Login/Logout

*
*  

ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

INF Treaty

Reducing the Risks of U.S.-Russia Nuclear Conflict

The violence in Ukraine and rising tension in the Baltics, combined with concern about Russian nuclear doctrine and posturing, has heightened the risk of nuclear conflict in Europe. As William Perry, former Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, recently warned , “A new danger has been rising in the past three years and that is the possibility there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia.” A recent uptick in fighting in Ukraine, last week’s unrest in Belarus and Russia , and increasing concern in Washington and Brussels about the solidity of the NATO...

Can the INF Treaty Survive? Putin’s New Missile Presents A Major Test for Arms Control

It may be necessary to exploit Russia’s interest in preventing the enlargement of strategic missile defenses.

April 2017

By Greg Thielmann

One month into his term of office, President Donald Trump asserted in a news interview that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, specifying that Russia’s “deployment” of treaty-prohibited ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) was “a big deal.”1

Two weeks later, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Paul Selva, also went public on the dispute, saying in congressional testimony that Russia’s deployment violated “the spirit and intent” of the treaty and that he sees no current indication that Moscow, which denies any INF Treaty violation, intends to return to compliance.2

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan shake hands after signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty at the White House December 8, 1987. (Photo credit: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Although Trump pledged to raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin “if and when we meet,” it is not at all clear what his strategy is for dealing with the matter. How he handles the worsening dispute over INF Treaty compliance will affect his ability to follow through on his stated desire to make deals with Putin on other issues. Even with Republican Party control of the executive and legislative branches of government, Trump’s flexibility will be constrained by questions about whether his campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 elections and by the large number of arms control skeptics and Russophobes among Republican members of Congress.

Making History

It is difficult to overstate the impact of the INF Treaty on the course of modern European history and the evolution of the international security order.  Along with the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Moscow’s failed attempt to expand its monopoly in long-range, nuclear-tipped theater missiles marked the twin military policy disasters of the regime’s last decade.. At the same time, Moscow’s partnering in the elimination of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons in U.S. and Soviet constituted one of the world’s most dramatic achievements in curbing the nuclear arms race.

The unprecedented results ultimately achieved by the treaty seemed far from likely in the late 1970s, when the Soviets began replacing their single-warhead SS-4 and SS-5 theater ballistic missiles with the longer-range, more mobile triple-warhead SS-20 missiles. Meanwhile, it was clear then that the prospect of counterdeployments by NATO members would generate serious resistance among European publics long before they would yield effective leverage for negotiating Soviet reductions.

NATO’s “Dual-Track Decision” on theater nuclear modernization and arms control in December 1979 called for deploying 572 U.S. intermediate-range missiles in five countries of the alliance, while offering to negotiate lower limits that would reduce the Soviet missile forces already deployed and the number NATO planned to deploy. Alliance strategists hoped that these new missiles would reduce NATO’s reliance on increasingly vulnerable aircraft based in Europe for theater delivery of nuclear weapons. At the same time, they calculated that beefing up longer-range nuclear forces would facilitate the reduction of some 7,000 shorter-range nuclear weapons, deemed no longer necessary militarily and increasingly burdensome politically.

By the end of 1981, negotiations had commenced in Geneva. The United States opened with a “zero-zero” proposal, offering to cancel plans for future U.S. INF missile deployments in exchange for elimination of all existing Soviet INF missiles. Seeking to prevent the deployment of any U.S. INF missiles, Moscow argued that British and French nuclear forces and U.S. nuclear-capable aircraft based in Europe should be taken into account in calculating the balance, but not Soviet forces based outside of Europe. Over time, Moscow offered some reductions of existing Soviet INF missiles in exchange for complete cancellation of NATO’s planned modernization. Yet, the real action during the first three years of the INF Treaty negotiations was in the streets and parliaments of Europe’s NATO members. After narrowly failing in late 1983 to prevent NATO’s initial INF deployments in the United Kingdom and Germany, the Soviets walked out of the Geneva talks in protest.

Subsequently, the Soviets returned to the table, agreeing to conduct INF Treaty talks as part of broader negotiations that would also include strategic arms and missile defenses. Under new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow eventually accepted not only the U.S. zero-zero formula, it challenged the alliance also to eliminate short-range missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers. The anti-nuclear sentiments of President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart and those of European publics ultimately prevailed over the best laid plans and preferences of many security experts in Washington and Moscow. The INF Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987, and ratified the following year.

Nearly 2,700 missiles were eliminated under the treaty. Equally important was the establishment of new precedents for on-site inspections and other up-close verification measures, paving the way for the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), concluded in 1991. NATO’s dual-track approach was considered an impressive application of collective action by the diverse and deeply divided societies of the Western alliance against Soviet threats and intimidation.

Fast Forward

Ironically, Russia’s apparent willingness now to develop and deploy GLCMs in violation of the INF Treaty’s ban on such systems threatens to have equally momentous consequences. If such a serious compliance challenge to the treaty is not satisfactorily resolved or at least managed, it will be very difficult to make further progress on U.S.-Russian strategic arms reductions. Such a failure also could invalidate the assumptions behind the disarmament and nonproliferation commitments incorporated in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). This pillar of the existing international order is already under threat from the assertion of a right to “go nuclear” by such countries as North Korea and the potential effects of the nuclear ban movement, challenging the bona fides of the five original nuclear-weapon states’ commitment to their NPT disarmament obligations.

Many in Russia have long viewed the INF Treaty as discriminatory to Moscow. They see the treaty as imposing a heavier burden on Russia, which, unlike the United States, is ringed by third countries with nuclear-tipped INF-range missiles. These Russian domestic critics also believe the treaty is inhibiting Russia’s effective use of its nuclear forces to compensate for deficiencies in conventional military capabilities. In the United States, some believe the INF Treaty, whatever the value of its past contributions, is no longer necessary and now represents an undesirable constraint on U.S. pushback against Russian aggression and intimidation.

Despite critics in both countries, the U.S. and Russian governments still pledge fidelity to the treaty. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters March 9 that Russia rejects U.S. violation claims and remains committed to its international obligation “including those arising from the INF Treaty.”3 Yet without movement toward resolution of INF Treaty compliance issues, the prognosis for this treaty is poor, and the prospects for any future nuclear arms reduction treaty will recede beyond the horizon.

Deepening Grievances

The New York Times, citing anonymous U.S. officials, first reported in February 2017 that the INF Treaty-class cruise missiles, which the United States in 2014 accused the Russians of testing, have been deployed.4 This news account said that two battalions of GLCMs, designated “SSC-8” in the West, have been formed, with one battalion “shifted in December from [the] Kapustin Yar [test site] to an operational base.”The deployment news is interpreted by many in NATO as the latest evidence, on top of reckless behavior by Russia’s air and naval forces in the Baltic and Black Sea regions and Putin’s rhetorical nuclear saber-rattling, that Moscow is seeking to intimidate alliance members.

Another cause for concern is Russia’s recent deployment of the SS-26 Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile system into Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, between Poland and Lithuania, putting a significant portion of Poland within striking distance from Russia’s tactical, ground-based, nuclear-capable missile forces. Such deployments, however, do not violate the letter of the INF Treaty and do not fundamentally alter the strategic equation in the region.

Moscow, meanwhile, expresses similar concerns regarding the reinforcement of NATO combat forces on its periphery. The implementation of a NATO decision to rotate four multinational combat battalions through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland has prompted Russian complaints that such measures constitute a new security threat and will require countermeasures. Yet in this case too, the impact is more political than military because the regional balance of forces in the Baltics remains overwhelmingly tipped in Russia’s favor.

Of explicit relevance to the INF Treaty, Russia accuses the United States of malign intent in moving forward with the deployment of the more capable Aegis Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile defense interceptors to neighboring Poland. Moscow previously complained that the “Aegis Ashore” MK-41 launchers for the SM-3 Block IB interceptors deployed to Romania were INF Treaty violations because they had been used previously to launch Tomahawk BGM-109A sea-launched, land-attack cruise missiles.5

Beyond the legal and technical issues is the credibility gap opened by U.S. unwillingness to adapt its Aegis Ashore deployment schedule to the significant diminution in the missile threat from the Middle East against which NATO justifies these deployments. When the Polish missile defense site was planned in 2009, the United States was projecting the near-term possibility that Iranian long-range, nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles could threaten all of Europe.

