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"No one can solve this problem alone, but together we can change things for the better." 

– Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Survivor
June 6, 2016
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

U.S. Shifts Its South Asia Nuclear Policy

Moving away from the Clinton administration’s nuclear policy toward South Asia, the Bush administration has apparently decided not to try to persuade India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or to give up their nuclear weapons programs.

In a June 18 meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Abdul Sattar, Secretary of State Colin Powell did not raise the issue of CTBT signature, according to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. When asked during a press briefing the next day whether Indian and Pakistani adherence to the CTBT is still a priority for the United States, Boucher responded, “The important thing to the United States is that nuclear developments not be carried any farther, and to that extent, the emphasis that we place on this in this administration has been that there not be any further testing.”

The Bush administration’s approach contrasts with that of the Clinton administration, which actively tried to convince India and Pakistan to go beyond their testing moratoria—declared by both states following their May 1998 nuclear tests—by signing the CTBT. To realize this objective and other nuclear-related goals in the region, the Clinton team conducted years of bilateral meetings with both states.

The Bush administration also seems to have shifted from the Clinton administration’s ultimate goal of persuading the two South Asian states to relinquish their nuclear weapons programs. At a June 9 press conference in Finland, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the United States and “other interested countries” should encourage India and Pakistan to “learn that is it possible to live with nuclear weapons and not to use them.” Rumsfeld said he hoped that the two countries could “develop a stable situation” like that of the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. When asked if Rumsfeld’s remarks indicated a policy change, the Pentagon said it was not prepared to comment.

The First 100 Days

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

From an arms control perspective, the first 100 days of George W. Bush's presidency have been a disaster. President Bush has demonstrated that he believes, and intends to implement, his campaign rhetoric condemning past arms control accomplishments and even the concept of arms control itself. Unless he changes direction, Bush will have effectively demolished the arms control regime that has been painstakingly built over the past 30 years.

Bush's intentions became clear when he surrounded himself with advisers drawn almost exclusively from a small circle of individuals who share the belief that arms control is fundamentally contrary to U.S. interests because it places limits on U.S. development and deployment of weapons. Supremely confident of U.S. economic, technological, operational, and moral superiority, these advisers would prefer to forego constraints on the military programs of potential adversaries than to reduce U.S. military flexibility.

The principal target of this undisguised animosity toward arms control has been the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This treaty, negotiated by President Richard Nixon and overwhelmingly ratified in 1972, stands in the way of Bush's announced intention to move as quickly as possible to deploy a robust national missile defense (NMD) system. Such an NMD system would be antithetical both to the treaty's blanket prohibition on systems to defend the entire territory of either the United States or Russia and to practically every specific provision of the treaty.

Recognizing that the ABM Treaty cannot be amended to accommodate a robust defense, Bush has set the stage for withdrawal from the treaty. While this is within a president's constitutional powers, it is not a trivial act. In fact, there is no precedent for U.S. withdrawal from a formal ratified and deposited arms control treaty. President Ronald Reagan, despite his enthusiasm for a "Star Wars" defense, never proposed withdrawing from the ABM Treaty.

Bush's distaste for treaties has not been limited only to the ABM Treaty, but has also extended to formal restrictions on strategic offensive weapons. He calls for unilateral reductions, claiming formal treaties take too long to negotiate. Were he willing to use his influence with Senator Jesse Helms, START II could be brought into force promptly and START III negotiations could be undertaken immediately. Vague promises of unilateral reductions reflect the desire to maintain maximum flexibility in structuring U.S. forces with no constraints on future deployments. Freedom of action is given higher priority than the START II provisions eliminating Russia's 150 remaining 10-warhead SS-18 ICBMs as well as MIRVed SS-24s and SS-19s, and banning deployment of future MIRVed Topol-M land-based ICBMs.

In rejecting formal treaties, Bush abandons agreed verification procedures that will become increasingly important at lower force levels, as will specific provisions to guard against rapid breakout changing the strategic balance. In charting the nuclear future, Bush has apparently forgotten the admonition of President Reagan: "Trust but verify."

True to campaign rhetoric, the Bush administration states it will not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on the spurious grounds that testing is required for stockpile safety and reliability. The administration apparently wishes to be in a position to test new types of weapons for new missions, such as low-yield earth-penetrating weapons.

As further evidence of his disdain for arms control agreements, Bush chose not to continue the promising negotiations, inherited from the Clinton administration, aimed at eliminating North Korea's ballistic missile development program and its missile exports. His personal public rejection of even attempting a diplomatic solution to this important problem was widely seen as reflecting not only a lack of interest in arms control but also a desire to maintain North Korea as a threat to justify his costly missile defense plans, as opposed to eliminating the threat at little or no cost through diplomacy.

The proposed 2002 budget for the Department of Energy includes substantial cuts for programs to reduce the leakage of materials and personnel from the Russian nuclear program. Coming on the heels of an independent bipartisan commission's recommendation to increase substantially the funding for these programs, one wonders about the administration's commitment to meaningful unilateral actions.

To say the least, the first 100 days have not augured well for arms control. The promised light at the end of the tunnel is not a glimpse of a new post-Cold-War, laissez-faire military paradise where the United States can do whatever it pleases, but rather an oncoming locomotive portending a disastrous collision with reality. Surely, President Bush does not want to be remembered as the man who killed arms control and replaced it with an ineffective defense in a world of military anarchy.

From an arms control perspective, the first 100 days of George W. Bush's presidency have been a disaster. President Bush has demonstrated that he believes, and intends to implement, his campaign rhetoric condemning past arms control accomplishments and even the concept of arms control itself. Unless he changes direction, Bush will have effectively demolished the arms control regime that has been painstakingly built over the past 30 years. (Continue)

Toward a New Nuclear Posture: Challenges for the Bush Administration

Robert Kerrey and William D. Hartung

After almost a decade of gridlock on U.S. strategic policy, President George W. Bush's mid-February decision to undertake an immediate review of the U.S. arsenal with an eye toward making deep cuts in nuclear weapons was a welcome step in the right direction. More than five decades into the atomic age, a radical downsizing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is long overdue.

But overhauling the U.S. nuclear posture presents considerable challenges. To ensure that the current review does not simply end up ratifying a "Cold War lite" nuclear stance, as occurred when the Clinton administration undertook a similar review, Bush and his top national security advisers need to take charge of the review process by setting clear goals and challenging the shopworn, status quo assumptions of the nuclear bureaucracies at the Pentagon and the Department of Energy. Strong presidential leadership is a basic precondition for achieving substantial reductions in U.S. nuclear forces.

Furthermore, if President Bush is serious about his pledge to "discard Cold War relics and reduce our own nuclear forces to reflect today's needs," it will also be essential to incorporate the views of members of Congress, non-governmental analysts, and experts who have been involved in the development of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear policy in past administrations. Without a well-informed national debate about what purpose, if any, nuclear weapons should serve in a revised U.S. national security strategy, the political consensus needed to support real changes in U.S. policy will not be achieved.

Perhaps the most basic challenge of all for the Bush administration will be deciding whether it wants to take a unilateralist approach to U.S. nuclear policy that relies on an ambitious missile defense program and the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, or a more cooperative stance in which the United States takes the lead in promoting reductions in global nuclear stockpiles by updating and expanding upon existing arms control agreements. As part of the posture review, the Bush administration will have to think hard about the value of pursuing a complex, costly, and unproven missile program that could become an obstacle to U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions and a catalyst for a major buildup of Chinese nuclear forces.

 

A Decade of Delay

Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the risk of a nuclear attack is still the single greatest threat to our national survival. Yet since 1993, when President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed START II, further reductions in Washington's and Moscow's arsenals of nuclear overkill have been held hostage to political posturing, bureaucratic inertia, and short-term thinking.

On the U.S. side of the nuclear divide, both major political parties bear a share of the responsibility for what is now nearly a decade of missed opportunities for nuclear arms reductions. The Clinton administration was far too timid in its own reassessment of U.S. nuclear deterrence needs, and its "go slow" approach to nuclear reductions was exacerbated by the actions of Republicans on Capitol Hill, who joined together with a number of their Democratic colleagues to pass annual legislation that prevents the president from reducing U.S. strategic forces below START I levels of 6,000 warheads or from taking U.S. forces off high-alert status.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, harsh political battles between President Boris Yeltsin and opposition parties in the Duma repeatedly delayed Russian ratification of START II, which would reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 3,000-3,500. It was not until Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president that the arms control logjam in Moscow was pried loose. In March 2000, the Duma ratified both START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) just in time for the review conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The presentations at that conference served as a good illustration of the nuclear inertia that plagued the 1990s, especially on the U.S. side. While Russian representatives came to the NPT review conference with two freshly ratified arms control treaties in hand, the senior U.S. representative to the conference, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, had nothing to show in the way of new U.S. commitments to nuclear reductions since the previous review meeting in 1995. To make matters even worse, the negative international repercussions of the U.S. Senate's October 1999 vote against ratification of the CTBT still lingered.

In an effort to put the best possible face on this embarrassing situation, the State Department put up an impressive exhibit at UN headquarters in New York detailing the thousands of nuclear weapons that the United States had withdrawn from service and dismantled during the 1990s. But the well-crafted presentation left out one important point: all of the reductions implemented during the Clinton administration were carried out pursuant to arms reduction agreements that had been negotiated prior to its tenure, during the Reagan and Bush administrations. On the critical issue of achieving further reductions in the size of the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles, the Clinton administration had basically been treading water.

An important reason for the "decade of delay" in nuclear arms reductions was the Clinton administration's mishandling of the 1994 nuclear posture review. According to analyst Janne Nolan, what started out as a fundamental review of the U.S. nuclear posture in the first year of the new administration degenerated under the weight of "bureaucratic inertia and a lack of presidential leadership" into an extremely cautious set of recommendations suggesting "no significant changes in the nuclear posture of Clinton's predecessors."1

Clinton's first secretary of defense, Les Aspin, and the assistant secretary in charge of overseeing the review, Ashton Carter, initially conceived of it as an effort to seek a wide range of options for restructuring U.S. nuclear forces, including the possibility of making major changes, such as the complete elimination of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. When push came to shove, however, these new ideas were forcefully opposed by mid-level Pentagon officials, and Carter was not given sufficient support from senior levels of the administration—up to and including the president—to overcome this intense bureaucratic resistance.2

By contrast, when George Bush's administration conducted a similar review, the president, then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell were all closely involved in the process. That high-level focus allowed for significant changes in the size of the U.S. nuclear target list. As a result of its lack of firm leadership from the top, the Clinton administration missed an historic opportunity to promote deep cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and to parlay those cuts into political leverage over other nuclear-armed nations and aspiring nuclear powers.

This is not to suggest that the Clinton record on nuclear arms control was without accomplishment. Vice President Al Gore did important work in helping to broker the denuclearization of the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and the administration's consistent support for cooperative threat reduction programs provided important resources for the destruction of Soviet delivery vehicles and the control of bomb-grade fissile materials. Through the Agreed Framework, the administration was able to stop Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and in subsequent negotiations it made significant progress toward an agreement to cap North Korea's ballistic missile programs. But much more could have been accomplished if the president and his top advisers had made nuclear arms reductions a political priority.

 

A Fresh Perspective

On May 23, 2000, in the face of ongoing questions about whether he had sufficient foreign policy expertise to serve as president, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush made an appearance at the National Press Club to present his vision of a new U.S. nuclear policy. In an attempt to add gravitas to the proceedings, Bush was joined by a group of distinguished Republican foreign policy experts, but the event proved to be more than just another campaign photo opportunity. Bush used the speech to challenge the existing orthodoxy on U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

While a significant portion of the speech was devoted to reiterating Bush's controversial proposal for the deployment of an extensive national missile defense system, the most forward-looking elements of his statement were his endorsement of reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles to "the lowest possible number consistent with our national security" and his call for removing "as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status." In direct contradiction to the stance adopted by his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, who had been obstructing efforts to reduce deployed U.S. forces below START I levels of 6,000 warheads, Bush suggested that "it should be possible to reduce the number of American nuclear weapons significantly further than has already been agreed to under START II without compromising our security in any way." Early on in the speech, Bush struck a conciliatory tone toward Moscow, observing that since "Russia is no longer our enemy…[o]ur mutual security need no longer depend on a nuclear balance of terror." In perhaps the most memorable phrase of the speech, Bush argued that unnecessary weapons based on outmoded targeting scenarios are nothing more than "the expensive relics of dead conflicts."

His decision shortly after taking office to order a serious review of the U.S. nuclear posture suggests that Bush's speech was more than just an exercise in campaign rhetoric designed to demonstrate that he was "up to the job" of serving as commander-in-chief. The question is whether the elements of the president's nuclear policy can be fashioned into a coherent, constructive whole. As currently envisioned, the Bush policy has a fundamental contradiction: his administration's enthusiastic embrace of missile defenses, combined with its denigration of long-standing arms control arrangements, could spark a new arms race that would undercut the rationale for his commitment to constructive measures such as deep cuts and de-alerting.

It remains to be seen whether President Bush can find a way to harmonize the contradictory strands in his emerging nuclear doctrine. His choice of long-time missile defense advocate Donald Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense indicates a strong commitment to this element of his proposed nuclear policy. Since taking office, Rumsfeld has attempted to create an air of inevitability about U.S. deployment of long-range missile defenses by suggesting that the issue is no longer whether the United States will deploy such a system but when. He has alternated between harsh anti-arms control rhetoric—such as his comment during his confirmation hearings that the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is "ancient history"—and more conciliatory statements, such as his reference in those same hearings to the need to "refashion the balance between defenses and deterrence."

If Rumsfeld truly seeks a balance, rather than pursuing missile defenses regardless of the economic, diplomatic, and security costs, then the Bush agenda of security-enhancing nuclear reductions may be achievable. But a unilateral decision to deploy missile defenses regardless of the concerns expressed by Russian officials would almost inevitably provoke Moscow to modernize its nuclear missile forces and keep a significant proportion of them on high-alert status. Furthermore, a National Intelligence Estimate assessing the potential security impact of U.S. deployment of a missile defense system conducted last year reportedly indicated that an abrupt U.S. decision to deploy missile defenses would probably spark an increase in the nuclear and missile forces of China, Pakistan, and India.3

Under this turbulent scenario of nuclear arms buildups and the hawkish domestic political climate that would likely follow, it is hard to see how a policy of deep reductions in U.S. nuclear forces would be sustainable. And even if the Bush administration could make some cuts in our own arsenal in the face of Russian and Chinese nuclear expansion, the net result would hardly be a safer world. Pursuing missile defenses as a fallback against rearmament in an environment of deep cuts or elimination of current arsenals would be one thing, but pursuing them without serious regard for the likely response of other nuclear powers can only serve as an obstacle to what should be the overriding goal of U.S. policy: to safely eliminate as many nuclear weapons as possible, not only in the United States, but in all states with nuclear weapons.

Despite these contradictions, Bush seems serious about pursuing deep nuclear reductions, but there is a danger that the administration may pursue changes to the nuclear arsenal that are destabilizing and dangerous, rather than security enhancing. The administration's nuclear review will reportedly lean heavily on the findings of a January 2001 report by the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP).4 The NIPP report was directed by Keith Payne, who was the co-author of an infamous 1980 essay on U.S. nuclear policy that ran in Foreign Policy magazine under the ominous title "Victory Is Possible." Among the participants in the study panel were Stephen Hadley and Robert Joseph, both of whom are now responsible for nuclear policy issues at the National Security Council.

The NIPP report sheds important light on the "unilateralist" strain in the thinking of key Bush advisers. The report's basic thrust is in an era of strategic uncertainty, when the United States is not even sure who its adversaries may be, it needs the flexibility to reduce or reconstitute its nuclear forces as circumstances require, ideally without the limits imposed by negotiated arms control agreements. Part of this new "flexibility," the report suggests, includes developing "future deterrent and wartime roles" for U.S. nuclear weapons that would include the following: using U.S. nuclear weapons to deter other nations from undertaking an attack on the United States using chemical or biological weapons; employing U.S. nuclear weapons to limit U.S. casualties in a major conventional conflict; and using U.S. nuclear weapons for "special targeting requirements," such as attacking hardened underground military and command facilities.5

If the thinking reflected in the NIPP report were to become the basis for the Bush nuclear policy, the security benefits derived from reducing U.S. nuclear forces could be canceled out by the new dangers inherent in a policy which legitimizes the use or even the threat of use of nuclear weapons in certain regional conflict scenarios. This would be a disastrous doctrine. It would likely spur nuclear proliferation and it would contradict the U.S. commitment under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear arsenal, a commitment that was reaffirmed at the 2000 NPT review conference.

