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"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Britain, France Ratify CTB Treaty, Administration Looks to Senate

April 1998

By Craig Cerniello

In early April, Britain and France became the first of the five declared nuclear-weapon states to deposit their instruments of ratification for the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. President Bill Clinton, who submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification last September, reiterated his call for Senate approval this year. It is uncertain, however, whether the administration will achieve this goal given Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms' unwillingness to schedule hearings. (See ACT, January/February 1998.)

British Ambassador to the United Nations Sir John Weston and France's ambassador, Alain Dejammet, jointly deposited their countries' instruments of ratification with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the depositary of the treaty, in an April 6 ceremony. As of the end of April, the CTB Treaty has been signed by 149 states and ratified by 13. The treaty will enter into force 180 days after 44 designated states have deposited their instruments of ratification. These 44 states include the five declared nuclear-weapon states, the three "threshold" states (India, Israel and Pakistan) and 36 other states that are participating members of the Conference on Disarmament and recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power and/or research reactors. Thus far, 41 of the 44 states have signed and six (Austria, Britain, France, Japan, Peru and Slovakia) have ratified. India, North Korea and Pakistan are the only three of the 44 states yet to sign the treaty.

In connection with Britain's ratification, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said, "The CTBT is a cornerstone of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Britain's ratification signals our commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world.... I urge all countries which have not yet signed or ratified to do so whether or not they possess nuclear weapons."

In an April 6 statement, Clinton said, "I applaud this milestone in the global effort to reduce the nuclear threat and build a safer world.... The CTBT is in the best interests of the United States because its provisions will significantly further our nuclear nonproliferation and arms control objectives and strengthen international security."

The following day, John Holum, director of the arms control and disarmament agency and acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, urged the Senate to approve the CTB "before it goes home this fall." Holum said during his press briefing that the administration will continue to publicly make the case for the CTB—a treaty that he noted enjoys overwhelming public support.

Earlier in the month, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright emphasized the importance of U.S. action. In her April 2 remarks to the American Association of Newspaper Editors, she said, "Some senators may seek to delay the [CTB] Treaty's ratification, arguing that because of a handful of holdout nations, it will not enter into force any time soon. But it is precisely because some nations are resisting the treaty that our leadership in approving it is so important. We don't want to give the naysayers another excuse not to act; we want to turn up the heat. And the way to do that is for the United States to lead the way in ratifying the CTBT, just as we did last year in approving the Chemical Weapons Convention—which led, in turn, to ratification of that agreement by Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan."

Britain, France Ratify CTB Treaty, Administration Looks to Senate

Peña to Step Down as Energy Secretary

April 1998

Citing "personal and family reasons," Secretary of Energy Federico Peña announced on April 6 that he is leaving the Clinton administration at the end of June. No successor has been named thus far, although administration officials have indicated that Bill Richardson, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a likely candidate for the post.

A member of the Clinton cabinet for five and a half years and energy secretary since March 1997, Peña has been a key player in the administration's second-term efforts to secure Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. In this connection, he has played an important role in overseeing the Department of Energy's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP), a $4.5 billion-a-year effort designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear testing.

Peña has also been a strong supporter of the department's material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) program, under which the United States is in the process of securing fissile materials across 53 sites in the former Soviet Union.

Peña to Step Down as Energy Secretary

DOE Conducts Third Subcritical Experiment

March 1998

The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted its third subcritical experiment, code-named "Stagecoach," at the Nevada Test Site on March 25. Although the experiments utilize fissile materials, they do not generate any nuclear yield and are thus compliant with the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. DOE contends that the subcritical experiments are an integral component of its Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, which is designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear testing. Critics, on the other hand, have argued that the subcritical experiments are unnecessary and that the United States should institute greater transparency measures in order to provide assurances that these activities do not circumvent the CTB Treaty.

The first two experiments were conducted July 2 and September 18, 1997. DOE plans to conduct at least one more experiment this year.

DOE Conducts Third Subcritical Experiment 

The CTB Treaty and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: The Debate Continues

March 1998

Testimony of Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr. and Kathleen C. Bailey

On March 18, the Senate continued its consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) when the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services held a hearing on "The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Non Proliferation." During the afternoon session, Arms Control Association President and Executive Director Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr. appeared before the subcommittee urging prompt Senate approval of the treaty, which President Clinton transmitted in September 1997. Appearing also was Kathleen C. Bailey, a senior fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and an opponent of treaty ratification. Both Keeny and Bailey were asked to address five "reasons for ratification" offered by the White House Working Group which relate to nuclear non proliferation:

  • The CTBT will constrain the development of more advanced nuclear weapons by the declared nuclear powers;
  • The CTBT will strengthen the [nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] regime and the U.S. ability to lead the global non-proliferation effort;
  • The CTBT will constrain "rogue" states' nuclear weapons development and other states' nuclear capabilities;
  • The CTBT will improve America's ability to detect and deter nuclear explosive testing; and
  • CTBT ratification by the United States and others will constrain non signatories from conducting nuclear tests.

What follows are edited versions of the oral statements of Keeny and Bailey. A full transcript of the hearing, including remarks by John Holum, acting under secretary of state and director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, can be found at: http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1998_h/index.html

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., president and executive director of the Arms Control Association, formerly served as deputy director of the Arms Control and Disarmament agency (1977-1981) under President Jimmy Carter.
Jump to the testimony of Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

Kathleen C. Bailey, a senior fellow at Lawrence Livermonre National Laboratory, served assistant director for nonproliferation at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1987-1991) in the Bush administration.
Jump to the testimony of Kathleen C. Bailey

 

The CTB Treaty and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: The Debate Continues

The CTB Treaty and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: The Debate Continues - Kathleen C. Bailey

The Testimony of Kathleen C. Bailey

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you and members of the subcommittee to address the relationship between the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The views I express today are my own and not necessarily those of any institution.

Let me start with my conclusion, which is that the CTB fails the cost-benefit test. Specifically, it will not accomplish the nonproliferation goals as set out for it by the administration and, at the same time, the treaty will seriously degrade the U.S. nuclear deterrent and, thus, will have a high national security cost. I would like to take each of the five principal non-proliferation goals as set out by the administration for the CTB and give you the bottom-line conclusion that I have made about them.

Goal number one that I will discuss is that the CTB is alleged to constrain nuclear proliferation. The CTB will not meaningfully constrain nations that want to acquire a workable nuclear weapons design. A state that wants to produce a nuclear weapon can do so without nuclear testing. As acknowledged by the two previous speakers, the Hiroshima bomb as well as South Africa's arsenal were untested devices.

Furthermore, non-boosted, implosion-type weapons may be designed with high confidence, without testing.

Testing is not essential today as it was in past for proliferating nations because the information related to nuclear weapons is now widespread. University courses, the information superhighway, advanced computers, new materials, and production technologies—all of these enable a nation to design with high confidence a weapon that would in the not-so-distant past have been considered relatively sophisticated.

 

The 'Unconventional' Needs of Proliferators

Now, critics may argue that new proliferators would want to test a device design, just as the United States usually does, before stockpiling it. However, there are important differences between proliferators' needs, perspectives and targeting requirements versus those of the United States and Russia.

During the Cold War, both sides focused on targeting one another's military sites. A premier objective has been pinpoint strikes against small targets such as silos, rather than cities. This dictated high-performance delivery systems, which, in turn, required tight parameters on the allowable weight, size, shape, safetymeasures and yield.

Now, by comparison, proliferant nations are not likely to target silos. Instead, they are likely to target cities. Their delivery vehicles may be ships, boats, trucks or Scud-type missiles. Proliferators may not care whether the yield they obtain is exact. They may not have tight restrictions imposed by advanced delivery systems or safety standards like those that we and Russia have. And they are unlikely to have highly complex weapons designs. Furthermore, proliferators may have an entirely different standard for reliability. All of this boils down to one thing: It is quite feasible for a nation to develop a device that will work as long as it does not matter if the yield is exactly known and there are no exacting specifications which must be met.

 

Challenges to the NPT

Goal number two is to save the non-proliferation regime. I contend that the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] is at risk and ratification of the CTB will not save the NPT. There are at least three major challenges to the NPT which threaten to unravel it: the demand for a timetable for "zero" nuclear weapons; growing dissatisfaction with U.S. technology transfer restrictions; and erosion of the NPT's contribution to security.

Now, I have outlined in detail all three of these in my written testimony, but verbally I will address only one of them now.

A contradiction exists, as Spurgeon Keeny pointed out, in that the nuclear-weapon states pledged in the NPT that they would work in good faith toward total nuclear disarmament. Simultaneously, however, the nuclear-weapon states have continued to rely on nuclear deterrence for security, and they have said that disarmament is a long-term rather than near-term goal.

At the NPT Review and Extension Conference of 1995, the U.S. and others agreed to negotiate a CTB, touting it as a step toward total nuclear disarmament. Now, however, NPT parties are in the process of discovering that the CTB does not constitute a step toward disarmament that they had thought it was. This is because nuclear-weapon states are not by any means abandoning nuclear deterrence but are instead taking steps to assure that their stockpiles will remain safe and reliable and, therefore, usable despite the testing ban. The U.S. stockpile stewardship program is designed to defeat nuclear erosion. Thus, the goal set for the CTB by many nations is effectively undermined by a successful stockpile stewardship program.

It is the dependence of the nuclear-weapon states on deterrence, despite the NPT commitment to disarmament, that is the source of greatest danger to the non-proliferation treaty, and this conflict will persist regardless of whether the CTB is ratified by the United States or not.

Goal number three, establishing an international norm, I will also gloss over fairly briefly because I view it as pretty inconsequential. History is replete with examples when norms and even legally binding treaties, which are a much stronger constraint, have failed to inhibit nations. For example, the Biological Weapons Convention set up an international norm against biological weapons production, possession, and use, but we have two examples today of nations that we know are pursuing and have in their hands biological weapons. One is Iraq; the other is Russia. And we don't know how many others. So international norms come and go without much effect.

Let's turn to goal number four. The administration has declared that the CTB is effectively verifiable. Let me define what I mean by effective verifcation, and I think it is a generally accepted definition. It means "high confidence that militarily significant cheating will be detected in a timely manner." In the case of the CTB, of course, this would mean that you are highly confident that you will be able to detect within hours or a few days of the event any nuclear testing which will provide the tester with militarily significant information.

 

Evading the Test Ban

Now, there are two questions that we need to answer in looking at the CTB. First: What yield nuclear test gives the tester militarily significant information? The second question is: Can the CTB verification system detect to that level?

Now, I have taken the conservative approach and said that the basic cutoff point of militarily useful testing is 500 tons, and I selected that number because of the attachment that you will see in my testimony. This table was put together in 1995 by the three nuclear weapons laboratories for presentation to the administration to explain why our nuclear weapons designers would like to be able to continue testing at a level of 500 tons under the CTB. We assume for the sake of argument that a very low number, 500 tons—or it could, of course, be 10 kilotons or some other higher number—is militarily useful. The International Monitoring System of the CTB is expected to provide the ability to detect, locate and identify non-evasive testing of 1 kiloton or greater. Thus, it is clear that the monitoring system will not be able to detect 500 tons or more, up to a kiloton.

However—and this is a very important point—a nation may conduct nuclear tests evasively which would allow several kilotons to be tested with little or no risk of detection. One method by which this might be done is decoupling—that is, detonation of the device in a cavity that can reduce the seismic signal by as much as a factor of 70. This means, for example, that a kiloton explosion would be made to look seismically like a 14-ton explosion fully coupled. A 10-kiloton explosion would look only like a 0.14-kiloton explosion.

Let me give an interesting example. The United States conducted two nuclear tests in the Tatum salt dome located at Chilton, Mississippi. "Sterling," the test conducted on December 3, 1966, had a yield of 380 tons, but the apparent seismic yield was only 5.3 tons. Thus, you can see that the salt dome decoupling effect made the test look much, much smaller.

Now, in his testimony, John Holum said that decoupling was a sophisticated measure, that it would be difficult for countries to achieve. That is patently untrue. I would like to quote from a document that I got recently—an unclassified intelligence community report. It says, "The decoupling scenario is credible for many countries for at least two reasons: first, the worldwide mining and petroleum literature indicates that construction of large cavities in both hard rock and salt is feasible, with costs that would be relatively small compared to those required for the production of a nuclear device; second, literature and symposia indicate that containment of particulate and gaseous debris is feasible in both salt and hard rock."

So I would suggest to you that decoupling is not a terribly big challenge and that it is quite a feasible scenario.

However, let's assume that the country is unable to get a large cavity and is not able to decouple its device. What could it do? Well, I would suggest that one of the easiest things to do would be to put the device that it wanted to test on a barg, send it out to the ocean, let the detonation occur, and wait for the International Monitoring System and The New York Times and CNN to tell them what the yield was. That test would be very difficult to attribute, and perhaps impossible.

So the bottom line is this comprehensive test ban is not effectively verifiable, and militarily significant testing can take place with very little or no risk of detection.

 

Nuclear Modernization

Let's turn now to goal five, which is constraining nuclear modernization. I would agree with administration officials who say that the CTB will constrain the United States and others from being able to modernize their nuclear weapons. But I would see this as a bad thing, not a good thing. Let me give you some examples of three instances in which we would need possibly to modernize our nuclear forces.

In one case, we might need to increase safety measures for our nuclear weapons. We cannot say what new technologies will be discovered in the future that would greatly enhance the safety of our nuclear weapons. It is like saying in 1949 we didn't know that airbags for automobiles would come along in the 1990s. Well, that technology was unknown then. The same kind of thing happens. Technology marches. You find out later that there is a new discovery that you could apply to an old problem of safety, and you need to be able to test to implement that.

Secondly, modernization may be needed for new requirements. We say that we don't have any current new requirements that would make us need a new device design or testing. But that might change. There may be emerging threats. For example, Desert Storm taught us that we need to be able to strike deeply buried targets such as hardened underground bunkers, and we modified the B-61-11 bomb. There may be future instances in which we would need to have a new or redesigned bomb.

There may be emerging defensive technologies. There may be a quantum leap somewhere in which Russia or some other nation may develop a technology that would render our weapons obsolete overnight, and we would need to be able to adjust our deterrent to meet that counterforce challenge.

We would also need to adjust new delivery systems. Years ago we didn't anticipate the global positioning system—the satellite system that enables pinpoint accuracy and that has revolutionized delivery systems. Well, what if there is a new discovery in the future that would enable us to have a more streamlined, lightweight, effective delivery system? If that is the case, we may need a new warhead to go with it. So we should not preclude U.S. ability to test should we need to change our nuclear arsenal.

I would like to raise here another consideration which is not mentioned by the administration and I think is terribly important, and that is that the CTB may actually promote nuclear proliferation. Nuclear testing has demonstrated to our allies, as well as to potential adversaries, that we have a strong commitment to our allies and that our nuclear deterrent is strong. Any decline in the confidence that we have or in our commitment to nuclear deterrence could signal to other nations that are now under our nuclear umbrella that we are not serious. And I would suggest to you that sophisticated nations—Japan, Germany, Italy, who knows which countries—would revisit whether or not they might need their own nuclear option in the future.

 

A High Cost for Limited Benefit

So the punchline is the CTB will not meaningfully accomplish the five non-proliferation goals set out for it. It won't stop nations from designing and deploying nuclear weapons. It will not save the NPT. It will not detect militarily significant cheating. And the international norm that it would create is essentially not meaningful.

Thus, the potential benefits of the CTB to nuclear non-proliferation are meager. On the other hand, the CTB will have a profound impact on the ability of the United States to assure that its nuclear weapons continue to be safe, reliable and effective. Ratifying the CTB will foreclose the ability of the United States to modernize its nuclear forces because U.S. compliance will be certain. So the limited political benefits of the CTB are vastly outweighed by the costs to national security.