Yet, with conclusion and implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the absence of any long-range missile testing by Iran, that threat has receded far beyond the 2018 deadline for declaring operational more advanced missile defenses in Poland. For Moscow, the continued construction there constitutes confirmation of long-standing suspicions that these systems are directed against Russia rather than Iran.

In 2014, Russia raised two other allegations of U.S. noncompliance with the INF Treaty. Those are that the United States continued to test missile targets under its ballistic missile defense program that have characteristics similar to intermediate- and shorter-range missiles and that these tests are used to improve key elements of missile systems prohibited under the INF Treaty, and that the United States is increasing the production and use of “heavy strike” unmanned aerial vehicles that conform with the INF Treaty definition of GLCMs.

Soviet inspectors and their American escorts stand among U.S. Pershing II missiles destroyed in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in a photo taken January 14, 1989. (Photo credit: MSGT Jose Lopez Jr./U.S. Defense Department)Moscow did not rank the three allegations in terms of seriousness—all were raised in response to U.S. charges—but it appears to regard Aegis Ashore as its best case for arguing U.S. noncompliance. The issue of using INF missiles in missile defense tests had been raised and extensively discussed during previous meetings of the Special Verification Commission (SVC), the body created by the treaty to address alleged violations. There was little mention of the issue subsequently for more than a decade. U.S. use of armed drones was initiated long before Russia expressed concerns that such use violated the INF Treaty.

Dispute Resolution Process

Despite worsening relations between Washington and Moscow and continuing belligerence between Moscow and Kiev, Russia and the other active states-parties to the treaty (Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine) agreed to the U.S. request for a meeting of the SVC in Geneva to take place on November 15-16, 2016. This 30th meeting of the SVC constituted the first session held since 2003 and took place more than two years after the United States levied public charges of noncompliance against Russia. Few details were released on the content of the discussions, and no follow-on meeting has been announced. It is reasonable to assume that little substantive progress was made in this short session. Nonetheless, the parties’ decision finally to engage the treaty’s designated mechanism for resolving compliance issues is a positive development.

Activating the SVC mechanism was consistent with the recommendation in last June’s report of the Russian-U.S.-German Deep Cuts Commission, titled “Back from the Brink.”6 The group of former government officials and arms control experts called for “supplementing ongoing diplomatic dialogue with technical expertise, either by convening the [SVC] or a separate bilateral experts group.”7 In order to achieve satisfactory resolution, political authorities need to provide impetus for continuing work at the technical level.

As this report advised, it will be necessary for future meetings of technical experts to resolve outstanding compliance issues. Although the principal obstacle to moving toward resolution is the current lack of political will, the groundwork now has been laid for engaging technical experts. Among the elements:

•   Technical experts could work out language making clear the difference between prohibited intermediate-range ballistic missiles and permitted target missiles for missile defense tests.

•   While armed unmanned aerial vehicles, which Russia and the United States are developing and deploying, do not clearly fit the treaty definition of cruise missiles, their differences could be more clearly spelled out in language drawn up by technical experts working under SVC auspices. The separate category of weapons, so identified, could be subject to future negotiations with the purpose of limiting their scope. 

•   Transparency measures could be established with respect to the MK-41 Aegis missile defense launchers deployed in Romania and to be deployed in Poland. Russian inspectors could be invited for initial on-site examination of the system and subsequent periodic visits to ensure that no banned INF Treaty categories of missiles were being deployed. The United States and host government might tie invitations for such visits to reciprocal inspection visits to Russia to resolve suspicions about GLCM deployments. 

•   It may not be possible to conclusively establish whether GLCM tests alleged by the United States had occurred and the parameters of the violation, but it should be less difficult to employ national technical means to establish whether new Russian GLCMs have been deployed. Moreover, on-site inspection measures could be devised that would increase confidence that such deployments had not taken place or were being reversed.

It is still possible to find ways to restore the health of the INF Treaty using properly structured discussion of compliance issues in the SVC, fusing political will with the application of technical expertise. U.S. willingness to allow Russian access to deployed MK-41 Aegis launchers and Russian willingness to accept on-site monitoring of SSC-8 GLCM launchers at test sites and challenge inspections at suspect deployment sites could lead to a breakthrough in the current compliance stalemate.

If measures can be found to differentiate launchers that appear to be capable of launching cruise missiles or missile defense interceptors or to differentiate cruise missiles from armed drones that may have similar missions and characteristics in the future, it will help clear away obstacles to restoring the health of the INF Treaty and open up possibilities in other areas.

Political Environment

“Fixing” the INF Treaty will require political initiative in Washington and Moscow. Unfortunately, in neither capital is the current political environment favorable for resolving the compliance issues and removing the obstacles to progress in nuclear arms control. Disputes over Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria, along with questions about Moscow’s alleged efforts to tilt the U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor, weigh on relations between the two superpowers.

During his successful campaign for president, Trump frequently expressed admiration for Putin’s strength and leadership. As president-elect, he continued to praise Putin and chose a secretary of state who had extensive successful business dealings with Russia’s leadership. For his part, Putin made favorable gestures toward the incoming U.S. president, including a decision not to impose reciprocal measures following President Barack Obama’s late-stage expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in response to alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Yet, in the early days of the new administration, a significant fissure is emerging within and between the executive and legislative branches on the conduct of U.S.-Russian relations. Although the Republican Party controls the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, no consensus has formed on policies toward Russia.

Many key members of Congress have expressed alarm over alleged Russian hacking activities, deep skepticism of Putin’s motives, and hostility to the idea of bilateral cooperation. Only two days after publication of news reports that Russia had deployed illicit GLCMs, Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation that would allow U.S. countermeasures, including the development of similar systems.8 Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, asked at a Mar. 8 hearing that the U.S. military provide Congress with response options by the end of the month.

Responding to Violation

As with INF Treaty issues during the Cold War, the views of U.S. allies in Europe are critical to successful resolution of the current compliance issue. Any U.S. move to violate the INF Treaty in response to a Russian violation would be likely to elicit deep divisions in NATO and to provide Moscow with an excuse to withdraw from the treaty.

An undated photograph shows a former Russian RSD-10 “Pioneer” ballistic missile system, a nuclear weapon known in the West as an SS-20, that was eliminated by the INF Treaty on display at the Kapustin Yar museum in Znamensk, Russia. (Photo credit: Leonidl/Wikimedia Commons)Meanwhile, Russia and the United States are under increasing diplomatic pressure from the majority of non-nuclear-weapon states for failing to make sufficient progress on eliminating their nuclear weapons, as called for in the NPT. At the UN General Assembly on December 23, 113 states voted to convene a UN conference in 2017 “to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”9 Growth in the perception that the INF Treaty, one of the signal achievements in nuclear disarmament, is unraveling could strengthen international support for the nuclear weapons ban talks that Washington and Moscow vigorously oppose.

The appropriate advice to the White House and Congress at this stage therefore would be “first, do no harm.” Continued Russian deployment of SSC-8 GLCMs will be increasingly difficult to hide and deny, and Russia should not be given cover by the United States committing reciprocal violations of the treaty.

A wiser course to pursue would be in the realm of arms control initiatives that could be mutually advantageous to Washington and Moscow and supported by the international community.

Broaden the Negotiations

Given the apparently weak political support in Russia for preserving the INF Treaty, it may be necessary to exploit Russia’s greater interest in keeping a lid on U.S. strategic arms and preventing the enlargement of strategic missile defenses, which could jeopardize Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Putin has signaled Russia’s continuing interest in strategic constraints, reportedly urging a five-year extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) during his initial telephone conversation with Trump in January. Putin presumably understands the implications of U.S. “fuzing” improvements for counterforce strikes10 and the U.S. numerical advantage in strategic warhead upload capacity. Moreover, his interest in constraining U.S. missile defenses is manifest.