Thankfully, it appears that the Bush administration is not of one mind on the issue of making "usable," low-yield nuclear weapons the centerpiece of a new U.S. nuclear doctrine. Secretary of State Colin Powell, for example, decided against using or threatening to use nuclear weapons in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In his best-selling memoir, Powell traces his own reservations about the wisdom of using nuclear weapons in a wartime role to a discussion he had during a 1986 war-gaming exercise that involved using battlefield nuclear weapons to blunt a Soviet conventional attack on West Germany: "No matter how small these nuclear payloads were, we would be crossing a threshold. Using nukes at this point would mark one of the most significant political and military decisions since Hiroshima…. At that point, I began rethinking the practicality of these small nuclear weapons."6

Hopefully, Powell's practical views on issues ranging from the CTBT, which he has supported in the past, to the need to continue the dialogue with North Korea about capping its ballistic missile programs, which has been put on hold by the president despite Powell's advice to the contrary, will ultimately prevail within the Bush administration. If the nuclear unilateralists prevail, President Bush's pledge to cut U.S. nuclear arsenals and reduce global nuclear dangers may never come to fruition.

 

Outlines of a New Policy

The most important contributing factor to the success of the Bush administration's proposal to reduce nuclear dangers will be its diplomatic approach. The president will have to demonstrate that the United States is serious about using its current position of unparalleled strength to exert genuine international leadership. The United States must be perceived as willing to use its unprecedented power for the common good of the international community, not just for its own self-interest, narrowly defined. The provocative, unilateralist tone that has colored recent remarks by Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, is liable to provoke a political and military backlash from allies and adversaries alike. The more moderate, cooperative stance struck by Powell is far more likely to yield positive results in reducing global nuclear dangers. The question is, which approach will President Bush adopt?

The key area in which the issue of unilateralism versus cooperative leadership will come into play is the question of national missile defense (NMD). If the goal of NMD is to reduce the threat of a ballistic missile attack on the United States, it makes eminent sense to vigorously pursue diplomatic preventive measures now, before nations of concern have developed the capability to reach U.S. soil with a nuclear-armed ballistic missile. If President Bush wants to supplement his program of nuclear reductions by developing a national missile defense system, he must do so in a realistic fashion that takes into account the limits of existing technologies, the costs of the proposed system, and the impacts on arms control and the behavior of potential adversaries.

Most experts agree that it will take at least five to 10 years to develop even a modest capability to knock down a handful of incoming warheads. In the time it will take to see if such a system is worth deploying, we can and should be making great strides toward reducing the nuclear threat using all the other tools we have at our disposal—diplomatic, legal, and economic. If we do our work well, in five years time the need to construct a missile defense system to overcome the nascent threats from North Korea, Iran, or Iraq may be rendered moot by changes in the local, regional, and international political landscapes. Whatever difficulties or obstacles may arise, it would be irresponsible not to pursue all reasonable channels for stemming the proliferation of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in tandem with any missile defense development effort.

Reducing nuclear weapons will also require enlightened leadership on the domestic front. As an integral part of the nuclear posture review, President Bush should immediately direct the secretary of defense to brief every member of Congress on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), the Pentagon's top secret nuclear target list. Unless members of Congress understand the enormity of our current arsenal and the awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons at a gut level, they will not understand the urgent need for action, nor will they be willing to provide the resources required for safe reductions of global arsenals. When the principal author of this article served as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he repeatedly sought a briefing from the Pentagon on the SIOP but was never granted one. As of this writing, it is not clear whether any current member of Congress has had such a briefing. At a minimum, members of the intelligence, armed services, and defense appropriations committees of the House and Senate should receive such a briefing as a first step toward piercing the veil of secrecy and bureaucratic privilege that has contributed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal at dangerously high levels.

As a major step toward reducing and eventually eliminating our own nuclear arsenal (as we have committed to doing under the NPT), the Bush review should consider moving toward a minimum deterrent posture involving hundreds, not thousands, of nuclear warheads. Just one of our Trident submarines can launch up to 192 independently targetable warheads, each with a yield approximately 30 times as powerful as the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Two or three of these submarines should provide more than enough destructive power to deter any nation from contemplating a nuclear attack on the United States, its allies, or its forces. A minimum deterrent posture would also entail changing the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons so that U.S. nuclear weapons would only be used to deter or retaliate against the use of nuclear weapons against U.S. territory or allies. U.S. conventional forces are sufficiently powerful and resilient to provide a deterrent or retaliatory capability against a state wielding chemical or biological weapons and perhaps even against a nation with a small nuclear arsenal.7

As for the question of reducing U.S. forces unilaterally, President Bush should consider the approach taken during his father's administration, in which reciprocal unilateral steps by Washington and Moscow were utilized as a way to speed the process of nuclear reductions, not as an alternative to arms control agreements. The firestorm of criticism from allies and potential adversaries alike over the Bush administration's suggestion that it might break out of the ABM Treaty gives a preliminary indication of how dangerous and unpredictable a world without nuclear arms control arrangements could be. Provoking an environment of nuclear anarchy is not in the interests of the United States or any other nation. As the world's pre-eminent military power, the United States actually has more to lose under an "every nation for itself" approach to nuclear weapons development and deployment than virtually any other state.

Along with any reductions it pursues in the U.S. arsenal, the Bush administration should also ease Russian nuclear cuts through a major expansion of the Nunn-Lugar threat reduction program, which has been providing several billion dollars per year to assist Russia in dismantling nuclear weapons and safely disposing of bomb-grade fissile materials. President Bush expressed support for the Nunn-Lugar concept during the campaign. It is now time to back up that commitment. Hopefully, the recent revelations regarding a review of U.S.-Russian programs in this area represent a good faith effort to fine tune the Nunn-Lugar program in ways that make it more effective, not the beginning of an attempt to reduce resources devoted to these activities, which have contributed to the deactivation of more than 5,200 Russian nuclear warheads and 400 long-range missiles.

Unfortunately, reports emerged at the end of March that the White House Budget Office is contemplating steep cuts in key cooperative threat reduction initiatives, including a sharp decrease in the program designed to help Moscow control and account for its bomb-grade nuclear materials. If implemented, these cuts would directly contradict the recommendations of a recent bipartisan panel co-chaired by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN), which recommended a $30 billion increase in Nunn-Lugar-style programs over the next decade to head off a situation in which Russia could become "a virtual 'Home Depot' for would-be proliferators."

Finally, as part of the nuclear posture review, the president should move swiftly to implement his campaign pledge to take as many U.S. nuclear weapons as possible off high-alert status. As long as the United States and Russia maintain such large nuclear arsenals, the prospect of an accidental launch is real, as we learned a few years back when President Yeltsin reportedly came close to ordering an attack on the United States after Russian radars mistook a Norwegian satellite launch for a U.S. missile attack. General Lee Butler, the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, has spoken of the "mind-numbing compression of decision-making under threat of a nuclear attack," in which the decision to launch a nuclear-armed missile must be made within a matter of minutes. It is in no one's interest—not in Washington, not in Moscow, not in Beijing, not anywhere—for the decisions on whether to use these devastating weapons to continue to be made on such short notice.

We should seize the occasion of the nuclear posture review to reinforce the most positive elements of President Bush's proposal: his calls for immediate, substantial reductions in the U.S. arsenal and de-alerting of as many U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons as possible. But to accomplish this worthwhile goal and break the nuclear gridlock that has paralyzed nuclear reduction efforts for nearly a decade, the president will need to curb the unilateralist impulses of a number of his key advisers and build upon this nation's bipartisan record of arms control and arms reduction initiatives.

In doing so, President Bush will have ample precedent in the record of Ronald Reagan, who began his time in office pursuing an across-the-board modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and an expansive missile defense shield but ended up putting missile defense on the back burner and agreeing to the elimination of theater nuclear forces in Europe and, in principle, to substantial reductions in long-range Soviet and U.S. nuclear forces. We can only hope that President Bush will be as creative in adapting to the circumstances and opportunities of our era as President Reagan was in the 1980s. If so, his vision of a safer world with far fewer nuclear weapons can and will be realized.

 

NOTES

1. Janne E. Nolan, "Preparing for the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review," Arms Control Today, November 2000, p. 13.

2. For a thorough analysis of the 1993-1994 nuclear posture review, see Janne E. Nolan, An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security after the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1999), p. 35-62.

3. See, for example, Bob Drogin and Tyler Marshall, "Missile Shield Analysis Warns of Arms Buildup," The Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2000, p. A1.

4. Steven Lee Myers, "Bush Takes First Step to Shrink Arsenal of Nuclear Warheads," The New York Times, February 9, 2001, p. A1.

5. National Institute for Public Policy, Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, Volume I, Executive Report, January 2001.

6. Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995), p. 313.

7. For more on this latter point, see the interview with General Lee Butler in Jonathan Schell, The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Now (New York: Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 1998), p. 203-205.

 


Robert Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, is president of New School University. William D. Hartung is president's fellow and director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at New School University's World Policy Institute.

Helms Asks Administration to Reject Arms Control Treaties

Philipp C. Bleek

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has asked the Bush administration to formally reject a range of international agreements, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a 1997 package of agreements concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines.

Helms' request was made in a March 12 letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and first reported March 29 by Knight Ridder. In the letter, Helms complains about the Clinton administration's neglect of the Senate in the treaty-making process and says that "the administration's sorely misguided arms control policies" must be "undone."

A Bush administration official declined comment but emphasized that the status of various agreements was under consideration in the context of ongoing reviews.

Noting the opposition of both the president and the secretary of defense to the test ban and Powell's January 17 pledge not to seek the treaty's approval during the 2001-2002 Congress, Helms called on the administration to "articulate a new policy on nuclear testing, to withdraw the U.S. signature from the CTBT, and to terminate funding to CTBT organizations." Although he does not support the test ban, President George W. Bush has pledged to maintain the testing moratorium initiated under his father's presidency.

Despite the Senate's October 1999 rejection of the test ban, the United States has continued to fund the CTBT Organization Preparatory Commission, which is currently assembling a network of sensors that will serve as the treaty's "eyes and ears" to verify compliance. While most experts think that the United States benefits from the verification resources the treaty provides even though it has not ratified the treaty, Helms argued at a March 29 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the resources do not benefit and may actually hamper the U.S. intelligence community's efforts to monitor other nations.

On the package of ABM Treaty agreements—which designate Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan as successor states to the Soviet Union for the purposes of the treaty and delineate boundaries between theater and strategic missile defenses—Helms said, "It is my hope that your administration will repudiate these agreements." Arguing that the agreements perpetuate a defunct Cold War treaty that unduly constrains U.S. missile defense efforts, Helms has long called for their submission to the Senate for advice and consent and has pledged to reject them at that time.

Urging that the Ottawa Convention be formally repudiated, Helms also called on the administration to "end all efforts to bring the U.S. into de facto compliance with that treaty" and to cease "de-mining activity on the margins of Convention conferences." The Clinton administration declined to sign the 1997 convention but pledged that the United States would do so by 2006 if "suitable alternatives" to landmines could be fielded by that time.

Helms called on the State Department to re-examine the adaptation agreement to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty—a 1999 update to a 1990 agreement that sets ceilings on conventional force deployments in Europe. He also wants the department to reassess an "additional safeguards" protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was signed in June 1998. Neither agreement has yet been submitted to the Senate.

In his letter, Helms argued that the U.S.-Russian agreements on plutonium disposition and early warning, which were signed by the Clinton administration, "must be submitted to the Senate if the U.S. is to pursue implementation." However, striking a different tone, he noted that Senate approval of the agreements is "likely" if "significant technical issues" are resolved. (See ACT, January/February 2001 and July/August 2000.)

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has asked the Bush administration to formally reject a range of international agreements, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Shalikashvili Issues Report Supporting Test Ban Treaty

January/February 2001

By Philipp C. Bleek

Concluding that the "advantages of the test ban treaty outweigh any disadvantages" and calling for bipartisan efforts to forge an "integrated proliferation strategy for the new century," General John Shalikashvili formally presented his report on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to President Bill Clinton on January 5. (See p. 18 for the full text of the report.)

In the report, Shalikashvili, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, identifies what he deems the most "prominent" concerns raised during the Senate's October 1999 debate on treaty ratification. These include whether the CTBT has "genuine non-proliferation value," whether "cheating" could threaten U.S. security, whether the United States can maintain the safety and reliability of its nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing, and whether to adopt a test ban of unlimited duration.

Shalikashvili puts forward a series of detailed recommendations that include increasing bipartisan and allied support for non-proliferation, enhancing U.S. capabilities to detect and deter nuclear testing and "other aspects of nuclear proliferation," improving stewardship of U.S. nuclear weapons, and addressing concerns about the treaty's indefinite duration through a joint executive-legislative review 10 years after the treaty's ratification and at "regular intervals thereafter." The last recommendation would "go farthest toward addressing concerns about the Treaty's indefinite duration," according to Shalikashivili.

Shalikashvili also uses the report to make treaty-related remarks on U.S. military policy, observing that it would not be in the United States' security interest to assign a "high profile role" to nuclear weapons in the U.S. military posture. "Any activities that erode the firebreak between nuclear and conventional weapons or that encourage the use of nuclear weapons for purposes that are not strategic and deterrent in nature would undermine the advantage that we derive from overwhelming conventional superiority," the general notes.

The report's publication effectively concludes Shalikashvili's tenure as special adviser on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright requested in January 2000 that the general undertake a year-long effort to explore concerns about and build bipartisan support for eventual ratification of the test ban, which the Senate rejected in a largely party-line vote in October 1999. (See ACT, September/October 1999 and January/February 2000.)

President-elect George W. Bush has said he opposes CTBT ratification, though he has pledged to continue the testing moratorium begun under his father, former President George Bush. Bush's nominee for secretary of state, General Colin Powell, has previously spoken in favor of the agreement, while Condoleezza Rice, his choice for national security adviser, and Donald Rumsfeld, his nominee for defense secretary, do not support the treaty.

Shalikashvili Issues Report Supporting Test Ban Treaty

The Uncertain Future of U.S.-Russian Cooperative Security

Kenneth N. Luongo

In 1991, Congress created a fledgling effort aimed at controlling the nuclear chaos that threatened to erupt from the newly disintegrated Soviet Union. Then known as the Nunn-Lugar program, this initiative has grown over the past 10 years into a cooperative, multipronged attack on proliferation problems in Russia and the independent states. At a cost of about $1 billion per year, this pre-emptive threat reduction represents a small investment of U.S. funds that has paid, and continues to pay, significant dividends for international security.

However, the cooperative security effort is now facing serious political, bureaucratic, and implementation challenges that are encroaching on progress and threatening to smother future cooperation. Major issues, like the Russian reaction to a U.S. decision to abandon the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty or the U.S. response to Russia's continued military cooperation with Iran, could destroy this delicate agenda.

These and other issues will require President-elect George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin to make a judgment about the importance of the cooperative security agenda and a choice about its future.

Down one path is continued, though undoubtedly incremental, progress that ultimately will change the face of the nuclear danger if pursued with perseverance and a spirit of cooperation and compromise by all parties. Down the other path is the threat that resurgent security forces, festering political insecurity, and deepening distrust will choke off meaningful cooperation and with it this unique opportunity to reduce the danger of nuclear proliferation. The choice that ultimately is made will signal to the world how the United States and Russia view the role of nuclear weapons in the new millennium and indicate whether the Cold War is a historical remnant or just in remission.

 

A Unique and Sensitive Agenda

The cooperative security agenda, while addressing biological and chemical weapon dangers, is primarily focused on containing the threat of nuclear proliferation from Russia. The scope of these activities can generally be grouped into five categories: stabilizing, transforming, and downsizing the Russian nuclear weapons complex; securing Russian nuclear material, warheads, and technologies; limiting production of fissile material; disposing of excess fissile material; and establishing transparency in the nuclear weapons reduction process. Virtually all of these collaborations were unthinkable during the Cold War. (For a complete listing of U.S.-former Soviet Union cooperative programs, see table below.)

Though a number of the cooperative security programs are codified in some type of U.S.-Russian agreement (most signed at the ministerial level), many of these activities are not governed by the formal arms control agreements that were the hallmark of U.S.-Soviet interactions. This less formal approach may make the continuation of the programs in a crisis more problematic, but it also has created an important new thread in the fabric of U.S.-Russian relations, one that has provided a key underpinning during times of tension.