I would like to take one moment to correct what I view are some omissions or errors in fact of statements that have been made here today. I will be very brief.

One is that it was stated that we have had no need for nuclear testing since the [U.S.] moratorium began in 1992. Sig Hecker, the former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said in writing last fall that indeed there have been instances since 1992 that, had we not had a moratorium in effect, the U.S. technical community would have advised a nuclear test. That is the first point.

The second is Senator [John] Glenn [D-OH] pointed out that computers today are "able to replace testing." Laboratory directors have said that computers will not replace testing. Virtual reality cannot replace reality. More importantly, the head of the advanced supercomputer program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has said that the success of the [U.S. computing] initiative is uncertain and we won't know for quite some time whether or not the computer systems will perform as planned.

Finally, a question was asked whether or not other nations had honored moratoria in the past. The answer is "no," they have not. Not only did the Soviet Union break out of the moratorium, leaving us flat-footed in the 1958 to 1961 timeframe, but also, as former Secretary of Defense Perry testified before Congress in January of 1996, the current moratorium may have been broken by Russia. No further public details were given on that so I can't go beyond that, but it appears that there was suspicious activity then.

There are other factual difficulties, but I will stop now and turn to questions.

Thank you.

Kathleen C. Bailey, a senior fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, servied as assistant director for nonproliferation at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1987-1991) in the Bush administration.

Challenges of Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Under A Comprehensive Test Ban

March 1998

By Harold P. Smith, Jr. and Richard S. Soll

The nuclear weapons policy and posture of the United States face unique political and technical challenges as the country balances a requirement to maintain its nuclear stockpile against the obligation and desire to provide strong leadership in arms control and non-proliferation. In a world of uncertain dangers and evolving security needs, nuclear weapons and the robust deterrent deriving from them remain fundamental to U.S. national security, although at a level sharply reduced from that required during the Cold War. As Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Walter B. Slocombe told a congressional panel last year, "nuclear weapons will continue to fulfill an essential role in meeting our deterrence requirements and assuring our non-proliferation objectives" until the conditions for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in the context of general and complete disarmament are realized.(1)

When President Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) September 24, 1996, at the UN General Assembly in New York, after nearly three years of negotiations, a new phase of the nuclear age began. The treaty eliminated one of the primary means of maintaining the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons, but the requirement to maintain a high level of confidence in weapons safety and reliability remains. Although the treaty's "early" entry into force may be blocked by certain states whose ratification is necessary (such as India and Pakistan), their possible continued intransigence will have no effect on nuclear testing by the five acknowledged nuclear powers (the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia), which have all signed the treaty. In addition to the principle of international law that signatories should not violate the objectives of a treaty once it has been signed, each nuclear-weapon state has already declared a unilateral moratorium.

One of the key events in the treaty's negotiations came in August 1995, when President Clinton announced that the United States would seek a true "zero-yield" test ban. At the same time, he reaffirmed the vital role of nuclear weapons in national security: "I consider the maintenance of a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile to be a supreme national interest of the United States."(2)

The maintenance of safety, security and confidence in the nuclear deterrent, while the United States continues to provide global leadership in arms control and non-proliferation, will require new and innovative perspectives and processes as the stockpile becomes the oldest in the 50-year history of the nuclear age.

In the absence of underground nuclear test explosions and with no new U.S. nuclear weapons in development, the future arbiter of confidence in the nuclear arsenal will be the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP), conducted jointly by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DOD). The program specifies activities to maintain a high level of confidence that the nuclear stockpile will meet DOD requirements. Rather than relying on the empiricism of testing, the program provides a set of initiatives that will promote an understanding of the fundamental sciences of nuclear explosives and the effects of aging on those explosives. The approach is new, parts of it are relatively unfamiliar, and the program will require an estimated 15 years to reach maturity; thus, the United States could incur some risk as it progresses along the learning curve of science-based stewardship. Nonetheless, several SSMP-related initiatives are already underway, including efforts in stockpile surveillance, the evaluation of aging effects and the development of advanced computational technologies.

The SSMP is tied to a new certification procedure. Each year, DOD and DOE must review the stockpile and recertify its safety and reliability. In the event that the secretary of defense and the secretary of energy determine that a high level of confidence in a particular type of nuclear weapon deemed critical to our nuclear deterrent can no longer be certified, the president, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the CTBT under the "supreme national interest" clause in order to conduct whatever testing would be required. Obviously, the Department of Defense would play a critical role in such a momentous step.

The successful implementation of the new SSMP approach will require an understanding of the issues raised below and more importantly, a sustained commitment by the current and future administrations and Congresses to maintaining the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent while sustaining and promoting a prohibition on nuclear testing. Political skill will be just as important as technical skill, given the U.S. need to balance the disparate capabilities and interests of the recognized nuclear "haves" (the five weapon states); undeclared regional nuclear powers (India, Israel and Pakistan); various aspirants to nuclear weapons status; and the remaining countries. While this latter group embraces the concept of a denuclearized world, its members have an understandable concern regarding their own security in a world of sovereign powers, some of which have or could have nuclear weapons.

 

A World Without Testing

Articles in the press would have one believe that the debate within the executive branch on a test ban was long, bitter and divisive, with DOD single-mindedly arguing vociferously that low-yield testing equivalent to a few hundred tons of high explosives was essential to the security of the country. In fact, DOD's recommendation was to pursue a comprehensive ban that included the clause in the draft treaty text regarding a party's right to withdraw from the accord if it were to decide that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the treaty jeopardized its "supreme interests," a right that is included in most arms control agreements. The president had no difficulty accepting the recommendation for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the thorough briefing by DOE and DOD of all the key decision-makers on the technical advantages and disadvantages of low-yield testing. Rather than bitter and divisive, the road to the decision was an excellent example of good government: collegial, thorough and timely, and the decision itself was sound.

Make no mistake; if the only goal were a technical one—to ensure a reliable stockpile—testing offers the best path for any acceptable level of confidence. However, other political and national security goals, whose importance ranks with reliability, can only be met by not testing. Therefore, the correct question is: Can the United States maintain an acceptable level of confidence at acceptable expense without recourse to nuclear testing? There is good reason to conclude that it can.

First of all, some of the country's best and brightest scientists have been working on nuclear weapons for 50 years. The weapons have been extensively tested and, as a result, there is a comprehensive database that was optimized during the Cold War with the presumption of continued testing and with a new system always on the drawing boards. Now, we are able to draw upon that data, experience and talent. Most importantly, the United States has no requirement to develop advanced new designs of nuclear weapons to increase performance. While the role of nuclear test explosions in developing new, increased-performance designs is essential, it is less important in maintaining the status quo, which includes refurbishing, rebuilding or remanufacturing existing weapons as necessary, or making necessary modifications to improve their safety, reliability and effectiveness. Whether nuclear test explosions can be dismissed altogether for maintaining the enduring stockpile is the challenge that we face.

Britain's experience during its self-imposed testing moratorium from 1965 to 1974 offers a critical counter-example of what can happen even to a very competent party. During the moratorium, the British relied primarily on computer simulation to provide the information they needed concerning their arsenal. However, the advent of ballistic missile defense (BMD) using nuclear weapons on interceptors changed the requirements; the British feared that their warheads would be vulnerable to such nuclear explosions, thus forcing them to design new warheads to meet the new and more demanding environment. Under the 1958 U.S.-British nuclear cooperation agreement, the British revealed to the United States their initial concepts for a new warhead design that was derived solely on the basis of computer simulation. However, U.S. weapons designers, who had already had the benefit of testing warheads under conditions simulating the environment of nuclear BMD forces, concluded that there were performance deficiencies in the British waread design. The British database lacked the new and critical insight that American testing had provided during the British moratorium.

Most experts agree that new designs to increase performance require testing, but is it also true that the United States can maintain an enduring stockpile without benefit of nuclear test explosions? That is what the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program will address.

 

The Role of DOD

The Department of Defense must be both a faithful partner and a smart customer of DOE. Of the first, there can be no doubt; the latter remains to be determined. In hearing after hearing before various congressional committees, DOD officials have consistently and effectively supported DOE and its budgets to implement the stockpile stewardship program.

With regard to being a smart customer, it is interesting to note what has changed insofar as the nuclear stockpile and nuclear test explosions are concerned. In the past, acceptance of DOE's certification that the weapon was reliable was based on the very evident, indeed awesome, results of a nuclear explosion. Now, DOD will have to become a smart customer, one possessing the expertise to examine and question DOE reports of simulations, comparisons with archival data and non-nuclear experiments in much the same manner as a prime contractor must judge the performance of highly specialized subcontractors. The country cannot and should not provide duplicate capability in each department, but DOD must be able to accept responsibly or, if necessary, reject authoritatively a DOE certification of a particular nuclear weapon. A failed nuclear test would have been more than sufficient in the past. It will not be available in the future.

The nuclear weapon is the only system DOD procures for which it does not already possess the requisite "in-house" technological expertise. That situation will have to change, but it is an easier change today than previously. Veteran designers from the weapons laboratories will be available, as they are today within DOE, to lend their expertise to DOD's portion of the certification process. In the longer term, DOD must ensure the cultivation and availability of a new generation of nuclear weapon engineers trained in warhead design, that is, engineers capable of providing oversight of suitability of the warhead provided by DOE.

To accomplish this, DOD personnel will participate in the forensics, by which weapons are taken from the stockpile and dissected in order to determine whether they are aging predictably and/or acceptably. Under a process called "dual revalidation," DOD personnel will work closely with their DOE colleagues on two independent teams, each led by personnel from one of the two weapon design laboratories (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory) to ensure mutual, thorough and independent understanding of each nuclear weapon system. Thanks to the good sense of former Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary, who set aside a potentially damaging recommendation of the Galvin Committee,(3) there will continue to be two weapon design laboratories to ensure independence and to provide directly to DOD two unabridged reports on each weapon system.

Hopefully, from this kind of peer review, with its two independent reports to an educated and cooperative customer, we will understand whether our weapons will continue to be safe, secure and reliable. Peer review may not be a substitute for testing, but given the political importance and advanages of banning nuclear test explosions, it is the next best thing. The United States has successfully encouraged its allies to do the same.

The Department of Defense is depending on DOE to develop and maintain the forensics to identify and evaluate potential safety and reliability problems in U.S. weapons, and to build and maintain the facilities and capabilities to refurbish, rebuild or remanufacture the weapons as required. These are not easy tasks: some materials and manufacturing techniques will not be acceptable or will be unavailable, and original vendors will have disappeared. Nonetheless, despite tight budgets and possible complications incurred in remanufacture, the two departments must find a way to provide the necessary replacements and must ensure that the exercise of the supreme national interest clause, under which the president can decide to forgo the terms of the CTB Treaty and resume testing, will not be necessary.

To carry out this mandate, DOD will support whatever DOE budgets are required, but DOD should not provide the funding. Maintenance of the nuclear arsenal, for sound and long-standing reasons, has never been the province of the military. It should not become so today.

 

Deterrence Under a CTB

Deterrence, unlike art, is not solely in the eye of the beholder; it is also in the eye of the holder. Deterrence is as much dependent on the will and confidence of the deterrer as on the fear of the deterree. If the government were to lose confidence in the reliability and safety of its stockpile and if such loss of confidence were to become known, deterrence could vanish. Therefore, one of the principal vulnerabilities of dual revalidation, strangely enough, is the would-be whistle blower who claims that a given weapon is unreliable or unsafe. Unlike Cassandra, who was correct but not credible, one worries about the malcontent or the misinformed who is credible but not correct in claiming that a given weapon will not work or is not safe. Such news will inevitably get into the media and justifiably cause public concern. Eventually, candidates for office may play on public anxiety by using these allegations in much the same way that the purported but non-existent "missile gap" distorted the presidential election of 1960.

At the same time, the United States will not have the ability to test and thus to show whether the whistle blower is a malcontent or a Cassandra. The ensuing debate could degenerate into the world of the "schoolmen" of the Middle Ages where, this time, the debates will not be over angels dancing on heads of pins but over endless computations, and the nuclear weapons experts, upon whom the government must rely, will lose the confidence of the public and the national leadership. While the concern is real, there remains, nonetheless, no other way than to maintain a steadfast commitment to competent, independent review by peers and knowledgeable evaluation of those reviews by the customer. To be forewarned of the problem is, perhaps, to be forearmed.

 

Debunking Misconceptions

There are two misconceptions clouding the CTB debate concerning U.S. relations with the other nuclear-weapon states. The first is that the French would not have had to conduct their most recent series of tests (during 1995 and 1996) in the South Pacific if the United States had been willing to provide them its computer simulations. The second is the assumption that because the United States has superior computational capability, the CTBT will give the United States a clear advantage over Russia in an era without testing.

Allegedly, the French would not have needed to test nuclear weapons in the South Pacific if the United States had provided them its impressive computational models, which, it is claimed, have become the archive of all the information, all the knowledge, that one needs to develop and maintain nuclear weapons. The assertion is simply not true. The models or computer codes are only as valuable as the databases upon which they are based. Application of U.S. codes to the French database would be of little value to the French, nor would their codes be of any significant benefit to the United States.

The second misconception presumes that the absence of testing will give the United States a significant advantage over Russia. This seems highly unlikely, however, because the challenge of maintaining a nuclear deterrent and adhering to the CTB Treaty is essentially the same for Washington as it is for Moscow. The United States may have begun development of nuclear weapons a few years before the Russians, but more than 50 years have now passed with the result that any U.S. lead has disappeared. Russia's best and brightest scientists have been working on its weapons for the same half century—more than enough time to overcome the U.S. head start, which itself was essentially nullified by effective espionage. The Russians have extensively tested their weapons, with the result that they have a comparable database. The allegation that the United States has a lead in computation is probably true, but computation is by no means everything. Cleverness still counts, as do mathematical and physical insight, and the United States has no monopoly on such insights.

It is important to understand, further, that computational capability is only one of the tools available to nuclear-weapon states for maintaining a high level of confidence in their respective nuclear weapon stockpiles. Other tools include rigorous programs of weapon inspections, laboratory tests and experiments, simulators, and other theoretical and experimental research. In addition, the capability to produce, refurbish and remanufacture nuclear weapons has been and will continue to be, under the CTBT, indispensable to maintaining confidence in the stockpile. This entails the active participation of creative individuals with a thorough understanding of the design and development of nuclear weapons. Russia has outstanding capabilities in all of these areas.

This brings us to the fundamental question: Will the CTBT impact equally U.S. and Russian capabilities to maintain their respective stockpiles? Historically, U.S. practice had been to design, develop and deploy a new warhead for each new weapon system. Given the evolving national security requirements of the time, such replacements occurred well before the end of the useful stockpile lifetimes of the replaced warheads, thus allowing the United States to avoid, for the most part, age-related stockpile problems. In addition, the United States resolved some serious stockpile problems by developing new and improved replacement nuclear warheads which, of course, required testing, sometimes of an extensive nature. Testing was also used to answer definitively questions regarding weapon performance that could not be resolved by other means.

Whether the Russians depended on nuclear testing to maintain confidence in their stockpile to the same extent as the United States is difficult to say. There is reason to believe that they did ot. We think that the Russians ensured stockpile reliability through conservative weapon designs that included lavish use of fissile material and high explosives and by remanufacturing nuclear weapons at periodic intervals before age-related problems appeared. In summary, one can conclude that over the years the Russians (as well as the other nuclear-weapon states) have developed effective tools that work for them to ensure the level of confidence they require in their nuclear weapons under a CTBT.