One way to compensate for the leverage Russia may have gained from deploying GLCMs is to strengthen the linkage between strategic, INF, and missile defense negotiations, as was done in the Geneva nuclear and space talks initiated in 1985. Such negotiations also could seek to extend existing INF Treaty limits on delivery systems to all nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Steven Pifer has suggested a limit on deployed strategic warheadsthat would be augmented with an overall limit on all nuclear warheads in U.S. and Russian arsenals, including those used with nonstrategic nuclear weapons.11

Addressing Problems

Another way to revive the INF Treaty would be to convert the GLCM ban to a limit on all nuclear-tipped INF-range missiles by deeming the warheads on such systems to be “strategic,” prohibiting all nuclear-armed missile deployments, or banning all INF nuclear warheads altogether. Any of these options could be accommodated within Pifer’s tiered nuclear arms control framework.

A U.S. soldier fires December 1, 2016, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization training exercise hosted by Lithuania known as Iron Sword that involved almost 4,000 soldiers from 11 NATO countries. NATO’s decision to rotate four multinational combat battalions through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland has drawn Russian complaints that such activities constitute a new security threat that will require countermeasures. (Photo credit: NATO)Several knotty INF Treaty problems could be addressed through the denuclearization of cruise missiles while advancing progress on nuclear disarmament overall. Ongoing trends in weapons development exacerbate the treaty compliance issues now in dispute because of the newer weapons’ similarities to weapons banned by the treaty. One of the weaknesses built into the treaty was the differential treatment of nearly identical land-attack cruise missiles based on the nature of their launch platforms. All ground-based INF-range cruise missiles were banned; all air- and sea-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs and SLCMs) with similar capabilities were unconstrained.12 As technology advances and launchers become more interchangeable, these dissolving system boundaries between ALCMs, SLCMs, and GLCMs and the absence of cruise missile limits in New START undermine the effectiveness of nuclear arms control limits.

Washington and Moscow appeared committed to withdrawing all land-attack nuclear SLCMs under the nonbinding Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991-1992. Although the United States withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons from surface ships, attack submarines, and naval aircraft and phased out its nuclear-armed SLCMs entirely, Russia is believed to be continuing its deployment on submarines and surface warships.

Both countries continue to deploy nuclear-armed ALCMs in their strategic arsenals. Russia is equipping its heavy bombers with new nuclear-tipped Kh-102 ALCMs. The United States is planning to replace its current ALCMs, launched from strategic bombers, with the nuclear-capable long-range stand-off cruise missile.

Yet, the long-range stand-off missile program has generated vigorous opposition in the United States among many security experts, including former Defense Secretary William Perry,13who consider the program unnecessary and destabilizing. California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein (D), has consequently called for a global ban on all nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.14 Even Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, conspicuously failed to endorse the program during his confirmation hearings.

Moscow’s willingness to consider precluding nuclear-armed systems may be more plausible than it has previously appeared. The Russian military has been following the course of the U.S. military, placing increased emphasis on highly accurate, conventionally armed cruise missiles, reducing the requirements for its nonstrategic nuclear forces.

The Deep Cuts Commission pointed toward exploiting this trend in recommending that the United States and Russia “address the destabilizing effects of nuclear-armed cruise missiles.”15Expanding the INF Treaty regime by banning all nuclear-tipped INF-range cruise missiles would allow the parties to leapfrog current compliance disputes and Moscow to escape the diplomatic cul-de-sac into which it has backed itself. A nuclear cruise missile ban also would close the ALCM loophole in New START’s treatment of the air-launched leg of the strategic triad, which benefits the United States disproportionately.16

To extend limits on all nuclear-armed cruise missiles, data would be exchanged on the disposition of all ALCMs, SLCMs, and GLCMs capable of nuclear weapons delivery. As an interim measure, all nuclear-armed cruise missile warheads would be de-mated and consolidated in a few, heavily monitored storage facilities. Although the unprecedented transparency measures necessary to achieve high confidence in ultimately achieving warhead elimination would be difficult to negotiate, interim measures to securely isolate warheads from their delivery systems would be easier. As the INF Treaty demonstrated, confirming the complete absence of systems is often less challenging than trying to count the number deployed.

Just as many of the INF Treaty inspection protocol provisions were incorporated into START nearly verbatim, finding the means to resolve contemporary INF Treaty compliance issues and devise measures to ensure the absence of deployed nuclear warheads can contribute to negotiating additional reductions in aggregate strategic arsenals. Much applicable research has been performed in recent years on methods to verify arms control limits on nuclear warheads.17

As NATO and the Soviet Union discovered in the 1980s, effective constraints on INF missiles are an essential component of strategic arms control. The extensive transparency measures of the INF Treaty, including data exchanges, on-site monitoring, and challenge inspections, and the decision to create a ban rather than a limit on the most destabilizing systems were critical milestones on the path toward concluding the first treaty to reduce strategic arms. INF arms control led the way then, and it can do so again.

ENDNOTES

1.   Steve Holland, “Trump Wants to Expand U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, Make It ‘Top of the Pack,’” Reuters, February 23, 2017. 

2.   Michael Gordon, “Russia Had Deployed Missile Barred by Treaty, U.S. General Tells Congress,” The New York Times, March 8, 2017.

3.   Frederik Pleitgen, Alla Eshchenko, and Laura Smith-Spark, “Russia Denies Deploying Cruise Missile in Treaty Breach,” CNN, March 9, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/09/europe/russia-us-cruise-missile-treaty/.

4.   Michael R. Gordon, “Russian Cruise Missile, Deployed Secretly, Violates Treaty, Officials Say,” The New York Times, February 14, 2017.

5.   The BGM-109G ground-launched cruise missile banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was a variant of the Tomahawk.

6.   Deep Cuts Commission, “Back From the Brink: Toward Restraint and Dialogue Between Russia and the West,” June 2016, http://deepcuts.org/images/PDF/Third_Report_of_the_Deep_Cuts_Commission_English.pdf.

7.   Ibid., pp. 9, 25.

8.   Michael D. Regan, “Republican Bills Counter Russia’s Apparent Violation of Nuclear Arms Treaty,” NewsHour, February 18, 2017.

9.   UN General Assembly, A/RES/71/258, December 23, 2016.

10.   Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore A. Postol, “How U.S. Nuclear Force Modernization Is Undermining Strategic Stability: The Burst-Height Compensating Super-Fuze,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 1, 2017.

11.   Steven Pifer, “Nuclear Arms Control Choices for the Next Administration,” Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Series Paper, No. 13 (October 2016), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/acnpi_20161025_arms_control_choices_final.pdf.

12.   When the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) entered into force, air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) became subject to the warhead limits attributed to deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and deployed heavy bombers; but under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), ALCMs were no longer counted under deployed warhead limits.

13.   William J. Perry and Andy Weber, “Mr. President, Kill the New Cruise Missile,” The Washington Post, October 15, 2015. 

14.   Dianne Feinstein, “There’s No Such Thing as ‘Limited’ Nuclear War,” The Washington Post, March 5, 2017.

15.   Deep Cuts Commission, “Back From the Brink,” p. 26.

16.   Unlike START, which had a separate sublimit combining deployed missile warheads with ALCMs attributed to heavy bombers, New START counts each heavy bomber as equivalent to one strategic ballistic missile warhead, no matter how many ALCMs it carries. U.S. bombers carry substantially more than their Russian counterparts.

17.   Such research is conducted by a variety of organizations, such as the United Kingdom’s Verification Research, Training and Information Centre and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory of Princeton University in the United States. The UK/Norwegian Initiative’s working paper submitted at the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference is an example of the kind of research conducted on improving nuclear warhead verification measures. See 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, “The United Kingdom-Norway Initiative: Further Research Into the Verification of Nuclear Warhead Dismantlement,” NPT/CONF.2015/WP.31, April 22, 2015.


Greg Thielmann is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, who worked on intermediate-range missile arms control issues in the U.S. Department of State, participating in the initial round of negotiations on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. He was subsequently an office director in the State Department’s intelligence bureau, senior staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and senior fellow at the Arms Control Association.

 

Posted: March 31, 2017

U.S. Cites Russia for Banned Missile

A keys arms control treaty is in jeopardy due to alleged Russian violations and potential U.S. countermoves.