Despite its positive aspects, the agenda itself is very sensitive. Many projects touch on highly classified military activities. For example, there is a significant effort to improve the security of Russia's bomb-grade nuclear material, the vast majority of which is stored in the closed cities of the nuclear weapons complex. During the Cold War, these cities were among the most secretive locations in the Soviet Union. Today, U.S. specialists travel to them on a regular basis, though these visits remain of special concern to Russian security forces.

The sensitivity of the cooperative agenda transcends its actual programmatic components and encompasses intangible issues like recognizing the Russian need to maintain a feeling of national pride while participating in threat reduction efforts and the need to sustain mutual respect and trust among the Russian and U.S. participants. Without Russian participation, the cooperative nuclear security agenda would wither and die.

To facilitate implementation, an effort has been made to treat this cooperation as a primarily technical matter. This allows specialists of like mind, such as nuclear scientists or military officers, to interact on an equal level. This approach has gradually opened up the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship in unprecedented ways.

But, it is important to remember that the openness and access ultimately were made possible by political leaders with the vision and commitment to clearly see the benefits of this cooperation and the courage to make the difficult decisions to support it even when strong bureaucratic actors opposed them.

Up to now, no crisis in U.S.-Russian relations has significantly derailed the cooperative security agenda.1 Even the damaging rift that opened over the bombing of Yugoslavia only slowed the pace of some activities and led to the temporary suspension of some low-level projects on the Russian side—it did not result in the elimination of any of them. However, U.S.-Russian relations are deteriorating, and as new and controversial issues emerge, the chances for this work to be curtailed have increased.

 

Political Deterioration and Linkages

The cooperative security agenda was initiated during George Bush's presidency, but most of its development was the product of the Bill Clinton-Boris Yeltsin years. Their relationship was well known for its comity, and Yeltsin often responded positively to the many proposals of the Clinton administration to increase cooperation on nuclear security and transparency issues. During the mid-1990s, there were many new proposals for cooperation and many high-level political discussions of this agenda. This high-level approval was necessary to provide cover and impetus to the Russian bureaucracy to participate in many of the programs. Without this political stimulation, some key parts of the Russian bureaucracy might have been content to limit cooperation to non-sensitive issues.

However, the political circumstances that supported the initiation and growth of this agenda have dramatically changed, ushering in a new era of U.S.-Russian relations. Unfortunately, this new relationship may be more prone to undermining cooperation than promoting it.

 

Russian Reservations

Russia derives significant benefits from cooperative security activities, as a number of ministries and numerous weapons scientists receive vital financing to implement cooperative programs. However, there is a growing suspicion about cooperative activities in some quarters of Russia, and a number of concerns about the future of the cooperative security agenda have arisen. These include questions about the penetration of U.S. specialists at sensitive facilities, the true financial benefit of the cooperation, and the political implications of continuing the cooperation with a new Bush administration that seeks a more distant, and potentially more hostile, relationship with Russia.

In the Russian view, one serious concern is the possible, though unlikely, decision by the United States to return to a limited nuclear testing regime. It concerns the Russians that the United States has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and that President-elect Bush does not support the treaty. Also, some U.S. nuclear weapons scientists have been agitating for a return of testing. U.S. testing could, of course, loose the pent-up demands to test in the Russian nuclear weapons establishment and set off an action-reaction cycle that would destroy more than the cooperative security agenda.

Perhaps more significant would be a U.S. decision to build a ballistic missile defense system outside the scope of the ABM Treaty and over the objections of Russia. Such action is being contemplated by the new Bush national security team.2 This would almost certainly cause a wholesale re-evaluation of the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship and the possible reversal of existing arms control agreements, undermining the foundation upon which cooperative security programs are built and possibly leading to the suspension of some, or all, forms of cooperation.

There have not yet been specific threats against the cooperative agenda as part of the potential Russian reaction to a U.S. decision to abrogate the ABM Treaty. However, Russia's commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Vladimir Yakovlev, has stated that Russia would consider increasing the number of warheads on its intercontinental missiles (an action inconsistent with START II) and possibly withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.3 Putin, in a May speech to the Duma, said that if "the United States decides to destroy the 1972 ABM Treaty…we will withdraw not only from the START II treaty but also the whole system of treaties on limitation and control of strategic and conventional weapons."

Putin's threats should not be completely dismissed as rhetoric, as he has been very shrewd in managing Russia's nuclear policy. He supported the ratification of START II and then challenged the United States to agree to deeper strategic nuclear force cuts to a level of about 1,500 warheads—a proposal that U.S. officials rejected despite its international resonance.

Putin endorsed the ratification of the CTBT, an action that the United States had been urging on Russia for years. But he did so in the wake of the Senate defeat of the treaty, turning the tables and putting the United States on the defensive.

He has also engaged in a diplomatic offensive, aimed at NATO allies, against the proposed U.S. national missile defense and has been successful in generating support for continued adherence to the ABM Treaty.

On the cooperative security agenda, Putin has indicated support for those programs which bring financial benefit to Russia, but he has made no significant policy statement on his view of the importance of overall U.S.-Russian non-proliferation cooperation. This allows him to reap the benefits of the cooperation while satisfying the concerns of the domestic security forces.

For example, Putin supports the highly enriched uranium (HEU) purchase agreement. This agreement provides Russia significant funds to blend-down its weapons uranium. In fact, the $12 billion that Russia is scheduled to receive under the HEU purchase agreement dwarfs all other U.S. funding in this area. Further weapons reductions and dismantlements (in line with Putin's 1,500-warhead proposal) could free up even more weapons uranium for sale under an expanded HEU deal.

He also has made supportive statements about the need to dispose of excess plutonium. This is a financial windfall for Russia as the Western nations have pledged to build a facility that could convert the plutonium into reactor fuel. And Russia may be able to lease the fuel to European nations.

Putin has also spoken out in favor of the need to shrink the Russian nuclear weapons complex. This is another cost-saving measure, though he emphasized the need for Russia to retain strong nuclear weapons capability at the end of the process.

Putin, however, has infused life into once moribund security organs, which have placed pressure on the ministries cooperating with the United States to demonstrate the benefits and the legal basis for the cooperation. The Russian bureaucracy has responded with caution and, in the future, the benefits of this agenda may be limited if controversial new activities need to be negotiated through the formal arms control process.4

The Russian parliament may support a more cautious approach to cooperation that allows the financial support to flow but sensitive activities to slow. The Russian Duma in particular has raised questions about some aspects of the cooperative agenda, though it has not been outwardly obstructionist. For example, the Duma has not ratified the 1999 protocol extending the Nunn-Lugar umbrella agreement, as required under Russian law, but it has not impeded the collaborations governed by this agreement either. Obviously, the parliamentarians are influenced by the deteriorated U.S.-Russian relationship and the suspicions of the security forces, but they have perhaps more important considerations. Their constituents may blame Washington for the depressing economic condition of Russia and be generally hostile to cooperation with the United States.

 

U.S. Frustration

For the past decade, the United States has clearly articulated that it is engaged in cooperative security activities because they serve its security interests. But this attitude may be changing, particularly because of Russia's continuing relationship with Iran in the ballistic missile, conventional weapon, and nuclear spheres. The U.S. bureaucracy, which in some quarters seems to be tiring of the effort required to make many of the cooperative programs work, now seems bent on linking U.S. participation in cooperative programs to the Russian-Iranian relationship.

A major difficulty concerns Russia's continued cooperation with Iran on the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. This plant, begun by the Shah and then abandoned, has been under refurbishment by Russian specialists in an effort to construct a functioning 1,000 megawatt light-water reactor. The U.S. government is convinced that the process of rebuilding the plant and associated activities is aiding Iran's nuclear weapon ambitions. The Russians deny the charge, but it is clear that before the United States began to emphatically oppose the project the Russians seemed willing to provide uranium mining and enrichment assistance, which would have had clear proliferation benefits for Iran.

While the fight over Bushehr has resulted in an informal stalemate between the two countries that has in essence allowed Bushehr to continue but has forbidden expansion, rumors and assertions continue to be made that more dangerous cooperation is occurring.

Recently, a controversy erupted over the proposal of Russian officials to ship a laser isotope separator to Iran. Such equipment can be useful in uranium enrichment. Currently the shipment is frozen, but it may not be for long. New concerns also include Russia's decision to renege on a U.S.-Russian agreement to limit the sale of conventional weapons to Iran and a possible decision by Russia to construct additional nuclear reactors in Iran.

Frustrated by these activities, U.S. government officials are for the first time considering moving beyond institute-specific cutoffs in cooperation and curtailing or possibly suspending some cooperative nuclear security programs with Moscow. In fact, the U.S. bureaucracy may have already succeeded in pushing for a ban on new activities until the United States receives satisfaction on Iran.

For example, in January 1999, the United States imposed economic sanctions against three scientific institutes for providing sensitive missile and nuclear assistance to Iran. The effect was that negotiation was suspended on at least one significant cooperative security project at a prominent Russian nuclear institute. This incident made clear that the United States was willing to take the first steps toward linkage by cutting off cooperation with specific institutes based on Russian-Iranian activities even if it meant delaying a program important to its security.

In 2000 the United States took another step in this direction and conditioned funding for a new project desired by the Russians for the development of a proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel cycle to the termination of Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran beyond Bushehr. Ultimately, Congress decided not to fund the project because of concerns about continued Russian-Iranian cooperation.

Continuing to hammer away at Russia's relationship with Iran may be counterproductive for a number of reasons, including the fact that withholding support for cooperative programs could actually increase Iran's chances of obtaining weapons material from Russian facilities and accelerate its weapons objectives.

There also are some technical arguments that counter the U.S. position. For example, some argue that Russian reactor assistance will not materially aid Iran's nuclear weapon aspirations because the reactor will be under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Also, Moscow asserts that the power level of the controversial laser is below the threshold specified by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and that its transfer is therefore not formally banned. Finally, Russia's relationship with Iran has deep roots and it provides Russia with significant military, diplomatic, and economic benefits.5

If explicit political linkage is made between the continuation of cooperative programs and Russia's relationship with Iran, it would be a potent sign that the safe harbor cooperative security programs have inhabited may no longer be off limits. The creation of linkages could begin a death spiral for the cooperative agenda, and once destroyed, it is not clear that it could be reconstructed.

 

The Bush Challenge

The incoming Bush administration now has the opportunity to rescue this agenda but it has not sent a completely clear signal on how it might approach the task. On the one hand, during the campaign George W. Bush made positive statements about continuing the cooperative nuclear security agenda. In a November 1999 foreign policy address, he singled out the Nunn-Lugar program as a greater priority than START II ratification in Russia and applauded the security improvements that are being made at Russian nuclear facilities. He also stated that as president he would ask the Congress to substantially increase U.S. assistance to Russia to allow for the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons as rapidly as possible.

On the other hand, the Bush campaign made a point of attacking the Clinton-Gore approach of active engagement with Russia. In his speech accepting the nomination as secretary of state, General Colin Powell stated that Russia is not an enemy of the United States, but not yet a strategic partner. The incoming national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, has stated that the United States should consider withdrawing from its engagement in Russian domestic politics.6 However, dealing with Russia from arms length may not be conducive to cooperative security progress.

For example, it is not apparent that U.S.-Russian non-proliferation cooperation can be divorced from Russian domestic realities. Russia's proliferation problems are directly fueled by its financial difficulties. Eliminating U.S. support for domestic economic aid to Russia could plunge the nation back into financial crisis, especially if oil prices drop, which could in turn reverse the non-proliferation gains of the last decade.

Perhaps more importantly, because of the economic dimension of the proliferation danger, a reduction in U.S. financing for nuclear security in Russia could lead to a greater reliance than currently exists on exporting dangerous technologies to third countries to generate cash. This would facilitate the spread of proliferation problems globally and further increase tensions between the United States and Russia.

One possibility is that the Bush approach to Russia could mutate after he takes office, much as Clinton position on China changed. During the 1992 campaign, Clinton constantly attacked the Bush administration's position on China. But once in office, he recognized the consequences of allowing China to drift away from U.S. influence and ultimately sought accommodation with Beijing.

Congress may well welcome a harder line toward Russia. In the late 1990s, Congress seems to have become increasingly hostile toward Russia for a number of reasons: the Republican control of the House and Senate has strengthened isolationist inclinations; the end of the Cold War has left some politicians seeking enemies; reports of corruption in Russia are rampant; many believe that Russia's export policies on missiles, conventional weapons, and nuclear technologies have promoted proliferation among America's opponents; Russia has overtly continued intelligence gathering in the United States, as exemplified by the bugging of a State Department conference room; Russia has opposed what many consider important U.S. actions and interests; and it has prosecuted a brutal war in Chechnya.

All of these issues affect the atmosphere in which the Congress considers the proliferation dangers that Russia poses. In general, however, despite reservations about Russia's transition and its domestic and international activities, Congress has been willing to approve the funds necessary to implement existing programs.7 And while Congress has instituted new reporting requirements and fences on some expenditures, it has exempted these programs from the most onerous hurdles placed in front of economic aid to Russia. But it is important to note that, while most existing cooperative programs are supported, new proposed activities face significant scrutiny and opposition in some key quarters of Congress. However, the even division among Republican and Democratic senators and the tight Republican margin in the House may ease congressional skepticism in the coming year.

 

Implementation Conflicts

In tandem with the problems caused by U.S.-Russian relations, the implementation of the cooperative programs has run into difficulty. Currently, there are three major issues that need immediate attention: the question of access to facilities, the Russian share of expended funds, and the lack of a cohesive strategy.

Since the start of Nunn-Lugar, the United States has been insisting on access to Russian facilities, claiming that it needs to make sure its funds are being spent appropriately. The Pentagon's Cooperative Threat Reduction program requires audits and inspections by U.S. officials. The Department of Energy programs traditionally employed a more flexible but effective standard, but recently, the United States has become more rigid and very insistent on access to sensitive Russian facilities. The Russians have resisted because they fear U.S. intrusion could compromise classified information and facilitate spying and because they already have less access to U.S. facilities than the Americans do to Russian facilities.8

It is not completely clear why the U.S. position has become so hardened on the access issue, but it is clear that a balanced solution to the problem must be found. The United States has legitimate requirements to be assured that its funds are being used properly and Russia has legitimate security concerns. But a continued impasse will become destructive to the interests of both sides. Fortunately, there is some recent evidence that flexibility is creeping back into favor, though no concrete progress has yet been demonstrated.

The access issue is also related to the percentage of U.S. funds for cooperative security programs that actually are transferred to Russia. Moscow continually complains that not enough money is spent in Russia—a serious problem given the country's financial crisis.

Independent analysis has supported some of the Russian complaints. For example, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that 57 percent of the funds appropriated to the Department of Energy (DOE) to increase the security of Russian fissile material were spent in the United States.9

There are a number of reasons why the financial disparity between the United States and Russia exists. Some internal resistance in the bureaucracy, particularly within the Defense Department, to making money available to Russia was related to the original Nunn-Lugar legislation's "Buy American" provisions. Also, in some cases where there is a desire to purchase Russian equipment and services for specific missions, problems have arisen that take time to solve, for example, qualifying certain equipment for the mission. Finally, U.S. contractors and national laboratories are important but expensive partners with the government in the implementation of these programs.

It is obviously in the U.S. interest to devote more funds to Russia. It is often less expensive for Russians to do certain kinds of work and, more importantly, it provides financial incentives that facilitate the cooperation—there is some evidence (for example, from the HEU purchase agreement) that increasing the flow of funds to Russia can ease access concerns. Fortunately, change is underway as U.S. agencies respond to GAO recommendations to increase the percentage of their spending in Russia. And Congress, determined to ensure that more is spent in Russia, has now has begun to limit how much of these funds can be spent in the United States.

A third major problem is that the United States lacks a cohesive strategy for tackling the broad span of Russia's proliferation problems—the last comprehensive U.S. non-proliferation policy document was completed in 1993. This lack of strategy encourages bureaucratic infighting, promotes programmatic overlap, and limits needed budgets.

Entreaties to produce a new integrated strategy focused on Russia's proliferation problems have been resisted inside the White House and the departments, which prefer to maintain strict control over their programs. Even some Russians have indicated a willingness to think about a new integrated strategic approach, perhaps one that includes European governments and non-governmental organizations.10

The lack of strategy is partly caused by the lack of a clear coordinator for cooperative security activities. There has never been an National Security Council staff person who had the cooperative agenda as his main responsibility, despite congressional support for such a position. The secretary of defense must deal with the far-flung operations of the U.S. military services, and the roughly $400 million spent per year on the Cooperative Threat Reduction program is only a bit more than one-tenth of one percent of the overall defense budget. Similarly, the secretary of state has many international concerns and the financial stake of that department in the cooperative programs is much smaller than other agencies.