The United States must find ways to discourage all parties from building the massive arsenals that were held by the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The world does not need another half century of anxiety about the triggering of Armageddon, either on a global level or regionally.

The CTB Treaty, as a corollary to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is a required step. The United States could not have argued so strongly during the NPT extension conference to make the treaty permanent if it had not committed itself to no further testing. The United States was placed in that position by moral and pragmatic considerations, and the president's decision on a test ban was the correct one.

Using the various tools which our scientists have developed and continue to develop, the United States will be able to ensure through the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program that its stockpile is eminently safe, secure and reliable. The United States should do everything feasible—as this administration is doing—to persuade the other four declared nuclear powers and the other countries of the world that the CTB Treaty can enhance the security of us all. Adherence to the treaty is in the best interests of all sovereign powers, even though the nuclear terrorist may remain undeterred no matter how reliable or large our arsenal. By never losing sight of our vital national security interests and the global requirement for nuclear stability, the United States can make the treaty a reality while, at the same time, making the maintenance of a robust deterrent as certain as science will permit.


NOTES

1. Statement before the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services, Hearing on Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence, February 12, 1997. [Back to (1)]

2. Statement by President Bill Clinton released by the White House, Office of the Press Secretary, August 11, 1995. [Back to (2)]

3. Robert Galvin, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, "Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories," February 1995. [Back to (3)]

 


Harold P. Smith, Jr. was assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs from June 1993 to January 1998, where he was responsible for nuclear matters, including stockpile management and implementation of the CTB Treaty. Richard S. Soll is senior scientist and head of special projects at Science Applications International Corportation's Center for Verification Research in Springfield, VA.

Challenges of Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Under A Comprehensive Test Ban

Clinton Urges Senate to Act on CTB; Helms Calls Treaty 'Low Priority'

By Craig Cerniello

In late January, the Clinton administration launched its campaign to achieve swift Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. During his January 27 State of the Union address, President Clinton urged the Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification this year and announced that four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had endorsed the treaty. In February, several key administration officials—including Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Energy Federico Peña—also voiced their strong support for the test ban.

However, achieving Senate approval of the CTB Treaty in 1998 may prove difficult. In a January 21 letter to Clinton, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) announced that the committee will only consider the treaty after it has voted on the ABM "demarcation" and "multilateralization" agreements as well as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. This condition could seriously delay Senate action because the administration has stated that it does not intend to submit the ABM agreements (along with the START II extension protocol) to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification until after Russia has approved START II—a move that may not come for some time. Moreover, the Clinton administration has no plans to submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate in the forseeable future, pending further participation by key developing countries in addressing the issue of climate change.

CTB Gains Momentum

In his State of the Union address, Clinton explained how the CTB Treaty would strengthen U.S. and international security. "By ending nuclear testing, we can help to prevent the development of new and more dangerous weapons, and make it more difficult for non-nuclear states to build them," he said. Clinton continued: "I am pleased to announce that four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—Generals John Shalikashvili, Colin Powell and David Jones, and Admiral William Crowe—have endorsed this treaty, and I ask the Senate to approve it this year."

In their January 27 statement, the four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff conditioned their support for the CTB Treaty on the "six safeguards" established by Clinton in August 1995 and reiterated in his September 1997 transmittal letter to the Senate. Under these safeguards, the United States will conduct the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP) to ensure the safety and reliability of its nuclear arsenal; maintain modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology; maintain the basic capability to resume nuclear testing, if necessary; continue a comprehensive research and development program to improve its treaty monitoring capabilities and operations; continue developing intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities and operations on worldwide nuclear arsenals and programs; and retain the option of withdrawing from the CTB under the "supreme national interests" clause in the event that a nuclear weapon-type critical to the U.S. nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified as safe and reliable.

In a February 2 White House briefing, Robert Bell, senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, gave seven reasons why the CTB Treaty enhances U.S. security. First, the CTB allows the United States to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent. "The point of the treaty is to ban the bang, not to ban the bomb," Bell said. Second, the treaty constrains "vertical proliferation"—the development of more advanced nuclear weapons by the declared nuclear-weapon states. Third, the test ban constrains "horizontal proliferation"—the spread of nuclear weapons to states that do not currently possess them. Fourth, Bell argued that the CTB strengthens the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime and that it would not have been possible to achieve the treaty's indefinite extension in 1995 without negotiating the CTB. Fifth, the CTB improves the ability of the United States to "detect and deter nuclear explosive testing." Sixth, U.S. ratification will encourage other countries to ratify. Finally, Bell said ratification by the United States and others will constrain non-signatories from conducting nuclear tests by "establishing an international norm against testing."

On February 3, President Clinton visited Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where he witnessed a nuclear test simulation by the "Blue Mountain" supercomputer and received a briefing on the status of the SSMP by the directors of the three nuclear weapons laboratories (John Browne at Los Alamos, Bruce Tarter at Lawrence Livermore and Paul Robinson at Sandia). Clinton said the laboratory directors "confirmed that we can meet the challenge of maintaining a nuclear deterrent under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty through the Stockpile Stewardship Program." He also noted that the treaty is supported by General Henry Shelton, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Eugene Habiger, current commander in chief of U.S. Strategic Command.

Clinton's endorsement of the CTB Treaty has been echoed by senior administration officials. Cohen urged the Senate to approve the treaty during his February 3 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, while Albright noted the national security benefits of the test ban in her February 10 statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Two days later, Peña gave a strong pitch for the CTB at the National Press Club and announced that Clinton was forwarding to Congress the second annual certification from the secretaries of defense and energy that the U.S. nuclear stockpile remains safe and reliable.

 

Helms Letter

In his January 21 letter to Clinton, Helms stated that the CTB Treaty is "very low" on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's list of priorities. Helms said "The treaty has no chance of entering into force for a decade or more. Article 14 of the [CTB Treaty] explicitly prevents the treaty's entry into force until it has been ratified by 44 specific nations. One of those 44 nations is North Korea, which is unlikely to ever ratify the treaty. Another of the 44 nations—India—has sought to block the [CTB Treaty] at every step." (Emphasis in original.)

In this context, Helms explicitly stated that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not take up the CTB Treaty until after it has considered and voted on three agreements related to the ABM Treaty (the First Agreed Statement, Second Agreed Statement and Memorandum of Understanding on Succession) as well as the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change. The First and Second Agreed Statements attempt to establish a "demarcation" line between permitted theater missile defense systems and restricted ABM systems, while the Memorandum of Understanding on Succession expands the number of states that are parties to the ABM Treaty from two to five by including Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine (see ACT, September 1997).

President Clinton restated his strong support for the test ban in his February 10 response to Helms. "Rather than waiting to see if others ratify the CTBT, I believe America must lead in bringing the CTBT into force. And with regard to India and Pakistan, I think it is important that when I travel to the subcontinent later this year I do so with U.S. ratification in hand," Clinton said.

Clinton Urges Senate to Act on CTB; Helms Calls Treaty 'Low Priority'

Advancing the Arms Control Agenda: Pitfalls and Possibilities

January/February 1998

An ACA Panel Discussion

Before its annual membership meeting on February 18, ACA presented a panel discussion of the arms control issues facing the Clinton administration and the Senate in the coming years and the state of U.S.-Russian relations. Panelists included Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., ACA president and executive director; Jack Mendelsohn, ACA deputy director; Susan Eisenhower, chairman of the Center for Political and Strategic Studies and a member of the ACA Board of Directors; and John Isaacs, president and executive director of the Council for a Livable World. Eisenhower had returned the previous day from her most recent trip to the former Soviet Union, where she met with a number of Russian and Ukrainian officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov and Defense Council member Andre Kokoshin.

Below is an edited version of the panelists' remarks and the question and answer session which followed.

 


Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

Let me start the proceedings with some observations on where we have been during the past year and where we will be going in the next year and for the rest of the Clinton administration. At this meeting a year ago, I observed that the fate of the Clinton record on arms control in the second term would depend on two actions which were then before us. One was the ability to obtain the Senate's approval of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC], and the other was the success of the Helsinki understandings in obtaining the Duma's ratification of START II. As you all know, that administration made a major effort and achieved approval of the CWC. This demonstrated the ability to complete arms control legislation, despite strong initial opposition, even with this somewhat recalcitrant Senate. At the same time, despite the success of converting the Helsinki understanding into actual agreements in New York in September, the Duma has continued its opposition to ratification of START II.

Today, the administration is faced with four closely interrelated problems, any one of which could prevent progress in arms control. The first is the continued opposition to START II in the Duma because of strong opposition to NATO expansion and, to a lesser extent, concern about the future of the ABM Treaty. The second is the continued Senate efforts to kill the ABM Treaty and possibly oppose approval of the amended START II package because of the theater missile defense demarcation language which it contains. The third is Senate opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban [CTB] Treaty. The fourth problem is the failure to resolve the Iraqi UNSCOM inspection problem.

On START II, the arguments in the Duma about the inequities of the treaty have been largely answered by the Helsinki and New York agreements, which amend the implementation of START II by extending final completion of the reductions for five years and by commiting to undertake START III negotiations to reduce final warhead ceilings from the current 3,000-3,500 to 2,000-2,500. Now, although some Russian officials, taking into account the new Founding Act, appear to be reconciled to NATO expansion, at least as far as the first three new adherents are concerned, the Duma as a whole is clearly not convinced of this. Beyond that the notion of a second phase of NATO expansion to include the three Baltic states is anathema to all Russians across the political spectrum.

On the ABM Treaty, U.S. efforts to "protect" the treaty from domestic critics by establishing a very permissive, self-defined and self-implementing demarcation line have not persuaded the Duma that this will in fact protect the treaty, and have not pacified U.S. advocates of a substantial ABM deployment. In this connection, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott [R-MS] has introduced legislation requiring the deployment of a national missile defense system with an initial operating capability in 2003. This would undoubtedly require crippling amendments to, or the repudiation of, the ABM Treaty. On its part, the Duma will almost certainly attach conditions to its START II ratification that the ABM Treaty must continue in force in its present form.

As to the CTB Treaty, I don't think I have to lecture this group on how important it is as part of the nuclear non-proliferation strategy. It has become the litmus test of the support of the nuclear-weapon states for the reduction of their dependence on nuclear forces. It was a major factor in obtaining the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]. The United States must ratify the CTB in 1998 in order to maintain the momentum of international support for the treaty. Without U.S. ratification, Russia and China are not going to ratify the CTB. If U.S. action is not taken in 1998, it will probably mean that there will not be a widely ratified CTB Treaty in time for the NPT review conference in 2000, which will look to the CTB as the primary indicator of the intentions of the nuclear-weapon states to honor their commitments when the NPT was indefinitely extended in 1995.

There is, unfortunately, significant Republican opposition to the test ban, and more important, at least as of now, there is no leading Republican senator who has taken the role of champion of the CTB. Hopefully, such champions soon will emerge. The administration has undertaken a serious effort to advance the CTB, and I trust Bob Bell will have more to say on that later. The administration has the advantage that never existed in the past in the support of the military and of the weapons laboratories on the treaty. Recently, four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs joined the present chairman in support of the treaty and the current weapons laboratories' directors have all supported the treaty. Now, this support does involve rather lavish support of the stockpile stewardship program of the laboratories. Clearly a stewardship program is necessary; whether it needs to be this generous can be debated. Nevertheless, it should assure us with support of the weapons laboratories.

I think the biggest hurdle for the test ban, in the final analysis, will be the verification issue, rather than reliability and safety concerns. Unfortunately, the intelligence community is the most uncertain in its support for the treaty. As most of you know, the performance of the intelligence community in the case of the recent Novaya Zemlya earthquake was very disturbing, and even now it has not come out unambiguously in identifying it as an earthquake. The community's inflexibility in dealing with an obvious earthquake does not build confidence in its ability to deal objectively with future verification problems.

On a more positive note, there is clearly overwhelming public support for the CTB and little opposition. Hence, if it can ever be brought to a vote, which John Isaacs will discuss, I think it will be approved by the Senate. It will be hard for real-life politicians to oppose such a broadly supported idea.

Now, turning to Iraq, I think it must be put in the category of fundamental problems for the future of arms control. It has become the total focus of the nuclear non-proliferation policy issue with far-reaching implications. I would very much prefer to discuss the more positive aspects of the non-proliferation policy, including: making progress in North Korea, the lining-up of China and Russia in a more supportive role to the non-proliferation regime, and even, possibly changing attitudes toward Iran, but all of these developments have been pushed into the background by Iraq.

There is no question that Saddam Hussein is a menace, although his actual current capabilities, I think, are grossly exaggerated as part of the effort to build public support for punitive action against Iraq. There is no question that he has grossly interfered with the legitimate activities of the UNSCOM inspectors. There is no question that he has repeatedly lied or misled UNSCOM as to the nature and extent of his programs. Speaking personally, I do not oppose punitive action in principle, if it is in fact really necessary to protect the international non-proliferation regime or the integrity of the United Nations. However, one must weigh very carefully the contribution to this objective, namely, building an international nuclear non-proliferation regime and constraining Iraq in the long term, against potential immediate adverse effects, if we go this route essentially alone without clear Security Council backing.

No one appears to have claimed that a limited bombing program will force Saddam out or change his world view. No one appears to claim that such a limited bombing program would prevent his future development of biological or chemical weapons capabilities. But against these unclear positive contributions of a punitive attack and the satisfaction of punishing a wrong-doer, there seem to be a remarkable number of adverse consequences that the administration does not appear to have considered very carefully. These include the destruction of the remarkable Gulf War alliance that is indispensable to maintaining sanctions. It will probably end UNSCOM inspectors' access to Iraq, which, even if incomplete, will be extremely important in the long term in ascertaining whether Iraq resumes its BW, CW and nuclear weapons programs and ballistic missiles to deliver them.

It will almost certainly seriously worsen U.S.-Russian relations. It will substantially undercut the position of our friends in Russia, and drastically reduce the prospects for the Duma's early ratification of START II. Important people in Russia all the way from [President Boris] Yeltsin and Minister of Defense Igor Sergeyev to leading Duma personalities have underscored the negative impact this will have on the prospects for START II. It will also undercut the leadership role of the United States and the prospect for success in the Middle East peace process. To this I would also add that it will probably result in a substantial increase in U.S. domestic pressure in the Senate for a national missile defense, given the almost hysterical over-reaction to the extent of the BW, CW threat that the U.S. government has stimulated.

And finally, unless we are extremely lucky in this limited attack, it will not have any impact on Saddam Hussein and may be even appear to strengthen his position within Iraq and within the region. All of this will have the effect of deflating the almost invincible image that the United States has established for its conventional arms capabilities. The Gulf War was a remarkable military victory. If we follow it with a military exercise that does nothing except create serious new problems, the world may take another look at just how significant super-high technology U.S. conventional arms are.

In closing, let me say that the events of the next few weeks with regard to Iraq and in the next few months with regard to the expansion of NATO, particularly those involving commitments to a second-phase expansion to include the Baltic states, will have a decisive effect on whether the Duma will act on START. This in turn will determine whether there will be significant further progress in arms control during the balance of the present administration.

 

Jack Mendelsohn

I stand here somewhat diffident because I have to steer a straight and narrow path between Susan Eisenhower, who returned last night from Moscow; a representative of the Russian embassy; Stan Riveles, the head of our missile defense negotiating team; and Bob Bell, who's going to speak at lunch on the administration's policy. So I have to be constrained and will probably be contradicted, if not corrected, many times during the day.