April 2017

By Maggie Tennis

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with the permanent members of the Russia Security Council in Moscow on March 31, 2017. (Photo credit: Aleksey Nikolskyi/AFP/Getty Images)Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by deploying ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs), a senior U.S. military official told Congress, escalating a dispute over the same type of missile that the Obama administration in 2014 accused Russia of illegally producing and flight testing.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly confirmed news reports, attributed to unnamed U.S. officials, that Russia had fielded the new missile, known as the SSC-8. “We believe that the Russians have deployed a land-based cruise missile that violates the spirit and intent” of the INF Treaty, he said at a March 8 hearing by the House Armed Services Committee. “And we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility.”

His testimony provided new ammunition to Russia critics in Congress seeking a strong U.S. countermove by the Trump administration, as Republican lawmakers pressed for action on their proposed legislation for further missile defenses in Europe and U.S. development of a nuclear-capable GLCM in what they present as an effort to pressure Russia to return to treaty compliance.

The dispute endangers a Cold War-era accord that laid the groundwork for major U.S.-Russian treaties limiting strategic nuclear weapons (see here). U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty in 1987, agreeing to eliminate permanently their entire arsenals of nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty prohibits such missiles based on land.

Responding to Selva’s testimony, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any Russian violation. “Russia has been, remains, and will remain committed to all international obligations, including those arising from the INF Treaty,” he told reporters. “I want to remind you of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s words about the fact that Russia sticks to the international obligations, even if in situations where sometimes it doesn’t correspond to Russia’s interests. Russia still remains committed to its obligations, so we disagree and reject any accusations on this point.”

Russia previously has levied its own allegations of treaty violations against the United States, stemming from elements of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system in Europe and from heavy-strike unmanned aerial vehicles that Russia says fit the treaty’s definition of GLCMs. In November 2016, the United States and Russia held a meeting—the first in 13 years—of the Special Verification Commission (SVC), a forum established by the INF Treaty for dispute resolution.

In 2014 the Obama administration launched a review of U.S. options after determining Russia had flight-tested a GLCM with a range prohibited by the treaty. At a December 2014 hearing held jointly by House Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services subcommittees, Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said that potential military response options cover “three broad categories: active defenses to counter intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missiles, counterforce capabilities to prevent intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile attacks, and countervailing strike capabilities to enhance U.S. or allied forces.” The administration was reviewing “a broad range of options, some of which would be compliant with the INF Treaty, some of which would not be,” he testified.

At the March 8 hearing, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) asked, “What is the [new] administration’s plan to deal with what seems like a flagrant violation of a treaty?” Selva replied that the Pentagon has “been asked to incorporate a set of options” during the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). “So, it would be premature for me to comment on what the potential options might be for the administration,” he said.

In February, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation that they said would allow the United States to “take steps to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty” that include developing similar missile systems that the United States could deploy. Reps. Ted Poe (R-Tex.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) introduced companion legislation in the House. The legislation “makes clear that Russia will face real consequences if it continues its dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” Rubio said in a statement.

Gary Samore, executive director for research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said Russia’s INF Treaty violation “frees us from any obligation” to abide by the accord. Still, U.S. responses, such as a decision to deploy systems now banned by the treaty, may limited due to opposition from European allies, he told the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee on March 8.

“It’s important to recognize that there would be some political cost to doing that, especially in Germany and the Netherlands and other countries,” he said. “This would be controversial, so we need to weigh the military benefits of deploying systems, if they’re necessary, against the potential political complications and figure out a strategy for overcoming those political complications.”

 

Posted: March 31, 2017

BRIEFING: How U.S. and Russian Leaders Can Avoid Renewed Nuclear Tensions

Sections:

Description: 

March 22 Briefing from U.S., German, and Russian Experts on Uncertain Future of Nuclear Arms Restraints and Policy Options for Presidents Trump and Putin

Body: 

Russia and the West are on the brink of a renewed confrontation. Key pillars of mutual restraint are in jeopardy, including the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the 2010 New START agreement. Washington and Moscow are heavily investing in new and redundant nuclear systems that exceed their respective deterrence requirements. Both NATO and Russia are ramping up their defenses in the Baltic region, with close military encounters increasing the chances of a dangerous miscalculation.

Three members of the Deep Cuts Commission, a 21-member experts group from the United States, Russia, and Germany, presented their perspectives and proposals for how Presidents Trump and Putin can chart a safer course. This event was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. 

Audio of the event will be available soon. The transcript is below. 

Speakers include:

  • Sergey Rogov, Director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Walter J. Schmid, former German Ambassador in Moscow (2005-2010) 
  • Steven Pifer, Director of the Brookings Arms Control Initiative
  • Daryl Kimball, Director, Arms Control Association, Moderator

The Deep Cuts Commission's most recent report, published June 2016, is available online


This is an unedited transcript provided by CQ Roll Call.

Transcript: 

      DARYL G. KIMBALL:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Welcome to the First Amendment Lounge of the National Press Club.  I am Daryl Kimball.  I'm the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.  And as most of you know, we're a non-governmental organization that has been in existence since 1971 to address the risks and dangers of the world's most dangerous weapons.  And we are focused for many decades on the U.S.-Soviet and now U.S.-Russian nuclear balance.

      And we are one of the organizational partners of the Russian, German, U.S. expert commission on removing obstacles to achieving deeper nuclear weapons reductions known as the Deep Cuts Commission which was established in 2013.  It's led by our colleagues at the Hamburg Peace Research Institutes and we are the American partner organization.  And today, we are happy to bring folks together for a briefing on the current challenges relating to the U.S.-Russian nuclear balance.

      Since the commission was put together four years ago in 2013, and we developed a name the Deep Cuts Commission, the political situation has changed dramatically and the prospect for further progress looks dim.  And the challenges between the U.S. and Russia and for the pillars of Arms control look to be much more difficult. 

      I'm just going to provide a brief introduction to the subject we're going to discuss today.  We've got three expert speakers who are going to into more depth and then we're going to follow their presentations with Q&A with you all.

      So, just to remind everyone, as we know since 2013, Russia and the West are engaged in a period of renewed confrontation.  Key pillars of the security architecture including the 1987 INF Treaty, Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, the 2010 New START agreement, and the Open Skies Treaty are all in some form of jeopardy.

      Both Washington and Moscow are investing heavily in new and redundant nuclear systems that exceed their respective deterrence requirements and both NATO and Russia are ramping up the military capabilities in the frontier region and there are close military encounters that increase the chance of dangerous miscalculations.

      So, I think one of the core messages that you might come away with today is that without renewed and sober dialogue and restraint on the part of both sides, it is quite possible that the key mechanisms that have served to regulate the U.S. nuclear relationship may disappear in the next year or two.

      So, we have three very experienced insightful experts to share their perspectives on these issues, Sergey Rogov, the Director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.  He will go first being the most senior of our panelists and coming the furthest, I think to Washington for this event.

      Ambassador Walter Schmid, former German Ambassador to Moscow from 2005 to 2010, and Ambassador Steve Pifer, Director today of the Brookings Arms Control Initiative, close colleague with whom we work with in Washington. 

      So each of them is going to provide their comments, their perspective as members of the Deep Cuts Commission on the crisis in bilateral U.S.-Russian Arms control, what they see as the most urgent two or three problems, what's at stake and what U.S. and Russian and European leaders can do and must avoid doing to help avoid further damage.  So with that, Sergey, the floor is yours. Thank you for being here.

      SERGEY ROGOV:  Thank you, Daryl. 

      It's a great pleasure and honor for me to be here today.  I spent more than 50 years studying the United States.  I never thought I would live so long.  And now, I feel like I'm 33 or 35 years younger, because, well, I spent half of my life in the trenches of the Cold War.  And I have the feeling that we are back to those trenches, since the relationship between Russia and the United States today is extremely bad.  Of course, well, the direct parallel with the Cold War may be not quite correct, but there are some common features. 

      First of all, all the stereotypes of the Cold War propaganda are back.  And this anti-American and anti-Russian propaganda is truly ugly.  And what is really frightening is that sometimes propaganda becomes a substitute for a strategy.  And the most dangerous is when political players are beginning to believe their own propaganda. 

      The second commonality is that we don't have practical normal political dialogue.  In a couple of hours, I'm going to see Ambassador Kislyak.  And I can tell you that, well, he was so badly treated, a solid professional diplomat who is doing his work has been publicly attacked as a recruiter spy, that really demonstrates how low our relations are.    Without the political dialogue, we simply cannot find solutions to the problems we face. 

