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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Disarmament

Chronology of Libya's Disarmament and Relations with the United States

January 2018

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: January 2018

On December 19, 2003, long-time Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi stunned much of the world by renouncing Tripoli’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcoming international inspectors to verify that Tripoli would follow through on its commitment.

Following Gaddafi’s announcement, inspectors from the United States, United Kingdom, and international organizations worked to dismantle Libya’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its longest-range ballistic missiles. Washington also took steps toward normalizing its bilateral relations with Tripoli, which had essentially been cut off in 1981.

Libya’s decision has since been characterized as a model for other states suspected of developing WMD in noncompliance with their international obligations to follow. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker stated May 2, 2005 during the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that Libya’s choice “demonstrates that, in a world of strong nonproliferation norms, it is never too late to make the decision to become a fully compliant NPT state,” noting that Tripoli’s decision has been “amply rewarded.”

Tripoli’s disarmament was also a success story for the U.S. intelligence community, which uncovered and halted some of the assistance Libya was being provided by the nuclear smuggling network led by Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan. At  that time, the U.S. intelligence community was being harshly criticized for its failures regarding Iraq’s suspected WMD programs.

The factors that induced Libya to give up its weapons programs are debatable. Many Bush administration officials have emphasized the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, as well as the October 2003 interdiction of a ship containing nuclear-related components destined for Libya, as key factors in Tripoli’s decision. But outside experts argue that years of sanctions and diplomatic efforts were more important.

Libya erupted into civil war in February 2011, beginning as a clash between peaceful political protestors and the government. The situation degenerated into armed conflict between loyalist Gaddafi forces and rebel militias and culminated with a toppled regime and an elected General National Congress in August 2012. Disarmament efforts were halted in February 2011 due to the conflict but no chemical or biological weapons were used by either side. U.S. intelligence sources said that the stockpiles of these weapons remain secure. Libya today is again on the path to destroying its weapons of mass destruction capabilities and stockpiles.

The following chronology summarizes key events in the U.S.-Libyan relationship, as well as weapons inspection and dismantlement activities in Libya since its 2003 pledge.

 


Skip to: 1970s, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018.

 

1970s

May 26, 1975: Codifying a commitment to forswear nuclear weapons, Libya ratifies the NPT seven years after it was first signed by the regime of King Idris al-Sanusi.

December 2, 1979: A mob attacks and sets fire to the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. Embassy officials are subsequently withdrawn and the embassy shut down.

December 29, 1979: The U.S. government places Libya on a newly created list of state sponsors of terrorism. Countries on the list are subject to a variety of U.S. sanctions.

1978-1981: Libya purchases more than 2,000 tons of lightly processed uranium from Niger. The Soviet Union completes a 10 megawatt nuclear research reactor at Tajoura.

1980s

July 1980: Libya’s safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enters into force. Such agreements allow the IAEA to inspect certain nuclear-related facilities within a country to verify that the government is not misusing civilian nuclear programs for illicit military purposes.

Libya subsequently pursues clandestine nuclear activities related to both uranium enrichment and plutonium separation. Both plutonium and highly enriched uranium can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

May 6, 1981: The United States closes Libya’s embassy in Washington and expels Libyan diplomats.

August 19, 1981: U.S. aircraft shoot down two Libyan combat jets that fired on them over the Mediterranean Sea.

January 19, 1982: Libya ratifies the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The BWC prohibits states-parties from developing, producing, and stockpiling offensive biological agents.

January 7, 1986: President Ronald Reagan issues an executive order imposing additional economic sanctions against Libya in response to Tripoli’s continued support for international terrorism, including two December 1985 attacks at airports in Rome and Vienna. The order bans most Libyan imports and all U.S. exports to Libya, as well as commercial contracts and travel to the country. Libyan assets in the United States are also frozen. Reagan authorizes the sanctions under the authority of several U.S. laws, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

April 15, 1986: U.S. forces launch aerial bombing strikes against Libya in response to Tripoli’s involvement in an April 5 terrorist attack that killed two American servicemen at a Berlin disco.

December 21, 1988: Pan Am Flight 103 en route from London to New York explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 bystanders on the ground. In November 1991, investigators in the United States and United Kingdom name two Libyan officials as prime suspects in the bombing.

September 19, 1989: The French airliner UTA Flight 772 bound for Paris explodes, killing all 171 people on board. Investigating authorities find evidence of terrorism and indict two Libyan suspects in 1991.

1992

January 21, 1992: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 731 demanding that Libya surrender the suspects in the Pam Am bombing, cooperate with the Pan Am and UTA investigations, and pay compensation to the victims’ families.

March 31, 1992: The Security Council adopts Resolution 748 imposing sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo and air travel restrictions.

1993

November 11, 1993: The Security Council adopts Resolution 883 which tightens sanctions on Libya. The resolution includes a limited freeze of Libyan assets as well as a ban on exports of oil equipment to Libya.

1995

July 1995: According to the IAEA, Libya makes a “strategic decision to reinvigorate its nuclear activities, including gas centrifuge uranium enrichment.”

Gas centrifuges can enrich uranium for use in nuclear reactors as well as for fissile material in nuclear weapons.

1996

April 1996: Libya joins the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone by signing the Treaty of Pelindaba. The treaty prohibits member states from developing, acquiring, and possessing nuclear weapons, but has not yet entered into force.

August 5, 1996: The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) becomes law. The act authorizes the president to impose sanctions against foreign companies that invest more than $40 million a year in Libya’s oil industry.

1999

April 5, 1999: Libya hands over two suspects--each reportedly linked to Libyan intelligence--to Dutch authorities for trial in the bombing of Pam Am Flight 103.

Immediately following the handover, as well as France’s acknowledgement that Tripoli had cooperated with French officials investigating the UTA bombing, the Security Council suspends sanctions against Libya originally imposed in 1992.

May 1999: Libyan officials offer to eliminate their chemical weapons programs during secret talks with the United States, according to Martin Indyk, then assistant secretary of state. In a March 10, 2004 Financial Times article, Indyk reveals that U.S. officials insisted Libya reach a settlement with the Pan Am victims’ families, as well as accept responsibility for the bombing, before Washington negotiate with Libya about its chemical weapons.

1999-2000: U.S. intelligence agencies begin to obtain new information that Libya is “reinvigorating its nuclear, missile, and biological [weapons] programs,” according to a March 31, 2005 report from the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. By 2000, “information was uncovered that revealed shipments of centrifuge technology from the [proliferation network run by former Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan] were destined for Libya,” the report says.

Following the suspension of UN sanctions, Libya also begins increasing its efforts to obtain chemical weapons. According to a 2003 CIA Report, Tripoli reestablishes “contacts with sources of expertise, parts, and precursor chemicals abroad, primarily in Western Europe.”

2001

January 31, 2001: Three judges hand down verdicts in the Pan Am trial. One man, Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, is found guilty of 270 counts of murder. The other suspect, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, is acquitted.

November 19, 2001: Speaking at the BWC Review Conference, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton states that Libya may be violating the treaty by actively seeking to develop or deploy offensive biological weapons. This is the first time the United States has accused noncompliant states by name at a diplomatic conference.

2002

May 6, 2002: Bolton indicates in a speech to the Heritage Foundation that Libya and Syria received dual-use technology that could be used for producing biological weapons through trade with Cuba. Dual-use goods are items having both civilian and military uses.

August 3, 2002: President George W. Bush signs the “ILSA Extension Act of 2001” which extends the provisions of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act for an additional five years and lowers the $40 million investment threshold for the possible imposition of sanctions to $20 million.

2003

February 12, 2003: CIA Director George Tenet, in written testimony to Congress, notes “Libya clearly intends to re-establish its offensive chemical weapons capability.”

Early March 2003: Libyan intelligence officials approach British intelligence officials and offer to enter negotiations regarding the elimination of Libya’s WMD programs. The subsequent negotiations, which include U.S. officials, are kept secret.

Former National Security Council official Flynt Leverett later writes in a January 23, 2004 New York Times article that Washington offers an “explicit quid pro quo” to Tripoli regarding its WMD programs. U.S. officials indicate that the United States will remove its sanctions on Libya if the latter verifiably dismantles these programs, according to Leverett.

The meeting occurs prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq later that month.

April 5, 2003: Bolton says in an interview with Radio Sawa that the invasion of Iraq “sends a message” to Libya, as well as Iran and Syria, “that the cost of their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high.”

September 12, 2003: In a 13-0 vote, the Security Council formally lifts sanctions imposed on Libya. The United States and France abstain. The Security Council’s action comes in response to Libya’s August 15 agreement to compensate the victims of the Pan Am attack, as well as Tripoli’s formal acceptance of responsibility for that bombing.

Libya agreed September 11 to offer additional compensation to the families of the 1989 UTA bombing victims. Libya first agreed in 1999 to pay the families, but agreed to increase the amount after the Pan Am victims were promised more. A final agreement is reached in January 2004.

U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham explains that the United States will not lift sanctions because of “serious concerns about other aspects of Libyan behavior,” including Tripoli’s WMD programs. Cunningham states that “Libya’s continued nuclear infrastructure upgrades raise concerns.” He accuses Tripoli of “actively developing biological and chemical weapons.”

Testifying before the House International Relations Committee four days later, Bolton reiterates his previous threat stating that countries developing WMD “will pay a steep price for their efforts.”

October 4, 2003: German and Italian authorities interdict a ship en route to Libya containing centrifuge components manufactured in Malaysia. Bush later touts the interdiction as a key intelligence success during a February 11, 2004 speech at the National Defense University. Some U.S. officials subsequently assert that the interdiction played a major role in convincing Libya to come clean on its weapons programs.

December 19, 2003: Libya’s Foreign Ministry publicly renounces the country’s WMD programs. Tripoli promises to eliminate its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, adhere to its commitments under the NPT and BWC, as well as accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Libya also promises to limit the range and payloads of its missiles to conform to guidelines set by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Additionally, Libya agrees to conclude an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. The protocol expands the IAEA’s authority to check for clandestine nuclear activities. Libya invites inspectors to verify compliance with the agreements and assist in the dismantling of its weapons programs.

U.S. and British officials hail the announcement. Bush says that “far better” relations between Washington and Tripoli are possible if the latter fully implements its commitments and “demonstrates its seriousness.” Bush promises U.S. help to “build a more free and prosperous” Libya if the country achieves “internal reform.”

December 27, 2003: IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei visits Libya to begin the process of assessing and verifying Libya’s nuclear dismantlement activities.

2004

January 4, 2004: The London Sunday Times publishes an interview with Gaddafi’s son, who reports that Libya obtained designs for a nuclear weapon from the Khan network.

January 6, 2004: Libya ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits the explosive testing of nuclear weapons. The treaty has not yet entered into force.

Tripoli also accedes to the CWC. Under the convention, Libya must completely destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles and production capacity by April 29, 2007. Upon joining the CWC, Libya declares the possession of its chemical weapons materials and capabilities as follows: 24.7 metric tonnes (MT) of sulfur mustard; 1,390 MT of precursor chemicals; 3,563 unloaded chemical weapons munitions (aerial bombs); and 3 former chemical weapons production facilities. The OPCW inspections verify these materials and capabilities.

January 18, 2004: U.S. and British officials arrive in Libya to begin elimination and removal of WMD designs and stockpiles. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter later tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee February 26 that the Libyan officials are “forthcoming about the myriad aspects” of Libya’s WMD programs.

January 24, 2004: Representative Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee, becomes the first U.S. lawmaker to visit Libya in decades.

January 27, 2004: U.S. officials airlift about 55,000 pounds of documents and components from Libya’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs to the United States. The nuclear-related material includes uranium hexafluoride (the feedstock for centrifuges), two complete second-generation centrifuges from Pakistan, and additional centrifuge parts, equipment, and documentation.

On March 15, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham calls the airlift “only the tip of the iceberg,” representing just 5 percent of the total amount of material the United States will eventually recover from Libya.

February 4, 2004: Khan reveals that, for two decades, he secretly provided North Korea, Libya, and Iran with technical and material assistance for making nuclear weapons.

