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March 2012
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Books of Note

The Politics of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia

Bhumitra Chakma, ed., Ashgate Publishing Co., 2011, 280 pp.

Kelsey Davenport

This volume examines how India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programs affect the two countries’ domestic political and military strategies and the broader regional dynamics in South Asia. The authors aim to address the “key issues” of South Asian nuclear weapons politics rather than provide an exhaustive study of the topic. The first of the book’s four sections differentiates nuclear deterrence and force building in South Asia from how those concepts apply to the “traditional” nuclear-weapon countries—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In this section, Rajesh M. Basrur contributes an astute chapter, which, after comparing nuclear deterrence in South Asia with other systems, such as the U.S.-Soviet nuclear rivalry, concludes that the practice of minimum deterrence in the region works. Part two includes an in-depth discussion of command and control issues and the development of nuclear doctrines in India and Pakistan. Part three takes a broader look at the regional impact of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear deterrents and examines the role that China and the United States play in shaping South Asian nuclear deterrence. Binoda Kumar Mishra’s chapter in this section on the relationship between Beijing and New Delhi concludes that, in the long run, China, not Pakistan, will play the key role in shaping India’s nuclear policy. The final section of the volume examines the challenges to nuclear arms control and suggests potential confidence-building measures aimed at preventing the authorized or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons in South Asia. In particular, Dipankar Banerjee’s chapter in this last part offers several concrete options that India and Pakistan could pursue to reduce the nuclear threat within the region.



Nuclear Jihad: A Clear and Present Danger?

Todd M. Masse, Potomac Books, 2011, 339 pp.

Benjamin Seel

In this balanced assessment of the threat of nuclear terrorism, Todd M. Masse, a branch chief in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s nuclear security office, frames the debate as one between “skeptics” and “conventionalists.” Focusing on the significant barriers that stand in the way of terrorist groups actually carrying out such an attack, skeptics view the efforts to combat nuclear terrorism as a sidetracking of efforts that would be better directed toward preventing traditional acts of terrorism. Conventionalists view nuclear terrorism as a threat that is increasing in likelihood and deserving of a comprehensive policy approach to combat it. Drawing from both arguments, Masse concludes that U.S. national security policy should attack both the supply side and the demand side of the nuclear terrorism equation. He argues that the United States should focus on securing the stockpiles of nuclear material around the world and “preventing future nuclear proliferation among nation states.” However, he says, it should also continue its intelligence, national security, and law enforcement efforts to constrain the operational planning and training of groups such as al Qaeda and to block the flow of funds to them. Masse highlights the existing gap between the stated desires of terrorist groups to carry out a nuclear attack and their ability to bring such an attack to fruition. That disconnect makes the threat of nuclear jihad clear but not present, he says. He ends by cautioning that although the “[a]bsence of evidence is not…evidence of absence,” sweeping statements implying that terrorist groups have capability and intent are “unwarranted” and serve only to elevate the threat level “unnecessarily.”

The Politics of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia, Bhumitra Chakma, ed., Ashgate Publishing Co., 2011, 280 pp.

Nuclear Jihad: A Clear and Present Danger?, Todd M. Masse, Potomac Books, 2011, 339 pp.

Building a Nuclear Order

Reviewed by Michael Krepon

A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons and International Order

By William Walker

Routledge, 2011, 256 pp.

William Walker is a rare find: a humanist and elegant writer conversant with technical detail, as well as a specialist in nuclear proliferation who is intrigued by the subject of how power has been applied to create, maintain, and shape nuclear order. Walker is well positioned to provide a big-picture assessment of the nuclear dilemma, in part because he has observed it at a distance from Washington and Moscow.

The dilemmas Walker covers in his latest book will be familiar to most readers. The value of the book, A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons and International Order, lies in its subtitle: Walker surveys this poorly covered niche with breadth and without academic jargon in a work intended for an audience of general readers as well as practitioners and academic peers. He succeeds best when recasting key events in nuclear history through the lens of an evolving, ragged, but surprisingly successful nuclear order.

Walker shies away from offering more than a sketchy treatment of how the global nuclear order is most likely to evolve from a structural perspective. Instead, he presents a shorthand analysis that rests heavily on familiar policy options and alternative futures.

The book’s title comes from a famous quote by Niels Bohr, who sought to warn President Franklin Roosevelt in a July 1944 memorandum against the horrors of a world with atomic bombs. Bohr understood that a U.S. president would likely find compelling reasons to use a “winning weapon” to end World War II.[1] Nonetheless, he advised that “any temporary advantage, however great, may be outweighed by a perpetual menace to human security.”

Walker seems drawn to Bohr with good reason. They share a sensibility about the bomb, as well as an informed distance from grinding policy decisions governing its evolution.

As Justice Potter Stewart noted with respect to pornography, the nuclear order is more easily recognized than defined. Order in international politics, as Walker notes, is traditionally shaped by the occasion and conclusion of great wars. Nuclear order, in contrast, has been shaped and has evolved in the absence of major wars between major powers.

The nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union could have made the process of creating nuclear order well-nigh impossible. Instead, the race was accompanied by creative diplomacy that ultimately reduced vertical proliferation and limited horizontal proliferation. Three crucial norms backstopping nuclear order evolved during this extended competition: the absence of the bomb’s battlefield use since 1945; an unprecedented, ongoing 15-year moratorium of nuclear testing by major powers; and deep cuts in global inventories. The evolving nuclear order in the vertical and horizontal domains, along with connective tissue between them, may be the most consequential but underappreciated accomplishment of post-World War II diplomacy.

Walker’s introductory chapter is particularly good. The pursuit of nuclear order, he writes, “is inherently problematic, will always be contentious and entail political struggle, has to operate simultaneously at several levels (global, regional, and local, inter-state and intra-state) and can probably never end.” The “central question” that Walker addresses is how states are drawn into “a logic of restraint.… Installing and embedding this logic and rendering it tolerable have lain at the heart of the problem and project of nuclear order.”

Creating order is inherently difficult and impermanent yet necessary, given the diverse equities of states possessing and abstaining from nuclear weapons, ongoing hedging strategies, the flux of civil nuclear power programs, and the unacceptability of any order that permanently recognizes “institutionalized injustice.” Order must also require, at least provisionally, the underpinning of nuclear deterrence, a potentially wild beast domesticated through treaty instruments and norms.

Here, then, is Walker’s definition of international nuclear order: “Given the existence of nuclear technology, the international nuclear order entails evolving patterns of thought and activity that serve primary goals of world survival, war avoidance and economic development; and the quest for a tolerable accommodation of pronounced differences in the capabilities, practices, rights and obligations of states.”

The first foundation stone of nuclear order—deterrence—began of necessity and then was built out quickly by design and by interlocking superpower competition. Foundation stones in the form of treaties were meant to offer diplomatic reassurance to complement deterrence. This build-out went far more slowly, however, encountering severe challenges along the way.

The first treaty, a ban on atmospheric nuclear testing, was concluded after harrowing crises over Berlin and Cuba. It became possible to lay the crucial foundation stone of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) after the question of West Germany’s acquisition of nuclear weapons was answered negatively. Key missing foundation stones were added in 1972—an executive agreement loosely structuring the U.S.-Soviet strategic arms competition and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which effectively precluded national defenses against intercontinental and sea-based ballistic missiles.

Thus, switching metaphors, in the surprisingly short time frame of four years, the two biggest gearboxes of the new mechanism to provide nuclear order were assembled, albeit in wobbly fashion. The NPT was initially short of adherents, including two permanent members of the UN Security Council, with many onlookers keeping their nuclear options open. Sand was continually thrown in this gearbox, initially from the Rajasthan desert, where India carried out a nuclear test, to be followed in due course by Pakistan and North Korea. The long litany of challenges to the NPT need not be repeated here. Walker classifies them either as “specific and contingent problems” (e.g., a particular country seeking the bomb) or as “problems that are intrinsic and lasting, sometimes leading governments into long and frustrating searches for means of accommodating them, without much expectation of a final resolution.” This distinction can become blurry; as was the case on the Indian subcontinent and perhaps in Iran, the pursuit of the bomb can create long, difficult, and unsatisfactory efforts at accommodation.

The second major gearbox, designed to cap and reverse vertical proliferation, was similarly beset from the outset. Immediately after signing the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks agreement (SALT I), Washington and Moscow redoubled their strategic modernization efforts, a major contributing factor to the demise of détente and the rise of a new coterie of policymakers in Washington dubious of the entire enterprise of arms control. They finally succeeded in slaying the ABM Treaty three decades after its negotiation, but the process of deep reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals has continued apace.

The cyclical nature of challenges and progress emerges from Walker’s book. He recounts a series of crises in nuclear order that occurred from 1973 through 1986, including the Indian test, a severe oil crisis that generated renewed global interest in nuclear power, the deterioration of U.S.-Soviet relations, and the demise of the SALT process.