So, almost by default, in the past it has fallen to the secretary of energy to serve as the most active promoter and defender of the cooperative agenda inside the U.S. government—partly because the secretary's international role is somewhat limited, though very focused on nuclear issues, and also because the DOE budget for cooperative security activities is substantial. But the Energy Department is not as powerful as the departments of Defense or State, and recently it has been consumed with security scandals. So the ability and the power of the energy secretary to serve in this role has been limited, particularly in the second Clinton administration.

 

Recommendations for Renewal

Despite the problems and politics, it is important for the United States and Russia to remain engaged on the cooperative security agenda. But Washington and Moscow must recognize that the agenda's energy is flagging and that steps must be taken to renew its vitality and ensure its future effectiveness:

 

  • Review all of the cooperative nuclear security programs to assess their strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures. The focus should be on eliminating overlap, identifying lessons learned, and determining how to use this knowledge to solve current and future problems. This review should include the views of specialists outside the governments who may have a broader perspective on this cooperation than the government program managers. This review should also include an examination of the intangible benefits such as the maintenance of relationships that never existed before and the difficulty of rebuilding the agenda if it is somehow destroyed. Both governments should consider creating a permanent advisory board that could assist with the agenda.
  • Integrate all of the programs into a cohesive strategy. There was a time when programs needed to be allowed to grow independently in order to facilitate progress, but the artificial separation between these programs needs to be ended. In the United States, all of these efforts should be guided by a new Presidential Decision Directive that can bring order and facilitate progress. Congress desires a more cohesive explanation of how all the pieces fit together, and there are synergies among the programs that are being missed because of the separation. It is not necessary to consolidate all of the activities in one or two agencies. What is more important is that the work takes place as part of an integrated security strategy with strong and enlightened high-level leadership.
  • Ban linkages and conditionality to other political disputes. No step has yet been taken down the slippery slope of linking continued funding or participation in cooperative security programs to other political disputes. But this situation could change. The U.S. bureaucracy is inching in this direction on Iran, and it could take advantage of potential early confusion in the Bush administration to make this connection. The Russians are also considering possible responses to the U.S. push for a new missile defense system, including curtailment of cooperation. For almost a decade these efforts have been divorced from political disagreements between the United States and Russia, and violating this protected status could cause the elimination of the entire agenda.
  • Generate new political leadership. The significant expansion of the cooperative security agenda and the progress that has been made on it have been substantially facilitated by political relationships and leadership in the United States and Russia. In times when this political leadership has been lacking on one or both sides, progress has lagged and problems have festered. This agenda needs to be carried out on multiple levels and the technical implementation is essential. But, if success is going to continue, the management of the effort must not be left only to the technocrats and bureaucrats. There must be active political engagement at the White House, cabinet, and sub-cabinet levels in the U.S. government and in Russia as well. It could also be beneficial if European governments and Japan showed greater political interest in this work. Leadership from these quarters could buffer the cooperative security agenda during periods of severe U.S.-Russian conflict and provide a safety net that would allow for continued progress.
  • Expand the funding and scope of the agenda. At current funding levels, the effort to improve the security of Russia's nuclear knowledge, warheads, and fissile material is significant but inadequate given the proliferation danger. Budgets should be at least doubled. Current activities could use the additional funds to accelerate progress and new initiatives could be created. The scope of expanded activities that could be undertaken is quite substantial.11 And some new activities could expand the agenda into currently uncharted waters—for example, cooperating on improving the safeguarding of deployed, missile-based nuclear weapons. This could decrease the chances of accidental or unauthorized launch of weapons on hair-trigger alert.12
The cooperative security agenda has grown from a good idea into a significant set of activities. Political change in the United States and Russia is raising questions about the future of this work and its path forward is not clear at this time. What is clear is that there are severe consequences for eliminating or slowing major parts of this agenda. Russia controls the vastest nuclear complex, maintains the biggest nuclear arsenal, and possesses the largest stockpile of fissile material on earth. These assets are currently not adequately secure and this poses an obvious threat to international security. A major security crisis would result if just a small fraction of the weapon and material inventories leaked out. Effectively reducing and protecting these inventories, redirecting major parts of the weapons complex, and preventing sensitive scientific and technology leakage is, and must remain, a top U.S. and Russian security priority.

U.S.-Former Soviet Union Cooperative Security Programs
Department of Defense Programs

Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs

Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination: This project is underway in both Russia and Ukraine. In Russia, it will continue the dismantlement and destruction of Russian ballistic missile submarines, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and ICBM silos. As part of this effort, Congress has provided funding to support the dismantling and disposal of nuclear submarines and submarine reactors in the Russian Far East.

Funding for the Ukrainian component will be used to continue the elimination of SS-24 ICBMs and silos and Blackjack and Bear heavy bombers and associated air-launched cruise missiles. A substantial portion of the work to eliminate SS-24 silos and heavy bombers has already been completed.

Nuclear Weapons Storage Security: This project procures and delivers security enhancements to protect nuclear weapons at Russian storage buildings and facilities, assists in the development of an automated warhead inventory and control system, and provides polygraphs and other equipment to assess the reliability of personnel responsible for warhead security.

Nuclear Weapons Transportation Security: Russian nuclear warheads are shipped over thousands of kilometers each year from deployed locations to storage sites and dismantlement facilities. This project assists in the maintenance of high-security railcars and provides security force training equipment, as well as other communications, diagnostic, and emergency equipment.

Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility Construction: Assistance is being provided for the construction of an advanced, high-security fissile material storage facility in Mayak, Russia, that will store material from approximately 12,500 dismantled nuclear warheads.

Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility Transparency: This effort aims to achieve agreement with Russia on transparency measures to verify the weapons origin of material stored at the Mayak storage facility.

Preparing Dismantled Warheads for Storage: This program supports the provision of fissile material storage and transportation containers that will facilitate the packaging of plutonium and highly enriched uranium from dismantled Russian warheads in safe and secure containers before they are delivered to the Mayak fissile material storage facility.

Plutonium Production Reactor Core Conversion: Russia continues to operate three weapons-grade plutonium production reactors (two in Seversk, one in Zheleznogorsk) because they provide heat and electricity for nearby cities. The United States and Russia have agreed that Moscow must end the plutonium production and shut down the reactors when replacement energy sources have been constructed. This program, carried out in cooperation with the Energy Department, provides assistance that will be used to either convert the reactors' cores (to allow them to operate but not produce weapons-grade plutonium) or replace the reactors with fossil fuel energy sources.

Chemical Weapons Security and Destruction: The United States funds the implementation of safety and security improvements at Russian chemical weapons storage sites. It has funded the design of a pilot chemical weapons destruction facility in Shchuch'ye, Russia, that would have allowed Moscow to eliminate half of its most modern artillery- and rocket-launched chemical weapons.

Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention: This project supports joint research with the United States at former Soviet biological weapons institutes on biological defense, the enhancement of physical security at former Soviet facilities containing biological agents of concern, and the elimination of biological warfare infrastructure.

Defense and Military Contacts: This project nurtures the relationship between the U.S. and Russian military communities, assists Russia in restructuring and downsizing its defense establishment, encourages support for reform, and helps the Russian military to better understand Western society, including civil-military relations.

 

Other Department of Defense Activities

Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation: This joint U.S.-Russian-Norwegian program helps mitigate environmental damage caused by military operations in Russia's Arctic region, concentrating on areas such as radioactive waste processing, spent nuclear fuel storage, and radiation safety and monitoring.

International Counterproliferation Program: This program represents a merger, effective FY 2001, of two counterproliferation programs—one run by the Defense Department and the FBI, the other operated by the Defense Department and Customs Service. These programs provide training, technical assistance, and equipment to law enforcement, border, and customs officials in former Soviet states to deter, detect, and prevent smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.

 

Department of Energy Programs

Material Protection, Control, and Accounting: This program provides for continued installation of security, control, and accounting equipment to help safeguard the 650 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials stockpiled in former Soviet states. It also finances the consolidation of nuclear materials into fewer sites and buildings, eliminates some highly enriched uranium (HEU) by diluting it to non-weapons grade material, completes security upgrades on nuclear material transport trucks and railcars, and conducts training and education projects. Program funding is also used to increase security at Russian Navy nuclear sites.

Nuclear Cities Initiative: This initiative seeks to help downsize and redirect the Russian nuclear weapons complex by developing alternative employment for 30,000-50,000 Russian nuclear weapons scientists and technicians at 10 "closed cities."

Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention: This program facilitates commercial ventures between U.S. businesses and former Soviet chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons institutes. About 70 percent of the funding is used to engage scientists and workers from former Soviet nuclear institutes in commercial projects, while the remaining 30 percent is used to develop commercial activities for scientists from former Soviet chemical and biological weapon institutes.

Export Control Development and Second Line of Defense: These endeavors assist former Soviet states in establishing and enhancing nuclear material and technology export control systems by helping officials establish the necessary legal and regulatory framework and by training and equipping customs service and border police to detect nuclear smuggling.

BN-350 Project: This project packages spent fuel containing weapons-grade plutonium at Kazakhstan's BN-350 breeder reactor on the Caspian Sea and supports shipment of the packaged material to a more secure site at Semipalatinsk, in northern Kazakhstan.

Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement Transparency: The United States funds activities to provide confidence that Russian low-enriched uranium sold to the United States Enrichment Corporation under the Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement (see below) is derived from HEU removed from dismantled Russian weapons.

Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors: This program seeks to help Russia convert its research and test reactors so they use low-enriched uranium fuel instead of HEU fuel. Support aids in developing the replacement low-enriched uranium fuel and preparing the reactor cores to accommodate the new fuel type.

Plutonium Disposition: This program will facilitate the final disposition of 34 tons of excess Russian and U.S. weapons-grade plutonium. Multilateral financing, including U.S. funding, will assist Russia in constructing a warhead disassembly and conversion facility and a mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility. Also, the program helps coordinate and provide technical support to Russian disposition plans.

Warhead Dismantlement Transparency: This initiative is designed to sustain a technical dialogue between U.S. and Russian experts on nuclear warhead dismantlement processes and technical approaches for a potential warhead dismantlement monitoring regime.

 

Long-Term Non-Proliferation Initiative for Russia: The Department of Energy requested $100 million in FY 2001 for this program, which includes several new projects. Congress agreed to provide funding for the following activities:

Prevention of Civil Plutonium Separation: Designed to stop further civil plutonium reprocessing at Russia's RT-1 plant at Mayak (where about one ton of plutonium is annually separated from used nuclear reactor fuel), this project will help design, license, and construct a dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.

Spent Fuel Storage and Repository Cooperation: This project will support initial research on a geologic repository in Russia to dispose of high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel. A center for geological repository technology will be established in Russia to develop a scientific plan, conduct feasibility studies, and perform site selection assessments. In addition, funds may support feasibility studies for a spent fuel storage facility if Russian law is amended to allow the import of foreign spent nuclear fuel.

Research Reactor Spent Fuel Acceptance Program: This program will facilitate Russian acceptance of HEU fuel from Soviet-designed and supplied reactors outside of Russia. Funds will be used to conduct negotiations with participating countries, conduct vulnerability assessments of HEU stockpiles in those countries, assess fuel loading and transportation needs, procure equipment, assist in packaging and transport, and help initiate a pilot fuel loading and shipment project at a high-priority reactor.

Material Protection, Control, and Accounting and the Nuclear Cities Initiative: Congress increased funding to broaden material protection, control, and accounting activities (including expanded activities at Mayak and development of a plutonium stockpile registry) and to expand the Nuclear Cities Initiative to facilitate an accelerated closure of the Russian nuclear weapon production plants at Avangard and Penza-19.

 

State Department Programs

Science Centers: The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow and the Science and Technology Center of Ukraine provide short-term grants and contracts that enable former Soviet weapon scientists and experts to direct their efforts toward civilian activities.

Export Control and Border Security Assistance: This effort supports a range of efforts in former Soviet states, including improving export control institutions, infrastructure, and legislation; facilitating implementation of export control systems related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) regimes; and enhancing WMD smuggling detection and interdiction capabilities.

Redirecting Biological Weapon Scientists: This program, implemented primarily through the ISTC, increases scientific collaborations and provides assistance to redirect scientists in former Soviet biological weapons facilities to commercial, agricultural, and public health work. The State Department implements this program in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration).

 

Non-Government Programs

Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement: This program, while governed by a bilateral government agreement, is carried out in the private sector and is not regularly funded by the U.S. government. The United States Enrichment Corporation purchases from the Russian government low-enriched uranium converted from HEU and fabricates it into light-water reactor fuel that is sold to reactor operators.

Civilian Research and Development Foundation: While it receives annual funding from the State Department, the Civilian Research and Development Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit foundation created by the U.S. government to respond to the declining status of science and engineering in former Soviet states. One of its primary missions is to advance the redirection of weapons scientists to civilian work. —William Hoehn and Christopher Ficek, RANSAC

 

Milestones in Cooperative Nuclear Security

The Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction policy began as a congressional initiative in November 1991, one month before the Soviet Union collapsed. Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) built a bipartisan plan that would use defense dollars to assist Russia and the other former Soviet republics in reducing the threat posed by the legacy of the Soviet nuclear arsenal.

Dubbed "defense by other means," the program's first success came in 1992, when Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan agreed to return to Russia the nuclear weapons they had inherited from the Soviet breakup and accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states. During 1993, Russia agreed to allow the United States to buy 500 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for use in commercial reactor fuel, and Washington and Moscow signed an accord to build a fissile storage facility in Russia.

Cooperation intensified in 1994 as U.S. and Russian laboratories began working directly with each other to improve the security of weapons-usable nuclear materials. In June, the two countries reached an agreement to halt future Russian weapons-grade plutonium production. Assistance to the former Soviet scientific community, first offered through the creation of an international science center in 1992, expanded during this year when weapons scientists and technicians were invited to participate in the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, which focused on the commercialization of non-weapons technology projects.

As the policy's breadth grew, implementation responsibilities diversified within the administration. In the fall of 1994, the Defense Department relinquished administrative and funding responsibilities of several Nunn-Lugar programs to the departments of Energy (MPC&A) and State (the international science centers). The spread of responsibility to more organizations weakened policy cohesion and coordination, but the diversification further entrenched the cooperative security agenda in the U.S. bureaucracy.

Between April 1995 and November 1996, the last nuclear warheads in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus were removed. In June 1995, the first shipments of Russian HEU began arriving in the United States. In September 1996, Congress passed legislation sponsored by Nunn, Lugar, and Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) that expanded the original Nunn-Lugar efforts and sought to improve the U.S. domestic response to threats posed by weapons of mass destruction.

Russia and the United States agreed in September 1997 to revise their original plutonium production reactor agreement and focus on converting the cores of the Russian reactors, thus facilitating the end of plutonium production. By September 1998, the United States and Russia had agreed to the Nuclear Cities Initiative, a new program aimed at assisting the downsizing of the nuclear weapons complex and the creation of alternative employment for excess weapons specialists.

In 1999 the Clinton administration unveiled the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative, which expanded funding and extended the programmatic lifespan of many existing cooperative security programs. Congress also provided funds to facilitate a future plutonium disposition agreement and to save the HEU deal, which had run into serious implementation problems. In June 1999, the United States and Russia agreed to extend the Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement, which governs Pentagon activities such as strategic arms elimination and warhead security. This was followed by the signing of an October 1999 agreement covering MPC&A cooperation, and in 2000 the United States and Russia agreed to a new fuel-cycle initiative and signed a plutonium disposition agreement providing for the elimination of 34 tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium by each country. —Christopher Ficek, RANSAC

NOTES

The author would like to thank Kelly Turner, a Scoville Fellow at RANSAC, for her research assistance.