February 20, 2004: The IAEA releases a report detailing Libya’s noncompliance with its safeguards agreement and outlining Tripoli’s nascent nuclear program. Specifically, the report describes Libya’s gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program, imports of nuclear material, and designs of facilities for uranium conversion. Libya’s IAEA safeguards agreement required Tripoli to report some of these activities, but the government failed to do so.

The report says that Libya ordered 10,000 advanced centrifuges and received two of them in 2000. Moreover, the report discloses that Libya secretly separated small amounts of plutonium from the spent fuel of the Tajuora Research Reactor during the 1980s.

Although the report states that Libya received nuclear weapons design documents from the Khan network, the IAEA cites no evidence that Libya ever undertook steps to build a nuclear weapon.

February 26, 2004: The United States lifts its Libya travel ban. U.S. citizens are allowed to make travel-related expenditures in Libya, and businesses may enter negotiations to re-acquire pre-sanctions holdings inside Libya. The United States also offers Libya the possibility of opening a diplomatic interests section in Washington.

DeSutter tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the same day that Libya’s decision to abandon its weapons programs should become “a model for other proliferators to mend their ways and help restore themselves to international legitimacy.”

February 27, 2004: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body charged with verifying CWC compliance, confirms that Libyan officials provided a “partial initial declaration of their chemical weapons stockpiles” and promised a complete declaration to the organization by March 5, 2004.
The OPCW begins oversight of chemical weapons destruction activities in Libya.

February 28, 2004: At the end of an African Union summit, Gaddafi calls upon other states to abandon their WMD programs. Nuclear weapons, he says, make states less secure.

March 4, 2004: The OPCW reports that “[o]ver 3,300 [empty] aerial bombs, specifically designed to disperse chemical warfare agent, have been individually inventoried, then irreversibly destroyed under stringent international verification.”

March 5, 2004: Libyan officials submit a complete declaration of the state’s chemical weapons stockpile and facilities.

March 19, 2004: Two OPCW inspection teams completed the initial inspection and verified Libya's January declaration.

 

 

March 8, 2004: The United States, with assistance from British and IAEA officials, arranges for 13 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, a fissile material, to be airlifted from Libya to Russia for disposal.

March 10, 2004: Libya signs an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and reaffirms a December 29 commitment to behave as if the protocol had already entered into force.

DeSutter tells the House International Relations Committee that the United States has removed five 800 kilometer range Scud-C missiles from Libya, as well as additional missile and centrifuge components.

The IAEA Board of Governors adopts a resolution declaring that Libya’s past clandestine nuclear activities “constituted noncompliance” with its IAEA safeguards agreement. Nonetheless, the board welcomes the cooperation and openness of Libyan officials since December 2003 and recommends that ElBaradei report Libya’s noncompliance to the Security Council “for information purposes only.” The IAEA is required to report noncompliance with safeguards agreements to the Security Council, which can then take action against the offending state.

March 23, 2004: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns meets with Libyan officials, including Gaddafi, in Tripoli. A State Department spokesperson calls the meetings “constructive” and reflective of the “step-by-step normalization” of relations between Libya and the United States. Burns is the most senior U.S. official to visit Libya since 1969.

April 22, 2004: In response to the March IAEA resolution, the Security Council issues a president statement “commending” Libya for its cooperation with the agency.

April 23, 2004: The White House terminates the application of ILSA with respect to Libya. Press Secretary Scott McClellan also announces that the Treasury Department has modified sanctions imposed under the authority of IEEPA. McClellan notes that “the resumption of most commercial activities” between Libya and the United States will now be permitted.

May 13, 2004: Libya announces it will end military trade with countries it deems “source[s] of concern for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” U.S. officials explain that the Libyan announcement follows a private agreement for Libya to end all its military dealings with Syria, Iran, and North Korea. However, the Libyan foreign ministry later denies that the announcement is aimed at Syria.

May 26, 2004: Libya submits its initial declarations required by its additional protocol arrangement with the IAEA.

May 28, 2004: ElBaradei issues a report to the IAEA board detailing the agency’s progress in verifying Libya’s declarations regarding its nuclear program. According to the report, “Libyan authorities have provided prompt, unhindered access to all locations requested by the [a]gency and to all relevant equipment and material declared to be in Libya.”

Speaking June 14 to the board, ElBaradei says questions remain regarding the origin of nuclear material Libya imported during 2000 and 2001, as well as the source of enriched uranium particles found on Libya’s centrifuge equipment. The agency has contacted other governments to investigate entities involved in providing nuclear technology to Libya.

June 28, 2004: Announcing that Washington and Tripoli will resume direct diplomatic ties, Burns inaugurates a new U.S. Liaison Office in Libya.

September 20, 2004: The United States lifts most of its remaining sanctions on Libya. Bush terminates the national emergency declared in 1986 under IEEPA, as well as revokes related executive orders. This action ends the remaining sanctions under IEEPA and ends the need for Treasury Department licenses for trade with Libya.

The United States also permits direct air flights between the two countries, as well as unfreezes Libyan assets in the United States. Additionally, Bush waives prohibitions on extending certain U.S. export assistance programs to Libya and on the ability of U.S. taxpayers to claim credits for taxes paid to Libya.

Libya is still subject to some sanctions as it remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. These sanctions include prohibitions on arms exports and Department of Defense contracts. The United States also is required to oppose loans from international financial institutions to such countries and impose export controls on dual-use items.

Two days later, DeSutter tells the House International Relations Committee that verification of Libya’s disarmament tasks is “essentially complete,” adding that the United States, working with the United Kingdom, has completed verifying “with reasonable certainty that Libya has eliminated, or has set in place the elimination of” its weapons programs.

August 30, 2004: ElBaradei issues another report to the IAEA board stating that information Tripoli has given to the agency about its past nuclear activities “appear[s] to be consistent with the information available to and verified by” the IAEA.

According to the report, the IAEA continues to investigate several outstanding issues regarding Libya’s nuclear weapons program, particularly assistance Tripoli received from the Khan network. Cooperation from other countries is “essential” for determining the role of the network in supplying Libya, the report adds.

October 11, 2004: European Union foreign ministers lift a 20 year-old arms embargo on Libya, allowing EU countries to export arms and other military equipment to that country. Part of the EU rationale for lifting the embargo is to improve Libya’s capacity to patrol its maritime borders and prevent illegal immigration to the EU from North Africa, a particular concern of southern European states such as Italy.

European arms transfers are still governed by the EU’s Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and national export control laws.

2005

March 25, 2005: In a letter to The Washington Post, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan declares for the first time publicly the U.S. assessment that the uranium hexafluoride found in Libya originated in North Korea. According to McClellan, this material was transferred to Libya via the A.Q. Khan illicit trafficking network.

October 20, 2005: Libya signs an agreement with Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL to provide its Tajoura research reactor with low-enriched uranium (LEU) as part of an effort to convert the reactor from using HEU to LEU.

2006

May 15, 2006: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces the U.S. establishment of full diplomatic relations with Libya. As part of that move, President George W. Bush submits a report to Congress certifying that Tripoli had not engaged in acts of terrorism in the previous six months and had provided assurances that it would not support terrorism, thereby allowing Libya to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

June 26, 2006: The United Kingdom and Libya sign a “Joint Letter of Peace and Security,” in which London pledges to seek UN Security Council action if another state attacks Libya with chemical or biological weapons and pledges to aid Libya in strengthening its defense capabilities.  Both states also announce that they will work jointly to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

July 27, 2006: IAEA and U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration officials help remove the last remaining quantity of fresh HEU from Libya.  Three kilograms of Russian-origin HEU from the Tajoura research reactor in Libya are returned to Russia for disposal.

December 2006: The OPCW establishes Dec. 31, 2010 as the deadline for Libya to destroy its mustard gas stockpiles and Dec. 31, 2011 as the deadline to destroy its remaining chemical weapon precursors.

2007

June 14, 2007: Libya annuls its contract on chemical weapons destruction with the United States due to dissatisfaction with its provisions on liability, financing, and facility ownership. Under its agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, these chemicals must be eliminated by the end of 2010. Libya did not indicate how it intended to meet this commitment.

July 25, 2007: France and Libya sign a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy cooperation.  The agreement outlines a plan for the eventual construction of a nuclear desalination plant.

2008

January 3, 2008: Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam pays an official visit to the United States and signs a Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement. This is the first official visit by a Libyan Foreign Minister to the United States since 1972.

August 14, 2008: The United States and Libya sign the U.S -Libya Claims Settlement Agreement, providing full compensation for victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the bombing of the Berlin disco. Under the terms of the agreement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certified to Congress that Libya paid $1.5 billion to cover terrorism related claims against Tripoli. The agreement also addressed Libyan claims arising from U.S. military actions in Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 to the amount of $300 million.

September 12, 2008: An IAEA Board report says that the agency has completed its investigation of Libya’s past nuclear activities and found that Tripoli had addressed all of the outstanding issues related to its past nuclear activity.

2009

November 20, 2009: Libya unexpectedly halts the shipment of the remaining 5.2 kilograms of HEU in spent fuel from its Tajoura research reactor. The material was scheduled to be flown to Russia for disposal that same month as part of an agreement between the Libya, Russia, and the United States. According to State Department cables obtained by the Guardian in 2010, U.S. Energy Department experts said that concerns about the safety and security of the material presented a high level of urgency, and the HEU needed to be removed within one month.

December 21, 2009: Libya allows a Russian-chartered plane to leave the country carrying the last of its HEU spent fuel stocks for disposal in Russia after a month-long delay.

December 2009: The OPCW approves Libya’s request to extend the deadline for the destruction of its mustard gas stockpiles from December 2010 to May 2011. According to the OPCW report for 2009, Libya destroyed 39% of its chemical weapons precursors by the end of the year but destruction of its mustard gas had not yet begun.

2010

July 2010: The State Department’s arms control Compliance Report says that Libya is complying with its Biological Weapons Convention and  nuclear nonproliferation obligations. It also says that Libya has made progress destroying its chemical weapons stockpile but has not yet met its obligations to adopt legislation to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.

October 2010: The destruction of one of Libya's chemical agents, sulfur mustard, is initiated.

2011

 

February 23, 2011: OPCW spokesperson Michael Luhan tells the Associated Press that Libya destroyed “nearly 13.5 metric tons” of its mustard gas in 2010, accounting for “about 54 percent of its stockpile.”

February 25, 2011: Citing security concerns due to ongoing political unrest, U.S. officials announce the suspension of U.S. embassy operations in Libya.

February 26, 2011: United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1970 condemning the lethal actions taken by Gaddafi forces against civilian political protestors.  The resolution also places financial and travel restrictions on regime officials.  The OPCW announced that machinery breakdowns brought to a halt ongoing destruction of sulfur mustard amid rising tensions.

March 17, 2011: The United Nations Security Council adopts Resolution 1973 authorizing an international response to the Libyan civil war.  The resolution creates a no-fly zone over Libya, strengthens an arms embargo and allows forcible inspection of suspected weapons trafficking ships and planes traveling to the country.

March – October 2011: NATO enforces the no-fly zone established by Resolution 1973.  Fighting continues between loyalist Gaddafi forces and the rebel militia.  The National Transition Council (NTC) is generally internationally recognized as the legitimate government of Libya.  U.S. officials publicly assure that remaining sulfur mustard agent and existing weapons stockpiles are secure during the ongoing conflict.

September 23, 2011: The IAEA confirms a cache of yellowcake uranium was discovered in an abandoned nuclear materials warehouse belonging to the Gaddafi regime.  The material is not deemed a high-level security risk because it is not suitable for use in a weapon.

October 20, 2011: Gaddafi is found and killed by rebel forces in the town of Sirte in western Libya.  NATO military operations end and the NTC forms an interim government and schedules elections.

November 1, 2011: The NTC officially notifies the OPCW of what was determined to be two undeclared chemical weapons stockpiles from the previous regime.  The NTC cooperates with OPCW plans to resume destruction of weapons material.

November 28, 2011: The new government in Tripoli submitted an official declaration of the weapons to the OPCW.

