security dialogue at the regional level and to revitalize existing regional forums or establish new ones aimed at developing common regional approaches to global problems. It calls for increased engagement between the UNODA and the UN Department of Political Affairs to strengthen existing platforms for regional dialogue on security and arms control. It encourages the establishment of new regional nuclear-weapon-free zones. The agenda underscores the need for UN efforts to ensure equal, full, and effective participation of women in all decision-making processes related to disarmament and to make gender parity “a moral duty and an operational necessity.”

The agenda’s goals for civil society and youth include efforts to facilitate participation by nongovernmental organizations in disarmament forums; encourage greater public engagement on security priorities, including on military spending; ensure that civil society investments are fully consistent with international legal norms; engage entrepreneurs and business leaders to build further momentum for societal engagement in advancing the shared norms of humanity; achieve the greater integration of experts, industry, and civil society representatives into the meetings of all UN disarmament bodies; establish more disarmament education and training opportunities for youth; and facilitate the public’s access to tools, training, and networks useful for addressing local problems “where measures for disarmament, demilitarization and the prevention of armed violence can make a difference.”

Looking Ahead

This agenda faces numerous obstacles. Some are political, the most challenging being to win the support of the nuclear-weapon states. Developing countries will generally support the agenda, but some may resist its full implementation, especially on issues such as the use of explosives in cities, the arms trade, reductions in military expenditures, and enhanced transparency.

Other obstacles are economic: How will the agenda be funded? Will the UN’s work in disarmament receive additional financial and personnel resources? The agenda does not address this challenge. There are also many technical problems to be resolved relating to evolving weapons technologies and including some familiar problems of developing the means to verify effectively that nuclear disarmament is actually occurring and verifying that fissile material is not being produced for use in weapons. Other work remains to be done at the International Atomic Energy Agency and among states on solving the technical problems of verifying stocks of fissile material and their movement within and across borders.

Yet, the agenda may open up new opportunities for progress in disarmament. The emphasis on data collection is surely an area where the UN has a potential contribution to make. Unfortunately, the agenda failed to mention the UNODA’s own repository of nuclear weapons information, which it created following a mandate established at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.7 Although meager in its present state, it at least offers an opening for future improvement, which would be fully consistent with the secretary-general’s emphasis on data collection elsewhere in his agenda.

The agenda’s repeated emphasis on the importance of cities in the field of disarmament offers many possibilities for constructive action in the years ahead. The international nongovernmental organization Mayors for Peace has members from more than 7,600 cities worldwide.8 Each year for the last dozen years, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has adopted a resolution in support of nuclear disarmament, arms control, and reductions in military spending and the redirection of such resources to meeting the needs of cities.9 City mayors, joined by state and local governments, have much to contribute in building political support for disarmament, mainly by bringing the issue down to earth by establishing its relevance to individual citizens. Yet, they were not in the agenda.

The Guterres agenda has only just been announced, and it remains a work in progress. Its weaknesses, especially apparent in the nuclear disarmament field, should not obscure its many contributions to the evolution of national and multilateral efforts to advance disarmament, nonproliferation, and arms control while limiting military spending. It has already contributed to advancing the humanitarian approach to disarmament and has the potential to deepen cooperation between the UN and city, state, and local governments in addition to national parliaments.10

The agenda’s implementation plan will require some modifications over the years to come, and if U.S.-Russian relations improve and enable a resumption of strategic nuclear arms control, if not progress in disarmament itself, this agenda will have gone far in establishing an overarching framework for enhancing security through disarmament.

States view the world through the lenses of their own particular interests, but Guterres has attempted to approach disarmament as a challenge facing the entire world community, actually all of humanity, including future generations. His disarmament agenda offers a view from the world community’s “center,” a welcome contrast to the prevalent countervailing trends of rising nationalism and militarism.

 

ENDNOTES

1. António Guterres, “Remarks at the University of Geneva on the Launch of the Disarmament Agenda,” May 24, 2018, https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2018-05-24/launch-disarmament-agenda-remarks (hereinafter Guterres remarks).

2. UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament,” 2018, https://front.un-arm.org/documents/SG+disarmament+agenda_1.pdf.

3. UNODA, “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament,” December 4, 2018, https://www.un.org/disarmament/sg-agenda/en/#actions (Implementation Plan).

4. Ban Ki-moon, Address before the EastWest Institute, SG/SM/11881-DC/3135, October 24, 2008.

5. Guterres remarks.

6. Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly, A/S-10/2 (28 June 1978), https://s3.amazonaws.com/unoda-web/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/A-S10-4.pdf.

7. This repository was established pursuant to Action 21 as agreed at the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. UNODA, “Repository,” n.d., https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/repository/ (accessed December 16, 2018).

8. For more information, see Mayors for Peace, http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/ (accessed December 16, 2018).

9. The latest resolution was adopted this year in Boston. U.S. Conference of Mayors, “Resolutions,” n.d., https://www.usmayors.org/the-conference/resolutions/?category=c9179&meeting=86th%20Annual%20Meeting (accessed December 16, 2018).

10. Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) has been working for many years to promote parliamentary support for disarmament. PNND, http://www.pnnd.org/ (accessed December 16, 2018).

 


Randy Rydell, executive adviser to Mayors for Peace, was a senior political affairs officer in the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs from 1998 to 2014. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Mayors for Peace.

 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has attempted to approach disarmament as a challenge facing the entire
world community, actually all of humanity, including future generations.

After the INF Treaty, What Is Next?


January/February 2019
By Kingston Reif

If the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty collapses in 2019, the United States, key U.S. allies, and Russia will face critical questions of how to respond, including whether to develop and deploy new intermediate-range missile systems and whether to seek restraint measures to prevent a renewed missile race in Europe and beyond.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on the screen during an annual meeting with high-ranking military officers on December 18, 2018 in Moscow. Putin told them that if the United States “breaks the [INF] treaty,” Russia will be “forced to take additional measures to strengthen [its] security.” (Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)Washington and Moscow have not shown a willingness to go the extra mile to resolve their years-long INF Treaty compliance dispute, as the clock runs down on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Dec. 4 ultimatum, under which Russia has 60 days to return to “full and verifiable compliance” or the United States will suspend its obligations and issue a formal notice of its intent to withdraw from the treaty.

Rather, each side has been laying the groundwork to blame the other for the treaty’s demise and, in that case, to advance new weapons systems.

At the direction of Congress, the Defense Department began early research and development activities on concepts and options for conventional, intermediate-range missile systems in late 2017. If the administration moves to withdraw from the treaty, it could ramp up funding to accelerate development.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Dec. 18 that if the United States “breaks the treaty,” Russia will be “forced to take additional measures to strengthen [its] security.” He further warned that Russia could easily conduct research to put air- and sea-launched cruise missile systems “on the ground, if need be.”

Since 2014, Washington has accused Moscow of violating its commitment not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) having a range prohibited under the INF Treaty. The Trump administration later identified the missile as the 9M729. In 2017 the Pentagon alleged that Russia began fielding the missile.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in November that Russia has “fielded multiple battalions of 9M729 missiles, which pose a direct conventional and nuclear threat against most of Europe and parts of Asia.”

Moscow has denied these charges and accused the United States of violating the treaty, most notably by deploying missile defense interceptor platforms in eastern Europe that Russia claims could be used for offensive purposes.

“If Russia admits its violations and fully and verifiably comes back into compliance, we will, of course, welcome that course of action,” Pompeo said at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Dec. 4. “But Russia, and Russia only, can take this step.”

The impasse is complicated by the fact that neither President Donald Trump, Pompeo, nor any other administration official has publicly acknowledged as legitimate Russia’s concerns about U.S. compliance or suggested that Washington would be willing to engage in talks that address the concerns of both sides.

Pompeo also cited China, which is not a party to the treaty, as a reason why the agreement no longer makes sense for the United States. This suggests the administration sees benefits to withdrawal from the treaty beyond its concerns about Russia’s noncompliance.