The big question is still: Will Russia act on the START II agreement? In the late fall, Russian officials were quite upbeat about the opportunities and possibilities for START II in the Duma after the success of the Yeltsin administration in gaining approval of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Yeltsin administration thought that they had learned how to deal with the Duma in the way that U.S. presidents have to deal with the Senate to get what they want, and they were expecting to move early this year on the Open Skies Treaty, which they thought would be quite easy, and then START II. Clearly, there are a number of extraneous factors, but primarily the Iraq situation has slowed the process down and Duma representatives are now threatening that if we bomb Iraq then they will not act at all on START II or they will reject it.

What is striking about this situation is how similar it looks to the way the U.S. Senate behaves in similar situations. The obvious connections are, first, the linkage aspects, where unrelated incidents lead you to take actions that are not in your own interest, and secondly, not putting an important document—like the CTB Treaty—on the parliamentary calendar; the Duma has not put START II on its calendar. Neither in the U.S. case nor in the case of the Duma does this mean that they are not going to deal with it: that depends on how successful the Yeltsin or Clinton administrations will be in forcing their parliaments to act.

If we bomb Iraq and expand NATO, we could be treading water on START for an extended period of time, perhaps for this year, perhaps for longer. One of the biggest dangers, if the Russians do not act on START II and we tread water, is that the arguments against taking decisive action to deploy missile defenses will be undercut. Because the key argument that the administration uses, and correctly, is that the reason we want to be cautious about what we do on missile defenses is that they are linked to strategic force reductions, both in the minds of most arms controllers and certainly in the minds of the Russians. To allow that strategic force reduction process to continue, we have to be cautious about ballistic missile defenses. If that reduction process doesn't continue, if the Russians look like they are not going to act on START II, that undercuts the argument against missile defense and, I think, strengthens the case of those who want to argue, "Well, the Russians aren't reducing formally in any case so what would be the harm in deploying strategic missile defenses?"

On the other hand, if the Duma—and this is the irony of ironies—if the Duma does approve START II, then the potential blockage shifts to the U.S. Senate, where approval is not assured for the package that will be sent back for Senate action, which is a protocol to extend the time frame of implementation for START II and the package for theater missile defense [TMD] agreements. Helms has made it quite clear, as have other conservative senators, that they want to takea "careful look,"—meaning they'd like to defeat—some aspects of the TMD package.

Now particularly, if the Russians act and the START II package comes to the U.S. Senate—and the administration intends to submit to a START II protocol as a package with the TMD agreements because understandably, as I explained earlier, they are linked. They are related and the administration believes that the TMD material would be quite vulnerable without the START II prolongation protocol. Helms and other conservative senators clearly want to look at the second agreed statement on higher-velocity TMD systems, which some senators object to even though only one ban exists in there on space-related systems. They also want to look at the multilateralization of the ABM Treaty in the memorandum of understanding [MOU] on succession. They object to that for a number of reasons: One, they believe it will make it more difficult in the future to amend the ABM Treaty, and secondly, they believe, mistakenly, that if they defeat the multilateralization MOU, the ABM Treaty then becomes an invalid or inoperative document. There is also an issue related to which branch of government has the right, the legislative or the executive, to name a successor state to a treaty. So there is also sort of a constitutional power struggle in the multilateralization debate.

In any case the administration has a very powerful argument—if it gets the package from the Russians—in favor of the TMD settlement: primarily, that in the minds of the Russians, continued viability of the ABM Treaty, of which the TMD package is part, is linked to significant, monitored, verified, MIRVed reductions under START II and you don't get one without the other. Secondly, the Defense Department supports this treaty, and thirdly, there are serious budget implications if we don't get START II, in embarking on a missile defense program.

In the debate in Russia, they have basically the same three arguments in favor of START II: that they are strategically at a disadvantage if they do not move into START II, where they will have regulated, verified parity with the United States, rather than reduction on their side, which might not be matched by the same kind of reductions on our side. Secondly, their Ministry of Defense very strongly supports START II and has made an excellent presentation to the Duma on the strategic necessity for Russia to move into a START II agreement. And lastly, there are serious budgetary implications for Russia, which will have great difficulty sustaining its strategic forces at START I levels.

Let me just mention briefly some of the issues we will face if we get past the approval stage in the U.S. Senate. There are four, perhaps five, basic issues related to the immediate aftermath of START II approval. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we will be whisked into a discussion of further reductions in the levels of strategic forces. That's something the Russians want, that's something we've committed ourselves to last year in the Helsinki-New York process, and it actually shouldn't be that hard to negotiate. The United States has already said it is prepared to live with a level of 2,000 warheads in the commitment to 2,000-2,500 warheads in START III. The Russians, now, would very much like an even lower level and are talking about figures around 1,500, so we're really talking about a debate or range of warheads from 1,500 to 2,000. It doesn't seem an impossible figure to get either a compromise or arrive at some agreed point.

We are also talking about deactivation. Again, this is something that we are likely to move into quickly because the administration's selling point on START II to the Senate, after having moved the completion date to the end of 2007, is that within a year of the original completion date, January 2003, all the systems that are scheduled to come out of the force will basically be off-line and non-operational. Now, the Russians recognize how anxious we are and, while they are not opposed to deactivation, they have established a linkage between promptly getting a satisfactory level for START III and their completion of the dactivation process. They want to keep the pressure on us for an appropriate level; we've got to keep the pressure on them for deactivating as soon as possible those systems that are scheduled to be eliminated.

Many of you in the audience are interested in de-alerting, which is a subset of deactivation. I urge you to pose questions to Bob Bell this afternoon on where that might stand. Some say that obviously, if you are going to deactivate a system, it's going to be de-alerted; it's not going to be available for use. But there's a second aspect of de-alerting, and that's whether or not the remaining operational forces will come off high alert status, and the administration has combined the two and talks almost interchangeably about deactivation and de-alerting, but there is a difference. As for the deactivation of those systems that are scheduled to be eliminated, everybody's on board. But de-alerting, I think, will have a much more difficult time, both in the United States and in Russia, which, I believe, is not quite ready to talk about de-alerting operational forces at this time.

A third issue that will be on the table is the question of transparency of nuclear infrastructures: stockpiles, dismantling, fissile materials. Here again, I think we're going to have a difficult time. The Russians are not enthusiasts about opening up their nuclear infrastructure to the kind of transparency measures that we ultimately have in mind. As a matter of fact, there is a contrary trend in the Russian position right now, which is that they are seeking less onerous verification, some relief, if you will, from the verification measures that were instituted in START I and carried over into START II and that they now find unnecessary. So, rather than becoming more transparent, they'd like to see some relief. There is some relief that's possible in the verification area, but we don't have an open door from the Russians to transparency.

The fourth issue is tactical nuclear forces, and again, I don't think we're exactly on the same track there. The U.S. put tactical nuclear weapons on the table at Helsinki, although there was not agreement to ban or limit them, it was agreed to discuss "measures" dealing with them. The United States would like to get a little more transparency into the Russian stockpile. The Russians added SLCMs as a counter-proposal because they're not so sure that they want to put their tactical nuclear weapons on the negotiating table. They are sure, however, that they would like to get a better deal on SLCMs than they got in START I, which was simply a very high cap of 800 with not much else involved. Fortunately, the tactical nuclear weapons-SLCMs are to be treated as a separable issue and are not directly linked to START III. Tactical nuclear weapons are something we are going to have to deal with, one way or another, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that as strategic nuclear forces come down, people are going to be concerned that there will be a potentially unsettling disparity in the tactical sector.

The last issue on the START III table—and which will be both highlighted by and left over from the debate in the United States Senate—is Theater Missile Defense. The Russians have made it quite clear that they want to continue to follow the TMD issue, that they are still concerned about developing and deploying highly-capable TMD. So that discussion isn't over and is likely to figure prominently along side the START III negotiations.

 

Susan Eisenhower

On the inevitability of NATO expansion, you know, hope springs eternal. I will not believe it is going to happen until it happens, because I came back from Moscow with the absolute conviction that to expand NATO would be a mistake of historic proportions, and I would underline that several times. NATO expansion has been received, I would say, with fear and trepidation. That in combination with the situation in Iraq has really created a very new dimension to our relations with Russia—a dimension that could jeopardize U.S.-Russian relations for some time in the future.

I had a fascinating trip and met with many officials at all different levels including Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov and Defense Council official Andrei Kokoshin. Perhaps the way to begin my remarks would be to quote Mikhail Gorbachev, who I had the pleasure of seeing at a conference last Saturday. He, of course, is central in many ways to this question of NATO expansion because it is his policy that has been discredited within the Russian Federation. That is, his policy of disarmament and withdrawal and the attempt to create a partnership with the United States.

Let me say that I am going to be making these remarks from the Russian viewpoint, because I think this is something that is absolutely critical, and when you read the U.S. papers, it is astonishing, the lack of perspective that is addressed to the Russian question. I don't know about everybody else here, but I was raised in a family that had very active and dynamic dinner table conversations. I was constantly the trouble-maker, raising all kinds of issues at dinner. Part of the Eisenhower family tradition was that you weren't allowed to make a blanket statement about anything unless you assessed how it looked to the other guy. We don't do that very well in this country, and I must say, coming back from Russia and having a sense of seeing it from the other perspective, I think there are a number of issues that we are going to have to focus on now if we are going to avoid a complete meltdown in relations. I was frankly shocked before I left for Moscow, to read an open letter signed by more than 60 retired admirals and generals supporting NATO expansion. I could respect, certainly, all of their arguments, though I disagree with them, except where they got to the blanket statement in this open letter that, believe it or not, expansion of NATO is going to improve U.S.-Russian relations. I think to say it as a statement is absolutely astonishing. The principle being that NATO expansion is about creating stability, and therefore Russia will welcome stability, and therefore U.S.-Russian relations will improve.

In discussing this particular open letter in Moscow, which they were aware of, one democratic reformer emphasized that if NATO expansion isn't bad enough, having the U.S. tell Russia what's in its interest doubles the insult. We are going to have to accept the fact that NATO expansion is not going to improve U.S.-Russian relations and it should just be taken as a fact, because the Russians have told us it's not going to improve relations.

At a conference, Gorbachev listened to all the technical discussions about arms control arms reductions, and finally became somewhat exasperated by it and said, all the technical stuff is fine, but what we have here is a philosophical question before us. And that philosophical question relates to, what kind of relationships we are going to have with each other. It is a question of trust, he said. And he added frankly, NATO expansion has absolutely poisoned the atmosphere—those were his words—of U.S.-Russian relations. I don't know whether the translator was correct but he also used the word 'swindled,' which is a pretty strong word.

In fact, Gorbachev and others see a number of policies that the United States has adopted as deeply threatening to Russia in many ways. Not only NATO expansion, butalso this appearance that the United States wishes to dominate the world in some kind of unilateral fashion. Gorbachev made the point of saying that U.S. behavior, not only on NATO expansion but also on the question of Iraq, has given real life to the conspiracy theories that have been floating around Russia for some time.

He raised another point about a policy that I began to see for the first time from the other side's point of view. And that is the necessity within the former Soviet space for countries there to cooperate with one another. He made the point that the United States has adopted a policy that will not allow for even economic integration between Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and other countries, which have worked together for centuries. In fact, there is a tendency to begin to try to enter into relationships in that part of the world, as a way to thwart Russia. I went to Kiev on this trip and it was very clear that the Ukrainians took the opportunity to complain about the Russians. I had some uneasiness that the United States was going to be part of some competition, in terms of influence. I personally was uncomfortable with that because, as Gorbachev mentioned, some kind of cooperation, certainly on the economic front, is going to be absolutely crucial because the United States has not provided economic help and their economic survival is going to depend on some interaction.

In any case, I think the strongest message I came away with was that even Gorbachev himself, who has always been very Western-focused, made the point very strongly that U.S.-Russian relations are at their most serious point in some time. You might be interested to know that Gorbachev is against strikes in the Middle East, because he is of the opinion that there is a vast difference between the situation in 1991, when Iraq was clearly a military aggressor, and the situation now, where he and others believe there is still room for a diplomatic solution.

Gorbachev, of course, was the man who presided over unification of Germany back during the days of the Soviet Union. There were renewed complaints about the fact that the Soviets had received assurances about NATO expansion. But perhaps the most interesting discussion I had was with one radical reformer who felt that there was another betrayal perpetrated on the Russians after the "Two-plus-Four" period. He said that in 1994 he had attended a NATO conference and was told that unless Russia joined Partnership for Peace, NATO would expand. Several months later NATO committed itself to expanding anyway. In the meantime he had testified before the Duma supporting the idea of Russia becoming a member of Partnership for Peace, precisely to avoid this eventuality. This young reformer was saying to me that he regards it as a personal insult to him that Russian reformers had been betrayed a second time.

I mention this only because now we've got two generations of aggrieved Russians on this particular point and it was said with a kind of passion that surprised even me. I have to say, however, it was very clear that the unhappiness about NATO expansion was underscored many times by the issue in Iraq. This is one aspect that will have huge impact for the arms control agenda. I was told, not by one person but by many, that if in fact there are unilateral strikes in Iraq, START II is dead. It's not even postponed; it is flat out dead. And so again, taking the Russians at their word, which they certainly deserve, I think we should take note of that.

Coming back and reading the American press or even some of the press that reached me in Russia, I think we have to examine the way Russia is being characterized inside the United States as a bad actor on the international stage. My own personal opinion is that Americans are not very good at looking at it from other people's perspectives. It's very clear to me that the Russians have a very specific viewpoint, and that it's not an anti-American viewpoint at all. In fact, I was rather interested that a number of Yevgeniy Primakov's colleagues, some of whom were critics of Primakov, told me what Primakov's line had been inside Russia. They said that evn in closed-door sessions of the Duma, Primakov has been trying to convince Russia of the importance of working with the United States.

I say this because it seems to me that at the heart of the way we perceive Russia in this Iraqi situation is our interpretation of who Yevgeniy Primakov is. I don't know if you saw The Washington Times article that came out last week characterizing Primakov as this Soviet apparatchik, a Brezhnev protégé, former KGB agent who had connections in some way to Lavrenti Beria, a man who is working against U.S. interests at all points. I have to tell you, such misinformation reminds me of the Soviet Union, though this time it came from our side. I took that article and made it my business to talk to at least five different people across the political spectrum about who Yevgeniy Primakov is, and found, to my intense interest, that there at least five or six flat-out factual errors in this story.

I thought I would take my opportunity here to tell you very quickly what I found out about Primakov. I have known him for twelve years myself. I actually met with him on this trip, and so I can tell you that first off, he was not happy at being regarded as someone connected to Lavrenti Beria. In fact, his wife was Georgian, but there is no family tie there at all. But then, not taking Primakov's word for things, as I say, I was interested that so many reformers believe that, in fact, Primakov had spoken long and hard in private sessions about the importance of good U.S. relationships. Several of his earlier colleagues emphasized that it's not possible that Primakov worked for the KGB in the early years back in the Middle East simply because at the Institute, everyone knew who was who. It is important to note that Primakov came to power in the Soviet Union first through his promotion by Alexander Yakovlev, who was regarded as "the architect of Perestroika," and later was promoted as an alternative member of the Politburo by Mikhail Gorbachev. I was told by several people and Primakov himself that because of his travels, Primakov never actually met Brezhnev.

The point being that if you believe that Primakov and other Russians wish to specifically thwart the United States in this part of the world, then suddenly you can see the need to expand NATO rapidly or to take a completely different approach. If you look at Primakov and others as reformers who are trying hard to defend the interests of new Russia as it goes through a very difficult transition, then you come up with a very different way of looking not only at Russia, but perhaps U.S.-Russian relations.