December 2011: The IAEA visits the Tajoura Nuclear Facility in Tripoli and a uranium concentrate storage facility in Sabha.  The nuclear watchdog organization informs the UN Security Council that no previously declared stockpiles had been disturbed or reported missing as a result of the conflict.

2012

 

January 17-19, 2012: OPCW inspectors visited Libya to verify the previously undisclosed chemical weapons. The inspection’s purpose is two-fold, for verifying the new declaration with regard to types and quantities of chemical weapons, and for helping the Libyan government in determining whether another set of discovered materials could be declared under the provisions of the CWC.

April 2012: Libya fails to meet the international April 29, 2012 deadline for destruction of remaining chemical weapons.  Libya submits a working paper to the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons affirming the country’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and compliance with IAEA authorities and regulations.

April 25, 2012: OPCW announced it would start the destruction of the mustard gas stockpile. Canada aids in the funding of the destruction.

May 2012: The government submits a revised plan to the OPCW to complete destruction activities by December 2016 with destruction operations to resume in March 2013.  Current Libyan behavior is indicative of a cooperative relationship with international nonproliferation standards.

May 27 – 28, 2012: The Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, visited Tripoli and met the Libyan Foreign Minister, H.E. Ashour Saad Ben Khaial, and the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Aziz. The Libyan authorities have reaffirmed their destruction of remaining chemical weapons as soon as possible.

August 2012: The NTC transfers power to the elected General National Congress.  Mohammed Magarief is elected by the body as interim head of state.

September 20, 2012: The IAEA approves and signs Libya’s Country Programme Framework (CPF) for the period of 2012 to 2017.  The medium-term planning agreement identifies how nuclear technology and resources will be used for economic development in the country.  The IAEA also conducted two missions to Libya in 2012 to review and support nuclear security and infrastructure.

2013

April 20, 2013: Destruction of the remaining 8.82 metric tons of sulfur mustard stored at Ruwagha begins.

May 4, 2013: Libya completes the destruction of 22.3 metric tons of Category 1 chemical weapons, or nearly 85% of the total declared stocks under OPCW verification.

The remaining chemical weapon stockpile is comprised of about 2.45 metric tons of polymerised sulphur mustard and 1.6 metric tons of sulphur mustard loaded in projectiles, bombs and bomb cartridges, as well as 846 metric tons of precursor chemicals.

2014

January 26, 2014: Libya completes the destruction of its category 1 chemical weapons. The OPCW verifies that the destruction is completed. The remaining category 2 materials are scheduled to be destroyed by the end of 2016. 

2016

February 3, 2016: Libya requests assistance from the OPCW in destroying its remaining category 2 chemical weapons. 

July 16, 2016: The Libyan government requests assistance in removing chemical weapons precursors from the country and eliminating them out of the country. 

July 20, 2016: The OPCW approves Libya's request for assistance. 

July 22, 2016: The UN Security Council endorses the OPCW's decision to assist in transporting the precursors out of the country in Resolution 2298. A number of countries, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, offer technical and financial assistance for the removal and destruction. 

August 27, 2016: The OPCW confirms that the precursor chemicals were removed from Libya on Danish ships and brought to Germany for destruction. 

2018

January 11, 2018: The OPCW confirms that the Category 2 chemical materials removed from Libya and transported to Germany had been destroyed, marking the complete destruction of Libya's chemical weapons arsenal.

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New START Future Uncertain

January/February 2018
By Kingston Reif

The United States and Russia are on track to fulfill their obligations under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by the agreement’s Feb. 5 implementation deadline, but the future of the agreement is in doubt.

In a display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate provided its advice and consent to ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by a vote of 71-26 on December 22, 2010. Then-Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who together led the push for treaty ratification, met with reporters a day earlier, after winning a procedural vote. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)The treaty is one of the few remaining bright spots in the U.S.-Russian relationship, as both sides have abided by its terms.

Signed in 2010, the treaty requires each country to reduce its strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed delivery systems, and 800 deployed and nondeployed delivery systems by the February implementation deadline. New START also includes a comprehensive suite of monitoring and verification provisions to help ensure compliance with these limits.

As of the most recent biannual exchange of treaty data compiled by the State Department last September, the United States had met the limits for all three of the central weapons categories ahead of the deadline. Russia had reached two of the limits and was a mere 11 deployed warheads above the required limit of 1,550.

New START is set to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, and can be extended by up to five years without further approval by the U.S. Senate or Russian Duma if both presidents agree. But U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the treaty and in a January 2017 phone call responded negatively to a suggestion from Russian President Vladimir Putin that their countries work to extend the treaty, according to Reuters report.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s nonproliferation and arms control department, said in a Dec. 19 interview with Interfax that Russia is willing to consider a five-year extension but that the United States is not currently “prepared for this kind of conversation.”

The U.S. administration is conducting a Nuclear Posture Review, which could involve consideration of the New START limits. (See ACT, March 2017.) The review is scheduled to be completed in February.

If New START is allowed to lapse with nothing to replace it, there would be no limits on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces for the first time in decades.

In November, Christopher Ford, then-special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, told an audience in Washington that New START “remains a valuable tool for ensuring transparency and predictability between the United States and Russia.”

“We hope that after the February deadline is met” and the administration’s nuclear posture and ballistic missile defense reviews are complete, “we can begin to assess whether or not extending New START for an additional five years…is in our national security interest,” said Ford, who is now assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.

U.S. military leaders continue to see value in New START. Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told Congress in March that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”

But some Pentagon officials have said that it is too early to consider extending New START. There is “no need to extend New START today,” Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in March.

Apart from New START, other key pillars of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control architecture, like the bilateral relationship more broadly, are under siege, most notably the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Since 2014, the United States has accused Russia of violating that accord.

The House-passed version of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act would have prohibited the use of funds to extend New START unless Russia returns to compliance with the INF Treaty. (See ACT, September 2017.)

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said at an event in Washington in July that by threatening New START and the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, two accords that Russia hopes to preserve, the United States demonstrates a “firm and unyielding response” to Russian noncompliance.

The final version of the authorization bill signed by Trump in December did not include the House language on New START.

The United States and Russia are on track to fulfill their obligations under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by the agreement’s Feb. 5 implementation deadline, but the future of the agreement is in doubt.

U.S. and Russia Should Avoid Escalation and Commit to Resolve Lingering INF Treaty Dispute

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Body: 

Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed 30 years ago today, eliminated an entire class of destabilizing U.S. and Soviet nuclear-armed weapons and helped end the Cold War. Although the INF Treaty is clearly in the security interests of the United States, Europe, and Russia, the treaty is in jeopardy.

Soviet inspectors and their American escorts stand among U.S. Pershing II missiles destroyed in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in a photo taken January 14, 1989. (Photo credit: MSGT Jose Lopez Jr./U.S. Defense Department)

According the U.S. government, Russia has violated the INF Treaty by testing and subsequently deploying a small number of ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with a range between 500 and 5,500 km. Russia denies that it has violated the treaty and has instead raised its own concerns about U.S. compliance with the agreement. This is a serious matter.

Both sides say they support the INF Treaty, but they have not been able to resolve the compliance dispute through the Special Verification Commission (SVC), a technical forum designed to resolve compliance concerns. The U.S. side has requested a second meeting of the SVC on December 12-14 to address the matter once again. This is an important opportunity that both sides must use to bring forward additional details about their concerns, as well as discuss concrete and practical solutions, rather than only exchange complaints and vague allegations.

The Trump administration announced today that it is committed to the INF Treaty and to bringing Russia back into compliance, which is helpful. What is not helpful is its proposal to recommit to the treaty by taking steps that would put the United States on the path to violating it. The administration announced that it is pursuing a tit-for-tat response: the development of new, INF non-compliant conventional missile.

As long as Russia remains in noncompliance with the treaty, the United States should make clear it clear that Russia will not be allowed to gain a military advantage from its violation.

But a symmetric response won’t make the United States or Europe any safer and will only make the problem worse. Earlier this year, the Republican-led Congress opened the door to this escalation of the problem by authorizing a program of record for such a weapons system.

The INF Treaty does not prohibit research or development, but going down this road sets the stage for Washington to violate the agreement at some point and it takes the focus off of Russia’s INF violation. Rather than persuading Russia to return to compliance, this action is more likely to give Moscow an excuse to continue on its current course.

New ground-launched intermediate-range missiles are not needed to defend NATO or Northeast Asian allies. U.S. forces are already stocked with formidable air- and sea-launched missiles that can cover the same targets. Furthermore, a new U.S. INF missile would take years to develop and cost billions of dollars that would drain funding from other military programs.

Most importantly, NATO does not support a new missile, and no country has offered to host it. It is thus a missile to nowhere. If the Trump administration tries to force the alliance to accept a new, potentially nuclear missile it would divide the alliance.

Instead, both sides must recommit to resolve this issue and use the existing treaty compliance resolution mechanism, the SVC, to evaluate competing technical claims and ultimately to remove from deployment any INF systems in Russia that do not comply with the treaty.

In addition to working to preserve and strengthen the existing bilateral arms control architecture, including the INF Treaty, the U.S. and Russia should begin to discuss the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which can and should be extended for another five years. These agreements constrain Russia's nuclear forces and provide stability, predictability and transparency. They have only increased in value as the U.S.-Russia relationship has deteriorated.

 

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Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball

Country Resources:

Missing Voices: The Continuing Underrepresentation of Women in Multilateral Forums on Weapons and Disarmament

December 2017
By Elizabeth Minor

The recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons contains much that is unprecedented for an international nuclear weapons agreement.

Consistent with the treaty’s humanitarian foundations, its preamble recognizes victims of nuclear weapons use and testing.1 An article on victim assistance obligates states-parties for the first time to respond to affected individuals’ rights and needs through an international framework. Obligations on environmental remediation represent a similarly novel step forward. The preamble’s recognition of the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons activities on indigenous peoples is also a first for arms treaties. These are major achievements.

Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez (shown on screens), permanent representative to the UN Office at Geneva, in a June 15 photo, led the negotiation conference that produced the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty. Still, more than two-thirds of the conference delegates were male, and almost a third of the 121 registered country delegations were exclusively male.  (Photo credit: Eskinder Debebe/United Nations)There is a further element of the preamble that is welcome and unprecedented in arms treaties: the commitment to “supporting and strengthening the effective participation of women in nuclear disarmament.” The treaty recognizes that “the equal, full and effective participation of both women and men is an essential factor for the promotion and attainment of sustainable peace and security.”2 This recognition and commitment is useful and significant for highlighting the need for change and for offering the opportunity to review progress at future meetings of the treaty’s parties.

This article looks at some of the patterns in women’s representation at international meetings of multilateral forums dealing with arms matters in recent years. The gender picture is currently far from balanced. Although this article looks at the numbers, achieving equal participation in multilateral forums is a matter that goes beyond securing parity in attendance and speakers at meetings. Further, successfully integrating gendered perspectives and improved attitudes to gender equality could be of greater significance than simple numerical equality to the outcomes these forums can generate for women and men affected worldwide by the weapons issues they discuss. These are all important issues for policymakers and civil society to consider in addressing gender and marginalization in multilateral forums.

Gender Imbalance at the Ban Talks

The final treaty text recognizes the importance of women’s participation, but imbalances in representation were seen at the negotiations on the prohibition treaty, where 31 percent of registered country delegates were women3 and women gave 29 percent of publicly available country statements.4 Although noteworthy that the negotiations were led by Costa Rican Ambassador Elaine Whyte Gómez, women headed only 19 (15 percent) state delegations. Thirty-one percent of delegations were composed entirely of men, with 3 percent of delegations all female. On the composition of the 125 registered country delegations, 65 had more men than women (including 39 all-male delegations); 15 had equal numbers of men and women; and 45 had more women than men (including four all-female delegations).5

These patterns are nevertheless higher than the averages seen in data analyzed by Article 36 on women’s participation on state delegations at 13 multilateral forums and processes dealing with weapons and disarmament between 2010 and 2014.6 Those forums and processes included those dealing with conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.7

Figure 1Recent studies using similar data over longer periods of time suggest a general upward trend in women’s representation on state delegations over recent decades. For example, a 2016 study recorded an increase of more than 20 percent since 1980 in women’s representation on official delegations at multilateral forums dealing with security issues.8

The patterns recorded at the prohibition treaty negotiations, although showing significant inequality, may therefore be part of a general trend toward more equal representation in such forums. If the current rate of progress is maintained, however, achieving equal gender representation could take many decades.