“There is no reason the United States should continue to cede this crucial military advantage to revisionist powers like China,” Pompeo declared, “in particular when these weapons are being used to threaten and coerce the United States and its allies in Asia.”

For its part, Russia continues to deny that the 9M729 violates the treaty while suggesting that it remains open to dialogue. But Russia does not appear to have tabled any specific proposals to address the U.S. and Russian concerns and rather has ramped up public statements blaming the United States.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in a Dec. 19 interview with Kommersant that U.S. officials made it clear to Russia that Trump’s announcement in October that he intended to “terminate” the treaty was “final and is not ‘an invitation for dialogue.’”

Although Russia has open production lines for the 9M729, the United States is still in the early stages of development of a treaty-busting missile. The fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act required “a program of record to develop a conventional road-mobile [GLCM] system with a range of between 500 to 5,500 kilometers,” including research and development activities. (See ACT, December 2017.)

The law also required “a report on the cost and schedule for, and feasibility of, modifying United States missile systems in existence or planned as of such date of enactment for ground launch with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers as compared with the cost and schedule for, and feasibility of, developing a new ground-launched missile using new technology with the same range.” Such existing and planned systems include the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Standard Missile-3 anti-missile interceptor, the long-range standoff weapon, and the Army tactical missile system.

As of the end of 2018, the Pentagon had yet to submit this report.

The Defense Department requested and Congress approved $48 million in fiscal year 2019 for R&D on and concepts and options for conventional, ground-launched, intermediate-range missile systems in response to Russia’s alleged violation of the INF Treaty. (See ACT, November 2018.)

Prior to the conclusion of the INF Treaty in 1987, the United States deployed several hundred nuclear-armed, intermediate-range Pershing II ballistic missiles and GLCMs in Europe, the latter of which were an adaption of the Tomahawk. The Pentagon spent $2.6 billion, in fiscal year 1987 dollars, to develop and procure 247 Pershing II missiles and associated launchers and $3.5 billion to develop and procure 442 GLCMs through fiscal year 1987, according to a 1988 U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

Yet, the cost today to develop a new ballistic missile system would be higher given that several decades have passed since the development of the Pershing II. In addition, the range of the new missile would likely need to be much greater than the 1,800-kilometer range of the Pershing II to have any utility against China in the Pacific region.

Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress in March 2017 that “there are no military requirements we cannot currently satisfy due to our compliance with the INF Treaty.” But a U.S. withdrawal could lead to the establishment of a new military requirement and accelerated efforts to develop ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles.

Even if the United States were to develop the weapons, they would need to be deployed on the territory of allies neighboring Russia and China. So far, no country has said that it would be willing to host such missiles.

At an event in Washington on Dec. 14, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said that the Pentagon should rapidly develop new intermediate-range missiles despite uncertainty about where they could be fielded. “Basing questions can obviously be controversial, but that will be a decision to be made for the future,” he said.

The collapse of the INF Treaty also raises questions about how to prevent the buildup of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia.

Russia approached the United States in 2007 and the two sides then jointly proposed in a UN General Assembly resolution to multilateralize the INF Treaty. The idea of multilateralizing the treaty has been around for more than a decade, but neither Moscow nor Washington have devoted serious effort into the concept, and China is highly unlikely to join an agreement that would require eliminating the bulk of its missile arsenal.

Other options that might be pursued include a pledge from the United States and Russia not to be the first to deploy intermediate-range missile systems anywhere in or within range of NATO members in Europe, limiting the number of intermediate-range missiles instead of banning them completely, and prohibiting nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

 

U.S. Counts Down to Quitting INF Treaty

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began a 60-day countdown to notification of U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia during a Dec. 4 press conference, drawing warnings from Russian officials and criticism from congressional Democrats.

Administration officials rolled out the U.S. case supporting President Donald Trump’s decision to “terminate” the 1987 treaty after five years of unresolved U.S. complaints that Russia’s 9M729 missile violates the INF Treaty’s range restrictions. Russian officials now acknowledge the missile exists, but deny that it has been tested at or is able to fly at treaty-prohibited ranges.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, at a Nov. 30 news briefing, said that Russia’s noncompliance stems from having first conducted legally allowable tests of the 9M729 from a fixed launcher at a range well beyond 500 kilometers followed by tests from a mobile launcher at a range of less than 500 kilometers. Taken together, however, the tests show Russia has developed and fielded an INF Treaty-noncompliant missile that could be launched from a ground-mobile platform.

Coats’ briefing provided the public foundation for Pompeo’s announcement on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels that the United States has found Russia in “material breach” of the treaty and will suspend treaty obligations after 60 days unless Russia returns to “full and verifiable compliance.”

Pompeo indicated that the administration would issue a formal notice of withdrawal at the end of the 60 days, which would begin a six-month withdrawal period under the treaty. The 60-day waiting period was largely attributed to the request of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Pompeo sought to respond to criticism that Trump’s decision was hasty, noting that the United States had raised the issue of Russian noncompliance “on at least 30 occasions” since 2013. Abiding by the INF Treaty constraints, which Russia is violating and which do not bind U.S. adversaries such as China, means the United States will “get cheated by other nations, expose Americans to greater risk, and squander our credibility,” he said.

Although the U.S. move worries European allies, Pompeo succeeded in having the NATO foreign ministers for the first time publicly back the U.S. conclusion that Russia is violating the INF Treaty. “It is now up to Russia to preserve the treaty,” they said in a Dec. 4 statement that did not include an endorsement of Pompeo’s ultimatum.

In response to U.S. and NATO statements, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that Moscow would respond “accordingly” to a U.S. withdrawal. Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the Russian military chief of staff, reportedly warned European officials that U.S. missile defense sites on allied territory could become “targets of subsequent military exchanges.”

Since then, Russian Foreign Ministry officials have raised the prospect of mutual inspections to address Russian allegations of U.S. noncompliance with respect to the Mk-41 U.S. missile defense launch system in Europe, which can also be used to fire cruise missiles.

Russian media reported there was no U.S. response after Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergey Shoigu, in several messages sent to the U.S. embassy in Moscow, suggested holding discussions with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Any prospective movement on such a high-level military-to-military dialogue is uncertain given Mattis’ protest resignation following Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and to reduce their numbers in Afghanistan.

At the United Nations, Russia sought General Assembly approval of a resolution calling on states-parties to renew their efforts to preserve and strengthen the INF Treaty through “full and strict compliance,” continue consultations on compliance with treaty obligations, and resume a “constructive dialogue on strategic issues premised on openness, mutual confidence and real opportunities.” The resolution failed on Dec. 21 by a vote of 43–46, with 78 abstaining.

Meanwhile, congressional reaction to Trump’s withdrawal plan was divided along partisan lines.

On the Republican side, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) led a Nov. 29 letter to Trump signed by more than 40 House Republicans commending the decision to withdraw, and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) led 24 other Republican senators in a Nov. 28 letter to Trump against extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) because of Russia’s INF Treaty noncompliance.

Among Democrats, 26 senators, led by Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) called on the president in a Dec. 13 letter to redouble diplomatic efforts to salvage the treaty. In a Dec. 3 letter, Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jack Reed (R.I.), and Mark Warner (Va.), the ranking members of the foreign relations, armed services, and intelligence committees, respectively, urged Trump to engage with Congress on the implications of withdrawal before taking steps to withdraw or suspend participation in the treaty.—SHERVIN TAHERAN

U.S. and Russia trade blame as they look to develop new weapons systems.