In addition to the economic power struggle, there is a power struggle within the national security apparatus. I thought it was extremely interesting that the division within that community could be seen in three ways. Over the signing of the NATO-Russian Founding Act, there were those who were absolutely against signing it at all, and then within the camp of westernizers, there was a division betweem those who believed Primakov should have held out longer, and those who thought he had no choice but to sign. In general, most westernizers felt that he probably had to sign for one specific reason: to prove one more time to the United States and to the world that this is no longer the Soviet Union they're dealing with.

In conclusion, I would say that I find all this extremely difficult. Many of those here in the audience, including Bob McNamara and I, were going back and forth to the Soviet Union in the late 80's trying very hard to improve U.S.-Soviet relations. Today I think relations are at their worst, certainly in the last decade. I'm not sure what we could do to repair relations, but certainly none of the major issues that are on the agenda, including non-proliferation and curbing drug trafficking can be done without Russia. I think we have to have a wholly different approach to this part of the world because in the end they have a different viewpoint about how to solve this crisis in Iraq and how to build European security.

In Iraq, they feel that since Saddam Hussein does not have any launch capabilit for his developing program that there's at least enough time to work out a diplomatic solution—a solution that would be, as Primakov himself told me, "a victory for the international community." But there will be huge resistance if they see American unilateral action going forward unchecked because, in their view NATO expansion and U.S. unilateral action in Iraq are all part of a larger pattern of, as Gorbachev said, an American desire for superiority in the world. There is deep concern about the future of the UN and other international institutions.

I wish I had a more encouraging report. Maybe I'm going to be a dissident when I say that the positive movement has to come from our side. Because, the Soviet Union of Gorbachev's era, and now Russia, has done the very things that were part of our wildest dreams during the Cold War. It's not a question of wanting to be an imperial power. There seems to be complete understanding that they are no longer a superpower. A little respect and recognition of their legitimate needs would go a long way. At the dinner table we should try to look at it from the other guy's standpoint. There is never going to be any possibility to solve great international issues without that as a starting point.

 

John Isaacs

Unlike Susan Eisenhower, who got off a jet plane from Moscow to come here for the talk, I only took a cab ride from Capitol Hill—though some people would argue that the distance I traveled is even greater.

As is frequently the case, much of our hope for arms control progress in 1998 rests on what happens in the legislative branch—not a very friendly one at that. The major difference we face now, compared to previous times, is that we have two legislative branches to be concerned about, the Russian Duma as well as the U.S. Senate. It almost makes one long for the good old days when the Soviet general secretary would just tell the legislature when to approve a treaty.

I have a list of 15 or 16 treaties that could be considered by the Senate. I'd like to focus on, what I believe, will be the three most important ones that may—or may not—be considered. First, of course, is NATO enlargement. Second is the CTB Treaty. And third, what I count as five treaties related to the ABM Treaty, START I, and START II—all of which could be and may be submitted as a package to the Senate later this year.

Now, to do well in this group of three treaties will depend on the relationship between our secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and our chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms. As this relationship goes between Mr. Helms and Ms. Albright, so in many ways go our hopes for arms control in the Senate, aside from a few other little things that have been discussed—like what may happen in Iraq and the Russian Duma.

Part of the reason that NATO enlargement is sailing so rapidly through the Senate is because of the strange bedfellows supporting that treaty. You have Helms and Albright, and you have Clinton and the majority leader, Trent Lott, all on the same side—it's a tough combination to beat. Now, I won't say more about NATO enlargement because we've already heard a lot about that, and I'd really like to focus particularly on the next two areas, the CTB Treaty and the ABM-START-related package.

Most of you may have heard about the letter from Senator Helms to the president saying, "Yeah, I'll deal with the CTB Treaty, but not until I deal with, first, the Global Warming Treaty, and second, the ABM Treaty." I would take that with something of a grain of salt. It's not exactly gospel; it's Jesse Helms laying out his opening position for the upcoming negotiations with the Clinton administration. That means that the administration—the president, Secretary Albright, National Security Advisor Berger—now has to put forward its position on proceeding in the Senate this year.

I understand a response letter has gone from the president to the Senate, but I haven't seen it and I haven't spoken to anyone who has. Undoubtedly, there will be heavy negotiations on what comes up in the Senate after NATO enlargement, which may well be considered by the end of March.

My understanding is that while Senator Helms is proclaiming "no, no, no" to the CTB, his staff is quietly preparing for what they see as very possible hearings and committee and floor action on the treaty. In trying to get the CTB considered, I'd like to remind you all that there are also many chips on our side of the table. The Senate Republicans have a long list of bills that they want the Senate to consider to set the stage for the 1998 congressional elections. That agenda can be held up by Democratic senators who insist on a vote on, let's just say, the CTB or some other issue. And I'd like to remind you further that it was a mild-mannered New Mexican senator, Jeff Bingaman, who went to the Senate floor in the fall of 1995, took off his jacket to reveal a Superman T-shirt underneath, and began a long, long speech just when the Republicans wanted to bring up the flag burning amendment. He managed to get the Republicans to come to an agreement within two days on a time certain for a vote on the START II treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. This Bingaman theorem, holding up some of their legislation for some of our legislation, can work to our advantage on the CTB Treaty this year, too.

The further good news on the CTB is that the Clinton administration is truly getting its act together. We all saw the State of the Union address, where there was not only strong endorsement but also the letter of endorsement from the former chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That was followed by the president going to Los Alamos to give a strong pitch for the CTB, Secretary Peña speaking to the National Press Club last week; and various staff briefings and staff trips to verification sites and weapons labs, by the staffs of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees. Remarkably, despite someone saying that there is a lot of opposition to the CTB, I know of only one or two Republican senators who have said "no" to it. Republican Senators have been remarkably silent on this issue thus far. That all leaves me mildly optimistic—though I certainly wouldn't bet on it—that we can get the CTB Treaty scheduled for later this year—hopefully by the summer—and that we can actually win Senate approval.

But as hard as the CTB fight in the Senate will be, I believe that the fight for the ABM Treaty amendments will be even harder. I think Republicans are reluctant to try to defeat a major new international commitment, whether it's NATO enlargement, the Chemical Weapons Convention, or the CTB Treaty. But I think they look upon the ABM Treaty in a much different way as a 25-year old treaty; they feel there are fewer consequences trying to defeat or cripple the treaty. As we all know, national ballistic missile defense has been an article of faith for Republicans since Ronald Reagan was president, and I don't think naming Washington National Airport after him will fulfill this article of faith. Since 1995, Republicans have been pushing for ballistic missile defenses by the year 2003; while they have failed in Congress to get missile defense mandated, they have forced the Clinton administration to ratchet up funding so that we are now spending $4 billion on missile defense.

The voting numbers for the ABM Treaty amedments work in the Republicans' favor. Winning approval of a mandated ballistic missile defense over a Clinton veto requires 67 votes; that's why the Republicans failed in 1995 and 1996 and that's why Trent Lott—despite saying missile defense was a major priority last year—never even brought it up for a vote. But to kill one of these ABM Treaty amendments, all the Republicans need is 34 votes. Thirty-four votes instead of 67 is obviously a much easier number to attain.

When Senator Helms says he wants to "dispose" of the ABM Treaty before the CTB Treaty, he's using the word in both senses. I'd like to quote Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, from a speech last October, who I think reflects the views of a number of Republicans on the ABM Treaty in calling the treaty "a mistake in 1972 and even worse policy today." Senator Inhoffe said, "I believe that this [the consideration of these ABM Treaty amendments] is an opportunity we need to be looking forbecause all it would take is 34 senators to reject this multilateralization of the ABM Treaty. I believe we should take this opportunity that there is, when it comes before this body for ratification, to reject this and thereby kill the ABM Treaty, which certainly is outdated." Now we have good lawyers here—such as John Rhinelander—who might argue that if the Senate defeats one of these amendments it does not really kill the ABM Treaty. But it's clear that the political impact of that defeat would be devastating for our arms control hopes—in Moscow and in Washington.

The administration, as we've heard, hopes to tie this package of five agreements together and say to the Senate, "If you want further nuclear reductions, you have to go along with the ABM Treaty amendments." But again, as we've heard, that depends on events: what happens in Iraq and what happens with START II in the Russian Duma.

So, as usual, 1998 shapes up as a challenging year in the Senate. I think we'll be done with the NATO issue one way or another by the end of March, and then we hope to begin the major push to get the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to schedule the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

 

Questions & Answers

Q: If there is no action on START II and III, can we go into a de facto arms control regime where both sides will abide by the limits, although there is no treaty obligation?

Mendelsohn: It's a good question, and maybe I can only answer it by talking around it. The Russians themselves have, at times, suggested that maybe we ought to leapfrog START II and move right into START III. The administration has resisted this because they sense that what the Russians have in mind is perhaps congruent with our thoughts on levels, but not congruent on how you get to those levels. What would happen, most likely, is that if you went on a gentleman's agreement basis, the Russians would have every reason and opportunity to drop the key component of START II, which we find most attractive, and that is the elimination of MIRV-ed missiles. So, it would be hard to get anything but a levels agreement, if you will, as a follow-on if you skip START II. If we didn't get the MIRV part, I think that would make it unattractive to the Senate, so we'd have serious friction on this. I'm not optimistic about leap-frogging. If you lose STRT II for some reason or another, you'd probably have to go back to the table rather than having a virtual agreement.

Keeny: I would just add that going back to the table on these very complex agreements, START I and START II, and reconstructing it, would put completion past this administration. We have all learned from past experience that if things are delayed for an extended period, lots of things can happen. You will regret greatly not having completed the action.

Q: What are the prospects of having any Senate action on any agreements given the complex linkage that exists, and what kind of conditions can we expect on these other, more important treaties given the large number of conditions attached to the Senate's advive and consent to the Chemical Weapons Convention?

Isaacs: I guess the part about conditions doesn't particularly bother me. Yes, there were 28 conditions added to the Chemical Weapons Convention, but how many can name any of those 28 conditions, and how many of them are having a serious impact today? I asked this question to Harvard chemical expert Matthew Meselson just a couple of days ago and he said maybe one has serious implications for carrying out the Chemical Weapons Convention, but the other 27 really don't. Mostly conditions have served as statements of policy and opportunities for senators to state a position without causing serious damage to most treaties.

The larger question is: Can the Senate do anything this year? The Senate schedules legislation through negotiations; for any legislation to come up, there will have to be negotiations, and that's more or less what I was indicating. There have to be negotiations between the Clinton administration and Senator Helms and Senator Lott on what comes up this year in terms of national security issues after NATO enlargement. I think that the logical bargain that one can see is the administration, which has not submitted this ABM Treaty package to the Senate as yet, agreeing to submit those treaties to the Senate for a vote in return for Helms and Lott guaranteeing time for debate and a vote on the Senate floor on the CTB Treaty. And the gamble will be that the Clinton administration can win on the ABM Treaty using the nuclear reductions argument. That, of course, still depends on what happens with the Russian Duma, what happens in Iraq and other things that I won't even try to predict. If the Senate can spend two weeks on the Ronald Reagan airport, and they can deal with the START II treaty in a few hours, they can deal with CTB.

Q: What could be done to defeat the NATO expansion bill, and what is the possibility?

Eisenhower: I would just say delay; I think any delay would be a positive thing. The reason I remain hopeful, maybeit's unrealistic, is that there are a lot of wild cards out there. We might use force in Iraq and there could be resistance on Capitol Hill. The president's personal problems could also enter into this. There are a lot of wild cards out there. We do have this rather peculiar deadline, because we have to be ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NATO, which is the driving reason we're rushing to do this. But I think any delay that occurs means that there is more time to reconsider the unanticipated consequences of this policy.

Isaacs: There's certainly a lot of concern in this room about NATO enlargement, and those concerns are reflected throughout the Senate. But the problem we've had is those concerns have not been reflected by senators willing to get up and say, "I'm going to vote against NATO enlargement. I am going to lead the fight against it." If we can't get that, we can't win. Just last week, Senator John Warner [R-VA], who was one of the senators we had counted on to lead the opposition, more or less changed his tune from opposition to three-year delay on the second round of NATO enlargement. Senator Ted Stevens [R-AL], who had also expressed serious reservations about the cost of NATO enlargement, seems to be going along and will offer one of these 28 conditions, or whatever the number will be, that will show he is concerned without seriously affecting NATO enlargement. There are a lot of wild cards that could disrupt things, including the campaign in Iraq. There are conditions on nuclear weapons, on further expansion on the Baltic states, which could break up the pro-NATO coalition, but at this point, it looks very difficult for our side, the anti-side, to win.

Q: Why do the Russians take out their frustrations with the United States by threatening not to ratify START II, which does have the value of ensuring them parity with the United States? What is it that causes this political reaction in Russia?

Eisenhower: There's nothing logical about this sort of thing, and the deputies in the Duma whom I talk to and who support ratifying START II see it just as some way to express their unhappiness with us. They have no other tool to use to emphasize their unhappiness, even though it's counterproductive. The deputies who would like to see START II ratified are rather exasperated by this. There is always a danger that we can take everything too logically. We're talking about human beings who react on an emotional basis. This looks like something that could be used to demonstrate that frustration, even if it's not in their interest. I would just hope that we use a little more psychology in the future because we could probably get everything we want in Iraq, along with good relations with Russia.

Isaacs: It's not frustrated legislators, it's trying to apply logic to the legislative bodies. There's a parallel if you want to look at illogic in terms of how a number of Republican legislators view the Nunn-Lugar program. Various legislators in the Huse have been saying, "The Russians are doing awful things in Iraq and Iran, and therefore, by God, we should cut off the Nunn-Lugar program to help the Russians dismantle their nuclear the weapons that could be pointed at us." That doesn't seem to be logical to me, but it was logical to about 200 members of the House of Representatives. So, if there is illogic from time to time in the Duma, there may be some in our legislative body as well.

Q: In the world we're in today, it's no longer thought to be good for the economy to have high defense spending, either here or in Moscow. When people talk about arms control proposals, they ask how much money will it save. Is it possible that economic constraints might be the saving grace of these arms control problems?

Isaacs: Dealing with economics brings in a measure of logic which doesn't always apply. There's another example around the world where the IMF is going around to a number of countries, South Korea particularly, but also Central European countries, and saying, If you want to rebuild your economies, you have to cut military spending. Then Secretary of Defense Cohen goes to the same countries saying, "You'd better not cut military spending." So, we have the economics weighed against other policy elements. I think there is a strong argument within the Pentagon for the economics that you talked about. The Pentagon would be delighted to go down to START II levels immediately; they're restricted by Congress. There is a fair possibility that there could be this tacit agreement, moving to the lower numbers under START II, although in response to the earlier question, I can't see how we would move on to START III without formal ratification of START II. So economics could drive the Pentagon, which could drive U.S. policy toward some of these reductions we desire.

On the other hand, at the same time, Speaker Newt Gingrich and others are going around saying, "$270 billion may not be enough for the military this year. We'd like to raise the military budget." So maybe while you see economics as the driving force for cutting military spending, there are others in Congress who would rather increase military spending, no matter what the consequences.

Q: Why does U.S. military action against Baghdad reinforce Russian concerns about NATO expansion?

Eisenhower: I'm glad you asked that question because I'd like to clarify that the word "swindle" related to NATO expansion, not to Iraq. First of all, there are both similar features and certain features that are different. The key similarity, at least from what I understood, was in the perception that America is intent on using its status as the world's only superpower to impose its will across the board, most specifically in NATO expansion and with Iraq. There's been very little analysis of even where Russia's interests are in the Middle East with respect to Israel. You kind of get this feeling that they must be againt Israel, in some fashion, because of what seems to be a pro-Arab approach from Moscow. But in fact, there are 700,000 former Soviets living in Israel, so they have a great interest in Israel's security as well. In Moscow, I heard many times that the UN is in jeopardy if the United States acts unilaterally because the votes in the Security Council are in favor of finding a diplomatic solution; so, if the United States acts unilaterally, it has essentially said that the UN does not count. The Russians, and again this is their viewpoint, regard the UN as a vital organization in the world because it is one organization in which they have a voice as well as a veto. And I heard over and over again that unilateral strikes would undermine the UN, when it was bad enough that the United States doesn't pay its dues.