      The third feature is the economic sanctions, the economic warfare.  And finally, and that is most dangerous the resumption of the arms race and the military tension between Russia and the United States when we face all kind of ugly incidents which can produce unbelievable consequences.

      So what should be learned?  I don't intend to spend the rest of my life in the trenches of the new Cold War.  I think we have to stop it and reverse it and try to build a positive relationship between Russia and the United States. That will be good not only for our two countries, but for the rest of the world, since Russia and the United States, we are still nuclear superpowers.  And while 30 years ago or 40 years ago, we had so many nuclear weapons that we can destroy the entire humanity 20 times, today, the number is smaller. 

      But we still can destroy the entire mankind three or four times.  We are locked in a very strange relationship called mutually assured destruction, so strategic stability is based on this notion.

      And right now, it seems that we cannot avoid this paradigm.  But why Russia and the United States should be forever doomed to mutually assured destruction?  Let me give you the example of the United Kingdom and France.

      They actually have enough weapons to destroy each other, 200 or 300 nuclear warheads, that's sufficient.  And the French and the British don't always like each other.  But the relationship is not mutually assured destruction. Mostly, it's cooperative relationship.

      And I wonder why Russia and United States despite the existence of nuclear weapons cannot move to a positive cooperative relationship.  That, of course, requires to avoid the total collapse of the arms control regime, because many elements of the arms control regime which we negotiated at the end of the Cold War and after it like the ABM Treaty are gone. 

      And what we have, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty today are under attack.  I presume we'll have more time to talk about specific suggestions how we can reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, how well we can engage other nuclear weapons states like China, India, the United Kingdom, France and others into some kind of the arms control regime, which probably would be different from Russian-American arms control regime, but still there should be some rules of the game.

      And this is particularly important when the international system based on the rules, institutions, multilateral institutions today is under attack.  And I won't -- trying to be a little bit diplomatic,  I won't tell you which country is driving this attack on the United Nations, on NAFTA, on NATO, on Trans-Pacific Partnership and I can continue with this list.

      And Russian-American cooperation, if we're able to resume it, will help to deal with many challenges which the present international community faces.  One of them are the weapons of mass destruction.  But there are other challenges, problems like the Islamic State. Today, Russians and Americans fight against the Islamic State in Syria, which theoretically should have made us allies like when the Soviet Union and the United States were fighting against Hitler as a common enemy. 

      So the Islamic State is a common enemy.  And each of us in one way or another is resisting it, but we are not allies.  And actually some pretty bad things happen unless we are able to find how, well not just to avoid accidents, but how to cooperate.

      There are other issues which we should be concerned, but I presume that the time which was allocated by Daryl to me has expired, so I have to stop. 

      KIMBALL:  All right.  Thank you, Sergey.

      Ambassador Schmid, the floor is yours.  Thank you. 

      WALTER J. SCHMID:  Thank you, Daryl. 

      Ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure for me to address to you some problems we are talking about in the Deep Cuts Commission.  And working in this commission I can draw not only from my experience in Moscow but also from my time for 2000 to 2005 as Federal Commissioner of the Federal Government for Arms Control and Disarmament in Germany. 

      The Deep Cuts Commission is basically an arms control commission.  And before I will try to discuss some aspects of the INF Treaty, New START and the military problems related to the Baltic State, I would like to make some comments on the nature and the tasks arms control can fulfill.  Arms control is about organizing one country's security.  And in doing so, it's in some competition with unilateral defense.

      Both unilateral defense and arms control which is an element of cooperative security start by the same procedure.  First, there must be an assessment of the security threat, of the security need one country faces.

      And then at the next level, we see the difference.  Defense, unilateral defense tries to fill gaps, normally by buildup of military capabilities.  Arms control on the other hand tries to come an agreement, to come to an agreement with the adversary most likely at the lower level of weapons that existed before.  That's the ideal view.

      And it is since two centuries that one great philosopher, Immanuel Kant, illuminated the problems of unilateral defense, stating in his famous essay, Perpetual Peace, that once one country or one state tries to increase its security by military means, there is a risk that it is going to decrease the security situation of others and the adversaries.

      And as you know, the other state, the adversary has done the same procedure to face.  He has to define its security needs and then probably will end by a buildup of his armed forces.  And this, as the Cold War has shown, can lead to a buildup of arms, to an arms race and to less stability, less security for both sides.

      If it goes well, this buildup, then those states will end up at a higher level of balance.  This causes during the time of the period of the buildup, of course, some instability, and at the end of the day it's more extensive than security on a lower level, so it's a waste of money.

      And I am drawing my attention now to -- given this framework to the three problems I would like to address.  First one, INF, I think INF is an example of such, while the history, the run-up to INF is an example of such a buildup because one side in those days, the Soviet Union, introduced a new weapon.

      The German chancellor Helmut Schmidt thought we should react because this weapon was directed not against United States but against Europe.  It's a problem of Europe and also talking as a European here, you cannot reduce the INF Treaty to an issue between United States and Russia. It's also of utmost concern to Europe because we are faced with a new weapon that's directed against -- can be directed against Europe.  So, Helmut Schmidt was very nervous about this and he started a policy campaign that finally was very costly for him, because he had to pay with his job in '83 -- '82 and (inaudible).

      So what happened?  You know, this was the double solution, the two track approach.  The western countries came to the conclusion that they had to react.  They reacted and they deployed Pershing.  Then the other side realized that this, of course, caused a new problem to them because they were now confronted with rockets, with missiles that could reach their country within a few minutes. So they saw the risk of the first strike problematic.  So at the end of the day we had a buildup on both sides.  We had to pay for more than 2,000 missiles and then both sides decided that it would be better if they could abolish this kind of weaponry (inaudible).

      And that's the situation where we are today.  And I think that everybody on all sides who is talking today, the problems of the IFA, the possibility of withdrawing, thinking about it should not forget this experience, that once we didn't have the INF Treaty, we ran run into a very difficult situation.

      And those who think that because other states are not part of the INF Treaty and withdrawal from the treaty could be a good solution in order to solve these problems,  I am talking about, immediately about this, should never forget the problems I've talked about that could arise in Europe and where the Europeans don't have any interest in recreating this situation.

      Of course, INF Treaty is apart from what I have said, a bilateral issue, and it would be advisable to take other countries in.  I don't know if it's advisable to start an initiative for multi-lateralization, but it probably could be a good idea to take countries that are of interest to both sides and to Europe, in the Far East into this treaty.  And to make them concrete proposals because I could think that also countries like China, like Japan, like South Korea could have an interest not to run into this problem of this kind of conflict. 

      Second, New START, we know that this treaty finished a period where we didn't have, the binding instruments in order to face the nuclear threat.  And fortunately the New START in our view was concluded. It runs until '21.  And we would be very happy if it could be at least extended for more years to come.  And we would even be more happy if it could be improved.  And I think there is a possibility to do so.  I'm coming back to what I've said about the general nature of arms control.  First is the military as the military planner should assess the security risk and the security needs.

      And we had in 2013 a statement by the then-American President Obama who said that according to military assessment, the United States could reduce further.  And we are hopeful that the upcoming new nuclear posture will not diverge too much from the military statement some years ago. 

      This will also be positive, an extension, and probably an improvement of the treaty would also be very positive with regard to the NPT.  You know that the non-nuclear weapon states under this regime of the NPT are getting more and more unsatisfied and they are looking for alternatives. 

      We will have next week or so a conference of the "ban" countries how they are called and they passed a resolution in the United Nations where the majority of 134 votes.  So, it would be detrimental to the interest of us all if the NPT could be damaged. 

      And I can assure you, having assisted two NPT conferences, that the problem of nuclear disarmament is decisive.  If it's dealt well with, it's decisive for the mood of the conference and progress that can be made.  If we miss this opportunity, we will also face problems with the NPT which is a pillar and the cornerstone of our international security.

      The third issue I wanted to talk very briefly is the Baltics.  What we are seeing currently on all sides is a preparedness to increase military spending, increase military capabilities on both sides.  And so, we face the risk of a buildup in these capabilities in close proximity to the common border between Russia and NATO. 