Women’s Participation 2010-2014

For its study, Article 36 gathered data on women’s attendance, leadership of delegations, and delivery of statements or expert presentations.9 It examined patterns in representation among states and civil society, including nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and others, such as religious groups. Civil society performed better in the available data, but states and civil society remained far from the equal representation of women and men.

At any given meeting of the forums studied, only about one-quarter of official country delegates were likely to be women, and less than one-fifth of statements were likely to be given by a woman. Almost half of all country delegations at any of these meetings were likely to be composed entirely of men. Women headed 15 percent of delegations on average.

On average at meetings, less than half of civil society delegates were women, and more than one-third of civil society delegations were likely to be all male, with 16 percent of delegations all female. Women headed roughly twice the proportion of civil society delegations as state delegations on average, with women giving more than twice the proportion of civil society interventions as state interventions, across the available data (fig. 1).

The gender balance within country delegations also starkly illustrated the overrepresentation of men in these forums and processes. Only 10 of the 195 countries and territories for which Article 36 gathered participation data had equal numbers of men and women on their delegations on average, across five years of the meetings of 13 forums. One hundred sixty countries’ delegations had more men than women on average. Five did not include women on any delegations for the meetings for which data were available (fig. 2).

Of the 143 civil society organizations for which information was available about the representation of men and women on delegations, 17 had equal numbers of men and women on their delegations on average. Forty-two had more women than men on their delegations on average, including 29 whose delegations were always all female. Fifty-four civil society organizations sent only men to the meetings they attended.

Women’s leadership and representation on state delegations
A clear relationship was seen in the data across the meetings between the gender of the head of a country delegation and the proportion of women on a delegation. On average, the data showed a considerably higher proportion of women were included on female-headed delegations, compared to those led by a man. Figure 3 shows the average proportions, with the numbers excluding the delegation heads themselves.

Figure 2This pattern in the data appears to indicate the importance of women’s leadership to the question of representation, but it cannot reveal the mechanism. Initiatives to increase the proportion of women in higher positions in countries’ foreign services may accelerate the pace of change toward more equal representation.

Country income group, region, and women’s representation on state delegations
Analysis revealed variations in the representation of women on country delegations between regional groups and countries of different income categories.10

Of the delegates attending any given meeting for low-income countries, the proportion of women was on average lower than the proportion attending for higher-income countries. A similar pattern was seen for heads of delegations. A higher proportion of lower-income country delegations were also all male on average, compared to the delegations of higher-income countries (fig. 4).

Article 36’s broader study showed that lower-income countries were significantly underrepresented in multilateral disarmament forums, indicative of their broader marginalization.11 Why these countries have lower average rates of women’s representation cannot be determined from this data, but it suggests that, in addressing issues of underrepresentation, it is important to investigate how different forms of marginalization may intersect.

Variation was also seen in looking at patterns by region, suggesting the utility of regionally based initiatives to improve women’s participation. African and Asia-Pacific countries had the lowest average proportions of women delegates and delegation heads. On the other hand, Latin American and Caribbean countries had the highest proportions of women delegates and delegation heads.

Improving the Picture

The patterns described illustrate one aspect of the relative marginalization of women in international forums, recognition of which has grown over recent years. Women’s marginalization, however, is an issue that goes far beyond international forums and specific policies that can be adopted in relation to them. Yet, some recommendations can be made.

Figure 3A first necessary step to addressing patterns of underrepresentation is the consistent monitoring and analysis of data, which should be supported by states and others, whether done by international or official bodies or civil society monitoring organizations.12 Highlighting patterns and assessing any steps taken to address them against available data represent a first level of action.

Article 36 interviewed a limited number of representatives from states, international organizations, and civil society for its study. Most state respondents stated that women’s representation was an important issue for their country, with some considering that they were likely performing well without a formal policy (a national policy on gender balance or diversity was only reported by one respondent). This was clearly unsupported by the data collected. Others welcomed initiatives to raise awareness on this issue, including the civil society initiative on all-male panels.13 States should highlight the issue of underrepresentation in the appropriate forums to keep this on the political agenda and adopt formal policies on it nationally.

Steps such as increasing women’s leadership, working regionally, and examining the intersection of different forms of marginalization could have an impact on women’s representation in international forums and processes on arms. Where states are involved in the administration or funding of sponsorship programs for meetings of international forums, they should consider adopting policies, such as that suggested by the UN Development Programme, requiring that half of any budget be spent on sponsoring men and half on women, with funding to be held back where funds are unspent in either category. Such policies can assist in the greater inclusion and increased capacity of female experts who may be overlooked due to wider structural factors, although it would not directly reach unsponsored delegations.

Figure 4Gender intersects with arms issues in numerous ways, of which the underrepresentation of women at diplomatic meetings is one. For example, gendered discussion of violence and weapons, which may frame certain weapons as symbols of masculine strength and women as being in need of male protection, can shape how disarmament issues are addressed, as well as exacerbate women’s exclusion from these processes.14 Women, men, boys, and girls also can be exposed to different patterns of violence and affected differently by specific weapons and practices.15

The achievement of the equal representation of men and women at international meetings would not guarantee that women’s voices would be heard equally or that processes or forums dealing with arms would adequately address gendered issues. Doing so is not a product of the sex of the individuals involved in discussions. Fundamentally challenging the framing of discussions, how women are addressed within them, and facilitating the promotion of progressive initiatives by women and men must be addressed in order to achieve this.

Nevertheless, it is important to confront women’s underrepresentation and other patterns of marginalization in these forums alongside other objectives, such as ensuring the participation of those that have been most affected by the issues under discussion and the consideration of humanitarian perspectives. States and civil society can adopt policies and undertake monitoring and analysis toward these objectives.

‘Organizations With More Diverse Teams Make Better Decisions’

Michèle Flournoy is co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security. From February 2009 to February 2012, she served as undersecretary of defense for policy, the most senior executive position held by a women in Defense Department history.

ACT: Women are still significantly underrepresented in our national security and arms control fields. How important is gender diversity in these areas, and what can be done to encourage women to enter these fields and reduce barriers to success?

Flournoy: It's important for a number of reasons. One is as a matter of principle. As a healthy democracy, you want your national security cadre to look like America. As a matter of performance, all of the business literature suggests that organizations with more diverse teams make better decisions. In the business world, they're actually shown to be more profitable, higher performance. Then, from simply a fairness perspective and an access-to-talent perspective, why would you not access half of your population to try to bring them into leadership positions in this field or any other?

There are more women in the national security field than ever before, but they are not fully represented in the leadership ranks. I think there are a number of reasons for that. There are systemic barriers where there are often unintended obstacles to women's progression. Then there may be other societal and social factors that also figure in.

I was part of a task force at the CIA that looked at diversity. The agency had entry-level classes of intelligence officers that were 50/50 men and women, but by the time 10, 12, 13 years in, when people were being considered for senior intelligence service, the pool was about 25 percent women. The question was why, what was happening? What was causing the falloff? It was a mixture of factors. There were issues of work-life balance. There was lots of investing tremendously in the training and development of women, and yet the agency was just letting them leave because it was inflexible in allowing them a little bit of work flexibility to have families and then making no effort to bring them back. Women don't lose their brains when they have children.

There's a lot that figures into this, and each organization is different. We have to take a much more systemic approach to keeping women in the pipeline and giving women access to achieving their full potential and serving at the highest levels. There are lots of ways to do that which are very much worth doing, not very costly, and with very high payoff.

ENDNOTES

1. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 2017, https://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/2017/07/20170707%2003-42%20PM/Ch_XXVI_9.pdf.

2. Ibid., preamble. For relevant documents where the importance of women’s participation has previously been recognized, see UN Security Council, S/RES/1325, October 31, 2000; UN Department of Public Information, “Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls,” n.d., http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/; UN General Assembly, “Women, Disarmament, Non-proliferation and Arms Control,” A/RES/65/69, January 13, 2011; UN General Assembly, “Women, Disarmament, Non-proliferation and Arms Control: Report of the Secretary-General,” A/68/166, July 22, 2013; UN General Assembly, “Report of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects,” A/CONF.192/BMS/2014/2, June 26, 2014; UN Security Council, S/RES/2117, September 26, 2013; UN Security Council, S/RES/2200, February 12, 2015.

3. See UN General Assembly, “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally-Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards Their Total Elimination: List of Participants,” A/CONF.229/2017/INF/4/Rev.1, July 25, 2017.

4. See Reaching Critical Will, “Statements From the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Negotiations,” 2017, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements. Data on speaking in closed sessions are not available.

5. Article 36 acknowledges gender diversity beyond the binary categorization of “men” and “women.” These are used in this paper as the categorizations available in the source data discussed.

6. During 2015 and 2016, Article 36 conducted a study into patterns in underrepresentation at multilateral forums dealing with weapons and disarmament, from which this article draws. For the full results and notes on methodology, see Elizabeth Minor, “Disarmament, Development and Patterns of Marginalisation in International Forums,” Article 36, April 2016, http://www.article36.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/A36-Disarm-Dev-Marginalisation.pdf. See also “Women and Multilateral Disarmament Forums: Patterns of Underrepresentation,” Article 36, October 2015, http://www.article36.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Underrepresentation-women-FINAL1.pdf. (containing further information on methodology.)

7. The forums or processes on which data were collected were the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons; meetings on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Arms Trade Treaty, the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the UN General Assembly First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament, and the UN Disarmament Commission.

8. International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) and UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), “Gender, Development and Nuclear Weapons: Shared Goals, Shared Concerns,” October 2016, http://nwp.ilpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ILPI-UNIDIR-gender-and-nuclear-weapons.pdf. See Mothepa Shadung, “In the Debate Towards Nuclear Disarmament, Where Are All the Women?” Institute for Security Studies, August 26, 2015, https://issafrica.org/iss-today/in-the-debate-towards-nuclear-disarmament-where-are-all-the-women; Kathleen Danskin and Dana Perkins, “Women as Agents of Positive Change in Biosecurity,” Science and Diplomacy, Vol. 3, No. 2 (June 2014), http://www.sciencediplomacy.org/files/women_as_agents_of_positive_change_in_biosecurity_science__diplomacy.pdf.

9. Data on the sex of speakers was much more limited than on that of attendees. See “Women and Multilateral Disarmament Forums.”

10. Using categorizations from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Assistance Committee. See Minor, “Disarmament, Development and Patterns of Marginalisation in International Forums.”

11. Ibid.

12. Article 36’s project relied heavily on data collected by Reaching Critical Will in the course of its work to monitor disarmament forums.

13. See “Say No to #ManPanels,” n.d., http://www.manpanels.org.

14. See ILPI and UNIDIR, “Gender, Development and Nuclear Weapons.”

15. See Reaching Critical Will, “Women and Explosive Weapons,” 2014, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/WEW.pdf; Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will, “Sex and Drone Strikes: Gender and Identity in Targeting and Casualty Analysis,” 2014, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/sex-and-drone-strikes.pdf; Reaching Critical Will, “Gender-Based Violence and the Arms Trade Treaty,” 2015, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/GBV_ATT-brief.pdf.


Elizabeth Minor is an adviser at Article 36, a nonprofit group based in the United Kingdom working to prevent harm from nuclear and other weapons. The name refers to Article 36 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions that requires states to review new weapons, means, and methods of warfare.

 

Achieving equal participation in multilateral forums is a matter that goes beyond securing parity in attendance and speakers at meetings.

How Will Trump Change Nuclear Weapons Policy?


November 2017
By Jon Wolfsthal

President Donald Trump has made a number of sometimes contradictory comments related to nuclear weapons during his political campaign and since his election.