Putin Sets Hypersonic Deployment Plan

 

Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle was successfully tested Dec. 26 in the presence of President Vladimir Putin and will be deployed during 2019, according a Kremlin statement. Putin noted the Avangard system, built to carry a nuclear warhead, will be “impervious to current and future” air and missile defenses of a “potential enemy,” a response to long-standing Russian concern that U.S. missile defense systems in combination with U.S. nuclear forces enable Washington to threaten Moscow’s retaliatory nuclear capability. The latest test is the third reported success out of six reported tests of the Yu-71 configuration since 2013. According to reports, the first two Avangard launchers will be deployed on two SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missiles based at Dombarovsky in 2019, and a total of 12 are expected to be deployed there by the end of 2027. A hypersonic glide vehicle, which travels at speeds of 5,000 to 25,000 kilometers per hour, can change its trajectory during flight and fly at varying altitudes.—SHERVIN TAHERAN

Putin Sets Hypersonic Deployment Plan

Preventing a New Euro-Missile Race


January/February 2019
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

Next month, it is very likely the Trump administration will take the next step toward fulfilling the president’s threat to “terminate” one of the most far-reaching and most successful nuclear arms reduction agreements: the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which led to the verifiable elimination of 2,692 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe. The treaty helped bring an end to the Cold War and paved the way for agreements to slash bloated strategic nuclear arsenals and to withdraw thousands of tactical nuclear weapons from forward-deployed areas.

Russia's 9M729 missile reportedly has been tested using a mobile launcher system similar to that used by the 9K720 Iskander-M pictured here on September 18, 2017. Photo credit: Ministry of Defence of the Russian FederationOn Dec. 4, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Russia had fielded a ground-launched missile system, the 9M729, that exceeds the INF Treaty’s 500-kilometer range limit. He also announced that, in 60 days, the administration would “suspend” U.S. obligations under the treaty and formally announce its intention to withdraw in six months unless Russia returns to compliance. Suspension will allow the administration to try to accelerate the development of new missiles currently prohibited by the treaty.

Noncompliance with the treaty is unacceptable and merits a strong response. But Trump’s public declaration that he will terminate the treaty and pursue new U.S. nuclear capabilities will not bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty. Worst of all, blowing up the INF Treaty with no substitute plan in place could open the door to a dangerous new era of unconstrained military competition with Russia.

Without the treaty, already severe tensions will grow as Washington considers deployment of new intermediate-range missiles in Europe and perhaps elsewhere and Russia considers increasing 9M729 deployments and other new systems.

These nuclear-capable weapons, if deployed again, would be able to strike targets deep inside Russia and in western Europe. Their short time-to-target capability increases the risk of miscalculation in a crisis. Any nuclear attack on Russia involving U.S. intermediate-range, nuclear-armed missiles based in Europe could provoke a massive Russian nuclear counterstrike on Europe and on the U.S. homeland.

In delivering the U.S. ultimatum on the treaty, Pompeo expressed “hope” that Russia will “change course” and return to compliance. Hope that Russia will suddenly admit fault and eliminate its 9M729 system is not a serious strategy, and it is not one on which NATO leaders can rely.

Instead, NATO members should insist that the United States and Russia redouble their sporadic INF Treaty discussions, agree to meet in a formal setting, and put forward proposals for how to resolve issues of mutual concern about the treaty.

Unfortunately, U.S. officials have refused thus far to take up Russia’s offer to discuss “any mutually beneficial proposals that take into account the interests and concerns of both parties.” That is a serious mistake. Failure by both sides to take diplomatic engagement more seriously since the 9M729 missile was first tested five years ago has bought us to this point.

Barring an unlikely 11th-hour diplomatic breakthrough, however, the INF Treaty’s days are numbered. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

With the treaty possibly disappearing later this year, it is not too soon to consider how to head off a dangerous and costly new missile race in Europe.

One option would be for NATO to declare, as a bloc, that none of them will field any INF Treaty-prohibited missiles or any equivalent new nuclear capabilities in Europe so long as Russia does not field treaty-prohibited systems that can reach NATO territory. This would require Russia to remove those 9M729 missiles that have been deployed in western Russia.

This would also mean forgoing Trump’s plans for a new ground-launched, INF Treaty-prohibited missile. Because the United States and its NATO allies can already deploy air- and sea-launched systems that can threaten key Russian targets, there is no need for such a system. Key allies, including Germany, have already declared their opposition to stationing new intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

In the absence of the INF Treaty, another possible approach would be to negotiate a new agreement that verifiably prohibits ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic or cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads. As a recent United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research study explains, the sophisticated verification procedures and technologies already in place under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) can be applied with almost no modification to verify the absence of nuclear warheads deployed on shorter-range missiles.

Such an approach would require additional declarations and inspections of any ground-launched INF Treaty-range systems. To be of lasting value, such a framework would require that Moscow and Washington agree to extend New START, which is now scheduled to expire in 2021.

The INF Treaty crisis is a global security problem. Without serious talks and new proposals from Washington and Moscow, other nations will need to step forward with creative and pragmatic solutions that create the conditions necessary to ensure that the world’s two largest nuclear actors meet their legal obligations to end the arms race and reduce nuclear threats.

Next month, it is very likely the Trump administration will take the next step toward fulfilling the president’s threat to “terminate” one of the most far-reaching and most successful nuclear arms reduction agreements: the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which led to the verifiable elimination of 2,692 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe.

Remarks to the 17th Republic of Korea-UN Joint Conference on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Issues

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Prepared remarks by Kelsey Davenport to the 17th ROK-UN Joint Conference on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Issues
December 5, 2018

As we look toward the 10th Review Conference of the NPT in 2020, the nonproliferation treaty regime faces serious challenges.

Regional rivalries, a deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations, and qualitative nuclear buildups create significant challenges to efforts to fulfill the goals and objectives of the NPT as it enters its sixth decade.

Given these challenges, it is more important than ever that NPT states parties work together with urgency to seek consensus on steps to strengthen the treaty in this review cycle.

While the success of the Review Conference should not be solely measured by whether or not there is agreement on a final document, these texts are important guideposts to assess progress and to establish political commitments designed to fulfill treaty objectives. Coming off of the failure to garner consensus in 2015, it is more important than ever to work with urgency and creativity to develop consensus solutions in 2020.

As the UN Secretary General noted in his comprehensive disarmament agenda released earlier this year:

“The existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity must motivate us to accomplish new and decisive action leading to their total elimination. We owe this to the Hibakusha—the survivors of nuclear war—and to our planet.”

Over the next 20 minutes I will describe in more detail four key challenges facing the NPT and outline some possible paths forward that hopefully answer the UN Secretary General’s call for “new and decisive action.”

1) Reinvigorating Progress on Article VI

One of the most significant challenges to the NPT is the uncertain future of U.S.-Russian cooperation on arms reduction treaties and the failure to negotiate further reductions as agreed in the 2010 NPT Review Conference action plan. While it is positive that the United States and Russia met New START limits as required earlier this year, prospects for further negotiated cuts remain bleak.

U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated dramatically since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Compounding the situation is the accelerating effort to replace and upgrade U.S and Russian nuclear arsenals, Russian and American nuclear saber-rattling, and the ongoing dispute over Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty.

The Trump administration is demonstrating a marked disinterest in providing leadership on disarmament. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review makes no mention of U.S. legal obligations to pursue arms control and disarmament measures as required by Article VI – rather Washington defers action until security conditions have improved. Nor does the NPR put forward any new proposals for working with Russia on a new round of reductions or steps to reduce risk.

Now, the Trump administration announced Dec. 4 it will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty in 60 days over Russia’s deployment of the noncompliant 9M729 missile. Diplomacy to address the problem has not yet been exhausted and should be pursued. Worse still is the U.S. equivocation about the future of the New START Treaty, which is scheduled to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, unless Moscow and Washington agree to extend it.

While Russia has offered to begin talks to extend New START and restart strategic stability dialogue with the United States, these discussions have not begun.

Without INF or New START extension, in 2021, there will be no legally-binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972 – in short, the United States and Russia would be in violation of their NPT Article VI obligations.

How can states parties to the NPT prevent this dangerous reality?

First, in the short term, all NPT states parties must press the United States and Russia to agree to extend New START before the start of the 2020 Review Conference and to agree to further, sustained negotiations to reach agreement on verifiable reductions of all types of nuclear weapons, whether strategic, intermediate-range, or short-range.