      NATO, by the way, coming back to my general remarks on arms control, is committed to both aspects, to collective defense and collective security.  These are principles established in the strategic concept of NATO.  And that's why it would be advisable if we could think on both sides, before we are going to build up military capabilities to assess the concrete security risk both sides faces, and then to discuss on that basis how they could by arms control measures of a regional nature reduce tension without coming under the pressure to start a buildup. 

      And we could imagine, and the commission has proposed some technicalities we could talk about later, in order to reduce tension to dislocated forces and to work that way against the risk of a, let's say, military accident. 

      These are the three examples I wanted to illustrate a little bit in order to show you that arms control which is often being neglected in these days, sometimes ignored, is not an out-of-date instrument, but it can be very instrumental and very helpful in facing the security risks and threat we are finding today in a risky world. 

      Thank you very much. 

      KIMBALL:  Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. 

      Steve Pifer, your perspective after the Russian and German perspective on these challenges. 

      STEVE PIFER:  Yes.  Thank you, Daryl.  For 45 years the nuclear arms control regime has contributed to the security of both the United States on the one side, the Soviet Union and Russia on the other end, and it's also had broader security benefits. 

      But there are certain things now which lead people to be concerned including myself that that regime could be at risk and I'll talk about three challenges very briefly.  And my two co-panelists have already touched on these questions, but the first challenge is just you have a broad U.S.-Russia political relationship that is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War, lots of mistrust, very difficult issues. 

      The question is can you get that relationship to a point where you can begin to engage on some of these questions that relate to arms control, avoiding military activities that could be problematic.  I think you probably have to start off with small steps. 

      One step, I think, would be of urgent attention should be some kind of a military-to-military dialogue at a time when American, NATO and Russian military units are operating in close proximity at a higher tempo than the past; some kind of regime to address issues so that you avoid dangerous military incidents, that you avoid things that could lead to accident or miscalculation. 

      A second challenge is the preservation of the treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces.  That treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and it bans the United States and Russia from testing or deploying ground-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, and it resulted in the elimination of almost 2,700 American and Soviet missiles back by 1991. 

      The United States has charged Russia with testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile at intermediate range and as we heard two weeks ago, the U.S. military believes that the Russians have begun to deploy that missile.  The Russians have leveled several charges about American non-compliance with the treaty. And that poses a problem, can the treaty be preserved. 

      I think the Obama administration in its last several years was hoping to find a way to bring Russia back into compliance.  And I'll talk about the American violations in a moment.  That presumably is going to be much harder to do if we're now talking about Russia deploying a prohibited missile as opposed to testing. 

      You have discussions going on now, I think.  A senior American official yesterday raised the question, what leverage does the United States have to bring Russia back into compliance.  There have been suggestions on Capitol Hill about perhaps building an American intermediate-range missile.  And my guess is that would actually get the attention of Moscow.  Certainly, in the 1980s, the deployment of the American Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missile in Europe focused Soviet attention and was important to getting the treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces in the first place. 

      Personally, I would prefer to avoid steps that add to the numbers of nuclear weapons, but those who are advocating this idea I think need to answer two questions.  One, can the U.S. defense budget afford to build this missile and two, if the United States built it, would NATO agree to deploy it.  And unless the answers to both of those questions are yes, I'm not sure that's a doable option. 

      Other possibilities would be looking more at countervailing conventional capabilities.  I think I'd build on the point that while this is a treaty dispute between the United States and Russia, the real security threat, if Russia is in fact deploying an intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile, is to its neighbors in Europe and Asia. 

      And I think it would be worthwhile for the U.S. government to be doing what it can to begin to get those countries that would be directly threatened by this missile -- Germany, France, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, China and South Korea -- to begin to make this an issue on their agendas with Moscow. 

      My sense is we're probably not going to get a lot of traction making this just a U.S.-Russian issue.  We should be trying to make this an issue between Russia and the other countries for whom this missile would be a threat if in fact it is being deployed. 

      Also, there's an importance to dealing with the Russian concerns about American compliance.  I think that a couple of the Russian concerns are, probably can be handled fairly easily but there is one concern that to my mind has merit, and that is the Russian concern that the site in Romania to deploy SM-3 missile interceptors is a potential violation of the treaty or is a violation of the treaty. 

      And the argument goes, if you look at that site which is based on the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System, if you take those launchers and them on U.S. Navy warship, they can hold SM-3 interceptors but they can also hold sea-launched cruise missiles which are virtually identical to ground-launched cruise missiles.

      So, I think that's an issue the U.S. government needs to pay attention to in terms of preserving the treaty, and this will require a significant degree of political will on both sides.  Preserving the treaty at this point is going to be very, very difficult.  But if that treaty unravels, it has significant consequences and perhaps could lead to an unraveling of the overall nuclear arms control regime. 

      The third issue is the New START Treaty and what happens there.  Under the terms of New START, the United States and Russia by February of next year each are allowed no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on no more than 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers.  According to press reports in a February phone conversation, President Putin raised with President Trump the possibility of considering the extension of that treaty.  The treaty goes until 2021 but by its terms it can be extended to up to five years if the sides agree. 

      Reportedly, President Trump was a bit confused as to which treaty was being discussed and then was dismissive of it.  I hope that reflects the fact that the President is still learning about some of these questions.  It's very clear that his military supports this. 

      Two weeks ago, the Commander of Strategic Command and Vice Chairman of Joint of Chiefs of Staff in testimony on Capitol Hill made clear they support the treaty.  They like the fact that it caps the overall levels of Russian strategic forces, and they like the fact that the treaty provides for semi-annual data exchanges, thousands of notifications every year, and the opportunity 18 times a year to go and look at Russian strategic forces. That gives both sides a lot more information about the other side in a way that prevents having to make worst case assumptions. 

      Now, yesterday, Chris Ford who's at the National Security Council staff indicated that the U.S. policy would be to observe New START up until at least February, 2018 which is when the limits take full effect.  And that period runs roughly with the time where the administration will be conducting its nuclear posture review. 

      I very much hope that that review results in an agreement to continue to observe New START and perhaps to extend it to 2026.  But then, the question comes up, could you do more.  I personally would like to see us do more.  I believe it's in the U.S. security interest to further reduce nuclear weapons.  I would prefer fewer Russian nuclear weapons that could target the United States.  And my guess is that Sergey would like fewer American weapons that could target Russia.  But I'm not sure if that's going to be where the Trump administration comes out. 

      If the Trump administration would like to pursue those further reductions, my guess is they're going to have to deal with several questions the Russians have raised over the last four or five years.  One would be missile defense which will be a very tricky issue in this town.  A second issue would be Conventional Prompt Global Strike. And then, the third question might be could you begin to limit some of the capabilities of third country nuclear forces. 

      That's going to be a question though not only of preserving the arms control regime, but could you strengthen that regime.  And that's going to be a question both for the Trump administration and also for how the Kremlin wishes to pursue it. 

      Finally, just my concern about what happens if the INF treaty does collapse and if you don't get an extension of New START.  For the first time in 50 years, the United States and Russia would be in a situation in which there are no negotiated limits covering their strategic nuclear forces.  And I think potentially that has significant costs, particularly for the United States.  First of all, we lose limits on overall capabilities; we lose the transparency, we're not going to know things like how many warheads are on deployed Russian systems. 

      There is a potential for a nuclear arms race which from the American perspective is not a good idea.  My guess is the Russians can build nuclear weapons more cheaply than we can.  It's not an area of American comparative advantage. 

      Moreover, if we start this competition around 2021, it would begin at a time when the Russians have hot production lines, they're in the midst of their strategic modernization program.  Our program only cranks up in the 2020s.  And it would have a significant impact or it could have a significant impact on the U.S. defense budget. 

      We already have a strategic modernization program which the Pentagon or the Obama Pentagon said they did not know how to afford.  How do you then add to that on the nuclear side when you also have a White House that wants to have a 350-ship Navy and additional manpower for the Army and the Marines? 

      The other cost we have there is that other countries will react, in particular my concern is about China.  China has modestly increased its nuclear forces, but if the United States and Russia are in a situation where they are not limited and the limits go away, can we count on the Chinese to show restraint? 