Even so, the primary gearboxes of the nascent nuclear order did not break down. With great effort by Washington, commercial rules of nuclear commerce were tightened; and to the surprise of most observers, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev managed to shift the nuclear arms race into reverse gear. Despite severe challenges, the two major gearboxes gained additional parts, smaller gears, and lubricants in the 1970s and 1980s. When even more nightmarish challenges to the nuclear order occurred with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, extraordinary diplomatic management by the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton created a stronger nuclear order out of this chaos. Likewise, the surprise discovery of an advanced nuclear weapons program in Iraq facilitated the endorsement of far stronger inspection procedures by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors. The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference was uniquely crucial for nuclear order, as states-parties chose to make the treaty permanent.[2]

Walker addresses the ailments now besetting nuclear order, a familiar and depressing witch’s brew of “irregular warfare, commerce and politics.” The moving parts of the enterprise of nuclear order are once again in need of repair and strengthening. One of the additional gears promised at the 1995 review conference, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, is stuck. Construction has yet to begin on another, a fissile material cutoff treaty.

The “sustenance of international order,” as Walker notes, is “an exercise in collective problem solving and institution building over time. It is also an exercise in conciliation—in resolving dissonances—entailing searches for convergence, compromise and quid pro quos, where there are clashes of norms, values and interests.… The thread that nevertheless holds states to a common purpose and to a common idea of order is their awareness of a common vulnerability to the destructive force of nuclear weapons.”

The tightrope walk down the path of nuclear order, Walker writes, must effectively synthesize

the conservative and transformational impulses of world politics…. It often seems as if the weapons have created a condition in world politics “without end, reprieve, or rest,” a condition that states and peoples are condemned to manage eternally for their survival, yet a condition that they cannot accept and from which they will always be driven to seek transcendence. There may be no ultimate solutions to the problem of order arising from the nuclear weapon’s invention and release into world politics. The search for solutions is nevertheless inescapable and engrained.

Among the foremost challenges to the sustenance and strengthening of the nuclear order is Washington itself. The United States always has been the primary repairman of these gearboxes, but as Walker notes, Washington’s policy consensus is nearly fractured, with future Republican administrations likely to be dismissive, as the administration of George W. Bush was, of treaties and norm building when it suits their pursuit of unilateral remedies.

The problem of dysfunctional national security politics in the United States rises to the structural level. Other structural challenges include China’s future choices whether to become more of a stakeholder in the nuclear order or more reliant on nuclear weapons for its power projection and India’s prospective role as the perpetual outsider or as a co-manager of nuclear order. Additional structural challenges include the odd, ahistorical circumstance in which nuclear weapons have less and less utility for major powers and greater utility for weak states. Pivotal non-nuclear-weapon states also will define the evolution of the nuclear order. Put another way, as go Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkey, so goes the NPT.

Another factor in the nuclear future—one on which Walker places considerable weight, echoing Bohr—is how forcefully and steadfastly nuclear abolition is pursued.

Where is the justice for anyone if the maintenance of nuclear forces for the purpose of security results, through accident or intent, in annihilation?

States and peoples therefore find themselves on the horns of various dilemmas. But the pursuit of nuclear disarmament is a necessary endeavor, however unattainable it may be perceived to be. Kant’s contention (as interpreted by Roger Scruton) is apt: “Ideals must be construed as regulative principles, which guide us down the path of amelioration.” Just because nuclear disarmament is considered an ideal does not rob it of practical value.

In the book’s conclusion, Walker expresses concerns that the existing nuclear order might not survive contemporary challenges. (His last chapter is titled “Heading for the rocks?”) Current events typically lead analysts to predict dire consequences, and yet the nuclear order and its dominant, positive trend lines have so far survived intact. For example, if the nuclear order could survive the collapse of the Soviet Union, it might also be able to survive an instance of catastrophic nuclear terrorism or an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. As one U.S. official who has encountered her share of negotiating impasses likes to say, “The NPT has become too big to fail.” The same might be said about the management and reduction of Washington’s and Moscow’s nuclear arsenals. These enterprises can and do wobble off the rails, but so far, there have been a sufficient number of protectors to put them back on track.

None of this, however, can be taken for granted. The nuclear order that has promoted international security and norm building was the product of ceaseless labors, a limited number of poor choices, a larger number of wise ones, and the occasional heroic result, especially the NPT, the SALT agreements, and the avoidance of nuclear anarchy after the Soviet Union’s demise.

The world’s sorrows do not take holidays, including the ever-present potential sorrows of a historic scale relating to the bomb. The current challenges to the nuclear order are both unique, in the form of millennial terrorism, and familiar, in the form of outlier states, whose singular accretion may or may not add up to a systemic challenge in the form of cascade effects.

The nuclear order has been slow to take shape, but now has a mature profile. Order can be discerned out of a plethora of possibilities, order shaped by norms and the constraints of prior choices. To maintain nuclear order, Walker points to the remedy of a renewed commitment to nuclear abolition to keep the two main gears of the nuclear order and their subsidiary mechanisms enmeshed. The pursuit of abolition strengthens the NPT regime while unnerving those who find comfort in the existing structure of vertical proliferation.

Walker has opened the doors to many interesting rooms worth exploring. What is the most probable characterization of the nuclear future? Is the current nuclear order susceptible to radical alteration? If so, another dramatic period of construction or deconstruction lies ahead. Are modest additions and subtractions more likely to shape the existing nuclear order at the margins? If so, will these marginal changes yield a more settled or unsettled order? Walker refrains from delving deeply into the most likely answers to these questions, while inviting readers to do so.


Michael Krepon is co-founder of the Stimson Center. His most recent books are Better Safe Than Sorry: The Ironies of Living With the Bomb (2009) and Rummaging in Shoeboxes for Stories About the Bomb, the Nuclear Age and Arms Control (2011).




1. The phrase “winning weapon” was coined by Bernard Baruch in 1946. See Gregg Herken, The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War 1945-1950 (New York: Vintage Books, 1981), pp. 172-173.

2. The NPT, which entered into force in 1970, mandated a choice at its 25th anniversary on whether it “shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods.”

William Walker is a rare find: a humanist and elegant writer conversant with technical detail, as well as a specialist in nuclear proliferation who is intrigued by the subject of how power has been applied to create, maintain, and shape nuclear order. Walker is well positioned to provide a big-picture assessment of the nuclear dilemma, in part because he has observed it at a distance from Washington and Moscow.

Conventional Arms Control in Europe: Is There a Last Chance?

By Wolfgang Zellner

European security policy currently is characterized by a striking contradiction between declarations and deeds. The November 2010 NATO Strategic Concept says the alliance is striving for “true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia”;[1] in the Astana Commemorative Declaration, the 56 member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) even commit themselves to the “vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”[2]

According to Karl Deutsch, one of the fathers of this concept, a “security-community…is one in which there is real assurance that the members of that community will not fight each other physically, but will settle their disputes in some other way.”[3] This means nothing less than a community without the threat or use of warfare.

The reality is quite different. The reset of U.S.-Russian security relations so far has produced scarcely any concrete results for Europe. Admittedly, relations with Russia are better than in 2008. There is more discussion, and the whole situation is not as highly charged as it was then. However, none of Europe’s security problems have been resolved, be they the protracted conflicts in Moldova (where official negotiations were resumed in November 2011), in Georgia, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan; possible future rounds of NATO enlargement; missile defense; or tactical nuclear weapons. The situation in the field of arms control is characterized at best by stagnation, if not by backward steps.

The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is almost dead. Russia suspended its implementation of the treaty in December 2007. A CFE Treaty review conference on September 29, 2011, ended without a final declaration. In November 2011, NATO stopped the CFE Treaty-related data exchange with Russia.[4]

New consultations on a “framework for negotiations to strengthen and to modernize the conventional arms control regime in Europe,” which had been started at NATO’s initiative in June 2010, were broken off in May 2011 without agreement on a follow-up meeting. These consultations were held in the format “at 36,” the 30 CFE Treaty states-parties plus the six new NATO member states that are not parties (Albania, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia). Aimed at a mandate for new negotiations on conventional arms control in Europe, the consultations failed because of disagreement on the interpretation of the principle of host-nation consent, which foresees explicit prior agreement by a host state to the deployment of foreign forces on its territory. Russia agreed with the principle as such, but it disagreed with the addition of the phrase “in its internationally recognized borders”―a reminder about Georgia demanded by the United States and other NATO countries. In addition, Russia was not willing to provide additional transparency measures prior to the opening of negotiations, as requested by NATO. As a result, the consultations have failed for the moment, and many participants have resumed a wait-and-see attitude.

The lack of success in revitalizing the CFE Treaty process already has harmed the efforts to modernize the Vienna Document 1999 of the Negotiations on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures. The proposals of the NATO states sought primarily to lower the thresholds for prior notification of certain military activities and to raise the quota for inspections and evaluation visits. These proposals were rejected by Russia for two major reasons. First, Russia does not want to provide additional transparency as long as its current military reform is under way. Second, Russia perceived additional inspections as a way for the NATO countries to politically circumvent its CFE Treaty suspension. Although a revision of the Vienna Document 1999, known as the Vienna Document 2011, was adopted at the 2011 Vilnius OSCE ministerial council meeting,[5] the progress achieved is limited to purely technical and procedural matters. This poor outcome is aggravated by difficulties with implementation. In early 2012, Russia rejected two demands for evaluation visits under the Vienna Document 2011 with reference to force majeure. The Russian delegation explained that a governmental decision would be needed for providing funds necessary for implementing the Vienna Document 2011 and that the decision-making process could last weeks or even months.[6] This left Western delegations uncertain as to whether the case represented only bureaucratic difficulties or something more.