This 2013 photo shows members of the 91st Missile Wing’s missile maintenance teams at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. performing maintenance tasks at a launch facility for a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Kristoffer Kaubisch/DVIDSHe said he would be the “last to use” nuclear weapons,1 yet implied first use when he said North Korean threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” should it threaten the United States or its allies.2 As a candidate, he described the U.S. nuclear arsenal as being in “very terrible shape,”3 while on August 9, 2017, after six months in office and no changes to U.S. nuclear forces, he tweeted that the nuclear arsenal “is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

Most recently, Trump denied an NBC News report that he told his national security advisers during a July meeting that he wanted what would amount to a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, returning to Cold War levels.4 “I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation” so the current arsenal is “in tip-top shape,”5 he told reporters October 11 at the White House, suggesting he will continue or accelerate the nuclear stockpile management program begun during the previous administration.

All that has created some uncertainty about how U.S. nuclear policies will change with a new administration led by a president who took office without experience in foreign policy or strategic thinking, let alone the complexities of nuclear weapons and deterrence. How his views and the changing strategic environment may alter the direction of U.S. nuclear policy will become clearer when the Department of Defense completes its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), expected late this year or in early 2018.

Posture reviews have been completed by three presidents since 1994 and have proven to be consequential documents. Much of the work and details behind the policies are classified, although it is expected that an unclassified NPR Report will be made public, affecting how the United States, its president, and its nuclear capabilities are seen by allies and adversaries alike. More importantly, the review establishes a guide for decisions that underpin the management, maintenance, and modernization of the nuclear arsenal and influences how Congress views and funds the nuclear forces.

Context Matters

One critical element of past nuclear posture reviews and likely this one as well is context. The first, completed under President Bill Clinton, was needed to define the purpose and possible role of nuclear weapons in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The resulting “lead but hedge” strategy provided a continuing rationale for nuclear weapons and sought to preserve capabilities against a future Russian threat.

The George W. Bush administration was seized with the challenge of addressing proliferation by countries such as North Korea and Iran and focused on the inability of the United States to hold deep underground targets at risk. This led to the pursuit of new nuclear capabilities, such as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, that implied use as a battlefield weapon, not just a deterrent against attack on the United States or its allies. When combined with the global war on terrorism and the reliance on using U.S. military forces for regime change, the Bush administration was seen as much more reliant on nuclear weapons than the actual policy record reflects.

2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report: Key Elements

Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Terrorism

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) Report prioritized measures to strengthen nonproliferation efforts and to accelerate the securing of nuclear materials worldwide.
“As a critical element of our effort to move toward a world free of nuclear weapons, the United States will lead expanded international efforts to rebuild and strengthen the global nuclear nonproliferation regime—and for the first time, the 2010 NPR places this priority atop the U.S. nuclear agenda,” the report stated.

The Fundamental Role of Nuclear Weapons

The report stated that “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”

In the case of non-nuclear-weapon states, the Obama administration committed to strengthening negative security assurances. That is, the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against such states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and in compliance with nuclear nonproliferation obligations, the report said. The United States will only consider the use of nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. The United States is “not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that the ‘sole purpose’ of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States and our allies and partners, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted,” the report stated.

Strategic Deterrence and Stability

The U.S. nuclear triad will be maintained under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The report states that the treaty does not constrain U.S. missile defenses and allows the United States to pursue conventional global strike systems. All U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles having multiple warheads will be restructured to having a single warhead each to increase stability. The United States will pursue post-New START arms control with Russia that addresses not only strategic weapons, but also nonstrategic and nondeployed nuclear weapons, the report said.

Regional Deterrence and Reassurance of Allies

Nuclear forces will “play an essential role in deterring potential adversaries and reassuring allies and partners around the world,” the report said. The United States will retain the capability to forward-deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighter-bombers and heavy bombers. The administration is pursuing a comprehensive approach to broaden regional security architectures, including through missile defenses and improved conventional forces, the report said.

No ‘New’ Nuclear Warheads or Explosive Testing

The United States will modernize its nuclear weapons infrastructure and sustain the science, technology, and engineering base. The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities, the report said. The United States will not resume nuclear testing and will seek ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

President Barack Obama came into office at a time when the United States was seen internationally as a threat to the global nonproliferation and disarmament regime it had helped over decades to create and support. The previous administration’s false weapons of mass destruction (WMD) justification for the invasion of Iraq, Bush’s pursuit of the earth-penetrating warhead and a series of new “reliable replacement warheads” and that adminstration’s broader pursuit of regime change as a nonproliferation tool had reduced the credibility of the United States as a nonproliferation leader and a responsible nuclear-weapon state. This perception was part of the context for Obama’s NPR. He and his national security team saw restoring U.S. leadership of the global nonproliferation and disarmament effort as critical to addressing two dominant threats: nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

Historians will establish whether this emphasis was well placed, but there is no question about the motivation of the Obama team. The president’s Prague speech in 2009 set the frame that was filled in by the NPR Report, released in 2010.6 The speech sought to balance the U.S. recommitment to eventually achieving the peace and security of a “world without nuclear weapons”—a U.S. goal dating back to the creation of such weapons—with the need to maintain at present a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal for the security of the United States and that of its treaty allies.

Furthermore, it directly recognized that the objectives of nonproliferation and preventing nuclear terrorism need to influence how the United States manages its nuclear arsenal. First and foremost in the minds of decision-makers was the pressing nuclear challenge of Iran, and the U.S. recommitment to disarmament was key to convincing states to apply the pressure on Iran needed to negotiate a nuclear agreement and avert a new war in the Middle East.

The Trump administration is now developing its nuclear policy and must wrestle with new challenges. Because of the president’s statements and unorthodox behavior, the context for this administration is already negative and likely to get worse. Bombastic and inflammatory statements by Trump toward North Korea and his decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, cement a public view that the administration is willing to take greater risks than its predecessors with nuclear weapons and potential nuclear conflicts.

Thus, the Trump NPR is being produced in an environment where the president is seen as less responsible and cautious with nuclear threats than any president since Ronald Reagan in his first term.

Key NPR Questions

Key to any posture review is a set of questions from which answers help to justify a set of programs, either new or carried over from past work. Central to any review are two key and interrelated questions: Why does the United States need nuclear weapons, and under what circumstances would the president consider using them to protect U.S. interests?

The answers have been remarkably similar from president to president, and it is reasonable to anticipate that the Trump NPR will come out in a similar place. As the Obama NPR Report states, “The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”7 It goes on to state that the “United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

It would be a remarkable break with long-standing U.S. policy were the Trump vision for the possible use of nuclear weapons to diverge from this concept, but the ways in which a president pursues these goals can and has been quite different. The Trump team likely will seek more robust language to bolster the perceived willingness of the United States to use nuclear weapons. The president seems less concerned about how such statements may undermine U.S. nonproliferation policies and global standing and thus likely to put more weight on the need for stronger statements justifying the potential use of nuclear weapons and their continued development and possession.

The review is expected to move away from the Obama administration’s approach in a number of ways but to retain some continuity as well. Although it is impossible at this point to predict the precise tone or language, some issues are expected to emerge.

New Nuclear Weapons

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the National Security Council before a meeting at the Pentagon on July 20. Trump subsequently denied an NBC News report that, during the meeting, he said he wanted to return U.S. nuclear forces to Cold War-era numbers.  (Photo credit: Sgt. Amber Smith/DVIDS)U.S. nuclear weapons were designed in the 1970s and built in the 1980s and 1990s. Almost all are undergoing or will soon undergo what are known as life extension programs (LEPs). Congress has provided funding for these programs, and initial Trump budgets have shown strong support for these as well. Some of these LEPs involve minor updates and refurbishment, and some are complete renovations of existing weapons inside old containers. All result in weapons that are safe and reliable and can be expected to remain so for many decades.

Yet, there are growing concerns among some in the policy and technical communities that the age of U.S. weapons impose an excessive cost and has strategic implications. The worry is that, as these weapons age, Russia or some other adversary may see them as less reliable and that perception will make U.S. defense commitments to allies more difficult to fulfill. If this is the case, producing new weapons would provide a greater deterrent effect vis-á-vis Russia and others and be more reassuring to allies.

There is no evidence to back up this argument, but it also cannot be disproven. Since the United States conducted its last underground nuclear test explosion in 1992, the U.S. national laboratories have certified that their science-based stewardship programs have been able to ensure that U.S. nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, and effective. At the same time, the laboratories responsible for designing and maintaining nuclear weapons have struggled to attract and retain the necessary experts, often competing with Silicon Valley, and have argued that enabling scientists to design new weapons or at least conduct new weapons research would be helpful to maintaining a range of nuclear capacities.

These arguments have been around for a long time, ever since the end of the Cold War. Under Obama, because there was not a need to pursue the development of new weapons to ensure the nuclear deterrent, technical interest in some quarters to design and develop new weapons was not seen as a priority. Unbound by such considerations, as evidenced by Trump’s statements that if there is to be an arms race, let there be an arms race,8 the new NPR may authorize the laboratories to undertake design work on new weapons, possibly even for new missions.

Smaller Nuclear Weapons

For U.S. deterrent and nuclear reassurance statements to be credible, allies and potential adversaries must believe that the United States is prepared to use its nuclear weapons to deny an adversary the objective it seeks or to raise the costs of achieving that objective to the point where it is unappealing.

Some experts and analysts, including some now in the Trump administration, have maintained that because most but not all U.S. nuclear warheads are quite large by nuclear standards—some 10 to 20 times the size of the weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—they are too large for any threatened use to be credible. Under that argument, an adversary could convince itself that the United States will be self-deterred from using nuclear weapons because of the collateral damage to civilians and the environment.

If that is seen as a problem, the solution proposed by some is U.S. development of smaller, more usable nuclear weapons.9 Options include development of a new tactical nuclear weapon or modifications to existing strategic weapons that would produce a much smaller detonation than they were originally designed to produce. The prospect that Trump would support the development of such weapons is uncertain, but may be included at least as an aspiration in the NPR.

To be clear, there is no evidence from direct engagement with U.S. allies or countries such as Russia or China that proves or even strongly indicates that the size of U.S. nuclear weapons is seen as undermining U.S. deterrence or reassurance commitments. For the most part, this is a debate inside the U.S. nuclear security and military community that worries that a president might be self-deterred from using nuclear weapons for fear of collateral damage or other legal or moral considerations. It remains to be seen if the Trump NPR will seek such weapons, perhaps using such justification. It is not evident that there is a self-deterrent problem with the U.S. nuclear arsenal that requires a nuclear solution along these lines. Moreover, any such move is likely to replay the alarm during the 2000s that the president is eager to have and possibly employ nuclear weapons, a perception that would weaken strategic stability and undermine U.S. nonproliferation efforts.

Nuclear Modernization

All indications are that modernizing U.S. nuclear forces remains the Pentagon’s top priority for the NPR. The United States is in early stages of research and development of replacements for its current nuclear arsenal. Most of the delivery systems—land-based missiles, ballistic missile submarines, and long-range aircraft—are nearing the end of their lifecycles.

Under Obama, it was decided that the United States would pursue replacements for all three legs of the nuclear triad while investing resources to ensure that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its laboratories, which maintain and monitor U.S. nuclear weapons, have what they need to keep U.S. weapons safe, secure, and effective. As these programs took shape, it became clear that the cost associated with a full-scale modernization of all three legs at the same time was a fiscal challenge, and a debate began about how to cover the costs along with the other demands associated with conventional military modernization.

Clearly, the costs associated with the nuclear modernization program are skyrocketing. An original outside estimate that the programs might cost $1 trillion over 30 years now appears to significantly underestimate the costs. The true costs could be 50 to 100 percent higher once all associated cost increases and programs are included. There is no way these programs will be sustainable if buying them means the U.S. military cannot also afford new fighter aircraft, surface ships, and advanced conventional capabilities needed to support broad U.S. defense requirements.