A couple of people also said to me: "Isn't it sort of ironic that your secretary of state, your chief diplomat, is saying that diplomacy won't work, and isn't it interesting that your former ambassador to the UN says that the UN can't handle this issue." I think that there is just a very strong feeling in Moscow that use of force in the long run will not deter proliferation questions because it only underscores one more time that the only way to be of any importance in this world is to have all the high technology gadgets that can help you impose your will. Again, these are not my views, but this is what I heard.

Keeny: I'd just underscore one aspect of that response. From a Russian perspective, they would like to feel they were in a cooperative position working with the United States. But their positions, which don't seem illogical on Iraq, are just dismissed out of hand by the United States, which says it will proceed unilaterally, regardless of world opinion in general, and Russian opinion in particular. That can disturb Russians, particularly if they are feeling that their general political position in the world is substantially threatened.

Eisenhower: One other interesting thing that Primakov mentioned in our meeting was that if the United States takes unilateral action, in his view, it will be the end of the peace process in the Middle East. The United States is the key actor in the Middle East, and this will discredit the United States' position there. So, there is more at stake than the question at hand. Not only the future of the UN, but the United States' position in the region as well as the ability to deal with these issues cooperatively.

Q: Do the Russians really have a different estimate of what Saddam Hussein wants to do with respect to developing weapons of mass destruction? Are their interests really different from ours?

Eisenhower: My impression is that the Russians do share our non-proliferation goals and it is a question of whether diplomatic means have been exhausted. In the course of trying to research some of Mr. Primakov's biography, I did discover something rather interesting. In this Washington Times article, the author made a big deal about Primakov's trips to the Middle East just before the war with Iraq. You'll remember, he went twice. This is actually the genesis of this tremendous campaign against Primakov here in this country. In the Washington Times article, it said these two trips to Iraq created a complete fall-out between Primakov and Shevardnadze. The implication was that Primakov was freelancing in the Middle East against the foreign minister's wishes. I used my opportunity when I saw Gorbachev on this trip to ask him this question directly: Who sent Primakov to the Middle East? Was this Primakov off trying to find solutions on his own against the foreign minister's wishes? Gorbachev said flat out he personally sent Primakov to the Middle East on those two occasions. What was also interesting about this, and this was confirmed by two other sources I talked to, is that Shevardnadze reacted in a way that no one in Moscow could understand because Gorbachev had sent Primakov himself. Primakov was of the view that the war could be averted, because of his long-standing relationships there. In fact, Shevardnadze's position on this against Primakov actually did much to split Gorbachev's relationship with Shevardnadze. I thought that was very telling. Again, because we have a rather cockeyed view of Primakov in all this, this tends to infect the way we view the Russian role. We all have to keep our eyes and ears open. At least as far as I know and from what he said, our non-proliferation goals are the same. He emphasized that many times to me but others said that he did it privately in the Duma, that they are going to support UN resolutions. The difference maybe in the perception of whether, actually, diplomatic means have been exhausted.

Keeny: This confrontation with Iraq comes at a time when we seem to be having some success in persuading Russia to tighten up its export controls, its handling of peripheral leakage or sale of information to potential proliferating countries. I think the Russians are increasingly recognizing that they have as much to worry about weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East as anybody else, and that they should do all they can to tighten up this regime. If I were that close to Iraq, I would want to be very careful that this kind of U.S. intervention was going to contribute to the principal non-proliferation objective, namely, making sure that 10 years down the road, Iraq is really part of the community of nations and does not have a substantial additional capability with weapons of mass destruction.

The United States hasn't really been very imaginative in a number of the approaches that one might take. I'm not saying they would succeed, but one of the complaints of the Iraqis has been the unbalanced nature of the inspection teams, which are overwhelmingly American and Anglo-Saxon in make up. A number of people, including the Russians, have suggested, why don't you modify and expand the nature of the inspection teams to either obtain Iraqi acceptance or at least call their bluff. Why not add to the existing group a significant number of Russians, French, Chinese, Italians, what have you, and make it a much larger inspection group, and even possibly reduce the number of Americans. I would involve these other countries directly in Saddam Hussein's bad behavior if it continues vis-à-vis the inspection teams. We've taken a very arbitrary position. We do it exactly the way it is and the way we want, and we won't even consider anything else. We have not created a world opinion that we really have exhausted all the diplomatic approaches, and I think that is very frustrating to the Russians and other people who may well have basically good intentions in trying to resolve this without creating a situation which makes it even more certain that Saddam Hussein will continue his programs of weapons of mass destruction and destabilizing nature in the region.

Q: I wonder if Susan Eisenhower heard any ideas when she was in Moscow for diplomatic alternatives to bombing that couldn't usefully be applied here?

Eisenhower: The only thing I heard was when I met with Primakov on Saturday. The big question was whether Kofi Annan was going to go to Iraq. He personally stated that he wanted to see that happen. But beyond that, I'm afraid that was one of the questions I should have asked but I didn't. This, if you'll remember, on Saturday was just after a Washington Post article about Russian sales of fertilizer fermentation equipment. There was some personal insult felt around Moscow. I personally cannot evaluate that story, but some people said that the accusations were a provocation, that there wasn't anything to it. I can just say as a person who is part of this community, that dual-use transfers are going to be a very big problem.

Q: What are the constructive things the United States can do to maintain UN sanctions on Iraq?

Keeny: In view of Saddam Hussein's bad behavior, we can probably maintain the sanctions. I think if we engage in an ineffective bombing campaign, we may well find a number of important countries will simply no longer abide by the sanctions. The whole sanctions regime may collapse if Saddam can emerge as the perceived aggrieved party and not someone who is in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Before its annual membership meeting on February 18, ACA presented a panel discussion of the arms control...

Strategic Agreements and the CTB Treaty: Striking the Right Balance

January/February 1998

By Robert Bell

On February 18, Robert Bell, special assistant to the president for national security and counselor to the assistant to the president for national security affairs, delivered the luncheon address to the Arms Control Association's annual membership meeting. In his dual-hat role, Bell advises the president and the president's national security advisor on a broad range of defense and arms control issues, including national security strategy, strategic nuclear and conventional arms control and weapons acquisition. Since joining the National Security Council in 1993 as senior director for defense policy and arms control, Bell has become a leading voice in U.S. policy debates on these issues.

Before joining the administration, Bell served as the principal arms control advisor to two of the Senate's most influential members during the 1980s and early 1990s: Charles Percy (R-IL), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and then Sam Nunn (D-GA), chairman of the Armed Services Committee. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy (1969) and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (1970), Bell also served as an Air Force officer and worked as a defense analyst at the Congressional Research Service. The following is an edited version of Bell's remarks and his responses to questions.

 


It is a special pleasure for me to be invited to address your annual membership luncheon, because the Arms Control Association and its leadership, especially your very able executive director and deputy director, Spurgeon Keeny and Jack Mendelsohn, and all of your members—and forgive me for not recognizing many of the "giants" in this room who have built the platform of defense security and arms control on which this administration stands today—have truly been stalwart champions for arms control and non-proliferation throughout my entire professional career.

It's a true pleasure to salute the association, Spurgeon, for everything you do—for your intense involvement in winning the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] last year; before that, winning the ratification of START I and START II, and those were not givens; and winning the unanimous support of the Senate, including a "yes" vote from Senator [Jesse] Helms, for the CFE flank accord last summer; for your close monitoring, involvement and support for the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] in 1995 and the successful conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban [CTB] Treaty, which the president has called the hardest-fought, longest-sought prize in the history of arms control; for your efforts to sustain and extend the Nunn-Lugar program and other efforts to address the security, control and safe disposition of the residue of the Soviet Union's nuclear menace; and last, but certainly not least, for your organization's unwavering defense of the fundamental integrity of the ABM Treaty and its continuing vital role as a cornerstone of strategic stability.

When I think about the Arms Control Association and the ABM Treaty, I can't help but be reminded that the last time I attended a full-membership event of this organization was in 1988. I was in the company of Senator Sam Nunn, who this organization was honoring that night for his phenomenal defense of the ABM Treaty and his rebuttal—indeed, the demolishing—of the reinterpretation that Judge Sofaer had put together. Senator Nunn had drawn hugely on contributions from John Rhinelander and Ray Garthoff and so many other people in this room, but you were here to honor Senator Nunn that night. As I well recall, Senator Nunn decided, being a plain-speaking man, that that would be a good occasion and this would be a good forum to unveil his proposal for deploying by 1996 a treaty-compliant national missil defense [NMD] that he, at my urging, had called "ALPS," for Accidental Launch Protection System—a term that he hated, by the way. And as I recall quite clearly, when the senator finished his remarks, the silence was deafening. That was quite a night. He was your "man of the year," but what a moment.

So, before anyone worries, let me be very quick to say that I've not come back seven years later to announce that the administration has decided to deploy a national missile defense. But I would like to talk about national missile defense and the ABM Treaty, and especially their interrelationship. I also want to update you and the association on where we're going with START II ratification, START III, CTB ratification, de-alerting, and our policies on strategic nuclear deterrence, no first use and negative security assurances. In doing this I want to repeatedly come back to the theme of balance. Indeed, I've titled my remarks, if you will, "Strategic Agreements and the CTB Treaty: Striking the Right Balance."

Now, for those of you that know me well or have worked with me over the last two decades, it may not surprise you that I've put so much emphasis on the need for balance in our strategic approach. I mean, just consider the following tidbits from my bio, some of which Stan Resor ticked off. My mother was a very wealthy Yankee from Massachusetts, but my father was a working-class Southerner from Alabama. My military service was in the Air Force, but in the Senate I worked for a Navy man and a former Coast Guardsman. In the Senate I worked on a Republican staff and then went to work on a Democratic staff. Then I worked in the legislative branch for 18 years, but followed that with five years in the executive branch. And for the last five years, prior to this recent decision, I've worn two hats—senior director for defense and senior director for arms control—which basically meant that I would spend my mornings building up our armaments and spend the afternoons building them back down.

The burden of my remarks today is to persuade you and the association that what we've achieved during these five years of Bill Clinton's presidency is a national security posture whose defense and arms control components reflect a prudent and rational degree of equilibrium.

You have to start, really, by asking what are the objectives? What is the objective of our national security strategy? First and foremost, it goes without saying, because it's in the Constitution, we have a responsibility to have a strategy that "provides for the common defense, promotes the general welfare and secures the blessings of liberty." And clearly, the greatest danger that we as a nation face to our "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" is weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and their prospective use or proliferation.

 

Living With WMD

To address this threat, this paramount defining threat of this era, of WMD, we have put together a three-part strategy. Part one is preventing, or at least constraining, the spread of these terrible weapons and reducing or eliminating them outright. And here, of course, the main burden is carried by arms control treaties and multilateral non-proliferation regimes such as the NPT or the Australia Group. And it certainly includes the CTB Treaty, which has now been endorsed by four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the three directors of our national nuclear laboratories and which the president has asked the Senate to give its advice and consent to this year. And finally, it includes rograms designed specifically to eliminate WMD, particularly the Nunn-Lugar program—the legacy achievement of my former boss, Senator Nunn, and his visionary Republican colleague, Senator Richard Lugar.

Part two of our strategy is deterrence—deterrence of efforts or temptations by adversaries or prospective enemies to use weapons of mass destruction to attack or coerce the United States or its allies. And should parts one and two prove inadequate, part three of the strategy involves active means of defeating WMD, including missile defenses and counter-proliferation attack capabilities.

Now, in my two decades of involvement here in Washington in debates in the policy arena over defense and arms control issues, I think I've come to realize more than anything that the fault lines that we see in these debates can be attributed to the relative weight or priority that some, in the context of this debate, are placing on different parts of this three-part package. Some place far greater, if not exclusive, reliance on one of the elements; others discount or even dismiss altogether the value of others.

For example, let's start with the arms control treaties and the multilateral regimes. Some—and here I'm thinking mainly of the far right, if you will—think that arms control is a "sham," that it's at best ineffective or even works as a counter-productive bromide that lulls us into a false sense of security. Some would even terminate the Nunn-Lugar program. With regard to the second element, deterrence, we have sort of an unusual situation now where deterrence as a concept and as a building block of national security is under attack from the right and the left. There's the view that deterrence as a concept or as a pillar of national security is itself immoral, if not unviable. The prospect or the threat of massive retaliation as a building block for national security, in some quarters, is simply not accepted.

And now, with the growing discussion in the public arena over de-alerting options, I think we're seeing increasingly a line of argument that's coming from another side of this debate that says that deterrence is part of the problem; because by clinging to the continued importance of this we are putting barriers in the way of what should be a more straightline and rapid movement to step back completely—a zero-alert posture, if you will—from the precipice of the Cold War and take all the systems down, even at the expense of the traditional calculations that have underpinned our confidence that our deterrence posture was credible.

And then last, of course, missile defense, an issue that's in swing from the right and the left as well. For some, missile defense is the complete answer; a complete solution to our national security requirement, even if it's at the expense of the loss of the other two elements. Even if it means the destruction of the NPT, the CTB, the START agreements, and indeed, strategic stability as a measure of deterrent posture. For others, it's missile defense, not arms control, that's the "sham." Missile defense is a contrivance in the eyes of some: not proven, not likely to work, costing billions, getting in the way of what could be a more robust policy with respect to arms control.

But we in the Clinton administration—and I hope this doesn't surprise you—believe that each of these elements has merit, that each has a significant contribution to make to our national security, and that each can only be pursued if we acknowledge their interrelationship. And yes, to be sure, that means, necessarily, recognizing that there are trade-offs involved across those three baskets. Let me illustrate this point by discussing in a little more detail each element of this strategy triad, starting with the arms control regimes and the multilateral non-proliferation regimes.

 

The Non-Proliferation Strategy

Of course, if you look at the NPT and the CTB, which ar two of our principal tools for preventing, or at least constraining, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, you have to begin by recognizing that neither offers a foolproof guarantee. The critics have a talking point, to be sure, in pointing out that NPT can't stop nuclear proliferation, the CTB can't stop a country that's determined to acquire a nuclear capability. But they can constrain them. And together they're effective. One without the other isn't going to be viable.

If the Senate should reject or refuse to act on the CTB, I believe we put at risk the NPT. Certainly, I feel very strongly that had it not been for our willingness to negotiate the CTB in the first term of the Clinton administration, we would have never achieved the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT.

Now, with respect to going directly at the problem and reducing or eliminating weapons of mass destruction, I think it's important to note standing here today, in February of 1998, nine months after what was a very earnest Senate debate on the Chemical Weapons Convention, that the arguments that the administration made at the time about the paramount importance of the United States leading in this field have been validated. That came to a vote in the Senate. The Senate exercised its correct judgment, in my view. And because we ratified, things that the critics said would not happen have, in fact, happened. Russia ratified and deposited its instrument. China deposited its instrument of ratification, as did Iran and Pakistan. We have seen real vindication here for the argument of the importance of American leadership.