Second, the United States and Russia, and the United States, Russia and China, must enter into regular strategic stability talks, and engage in an expanded dialogue that also considers the impact of new technologies and advancing ballistic missile defenses. While China may not have numerical parity with the United States or Russia, Beijing’s expanding nuclear arsenal and delivery systems pose a risk to strategic stability. Perhaps one area of discussion could be moving away from nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and agreement that hypersonic glide vehicles remain conventional. U.S. President Donald Trump opened the door to such discussions with Russia and China during the G20 meeting in Argentina this week.

Third, in the lead up to the 2020 Review Conference and at the conference itself, member states should refrain from using the NPT cycle to continue to debate the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The TPNW plays an important role in reinforcing the taboo against nuclear weapons and advances the goal the NPT. But the TPNW is not going to lead to progress on disarmament in the near term and acrimonious debate over it risks continued polarization and entrenchment within the NPT process.

And now I’ll turn to the increased risk of use.

While the prospects of expanding arsenals pose a significant challenge, progress on Article VI cannot be measured through warhead reductions alone. Reductions are an important marker, but there are other critical steps that can and must be taken to reduce nuclear risks and realize disarmament, including checking the expanding role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines.

All five of the recognized nuclear weapon states, as well as states outside of the NPT that possess nuclear weapons, are upgrading and investing in new nuclear-capable missiles– some of which are designed with the intent to make the use of nuclear weapons “more credible.” The emphasis on lower-yield nuclear weapons, nuclear-capable cruise missiles and forays into hypersonic missiles represent a dangerous and destabilizing trend that could lower the threshold for nuclear weapons use. Investments in these new systems contravene the obligations set forth in Article VI.

The 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review expands the circumstances under which the United States would consider using nuclear weapons to include non-nuclear attacks, even if a state is complying with the NPT. Ambiguity and confusion over whether or not Russia’s nuclear doctrine includes an “escalate to deescalate” policy further heightens tensions.

This greater reliance on nuclear weapons – combined with some of the new systems designed to make deterrence more “credible” and the significant portion of the deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that remain on prompt launch– increases the prospect of nuclear use.

Given the global consequences of even a single nuclear strike, this is an area ripe for NPT states parties to press for additional measures that reduce nuclear risks.

First, given the polarized environment, it would beneficial during the review cycle for all NPT states parties – particularly the United States and Russia - to reaffirm the 1985 statement of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Furthermore, states should unequivocally reaffirm their support for progress on Article VI and, at a minimum, the goals outlined in the 2010 Action Plan.

Second, NPT states parties should call for an end to these “launch under attack” postures and urge all states to adopt a clear policy of nuclear no first use.

As a tangible step toward no first use, states could push all five of the nuclear weapon states to commit at the 2020 Review Conference that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack.

The United States came close to declaring sole purpose for the U.S. arsenal in 2016. as former Vice President Joe Biden said in the final days of the Obama Administration in January 2017, “The President and I strong believe we have made enough progress that deterring—and if necessary retaliating against—a nuclear attack should be the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.” And now, in the United States, momentum is gathering around moving toward no first use as policy. For instance, U.S. Representative Adam Smith – who will chair the House Armed Services Committee beginning with the new Congress– will again introduce his bill calling for no first use to be adopted as U.S. nuclear policy.

While the actions outlined previously address some specific and immediate challenges, in looking at Article VI and the NPT more broadly - it also may be to time consider pursuing a new enterprise free from the consensus-based, least-common-denominator thinking and the entrenched positions of established factions within existing forums. As the UN Secretary General noted in his disarmament agenda, existing international institutions for addressing disarmament have stagnated.

One bold idea is a new series of disarmament summits, modeled on the Nuclear Security Summit Process. An NSS-like process that emphasizes the same concept of national and multilateral commitments, would give likeminded states the option to pursue steps that push beyond the status quo on key issues and create political pressure to follow up on pledges and demonstrate progress.

Additionally, the current disarmament architecture has not been able to integrate states that possess nuclear weapons outside of the recognized nuclear order (namely India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea) into multilateral efforts. Increasingly, the nuclear arsenals of these states will impact the ability to make progress on Article VI. A summit series could be a more inclusive forum that includes these states.

Ultimately, a summit-like process could help to transform bilateral tracks into multilateral talks that would include both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, creating a process of multilateral arms control and risk reduction that would lead toward a full realization of Article VI of the NPT and the broader goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

2) Preserving and building upon the JCPOA

The 2015 multilateral nuclear deal between Iran, the European Union, and six countries, resolved a decades-long crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, and brought Tehran back into compliance with its NPT safeguards obligations. The deal was endorsed by the UN Security Council, which in Resolution 2231 notes the importance of NPT compliance. The JCPOA also exemplifies the continued centrality of the NPT and the international commitment to prevent proliferation.

But, despite Iran’s record of compliance with the JCPOA and the obvious nonproliferation value of the accord, the United States withdrew from the deal, re-imposed sanctions, and is threatening states with punitive measures if they do not stop legitimate business with Iran allowed under the JCPOA and encouraged by the Security Council.

The remaining P4+1 parties to the nuclear deal with Iran, particularly the European partners, have taken significant actions not only to reaffirm their commitment to the JCPOA, but also to develop mechanisms to protect legitimate trade with Iran. While the EU’s blocking regulation and creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle to facilitate trade sends a strong political signal, these mechanisms are bound to fall short in providing the sanctions relief envisioned under the deal. This puts the long-term viability of the deal in question.

Collapse of the nuclear deal would have profound negative implications for Iran, the Middle East, and the NPT.

In the lead up to 2020, maintaining international support for the nonproliferation value of the JCPOA is critical. The NPT review cycle offers an important opportunity for states to reaffirm their support for the JCPOA and denounce the U.S. withdrawal as not only jeopardizing the deal, but also undermining nonproliferation efforts writ large.

But NPT member states should not stop at defending the JCPOA. The nuclear deal was not intended to set a precedent, but we would be foolish not to look at the unique and positive nonproliferation elements of the nuclear deal and try not to expand upon them to better serve nonproliferation and safeguards efforts in the region and writ large.

Under the JCPOA, Iran, for instance, agreed to real time monitoring of uranium enrichment levels, greater accountancy at uranium mines, and a time-bound process for allowing IAEA access to undeclared sites. Is there value in other states making similar pledges to incorporate such steps into safeguards practice? Learning from the JCPOA to further strengthen safeguards must be explored.

Additionally, we should look to build on the JCPOA to develop ideas that would reduce the threat of proliferation at the regional level. Iran, for instance, agreed to a 15-year ban on reprocessing and said it may never pursue this technology. Why not pursue a region free of reprocessing in the Middle East, initially through voluntary pledges by states? The commitments could be announced at the 2020 Review Conference. This would be a positive step toward realizing the goal of a MEWMDFZ, protect against the development of stockpiles of separated plutonium as states build up nuclear power infrastructures, and bolster the NPT.

This is particularly critical now, as there is a growing interest in nuclear power in the Middle East. This will also provide greater assurance that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful as limitations under the JCPOA begin to expire.

3) Finding a Path Forward on the MEWMDFZ

While we are on the Middle East, let me say a few words about the MEWMDFZ. Nearly 25 years after the 1995 resolution on establishing a MEWMDFZ played a critical role in securing the indefinite extension of the NPT, the promise of the zone has failed to materialize.

We cannot forget that it was disagreement over the MEWMDFZ that prevented consensus on a final document in 2015. And failure to outline a path forward ahead of 2020 risks derailing consensus on the NPT Review Conference again.

Yet few new and creative ideas are being brought forward to advance the zone. The United States and Russia appear unwilling to take a leadership role and have lost credibility since 2015.

The Arab League purports to seek progress on the zone, but it is not apparent that any of these states have reached out to Israel to engage in discussions over the zone or brought forward new and creative ideas. And when some of these states also fail to condemn statements by Saudi Arabia threatening to pursue nuclear weapons and when they fail to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria, it erodes the credibility of these states as honest brokers for the zone. It gives the impression that the politics of the issue are more important than achieving results.

Building on the JCPOA, as highlighted above, to make progress on the zone is one idea. Another positive step could be a new consultative process, similar to the lead-up to 2015. Perhaps the UK, as one of the three conveners, could take a leadership role in facilitating a new dialogue for a conference agenda ahead of 2020.