Thus, one issue the NPR needs to address is the intersection of policy requirements and budget resources. It would be the height of irresponsibility for the administration to call for continuing or expanding nuclear programs without explaining how these costs will be covered. Many options to adjust the pace and composition of future nuclear forces exist and need to be evaluated. These include delaying some programs, such as the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent designed to replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, while possibly eliminating others. One prime candidate for elimination is the nuclear long-range standoff cruise missile.10 The NPR likely will not end or slow down these programs. In fact, it is possible the NPR will seek to accelerate their development. Yet, it will be critical that the NPR and Defense Department explain the costs of these programs and how they will be funded in a constrained budget environment.

Negative Security Assurances and Sole Purpose

The Obama administration took as a starting point in its review the concept that the United States should continue its tradition of only assigning to nuclear weapons the minimum roles necessary to ensure U.S. security and that of allies. The more that the role of nuclear weapons is reduced, the more credible U.S. strategy becomes and the greater the ability to achieve good security and nonproliferation outcomes.

Second Lt. Chris Davis, 321st Missile Squadron deputy missile combat crew commander, and 1st Lt. Paul Lee, 321st Missile Squadron missile combat crew commander, simulate key turns of the Minuteman III weapon system during a Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman test inside the launch control center at a missile alert facility in  the 90th Missile Wing's missile complex in Nebraska, April 11, 2017.  (Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano/DVIDS)Past administrations considered nuclear weapons suitable for all manner of security and military threats from terrorism to cyberspace. Obama and his national security team, however, narrowed the scope. To do so, the Obama team put real money, effort, and priority behind enhancing the non-nuclear options for dealing with military requirements. The NPR Report states, “The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States or our allies and partners the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons.”11

They took the view that to have and retain political and moral leadership in the effort to confront Iran’s nuclear program, it was important to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons to the lowest level consistent with national security requirements. This was not seen as a favor to any other country or constituency, but rather to ensure that the United States was acting consistently with a desire to reduce the risks of nuclear use and to support the global nonproliferation and disarmament system.

These policies focus on two groups of states: those with nuclear weapons and those without nuclear weapons. For those countries with nuclear weapons, the NPR Report stopped short of declaring deterrence as the “sole purpose,” as arms control and disarmament advocates sought.

[T]here remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or [chemical or biological weapons] attack against the United States or its allies and partners. The United States is therefore not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted.12

Trump has not tipped his hand about when and against whom he might consider using nuclear weapons, although he has threatened North Korea with either a U.S. first-strike or nuclear retaliation if it strikes the United States, its territories (Guam), South Korea, or Japan. He also said during the campaign that he would not rule anything out, including the first use of nuclear weapons in Europe and elsewhere.13

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Energy Secretary Steven Chu hold a news briefing on the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review at the Pentagon April 6, 2010.  (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)To be sure, many of these issues are influenced by Russia’s stated willingness to use nuclear weapons to escalate its way out of a failing conventional conflict. Russian defense strategists have discussed scenarios in which Moscow launches early, limited first use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe to offset NATO’s conventional weapons superiority and force NATO to back off to avoid the even greater destruction of a full nuclear war.14

U.S. General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in March that “our adversaries started to articulate a doctrine of escalation to deescalate, and we have to account for in our nuclear doctrine what that means…as we look at an adversary that expresses in their rhetoric a willingness to use nuclear weapons.”15 Selva is one of the key officials involved in shaping the NPR.

For states that do not possess nuclear weapons and are in full compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations, the Obama NPR was very clear. There are no military requirements for the United States to threaten the use of nuclear weapons against any state that does not have nuclear weapons, and threats to do so are arguably less than credible. The NPR Report set out parameters for providing negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

[T]he United States affirms that any state eligible for the assurance that uses [chemical or biological weapons] against the United States or its allies and partners would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response—and that any individuals responsible for the attack, whether national leaders or military commanders, would be held fully accountable. Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capacities to counter that threat.

In the case of countries not covered by this assurance—states that possess nuclear weapons and states not in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations—there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or [chemical or biological weapons] attack against the United States or its allies and partners.16

Outlook

Having worked to build and maintain the taboo on nuclear use for 70-plus years, the United States has every reason to seek its maintenance. The NPR Report language in this context will be critical, as will be the underlying policy choices. It remains unclear, however, how the NPR will balance traditional U.S. restraint when it comes to nuclear policies and the president’s own thinking and his strong desire to distinguish himself from Obama’s policies on all issues.

In the end, Trump will have to determine, drawing on input from his cabinet and national security team, any changes in nuclear weapons policy and how to frame those decisions in communicating to audiences at home and abroad. Some issues are ripe for support from both the left and the right in Congress, such as modernizing existing nuclear forces and ensuring the national laboratories have the skills and resources needed to monitor and keep the weapons safe, secure, and reliable.

Others, including pursuit of new nuclear weapons or broadening the conditions under which the president might use nuclear weapons, threatens to make nuclear policy yet another partisan battleground to the detriment of U.S. security policy and nonproliferation aspirations.

 

ENDNOTES

1 “Campaign Flashback: Trump’s 2016 Nuclear Weapons Stance,” NBC News, October 6, 2017, https://www.nbcnews.com/video/campaign-flashback-trump-s-2016-nuclear-weapons-stance-1064516163692.

2 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Trump Before a Briefing on the Opioid Crisis,” August 8, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/08/remarks-president-trump-briefing-opioid-crisis.

3 David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, “Transcript: Donald Trump on NATO, Turkey’s Coup Attempt and the World,” The New York Times, July 21, 2016.

4 Peter Baker and Cecilia Kang, “Trump Threatens NBC Over Nuclear Weapons Report,” The New York Times, October 11, 2017.

5 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada Before Bilateral Meeting,” October 11, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/11/remarks-president-trump-and-prime-minister-trudeau-canada-bilateral.

6 Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague As Delivered,” April 5, 2009, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-barack-obama-prague-delivered.

7 U.S. Department of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” April 2010, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/defenseReviews/NPR/2010_Nuclear_Posture_Review_Report.pdf (hereinafter NPR Report).

8 “President-Elect Trump Calls for Nuclear Arms Race, Stunning Experts,” NBC News, December 23, 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/president-elect-trump-calls-for-nuclear-arms-race-stunning-experts-840644675837.

9 Bryan Bender, “Trump Review Leans Toward Proposing Mini-Nuke,” Politico, September 9, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/09/trump-reviews-mini-nuke-242513.

10 Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has described himself as undecided about the long-range standoff weapons system, said a decision “will come out of” the NPR. See Kingston Reif, “Air Force Nuclear Programs Advance,” Arms Control Today, October 2017, https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2017-10/news/air-force-nuclear-programs-advance.

11 NPR Report, p. ix.

12 Ibid., p. viii.

13 “Donald Trump Won’t Take Nuclear Weapons Off the Table,” Hardball With Chris Matthews, March 30, 2016, http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/donald-trump-won-t-take-nukes-off-the-table-655471171934.

14 Anya Loukianova Fink, “The Evolving Russian Concept of Strategic Deterrence: Risks and Responses,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2017, https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2017-07/features/evolving-russian-concept-strategic-deterrence-risks-responses.

15 Rebecca Kheel, “Pentagon Starts Review of Nuclear Posture Ordered by Trump,” The Hill, April 17, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/329137-pentagon-official-starts-nuclear-posture-review.

16 NPR Report, p. 16.


Jon Wolfsthal served as a special assistant to the president and senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council in the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017. He is now senior adviser to Global Zero and director of the Nuclear Crisis Group. He is also a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Policy will become clearer when the Defense Department completes its Nuclear Posture Review by early 2018.

Putin Slams U.S. on Nonproliferation Deals


November 2017
By Maggie Tennis

Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted the United States for failing to meet nonproliferation commitments and warned that Russia would have an “immediate and reciprocal” response if the United States withdraws from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during the annual Valdai Club conference of international experts in Sochi on October 19. (Photo credit: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images)In the speech Oct. 19, Putin praised U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation in the 1990s and early 2000s, but blamed the United States for derailing that progress. Addressing the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Putin cited the U.S. delay to 2023 in eliminating its chemical weapons stockpile, while noting that Russia completed its elimination Sept. 27. Further, he noted a shift and delays in the U.S. method for surplus plutonium disposal, which Moscow claims violates the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) between the two countries.

Putin questioned whether such delays are “proper” for “a nation that claims to be a champion of nonproliferation and control.” He cited additional grievances, including U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, failure to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and halting of implementation of a 123 agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation. President George W. Bush froze that agreement in September 2008, just four months after it was signed, in response to Russia’s war with neighboring Georgia. It was revived in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama’s diplomatic “reset” with Russia.

Putin called nuclear cooperation “the most important sphere of interaction between Russia and the United States, bearing in mind that Russia and the United States bear a special responsibility to the world as the two largest nuclear powers.”

In his remarks, Putin portrayed the United States as the unreliable partner in nonproliferation efforts. He cited Washington’s decision to push back the deadline for destroying the U.S. chemical weapons arsenal from 2007 to 2023, an effort that has been hindered by rising costs and stringent environmental restrictions. Under U.S. Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, the United States provided financial and technical support to help Russia in destroying its chemical weapons arsenal, which was completed 10 years after the original 2007 deadline set for both countries.

Putin also took aim at the troubled U.S. effort to eliminate surplus plutonium, which he called “perplexing and alarming.” He criticized the United States for canceling plans, made in agreement with Russia, to eliminate its weapons-grade plutonium by turning it into mixed-oxide fuel for nuclear power reactors.

Putin condemned the unilateral U.S. decision, saying that Moscow only learned about it after seeing a “budget submission to the Congress” seeking funding for an alternative disposal method. (See ACT, March 2016.) Alteration of the terms of the PMDA requires agreement by both parties, which the United States did not obtain when it decided to pursue the cheaper “dilute-and-dispose” method. Moscow suspended its participation in the PMDA in October 2016. (See ACT, Nov. 2016.)

Further, Putin noted apparent U.S. ambivalence toward extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), as permitted under the terms of the accord. “Now we hear that New START does not work either,” he said, seeming to reference a January phone call with President Donald Trump in which Trump called New START a “bad deal.” The Russians have declared a readiness to negotiate an extension of the treaty, but the U.S. position remains unclear.

Putin stated that Russia would not withdraw from the treaty, which runs through February 2021.

Putin dismissed U.S. allegations of Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty. He said that Russia might be “tempted” to violate the treaty if it did not possess air- and sea-based missiles, such as Kalibr cruise missiles, that match U.S. capabilities. The INF Treaty, which eliminated U.S. and Russian land-based cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, left both countries free to deploy air- and sea-launched missiles with that range.

“You can see how effective the Kalibr missiles are, from the Mediterranean Sea, from the Caspian Sea, from the air or from submarines, whatever you wish,” said Putin. “Besides Kalibr, with an operational range of 1,400 kilometers, we have other airborne missile systems, very powerful ones with an operational range of 4,500 kilometers.”

He warned that Moscow would offer an “immediate and reciprocal” response to a U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, a step advocated by some Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Putin did not specifically address U.S. accusations that Russia has deployed a ground-launched cruise missile with a treaty-prohibited range. (See ACT, Oct. 2017.)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking at an Oct. 20 nonproliferation conference in Moscow, criticized the United States for “refusing to specify” its allegations of Russia’s INF Treaty violations. The United States provided some specifics to Russia at a meeting of the treaty’s Special Verification Commission in November 2016, according to U.S. officials.

Lavrov expressed certainty that the “bilateral dialogue between Russia and the United States on strategic stability will continue,” but doubts that the bilateral format would be sufficient for negotiating future nuclear weapons reductions. (See ACT, Oct. 2016.) Russia has stepped up calls in recent years for multilateral arms reductions.

Lavrov emphasized the need to “prevent a spiral of confrontation” between Washington and Moscow over arms control from becoming “unstoppable.”—MAGGIE TENNIS

Russian leader warns of “immediate and reciprocal” response if the United States withdraws from the INF Treaty.