With respect to the START treaties, we have the opportunity for a truly breath-taking achievement in human experience. In START I, we are now two years ahead of schedule. The first reduction milestone was this past December. Both we and Russia are at the point of reductions now that we did not have to get to until 1999. We are both two years ahead of schedule in building down real nuclear dangers. START II, still pending in the Duma, offers the next step down, but more importantly opens the door to START III. And with START III, as per the Helsinki agreement, we have the commitment to reduce to the level of 2,000-2,500 strategic nuclear warheads by the year 2007, in tandem with a separate but related negotiation on tactical nuclear weapons and on the disposition of warheads and fissile material itself. So we have the opportunity available; indeed, we have a commitment in principle from the presidents of these two nuclear powers to achieve within the next nine years an 80 percent reduction in the strategic nuclear danger that existed at the end of the Cold War in 1991.

 

The Future of the ABM Treaty

Now, what does all of that mean for the ABM Treaty? Here, too, it's a question of balance, because I do not believe that we can achieve the promise of START II and START III unless we maintain our commitment to the ABM Treaty. Now, that's not just my view. This is the fundamental position of the Russian Ministry of Defense [MOD]. In their presentations to the Duma for ratification of START II—and they are making some very powerful arguments to the Duma—they have stressed two things about the ABM Treaty. One is that U.S. adherence, scrupulous adherence, to the ABM Treaty is a fundamental condition for MOD supporting ratification of START II. It's part of their, if you will, "safeguards package;" it's a condition of their support. Second, the MOD has argued to the Duma that there are many things in START II that they think are advntageous to Russia, and right at the top of that list is the fact that in the treaty itself you have a cross-reference to the ABM Treaty that reaffirms our U.S. fundamental commitment to that treaty.

So, what does that mean then in terms of this interrelationship between defense and offense, between the ABM Treaty and the reality of where we are with the START process? First, and I think obviously, it means that had this administration not—beginning in 1993 when we went to Geneva at the five-year review of the ABM Treaty and reaffirmed our commitment to it—made clear our fundamental commitment to the integrity of the ABM Treaty, we would not be where we are today with the prospect of START II ratification.

Second, I would say that absent our success last year in terms of the agreements on higher- and lower-velocity theater missile defense [TMD] demarcation and the succession understandings for the ABM Treaty—the Duma would not act on START II. I think it's that simple; the linkage in their mind is that clear.

Third, I believe that absent Senate approval of these three ABM agreements, there's a real question of whether the government of Russia will allow START II to enter into force, or will continue, for that matter, the START III negotiations that we're pledged to begin immediately upon Duma ratification of START II. I'm not predicting that, and in the end I don't know for sure what their reaction would be. But many, many things that they have said lead me to that view. In fact, some quarters in Moscow—Chairman Lukin of the Foreign Affairs Committee, for example—have argued that the Duma shouldn't even take up START II until the Senate has given its advice and consent to these three ABM agreements, a sequencing that we do not accept in the administration and that we have tried to warn the Russians off of as fatal to the future of both sets of agreements.

So in sum, we believe that once the Duma has approved START II—as extended by this five-year measure that Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov signed in September—the Senate, hopefully this year, will have an opportunity for a historic debate on strategic offense and strategic defense issues and their interrelationship. Indeed, this will be a great debate in the history of arms control—one in which we hope the Arms Control Association is a major player—that will determine, in my view, the future not only of the ABM Treaty—and certainly, Chairman Helms has made clear in his recent letter that he sees the debate on these three agreements as the vehicle for a larger debate on the treaty itself—but also will determine the future of START. And in our judgment, Senate defeat of these three ABM accords would carry with it the genuine risk of derailing the START process altogether and forfeiting the opportunity for reducing by 80 percent the strategic nuclear danger that we saw just seven years ago.

 

The New PDD

Now, with respect to deterrence as the second element of our strategy, you are all familiar, of course, from the extensive press coverage of the presidential decision directive [PDD] that the president signed in November. I want to talk very briefly about two aspects of it: first, in terms of strategic nuclear deterrence, and second, its implications for regional conflicts, particularly those where chemical or biological weapons could be in play.

With respect to strategic nuclear deterrence, the PDD reaffirms our fundamental commitment to maintain a strategic nuclear posture across a triad of strategic forces, robust posture that is not dependent on a launch-on-warning planning assumption, and that includes secure reserve forces and survivability sufficient to allow you to confirm that a nuclear weapon has actually detonated on American soil before you would have to face the retaliatory decision.

Now, the good news in this PDD is that it confirms the position of the president, with the full support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander in chief of our strategic command, that we can maintain that kind of deterrent posture as a hedge against an uncertain future, not a deterrent posture that we think is required today or tomorrow or next week or next month given the course that Russia's on today. But because that course is not certain we are maintaining that strategic posture as a hedge. The good news is that we believe, and now have confirmed with this PDD, that we can do that at significantly lower levels than have ever been entertained before, indeed, down to the levels of the Helsinki agreement for START III.

The PDD also reaffirmed—and I was very glad to see that Spurgeon's editorial in the most recent issue of Arms Control Today took note of this (See ACT, November/December 1997)—our negative security assurance policy; that is, it is the policy of the United States, as restated in this PDD, not to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict unless the state attacking us or our allies or our military forces is nuclear-capable or not in good standing under the NPT or an equivalent regime, or third, is attacking us in alliance with a nuclear capability.

So what that means, then, in terms of our no-first-use or negative security assurance policy is that we are continuing to stand up for the assurances we've given the world that have been so instrumental in achieving our non-proliferation goals and underpinning our non-proliferation agenda, including the extension of the NPT and the attainment of the CTB. Now, there is an element of balance here. This is not a categorical no-first-use posture. For the states that are identified in those three exceptions, we do not forswear any options. And there's an element of deterrence there.

Here, too, we are trying to recognize that our interests are best served by balance and equilibrium. To be sure, if you wanted to put the most weight, the greatest priority, on the deterrence element of your strategy, you would make a very clear nuclear threat. You would say if you attack us in any fashion—conventional, chemical, biological—we will use nuclear weapons. That would be a categorical threat that would maximize your deterrence. Unfortunately, it would derail your non-proliferation policy and your non-proliferation agenda. So we have tried to strike the balance by maintaining long-standing U.S. policy in this area, actually dating back to Secretary of State Vance in 1978.

Now last, with respect to the defense or active means for destroying weapons of mass destruction, we've continued on course with our national missile defense developmental program that we still refer to as "three-plus -three," and the president's NMD budget request for 1999, which is almost a billion dollars, still presents the option of a deployment decision in the year 2000 that could be realized by the year 2003. That said, it's important to note the caveats: the testimony has been very clear that this accelerated course entails very high technical risk and very high degrees of concurrence between the test program and the production program. The GAO recently did a study that underscored that.

In my own experience, I remember back to the debate we had with Senator Nunn's ALPS proposal, where this issue of what is the appropriate level of technical risk that one should sign on to was very much at the heart of the debate between Senator Nunn and then-Senator [Al] Gore. In the end, the position the Congress adopted was that a national missile defense deployment objective should be low-to-moderate technical risk, at best.

And we have to remember some of our experience with weapons systems to know the dangers that are inherent if you push thetechnical risk too far. But you'll do what you have to do if the threat requires it. There have been crash programs before in our nation's history—Polaris was certainly one. If the threat requires the compression of the program, you will do what you have to do. But if the ballistic missile threat does not require a deployment decision in the year 2000, this administration will not make a deployment decision.

With respect to TMD we're committed to the full panoply of programs that we're pursuing, all of which, at least with regard to the programs that are mature enough to reach that stage, have been certified to the Congress as compliant with the ABM Treaty.

 

Beyond START II

Now, if this balanced three-part national security strategy is going to be effective, it can't just be on autopilot. Things have to happen, things have to fall into place. I think there are five principal challenges that we face, not just the White House or the administration, but we collectively as people that believe both in arms control and national security.

The first is the Duma has got to ratify START II. It's been a long wait. We've worked very hard the last year and a half to bring it just to the point of final action. We've been assured by the Russian government that they have everything they need to get the job done. There is now this issue of Iraq, which is overshadowing everything in terms of calculations of the ratification prospects. But leaving that aside its seems to me we're in a position to get this done. And it's very important as that debate is going on that we not have a divisive debate within the United States Senate over the ABM agreements. That is one reason we feel so fundamentally that we're not going to submit the ABM package to the Senate until the Duma has ratified START II.

The second challenge is to get the debate that we're having on de-alerting right. And by "right" I mean the right balance. It's not black or white; there are arguments on both sides. We need to strike the right equilibrium. On the one hand, we need to be open to every opportunity that presents itself to improve crisis stability, to step back from the precipice of the Cold War, to stand down the nuclear dangers of an era that's now receding. But at the same time, we also have to be sensitive to the requirements of deterrence in terms of how you calculate stability; and second, we need to be sensitive to the implications of our actions with respect to timing.

The strongest argument that's being made in the Duma right now for ratification of START II is the argument of their Defense Ministry that if the Duma ratifies START II, the parity ratio of strategic nuclear forces between Russia and the United States will be 1:1, and if they fail to ratify START II, Russia will be in a position of nuclear inferiority at the strategic level by a ratio of 1:3. They have reduced the argument to that simple an argument: What would you rather have, parity at 1:1, or inferiority at 1:3?

I think we need to be very careful that, while START II hangs in the balance in terms of ratification in the Duma, setting aside the Iraq issue, we not, in effect, suggest that that argument doesn't carry weight anymore because we're going to end-run START II with an alternate approach through e-alerting. So it's a question of timing. I also think we need to appreciate that we are on the hook from the Helsinki agreement, just as soon as START II is ratified, to immediately enter into a negotiation with the Russians to agree on how to deactivate half of our remaining strategic forces—the drop from the START I level to the START II level—five years before those systems have to be destroyed under the old arms control treaty rules.

In that early deactivation negotiation, we've been put on notice by the Russians that they're going to come to the table with ideas different than simply taking warheads off of delivery systems. So, we need to be careful, first, to take into account the START II implication, and second, to think ahead to a negotiation that we're going to have on deactivation or de-alerting, because in that sense I think the words are interchangeable.

Now, the administration is very hard at work on this. We've had a very earnest review both within the Strategic Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense's office, and the interagency that's moving along very nicely. We have not reached any final conclusions. But I want to assure you that we are looking at each of these ideas to ask ourselves which ones would have merit.

The third challenge—and this is much more parochial and domestic—is to win the argument with Congress over base closings. Now, that may surprise you in this arms control audience. But the Quadrennial Defense Review [QDR] is a balanced package with strategic nuclear elements, conventional elements, readiness elements and training elements. And the whole package depends on generating the savings we need to do everything: to maintain the readiness, the training, the quality of life enhancements for our troops, the conventional modernization, and yes, the strategic nuclear forces that underpin our deterrent posture. If we fail to win the argument with Congress over infrastructure reductions, particularly base closings, and don't generate the billions we need to make the QDR whole in terms of its fiscal assumptions, the first pressure point is going to come, I believe, in the services on the nuclear accounts, because the further you move away from the Cold War the harder it is to maintain support across the river for the nuclear accounts.

Fourth, I think we've got to be very clear-headed in this debate over TMD and NMD about the importance of considerations of technical risk. We need to make sure that the money is being spent wisely on defenses that will, in fact, work.

And last, we've got to ratify the CTB. I've not saved that until last because it's the lowest on my list; it's the one issue I'm spending most of my time on each day at the NSC right now. I've saved it until last because I just want to end on that note and leave it very much on your mind. The president believes fundamentally that the CTB is in the best interests of the United States. We believe that its provisions will significantly further our nuclear non-proliferation and arms control objectives and strengthen international security. And we believe that this is the session of Congress that the Senate should act.

There's been a lot of debate about entry into force and the future of this treaty, and everyone in this room is familiar with the very daunting challenge we face with regard to India, Pakistan, North Korea and perhaps others to bring the treaty into force. But when the president goes to the subcontinent this fall, we believe it is extremely important that he go from a position of strength, having secured Senate advice and consent to this treaty so we can approach other governments with the best position and the best leverage.

It's a huge job of changing Indian perceptions on this treaty. And should, God forbid, we fail to change their perspective on this treaty, it's important to realize that the fall-back position for the CTB, in terms of getting it into force, is an extraordinary conference that would be called in September of 1999—which, after all, is only 18 months from now—at which the world figuresout how to get the treaty into force anyway. And the catch is you cannot vote to call that conference, you cannot vote to convene the conference, indeed, you cannot participate in the conference unless your country has ratified the treaty.

So, going back to where I began, the importance of American leadership. If we are to lead the world, as we did in the negotiations, in securing the entry into force of the CTB, we believe it is fundamentally important that the Senate act on this treaty this year.

 

Questions & Answers

Q: How confident are you that the Duma will act favorably on the various elements of the START II-ABM package?

Bell: Well, in the last several months I've gone from skeptic to cautious optimist, setting aside the issue of Iraq. There's no question, based on what [Foreign Minister Yevgeniy] Primakov and [Defense Minister Igor] Sergeyev have said, the Russian government, almost with one voice, is saying very clearly that hostilities with Iraq fundamentally change the equation with respect to START II, certainly in the near term. And the Duma adopted a resolution to that effect. But I had gotten myself to the point of cautious optimism earlier this year based on three things.

First was everything we did and succeeded in doing, going back to Secretary Perry's visit to the Duma a year and a half ago, where he had a very rude reception, to deal with the issue of NATO enlargement. We did that through the NATO-Russia Founding Act, by concluding the [CFE Treaty] flank agreement and by concluding an MOU on the basic elements of an adapted CFE Treaty, all of which were designed to address this concern. Second was the five-year extension of the [START II] destruction requirements to address their economic concern about the cost of arms control. Third was Stan Riveles's hard work to get the ABM agreements done, which was clearly a precondition for START II ratification.

With that set of agreements it seemed to me that, with the overlay of the Helsinki accord and the certitude for the Duma that START II was not the end of the road but there was another meaningful step to follow, we had put down the four building blocks for ratification. Beyond that, you had the coincidence of the Primakov-Sergeyev team coming together, which, by anyone's calculation, is the strongest lobbying duo we could hope for in face-to-face daily contact with the Duma. It takes Yeltsin too, but Primakov and Sergeyev do carry weight in the Duma, and they've been on point and effective in their presentations. The MOD's arguments, I think, have been quite brilliant in terms of framing the issue for the Duma.

And last but not least, you had reports of this fairly remarkable deal between the Communist faction in the Duma and the Kremlin over the Russian flag and its relationship to START II. There are reports that in exchange for Yeltsin agreeing not to press the Duma now to approve legislation recognizing Russia's new flag (which the Communist party faction does not like), Speaker Gennadi Seleznev has agreed to schedule the START II debate for this spring. Now this may sound preposterous on first hearing, but we shouldn't find it preposterous because that's the only way we got START II through the Senate. We tend to forget about these linkages, but there was a time when we were not making any headway in terms of getting START II on the Senate schedule. This is the same treaty that the Communists think is demonstrably one-sided to Russia's disadvantage. It took us until January of 1996 to secure Senate ratification of START II, and the reason it finally got put on the Senate schedule was that Democrats had organized a filibuster against an amendment to prohibit flag burning, and it was only the decision to stop that filibuster and schedule a vote on the flag-burning amendment that got START II to the Senate floor.

Well, we're very good teachers. That's where we were on the eve of the Iraqi crisis. If we can get the treaty to the Duma floor, I am persuaded we'll win the vote.

Q: What are the administration's plans for dealing with the reserve warheads under the START III arrangements?