In addition, since January 2011 the agenda of the Open Skies Consultative Commission has been blocked by a dispute between Greece and Turkey on the admission of Cyprus to the Open Skies Treaty. Greece used to put this question on the agenda of each meeting until Turkey blocked consensus on the agenda. Exceptionally, a meeting on October 24, 2011, “decided on the assignment of flight quota in 2012 as well as on prolongation of previously established rules for certification methodology.”[7] This was crucial for safeguarding the further implementation of the Open Skies Treaty. The blockage has continued since then. Thus, the functioning of another arms control treaty is endangered by disputes on unresolved subregional conflicts, this time between two NATO member states.

The famous European arms control regime, once praised as a paradigm for the world, has been seriously undermined; some elements are collapsing, and others are losing their relevance because of a lack of adaptation and modernization. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller put it bluntly: “[T]he CFE Treaty simply is not relevant anymore to the current security situation in Europe.”[8]

Reasons for the Stalemate

One more-general reason for the current stagnation of European security policy issues is their neglect by the political leaders in light of more important crises such as the Arab Spring, Iran, Afghanistan, and Syria, not to mention the financial and debt crisis. Although each of these topics is more challenging than any European security problem, the latter’s continued neglect can have and has had dire consequences; Georgia in 2008 is a case in point. In addition, the legacy of a decade of unilateral approaches during the Bush era together with the relative restrengthening of Russia with correspondingly tougher attitudes has led to deep mutual distrust.

More specifically, in terms of arms control, the most important element that has blocked progress over the last decade has been the link made by NATO between subregional conflicts and the ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty, commonly known as the Istanbul commitments. When Russia took on the obligation to withdraw its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova at the 1999 Istanbul OSCE summit, NATO at first only requested the fulfillment of the Russian flank obligations[9] as a precondition for ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty. The link between the withdrawal of the Russian forces and ratification of that treaty was not made until the 2002 NATO Prague summit, at which the member states “urge[d] swift fulfillment of the outstanding Istanbul commitments on Georgia and Moldova, which will create the conditions for Allies and other States Parties to move forward on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty.”[10] Thus, the United States managed to include its position that goes back to some of the 14 conditions attached by the U.S. Senate to the ratification of the adapted flank agreement in May 1997.[11] The first condition states that “nothing in the CFE Flank Document shall be construed as altering the policy of the United States to achieve the immediate and complete withdrawal of any forces and military equipment under the control of the Russian Federation that are deployed on the territories of the independent states of the former Soviet Union.”[12] The link to subregional conflicts remains a key obstacle for any future conventional arms control regime in Europe.

A second impediment is that subsequent rounds of NATO enlargement have been less and less linked to arms control. The first round of NATO enlargement was still partially embedded in cooperative arms control solutions with Russia. This is true for the 1997 CFE adapted flank agreement mentioned above, which made substantial concessions to Russia; NATO’s intention not to deploy “substantial combat forces” in newly admitted member states, contained in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act;[13] and the Adapted CFE Treaty, which was signed in 1999. Although not all of these elements have become effective—the Adapted CFE Treaty has not entered into force and the term “substantial combat forces” has not yet been defined—they nevertheless represent a more or less coherent effort to adapt conventional arms control arrangements to the political realities changed by NATO enlargement. In the context of the second NATO enlargement in 2004, however, no such efforts were made, although it took place in a substantially worse political atmosphere and involved three former Soviet republics and two flank states. This exacerbated an already sensitive situation. These shortcomings can be rectified and already have been at a symbolic level with the introduction of the “at 36” format, but any further rounds of NATO enlargement that include former Soviet republics would probably mean the final termination of conventional arms control in Europe, at least under the current political conditions.

Third, an interruption of adaptation and modernization for more than a dozen years has led to a situation in which the CFE Treaty has become completely outdated and the Adapted CFE Treaty partially outdated. Some elements of necessary modernization still can be addressed within the traditional parameters of the CFE Treaty regime, such as the inclusion of the Baltic states or, in principle, Russian requests for some form of “balance” or “equilibrium” with NATO in terms of equipment limited by the CFE Treaty. Other issues, such as Russia’s emerging perception of a threat from U.S. long-range conventional missiles,[14] are much more difficult to address, if only because they are of a strategic nature and go beyond a European framework.

The Need for Arms Control

As conventional arms control has become more difficult and costly in political terms, it might be worthwhile to reaffirm the need for and value of a conventional arms control regime in Europe.

First, a “true strategic partnership” between NATO and Russia is difficult to imagine when, at the same time, arms control agreements break down because of unresolved disputes. The key symptom in relations between Russia and the West is deep mistrust. One of the most relevant instruments for building trust is military transparency, something that some experts see as the most important achievement of European arms control. However, the level of transparency has decreased over the last 10 years.

Second, the CFE Treaty regime has so far not achieved very much in terms of subregional stability. It provides for equal ceilings among the three South Caucasus states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and it served as the role model for the 1996 Florence Agreement among Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. However, conventional arms control could do much more in this respect. In particular, it could build stability between one large state and small states in specific subregions. This applies primarily to the Baltic region and Georgia. In the Baltic region, stability could be achieved by asymmetric “safety zones,”[15] that is, militarily thinned-out or nondeployment zones. In this context, the term “substantial combat forces” has to be defined. In a specific Istanbul commitment, Russia already has taken on the obligation not to “station substantial additional combat forces” in the Kaliningrad and Pskov oblasts.[16] Abkhazia and South Ossetia cannot be left out of arms control. As one observer recently wrote, “Limits on the number, nature, and role of Russian forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia might—indeed, should—be part of any reconstruction of a conventional arms control regime, but framed in a status-neutral fashion.”[17] This would include the exchange of information and inspections. Stability through arms control in critical subregions can also decrease the pressure for deployments of foreign armed forces and infrastructural elements there. Such deployments would be politically counterproductive and are financially unrealistic in times of defense budget cuts in the United States and elsewhere and further U.S. troop withdrawals from Europe.

The United States has declared that it will seek to include tactical nuclear weapons in the next round of nuclear arms control negotiations. Some European governments also have raised this issue. Yet, it is unlikely that the Russian government will embrace the idea of controlling tactical nuclear weapons if the conventional superiority of the West, which Russia wants to balance through its large tactical nuclear arsenal, remains untouched. As Andrei Zagorski points out, the problem is that the conventional balance contains elements that go beyond the CFE Treaty regime:

The Russian defense establishment appears increasingly concerned with the advanced conventional capabilities of the NATO states, and the US in particular, that are not covered by the CFE regime. Thus any openness towards reducing [tactical nuclear weapons] is more likely to be tacitly or explicitly linked by the Russian defense establishment not only to progress in re-negotiating the CFE regime, but, rather to progress in controlling advanced conventional warfare capabilities under relevant arms control accords.[18]

If this is true, there needs to be not only a revitalization of the CFE Treaty process, with its traditional treaty limits on equipment, but also the inclusion of new categories of military equipment that have been developed over the last 20 years. The problem is that many of these new weapon categories are of a global nature and can scarcely be limited in a regional arms control regime such as the CFE Treaty.

Elements of a New Framework

Although there might be sufficient reasons for revitalizing conventional arms control in Europe, the barriers are high. The CFE Treaty states-parties would have to remove obstacles that they have not been able to be overcome for the last 12 years. The following elements seem to be necessary for building a new framework for conventional arms control in Europe.[19]

First, although transparency is essential and transparency-only approaches are currently fashionable, one will need both elements: transparency and limitations, as well as inspections. Mutual assurance between NATO and Russia is necessary, and Russia probably will not accept a pure transparency approach. In addition, subregional regimes do not work without limitations. Limitations do not necessarily need a legally binding framework; they also can be set by mutual declarations. This has the additional advantage that the CFE Treaty flank rule could be replaced by “security zones” on both sides in border regions.[20] Bilateral security zones can be defined in a more flexible manner than can the flank rule. Dealing with limitations does not mean a return to old bipolar balance concepts as still requested by Russia.[21] However, as the holdings of most NATO states are substantially lower than their ceilings, they could decrease their ceilings without difficulties.

Second, the link between arms control and subregional conflicts should be replaced by political efforts to resolve these conflicts, on the one hand, and status-neutral solutions for arms control, on the other. Russia’s recent admission to the World Trade Organization shows that status-neutral solutions, in this case for the border crossings between Russia and Abkhazia and between Russia and South Ossetia, are possible. Giving up this link might be particularly difficult for the United States, but it is necessary for avoiding a possible Russian link between conventional arms control and missile defense that Moscow never has declared explicitly but at times seemed to be implying.