Nuclear Restraint Agreements Under Serious Threat

Sections:

Body: 

Volume 9, Issue 7, September 5, 2017

Since the dawn of the nuclear age over 70 years ago, rarely has the world faced as difficult an array of nuclear weapons-related security challenges as it is facing now. Unfortunately, Congress will soon enact legislation that could further imperil the global nuclear order.
 
The Senate is scheduled to take up the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Authorization Act as early as this week. The House approved its version of the NDAA July 14 by a vote of 344-81. Both bills contain several problematic provisions that if enacted into law would deal a major, if not mortal, blow to several longstanding, bipartisan arms control and nonproliferation efforts and increase the risks of renewed nuclear arms competition with Russia.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the East Room of the White House on December 8, 1987. (Photo credit: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have worsened over the past few years, thanks to Moscow’s election interference, annexation of Crimea, continued destabilization of Ukraine, alleged violation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and support for the Assad regime in Syria. Nevertheless, the two countries continue to share common interests. In particular, as the possessors of over 90 percent of the roughly 15,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, they have a special responsibility to avoid direct conflict and reduce nuclear risks. The downward spiral in relations makes these objectives all the more urgent.
 
While some meaningful cooperation continues, such as adherence to the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, there is no ongoing dialogue on further nuclear risk reduction steps.
 
Instead of rushing to hasten their demise, Congress must seek to preserve and strengthen the existing architecture of arms control and nonproliferation agreements, key pillars of which have their origin in the vision of President Ronald Reagan. These agreements constrain Russia’s nuclear forces, provide for stability, predictability, and transparency in the bilateral relationship, and have only increased in value as the U.S.-Russia relationship has deteriorated.
 
Below is a summary of the current status and arguments in support of four key agreements put at risk by the Senate and/or House NDAAs. 
 


The 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)
 
Background: The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) requires that the United States and Russia each reduce their deployed strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems by 2018. The agreement, which is slated to expire in 2021, can be extended by up to five years if both Moscow and Washington agree.
 
Current Status: So far both sides are implementing the agreement and there are no indications that they do not plan to continue to do so. Russia has indicated that it is interested in beginning talks with the United States on extending the treaty, but the Trump administration has yet to respond to these overtures. In January phone call with President Putin, President Trump reportedly dismissed the idea of an extension and called the treaty a “bad deal.” The House-passed version of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would prohibit the use of funds to extend the New START treaty unless Russia returns to compliance with the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

At-a-Glance Factsheet: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/NewSTART

Key Points:

  • New START caps the size of Russia’s nuclear arsenal and provides the United States with additional tools to monitor Russia’s forces. The treaty includes a comprehensive suite of monitoring and verification provisions that help ensure compliance with treaty limits and enable the United States to verify the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile, which aids U.S. military planning.
  • The deterioration of the U.S.-Russian relationship has only increased the value of New START. The treaty provides for bilateral stability, predictability, and transparency, thereby bounding the current tensions between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.
  • The U.S. military and U.S. allies continue to strongly support New START. For example, in March 2017, Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), “I am big supporter of the New START Agreement.” Hyten added that “bilateral, verifiable arms control agreements are essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent.”
  • Connecting New START extension with INF treaty compliance is senseless and counterproductive. By “punishing” Russia’s INF violation in this way, the United States would simply free Russia to expand the number of strategic nuclear weapons pointed at the United States after New START expires in 2021. If the treaty is allowed to lapse, there will be no limits on Russia’s strategic nuclear forces for the first time since the early-1970s. Moreover, the United States would have fewer tools with which to verify the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile.

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
 
Background: The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty required the United States and Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometers. Russia and the United States destroyed a total of 2,692 short/medium/intermediate-range missiles by the 1991 deadline.
 
Current Status: The United States has accused Russia of testing and deploying ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the treaty. Moscow denies it is violating the agreement, and instead has accused Washington of breaching the accord. Both the House-passed and Senate Armed Services Committee versions of the FY 2018 NDAA would authorize programs of record and provide funding for research and development on a new U.S. road-mobile GLCM with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The House bill also includes a provision stating that if the president determines that Russia remains in violation of the treaty 15 months after enactment of the legislation, the prohibitions set forth in the treaty will no longer be binding on the United States. A similar provision could be offered as an amendment to the Senate bill.

At-a-Glance Factsheet: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/INFtreaty
 
Key Points:

  • The United States and Russia need to work to preserve the INF Treaty. This should include using the Special Verification Commission, the treaty’s dispute resolution mechanism, to address mutual concerns. The Trump administration should make it clear to Moscow that so long as Russia remains in violation of the treaty, the United States will pursue steps to reaffirm and buttress its commitment to the defense of those allies threatened by the treaty-noncompliant missiles.
  • Development of a new GLCM sets the stage for Washington to violate the agreement and would take the focus off Russia's violation. Russia could respond by publicly repudiating the treaty and deploying large numbers of noncompliant missiles without any constraints.
  • Development of a new GLCM is militarily unnecessary and Pentagon has not asked for one. The United States can legally deploy air- and sea-launched systems that can threaten the same Russian targets. There is no reason to believe that development of a new GLCM will convince Russia to return to compliance. A new GLCM would also take years to develop and suck funding from other military programs for which there are already requirements. The administration's statement of policy on the House NDAA objected to the INF provision on requiring a new GLCM.
  • NATO does not support a new GLCM and attempting to force it upon the alliance would be incredibly divisive. It is thus a weapon to nowhere. A divided NATO would also be a gift to Russia.
  • Mandating that the United States in effect withdraw from the INF treaty if Russia does not return to compliance by the end of next year raises constitutional concerns. If Congress can say the United States is not bound by its obligations under the INF Treaty, what is to stop it from doing the same regarding other treaties?

The 1990 Treaty on Open Skies
 
Background: The Treaty on Open Skies, which entered into force in 2002 and has 34 states parties, aims to increase confidence in and transparency on the military activities of states, particularly in Europe, by allowing unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants for information gathering purposes. The parties have equal yearly quotas of overflights and must make the information they acquire available to all Treaty parties.
 
Current Status: The United States has raised numerous concerns about Russia’s compliance with the treaty. Republican lawmakers have voiced concern that Russian flights under the treaty, which now employ more advanced sensors and cameras as allowed by the treaty, amount to spy missions. The House-passed version of the FY 2018 NDAA would annually bar, for each of the next five years, any U.S. Open Skies Treaty skies flights until Pentagon and intelligence community submit a plan for all of the treaty flights in the coming year. The bill would also bar DOD from acquiring a more effective, more timely, more reliable digital imaging system for conducting flights over Russian territory.

At-a-Glance Factsheet: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/openskies

Key Points:

  • The Open Skies Treaty provides a significant contribution to the security and stability of North America and Europe. According to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear and Strategic Policy Anita E. Friedt, almost a dozen U.S. and NATO member flights over Ukraine and Western Russia in 2014 during the Ukraine crisis “resulted in valuable data and insights.” The treaty mandates information-sharing about military forces that increases transparency among members, thereby contributing to stability and improving each participating state’s national security.
  • U.S. allies continue to value and rely on the Open Skies Treaty for imagery collection. The United States and its allies typically carry out many more overflights than Russia. These flights strengthen ties between the United States and its allies and reassure non-NATO members on Russia’s periphery.
  • Russia would gain a unilateral advantage as a result of restricting funding for upgrading aircraft used by the United States for treaty observation flights. This would stymie U.S. efforts to match Russian sensor upgrades, thereby limiting the value of the Open Skies treaty to U.S. national security.
  • The Russian sensors and cameras in question do not pose a threat to U.S. security. According to Vice Admiral Terry Benedict, director of Navy Strategic Systems Programs, all states party to the Open Skies treaty are permitted to certify new sensors and aircraft. Furthermore, he said, “the resolution of Open Skies imagery is similar to that available in commercial satellite imagery.” He added that Russian information compiled as a result of Open Skies flights is “of only incremental value” among Russia’s many means of intelligence gathering. 

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
 
Background: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is the the intergovernmental organization that promotes the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which has yet to enter force, and maintains the global International Monitoring System (IMS) to deter and detect nuclear test explosions.
 
Current Status: The United States currently contributes nearly a quarter of the annual CTBTO budget. In April 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joined with other Foreign Ministers at the G-7 foreign minister summit in a statement expressing support for the CTBTO. The Trump administration’s FY 2018 budget request would fund the U.S. contribution to the CTBTO at roughly the same level as the Obama administration. The House-passed version of the FY 2018 NDAA would prohibit funding for the CTBTO and calls on Congress to declare that the September 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2310 does not “obligate…nor does it impose an obligation on the United States to refrain from actions that would run counter to the object and purpose” of the CTBT.

At-a-Glance Factsheet: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/test-ban-treaty-at-a-glance

Key Points:

  • The CTBTO and IMS support and provide detection capabilities that supplement U.S. national intelligence capabilities to detect nuclear testing. Reducing U.S. funding for the CTBTO would  adversely impact the organization’s ability to operate and maintain existing nuclear test monitoring stations. This is due to the fact that a wide range of organization’s personnel and assets directly or indirectly support the IMS.
  • The CTBTO is a neutral source of information that can help to mobilize international action against any state that violates the global norm against nuclear testing. U.S. action to restrict funding could prompt other states to reduce their own funding for the CTBTO or lead states to withhold data from CTBTO monitoring stations that are based in their territory, thus undermining the capabilities of the system to detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing. Contrary to what the Cotton-Wilson bill implies,
  • Resolution 2310 (which was endorsed by 42 states, including Israel) does not impose any new obligations on the United States. Rather, it encourages states to “provide the support required” to the CTBTO and the IMS, and urges states to refrain from nuclear testing and urges those states that have not ratified to do so. It also takes note of a Sept. 15 joint statement by the five permanent Security Council members that formally “recognized” that a nuclear explosion would “defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT.” 
  • Asserting that the United States is not required to respect our obligations as a CTBT signatory would signal to other states that that the United States may be seeking to back out of its commitment to a global and verifiable nuclear test ban and is considering the resumption of nuclear testing. With North Korea having conducted a sixth nuclear test explosion, it is essential that the United States reinforce, not undermine, the CTBTO and the global nuclear testing taboo. 

—KINGSTON REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

Description: 

Instead of rushing to hasten their demise, Congress must seek to preserve and strengthen these four key pillars of arms control and nonproliferation.

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START I at a Glance

February 2019

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Updated: February 2019

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) I was signed July 31, 1991, by the United States and the Soviet Union. Five months later, the Soviet Union dissolved, leaving four independent states in possession of strategic nuclear weapons: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. On May 23, 1992, the United States and the four nuclear-capable successor states to the Soviet Union signed the Lisbon Protocol, which made all five nations party to the START I agreement. START I entered into force Dec. 5, 1994, when the five treaty parties exchanged instruments of ratification in Budapest. All treaty parties met the agreement's Dec. 5, 2001 implementation deadline. START I expired on Dec. 5, 2009.

On 31 July 1991, the US President, George Bush (sitting on the left), and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev (sitting on the right), sign the START I Agreement for the mutual elimination of the two countries’ strategic nuclear weapons. (Photo: Susan Biddle/Bush Library)Basic Terms:

  • 1,600 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy (long-range) bombers for each side.
  • 6,000 "accountable" warheads on ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers, of which no more than 4,900 may be on ICBMs and SLBMs, 1,540 on heavy missiles (the Soviet SS-18), and 1,100 on mobile ICBMs (RSM-12M Topol).
  • Ballistic missile throw-weight (lifting power) is limited to 3,600 metric tons on each side.

Counting Rules:

  • Heavy bombers equipped only with bombs or short-range attack missiles (SRAMs) are counted as carrying one warhead each.
  • U.S. heavy bombers may carry no more than 20 long-range air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) each. The first 150 of these bombers count as carrying only 10 ALCMs each.
  • Soviet heavy bombers may carry no more than 16 ALCMs each. The first 180 of these bombers count as carrying only eight ALCMs each.
  • No more than 1,250 warheads may be "downloaded" (removed from) and not counted on existing multiple-warhead ballistic missiles.