Bell: I think there are two elements that will come into play, neither of which has been decided yet, but both are very interesting and fundamental questions. The first one is: How successful will we be in the course of the START III negotiations themselves in making real headway in a side agreement to eliminate warheads? At Helsinki we agreed in principle that, for the first time, the START III treaty will feature a negotiation on the disposition of the warheads and fissile material. We've been very hard at work—Rose Gottemoeller and Lucas Fischer have co-chaired an interagency working group on the options that are available in terms of an opening U.S. position on that very subject, and there's a full range of options. I can't breach the confidentiality of that options review right now because we've not taken it yet to a point of decision.

Perhaps even more important, Russian receptivity to push the envelope with respect to actually dealing with reserve warheads is going to fundamentally affect your overall nuclear holdings, setting aside what the accountable deployed levels are. The accountable deployed levels will, by the year 2007, be down to 2,000-2,500. So the question is what's in your reserve, or inactive storage? That's going to be a function, first, of the result of the negotiations in START III. But second, it's going to be a function of sort of national policies with respect to the weight you attach 10 years from now—in the year 2007—to hedge strategies.

In other words, we basically maintain a START I force now. We've kept at START I levels to keep weight on the Duma to do the right thing with respect to START II. Once you get an agreement to come down to that next level, you have to make decisions as a matter of national policy about what reconstitution capability you want to preserve should the agreement fall apart or should you discover that the other side is fudamentally violating the treaty. So, in the context of START III levels, a big-ticket question will be: What is your tasking to the Department of Energy in terms of a reconstitution level? That's a decision that has not been made and will only be made once we get further into START III negotiations. I can't confirm or deny that 10,000 is the total number of warheads the U.S. will have under START III because there is no number yet that is associated with a successful START III negotiation. We just have not made those decisions.

Q: Will tactical warheads be addressed in START III as well?

Bell: We agreed at Helsinki that there will be a separate but related negotiation on non-strategic nuclear forces. One of the big questions, in terms of the actual content of START III negotiations, is what position the Russian government will bring to the table when it's time to start turning cards over and show what they're prepared to propose.

Certainly, we expect scrupulous Russian reaffirmation and adherence to the unilateral tactical nuclear reduction commitments that were made in 1990 and 1991 by Gorbachev and Yeltsin, which, in the aggregate, could produce about a two-thirds drawdown. That would, in comparison with the levels that President Bush announced, leave a Russian advantage, but it's markedly reduced from the advantage they have in non-strategic nuclear forces right now.

With regard to both warhead disposition and tactical weapons, in the run-up to Helsinki we were able to reach agreement on a set of words that both sides would sign up to. But there are a lot of second- and third-order specifics beyond that baseline in terms of what the Russian government really proposes to do when we get to the negotiation.

Q: Could you elaborate on the interrelationship that you're describing between the CTB Treaty and the NPT, particularly the possible effect of Senate inaction on the CTB as we approach the NPT review conference in 2000?

Bell: I think there's a very direct interrelationship in the eyes of a large part of the world between the position that the declared nuclear-weapon states take with respect to arms reductions and nuclear testing on the one hand, and the viability of our non-proliferation agenda on the other hand. The first and most obvious manifestation of that, I think, is the NPT.

In January of 1995, we made some very hard decisions within the Clinton administration with respect to the content of our CTB negoiating position, specifically dropping what had been our opening position to negotiate a CTB that was 10 years in duration and would have to be affirmatively renewed. In early 1995, Tony Lake gave a speech at the Carnegie Endowment dropping that and agreeing to pursue an indefinite CTB, because we had come to the conclusion that without that change we would not have prevailed in winning the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT. There were a lot of news stories being written through 1995 that said, in effect, we were losing this battle and that the NPT was going to go down. There's no question in my mind that if we had sustained the policy of the two previous administrations and refused to negotiate a CTB in any forum, the Conference on Disarmament or otherwise, we would not have gotten the NPT extended.

Now, the NPT is facing a review conference in the year 2000, with preparatory conferences in 1998 and 1999, and I think that Senate rejection of CTB could create a dynamic that would put the NPT at risk. But it's not just the NPT that's at risk. It's the credibility of U.S. leadership across the board on non-proliferation as we make demands on countries—whether it's Russia, China, Pakistan, India or anyone else—if we're not prepared to walk the walk and talk the talk ourselves when it comes to fundamental treaty obligations with respect to a cessation in nuclear testing.

Q: At Helsinki we agreed to a ceiling of 2,000 to 2,500 strategic warheads. Yet, Yeltsin has been reported as saying that the Russians could achieve their objectives with a level as low as 1,000 weapons, and there have been other proposals to reduce the levels to 1,000 or 1,500 weapons. Has the Clinton administration talked about the question of how low the United States can go and still maintain its objective of deterrence?

Bell: There are lots of people who have opinions and views about what the outer edge of the envelope is with respect to the strategic deterrence paradigm that we're in now and that we codified with the presidential decision directive in November. But if you're asking have we worked the hard bureaucratic, interagency task of driving through to a decision for numbers below the Helsinki numbers—either divided recommendations to the president or a consensus position that the national security team brings to the president for affirmation—the answer is no.

The Helsinki numbers were affirmed through just such a process. Before the president reached a decision, he was assured by [Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff] General Shalikashvili that the Joint Chiefs and the commander in chief of U.S. Strategic Command were confident that we could maintain a robust strategic nuclear deterrent, but not some protracted nuclear warfighting capability, with the numbers that were in play for Helsinki.

There have been suggestions of lower numbers from different places within the Moscow establishment. But first you've got to get START II ratified, because we've been very clear that we are not going to commence formal negotiations on START III until that happens. When we get to the START III table, based on this melange of different numbers that have been thrown around post-Helsinki, we'll see what the Russian government's number is. And if it's different than Helsinki, we will work a process, as we did before Helsinki, to see where we are on that.

Q: What is the administration's policy on the use of nuclear weapons in Iraq, particularly in response to Iraqi use of weapons of mass destruction? How does this fit in with the recent Presidential Decision Directive [PDD]?

Bell: There has been comment on this dating back about 10 days, to a piece that ran in Newsday on February 9 that had a number of errors in it, both about our policy and the PDD. Let me be clear. The PDD reaffirmed the U.S. negative security assurance that we have held to in this administration and that we codified in a UN Security Council resolution. Indeed, this policy dates back to Secretary of State Vance in 1978, and it has been a fundamental position of Republican and Democratic administrations ever since.

We have no plans, no planning, no intention, no policy of using nuclear weapons preemptively to go after, take out, whatever you want to call it, WMD storage or production facilities. There was a flap over this two years ago with respect to Tarhunah in Libya, and Secretary of Defense Perry went down to Maxwell Air Force Base and made very clear what our policy is, and we stand by that policy.

We have every conventional option we need to deal with our ability to target facilities that store or produce weapons of mass destruction. And that is distinct, then, from the use of such weapons by an adversary in a conflict where our negative security assurance policy stands.

Q: How far could the administration go in pursuing non-treaty agreements with Russia in the event the START process bogs down?

Bell: The short answer is I don't know, because it's an untested proposition. I think we have a pretty clear sense that the Russians, not just by our estimates but by their own statements, think that due to their economic difficulties they are on a glide path to a START II level, or a lower force level, one way or the other. In fact, that's one of the principal arguments that the Russian MOD makes for ratification—they're going down and they might as well get us to join them.

Now, on our side, we have a very different situation. Right now, we have not only a presidentially directed policy that says until and unless the Duma ratifies START II, we're going to maintain START I levels, but we have a law that says that. The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998, which was signed in November by the president, includes a provision, Section 1302, that says thou shall—that's a mandatory verb—maintain 18 Trident boats, 71 B-52s, 500 Minutemen and 50 MXs. That's the law. That is the will of the Congress in a binding provision.

That provision goes on to say that once START II is ratified, no money can be spent on any agreement or understandingbetween the United States and Russia, not just negotiated agreements but perhaps tacit reciprocal measures—I think lawyers would have to come to a judgment on this point—that requires deactivation of systems before they have to be destroyed under arms control requirements, until the president submits a report to Congress. The report must inform Congress whether the de-alerting or deactivation measure—for example, taking warheads off, turning off power generators, removing launch keys, putting large tractors on top of silo lids—is, first, verifiable (and most of this doesn't come up to the traditional standards of verification); second, reciprocal, that is, whether one side is getting a better deal; and third, whether one side or the other has an undue breakout asymmetry advantage.

If the president cannot inform the Congress that any de-alerting or deactivation agreement or understanding is verifiable, reciprocal and not asymmetrical, money can only be spent to go forward with that deal if the president waives the requirement on national security grounds. In other words, if we give them the rope to hang ourselves with by saying, "We've just signed up to something that's not verifiable and not reciprocal, and presents an undue breakout advantage to Russia, but is still in the U.S. national security interests," only on those conditions could we spend the money.

So, there is a major question there, at least in my mind, about how open the running field is even for the de-alerting debate given the congressional legislation, setting aside the question that we've not come to internal conclusions within the administration yet on how we would handle the deactivation negotiation that we're required to have pursuant to Helsinki once START II is ratified.

Q: If the de-alerting or deactivation steps were unilateral, would they be covered by this law?

Bell: I don't know. The first half of Section 1302, which requires the United States to maintain specified strategic nuclear delivery systems at certain START I levels absent START II ratification, prohibits any action to retire or prepare to retire any of those systems.

Again, I'd have to get lawyers to work on this, but if it ever came to it, you would have to decide whether a particular measure, if it were decided to pursue it unilaterally, and I don't think that's a given necessarily, would be construed for purposes of the law as being a step preparatory to retirement or as just a step that is a change in the alert posture, which, because it is reversible, could be construed as not being preparatory to retirement of the system.

Q: Given the focus on biological weapons that has arisen during this latest crisis with Iraq, will the administration give more high-level attention to the verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention [BWC] now under negotiation in Geneva?

Bell: The short answer is yes, for a variety of rasons. One has to do with timing and considerations that were pertinent during the debate on the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC]. As Lori [Esposito Murray] well knows, as the president's representative for ratification of that treaty last year and someone who spent countless scores of hours on the Hill talking to staff, there was an interrelationship established during the CWC ratification debate between our position on the BWC verification issue and continued support from the pharmaceutical industries for CWC. There were, I thought, obvious suggestions that had we put together an initiative that involved something that the industries would have construed to have been unacceptably intrusive inspections for BWC, that they would have turned against the CWC. We wanted to secure the CWC and that was, as you all know, a close vote as it was.

From my conversations with the president on this subject—and I need to be very clear to say that I am not working that issue—he believes that because of this crisis with Iraq, the world now is much more sensitive to the dangers that are represented by the BW threat and that the dynamic may have changed in terms of what the traffic will bear on an inspection regime, which isn't to say, "Anything goes." We have a very modest set of steps, but it's one that we think that will improve the situation and can sustain the support of the pharmaceutical industries. That proposition is going to be tested. It's being tested right now in consultations with allies.

Q: Given the fact that most U.S. allies have signed the Ottawa landmine treaty, what effect will that have on the ability of the United States to conduct coalition operations using landmines?

Bell: That's an issue that we're spending a lot of time on. What we're discovering is that our allies, particularly in NATO but also in Asia, in most cases had simply not thought this through. You had a case where the negotiating position was being driven principally out of foreign affairs ministries, and the defense ministries had not cranked in analytically and in terms of their own view on this. So, we're in a situation now where these countries have signed the treaty and are clearly going to ratify, at least eventually, and their own defense ministries are saying, "What does this mean for coalition operations?"

What we're hearing is a wide range of answers. It's not just a function of the legal views of what Ottawa requires and different countries' own interpretations of Ottawa, but it's also largely a function of the domestic legislation that was moving through a lot of these countries' parliaments while Ottawa was under way. In some cases, there are domestic laws that are more restrictive than Ottawa. In other cases, there are domestic laws that may provide more flexibility, even assuming ratification and entry into force of Ottawa.

The second point is that there is one set of issues that has to do with the so-called pure anti-personnel landmines [APLs], and another that is unique to the "mixed munitions," such as anti-tank mines that incorporate anti-personnel, or anti-handling, devices to keep infantry from deactivating the anti-tank mine. During the final negoiations in Oslo, the United States sought unsuccessfully to exclude certain mixed munitions in which the anti-handling device is not integral to the anti-tank mine.

The president has directed, of course, independent of Ottawa, that we will replace all of our systems everywhere except in Korea by the year 2003—and in Korea by 2006. If you take the Ottawa treaty, figure out how much time you need to get the requisite ratifications and then add six months for entry into force, then the timeline provided in that treaty to get rid of pure APLs is not that far away any more from U.S. target date of 2003. But that's a lesser-order issue.

The larger issue is that while we are looking for possible alternatives to existing U.S. mixed-munitions, it's not clear whether there is a viable alternative. It's in the area of mixed munitions, particularly if you imagine a war with Iraq where there's armored-maneuver warfare going on and you're trying to lay down anti-tank fields to protect maneuvering armored forces, that the impact is the greatest. That's the area where we're getting, I think, the widest range of answers back from allies.

We've had one round of consultations. We're going to have another round this spring. NATO's looking into this institutionally within the Military Committee. It was discussed at defense ministerial levels by Secretary Cohen late last year. But I think it's going to be another couple of months before we're able to take the full measure of the implications of the Ottawa treaty for that issue.

Now, all of that said, we are not, I repeat, we are not trying to talk people out of going forward with Ottawa. The president's been very clear. It's each country's decision to make, and if they choose to sign the treaty, that's their prerogative, and we recognize that.

On February 18, Robert Bell, special assistant to the president for national security and counselor to the assistant to the president for national security affairs...

CIA Says Seismic Event Near Russian Test Site Not a Nuclear Explosion

IN EARLY NOVEMBER, the CIA announced that the August 16 seismic event located in the general area of the Russian nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya was not a nuclear explosion. The CIA determination ended speculation as to whether Russia had abandoned its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and violated international law by defeating the "object and purpose" of the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, which it has signed. Despite this announcement, however, the agency has not concluded whether the seismic event was an earthquake or an explosion.

The controversy surrounding the seismic event became public in late August when The Washington Times reported that U.S. officials suspected that Russia had conducted an underground nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya. (See ACT, August 1997.) Although Russia had strongly denied conducting such a test, there was no consensus within the U.S. government at that time as to either the nature of the event or its location. As the U.S. investigation proceeded, however, it became clear that the seismic event did not occur at Novaya Zemlya but rather 130 kilometers away below the bottom of the Kara Sea. Even though the location lent strong support to the view that the seismic event was an underwater earthquake, the U.S. government took more than two months to rule out the possibility that it could have been a nuclear explosion.

According to the November 4 CIA statement summarizing the conclusions of an independent panel convened by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet to review the seismic event, Russia had conducted nuclear weapons related experiments at Novaya Zemlya in mid August. The panel concluded, however, that the seismic event, "was almost certainly not associated with the activities at Novaya Zemlya and was not nuclear." Nevertheless, it asserted that, based on the seismic data, "experts cannot say with certainty whether the Kara Sea event was an explosion or an earthquake." The panel also maintained that the activity at Novaya Zemlya, and the simultaneous event in the Kara Sea "demonstrate the difficulty of accurately identifying and assessing weapons experiments or tests with very low yields."

The panel consisted of Richard Kerr, former deputy director of central intelligence; Sidney Drell, a Stanford University physicist; Roger Hagengruber, vice president of Sandia National Laboratory; and Eugene Herrin, a Southern Methodist University physicist.

Although the U.S. government has announced that the seismic event was not a nuclear explosion, its reluctance to characterize the event as an earthquake is at odds with the views of many respected seismologists. For instance, Lynn Sykes, a professor at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said October 20, "a strong consensus has developed among experts in the seismological communities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and Canada who are concerned with nuclear verification that the event of the 16th was, in fact, a small earthquake."

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