Third, although a number of governments prefer a legally binding agreement, it might be unachievable because the U.S. Senate most probably will not ratify any agreement that builds on a status-neutral solution. In this situation, it might be preferable to switch to a politically binding agreement. The overall experience with the Vienna Document 1999 has shown that this kind of multilateral agreement can work.

Fourth, although it is true that the “fate of missile defense cooperation and conventional arms control is also inter-linked with developments in other military spheres…in particular, outcomes surrounding non-strategic nuclear weapons,”[22] both sides should be careful to avoid new linkages.

Fifth, the negotiations should take place under the umbrella of the OSCE in the “at 36” format. Because a number of non-NATO states will participate in the negotiations, the NATO-Russia Council might be too narrow of a negotiation framework. The negotiations “at 36” can be complemented by consultations in a range of formats.

Under the current conditions, no serious business might be possible before mid-2013, even if President Barack Obama wins a second term. This break should be used for conceptual discussions and consultations. The process of conventional arms control in Europe can be restarted only on the basis of a new conceptual approach that replaces the idea of ratifying the Adapted CFE Treaty in this or that form. If such a concept is to be elaborated, many countries will have to modify long-held positions. As in 2010, this will require U.S. initiative and leadership. A more active role by European NATO countries also would help. Finally, Russia, which recently has been more active in pointing out what it does not want, must reaffirm and clarify its positive interest in conventional arms control in Europe.


Wolfgang Zellner is deputy director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg and head of its Centre for OSCE Research. From 1984 to 1991, he worked as an adviser to a member of the Bundestag on military and security issues, including European arms control.




1. NATO, “Active Engagement, Modern Defence: Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” para. 33, www.nato.int/lisbon2010/strategic-concept-2010-eng.pdf (adopted November 19, 2010).

2. OSCE, “Astana Commemorative Declaration Towards a Security Community,” SUM.DOC/ 1/10/Corr.1, December 3, 2010, para. 1, www.osce.org/cio/74985.

3. Karl W. Deutsch et al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area: International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience (New York: Greenwood Press Reprint, 1957), p. 5.

4. NATO, “Final Statement,” December 7, 2011, para. 17, www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_81943.htm?mode=pressrelease.

5. OSCE, “Decision No. 7/11: Issues Relevant to the Forum for Security Co-operation,” MC.DEC/7/11/Corr.1, December 7, 2011, www.osce.org/mc/86712.

6. Member of OSCE delegation, telephone interview with author, February 2012.

7. Hartwig Spitzer, “Open Skies in Turbulence: A Well-Functioning Treaty Is Endangered by Outside Developments,” Security and Human Rights, Vol. 22, No. 4 (2011): 378.

8. “Interview With Judy Dempsey From the International Herald Tribune and Special Contributor to the Munich Security Conference,” January 19, 2012, www.state.gov/t/avc/rls/182708.htm (interview with Rose Gottemoeller).

9. The so-called flank rule of the CFE Treaty and the Adapted CFE Treaty provides for specific limitations in the northern (Norway, parts of the military district of Leningrad in Russia) and southern (Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, a part of Ukraine, parts of the North Caucasus military district of Russia) part of the CFE Treaty area of application. Russia always has been highly critical of the flank rule.

10. NATO, “Prague Summit Declaration,” November 21, 2002, para. 15, www.nato.int/docu/pr/2002/p02-127e.htm (press release).

11. See Ulrich Kühn, “From Capitol Hill to Istanbul: The Origins of the Current CFE Deadlock,” Centre for OSCE Research Working Paper No. 19 (December 2009), www.core-hamburg.de/documents/CORE_Working_Paper_19_Kuehn.pdf.

12. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Flank Document Agreement to the CFE Treaty, 105th Cong., 1st sess., 1997, Exec. Rept. 1, p. 20, www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-105erpt1/pdf/CRPT-105erpt1.pdf.

13. See NATO, “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between NATO and the Russian Federation Signed in Paris, France,” May 27, 1997, www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_25468.htm.

14. See Anatoly Anin, “Prompt Global Strike Weapons and Strategic Instability,” Security Index, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2011): 15-25.

15. Wolfgang Richter, “Ways Out of the Crisis: Approaches for the Preservation of the CFE Regime,” in The Future of Conventional Arms Control in Europe, ed. Wolfgang Zellner, Hans-Joachim Schmidt, and Götz Neuneck (Baden-Baden: Nomos Publishers, 2009), pp. 351-352. See also Robert H. Legvold, “Reconciling Limitations on Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Conventional Arms Control, and Missile Defense Cooperation,” in Reducing Nuclear Risks in Europe, ed. Steve Andreasen and Isabelle Williams (Washington, DC: Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2012), p. 147.

16. “Final Act of the Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe,” CFE.DOC/2/99, November 19, 1999, www.osce.org/library/14114.

17. Legvold, “Reconciling Limitations on Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Conventional Arms Control, and Missile Defense Cooperation,” p. 145.

18. Andrei Zagorski, “Russia’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Posture, Politics and Arms Control,” Hamburger Beiträge zur Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik, No. 156 (2011), p. 30, www.ifsh.de/pdf/publikationen/hb/hb156.pdf.

19. For the source for this section, see Rüdiger Hartmann and Hans-Joachim Schmidt, “Konventionelle Rüstungskontrolle in Europa – Wege in die Zukunft” [Conventional arms control in Europe – Ways into the future], HSFK Report, Nr. 6/2011, p. 33, www.hsfk.de/fileadmin/downloads/report0611.pdf.

20. I am grateful to Hans-Joachim Schmidt for this idea.

21. Hartmann and Schmidt, “Konventionelle Rüstungskontrolle in Europa,” p. 33.

22. Legvold, “Reconciling Limitations on Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Conventional Arms Control, and Missile Defense Cooperation,” p. 134.


European security policy currently is characterized by a striking contradiction between declarations and deeds. The November 2010 NATO Strategic Concept says the alliance is striving for “true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia”;1 in the Astana Commemorative Declaration, the 56 member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) even commit themselves to the “vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”

Cooperating With Russia on Missile Defense: A New Proposal

By Dean A. Wilkening

Russia has opposed U.S. ballistic missile defense plans for decades, and differences over that issue currently are a major irritant in U.S.-Russian relations. There have been numerous proposals for U.S.-Russian and NATO-Russian missile defense cooperation, but often they lack reciprocity and fail to significantly improve the security of all countries involved. This article’s proposal for a joint NATO-Russian early-warning radar located in central Russia provides genuine security benefits for all countries, improves strategic stability, and involves potential industrial partnerships, which ought to be of interest to Russian semiconductor firms.

During the Cold War, Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense led to the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty between the two countries in 1972. After President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983, Russia became concerned that this research program would violate the treaty. This concern subsided within the decade as U.S. enthusiasm for the more fanciful aspects of the program waned and Russian leaders became consumed with more pressing issues raised by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton continued to work on missile defense systems, albeit within the constraints of the ABM Treaty as they understood them.

However, in June 2002, the administration of George W. Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty and in 2007 entered negotiations to deploy strategic missile defense interceptors in Poland and a large missile defense radar in the Czech Republic, collectively known as the “third site”—the first two sites for defense of the U.S. homeland being at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This plan drew bitter complaints from Russian leaders until the Obama administration abandoned it in September 2009 in favor of the European Phased Adaptive Approach—a four-phase plan to deploy interceptors in and around Europe starting with sea-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA interceptors in 2011 and progressing to SM-3 Block IB interceptors at sea and on land at Deveselu, Romania, by 2015; SM-3 Block IIA interceptors on land in Poland and on ships around Europe by 2018; and finally SM-3 Block IIB interceptors at sea and on land in Europe by 2020. The latter two phases of this deployment schedule have again raised Russian concerns due to the alleged capability of these systems to intercept Russian strategic ballistic missiles, although Russia has not provided evidence that this is physically possible from the interceptor sites that would be used in those phases.[1] In response, the United States and NATO have tried to reassure Russia that the deployments under their phased adaptive approach do not have this capability and are not intended to undermine Russia’s deterrent.

To underscore this benign intention, the Obama administration has tried to engage Russia in various cooperative efforts on missile defense. In their June 24, 2010, joint statement on strategic stability, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev committed themselves to the goal of “continuing the development of a new strategic relationship based on mutual trust, openness, predictability, and cooperation.” Regarding missile defense, Russia has argued for legally binding assurances that the missiles deployed under the U.S.-NATO approach will not be aimed at them. The United States has rejected this idea, not least because any legally binding assurance that requires U.S. congressional consent would be extremely unlikely to receive such approval.

Instead, NATO has suggested various forms of cooperation with Russia with the goal of developing two independent missile defense systems, Russia’s and NATO’s, along with two joint command centers that would facilitate the exchange of information with Russia. In addition, the United States and NATO have proposed joint missile defense exercises at command posts and in the field, along with further discussions regarding joint responses to common threats. The aim of cooperation would be to make any missile defense system in the Russian-European sphere more effective and to help alleviate Russian concerns that the European-based interceptors are targeted against them.