Alternatively, the UN General Assembly First Committee voted in favor of an Arab League proposal on the zone in November, which would require the UN Secretary General to convene a conference on a zone in 2019 and every year after until the zone is realized. There are critical questions yet to be answered about the scope of this process. And, as Israel voted against it, it is unclear if all states in the zone will be willing to engage with it. But a UN-led process could serve a similar consultative role in developing a path forward if states are willing to engage in good faith.

Additionally, ahead of the 2020 NPT Review Conference, members of the Arab League and the broader Non-Aligned Movement that recognize that a weakened NPT bodes ill for the zone, should make clear that realistic steps toward the MEWMDFZ will be supported, but holding consensus on the 2020 Final Document hostage by insisting on unrealistic and arbitrary demands for the zone concept will not be tolerated.

4) The North Korea Challenge

North Korea represents a dual challenge to the NPT – bringing Pyongyang back into compliance with the treaty and the current lack of agreed upon consequences of withdrawal.

At the end of 2017, the United States and North Korea were locked in a spiral of escalating tensions and increasingly hostile rhetoric. Thanks to the leadership of South Korean President Moon Jae-in in reaching out to Pyongyang, the crisis stabilized and a path for meaningful negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was opened. And in an historic meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the two leaders agreed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to build a peace regime.

While North Korea’s voluntary actions early in the process, such as the long-range missile and nuclear test moratorium, and blowing up the test tunnels at Punggye-ri are positive steps that have limited qualitative advances in the country’s nuclear arsenal, North Korea continues to expand its nuclear arsenal and develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in direct contravention of its NPT obligations and UN Security Council resolutions. Continued failure by both the United States and North Korea to agree to reciprocal steps in the negotiations risks a return to the escalating tensions of 2017.

One step that the NPT member states should encourage is exploring how to convert the voluntary test moratorium and dismantlement of Punggye-ri into a legally-binding commitment to refrain from nuclear testing by securing North Korea’s signature and eventual ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In a special, high-level meeting on the CTBT at the UN in September, a group of foreign ministers led by Japan called on Pyongyang to solidify its voluntary nuclear test moratorium announced in April by signing and ratifying the treaty. Interim steps could include deploying monitoring equipment at the North Korean test site.

As another interim step in this vein, NPT states should encourage the United States to include the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in any visit to inspect the dismantled test site. Not only would the presence of the CTBTO aid in assessing the condition of the test site and the reversibility of North Korean actions, it would also gauge North Korea’s willingness to work with international inspectors, such as the IAEA, which must be part of any verification regime agreed to as part of a denuclearization process.

Furthermore, the North Korea case highlights the critical need to make progress on the consequences of withdrawal. Withdrawal by any state undermines the security and benefits envisioned by the NPT.

In the 25 years after North Korea first announced its intent to withdraw from the NPT, insufficient action has been taken in the NPT context to address the gaps highlighted by the North Korean case. Even if the 2015 Final Document had been adopted, it would not have addressed this serious, outstanding issue that is more urgent now than ever, given the current geopolitical climate.

States could agree, by consensus at the 2020 NPT Review Conference, that any state will be held responsible under international law for actions committed by a state in violation of the treaty prior to their withdrawal.

Similarly, a consensus endorsement of the principle that states can demand the return of materials and technology transferred to any state that choses to withdraw from the NPT, would be a common sense step and provide further assurance that peaceful programs cannot be converted to nuclear weapons programs without consequence.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude by again quoting Secretary-General Guterres: “ There are moments in history when individual and collective courage and conscience come together to change the course of events.”

The NPT faces unprecedented challenges; but with dedication, urgency, and creativity they can be overcome and goals of the treaty realized.

Thank you.

Subject Resources:

U.S. INF Treaty Termination Strategy Falls Short

Sections:

Body: 


Volume 10, Issue 10, December 4, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today declared Russia in material breach of the landmark 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and announced that the United States plans to suspend U.S. obligations under the treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to compliance.

In a new statement on the INF Treaty also released today, NATO foreign ministers collectively declared for the first time “that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty. The ministers also stated: “It is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.”

In delivering the Trump administration’s ultimatum, Pompeo expressed the “hope” that Russia will “change course” and return to compliance with the treaty.

But hope is not a strategy.

If NATO member states want to preserve a key arms control treaty that has enhanced their security for more than two decades, they will insist that the United States and Russia exhaust diplomatic options and should put forward proposals for how the two sides can resolve issues of concern about treaty implementation.

Unfortunately, Pompeo provided no indication that the administration wants to make a final effort to save the treaty by engaging in talks with Russia to address the compliance concerns raised by Washington and Moscow.

Notably, the NATO foreign ministers statement does not express support for, or even reiterate, Pompeo's ultimatum that the United States will suspend its obligations in 60 days unless Russia returns to compliance.

Once a withdrawal notification is issued, Article XV of the treaty requires the United States to wait six months before it can leave the agreement. Pompeo said the administration will issue a withdrawal notice in 60 days. 

Reports last week indicated that the Trump administration planned to give formal notice of withdrawal from and suspend implementation of the treaty today, but the administration was persuaded to postpone that action for two months following President Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Saturday at the G-20 summit in Argentina.

European Concerns

Several NATO allies have expressed concern about president Trump’s announcement last October that he planned to withdraw from the treaty and that they had not been consulted about the decision. For example, the European Union declared in a statement that the United States should “consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF on its own security, on the security of its allies and of the whole world.”

Russia’s production, testing, and deployment of an illegal, ground-launched cruise missile with a range between 500 to 5,500 kilometers is unacceptable and merits a strong response from all nations that value arms control and the reduction of nuclear risks. Without the INF Treaty, we will likely see the return of Cold War-style tensions over U.S. and Russian deployments of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and perhaps elsewhere.

A Path Forward

Clearly, diplomatic options to resolve the INF crisis and avoid a new missile race in Europe (and Asia) have not yet been exhausted. To date, diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue have been limited and unsuccessful. Since Trump took office, U.S. and Russian officials have met only twice at the working level to try to resolve the compliance dispute, the last time being in June 2018.

However, the delay of the suspension notification provides little time and will be of little value unless NATO governments, along with Russia and the United States, use the time productively. The focus should be on negotiating a solution that addresses U.S. and NATO concerns about Russia’s noncompliant 9M729 missile and addresses Russia concerns about, in particular, U.S. Mk-41 Aegis Ashore missile-interceptor launchers in Romania (and by 2020 in Poland) that could be used for offensive missiles.

Averting the collapse of the treaty at this point requires NATO members (starting at the NATO foreign ministerial Dec. 4-5 in Brussels) to call on the United States and Russia to immediately meet to redouble off-and-on diplomatic efforts to resolve the INF Treaty compliance crisis. It is disappointing the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has not yet done so.

On Nov. 26, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said that Russia is “open to any mutually beneficial proposals that take into account the interests and concerns of both parties.” If Washington is serious about removing the 9M729 missile threat, NATO should explore what that means and table a serious proposal.

If Russia is serious about preserving the INF Treaty, it will agree to discuss U.S. concerns, agree to implement transparency measures, and, if the 9M729 is found to be noncompliant, either modify or eliminate the illegal missile as a “sign of good faith.”

In addition, the United States needs to acknowledge Russia’s concerns about U.S. implementation of the agreement, specifically the Mk-41 launchers for the Aegis ashore missile interceptors in Romania (and soon in Poland) and agree to transparency measures that reduce concerns that the launchers could be used to deploy offensive missiles.

There is precedent for using diplomacy to resolve treaty violations. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan continued to observe the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Moscow despite its determination that a large radar located at Krasnoyarsk in Siberia violated the treaty. It also engaged in negotiations with the Soviet Union on the INF Treaty and what became the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty during this period. It took time, but diplomacy worked, and the Soviets eventually tore down the radar.