      So, it seems to me that there are real costs to an end of that negotiated arms control regime.  It needs to be preserved, that's in the interest of the United States; it's an interest to Russia and of Europe.  But it's going to be a difficult challenge in the next couple of years. 

      KIMBALL:  Thank you much. 

      We're going to open up the floor to questions.  And as you ponder your questions, I wanted to start with a specific question perhaps starting with Steve about how specifically to solve the INF puzzle. 

      And I would just note that while there have been some Republicans on Capitol Hill who have proposed the initiation of efforts to develop a U.S. INF missile in response, there are other members of Congress, particularly the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who have said,  "No, we should not do that. That would be unwise."  And they have suggested that there be a second meeting of the Special Verification Commission, the SVC which the treaty provides for. 

      So, is that part of the solution?  What is the SVC, what could they do in this context, and can these technical people deal with this by themselves or does it take leadership from above to solve this? 

      PIFER:  The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty established the Special Verification Commission, and one of its mandated tasks is to examine issues of compliance with the treaty.  And that's the point or the place where the United States and Russia can bring together the technical expertise to solve the problems. 

      I think the first question is, is there a political will.  And if there's a political decision to try to solve these problems, you then have the technical experts who could figure out ways to do it.  In our commission, we've had some discussions, and in our third report we write about some possible solutions. 

      For example, the Russian concern about America's use of what the Russians say are intermediate-range ballistic missiles in tests for missile defense.  One way to resolve that problem, and I think it actually is a problem that both militaries would like to resolve, because both militaries are going to be using intermediate-range missiles as targets for their missile defense test, is work out language, and the SVC, the Special Verification Commission, would be the place to do this, that would say this is what is a prohibited intermediate-range ballistic missile, this is what is a permitted test missile. 

      And then perhaps you could say, and either of the sides can have no more than X number of test missiles at any one time and they have to be limited to locations that are associated with missile defense tests.  So, that's the kind of technical solution that you could work out that could solve the problem. 

      

      Likewise, again, on the question of the SM-3 interceptors in Romania, are there are certain things that you could do at that site that would say this is a system that cannot contain a sea-launched cruise missile, or could you allow the Russians periodically to come and take a look and say, okay, there are 24 launch boxes there, open that box number 1 and 16, we get to choose and show us there's an SM-3 interceptor in there, not a sea-launched or not a cruise missile. 

      So, I think those are the kinds of solutions.  It's a little bit more difficult at this point in time on the outside to come up with potential solutions for the American charge because we don't yet have a lot of detail.  But you could see possibilities for inspections, things like that that might at least begin to define exactly is there a problem here.  And then, again, if there was a political decision in Washington and in Moscow to try to preserve this treaty, the people in the Special Verification Commission could come up with ways to do it. 

      ROGOV:  Let me add a few words.  I basically agree with what Steve said.  But I'd like to mention two factors.  One is that with each arms control treaty, we always face some problems and some allegations, claims and we had the mechanism to resolve those problems and get rid of those accusations. 

      With the INF Treaty, we face a very strange situation.  When Russia was claiming that the United States is violating the INF treaty presented the facts, on American side, the position is unprecedented; the United States says Russia violated the INF Treaty.  And when we asked what are the facts, the response is you know yourself, so we are not going to tell you.  That's kind of a shell game. And unless the United States makes public what exactly it considers to be a violation by Russia, it's going to be very difficult to resolve the problem. 

      The second factor is that when the treaty was negotiated and that was what, 30 years ago, some of the new technological developments have not been taken into account.  Who, for instance, thought 30 years ago about unmanned aerial vehicles which can fly hundreds if not thousands of miles and carry a heavy payload? 

      So, well, the treaty has some elements which have to be clarified. Besides, when the INF Treaty was signed, the Soviet Union and the United States had almost 3,000 medium range missiles and the rest of the world just a few dozen.  Today, Russia and the United States don't have such missiles, land-based medium range missiles.  But China has more than 1,000.  Other countries like India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel also have medium range missiles.  And in terms of geography, that means that the missiles from those countries can attack targets on the Russian territory, but not on American territory since, as you know, there are no more medium-range Russian missiles on Cuba for, what, for 65 years, or 55.  And it's very unlikely that Russia will deploy them in Cuba. 

      So, well, we have to think how to engage other countries because, well, in a multipolar system in which we live, it's insufficient for Russia and the United States only to create legally binding arms control arrangements.  We have to think how to engage China, how to engage the United Kingdom, India, France and others. 

      And that is also a very important issue, since other nuclear weapon states say, "Oh, no, no.  Well, we are not going to get into arms control regime because we're small guys.  But you have thousands of nuclear warheads so why should we? Reduce to our level, then we shall think."  And that, of course, creates a situation when we have more and more uncertainty about what can happen in the future. 

      In particular, for instance, when we think whether China will get engaged in nuclear buildup responding to what the Chinese perceive as an American provocation of deployment of American ballistic missile defenses like the THAAD system in Korea and other places.  So, well, it's not just simply the question of the letter of the INF Treaty.  We have to think about the entire set of issues related to the INF Treaty. 

      KIMBALL:  Ambassador Schmid, you had a comment on INF? 

      SCHMID:  A short remark.  I think what Steve said and what Sergey said is very reasonable, but I wanted to make clear one point.  In order to satisfy these needs, we shouldn't run the risk to lose the treaty, because if we lose it, then of course, we are reimporting the security problem we had to solve it by the treaty.  And I think the advantage is we could have, vis-a-vis China or other countries you mentioned, would be much less than the problem we would create in Europe. 

      KIMBALL:  Right. 

      Are there questions from our audience?  We've answered all of your questions with U.S.-Russia relationship.  That's amazing. 

      Yes?  Identify yourself and tell us. 

      HERMAN:  Yes, I'm Steve Herman from the Voice of America.  Thank you, all, for coming here today.  I'm just wondering, maybe a brief elaboration on the comments that Chris Ford made yesterday concerning the nuclear posture review, and that essentially everything is on table including moving CTBT over to the executive branch to effectively kill it I guess. 

      And also, President Obama made a big deal of his goal which obviously a lot of people would consider to be utopian of zero nuclear weapons in the world.  If this administration moves away from that, what is the symbolism that you interpret in that move? 

      KIMBALL:  All right.  So just to repeat the question because we're recording it.  Question is a response to Chris Ford's comments about the nuclear reviews underway and how that affects you U.S. policy including the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  Why don't we start with Steve?  I actually have a thought on this, too, but as the American, why don't you respond to our American President's aide's comments for the VOA? 

      PIFER:  OK.  Well, first of all, let me say that it was probably natural for Chris Ford to say we're doing the nuclear posture review and I believe he also said there's going to be a missile defense posture review and everything's on the table.  I mean, that's where the administration is going to start so I would not read too much into that. 

      The important question is where do they come out at the end 12 or 16 months down the road when they finish this?  I also wouldn't read too much into the comment which did get some media play about him saying we might reconsider the end goal of world without nuclear weapons because I believe he qualified it, said, you know, is that a goal in the near to midterm?  Is that realistic? 

      I personally support a world without nuclear weapons.  I actually think American security interests would be better off in that world and that the risk of the world, of that kind of world, there would be risks there but they are less than the risk of a nuclear world.  But I would also admit that it would be very hard to get there. 

      

      So I can see an outcome where the Trump administration might say, "Yes, that's our goal."  And, in fact, President Trump said that pretty much three weeks ago.  But they may come to a different conclusion than the Obama administration came to as to how realistic it is to make that a goal that drives your near and your medium term policy approaches. 

      KIMBALL:  You know, let me just add a couple of observations, too.  I mean when President Obama on April 5, 2009 gave his speech in Prague about steps towards a world without nuclear weapons, he was not talking about a, you know, a near-term objective of achieving global nuclear disarmament.  But he was echoing the call from George Shultz, Sam Nunn, Bill Perry and Henry Kissinger issued about a year earlier, which is an echo of Ronald Reagan, of Jack Kennedy, of President Johnson, President Nixon, President Carter about the importance of pursuing the goal of nuclear disarmament.  And that goal is a treaty obligation of the United States and all of the parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty under Article 6 of the treaty and the subsequent review conference statements and commitments made. 