To be effective, NATO-Russian cooperation should meet several criteria. First, the undertaking should improve strategic stability or at least not undermine it, that is, cooperation should not reduce the effectiveness of U.S., NATO, or Russian strategic nuclear forces. Second, cooperation should involve reciprocity; it should genuinely enhance the security of all parties. Russia, for example, has argued that sharing data from its early-warning radars at Gabala, Azerbaijan, and Armavir, Russia, would benefit only NATO, with no tangible security benefits for Russia. Third, it is helpful if cooperation involves industrial partnerships because such cooperation creates constituencies within each country to keep cooperation alive despite political pressures that undermine it. Joint U.S.-Russian space-launch activities, which provide clear economic benefits to both parties, have demonstrated this over the past decade. Cooperation in the military sphere clearly is more sensitive because it does not involve commercial interests alone.

Cooperation, if it occurs, should begin with small steps to build trust, leading to more ambitious steps later. For example, an initial step that should be relatively easy to take would involve establishing a joint data fusion center along the lines of an earlier U.S.-Russian bilateral Joint Data Exchange Center established by a June 2000 memorandum of agreement between Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin “for the exchange of information derived from each side’s missile launch warning systems on the launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.”[2] The data exchange center never became fully operational due to political and legal wrangling over its implementation. In any case, the 10-year memorandum now has expired, but Medvedev and Obama raised the issue of cooperation on a new fusion center at their June 2010 summit. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated the suggestion later the same month.

Such a center would involve NATO countries as well as Russia; would involve the exchange of information on any missile launch, not just launches by the member parties; and eventually could involve the exchange of information on missile interceptor launches. This last feature would help coordinate defensive actions between NATO and Russian missile defense systems in addition to identifying likely intercept debris impact zones­—areas on the ground where debris from the intercept might land—thus helping countries limit collateral damage.

Perhaps the most important role for a fusion center would be to help avoid unwanted escalation that easily could arise from misunderstandings or misperceptions in the wake of an accidental or unauthorized ballistic missile launch by any member state or hostile power or of an intentional interceptor launch that heads toward the territory of another party. Regardless of its merits, agreement on establishing a fusion center has yet to materialize, which demonstrates the political difficulty of arriving at a consensus on missile defense cooperation in the near future.

Another idea, originally suggested in the 1990s, is technical cooperation involving space-based infrared satellites for environmental monitoring and defense applications (e.g., providing early warning of ballistic missile launches). In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s early-warning satellite capability deteriorated significantly.[3] Having reliable ballistic missile warning systems promotes strategic stability by reducing the fear of surprise attacks.

In 1997, Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to cooperate on the Russian-American Observation Satellite experiment, a joint space research program using one Russian satellite and one U.S. satellite for simultaneous stereo-optical imaging of the earth.[4] This program ran into various forms of political opposition and financial “restructuring” on the U.S. side. Ultimately it died when the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002.[5]

As noted above, another form of cooperation, also discussed in the 1990s, is joint missile defense exercises at command posts and in the field. These exercises shed light on, among other things, the rules of engagement for missile defense operations and hence help avoid confusion in the event that NATO or Russian missile defense systems attempt to intercept a hostile ballistic missile launch.

All of these examples of cooperation are worth exploring in the next few years. This article describes a more ambitious form of cooperation that would improve strategic stability, has reciprocal security benefits for all countries involved, and involves an interesting element of industrial cooperation. Given the pace of cooperative efforts to date, however, this option probably cannot be realized in the near future. The basic idea is that NATO and Russia would jointly develop and deploy an upgraded early-warning radar. Similar in design to the ones the United States operates for homeland defense, this one would be deployed in central Russia.

Early-Warning Radar Systems

Over the past decade, the United States has upgraded its early-warning radar network consisting of Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radars at Fylingdales, England, and Thule, Greenland, and PAVE PAWS radars at Beale Air Force Base in California and Clear Air Force Station in Alaska. (The PAVE PAWS radar at Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts has yet to be upgraded.)

The radar upgrades include improvements in tracking and object classification for ballistic missile defense, which at the same time strengthen attack-warning and attack-assessment capability. Space surveillance is a secondary mission. The radars operate in the UHF radar band (at approximately 435 megahertz); have multiple faces, each of which can track objects close to the zenith and covers an azimuth sector of 120 degrees; and can track objects to a range of approximately 4,800 kilometers. Apparently, the track accuracy from these radars is good enough to provide a “fire control solution” for ground-based interceptors located at Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base, i.e., they can predict the intercept point sufficiently accurately that a ground-based interceptor has a reasonable chance of successfully homing in on the target.[6]

Russia has a similar early-warning radar network, but it has undergone some deterioration following the breakup of the Soviet Union, in part because of a lack of funds and in part because some of these radars were located outside Russian territory. The Russian/Soviet early-warning radar network generally operates at lower frequencies in the VHF band and currently consists of Daryal (Pechora), Volga, Voronezh-M, and Voronezh-DM radars.[7] All of these radars have the capability to track targets above the horizon in addition to their surveillance function, unlike some of the older Russian Dnepr/Dnestr (Hen House) radars. The latest Voronezh-DM radar, recently installed near Armavir, probably operates at the higher end of the VHF band (approximately 240 megahertz, judging from the antenna spacing on photographs of the radar face).

A Joint Radar in Central Russia

A jointly constructed and operated radar in central Russia, similar in design to the upgraded early-warning radars in the United States, would consist of three active-array faces operating in the UHF radar band at approximately 435 megahertz using UHF solid-state transmit/receive modules. The technology for the modules would be based either on silicon power transistors (1970s technology) or high-power laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductors (state-of-the-art technology), the latter of which is available commercially for applications in cellphones and high-definition television transmission networks.[8] The United States would provide the initial transmit/receive modules to populate the radar because it currently has the production capacity, while Russia would build the replacement modules based on technology the United States would transfer to Russia. Technology transfer of this sort is always a sensitive issue, but it should be less so in this case because the relevant technology already is commercially available on the international market. Moreover, while laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductors offer higher power than silicon transistors, this type of semiconductor cannot be used for radar applications greater than S-band due to inherent limitations of the semiconductor material. Therefore, this technology cannot be reverse engineered to develop the most sensitive U.S. radar technology, X-band transmit/receive modules, used in the most advanced U.S. missile defense tracking radars.[9]

After construction is complete, there is no need to have NATO personnel permanently stationed at the radar site because the raw radar data would be sent via fiber optic cable to two independent processing centers, one in Europe and the other in Moscow, where the raw data would be processed according to algorithms designed separately by each party. This would keep sensitive information regarding signal processing algorithms in the hands of national governments, thus avoiding sensitive technology transfer issues. Russia would have complete control of site security once the radar was operational. A three-face upgraded radar would cost approximately $500 million—a very rough estimate derived from the $260 million cost to upgrade the dual-face Thule radar.[10] Presumably this cost would be shared, with Russia paying more for site construction and NATO paying more for the radar equipment.

Benefits and Risks for Russia

The radar would provide several benefits for Russia. First, it would plug the gap in early-warning radar coverage to the east, a gap that a new Voronezh-DM early-warning radar planned for Mishelevka also would fill. However, an upgraded radar of the type described here would operate at nearly twice the frequency of the Voronezh-DM radar and consequently would provide more-accurate attack warning and attack assessment information to Russian military and political leaders. In fact, this radar could become the backbone of a future Russian national ballistic missile defense system by providing more-accurate and near-continuous (due to the three faces) tracking data with which to commit interceptors from the Moscow A-135 missile defense system and possibly the S-400 and S-500 theater missile defense systems. Finally, by transferring technology for laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductors, this proposal would involve industrial cooperation that should be attractive to Russian semiconductor industries interested in commercial spinoffs in the cellphone and television markets.

At the strategic level, a joint upgraded radar would improve strategic stability by providing Russian leaders with more-accurate information regarding incoming ballistic missile attacks, thereby making their command and control system more reliable. It would also contribute to the survival of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces by providing reliable tactical warning for dispersing mobile assets, providing track data to missile defense systems that can defend these assets, or both. Importantly, this radar cannot improve the effectiveness of the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system against a Russian ballistic missile attack because Russia, having physical control of the site, could easily shut down or physically disable the site prior to any Russian ballistic missile launch. In addition, blackout periods would be allowed to prevent the radar from collecting potentially sensitive data on Russian ballistic missile flight tests that pass through the radar’s fans. Finally, because early-warning radars of this type have space surveillance as a secondary mission, this radar could become a key asset for NATO-Russian cooperation on space situational awareness.

Benefits and Risks for U.S., NATO

The United States and NATO would benefit from having access to these radar data. In the U.S. case, no radar can provide early track information on hypothetical Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) heading toward the United States because these ICBMs fly over central Russia. The current U.S. early-warning radar network detects these trajectories much later than would a radar located in central Russia, especially for tracks heading toward the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, or Hawaii. The forward-based X-band radar located at Kurecik, Turkey, would be the first radar to detect an Iranian ICBM on these trajectories, but it cannot track the target for long before the missile leaves its radar coverage.