“No New Missiles” Pledge

The United States must ensure that Russia does not gain a military advantage from 9M729 ground-launched missile, which the U.S. intelligence community assesses has a range capability beyond the 500km range limit set by the INF Treaty and has been deployed in areas of Russia that enable it to reach parts of Europe. But even without the INF Treaty, there is no military need for the United States to develop a new and costly treaty-noncompliant missile for deployment in Europe.

The United States can already deploy air- and sea-launched systems that can threaten the same Russian targets that new ground-launched missiles prohibited by INF Treaty would. In addition, no European nation has agreed to host such a missile, which could take years to develop, and even if one did, it would be a significant source of division within the alliance—one Russia would be eager to try and exploit.

Instead of accepting the U.S. intention to begin “developing and deploying” new ground-based missiles to counter Russia, the U.S. Congress, as well as NATO member states should insist that if the United States and Russia do not find an 11th hour diplomatic solution to preserve the INF Treaty, they will at least pledge not to be the first to deploy intermediate-range missile systems anywhere in or in-range of NATO Europe.

And regardless of the fate of the INF Treaty, responsible governments and members of the U.S. Congress should also insist that Presidents Trump and Putin agree to extend the 2010 New START agreement by five years (from 2021 to 2026) to guard against the possibility of an unconstrained nuclear arms race.

—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director and KINGSTON A. REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

Description: 

Analysis from Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, and Kingston A. Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

Country Resources:

The INF Treaty: European Perspectives on the Impending U.S. Withdrawal


December 2018
By Katarzyna Kubiak

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on October 20 that he intends to have the United States “terminate” the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty took many European policymakers and security experts by surprise.

Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in the East Room of the White House on December 8, 1987. (Photo: Corbis via Getty Images)Although European NATO allies now agree with the United States on the alleged Russian material breach of the treaty, the unilateral U.S. withdrawal threat is divisive within NATO. A technical solution is possible, but it does not appear to be politically feasible. Although the ultimate decision belongs to Washington, which has yet to deliver the official withdrawal notification to Russia, its execution will incur serious implications for European security, NATO cohesion, and the future of arms control.

The landmark 1987 accord between the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the United States removed a major threat to European security by eliminating an entire class of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, those with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, together with their launchers.

The treaty contributes to strategic stability and reduces the risk of miscalculation that could lead to conflict, yet its future has become increasingly uncertain due to a festering U.S. dispute with Russia. In 2014, Washington publicly alleged that Moscow had violated the pact by testing and, since 2017, deploying a prohibited cruise missile system, known as the SSC-8 or 9M729 in U.S. and Russian designations, respectively.1

Russian officials have responded with counteraccusations, including that the Mk-41 launchers for the U.S. ground-based ballistic missile defense interceptors deployed now in Romania and soon in Poland could be used to launch offensive INF Treaty-range cruise missiles.2 Further, Russia takes the position that U.S. target missiles for ballistic missile defense interceptor tests and U.S. armed drones should be counted under the INF
Treaty restrictions.

Both parties have discussed their mutual allegations at two meetings of the Special Verification Commission (SVC), a treaty-mandated forum to address compliance disputes, and through other diplomatic channels.3 Yet, they have consistently failed to agree on the facts, let alone find a solution. Each side claims to be in compliance. The U.S. Department of State has “repeatedly refuted baseless Russian allegations in detail.”4 Moscow denies the “absolutely groundless [U.S.] accusations.”5 Meanwhile, however, Russia acknowledged that the 9M729 cruise missile exists, but claims that it has neither been developed nor tested for a range banned by the INF Treaty and its deployment is taking place in strict compliance with the treaty.6

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Russia considers that the INF Treaty, “though not ideal in modern conditions,” still has value, and that “scrapping one of the key arms control mechanisms would be fundamentally counterproductive.” Speaking at a Moscow news briefing November 26, he said, “We are ready to work to maintain its viability. Russia is open to any mutually beneficial proposals that takes into account the interests of both parties.”

European Reactions

Although the INF Treaty is a cornerstone of European security, most European governments have remained on the sidelines in this dispute because, for one thing, no European NATO allies are party to the agreement. Hence, they do not see themselves as empowered to pressure Moscow or Washington publicly on solutions. Further, the INF Treaty is more of a political symbol to Europeans than a military restraint because they already are within range of Russia’s conventional and nuclear missiles. In addition, some European governments initially viewed the U.S. evidence of presumed Russian violation as not compelling enough.7 As a consequence, it took Washington more than three years to persuade its NATO allies. Finally and probably most importantly, European allies differ among themselves in their preferred approach toward Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets with NATO forces in Trondheim, Norway, on October 30 during their Trident Juncture 2018 military exercise. Commenting on the possible demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Stoltenberg said in November that NATO “has no intention to deploy new nuclear missiles in Europe.” (Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)European responses to Trump’s termination announcement reflect this variation. On one end of the spectrum, allies that support strengthening NATO in a manner that deters but does not threaten Russia prefer to remain in dialogue with Moscow. For example, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was the first to express regret about Trump’s announcement.8 Despite sympathy for U.S. frustration in dealing with Russia, he called the decision a “mistake” and pledged diplomatic engagement with Moscow and Washington to save the accord.9 Maas also made it clear that Germany has no appetite for an arms race in Europe.10 Similarly, immediately after the withdrawal announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron picked up the phone and reminded his counterpart in the White House of the importance France ascribes to the treaty, in particular for European security and strategic stability.11

On the other end of the spectrum, some European allies believe that strength is the only currency that the Kremlin understands and put very little trust in a dialogue with Moscow. Standing “absolutely resolute” with the U.S. president, UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson accused Russia of “making a mockery” of the INF Treaty.12 Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz declared “a similar” stance on and “understanding” for the U.S. decision.13

The announcement of an impending U.S. withdrawal has yet another dimension exposing the deterioration of NATO cohesion. By threatening withdrawal, Washington is acting against NATO’s official stance. At the July 2018 summit in Brussels, 29 heads of state and government of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s most senior decision-making body, declared their commitment to the “preservation of this landmark arms control treaty” and pledged to “engage Russia on this issue in bilateral and multilateral formats.”14

Three weeks before the announcement, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured NATO allies that any U.S. decision on the INF Treaty would be made “in concert with our allies, as always.”15 Yet, the White House acted unilaterally. As a result, the announcement only adds another setback to relations between the Trump administration and European allies, for whom display of NATO unity and solidarity is of utmost importance when facing Russia.

Europe Bears the Consequences

If the threat of withdrawal succeeds in bringing Russia back to compliance, it will certainly be an achievement that could reinvigorate arms control more broadly. Nevertheless, the attempt is risky. If it fails, its consequences could generate predominantly unfavorable side effects for Europe without visible advantages on the horizon.

First, the threat of withdrawal will not automatically bring Russia back to compliance; an actual withdrawal even less so. At the same time, dumping the treaty means that the United States and subsequently NATO give up the legal basis on which they are entitled to insist on Russia’s return to compliance. No INF Treaty means no possibility to pressure Moscow on the elements of its alleged missile and limits avenues to verify whether it violated the treaty.

Second, without the INF Treaty, Russia could freely field an unlimited number of the allegedly developed intermediate-range cruise missiles in the vicinity of Europe, while NATO has neither offensive nor defensive capablities with which to credibly respond in the short term.

Third, no European government has offered to host U.S. INF Treaty-range missiles. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, “NATO has no intention to deploy new nuclear missiles in Europe.”16 Yet, the potential appetite of some European governments to capitalize on hosting conventional intermediate-range cruise missiles, should the United States decide to field them, could deepen NATO’s divide and play into Moscow’s hands.

Fourth, what happens with the INF Treaty will likely determine the future of arms control. The death of the INF Treaty without solving the compliance issue could impede prospects for extending existing agreements, such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), and negotiating new ones.

At their July 2018 Brussels Summit, 29 heads of state and government of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s most senior decision-making body, declared their commitment to the preservation of the “landmark” Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.  (Photo: NATO)Finally, the way NATO deals with the INF Treaty reflects on its credibility and leadership within the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Just last year, European NATO allies stood side by side with United States in opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, aligning themselves with the position that a step-by-step approach on nuclear disarmament is a better course. With the U.S. termination of the Iran nuclear deal, an INF Treaty deathwatch underway, and an extension of New START in question, the standing of NATO’s nuclear and non-nuclear countries as trustworthy partners, although differently, will be heavily at stake.