Other Provisions:

  • START I ran for 15 years with an option to extend for successive five-year periods. Based on commitments made at the March 1997 Helsinki Summit, the sides agreed in principle to negotiate an agreement making the START treaties unlimited in duration.
  • Separate "politically binding" agreements limit each side to 880 sea-launched cruise missiles with ranges above 600 kilometers and the Soviet Backfire bomber to 500 kilometers.

For more Nuclear Arms Control Agreements between the U.S. and Russia, see: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/USRussiaNuclearAgreements 

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Moscow is ready to discuss New START, but where is Washington?

In a July 18 interview with Kommersant , Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reiterated Russia’s offer to begin talks with the United States on extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) . Ryabkov’s comments echoed previous statements he and other Russian officials—including President Vladimir Putin—have made in support of starting talks on an extension. The option of extending New START had been broached by the Obama administration in late-2016, but Russia was noncommittal at the time. In a January phone call with President Donald Trump, Putin reportedly...

Congress Puts Bipartisan Arms Control Policies at Risk

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Volume 9, Issue 5, July 17, 2017

The future of U.S. nuclear weapons and missile defense policy is at a crossroads. The Trump administration is conducting comprehensive reviews—scheduled to be completed by the end of the year—that could result in significant changes to U.S. policy to reducing nuclear weapons risks.

As the possessors of over 90 percent of the world's roughly 15,000 nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia have a special responsibility to avoid direct conflict and reduce nuclear risks. Yet, the U.S.-Russia relationship is under significant strain, due to to Moscow’s election interference, annexation of Crimea, continued destabilization of Ukraine, and support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria. These tensions have also put put immense pressure on the arms control relationship.

It is against this backdrop that the House and Senate Armed Services Committee versions of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include provisions that if passed into law would deal a major, if not mortal, blow to longstanding, bipartisan arms control efforts.

The House approved its version of the NDAA July 14 by a vote of 344-81 and the Senate could take up its bill later this month. 

The problematic arms control provisions in the bills would undermine U.S. security by eroding stability between the world's two largest nuclear powers, increasing the risks of nuclear competition, and further alienating allies already unsettled by President Donald Trump’s commitment to their security. In fact, some are so radical that they have even drawn opposition from the White House and Defense Department.

The bills also fail to provide effective oversight of the rising costs of the government’s more than $1 trillion-plan to sustain and upgrade U.S. nuclear forces and propose investments in expanding U.S. missile defenses that make neither strategic, technical, or fiscal sense.

Sowing the Seeds of the INF Treaty’s Destruction

The United States has accused Russia of testing and deploying ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The treaty, which remains in force, required the United States and the then-Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA authorize programs of record and provide funding for research and development on a new U.S. road-mobile GLCM with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The House bill requires development of a conventional missile whereas the Senate bill would authorize a dual-capable (i.e., nuclear) missile.

The House bill also includes a provision stating that if the president determines that Russia remains in violation of the treaty 15 months after enactment of the legislation, the prohibitions set forth in the treaty will no longer be binding on the United States. A similar provision could be offered as an amendment to the Senate bill.

These provisions are drawn from legislation introduced in February by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in the Senate and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) in the House to “provide for compliance enforcement regarding Russian violations” of the INF Treaty.

Development of a new treaty-prohibited GLCM is militarily unnecessary, would suck funding from other military programs for which there are already requirements, divide NATO, and give Russia an easy excuse to publicly repudiate the treaty and deploy large numbers of noncompliant missiles without any constraints.

The report accompanying the Senate bill notes that the Senate “does not intend for the United States to enter into violation of the INF Treaty.” (The treaty does not ban research and development of treaty-prohibited capabilities.) But this claim is belied by the report’s statement that development of a GLCM is needed to “close the capability gap opened” by Russia. Moreover, supporters of a new GLCM also argue it is needed to counter China, which is not a party to the treaty.

Before rushing to develop a new weapon that the Pentagon has yet to ask for and NATO is unlikely to support, the administration and Congress must at the very least address concerns about the suitability and cost-effectiveness of a new GLCM. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) offered an amendment to the bill on the House floor that would have done just that, but it was defeated by a vote of 173-249.

Meanwhile, mandating that the United States in effect withdraw from the treaty if Russia does not return to compliance by the end of next year raises constitutional concerns. If Congress can say the United States is not bound by its obligations under the INF Treaty, what is to stop it from doing the same regarding other treaties?

The administration's statement of policy on the House NDAA objected to the House INF provision on requiring a new GLCM, stating "[t]his provision unhelpfully ties the Administration to a specific missile system, which would limit potential military response options.” The statement also noted that bill would “raise concerns among NATO allies and could deprive the Administration of the flexibility to make judgments about the timing and nature of invoking our legal remedies under the treaty.”

Instead of responding to Russia’s violation by taking steps that could leave the United States holding the bag for the INF treaty’s demise, Congress should emphasize the importance of preserving the treaty and encourage both sides to more energetically pursue a diplomatic resolution to the compliance controversy. Lawmakers should also encourage the Trump administration to pursue firm but measured steps to ensure Russia does not gain a military advantage by violating the treaty and reaffirm its commitment to the defense of those allies that would be the potential targets of Russia’s noncompliant missile.

Cutting Off Our Nose to Spite Our Face on New START

One of the few remaining bright spots in the U.S.-Russia relationship is 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Signed in 2010, the treaty requires each side to reduce its deployed strategic nuclear forces to no more than 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems by 2018. It also includes a comprehensive suite of monitoring and verification provisions that help ensure compliance with these limits.

The agreement, which is slated to expire Feb. 5, 2021, can be extended by up to five years if both Moscow and Washington agree.  The House bill includes a provision that would prohibit the use of funds to extend New START until Russia returns to compliance with the INF treaty. This is senseless and counterproductive. By “punishing” Russia’s INF violation in this way, the United States would simply free Russia to expand the number of strategic nuclear weapons pointed at the United States after New START expires in 2021.

If the treaty is allowed to lapse, there will be no limits on Russia’s strategic nuclear forces for the first time since the early-1970s. Moreover, the United States would have fewer tools with which to verify the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile.

For these reasons and more, the U.S. military and U.S. allies continue to strongly support New START.

Undermining the Norm Against Nuclear Testing

A small but influential group of Republican lawmakers are seeking to cut U.S. funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and undermine international support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the global nuclear test moratorium.

Sen. Cotton and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced legislation on Feb.7 to “restrict” funding for the CTBTO and undermine the U.S. obligation – as a signatory to the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – not to conduct nuclear test explosions.

Rep. Wilson successfully offered the bill as an amendment to the House NDAA and Sen. Cotton could seek to do the same on the Senate bill.

With North Korea threatening to conduct a sixth nuclear test explosion, it is essential that the United States reinforce, not weaken, the global nuclear testing taboo

More information on the problematic provision in the House bill is detailed in a recent issue brief on CTBTO funding.

Nuclear Weapons Spending Run Amok

The Trump administration’s first Congressional budget request pushes full steam ahead with the Obama administration’s excessive, all-of-the-above approach to upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Both the House and Senate bills authorize the requested level of funding for these programs, and even increase funding for some programs beyond what the Trump administration requested.

As the projected costs for programs designed to replace and upgrade the nuclear arsenal continue to rise, Congress must demand greater transparency about long-term costs, strengthen oversight over high-risk programs, and consider options to delay, curtail, or cancel programs to save taxpayer dollars while meeting deterrence requirements.

A February 2017 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that the United States will spend $400 billion (in then-year dollars) on nuclear weapons between fiscal years 2017 and 2026. The new projection is an increase of $52 billion, or 15 percent, over the CBO’s most recent previous estimate of the 10-year cost of nuclear forces, which was published in January 2015 and put the total cost at $348 billion.

In fact, the CBO’s latest projection suggest that the cost of nuclear forces could greatly exceed $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

What makes the growing cost to sustain the nuclear mission so worrisome for military planners is that costs are scheduled to peak during the mid-2020s and overlap with large increases in projected spending on conventional weapon system modernization programs. Numerous Pentagon officials and outside experts have warned about the affordability problem posed by the current approach and that it cannot be sustained without significant and sustained increases to defense spending or cuts to other military priorities.

Unfortunately, the House rejected two Democratic floor amendments that would have shed greater light on the multidecade costs of U.S. nuclear forces. One amendment would have required CBO to extend the timeframe of its biennial report on the cost of nuclear weapons from 10 years to 30 years. Another would have required extending the timeframe of a Congressionally mandated report submitted annually by Defense Department and National Nuclear Security Administration from 10 years to 25 years.

In addition, the House defeated by a vote of 169-254 an amendment offered by Rep. Blumenauer that would have restricted funding for the program to develop a new fleet of nuclear air-launched cruise missiles at the FY 2017 enacted level until the administration completes its Nuclear Posture Review and a detailed assessment of the need for the program.

Though the administration requested a major increase for the new missile and associated warhead refurbishment program in FY 2018, Defense Secretary James Mattis has repeatedly stated that he is still evaluating the need for the weapon.

The House Rules Committee also prevented debate on a floor amendment that would have required the Pentagon to release the value of the contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. in October 2015. The department has refused to release the contract value citing classification concerns.

Tripling-Down on Missile Defense Despite Technical Flaws

Both the House and Senate bills authorize significant increases in funding for U.S. ballistic missile defense programs. The House bill authorizes an increase of $2.5 billion above the administration’s FY 2018 budget request of $7.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency. The Senate bill authorizes a $630 million increase.

The bills also include provisions that would authorize a significant expansion of the ground-based midcourse (GMD) defense system in Alaska and California, which is designed to protect against limited long-range ballistic missile attacks from North Korea or Iran, and accelerate advanced technology programs to increase the capability of U.S. missile defenses. The GMD system has suffered from numerous reliability problems and has a success rate of just over 50 percent in controlled and scripted flight intercept tests.

In addition, the House bill includes a provision that would require the Pentagon to submit a plan for the development of a space-based missile defense interceptors and authorize $30 million for a space test bed to conduct research and development on such interceptors. The House bill would also require the Pentagon, pursuant to improving the defense of Hawaii, to conduct an intercept test of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) target. The interceptor, which is still under development, is designed to defend against medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and the department has no public plans to test it versus an ICBM.

Rushing to deploy more unreliable GMD interceptors or building additional long-range interceptor sites is not a winning strategy to stay ahead of the North Korean ICBM threat. Quantity is not a substitute for quality.

Any consideration of building and deploying additional homeland interceptors or interceptor sites should wait until a new ground-based midcourse defense kill vehicle under development is successfully tested under operationally realistic conditions (including against ICBM targets and realistic countermeasures). The first test of the new kill vehicle under these conditions is not scheduled until 2020 and deployment is not scheduled until 2022.

In addition, future testing and deployment of new capabilities should not be schedule-driven, but based on the maturity of the technology and successful testing under operationally realistic conditions. Accelerating development programs risks saddling them with cost overruns, schedule delays, and test failures, as has been the case with previous missile-defense programs.

Despite numerous nonpartisan studies that have been conducted during both Republican and Democratic administrations which concluded that a spaced-based missile defense is unfeasible and unaffordable, a small faction of missile defense supporters continues to push the idea. Most recently, a 2012 report from the National Academy of Sciences declared that even a limited space system geared to longer-burning liquid fueled threats would cost about $200 billion to acquire and have a $300 billion 20-year life cycle cost (in FY 2010 dollars), which would be at least 10 times any other defense approach. 

While missile defense has a role to play as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat the North Korean missile threat, it’s neither as capable nor as significant as many seem to hope. More realism is needed about the limitations of defenses and the longstanding obstacles that have prevented them from working as intended.

The potential blowback of an expansion of U.S. missile defense capabilities from Russia and China must also be considered. Missile defense does not provide an escape route from the vulnerability of our allies, deployed forces, and citizens in the region to North Korea’s nuclear and conventional missiles.—KINGSTON REIF, director for disarmament policy

Description: 

The House and Senate Armed Services Committee are currently considering defense authorization legislation that if passed into law would deal a major, if not mortal, blow to longstanding, bipartisan arms control efforts.

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