Early track data from the east face of the Voronezh-DM radar at Armavir could provide tracking times comparable to those from the south face of a joint radar at Yekaterinburg, but it is not clear whether Russia would share these data with the United States in real time or whether the track data from this VHF radar are accurate enough to launch ground-based interceptors from Fort Greely. The south face of a joint upgraded early-warning radar in central Russia would provide good track data on the ascent portion of Iranian ICBM trajectories, while the northwest and northeast faces would provide good track data on the middle portion of these trajectories.

Early track data are important because they provide more time for the U.S. GMD system to conduct multiple intercept attempts. This is reflected in larger shoot-look-shoot coverage afforded with an upgraded radar located in central Russia.[11]

The utility of this joint radar to the United States would be diminished if the United States deployed infrared missile-tracking satellites that can track Iranian ICBMs early in their flight. The United States recently deployed two prototype Space Surveillance and Tracking System satellites, derived from the earlier Space-Based Infrared System-Low Earth Orbit satellite program. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency plans to deploy a less expensive satellite constellation, called the Precision Tracking Space System, by fiscal year 2017.[12] Thus, if all goes well—a significant qualifier, given that the programs to develop missile tracking satellites have suffered from repeated program delays and cost overruns in the past—the United States will have the capability to track Iranian ICBMs shortly after liftoff in the 2020 time frame. In this case, a joint upgraded radar would provide a redundant means for tracking Iranian ICBMs early in their flight. Moreover, this radar could be operational before 2020 if NATO and Russia take cooperation seriously.

In summary, a joint upgraded early-warning radar located in central Russia would improve the performance of the U.S. GMD system against Iranian ICBMs, but not against Russian ICBMs. A radar in that location would not help track North Korean ICBMs because they tend to fly below the radar horizon. Besides, North Korean ICBMs already could be tracked quite early by the existing forward-based X-band radar at Shariki, Japan, and the Cobra Dane radar on the Aleutian Islands.

The main obstacle to cooperation for the United States would be obtaining International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) exemptions to allow UHF transmit/receive module technology to be transferred to Russia. ITAR exemptions often are difficult to obtain for joint projects with U.S. allies, even though granting this exemption should not be a problem because the technology already is in the commercial domain. Perhaps the greatest risk for the United States is that a joint upgraded radar under Russian physical control gives Russia a partial veto over the effectiveness of the U.S. GMD system against Iran because the system could be degraded somewhat if Russia blocked U.S. access to data from the joint radar during an Iranian ICBM attack, although such an act would cause a serious U.S. backlash against Russia. In addition, the effectiveness of U.S. midcourse defense systems under this scenario would be no less than if a joint radar had not been built in the first place.

Europe would benefit from a joint upgraded early-warning radar in central Russia because no European sensor currently can track the trajectories of ballistic missiles heading toward Europe from the east. In this regard, a joint radar fills a gap in European early-warning coverage just as it does for Russia, and it would improve the effectiveness of the European missile defense architecture, as planned under the phased adaptive approach, against attacks emanating from the east. As noted above, such a joint radar would provide the basis for cooperation on space situational awareness.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to this proposal is the likely reaction from China. From a Chinese worst-case perspective, the radar could be used to improve Russian and European defenses against the Chinese strategic ballistic missile arsenal. Even if this were not the intent, it would be perceived as such by Chinese leaders worried about “encirclement.” However, such a radar would not contribute to the ability to track Chinese ballistic missiles headed toward the United States because these trajectories generally are below the radar horizon for an early-warning radar located in central Russia. It is beyond the scope of this article to examine ways to minimize the impact on China, but such issues should be addressed if a joint NATO-Russian radar located in central Russia ever went forward. Asking China to join the project might be one option, but it is difficult to see what China would gain because ballistic missiles that India or the United States might launch at China are not likely to pass through this radar’s fans, and Russia presumably would block the transmission of data warning of attacks by Russian ballistic missiles.


A jointly constructed and operated upgraded early-warning radar located in central Russia would be an attractive form of missile defense cooperation between NATO and Russia because it would enhance strategic stability; provide reciprocal security benefits for the United States, Europe, and Russia; and potentially involve industrial cooperation of a sort that could help build trust and a true sense of shared interest in the development of effective missile defense systems to protect against the proliferation of long-range ballistic missiles. In short, it satisfies all of the criteria for successful missile defense cooperation with Russia. The biggest obstacles to implementing such a project would be political, specifically, export control restrictions in the United States and opposition in Russia to NATO facilities on its soil, even if Moscow had physical control of the facility after its completion and no NATO troops were stationed permanently in Russia. Minimizing adverse reactions by China could be a difficult challenge.

Clearly, this proposal for the radar is more ambitious than other near-term steps that might be taken, such as establishing a data fusion center or conducting joint missile defense exercises. A proposal such as this one, however, eventually would offer more-substantial security benefits to all parties involved and would signal a clear sea change in relations between Russia and the United States and NATO that goes well beyond the “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations envisioned by the Obama administration.


Dean A. Wilkening is a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This article is based on research he conducted at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University prior to his arrival at the laboratory and does not reflect the views of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or any of its affiliated institutions.





1. For more detail on the lack of a technical basis for Russia’s concern, see Dean A. Wilkening, “Does Missile Defense in Europe Threaten Russia?” Survival, Vol. 54, No. 1 (February-March 2012), pp. 31-52.

2. U.S. Department of State, “Memorandum of Agreement Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on the Establishment of a Joint Center for the Exchange of Data from Early Warning Systems and Notifications of Missile Launches,” June 4, 2000, www.state.gov/t/isn/4799.htm.

3. Pavel Podvig, “History and the Current Status of the Russian Early-Warning System,” Science and Global Security, Vol. 10, No. 1 (2002), pp. 21-60.

4. Brent Bartschi et al., “Russian American Observation Satellites (RAMOS),” November 1998, www.sdl.usu.edu/downloads/papers/ramos.pdf.

5. Victoria Samson, “Prospects for Russian-American Missile Defense Cooperation: Lessons From RAMOS and JDEC,” Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 28, No. 3 (December 2007).

6. U.S. Missile Defense Agency, “Upgraded Early Warning Radars (UEWR), AN/FPS-132,” February 2011, www.mda.mil/global/documents/pdf/uewr1.pdf.

7. Podvig, “History and the Current Status of the Russian Early-Warning System.”

8. Michael Borkowski, “Solid-State Transmitters,” in Radar Handbook, ed. Merrill Skolnik, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008), pp. 11.1-11.17.

9. Radar frequency is categorized by “bands” with, for example, L-, S-, C-, and X-band referring to frequencies in the ranges of 1-2, 2-4, 4-8, and 8-12 megahertz, respectively. The higher the frequency, the more accurate radar measurements become for a given antenna size, which is why X-band radar is particularly attractive for ballistic missile tracking.

10. Thomas Duffy, “Thule Radar Work Set for 2005, to Cost $260 Million,” Inside Missile Defense, August 18, 2004.

11. Shoot-look-shoot coverage is defined as the area on the ground that can be defended by two interceptor shots, in which the second interceptor is launched only if the first interceptor misses the target.

12. Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, Testimony before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee regarding the fiscal year 2012 budget request for ballistic missile defense programs, May 25, 2011, p. 13, www.mda.mil/global/documents/pdf/PS_SAC-D_Hearing.LTG_O%27Reilly.25_MAY_2011.pdf.


Russia has opposed U.S. ballistic missile defense plans for decades, and differences over that issue currently are a major irritant in U.S.-Russian relations. There have been numerous proposals for U.S.-Russian and NATO-Russian missile defense cooperation, but often they lack reciprocity and fail to significantly improve the security of all countries involved. This article’s proposal for a joint NATO-Russian early-warning radar located in central Russia provides genuine security benefits for all countries, improves strategic stability, and involves potential industrial partnerships, which ought to be of interest to Russian semiconductor firms.

Report on Nuclear Review Stirs Debate

Daryl G. Kimball

The White House is “weighing options” for sharp reductions in U.S. nuclear forces as part of its study of how to implement the results of its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Associated Press reported Feb. 14.

The report, which cited unnamed congressional and former administration sources, said the administration is considering “at least three options for lower total numbers of deployed strategic nuclear weapons cutting to around 1,000 to 1,100, 700 to 800, or 300 to 400.” The United States reported that it deployed 1,790 strategic nuclear warheads as of Sept. 1. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) allows Russia and the United States to deploy as many as 1,550 warheads apiece through 2021.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor called the Associated Press report “wildly overwritten,” noting that “[a]s part of the NPR implementation study, [the Department of Defense] used a range of policy criteria to develop options for the presidential guidance that will be used to develop force structure, force postures, and stockpile requirements. The implementation study is still underway, and the Department of Defense has not yet presented the study to the president.”

In recent weeks, senior administration officials have indicated that the presidential review will open the way for further nuclear reductions. According to the Pentagon’s new defense strategy, released Jan. 5, “It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force.”

At a Nov. 2 hearing of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller said that based on options developed by a Pentagon study completed at the end of 2011, President Barack Obama would issue new guidance on nuclear weapons employment, force levels, and alert posture. (See ACT, December 2011.)