Can the INF Treaty Be Saved?

So far, Washington and NATO have been unsuccessful in their attempts to induce Russia to address compliance concerns.17 In line with the Trump Administration INF Treaty Integrated Strategy,18 the administration pursued diplomatic measures, including convening that month the second SVC meeting. At a June 2018 round of expert-level talks in Geneva, U.S. officials called on Russia to halt testing, production, and deployment of the 9M729 missile, but there have been no follow-on discussions, apparently due to Moscow’s refusal.19

The Helsinki summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2018 and the August 2018 talks in Geneva between U.S. national security adviser John Bolton and Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev also made no progress. Neither did imposing sanctions on Russian companies involved in research and development of the disputed missile, nor pursuing research on its own INF Treaty-noncompliant missile system. Earlier this year, for its part, NATO tried to create political pressure on Moscow by stating that, absent a credible response, it will assume Russia is in violation.20

Because diplomatic, economic, and military measures have not prompted Russia to address compliance concerns in a sufficient manner, announcing the intent to withdraw appears a logical consequence. Yet, not only is its timing questionable, but both sides have failed to exhaust all potential avenues to address mutual concerns.

Although development of a noncompliant missile carries a different qualitative weight than deployment of an alleged launcher, both are legitimate concerns. In expecting Russia to prove its compliance with the INF Treaty, the United States did not offer to demonstrate its own adherence. European allies have unconditionally sided with Washington, not pressing the United States on compliance questions, judged to be spurious at best.21

Provided enough political will in Moscow, Washington, and NATO capitals, mutual inspections could shed more light on the compliance questions. In exchange for Russia addressing concerns about the alleged missile system, NATO allies could assure Russia that NATO’s ballistic missile defense launchers will not and cannot be used for offensive purposes. Such an approach has strong backing by former high-level officials and experts from Vancouver to Vladivostok.22

Yet, such a solution might be far more complicated. The United States now publicly alleges that Moscow initially flight tested the 9M729 to distances well over 500 kilometers from a fixed launcher and then tested the same missile at ranges below 500 kilometers from a mobile launcher. By putting the two types of tests together, Russia was able to develop a missile that flies more than 500 km and launches from a ground-mobile platform, which would put it in violation of the INF Treaty.23 If Moscow were to offer credible exhibitions of the alleged missile that show it to indeed be noncompliant with the INF Treaty, the logical outcome would require Russia to eliminate the missiles plus halt any further testing, production, and deployment.

If Russia does not agree to mutual verification, the United States and its NATO allies could reclaim the moral high ground by demonstrating that Moscow, not Washington, is scrapping arms control treaties. This seems like a pragmatic offer because the United States is convinced of its own compliance and because, in other spheres, military transparency is such a point of pride for the United States and NATO.

Initiating goodwill on NATO side, however, will be no a small feat. Allies predominantly blame Russia for the current state of the INF Treaty. After countless unsuccessful attempts to reach out to Moscow, they consider the ball to be in Russia’s court.24 Also, winning NATO unanimity on such a proposal will be politically challenging. Furthermore, allies endeavor not to create any impression of getting back to what they call “business as usual” with Moscow, and any offer going beyond the current agenda could be seen as crossing this line. Yet, apart from the INF Treaty, NATO has nothing to lose.

Questions for the Future

With the accord in severe jeopardy, the alliance faces the “need to assess the implications of the new Russian missile,” according to Stoltenberg.25 Such an assessment has military and arms control dimensions.

The motivation for the alleged Russian breach remains largely unclear. Successive U.S. administrations have not attributed a motive either. Only the recent U.S. Nuclear Posture Review report states that “Moscow believes these systems may provide useful options for escalation advantage.”26 A new, land-based, INF Treaty-range missile could compliment already existing Russian sea- and air-launched cruise missiles with additional mobility and agility, more difficult detection capabilities, and reduced warning time,27 enabling a faster or surprise attack (e.g., against U.S. Aegis Ashore installations in Europe).

European allies and Washington reportedly have been weighing a set of some three dozen military and diplomatic responses to the Russian breach.28 The former could include extending NATO ballistic missile defense with capabilities to defend against cruise missiles, increasing the readiness level of NATO dual-capable aircraft proscribed for its nuclear mission, strengthening the credibility of U.S. extended nuclear deterrence in Europe, deploying a conventional INF Treaty-range ground-launched cruise missile in Europe,29 and introducing new nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles to the U.S. arsenal.30 Except for cruise missile defense,31 however, these measures would neither directly defend Europe from noncompliant Russian cruise missiles nor plausibly be explained as a response to the INF Treaty violation.

To some degree, military responses could worsen NATO-Russian relations. Additional military measures bear the risk of fueling Moscow’s sense of being under siege and thus leading to a Russian military counterreaction. Pledges to refrain from deploying INF Treaty-class missiles in Europe, provided the other side does not deploy them, would be one option to mitigate an unnecessary and costly arms spiral in Europe.

The demise of the INF Treaty and internal NATO deliberations over an appropriate response could require reopening a broader discussion on the NATO deterrence and defense posture. Allies went through this difficult process a decade ago and were barely able to find agreement. Although the security situation differs today from when NATO perceived Russia its “partner,” reopening such discussions holds the potential risk of strengthening the role of nuclear weapons, an issue tremendously sensitive for individual NATO allies.

At the same time, the current INF Treaty crisis marks yet another blow to the European security architecture and raises a more general question: What shall future arms control look like? Should the INF Treaty eventually collapse, Europe and the United States could offer Moscow the chance to work on a modern successor. Utilizing the INF Treaty as a blueprint, they could think of limiting the number of intermediate-range missiles instead of banning them completely, limiting cruise missile deployments geographically, prohibiting nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, or multilateralizing and extending the treaty’s scope.

Such a preservation effort should not be seen as a reward for Russia’s bad behavior. Rather, it should be recognized as an investment in preventing an arms race, as a step to realize the European commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and as a way for Europe to remain central in shaping the global nuclear weapons landscape. As with the Iran nuclear accord, Europe has a major role to play and a major stake in the outcome.

ENDNOTES

1. U.S. Department of State, “2014 Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” July 2014, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/230108.pdf. See Gen. Paul Selva, Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, March 8, 2017, https://armedservices.house.gov/legislation/hearings/military-assessment-nuclear-deterrence-requirements. See also Gen. John E. Hyten, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, March 20, 2018, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Hyten_03-20-18.pdf.

2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, “Comment by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Regarding the Report of the U.S. Department of State on Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” August 1, 2014, http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/675835.

3. U.S. Department of State, “INF Diplomacy Highlights Timeline,” November 16, 2018, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/inf/287411.htm.

4. U.S. Department of State, “Refuting Russian Allegations of U.S. Noncompliance With the INF Treaty,” November 16, 2018, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/inf/287413.htm.

5. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, “Russia’s Assessment of the U.S. Department of State’s Report on Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” April 14, 2018, http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3192916. See “Russian Ambassador Calls U.S. Accusations of INF Treaty Violation ‘Ungrounded,’” Tass, March 2, 2018.

6. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, “Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova,” December 21, 2018, http://www.mid.ru/en/diverse/-/asset_publisher/zwI2FuDbhJx9/content/brifing-oficial-nogo-predstavitela-mid-rossii-m-v-zaharovoj-moskva-21-dekabra-2017-goda?_101_INSTANCE_zwI2FuDbhJx9_redirect=http://www.mid.ru/en/diverse%3Fp_p_id%3D101_INSTANCE_
zwI2FuDbhJx9%26p_p_lifecycle%3D0%26p_p_
state%3Dnormal%26p_p_mode%3Dview%26p_p_col_id%3Dcolumn-1%26p_p_col_pos%3D2%26p_p_col_count%3D6#8
.