 

  1. For a brief description of the Russian debate on continuing cooperation on nuclear threat reduction during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, see Yevgeny Maslin, "The CTR Program and Russia's National Security Interests," Yaderny Kontrol Digest, Winter 2000.
  2. A description of the Bush approach to the future of the ABM Treaty can be found in "Presidential Election Forum: The Candidates and Arms Control," Arms Control Today, September 2000.
  3. Oleg Odnokolenko, "Russia Can Be Drawn Into a Ruinous Arms Race," RAI Novosti, June 22, 2000.
  4. See David Hoffman, "In Russia, Spies Come In From Cold: Security Services Revived Under Putin," The Washington Post, December 8, 2000; and Rose Gottemoeller's presentation in "205 Days of Putin: Geopolitics and National Security," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace panel discussion, November 28, 2000.
  5. An overview of Russia's views on relations with Iran can be found in "205 Days of Putin: Geopolitics and National Security"; Andrei Zobov, Russian Assistance to Iran's Nuclear Program: U.S. Reaction and View From Moscow, Kurchatov Analytical Center for Nonproliferation and Control, December 2000 (unpublished); and Brenda Shaffer, "Washington Cannot Stop Russian Deal With Tehran," International Herald Tribune, December 28, 2000.
  6. See John Lloyd, "The Russian Devolution," The New York Times Magazine, August 15, 2000.
  7. For a detailed accounting of congressional action and funding for cooperative security programs, see Russian Nuclear Security and the Clinton Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative: A Summary of Congressional Action, Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, February 2000, and the forthcoming fiscal year 2001 edition of this report.
  8. For an overview of the access issue, see "Access: A Case Study in How Not to Maintain a Partnership," in Oleg Bukharin, Matthew Bunn, and Kenneth Luongo, Renewing the Partnership: Recommendations for Accelerated Action to Secure Nuclear Material in the Former Soviet Union, Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, August 2000.
  9. General Accounting Office, "Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Limited Progress in Improving Nuclear Material Security in Russia and the Newly Independent States," March 2000; and General Accounting Office, "Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Concerns With DOE's Efforts to Reduce the Risks Posed by Russia's Unemployed Weapons Scientists," December 1999.
  10. The issue of creating an integrated strategy for the cooperative security agenda was raised in public with a Russian official from the Ministry of Atomic Energy at the October 6-7, 2000, Moscow International Non-Proliferation Conference. He responded that "there is a need to think about a new strategic approach, one that includes NGOs." He also welcomed European initiatives.
  11. For a detailed analysis of additional activities that could be undertaken as part of this agenda, see Matthew Bunn, The Next Wave: Urgently Needed New Steps to Control Warheads and Fissile Material, Harvard University's Project on Managing the Atom and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Non-Proliferation Project, April 2000.
  12. This idea has been outlined in an unpublished paper by Bruce Blair.

Kenneth N. Luongo is the executive director of the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council (RANSAC). He previously served as the director of the Office of Arms Control and Non-Proliferation at the Department of Energy and as a Senate and House aide.

Campaign Promises vs. Real World Responsibilities

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

President-elect George W. Bush's public record indicates arms control is in for a very rough time during his tenure. He has stated that he will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty unless Russia agrees to amend it to accommodate his vision of a robust national missile defense with international capabilities and that he opposes ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). He has even questioned the value of negotiated treaties to reduce the world's nuclear arsenals. He and his advisers, however, will soon discover that, while espousal of a world unfettered by arms control in the heat of an election campaign was easy, implementation of this vision in the cold dawn of responsibility for overall U.S. security will prove exceedingly difficult.

Bush's ambitious, if inchoate, vision of a robust layered national missile defense (NMD) is a clear and present danger to the arms control regime developed on a bipartisan basis over the past four decades. His proposal to defend effectively not only the 50 states but also U.S. friends and allies against accidental Russian launches as well as attacks by "rogue states" is diametrically opposed to President Nixon's ABM Treaty, which is still generally regarded as the "foundation of strategic stability." Russia firmly rejected previous U.S. proposals to amend the ABM Treaty to accommodate the Clinton administration's much more limited NMD deployment because it was seen as a slippery slope to the type of system Bush envisages. Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty would cause Russia to withdraw from START II and reconsider its commitments to START III and possibly START I and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty as well.

The Bush team appears even to welcome a collapse of the existing treaty regime which would remove all constraints on U.S. actions. Rather than promoting promised unilateral reductions, this would probably result in U.S. strategic planning based on worst-case estimates of future Russian capabilities as opposed to agreed verifiable future levels. U.S. fears would certainly be stimulated by the likely Russian deployment of MIRVed warheads on its new generation of mobile ICBMs and the extension of the service life of the powerful SS-18 10-warhead missiles—actions banned by START II. More generally, the confrontational termination of the existing agreements on strategic deployments would have a profound negative impact on U.S.-Russian relations.

Bush's NMD vision would have an equally adverse impact on U.S.-Chinese relations. China, which believes Clinton's limited NMD was really directed at its minimum deterrent, will conclude that Bush's more robust plan confirms its worst fears and will move to increase its strategic capabilities and strengthen its ties with Russia.

Bush's security team will soon discover the intensity of NATO's concern about NMD deployment. Some fear a rebirth of U.S. isolationism; others fear perceived U.S. hegemonic ambitions stimulated by a protective shield; all share a common concern about the consequences of a deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations. A U.S. decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, coupled with Bush's rejection of the CTBT—two treaties widely seen as the litmus test of the seriousness of U.S. intentions to honor its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—would seriously undercut U.S. leadership in efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, a long-standing bipartisan objective.

When Bush's national security team tries to translate its NMD vision into reality, it will find that there is nothing to deploy. The Clinton system, which the Bush team correctly faults as inherently flawed, is still at least two years from a responsible deployment decision. It will take at least a year for Bush to define the architecture of the more robust system he envisages. As considerable development and testing would be required, a responsible deployment decision could not be made for several years, with an initial operating capability at least a decade in the future.

Bush's team will also find that the system it envisages will cost a few hundred billion dollars and will, even in theory, provide no protection against the more likely mode of attack by a rogue state—aircraft, cruise missiles, ships, or all manner of conveyances across unprotected U.S. borders. One would hope Bush's advisers, with their much-touted business acumen, will carefully re-examine the likelihood of an ICBM attack, given the existence of overwhelming U.S. deterrent forces. They should consider whether diplomatic efforts, which would probably cost less than 1 percent of the prospective NMD system, to eliminate specific threats, such as North Korea, would not be a far better way to go.

If Bush insists on a hard-headed reality check of his NMD proposal, he will find that the solution to the proliferation threat will not come from pursuit of will-o'-the-wisps of technological fixes of missile defenses or nuclear testing. He could demonstrate true leadership by calling for focused diplomatic efforts against specific threats and for Senate approval of the CTBT while quietly returning NMD to long-term research and development status.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signatories and Ratifiers

Signatories and Ratifiers

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature at the United Nations on September 24, 1996.

President Bill Clinton was the first to sign the treaty that day, followed by the representatives of 70 other nations, including Britain, China, France, and Russia. To date, 160 states have signed the CTBT and 69 have ratified it.

The CTBT will formally enter into force after 44 nuclear-capable states, specified in Annex 2 of the treaty, have deposited their instruments of ratification with the secretary-general of the United Nations. Those 44 states include the five declared nuclear powers, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and 35 other states that are recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power or research reactors.

Of the 44 specified nations, all except India, Pakistan, and North Korea have signed the treaty. In 2000, four more of the required 44 states—Bangladesh, Chile, Russia, and Turkey—ratified the treaty, bringing the total number of states in this category to 30.

Also in 2000, Guyana, Kiribati, Nauru, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone signed the treaty, and Belarus, Cambodia, Gabon, Iceland, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Lithuania, Macedonia, Maldives, Morocco, Nicaragua, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates ratified it. The following table identifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty's signatories and ratifiers as of January 1, 2001, according to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. States whose ratification is required for entry into force are bolded. —For more information, contact Philipp C. Bleek.

Country

Signature

Ratification

Albania 9/27/96  
Algeria 10/15/96  
Andorra 9/24/96  
Angola 9/27/96  
Antigua and Barbuda 4/16/97  
Argentina 9/24/96 12/4/98
Armenia 10/1/96  
Australia 9/24/96 7/9/98
Austria 9/24/96 3/13/98
Azerbaijan 7/28/97 2/2/99
Bahrain 9/24/96  
Bangladesh 10/24/96  
Belarus 9/24/96 9/13/00
Belgium 9/24/96 6/29/99
Benin 9/27/96  
Bolivia 9/24/96 10/4/99
Bosnia and Herzegovina 9/24/96  
Brazil 9/24/96 7/24/99
Brunei Darussalem 1/22/97  
Bulgaria 9/24/96 9/29/99
Burkina Faso 9/27/96  
Burundi 9/24/96  
Cambodia 9/26/96 11/10/00
Canada 9/24/96 12/18/98
Cape Verde 10/1/96  
Chad 10/8/96  
Chile 9/24/96  
China 9/24/96  
Colombia 9/24/96  
Comoros 12/12/96  
Congo 2/11/97  
Congo Republic 10/4/96  
Cook Islands 12/5/97  
Costa Rica 9/24/96  
Cote d'Ivoire 9/25/96  
Croatia 9/24/96  
Cyprus 9/24/96  
Czech Republic 11/12/96 9/11/97
Denmark 9/24/96 12/21/98
Djibouti 10/21/96  
Dominican Republic 10/3/96  
Ecuador 9/24/96  
Egypt 10/14/96  
El Salvador 9/24/96 9/11/98
Equatorial Guinea 10/9/96  
Estonia 11/20/96 8/13/98
Ethiopia 9/25/96  
Fiji 9/24/96 10/10/96
Finland 9/24/96 1/15/99
France 9/24/96 4/6/98
Gabon 10/7/96 9/20/00
Georgia 9/24/96  
Germany 9/24/96 8/20/98
Ghana 10/3/96  
Greece 9/24/96 4/21/99
Grenada 10/10/96 8/19/98
Guatemala 9/20/99  
Guinea 10/3/96  
Guinea-Bissau 4/11/97  
Guyana 9/7/00  
Haiti 9/24/96  
Holy See 9/24/96  
Honduras 9/25/96  
Hungary 9/25/96 7/13/99
Iceland 9/24/96 6/26/00
Indonesia 9/24/96  
India    
Indonesia 9/24/96  
Iran 9/24/96  
Ireland 9/24/96 7/15/99
Israel 9/25/96  
Italy 9/24/96 2/1/99
Jamaica 11/11/96  
Japan 9/24/96 7/8/97
Jordan 9/26/96 8/25/98
Kazakhstan 9/30/96  
Kenya 11/14/96 11/30/00
Kiribati 9/7/00 9/7/00
Kuwait 9/24/96  
Kyrgyzstan 10/8/96  
Laos 7/30/97 10/5/00
Latvia 9/24/96  
Lesotho 9/30/96 9/14/99
Liberia 10/1/96  
Liechtenstein 9/27/96  
Lithuania 10/7/96 2/7/00
Luxembourg 9/24/96 5/26/99
Macedonia 10/29/98 3/14/00
Madagascar 10/9/96  
Malawi 10/9/96  
Malaysia 7/23/98  
Maldives 10/1/97 9/7/00
Mali 2/18/97 8/4/99
Malta 9/24/96  
Marshall Islands 9/24/96  
Mauritania 9/24/96  
Mexico 9/24/96 10/5/99
Micronesia 9/24/96 7/25/97
Moldova 9/24/97  
Monaco 10/1/96 12/18/98
Mongolia 10/1/96 8/8/97
Morocco 9/24/96 4/17/00
Mozambique 9/26/96  
Myanmar (Burma) 11/25/96  
Namibia 9/24/96  
Nauru 9/8/00  
Nepal 10/8/96  
Netherlands 9/24/96 3/23/99
New Zealand 9/27/96 3/19/99
Nicaragua 9/24/96 12/5/00
Niger 10/3/96  
Nigeria 9/8/00  
North Korea    
Norway 9/24/96 7/15/99
Oman 9/23/99  
Country Signature Ratification
Pakistan    
Panama 9/24/96  
Papua New Guinea 9/25/96  
Paraguay 9/25/96  
Peru 9/25/96 11/12/97
Philippines 9/24/96  
Poland 9/24/96 5/25/99
Portugal 9/24/96 6/26/00
Qatar 9/24/96 3/3/97
Romania 9/24/96 10/5/99
Russia 9/24/96  
Saint Lucia 10/4/96  
Samoa 10/9/96  
San Marino 10/7/96  
Sao Tome and Principe 9/26/96  
Senegal 9/26/96 6/9/99
Seychelles 9/24/96  
Sierra Leone 9/8/00  
Singapore 1/14/99  
Slovakia 9/30/96 3/3/98
Slovenia 9/24/96 8/31/99
Solomon Islands 10/3/96  
South Africa 9/24/96 3/30/99
South Korea 9/24/96 9/24/99
Spain 9/24/96 7/31/98
Sri Lanka 10/24/96  
Suriname 1/14/97  
Swaziland 9/24/96  
Sweden 9/24/96 12/2/98
Switzerland 9/24/96 10/1/99
Tajikistan 10/7/96 6/10/98
Country Signature Ratification
Thailand 11/12/96  
Togo 10/2/96  
Tunisia 10/16/96  
Turkey 9/24/96  
Turkmenistan 9/24/96 2/20/98
Uganda 11/7/96  
Ukraine 9/27/96  
United Arab Emirates 9/25/96 9/18/00
United Kingdom 9/24/96 4/6/98
United States 9/24/96  
Uruguay 9/24/96  
Uzbekistan 10/3/96 5/29/97
Vanuatu 9/24/96  
Venezuela 10/3/96  
Vietnam 9/24/96  
Yemen 9/30/96  
Zambia 12/3/96  
Zimbabwe 10/13/99  

Findings and Recommendations Concerning the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Concluding a 10 month-long review, General John Shalikashvili released his report on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to the president January 5, voicing strong support for the treaty and outlining measures to build bipartisan support for it.

In late January 2000, following the October 1999 Senate rejection of the CTBT, President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked Shalikashvili to consult with senators and discuss their concerns in order to lay the groundwork for future ratification of the treaty.

In a letter to the president presenting his report, the general wrote, "The overarching question has been whether the contributions that the Test Ban Treaty can make to national and international security outweigh any potential risks." He concludes that "an objective and thorough net assessment shows convincingly that U.S. interests, as well as those of friends and allies, will be served by the Treaty's entry into force."

In his report, Shalikashvili puts forward a number of recommendations to address the senators' concerns and indicates he is "confident that there would be broad bipartisan support" to develop "a more integrated non-proliferation policy," enhance "U.S. capabilities to track nuclear proliferation and monitor nuclear testing," and strengthen stockpile stewardship.

Touching on how the United States would maintain its nuclear stockpile under the CTBT, Shalikashvili told the president that the deterrent could "remain effective" and that the United States could maintain "the ability to remanufacture aging components," assuming "prudent" stewardship.

Shalikashvili urged ratifying the treaty and pursuing its entry into force, warning that a delay would make it more likely other countries would "move irrevocably to acquire nuclear weapons or significantly improve their current nuclear arsenal" and less likely that the United States "could mobilize a strong international coalition against such activities."

The following is the full text of Shalikashvili's report.

I. Introduction

A decade after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons are still important to U.S. and allied security, a silent giant guarding against a catastrophic miscalculation by a potential adversary. The United States has the safest, most reliable, most capable arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. It will need a credible deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist.

Equally important to our security are global non-proliferation efforts. For the past half century, the United States has led the campaign to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries or terrorist groups, and to reduce the chances that such weapons would ever be used.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty places obstacles in the path of nuclear weapon development by states that could some day threaten the United States or its allies. The question associated with Treaty ratification is whether the security benefits from the Treaty outweigh any risks that a ban on all nuclear explosions could pose to the U.S. deterrent.

Four types of concerns have been most prominent in the debate on advice and consent to ratification in October 1999 and in my subsequent investigations:

 

  1. Whether the Test Ban Treaty has genuine non-proliferation value;
  2. Whether cheating could threaten U.S. security;
  3. Whether we can maintain the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent without nuclear explosive testing; and
  4. Whether it is wise to endorse a Test Ban Treaty of indefinite duration.
After examining these issues, I remain convinced that the advantages of the Test Ban Treaty outweigh any disadvantages, and thus that ratification would increase national security. In each area, though, I am recommending additional actions to address concerns and further strengthen the U.S. position under the Treaty. I believe that we can go a long way toward bridging differences on these issues if they receive a level of sustained bipartisan attention equal to their high importance for national security.

The broad objectives of my specific recommendations are to:

  1. Increase bipartisan and allied support for a carefully coordinated comprehensive non-proliferation program;
  2. Enhance U.S. capabilities to detect and deter nuclear testing and other aspects of nuclear proliferation;
  3. Improve the management of potential risks associated with the long-term reliability and safety of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; and
  4. Address concerns about the Test Ban Treaty's indefinite duration through a joint Executive-Legislative review of the Treaty's net value for national security to be held ten years after ratification and at regular intervals thereafter.
Test Ban Treaty supporters, skeptics, and opponents all agree that the United States needs to revitalize support for an integrated non-proliferation strategy, enhance its monitoring capabilities, and develop a bipartisan consensus on stewardship of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. I urge early implementation of my recommendations on these issues because they would strengthen U.S. security regardless of the immediate fate of the Test Ban Treaty. Action on these steps would also go a long way toward addressing concerns that have been voiced about the Treaty. Together with my recommendation on the ten-year joint review procedure, these steps offer a way to build bipartisan support for Test Ban Treaty ratification as an integral component of an overarching strategy to stop nuclear proliferation and strengthen the nuclear restraint regime.