In a Feb. 15 session with reporters, Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said the NPR implementation study was necessary “homework” to help determine the contours of future negotiations with Russia on deployed, nondeployed, strategic, and nonstrategic nuclear weapons.

Some congressional Republicans were quick to react to the leaked account of the secret administration deliberations and the possibility of reductions to 300-400 deployed strategic warheads.

In a letter sent to Obama a day after the publication of the Associated Press story, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), strategic forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), and 32 other House Republicans wrote, “We seek your assurance…that you will cease to pursue such unprecedented reductions in the U.S. deterrent and extended deterrent.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who opposed New START, told the Associated Press, “A 300 number would [mean] the Chinese would have more than we have. I mean, this is a number where anybody that wanted to could build up to that number and be a peer with the United States.”

Currently, the only other nuclear-armed adversary of the United States other than Russia with nuclear warheads on intercontinental-range missiles is China, with an estimated stockpile of 40 to 50.

Miller said at a public forum on Feb. 15 that one of the options under consideration will be to remain at the 1,550 New START limit, but he suggested that getting below 1,550 is more likely, according to the Associated Press. The presidential review is expected to be completed this year.

The White House is “weighing options” for sharp reductions in U.S. nuclear forces as part of its study of how to implement the results of its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Associated Press reported Feb. 14.

Another Bahrain Arms Transfer Criticized

Farrah Zughni

Twenty-four members of Congress, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), have criticized a planned arms transfer to Bahrain, citing human rights concerns. Officials from the Obama administration briefed select members of Congress on the transfer in late January.

The dispute over U.S. policy on arms sales to Bahrain is the second in recent months. A proposed $53 million arms sale to Bahrain met with resistance on Capitol Hill for similar reasons late last year. (See ACT, November 2011.)

In a Feb. 14 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 24 legislators warned that because of reports of human rights abuses in Bahrain following popular uprisings last spring, even a limited sale sent “the wrong signal.” The lawmakers acknowledged that Bahrain had taken steps to address the problem, but said they would oppose any military sales until “there is more substantive and permanent progress.”

The Department of State has said it is in full compliance with its legal obligations with regard to the second arms package. “The items that we briefed to Congress were notified and cleared by [Capitol] Hill previously or are not large enough to require Congressional notification,” the State Department’s press office said in a Jan. 27 statement. The statement said the administration had “gone above and beyond what is legally or customarily required” in consulting with Congress on the deal. “This isn’t a new sale nor are we using a legal loophole,” the statement said.

Wyden said on Feb. 9 that he would continue to monitor the transfer and will gather a coalition to pressure officials if his concerns were not addressed.

Last June, Bahrain acceded to an investigation of human rights violations by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. The commission released a Nov. 23 report that verified many accusations and laid out steps for reform. The State Department has said it would assess Bahrain’s compliance with the commission’s recommendations and confer with Congress before proceeding with the $53 million sale.

Twenty-four members of Congress, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), have criticized a planned arms transfer to Bahrain, citing human rights concerns. 

Tauscher Leaves State Dept. Post

Daryl G. Kimball

Ellen Tauscher stepped down on Feb. 6 from her position as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security to serve as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense. Clinton tapped Rose Gottemoeller to be acting undersecretary while continuing to serve as assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance.

The Department of State announced the changes Feb. 7.

Gottemoeller, who led the U.S. team that negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, had assumed a lead role for the administration on its efforts to begin negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty and secure Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. She will advise Clinton on the full range of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament matters, the department said.

Tauscher, who successfully overcame esophageal cancer during her tenure at the State Department, decided it was time to scale back her schedule and will spend some of her time advocating for cancer patients and pursuing projects outside government, according to State Department sources cited in a Jan. 25 report in The Cable.

Ellen Tauscher stepped down on Feb. 6 from her position as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security to serve as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense. Clinton tapped Rose Gottemoeller to be acting undersecretary while continuing to serve as assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance.

U.S. Backs Efforts to Draft Space Code

Timothy Farnsworth

The United States will join with the European Union and other space-faring countries to develop an international code of conduct for outer space activities, but will not sign on to the EU’s current draft of a proposed code, U.S. officials have said.

“The long-term sustainability of our space environment is at serious risk from space debris and irresponsible actors…. A Code of Conduct will help maintain the long-term sustainability, safety, stability, and security of space by establishing guidelines for the responsible use of space,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a Jan. 17 press release. U.S. officials have discussed whether to support the EU’s draft of the code since the original version was circulated in December 2008. (See ACT, January/February 2009.)

The EU released the latest draft of the code in 2010 after receiving feedback from other countries, including the United States. That document retained much of the language from previous versions, including a clause establishing a voluntary commitment to refrain from intentionally harming space objects, measures to control space debris, and mechanisms for cooperation and consultation. It added language to protect countries’ rights to self-defense under the UN Charter. (See ACT, November 2010.)

Despite the negotiations between the United States and the EU, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher told reporters on Jan. 12, “It’s been clear from the very beginning that we were not going with the [EU] code.” When asked why the United States would not sign on to the EU draft, Tauscher said that “it’s too restrictive.”

Speaking a week later at the Stimson Center, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Space and Defense Policy Frank Rose said Tauscher’s comment was referring to the process surrounding the creation of the EU code more than the substance of the code. “Before you convene a multilateral ad hoc conference to sign the code, you need to develop a process in between to build consensus on a code,” Rose said.

In a Jan. 25 interview, Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center and director of its South Asia and space security programs, said that “leaders from other space-faring countries not in Europe, like India, rightly complained that they didn’t have co-authorship of the EU’s draft.” The code “already has important partnerships, like Japan, Canada, Australia, and Europe, but the task now is to get the concept of a code of conduct greater international standing,” Krepon said.

EU reaction to the U.S. decision not to sign on to the current draft of the code was “rather mixed and quite negative from the senior officials,” according to an EU government official familiar with negotiations over the proposed code.

According to the unclassified summary of the U.S. “National Security Space Strategy,” released in January 2011, space “is becoming increasingly congested, contested, and competitive.” The clutter of manmade objects is exacerbated by actions such as the “irresponsible” 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test that created more than 3,000 pieces of debris, the report said.

Next Steps

At the Stimson Center event, Rose said the EU will take the lead on negotiating an international code and plans to host a series of experts meetings over the next several months. The United States “plans to actively participate in those discussions,” which aim “to develop a consensus text that could become an eventual international code,” he said.

Rose said the United States hopes to involve all space-faring nations in the meetings, but he highlighted five countries that should be a focus of EU efforts: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and South Africa. However, experts say China and Russia are the two countries that matter most because they are the biggest space-faring countries after the United States.

In a Jan. 26 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior fellow in security studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, pointed to the fast-growing space programs in Asia and said that, “in the absence of an inclusive mechanism, the EU Code is likely to see a repeat” of the experience with the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, “where the majority of the Asian countries that contribute to the challenge of missile proliferation remain outside the mechanism.”

As Arms Control Today went to press, India had not come out with a formal position on the EU’s draft. However, India’s informal position is that the code lacks a provision for a legally binding mechanism, which has been “a long-standing demand from some of the Asian countries,” Rajagopalan said. Nevertheless, she said, India is “prudent” enough to “recognize that a legal framework may emerge much later” and legal frameworks often “are the by-products of normative exercises.”

Krepon said that any involvement by India to help draft an international code would be “a change in its strategic culture, which is currently to be an outsider and to complain,” citing India’s reluctance to participate in the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Space and its absence from the Hague Code of Conduct.

The GGE, which was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 65/68 in October 2011 to examine transparency and confidence-building measures, is scheduled to start in July 2012 and is expected to finish by July 2013. The GGE process is separate from the one that Rose proposed and is not a formal negotiating process. It is not clear whether the GGE process will include discussion of a code of conduct.

China and Russia have proposed their own space agreements, most recently a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). Rose stressed that the U.S. position is not to negotiate on the PPWT. The United States sees the code “as a pragmatic and responsible alternative to the PPWT,” he said. U.S. officials, including Rose, have said that the PPWT’s language is weak and lacks an effective mechanism for verification.

Domestic Politics

Four congressional Republicans expressed their support of the State Department’s decision on the EU code in a Jan. 28 letter to President Barack Obama, but said they were concerned about the administration’s plans to negotiate an international agreement similar to the EU’s draft.

“Such an international agreement could establish the foundation for a future arms control regime that binds the United States without approval of Congress,” said the letter signed by Reps. Michael Turner (Ohio) and Joe Heck (Nev.), and Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Jon Kyl (Ariz.). Turner, Heck, and Sessions hold senior positions on their respective chamber’s armed services or intelligence committees; Kyl is the Senate minority whip and a leading Republican voice on national security issues.

At the Jan. 19 Stimson Center event, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Gregory L. Schulte said nothing in the code would keep the United States from developing, deploying, or testing land or space ballistic missile defense systems. He said that any code would not be a legally binding arms control agreement, but a set of nonbinding “guidelines” that countries would follow.