7. U.S. Mission to NATO, “October 2, 2018: Press Briefing by Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison,” October 2, 2018, https://nato.usmission.gov/october-2-2018-press-briefing-by-ambassador-kay-bailey-hutchison/.

8. German Federal Foreign Office, “Foreign Minister Maas on the U.S. Announcement That It Is Withdrawing From the INF Treaty,” October 21, 2018, https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/maas-inf-treaty/2151874, German Federal Government, “Zur Ankündigung der USA, sich aus dem INF-Abkommen zurückzuziehen,” October 21, 2018, https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/suche/zur-ankuendigung-der-usa-sich-aus-dem-inf-abkommen-zurueckzuziehen-1540744.

9. German Federal Foreign Office, October 24, 2018, https://twitter.com/AuswaertigesAmt/status/1055114684083462144; German Federal Foreign Office, “Preventing a New Arms Race,” October 23, 2018, https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/maas-funke-mediengruppe-inf-treaty/2152660.

10. German Federal Foreign Office, “Preventing a New Arms Race.”

11. Embassy of France in London, “France Reminds U.S. of Nuclear Treaty’s Importance,” October 21, 2018, https://uk.ambafrance.org/France-reminds-US-of-nuclear-treaty-s-importance.

12. Peter Stubbly, “UK Stands 'Absolutely Resolute' With the U.S. After Trump Pulls Out of Russia Nuclear Weapons Treaty,” Independent, October 21, 2018.

13. “Jacek Czaputowicz: Polska ze zrozumieniem dla decyzji USA w sprawie INF,” PolskieRadio24.pl, October 22, 2018, https://polskieradio24.pl/5/3/Artykul/2205658,Jacek-Czaputowicz-Polska-ze-zrozumieniem-dla-decyzji-USA-w-sprawie-INF.

14. NATO, “Brussels Summit Declaration,” July 11, 2018, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_156624.htm.

15. “U.S. Withdrawal From Nuke Treaty Worries Europeans,” Der Spiegel, October 30, 2018.

16. NATO, “Keynote Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the ‘NATO Talk Around the Brandenburg Tor’ Conference,” November 12, 2018, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_160241.htm.

17. U.S. Department of State, “Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty,” n.d., https://www.state.gov/t/avc/inf/index.htm (accessed November 22, 2018).

18. U.S. Department of State, “Trump Administration INF Treaty Integrated Strategy,” December 8, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/12/276363.htm.

19. U.S. Department of State, “INF Diplomacy Highlights Timeline,” November 16, 2018, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/inf/287411.htm.

20. German Federal Government, “Regierungspressekonferenz vom 22. Oktober 2018,” October 22, 2018, https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/suche/regierungspressekonferenz-vom-22-oktober-2018-1541072. See NATO, “Press Conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Ahead of Exercise Trident Juncture 2018,” October 24, 2018, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_159666.htm?selectedLocale=en.

21. U.S. Department of State, “Refuting Russian Allegations of U.S. Noncompliance With the INF Treaty,” November 16, 2018, https://www.state.gov/t/avc/inf/287413.htm.

22. European Leadership Network, “ELN Group Statement: A European Response to U.S. Withdrawal From the INF Treaty,” November 7, 2018, https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/group-statement/eln-group-statement-a-european-response-to-us-withdrawal-from-the-inf-treaty/; “Letter to POTUS on US-RF Arms Control 11-7,” November 7, 2018, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kdGky0NumiWz4MWwyFNirxP9NTB9a37h/view; “Statement of the Deep Cuts Commission on the INF-Treaty Crisis and the Way Forward,” November 16, 2018, http://deepcuts.org/files/pdf/Statement_of_the_Deep_Cuts_Commission_on_the_INF_Treaty_final.pdf; “No Nuclear Arms Race in Europe!” n.d., https://kein-wettruesten.de/en/ (accessed November 22, 2018).

23. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, "Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats on Russia’s INF Treaty Violation," November 30, 2018, https://www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/speeches-interviews/item/1923-director-of-national-intelligence-daniel-coats-on-russia-s-inf-treaty-violation

24. NATO, “NATO-Russia Council Beets in Brussels,” October 31, 2018, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_160005.htm?selectedLocale=en.

25. NATO, “Press Conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Ahead of Exercise Trident Juncture 2018.”

26. Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review,” February 2018, p. 9, https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF (hereinafter NPR Report).

27. NATO, “Keynote Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the ‘NATO Talk Around the Brandenburg Tor’ Conference.”

28. Lena Kampf and Georg Mascolo, “Nato: Russlands Atomprogramm verstößt gegen Abkommen,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, August 31, 2017.  

29. NPR Report.

30. Ibid.

31. Because cruise missile defense is not an off-the-shelf-product, its development would require years. Only the U.S. Congress has shown an interest in funding the development of active defenses to counter ground-launched missile systems within the INF Treaty ranges. See National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-91, 131 Stat. 1283 (2017).

 


Katarzyna Kubiak is a policy fellow on nuclear and arms control policy at the European Leadership Network in London.

 

With Russia and the United States at an impasse, what can be done to save a landmark arms control treaty?

DOCUMENT: Bipartisan Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaties With Russia

 

November 7, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Dear Mr. President:

As national security professionals and public servants who have spent their careers working for and with Republican and Democratic presidents to protect our nation’s national security, we urge you to ensure that we sustain meaningful, verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals in order to provide more predictability, transparency, and stability in our nuclear relationship with Russia.

We have been deeply troubled by the unresolved problem of Russia’s noncompliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In July, NATO members, including the United States, affirmed their commitment to the INF Treaty, stating that it was “crucial to Euro-Atlantic security.” We agree. The INF Treaty has prevented the unchecked deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe, significantly reducing the risk of rapid escalation towards nuclear war.

Rather than move to terminate the INF Treaty, however, we urge you to direct your team to redouble efforts to negotiate technical solutions to U.S. (and Russian) INF compliance concerns. Russia’s deployment of a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile must be addressed; Moscow is concerned that launchers at the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile defense sites in Romania (and the planned site in Poland) are capable of firing offensive missiles. A senior adviser to President Putin has said that Russia is still ready to address “mutual grievances” related to the treaty. We urge you to pursue this option.

In the absence of the INF Treaty, the only remaining agreement regulating our nuclear stockpiles will be the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which limits the two sides’ long-range missiles and bombers, and caps the warheads they carry to no more than 1,550 each. U.S. military leaders continue to see value in New START. Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told Congress last March that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”

New START is due to expire on February 5, 2021 unless you and President Putin agree to extend it by up to five years (to 2026), as allowed for in Article XIV of the treaty. We urge you to take up Russia’s offer to engage in talks on the extension of New START. These talks should begin immediately to address any outstanding treaty compliance concerns before the treaty expires.

With your decision to extend New START, the two sides would have the time necessary to work together on a new deal that addresses obstacles that prevented your predecessors in the White House from achieving further limits and deeper reductions in the two countries’ nuclear arsenals.

Every American president since John F. Kennedy has successfully concluded at least one agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear dangers. Without New START, there would be no legally-binding, verifiable limits on the U.S. or Russian nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

In March of this year, you said you wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.” We respectfully urge you to do so.

Sincerely,

Susan Burk, former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, and head of the U.S. delegation to the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference

Richard R. Burt, former Ambassador to Germany and chief negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

Thomas Countryman, former acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and Chairman of the Arms Control Association

Thomas Graham Jr., Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, Disarmament

Jill Hruby, former Director, Sandia National Laboratories

Lt. Gen. Arlen D. Jameson, (USAF, Ret.), former Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command

Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, (R-Kansas) 1978–1997

Laura E. Kennedy, former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and former Ambassador to Turkmenistan

Sen. Richard Lugar, (R-Ind.) former Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Sen. Sam Nunn, (D-Ga.) former Chairman, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee

William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense

Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and former Ambassador to the United Nations, to Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, Jordan and El Salvador

Joan Rohlfing, President and COO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative

George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State

Bipartisan Experts Urge Trump to Save Nuclear Treaties With Russia

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