 

II. Historical Background

Restrictions on nuclear testing have figured prominently in efforts to slow the development and spread of nuclear weapons. President Dwight D. Eisenhower began the American quest to ban explosive tests of nuclear weapons as a way to keep the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms competition from spiraling out of control. President John F. Kennedy believed that a ban on nuclear testing could help prevent proliferation, which he saw as a deadly serious threat to American security. Unable to reach agreement about verification of a ban on underground tests, Kennedy settled as a first step for a ban on tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water. The Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed in July 1963, ratified two months later, and remains in force today.

Then, as now, there were those who opposed limits on nuclear weapon tests. Renowned scientists proposed ways in which nuclear test restrictions could be circumvented and predicted that U.S. nuclear laboratories would atrophy. Prominent military commanders objected to moving all tests underground. Some senators denounced the Limited Test Ban Treaty as leading to U.S. nuclear weakness and war. President Kennedy told these people that there are "risks inherent in any treaty, [but] the far greater risk to our security is the risk of unrestricted testing."

American presidents after Kennedy continued working for nuclear test restrictions. The 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) affirmed the linkage between banning nuclear tests and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Successive NPT Review Conferences further emphasized the importance of a comprehensive test ban to the non-proliferation regime. The superpowers negotiated the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty in the mid-1970s. These accords placed a 150 kiloton yield limit on underground nuclear explosions and prescribed extensive verification provisions for so-called peaceful nuclear explosions. But during the Cold War, disputes over verification and concerns that ending underground tests would give an advantage to the other side's nuclear program precluded a comprehensive test ban treaty.

In July 1992, President George Bush determined that the United States would not conduct nuclear tests to develop new nuclear weapon designs for force modernization purposes. The Congress then imposed an eight-month moratorium on U.S. nuclear weapon tests, restricted subsequent tests even for safety and reliability purposes, and directed the President to work toward achieving a multilateral comprehensive ban on the testing of nuclear weapons by September 30, 1996 (P.L.102-377, 1992). In 1995, agreement by the United States and other nuclear weapon states on the goal of negotiating a comprehensive test ban treaty by the end of 1996 helped persuade non-nuclear weapon states to accept the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament between January 1994 and August 1996. It was opened for signature on September 24, 1996. As of early December 2000 it has been signed by 160 countries and ratified by 69. By its own terms, the Treaty cannot enter into force until it has been ratified by the United States and 43 other specified states with nuclear power or research reactors. So far, it has been signed by all of these specified states except for India, Pakistan, and North Korea, and it has been ratified by 30 of the required 44, including Britain, France, and Russia.

The Senate's October 1999 vote against U.S. ratification of the Test Ban Treaty raised concerns at home and abroad that the United States might be walking away from its traditional leadership of international efforts to stem nuclear proliferation. I am confident that this was not the Senate's intent. Two days before the vote, 62 senators sent a bipartisan letter to their leaders requesting that consideration of the Treaty be postponed until the next Congress. My consultations with many of these senators, as well as other leading senators on both sides of the issue, have convinced me that the question is not whether, but how, the United States should lead global efforts to deal with nuclear proliferation. Thus, it is important to understand why a sufficient number of senators were not ready to approve ratification in October 1999 and to revisit some fundamental questions about non-proliferation and nuclear deterrence whose implications extend well beyond the Test Ban Treaty itself.

 

III. Nuclear Weapons, Non-Proliferation, and the Test Ban Treaty

Preventing proliferation is an enduring American interest. Soon after the end of World War II, the Congress voted for a strict prohibition against sharing nuclear information with any other country, even with Britain, which had helped us develop the atomic bomb. Since then, every president and many congressional leaders have worked to reduce other countries' possibilities and reasons for developing nuclear weapons.

Over the decades, the United States has utilized a wide range of non-proliferation tools. We have entered into mutual security alliances and helped friendly states satisfy defense needs without having their own nuclear weapons. We have cooperated closely with like-minded states in threat reduction efforts, including export controls. We have negotiated and joined numerous international treaties, including the sequence of test ban treaties; the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and the SALT/START series of strategic arms accords. These and other less formal arms control arrangements convey the same message: nuclear weapons are different; they must be constrained by special rules.

The United States has more reason than ever to lead global efforts to stop proliferation and strengthen the nuclear restraint regime. During the Cold War, the United States and NATO needed to keep nuclear weapons in the foreground of their struggle with the Soviet Union to offset the military advantages and political leverage that otherwise could have resulted from their adversary's conventional superiority and wide range of nuclear capabilities. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

It would not be in our security interest to assign a high profile role to nuclear weapons in the U.S. military posture. Better that they remain in the background, for if the world's strongest conventional power needed new types of nuclear weapons, other nations would have even more incentive to acquire them. Any activities that erode the firebreak between nuclear and conventional weapons or that encourage the use of nuclear weapons for purposes that are not strategic and deterrent in nature would undermine the advantage that we derive from overwhelming conventional superiority.

 

The Test Ban Treaty in an Integrated Non-Proliferation Strategy

The Test Ban Treaty allows the United States to keep a strong nuclear deterrent and pursue its non-proliferation objectives at the same time. As Ambassador Sir Michael Weston, head of the British delegation, said during the negotiations, the Test Ban Treaty "bans the bang, not the bomb." By outlawing all nuclear explosions, the United States and other parties to the Treaty accept a constraint on their ability to develop new types of nuclear weapons. We remain free, though, to keep our nuclear stockpile safe and reliable through other means, including testing all elements of the nuclear warhead up to the point where the core nuclear explosive package would go critical. The Test Ban Treaty, in conjunction with other measures, slows the acquisition and advancement of nuclear weapon capabilities while the United States and other nuclear weapon states decide how fast and how far to go with nuclear reductions.

The Test Ban Treaty is not an isolated measure operating in a vacuum. Rather, it is an integral and inseparable part of our national non-proliferation strategy. An effective strategy must include the skillful use of a variety of political, diplomatic, economic, and military responses tailored for particular proliferation problems. This requires meticulous coordination among the relevant Executive Branch agencies, steady bipartisan support from Congress, and close cooperation with other countries. Only the United States has both a compelling reason and the necessary resources to lead global non-proliferation efforts. I believe that U.S. leadership is absolutely essential to success.

Persistent efforts to stem nuclear proliferation have been remarkably successful. The setback represented by the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapon tests in 1998 does not outweigh the fact that a number of countries that had nuclear weapon programs have reversed or abandoned them, and some countries that inherited nuclear weapons have relinquished them. There is no valid reason for future congresses or administrations to give up defending this enduring American interest. For the sake of future generations, it would be unforgivable to neglect any reasonable action that can help prevent nuclear proliferation, as the Test Ban Treaty clearly would.

 

The Test Ban Treaty's Value for National Security

Banning nuclear explosions places direct constraints on other states' ability to acquire and improve nuclear weapons. From a technical standpoint, it is true that a state could have some degree of confidence that an unsophisticated fission device would work without testing it, as the United States did with the bomb used against Hiroshima. A proliferator could acquire an ambiguous nuclear deterrent, but it could not use a nuclear test to demonstrate its capability, as India and Pakistan did in 1998 with a resulting rise in regional tensions.

The main technical constraints that the Test Ban Treaty places on nuclear weapon development involve the vertical progression from first-generation fission designs and more advanced fission weapons; to second-generation thermonuclear designs with increasingly sophisticated yield-to-weight ratios; to exotic "third-generation" technologies, such as nuclear explosion-pumped x-ray lasers and enhanced radiation weapons. Experts disagree about how far up this developmental ladder a proliferator could go without testing, but the difficulty would increase dramatically after the first steps. It would be extremely hard, if not impossible, for additional countries to develop a thermonuclear weapon, especially a sophisticated one that could be delivered easily over intercontinental distances.

A ban on nuclear explosions would also place technical constraints on countries that already have nuclear weapon capabilities. Test Ban Treaty signature by India or Pakistan would not close off their nuclear options, but it would rule out certain developments and help prevent a destabilizing nuclear arms race in South Asia. China would not be free to test explosively a post-production sample of a more advanced warhead than is in its current arsenal. This would, for example, impede China from placing multiple warheads on a mobile missile. And while Russia and the United States already have a wide range of nuclear capabilities and knowledge, the Test Ban Treaty provides insurance against a renewal of the nuclear arms race though "third generation" nuclear designs.

The Test Ban Treaty is critical to sustained political support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other elements of a comprehensive non-proliferation strategy. Proliferation is held in check by an intricate web of bilateral, regional, and global arrangements. Weakening or removing one element can damage other components and erode the overall system of constraints. For example, our failure to ratify the Test Ban Treaty was one of several factors that put the United States on the defensive at the April 2000 NPT Review Conference and decreased our ability to focus attention on challenges to the non-proliferation regime posed by countries such as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Non-ratification has also complicated U.S. efforts to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards that non-nuclear weapon state parties to the NPT must have on their civilian nuclear programs. Many countries are reluctant to accept new obligations while the United States is unwilling to approve the Test Ban Treaty.

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons demands coordinated actions based on common principles by many nations over many years. Our closest allies see the Test Ban Treaty as something that they have fought for alongside the United States since the days of President Eisenhower. All other NATO members, Japan, South Korea, and most of our other security partners have ratified it.

Once we ratify the Test Ban Treaty, which the rest of the world views as vital for non-proliferation, we will be better able to enlist cooperation on export controls, economic sanctions, and other coordinated responses to specific problems. International support for military action will also be greater if the United States is clearly making full use of cooperative threat reduction measures, too.

While widespread repudiation of the NPT is unlikely in the near term, the non-proliferation regime is not invulnerable. Until we ratify the Test Ban Treaty, we offer a convenient excuse for a country that wants to renounce its NPT obligations and openly acquire nuclear weapons to threaten its neighbors or intimidate us. Most law-abiding countries would much prefer a strong NPT regime to a world in which they and their neighbors felt compelled to acquire their own nuclear arsenals. But countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Germany, which have the knowledge, materials, and infrastructure needed to develop quickly a sophisticated nuclear weapon capability, could come under intense pressure should they ever lose confidence in the nuclear restraint regime.

 

Recommendations:

 

  1. Working closely with the Congress and with U.S. friends and allies, the next Administration should implement on an urgent basis an integrated non-proliferation policy targeted on, but not limited to, countries and groups believed to have an active interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.
  2. To increase high level attention and policy coherence, the next Administration should appoint a Deputy National Security Advisor for Non-Proliferation, with the authority and resources needed to coordinate and oversee implementation of U.S. non-proliferation policy.
  3. As part of its effort to build bipartisan and allied support for an integrated non-proliferation policy, the next Administration should review at the highest level issues related to the Test Ban Treaty. There should be a sustained interagency effort to address senators' questions and concerns on these issues of great importance to national security.
  4. The United States should continue its testing moratorium and take other concrete actions to demonstrate its commitment to a world without nuclear explosions, such as continuing leadership in building up the International Monitoring System (IMS) being established for the Treaty.

IV. Monitoring, Verification, and Foreign Nuclear Programs

The Test Ban Treaty's net contributions to national security depend, in part, on our ability to verify compliance. It is important to consider the sum of all sources of information that could be used to determine whether someone has conducted a nuclear explosion. Focusing only on classified national capabilities to monitor foreign nuclear testing or on unclassified capabilities of the International Monitoring System (IMS) underestimates our overall verification capabilities. When evaluating verification, the probability of deterring violations is as important as the probability of detecting them. Thus, the value of a verification system extends well past the range where a monitor has high confidence of detecting, identifying, locating, and attributing a violation, and down into the gray area where a potential evader lacks certainty about the likelihood of discovery.

 

U.S. Capabilities to Monitor Nuclear Testing

The United States will always need reliable information about any nuclear test activity that could threaten our security. The Test Ban Treaty does not add new monitoring requirements. Instead, it adds new sources of information and creates greater political clout for uncovering and addressing suspected violations.

The United States has a half century of experience operating the world's most sophisticated nuclear test monitoring system, including airborne and surface-based sampling for radioactive debris, seismic and hydroacoustic stations, and various satellite-based sensors. In addition to this Atomic Energy Detection System (USAEDS), the United States has other potential sources of information about test-related activities, such as communication intercepts and human intelligence. No would-be evader should underestimate U.S. intelligence capabilities, which are already impressive and continually improving.

 

Additional Verification Assets from the Test Ban Treaty

Once the Test Ban Treaty enters into force, the United States will use its own intelligence assets and additional capabilities provided under the Treaty to verify compliance with it. The United States already receives valuable data from the IMS. For example, seismic stations in the partially completed system picked up signals from several recent 100-ton chemical explosions at the former Soviet test site in Kazakhstan. They could detect non-evasive explosions with yields of 10 tons or lower at the Russian test site at Novaya Zemlya and will soon provide comparable capabilities for the Chinese test site at Lop Nur.

The full IMS, along with its associated communication infrastructure and International Data Center, will provide global coverage that vastly surpasses the monitoring capabilities that the United States relied on during the Cold War. For example, the IMS primary seismic system will provide three-station 90% detection thresholds below 500 tons on all continents and below 200 tons for all historic test sites in the northern hemisphere - with one and two station detection thresholds going even lower. The IMS hydroacoustic system will be able to detect explosions with yields equivalent to a few pounds of dynamite in most of the Southern oceans. The IMS infrasound and radionuclide networks will offer additional evidence to detect, identify, and attribute Treaty violations.

National and international verification capabilities are complementary, not competing, systems. Many USAEDS stations are being incorporated into the IMS, and other countries will pay 75% of their costs. The Treaty provides for stations inside Russia, China, and other sensitive locations, including some places where we could not gain access on our own. Mandatory on-site inspections (OSIs) - a verification tool that we will not have without the Treaty - can be a powerful deterrent and could provide definitive evidence of a violation. Clear Treaty obligations and data vetted by the international community will also help the United States mobilize support for resolving compliance concerns and addressing violations.

The value of the on-site inspection provisions has been questioned because 30 of 51 Executive Committee members must approve an OSI request and because there are managed-access provisions to protect sensitive information about activities that are not prohibited by the Treaty.

Seats on the Executive Council are allocated on the basis of regional groupings and the Treaty permits information from national technical means of verification to support an OSI request. Therefore, the United States concluded that, assuming that its case were reasonable, friends, allies and other states that would be concerned about violations in their regions would proved enough support to get the necessary votes.

The United States supported carefully crafted managed-access provisions because we wanted both effective inspections and protection against abuse. For example, an inspected State Party can restrict access to sites no larger than four square kilometers each and totaling up to 50 square kilometers. Such areas are small enough to permit effective use of various information-gathering techniques from outside the boundaries of those restricted areas. If this proves insufficient, however, some members of the inspection team must be granted access to accomplish specific tasks within the site.

Scientific and commercial activities, such as earthquake monitoring and satellite imagery sales, offer another source of unclassified data that can be used to detect and deter nuclear explosions, or to support an OSI request. Thousands of digital seismic stations collect data in real or near-real time around the world. While data from these multi-use systems are not always as reliable or as readily available as data from USAEDS and IMS stations, they can be a valuable supplement for monitors and a source of additional uncertainty for evaders. Under ideal conditions, for example, an evader might reduce the amplitude of seismic signals by a factor of 70 by conducting a small explosion inside a very large underground cavity. But an evader should expect a much smaller "decoupling factor" of 10-30 if nearby scientific stations might pick up high frequency seismic signals in addition to the lower frequency seismic signals that travel longer distances.

 

How Big a Problem is Evasion?

While it is prudent to assume that some countries might want to cheat, it is not so easy to advance a nuclear weapon program through evasive testing as some people fear. A potential cheater would have to calculate correctly the combined capabilities of national, international, and scientific monitoring systems. If it wanted to muffle or mask the signals from a test, it would have to surmount numerous practical constraints and make tough judgment calls on a long list of technical questions about which even American experts disagree. Attempts to camouflage tests or test preparations generate their own suspicious signals. Synergies among monitoring technologies also must be considered. For example, cavity-decoupled explosions can reduce seismic signals but increase the probability of radioactive venting. Most objectives would require a series of secret tests, and each explosion would increase the probability of discovery. Finally, in this increasingly interconnected world, states that violate their legal obligations risk having their citizens reveal what remote monitoring might not uncover.