The four lawmakers said in their letter that although “it is worth considering whether a non-binding arrangement for outer space activities could be in the interest of the United States, we are not comfortable that all policy and operational impacts of doing so have been assessed.” They went on to say that Republicans “are deeply concerned about the unknown consequences such limitations would have on future military or intelligence programs given that the draft Code appears to be of unlimited duration.”

The United States will join with the European Union and other space-faring countries to develop an international code of conduct for outer space activities, but will not sign on to the EU’s current draft of a proposed code, U.S. officials have said.

Officials Spell Out Nuclear Trade Policy

Daniel Horner

The Obama administration will not adopt a policy of insisting that countries renounce uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing as a condition for concluding agreements for nuclear cooperation with the United States, two senior administration officials said in a Jan. 10 letter to Capitol Hill.

The letter, which indicates the results of a long-running internal policy review, has sparked criticism across the political spectrum.

Since at least the fall of 2010, there has been debate within the administration over whether the United States should press its potential nuclear partners to give up enrichment and reprocessing. (See ACT, October 2010.) The model for that approach is the May 2009 U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

That pact contains a UAE commitment not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing; if the UAE broke that commitment, the United States would have grounds for terminating the agreement. The UAE had previously adopted a national policy renouncing enrichment and reprocessing in favor of reliance on international fuel supplies, but the agreement “transform[ed] the UAE policy into a legally binding obligation,” according to President Barack Obama’s message conveying the agreement to Congress. (See ACT, June 2009.)

In the statement, Obama said the pact “has the potential to serve as a model for other countries in the region that wish to pursue responsible nuclear energy development.” A Department of State spokesman in 2010 referred to the UAE agreement as the “gold standard.”

In the Jan. 10 letter, which first was reported by Global Security Newswire, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher say they will “pursue 123 agreement negotiations on the basis of a case-by-case review.” Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act requires the United States to have a nuclear cooperation agreement with any country with which it conducts nuclear trade.

Referring to a January meeting with Vietnam about a potential 123 agreement, Poneman and Tauscher said U.S. negotiators would “lay out a spectrum of options for addressing enrichment and reprocessing.”

In a Feb. 14 letter to Poneman and Tauscher, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sharply questioned this approach. “Given that it is unlikely that many countries will freely impose binding restrictions on themselves when given a choice, any request by the U.S. that they do so would be interpreted by all as little more than a pro forma exercise,” she wrote.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, published an article on the Web site of The National Interest calling on Obama to reverse the policy. “If he does not, Congress must provide needed leadership,” he said.

In a joint opinion piece in The Christian Science Monitor, John Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security under President George W. Bush, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) criticized the Obama policy and endorsed legislation introduced in the House last year that would toughen the congressional review process for 123 agreements that did not follow the UAE model. The bill, which was introduced by Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking member of her committee, was approved by the panel last April, but has stalled since then. The Obama administration and the nuclear industry have raised objections to it.

Critics have portrayed the policy articulated in the Poneman-Tauscher letter as a reversal, but administration officials have disputed that characterization. In remarks at a Feb. 16 nuclear policy conference in Arlington, Va., and an interview afterward, Poneman said that “it always has been U.S. policy” to approach 123 agreements case by case. With regard to the UAE, he noted that it had adopted a national policy first and the Obama administration “chose to acknowledge [the UAE’s] domestic decision.” There is “nothing that stops us from doing that again,” he said.

“The constant is we should do whatever minimizes the spread of the dangerous technologies” and should use whatever means are “most effective to achieve that end,” he said.

At a Feb. 15 breakfast meeting with reporters, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman said the letter “does not mean in any way that [the United States is] retreating” from its commitment to nonproliferation.

He said that “other countries are not interested in imposing this requirement” to give up enrichment and reprocessing. The United States “should not make a blanket statement that will lock ourselves out of certain markets” and remove its “ability to influence choices other countries are making” with regard to the nuclear fuel cycle, he said.

In part because 123 agreements give the United States this influence, it is important for the U.S. nuclear industry to be able to “compete on a level playing field,” he said. The United States has “an interest in having as many of these [123] agreements as strongly worded as possible,” he said.

He added that 123 agreements are “only one, and I would say not the most important, means of addressing our concerns” about the spread of enrichment and reprocessing. He cited in particular the agreement last year by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to revise its guidelines for exports relating to enrichment and reprocessing.

In their article, Bolton and Markey said the policy described in the Poneman-Tauscher letter “may expedite the profitability of [123] agreements for the nuclear industry, but will do so at the expense of US and world security.”

Carol Berrigan, senior director of industry infrastructure and supply chain at the Nuclear Energy Institute, said in a Feb. 14 interview that the industry sees its role as being a “responsible partner” with the U.S. government in developing nuclear relations with other countries. She said she viewed the Poneman-Tauscher letter as a “reaffirmation” of a “pragmatic” policy.

The Obama administration will not adopt a policy of insisting that countries renounce uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing as a condition for concluding agreements for nuclear cooperation with the United States, two senior administration officials said in a Jan. 10 letter to Capitol Hill.

Dutch to Host ‘14 Nuclear Security Summit

Kelsey Davenport and Daniel Horner

The Netherlands has agreed to host a nuclear security summit in 2014, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Jan. 31 press release.

The invitation to hold the third such meeting was extended to the Dutch by the United States and South Korea. Washington was the site of the first nuclear security summit, in April 2010; Seoul is scheduled to host the second one March 26-27.

According to the Dutch press release, the Netherlands viewed the request to host the summit as “a sign of trust” and cited the prevention of nuclear and radiological terrorism as a “top priority” for the country. South Korea will transfer the chairmanship to the Netherlands at the Seoul summit, the release said.

The 2014 nuclear security summit could be the last, a prospect raised in comments last October by Gary Samore, the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism. (See ACT, November 2011.) In comments Feb. 16 at a nuclear policy conference in Arlington, Va., Laura Holgate, the National Security Council’s senior director for WMD terrorism and threat reduction, said countries will “take stock” of where they are in 2014. Samore and Holgate are the top officials representing the United States at preparatory meetings for the Seoul summit.

In his April 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama announced a four-year effort to “secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world.” The participants in the 2010 summit endorsed that goal.

Holgate said the benefits of “leader engagement”—bringing heads of states and government together to focus on nuclear security—would have to be weighed against the possibility of “leader fatigue.”

New Countries

Fifty-three countries are expected to attend the Seoul summit, the summit secretariat said in a Feb. 23 press release, an increase of six from the roster at the Washington summit. The new countries are Azerbaijan, Denmark, Gabon, Hungary, Lithuania, and Romania, the release said.

Representatives from Denmark and Lithuania joined sherpas, or lead government negotiators, from the 47 Washington participants for a preparatory meeting on the Seoul summit in New Delhi, according to a Jan. 17 statement by Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai at the end of the two-day meeting.

The four international organizations that will attend the summit— the European Union, the International Atomic Energy Agency, INTERPOL, and the United Nations—also sent representatives to New Delhi.

In his statement, Mathai touched on several topics that were discussed and considered for inclusion in the summit communiqué. These topics include two areas, security of radiological sources and “strengthening the synergy” between nuclear safety and security, that are expected to receive greater attention in Seoul than they did at the Washington summit. The communiqué also is expected to contain measures on managing and minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU), combating illicit trafficking, and promoting information security, transport security, and international cooperation.

The sherpas will meet one final time in Seoul prior to the summit to finalize the communiqué.

NTI Index

Meanwhile, the nongovernmental Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) called attention to the positive impact of the nuclear security summit process on fissile material security, saying in a January report that the summits “facilitated a growing awareness and understanding” of the potential threat posed by nuclear materials.

The focus of the report is the NTI’s Nuclear Materials Security Index, which the group prepared in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit. The index analyzes and assesses conditions for nuclear material security in 176 countries.

The index assessed 32 countries possessing more than one kilogram of HEU or separated plutonium across five categories: quantities of nuclear materials and sites, security and control measures, adherence to global norms, domestic commitments and capacity, and societal factors. An additional 144 countries were evaluated on adherence to global norms, societal factors, and domestic commitments and capacity.

Although the report ranks countries by their scores in each category, the NTI said in a Jan. 27 statement that regardless of ranking, “all countries must do more” and that one of the main goals of the index was to facilitate discussion on nuclear material security priorities.

The report includes recommendations on actions that countries can take to strengthen nuclear material security. It describes the Seoul summit as a potential opportunity for creating a global system for “tracking, protecting, and managing” nuclear materials. This process would begin by establishing a global consensus on priorities, tracking actions taken by countries, and building international confidence through the promotion of increased transparency.

In a Jan. 11 press conference launching the index, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), the co-chairman and chief executive officer of the NTI, said he hoped the index would help “shape discussions” at the Seoul summit and serve as a guide for individual countries and the international community to “set up priorities beyond the summit.”

Nunn and NTI Senior Director for Nuclear and Bio-Security Deepti Choubey said there eventually should be a global standard for nuclear material security. With such a standard in place, “we’d be able to do a far better job of holding states accountable, and we’d also be able to track progress,” Choubey said. The index provides a “framework” to think about the issue, she said.

The Netherlands has agreed to host a nuclear security summit in 2014, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Jan. 31 press release.


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