Ironically, the more nuclear testing expertise a country has, the better able it would be to conduct an evasive test and extract useful information - but the less difference that information would probably make in advancing that country's nuclear capabilities. Even under worst-case assumptions, it is unlikely that an experienced nuclear tester could hide an explosion with a yield above one or two kilotons. Of course, those responsible for U.S. efforts to monitor against evasive testing must consider worst-case possibilities as well as more likely scenarios. But in my view, anyone who is concerned about what might occur under the Test Ban Treaty should also worry about what might happen without it.

The military significance of activities that would be ruled out unless a country was willing to openly violate the Treaty outweighs anything that could be gained from clandestine testing. A proliferator does not need to test to be confident that a relatively simple fission bomb would work. Gaining confidence in more efficient designs - ones that are smaller, lighter, more easily transportable, and less demanding of special nuclear material - becomes increasingly difficult without a significant risk of detection.

Nuclear weapon states could not make a major qualitative breakthrough without testing above several kilotons. China has only single warhead missiles; inability to test above detectable levels would impede future efforts to put multiple warheads on mobile missiles. Russia might seek to make safety or reliability improvements to existing weapons and perhaps develop another type of tactical weapon. Tests that are small and infrequent enough to avoid detection, however, would not enable Russia or any other advanced nuclear weapon state to develop new weapon systems that would undermine the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

 

Steps to Strengthen Monitoring and Verification

Just as the Test Ban Treaty should be viewed in the larger non-proliferation context, so too should Test Ban Treaty verification be viewed in a broader context. In recent years, support for arms control and non-proliferation intelligence has not kept pace with support for other intelligence priorities. For budgetary reasons, the capability to detect the nuclear electromagnetic pulse from an atmospheric explosion is not currently supported and the capability to monitor for telltale radiation signatures from explosions at high altitudes or in space may soon be lost. Since non-proliferation is an enduring national security challenge, intelligence support for current military activities should not reduce support for more long-term elements of an integrated non-proliferation strategy.

The conduct of an explosive nuclear test is the culmination of a long process with observable indicators of a would-be proliferator's intentions. There are valuable synergies between capabilities for monitoring nuclear explosions and abilities to track activities "upstream" from an explosion. The Test Ban Treaty might channel a proliferator toward particular weapon designs which would be more likely to work without testing, but which would require resources that are harder to acquire without being noticed. Likewise, improved non-proliferation intelligence can provide early warning of clandestine nuclear test preparations, thus enabling monitors to focus greater attention on small signals from a specific location.

Steady progress has been made in monitoring technologies and analytical techniques before and after the Treaty was signed. Strong support for this work, and faster transitions from research to operational use can add up to major verification improvements. Scientists are calibrating seismic stations by determining how signals travel through the nearby geology in order to lower detection thresholds and improve location accuracy. New signal processing techniques help detect very small signals and differentiate explosions from earthquakes. Prototype radionuclide sensors at some IMS stations are 100 times more sensitive than previous automatic systems, and extremely sensitive analytical techniques are also being developed.

Nobody expects advances in remote monitoring capabilities to lower detection thresholds all the way to zero yield. Therefore, it is important to prepare for on-site inspections after entry into force, and to pursue cooperative steps to increase transparency. The Treaty provides the basis for confidence-building measures so that chemical explosions used for mining are not mistaken for nuclear explosions, or used to hide them. Additional bilateral cooperation is also possible. Russia has begun to announce sub-critical experiments and pledged in two joint presidential statements to work with the United States on mutually beneficial technical exchanges to facilitate Test Ban Treaty verification. Various measures can be envisioned, including exchanging more information about non-prohibited activities at former nuclear test sites, placing seismic stations near test sites, putting neutron detectors inside tunnels, or sending observers to each other's test site. As with managed access inspections, the United States should weigh the value of each option against potential costs, such as complicating legitimate activities at the Nevada Test Site.

In short, the United States should take whatever steps are necessary to deter or detect any nuclear explosions that could decrease national security regardless of what it decides about the Test Ban Treaty. The Test Ban Treaty offers technical and political resources to make this job easier.

 

Recommendations:

  1. Higher funding and intelligence collection priorities should be assigned to monitoring nuclear test activities and other aspects of nuclear weapon acquisition or development by other states.
  2. Collaboration should be increased among U.S. government officials and other experts to ensure that national intelligence, the Treaty's international verification regime, and other scientific stations are used as complementary components of an all-source approach to verification.
  3. The transition from research to operational use should be accelerated for new verification technologies and analytical techniques.
  4. The United States should continue working with other Test Ban Treaty signatories to prepare for inspections and develop confidence-building measures.
  5. Additional steps should be taken unilaterally or bilaterally to increase transparency regarding the nature and purpose of activities at known nuclear test sites.

V. Stewardship of the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile

Strong bipartisan support for stewardship over the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent will be necessary regardless of whether the United States ratifies the Treaty, continues indefinitely the testing moratorium, or resumes nuclear testing at some future time. The United States can safely reap the national security benefits of Test Ban Treaty ratification as long as it takes appropriate steps to manage risks associated with its Stockpile Stewardship Program and retains the ability to test again if an unanticipated development makes that necessary for national security.

 

Requirements for Successful Stockpile Stewardship

Over the last decade, U.S. management of its nuclear deterrent has changed in ways that reflect the changes in global relations. During the Cold War, it was standard U.S. practice to develop new nuclear weapon designs, confirm that they worked through various means including explosive testing, and then use newly manufactured weapons to replace older weapons. Most of the approximately 1000 nuclear test explosions conducted by the United States were carried out for new warhead development.

When the Cold War ended, the United States ceased explosive testing for the purpose of developing new designs for a very large arsenal. It shifted to maintaining a smaller stockpile of well tested, safe, and reliable warhead designs with a smaller nuclear weapon production complex. Nuclear weapons are now required to last longer than an individual weapon typically remained in the Cold War stockpile. These changes have decreased the relative value of nuclear testing and increased the importance of stockpile stewardship, which has been done in various forms for many decades.

As long as the United States retains any nuclear weapons, they must be kept safe and reliable. The SSP must have the people, knowledge, materials, equipment, and facilities for three basic tasks:

  1. To enhance surveillance of weapons in the enduring stockpile to monitor for age-related changes and to identify any other defects due to design problems or manufacturing errors;
  2. To deepen scientific understanding of how nuclear weapons work and how they age in order to determine whether defects could affect performance or safety and to ensure that any remedial measures are adequate and appropriate; and
  3. To remanufacture components and refurbish warheads using a smaller and updated nuclear weapon complex.
As additional insurance, the Stockpile Stewardship Program also needs to retain the expertise and infrastructure to resume nuclear testing within two to three years should there be a major change in international circumstances or a serious stockpile problem that could not be resolved in any other way.

 

Status of the Stockpile Stewardship Program

The Stockpile Stewardship Program is working today. Almost all of the approximately 4000-6000 parts of a nuclear weapon, including all safety- and reliability-critical electrical, mechanical, and arming subsystems, are outside of the "physics package," - i.e. the subsystem that creates the nuclear explosion. Under the Test Ban Treaty, these parts can still be thoroughly tested, including with full-scale flight tests of "denuclearized" production units. The science component of the SSP has experimental programs to answer questions about materials and processes inside the physics package. The SSP also has the world's most powerful computers. They are offering an increasingly sophisticated capability to model potential changes in warhead performance by analyzing data from new experiments that do not involve nuclear explosions in conjunction with data from historical tests of existing weapon designs.

The Secretaries of Defense and Energy, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, the directors of the three nuclear weapon laboratories, and numerous other experts with diverse assessments of the Test Ban Treaty agree that the U.S. nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable and that nuclear testing is not needed at this time, as has been true since the U.S. testing moratorium began in 1992. The annual certification process provides a clear-eyed, candid, and careful evaluation of each nuclear weapon type in the stockpile: nothing is sugar-coated. The SSP tools that are already available have been able to identify defects and suggest remedial measures, make appropriate modifications, and fulfill required lifetime extensions, while maintaining a high level of reliability and safety of the warheads that have been the focus of the SSP to date.

 

Managing Future Risks

Nobody can guarantee that the Stockpile Stewardship Program will be able to address every possible future need without conducting a nuclear explosive test, just as no other military operation or scientific endeavor can be made risk-free. The key questions are: (1) what is the nature of the risks; (2) what should be done to better manage them; and (3) how does the inability to conduct nuclear explosions affect risk management?

The Nature of the Risks: Few nuclear weapon experts view sudden catastrophic failure of the nuclear deterrent as anything more than a remote theoretical possibility. Every year, each individual weapon type is monitored closely both for gradual changes and for other potential problems. The SSP has provided better understanding of stockpile characteristics, including fuller knowledge of what could go wrong. It has confronted the problem of false confidence, which should not be confused with a decline in actual stockpile reliability. One way to respond to residual concerns about a system-wide failure is to increase performance margins - i.e. to make relatively simple changes that do not require nuclear testing and that will ensure desired system performance.

Concerns have been voiced about whether progress in the Stockpile Stewardship Program will be able to outpace potential future challenges or whether confidence will gradually decline. Aggressive surveillance and improved predictive capabilities from deeper scientific understanding should provide enough time to correct any significant problem before it affects the reliability or safety of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Remanufacture to meet the original specifications is the preferred remedy for age-related defects. When necessary, however, new technologies can be incorporated in warhead components outside the physics package as long as such changes can be shown not to interfere with the physics package's proper functioning.

Need for Clear Priorities and Strong Leadership: The Stockpile Stewardship Program includes a number of excellent technical projects. Tensions exist among (1) work on weapons in the stockpile, (2) large-scale scientific and computing projects, and (3) revitalization of the nuclear weapon production complex. The net result has been concern that large-scale science and computational projects may be taking too many resources away from surveillance and other lower-profile programs that are central to the core missions of the SSP.

The establishment of the semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration within DOE and the appointment of its first Administrator in July 2000 set in motion steps to strengthen the leadership of the SSP, clarify program priorities, increase accountability, and ensure adequate funds. The Administrator of the NNSA has initiated a comprehensive program review, as well as an assessment of specific needs such as infrastructure revitalization. Important changes have also been made to improve coordination among DOE headquarters, the nuclear weapon laboratories, the military, and other interested parties. Decisions about the timing and nature of work on individual weapons in the stockpile are being made through more regular meetings of the Nuclear Weapons Council, which includes the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Administrator of the NNSA; the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command; and other senior officials. These and other steps, such as the establishment of a high level external advisory mechanism for the SSP, should increase confidence that program elements which are most urgently needed are being fully funded, and that adequate resources are also being invested in long lead-time projects to meet future requirements.

Pit Production: The challenge of remanufacturing plutonium pits and certifying them without a nuclear explosion involves both short- and long-term issues. Plutonium pits are the core of a warhead's primary. Experts agree that pits are aging more gracefully than some initially anticipated.

The general consensus is that pits have a lifetime of at least fifty to sixty years, and thus that the replacement of pits in stockpiled weapons need not begin for quite some time. Los Alamos National Laboratory is demonstrating on a small scale the ability to manufacture and certify replacement pits so that the average age of the stockpile can be kept at a prudent level. To decide whether the pit production capabilities at Los Alamos will be adequate for the long-run or whether a larger, multi-billion dollar pit production facility should be built elsewhere, it is necessary to finish relevant plutonium experiments, to determine the long-term size and composition of the nuclear stockpile, and to set a start date for full-scale remanufacturing.

Infrastructure Revitalization: Additional steps must be taken now to ensure that the U.S. nuclear weapon production complex can meet future refurbishment and remanufacturing needs. The physical infrastructure of the SSP has been allowed to deteriorate to unacceptably low levels. Some buildings' roofs are literally falling in, and many people work in demoralizing, or even dangerous, environments. Current production capability is near zero for some components and inadequate for others. The NNSA has recently completed an assessment of the problem, and is in the process of developing a multi-year infrastructure revitalization plan.

People: Having first-class people at the labs and production facilities is vital to the continued success of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. Strong leadership, clear priorities, improved planning processes, agreement on resource allocations, first-rate equipment and facilities, sufficient and stable funding, and a firm national commitment to stockpile stewardship will all help to attract, train, and retain new generations of outstanding scientists and skilled technicians. It is also important to be sensitive to the impact of security measures on people's work environment and to find creative ways to mitigate any adverse effects.

Risk Management: The ability to conduct an occasional nuclear explosion appeals to some nuclear weapon experts because it would provide some useful data and offer extra confirmation that the physics package for a refurbished or remanufactured warhead will perform as predicted by other SSP tools. But the cost to non-proliferation objectives would be high and the toll on other aspects of stockpile stewardship could be substantial. A return to nuclear testing would not make surveillance or infrastructure revitalization easier, and it could take attention and resources away from these priorities. The effects on personnel issues would be mixed, at best, since a return to nuclear testing would probably reduce support for building expensive cutting-edge research facilities to help future generations of scientists answer questions about a warhead's physics package without violating the Test Ban Treaty.

In my judgment, the challenges facing the Stockpile Stewardship Program can be managed, and the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent can be maintained indefinitely, so long as future administrations and congresses provide high standards of accountability and sufficient resources to keep uncertainty at an acceptable level. Since we will retain the ability to withdraw from the Test Ban Treaty and resume nuclear testing should an unanticipated problem with stockpile reliability or safety make that necessary, there is no reason why we should not gain the security benefits of Test Ban Treaty ratification while strengthening bipartisan support for stockpile stewardship.

 

Recommendations:

  1. Working with the Department of Defense, other Executive Branch agencies, and the Congress, the Administrator of the NNSA should complete as soon as possible his comprehensive review of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The review will clarify objectives and requirements, set priorities, assess progress, identify needs, and develop an overarching program plan with broad-based support.
    • Highest priority should be given to aspects of stockpile stewardship that are most urgently needed to assure the near-term reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, i.e. surveillance, refurbishment, and infrastruture revitalization.
    • Enhanced surveillance and monitoring activities should receive full support and not be squeezed by higher profile aspects of the SSP.
    • The NNSA should make a decision about the need for a large-scale plutonium pit remanufacturing facility as soon as possible after the next Administration has determined the appropriate size and composition of the enduring stockpile, including reserves.
    • A dedicated infrastructure revitalization fund should be established after the NNSA has completed a revitalization plan for its production facilities and laboratories.
  2. The NNSA, working with Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, should place the SSP on a multi-year budget cycle like the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Program. Some increase in funds for the SSP is likely to be necessary.
  3. Steps to improve interagency management of stockpile stewardship matters, such as the revitalization of the Nuclear Weapons Council, are essential and should be continued.
  4. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that the performance margins of various weapon types are adequate when conservatively evaluated.
  5. Strict discipline should be exercised over changes to existing nuclear weapon designs to ensure that neither an individual change nor the cumulative effect of small modifications would make it difficult to certify weapon reliability or safety without a nuclear explosion.

     

  6. The Administrator of the NNSA should establish an on-going high level external advisory mechanism, such as a panel of outstanding and independent scientists.

VI. Minimizing Uncertainty with a Treaty of Indefinite Duration

Few Americans think that the United States should resume nuclear testing, and even fewer want any other country to conduct nuclear explosions. Nevertheless, some people are uneasy about turning the eight year-old U.S. testing moratorium into a legally binding ban of indefinite duration because they worry about future developments concerning nuclear proliferation, verification, or stockpile stewardship.

Some Treaty critics have proposed that the long-term benefit/risk calculation could be improved by renegotiating key Treaty provisions. Others have suggested that simply continuing the current situation, in which all countries that have conducted overt nuclear tests have reciprocal unilateral moratoriums, would provide the main benefits of the Test Ban Treaty while preserving greater flexibility over time. On closer examination, a better way to reduce future uncertainties about U.S. participation in the Treaty and to provide assurances about how unforeseen circumstances would be handled if they were to arise is to condition ratification on stronger internal commitments worked out between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the U.S. Government.

 

Renegotiate the Treaty?

One proposal made by Treaty critics is to seek international support for renegotiations to give the Treaty a "sunset clause," requiring that it be renewed and re-ratified or abandoned after a certain period of time. Other proposals are to make the Treaty's enforcement more automatic or to change its scope to permit nuclear explosions at yields up to some level in order to prevent an asymmetry between U.S. fidelity to a zero-yield ban and potential undetected cheating by other countries.

Could the United States, as a practical matter, gain international support for such Treaty changes? I think that it is highly unlikely. No other state is asking to renegotiate the existing text. If the United States insisted, others would try to change the Treaty's basic obligations in the opposite direction, to prohibit computer simulations, sub-critical experiments, and other integral components of our stewardship program. China would probably press again to exempt so-called peaceful nuclear explosions. Numerous countries would try to eliminate the Treaty's references to evidence gathered by national technical means being used in requests for on-site inspections, and some countries might try to remove OSI provisions altogether because they are intended to address cheating at low yields. India would also likely try again to link a test ban to a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament.

The Test Ban Treaty is a zero-yield ban because we determined that this was in our interest and because no threshold above zero yield would have been negotiable, for reasons that remain true. The original U.S. and British scope position, which would have allowed "hydronuclear" tests with yields up to four pounds, might have been reluctantly accepted by the non-nuclear weapon states.

But it was vigorously rejected by Russia, France, and China, which preferred yield limits of 10 tons, 300 tons, or an exemption for "peaceful" nuclear explosions, respectively. Such yield thresholds would have been politically unacceptable to many non-nuclear weapon states, and the PNE exemption was rejected by almost everyone.

A technical assessment done in 1995 by a distinguished panel of outside experts convinced the Administration that an occasional test below approximately 500 tons would contribute little to U.S. security. The assessment found that the marginal increase in long-term confidence that might come from routine testing up to 500 tons should be weighed against the negative impact on U.S. non-proliferation objectives of remaking the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into another threshold test ban treaty. It also noted that any such threshold would vastly complicate verification by adding a requirement for accurately estimating yields of small explosions. Based on such considerations, U.S. diplomats reached a shared understanding during the negotiations, including with Russia and China, that the Test Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions, including hydronuclear tests, but does not prohibit sub-critical nuclear experiments.

The Test Ban Treaty includes a range of responses to non-compliance, such as suspending the rights and privileges of a State Party that fails to cooperate fully with requests from the Conference or the Executive Council, recommending collective action by States Parties, and bringing violations to the attention of the United Nations. Making the Treaty's enforcement mechanisms more explicit or more automatic would have gone against the long-standing U.S. position that States Parties, not international organizations, should have the authority to decide whether other Parties are in compliance, and what to do if they are not. And while it is possible to imagine times when more draconian enforcement provisions might be a stronger deterrent against cheating, it is equally easy to imagine ways in which the United States or its friends could become the victim of unwisely crafted enforcement provisions.

The Test Ban Treaty does not foreclose any meaningful options that we currently have for responding, unilaterally or multilaterally, should someone else conduct a nuclear explosion. If the United States decided that it would be appropriate to resume testing, the six months required to withdraw from the Treaty would be less than the time it would take to prepare for an explosion.

More generally, the Test Ban Treaty's entry into force would make it easier to mobilize the international community against the violation not just of a norm, but of a legally binding prohibition against nuclear explosions. As part of a strengthened non-proliferation policy, the Administration, working closely with the Congress, should consult with U.S. friends and allies regarding appropriate actions to deal with situations that would not only violate the Treaty but, more importantly, jeopardize the foundation of the nuclear restraint regime and threaten international peace and security.

As for the Treaty's duration, no U.S. opening position drew more fire from all directions than its "ten-year, easy out" proposal. This would have allowed Parties to leave the Treaty after ten years without providing any justification. Other participants, both nuclear and non-nuclear states, made the case that the United States could invoke the supreme national interest provision if it had a serious reason for withdrawing, and that they could not accept all the restrictions the Treaty placed on them if they had to live with the specter of the United States deciding against renewal at the ten-year mark for arbitrary or unexplained reasons. Also, it was contradictory, in the run-up to the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty extension conference, for the United States to spearhead efforts for an indefinite extension of the NPT, yet only offer a ten-year commitment to a test ban regime.

Imagine the uproar that would occur if the United States issued an ultimatum: no U.S. ratification unless the Test Ban Treaty was given a ten-year time limit. Some countries already believe themselves to be seriously disadvantaged by the Treaty in comparison with the United States; they might be happy to see the Treaty collapse. Other countries would accuse the United States of reneging on the deal it made to secure the indefinite extension of the NPT. Since U.S. ratification is required for entry into force, its refusal to ratify the Treaty unless core provisions were changed would make it easier for other signatories to renounce their obligation to refrain from nuclear testing on the grounds that the Treaty's entry into force was being "unduly delayed." In short, there would be clear risks in a U.S. effort to modify the Treaty and very little chance of success.

 

Indefinite Reliance on Voluntary Moratoriums?

Could the United States get the same benefits without the possible risks associated with a Test Ban Treaty of indefinite duration by indefinitely continuing the U.S. moratorium on nuclear explosive testing in hopes that others would do the same? A prolonged moratorium would do less damage to U.S. non-proliferation objectives and diplomatic standing than would a resumption of nuclear testing, but most of the benefits that the Test Ban Treaty can provide would be lessened or lost without ratification, while uncertainties and risks would grow. Moreover, other countries will be more likely to sustain their testing moratoriums if they are viewed as interim measures pending the Test Ban Treaty's entry into force, rather than as endpoints in themselves.

As long as each state honored its moratorium, inability to test would place technical constraints on nuclear weapons development. However, other countries could renounce their moratoriums far more easily than the United States, France, or Britain could. Accusations about cheating would be a bigger problem under parallel moratoriums. Each state would define its own obligations, progress on the international monitoring system would slow or stop, and no provisions for on-site inspections would be available. Furthermore, the United States would lose the many political contributions that the Test Ban Treaty can make, directly and indirectly, to strengthening the global non-proliferation regime and unifying a non-proliferation coalition of like-minded states.

No one should underestimate the damage that could occur if the United States renounces the Test Ban Treaty, or even waits too long to take the next steps towards ratification. The negative diplomatic reaction to the October 1999 vote was muted somewhat by signs that the Administration and key senators wanted to build bipartisan support for eventual reconsideration and ratification of the Test Ban Treaty. Other nations will give the next Administration some time to sort out its position. They will, however, be looking for concrete progress by September 2001 when states that have ratified the Treaty plan to meet in New York to discuss ways to accelerate the remaining ratifications required for entry into force.

If the United States were to stop working seriously toward Test Ban Treaty ratification, it would exacerbate uncertainties about proliferation, verification, and stockpile stewardship. If other nations conclude that the United States is not going to ratify the Test Ban Treaty and that the effort is therefore dead, they would pay less heed to other U.S. non-proliferation pronouncements and might question their own continued level of support for the NPT. Political and financial support for the International Monitoring System would probably wither on the vine, leaving the United States with the full bill for many monitoring assets, less cooperation on monitoring from other countries, and no provisions for on-site inspections. It could also be more difficult to get bipartisan agreement on the long-term shape and size of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. As long as the U.S. commitment to the Test Ban Treaty remains unclear, funding for the SSP will be vulnerable to attack from members of Congress who view testing as a better or cheaper alternative to some aspects of the program, as well as from members who will support the SSP only in conjunction with Test Ban Treaty ratification.

 

Managing Uncertainty through Internal Commitments

All of my previous recommendations are intended to minimize uncertainties about the non-proliferation value of the Treaty, verification, and stockpile stewardship. Careful internal understandings and conditions, possibly attached to a senate resolution of ratification, offer an additional way to reduce concerns about the Test Ban Treaty's indefinite duration.

In August 1995, President Clinton announced that U.S. support for a "true zero" Test Ban Treaty would be conditioned on six safeguards. These involved:

 

  1. Conducting a Stockpile Stewardship Program;
  2. Maintaining modern nuclear laboratory facilities and cutting-edge research programs;
  3. Preserving the ability to resume nuclear testing should the United States cease to be bound by the Test Ban Treaty;
  4. Improving U.S. Treaty monitoring capabilities and operations;
  5. Further developing broad intelligence collection, analysis, and operations activities related to foreign nuclear weapon programs; and
  6. Specifying that if a high level of confidence in the safety or reliability of a nuclear weapon type deemed critical to our nuclear deterrent can no longer be certified, the President, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the Test Ban Treaty to conduct whatever testing might be required.
When the Senate is ready to consider the Test Ban Treaty again, these existing safeguards could be strengthened or expanded. A few senators expressed interest in making Safeguard F more explicit about the annual certification process and about the conditions under which the President would withdraw from the Treaty. Another idea is to require annual reports from the Administration to the Senate on the overall state of the Stockpile Stewardship Program; the adequacy of support for the safeguards; and the Treaty's adherence, implementation, compliance, and enforcement record.

The option that seems to go farthest toward addressing concerns about the Treaty's indefinite duration is the possibility of involving the Senate in a full and formal review of the Treaty's net value for national security at a specified time after ratification, and at regular intervals thereafter.

 

Recommendation:

  1. The Administration and the Senate should commit to conducting an intensive joint review of the Test Ban Treaty's net value for national security ten years after U.S. ratification, and at ten-year intervals thereafter. This review should consider the Stockpile Stewardship Program's priorities, accomplishments, and challenges; current and planned verification capabilities; and the Treaty's adherence, implementation, compliance, and enforcement record. Recommendations to address concerns should be formulated for domestic use and to inform the U.S. position at the Treaty's ten-year review conference. If, after these steps, grave doubts remain about the Treaty's net value for U.S. national security, the President, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the Test Ban Treaty under the "supreme national interests" clause.

VII. Net Assessment

My assessment of the net impact of the Test Ban Treaty is that, on balance, the Treaty will enhance U.S. national security in numerous ways.

There are risks, but they exist with or without the Treaty and they can be managed through the steps recommended above.

  1. A proliferator with the necessary knowledge, materials, and technology could assemble an unsophisticated nuclear device and be relatively confident that it would work without testing it. The Test Ban Treaty is not a proliferation cure-all, but by supporting other elements of an integrated non-proliferation strategy, it will make this scenario less likely.
  2. There always will be some gap between zero-yield and the lower limit of remote sensing capabilities to detect, identify, and locate an explosion. With on-site inspections and other sources of information, though, it is more likely that very low-yield testing would be detected or deterred with the Test Ban Treaty than without it.
  3. Experienced nuclear weapon states such as Russia, and to a lesser extent China, could engage in some evasive testing. However, tests that are small and infrequent enough to avoid detection would not permit them to develop new weapon systems that would undermine the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and eventually even such violations are likely to be caught.
  4. The Stockpile Stewardship Program is designed to discover and resolve potential problems that might affect weapon safety or reliability, but no one can guarantee that a nuclear test will never again be needed. The Treaty's ratification makes this less of a concern by strengthening bipartisan support for effective stockpile stewardship and by formalizing domestic safeguards to ensure that we would be ready to test again if necessary for national security.
The Test Ban Treaty's advantages, in my judgment, clearly outweigh the foregoing risks.

 

  1. The Test Ban Treaty will complicate and slow down the efforts of aspiring nuclear states, especially regarding more advanced types of nuclear weapons.
  2. It will hamper the development by Russia and China of nuclear weapons based on new designs and will essentially rule out certain advances.
  3. It will add to the legal and political constraints that nations must consider when they form their judgments about national defense policies.
  4. The Test Ban Treaty is vital to the long-term health of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and will increase support for other elements of a comprehensive non-proliferation strategy.
  5. The United States is well positioned to sustain its nuclear deterrent under the Test Ban Treaty.
  6. The verification regime established under the Treaty will enhance the United States' own very capable nuclear test monitoring system and foster new techniques to improve verification.
The Treaty will make it easier to mobilize domestic and international support for clarifying ambiguous situations and for responding vigorously if any nation conducts a nuclear test.

I believe that it is very much in our national interest to secure these benefits through entry into force of the Test Ban Treaty. If this opportunity is lost, the United States' ability to lead an effective global campaign against nuclear proliferation will be severely damaged.

 

VIII. Compilation of Recommendations

Nuclear Weapons, Non-Proliferation, and the Test Ban Treaty
  1. Working closely with the Congress and with U.S. friends and allies, the next Administration should implement on an urgent basis an integrated non-proliferation policy targeted on, but not limited to, countries and groups believed to have an active interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.
  2. To increase high level attention and policy coherence, the next Administration should appoint a Deputy National Security Advisor for Non-Proliferation, with the authority and resources needed to coordinate and oversee implementation of U.S. non-proliferation policy.
  3. As part of its effort to build bipartisan and allied support for an integrated non-proliferation policy, the next Administration should review at the highest level issues related to the Test Ban Treaty. There should be a sustained interagency effort to address senators' questions and concerns on these issues of great importance to national security.
  4. The United States should continue its testing moratorium and take other concrete actions to demonstrate its commitment to a world without nuclear explosions, such as continuing leadership in building up the International Monitoring System (IMS) being established for the Treaty.

Monitoring, Verification, and Foreign Nuclear Programs

  1. Higher funding and intelligence collection priorities should be assigned to monitoring nuclear test activities and other as pects of nuclear weapon acquisition or development by other states.
  2. Collaboration should be increased among U.S. government officials and other experts to ensure that national intelligence, the Treaty's international verification regime, and other scientific stations are used as complementary components of an all-source approach to verification.
  3. The transition from research to operational use should be accelerated for new verification technologies and analytical techniques.
  4. The United States should continue working with other Test Ban Treaty signatories to prepare for inspections and develop confidence-building measures.
  5. Additional steps should be taken unilaterally or bilaterally to increase transparency regarding the nature and purpose of activities at known nuclear test sites.

Stewardship of the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile

  1. Working with the Department of Defense, other Executive Branch agencies, and the Congress, the Administrator of the NNSA should complete as soon as possible his comprehensive review of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The review will clarify objectives and requirements, set priorities, assess progress, identify needs, and develop an overarching program plan with broad-based support.
    • Highest priority should be given to aspects of stockpile stewardship that are most urgently needed to assure the near-term reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, i.e. surveillance, refurbishment, and infrastructure revitalization.
    • Enhanced surveillance and monitoring activities should receive full support and not be squeezed by higher profile aspects of the SSP.
    • The NNSA should make a decision about the need for a large scale plutonium pit remanufacturing facility as soon as possible after the next Administration has determined the appropriate size and composition of the enduring stockpile, including reserves.
    • A dedicated infrastructure revitalization fund should be established after the NNSA has completed a revi-talization plan for its production facilities and laboratories.
  2. The NNSA, working with Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, should place the SSP on a multi-year budget cycle like the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Program. Some increase in funds for the SSP is likely to be necessary.
  3. Steps to improve interagency management of stockpile stewardship matters, such as the revitalization of the Nuclear Weapons Council, are essential and should be continued.
  4. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that the performance margins of various weapon types are adequate when conservatively evaluated.
  5. Strict discipline should be exercised over changes to existing nuclear weapon designs to ensure that neither an individual change nor the cumulative effect of small modifications would make it difficult to certify weapon reliability or safety without a nuclear explosion.
  6. The Administrator of the NNSA should establish an on-going high level external advisory mechanism, such as a panel of outstanding and independent scientists.

Minimizing Uncertainty with a Treaty of Indefinite Duration

  1. The Administration and the Senate should commit to conducting an intensive joint review of the Test Ban Treaty's net value for national security ten years after U.S. ratification, and at ten-year intervals thereafter. This review should consider the Stockpile Stewardship Program's priorities, accomplishments, and challenges; current and planned verification capabilities; and the Treaty's adherence, implementation, compliance, and enforcement record. Recommendations to address concerns should be formulated for domestic use and to inform the U.S. position at the Treaty's ten-year review conference. If, after these steps, grave doubts remain about the Treaty's net value for U.S. national security, the President, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the Test Ban Treaty under the "supreme national interests" clause.
Source: Department of State

United Nations Passes Arms Control Resolutions

The United Nations General Assembly adopted 48 resolutions and one decision November 20 on what the UN termed "a broad range of disarmament measures." The resolutions, all recommended by the assembly's First Committee, which is tasked with disarmament and international security issues, dealt with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, nuclear disarmament, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and a number of related non-proliferation and arms control objectives.

The assembly adopted a resolution calling for continued compliance with the ABM Treaty, as well as for efforts to strengthen the agreement, "so that it remains a cornerstone in maintaining global strategic stability." Eighty-eight nations voted in favor of the resolution, while five (Albania, Micronesia, Honduras, Israel, and the United States) opposed it, and 66 abstained. The resolution was strongly supported by Russia and is nearly identical to a resolution the General Assembly adopted in December 1999.

Other adopted resolutions included calls for early signature and ratification of the CTBT, a redoubling of non-proliferation efforts, unilateral reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons, and the engagement of all nuclear-weapon states in a process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. In almost all cases, vote tallies were overwhelmingly in favor of the pro-arms control resolutions, although many nations chose to abstain on what were presumably more controversial votes, such as the ABM Treaty resolution.

United Nations Passes Arms Control Resolutions

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