      And, in fact, in the year 2000, five years after the NPT was extended indefinitely, the five permanent members of the Security Council made a joint statement of an unequivocal commitment to achieving the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  It's a political statement, but it was important at the time. 

      So I would say to Chris Ford, I'll remind him that U.S. support for the goal of a world without nuclear weapons is non-negotiable.  This is not something up for review for President Trump to rethink as he sends out his next tweets.  This is a serious matter that has had a lot of consideration, bipartisan support.  And if United States does not commit to that in the long-term, it will have serious consequences across the system, particularly the nuclear nonproliferation treaty system. 

      And then just quickly on the review, the nuclear posture review, yes, as Steve said, everything is under reconsideration.  And I think what that should remind us about is that the policies that have been part of U.S. practice for several years, the 25-year long taboo on nuclear testing, no U.S. nuclear testing since September, 1992, the pursuit of further U.S.-Russian nuclear reductions, the policy that Obama put in place of no new nuclear weapons.  All of that is up for grabs again.  That does not mean that it's going to change, in fact, I think it'd be very difficult for Trump to change those things, but we should not take those policies for granted. 

      ROGOV:  Let me say a few words from a Russian point of view.  I was not at this meeting with Chris Ford, but I pay attention, as Steve said, that he claimed that the United States will stick to the START II Treaty until February 2018. 

      PIFER:  At least.

      ROGOV:  At least.  But the treaty expires only in 2021, so should I interpret this as a hint, as a message that after nuclear posture review will be finished, is finished, the Trump administration may decide to withdraw from the New START Treaty like George W. Bush did with the ABM Treaty. 

      That creates a lot of uncertainty, in particular since during the campaign Donald Trump made very contradictory statements about nuclear weapons.  Sometimes he supported no first use.  Sometimes he said, well, we shall win any nuclear arms race.  We shall always be number one. 

      Apparently, today there is no nuclear policy for the new administration, it's developing.  But the problem is that the Republican Party has almost no arms controllers left.  In 1972, it was Nixon and Kissinger and the Republicans who were launching to play the leading role in creating the arms control regime.  After Dick Luger left the Senate, are there any Republican senators who are supporting arms control regime? 

      And looking at the Republican platform, one gets the feeling that there is no arms control regime, arms control treaties the Republican Party will support.  Of course, if the Republican president, and you have now the Republican president or a Republican president, will propose some arms control initiatives, Republicans will probably support him. 

      But we see that the so-called defense hawks in the Senate and in the House already, well, threaten that they would not permit any arms control agreement, and that's in particular related to the bill which was introduced a month ago by Senator Cotton which suggests that the United States should deploy both defensive and defensive medium-range weapons and even give them to American allies, presuming Germany and others. 

      There is another element which creates uncertainty, and that, fundamental changes which the Republicans made in the National Missile Defense Act of 1999.  It was in 1999 that this act defined the purpose of the BMD as limited defenses.  So the word "limited" was dropped out last year and replaced by robust layered defenses including a suggestion that the United States should test and deploy space-based defenses. 

      Of course, well, that's a big concern for Russia and many people in Russia are beginning to believe in the worst case scenario.  Worst case scenario happens seldom, but the present uncertainty and the situation when we accuse each other of violation of legally binding obligations is not a very positive environment for preservation and strengthening of the arms control regime. 

      KIMBALL:  Ambassador Schmid? 

      SCHMID:  Coming back to your question, the zero option, I would (inaudible) what Daryl has just said.  This is stated in Article 6 of the NPT, and that's why it's not the free choice of the member states to adhere to it or not.  But there is something more to it.  This was an obligation undertaken by the nuclear weapon states.  In exchange for it, the non-nuclear weapon states renounced the acquisition of nuclear weapons.  I think we should never forget this.  This was the bargain.  And, of course, everybody knew that this objective of a zero option could only be reached step by step and not tomorrow morning. 

      But -- and I would recall what I've just said before, as soon as we face the risk that there would be no arms control instrument, of course, non-nuclear weapon states would see this as a non-compliance to the obligation of the other side under the NPT. 

      PIFER:  Just coming back to the point about what Chris Ford said yesterday, my assumption is that when he said at least through February 2018 an abundance of caution to preserve the flexibility for the administration. I personally am very confident that we'll observe the New START Treaty up through 2021 and the evidence I would offer is that we saw just a couple of days ago a press report saying that the Air Force intends to complete the removal of another 50 ICBMs by April, which would bring the U.S. ICBM force down to 400.  That is the New START planned force. 

      If, in fact, the Trump administration wanted to keep all options open after February of 2018, they might have slowed that program down to give themselves options to go beyond New START.  So I'm not sure that the administration has a decision yet about what happens after 2021, but I have a fair degree of confidence that the administration would adhere to New START through 2021. 

      KIMBALL:  All right.  Any other thoughts, questions?  Yes, sir, in the back. 

      QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

      KIMBALL:  A good question.  So the question I think was do the non-nuclear weapon states of the world, the majority, do they continue to believe in forswearing nuclear weapons given some of the difficulties that we now see with respect to the nuclear armed states not fulfilling their responsibilities on disarmament? 

      SCHMID:  As you -- as you can see, today I think the way that non-nuclear weapon states would go is not to rearm as well.  But if you look at the ban initiative, they try to find ways and means in order to reinforce efforts to disarm nuclearly (ph).  You can discuss if the ways and means they found so far are adequate ones, very helpful ones. 

      We -- our German position, for instance, the government's position is that this is not very helpful.  It could damage the NPD a well and that will sure speak for the step-by-step approach.  But it's quite obvious that if even the step-by-step approach doesn't work, then there will be reactions of the new nuclear weapon states vis-a-vis the NPT.  And I don't think, this is my personal view, that they would like to rearm, but I think they will try to find ways and means to circumvent the NPT.  This could be a serious risk and this wouldn't be a positive news for all of us. 

      KIMBALL:  Yes. 

      Steve? 

      PIFER:  I would add that if you look at the two most significant nuclear proliferation challenges we seen now which would be North Korea and Iran, if the United States abandons its commitments to reduce nuclear weapons and ultimately move towards their elimination, if we move away from that, it will greatly diminish both the diplomatic and the moral authority of the United States to mobilize pressure on the part of third countries against Iran and North Korea.  So there's a very big risk in terms of our ability to contain proliferation in those cases where it perhaps is moving forward. 

      KIMBALL:  And, yes, and I would agree with that and we should also remember that we can't judge the effects of this in the short-term very well.  We need to think about the long term.  And we have to remember, the NPT was created in 1968.  There was a conference in 1995 about whether to extend it or not.  It was decided that it would be extended indefinitely.  We're now approaching the 50th anniversary of the NPT.  We have to think in these long timelines.  So what will happen 25 years from now if -- but I'll agree with Steve that it would diminish the U.S. moral authority, the Russians' moral authority if they're not making good faith progress on disarmament with respect to other states. 

      Yes? 

      QUESTION:  (inaudible) and this is about North Korea.  To what extent does North Korea's continuing development of ballistic missiles and the outcome of current confrontation over that program affect the U.S.-Russia issues, the U.S.-Russia agenda that you've been discussing? 

      KIMBALL:  Oh, I can take a crack at that, but if others want to contemplate that.  I mean I would -- I would say that, you know, if North Korea's nuclear missile program is not halted in the near term, and I think that requires pressure, more effective sanctions and engagement, if that does not occur they're going to have the ability to strike Japan, South Korea, even China and U.S. forces in the region with nuclear armed ballistic missiles.  They may not have an ICBM for several years even if they begin testing it in 2017. 

      What does that do?  I don't that affects directly the U.S.-Russia dynamics.  I think it would gravely affect U.S.-Chinese dynamics and that may, in the longer run, affect U.S.-Russia dynamics.  And what I mean is that, you know, as, if North Korea advances its nuclear and missile capabilities, the U.S., South Korean and Japanese response is going to be to install ever more capable missile interceptor systems.  Right now it's THAAD which is a relatively modest system.  The radar there actually can't detect all North Korean ballistic missile launches.  It's not the most effective system.  But there are more effective systems that are available, the AEGIS system on destroyers. 

      And if the North Koreans pursue an ICBM, I think one of the likely responses or impulses of the United States would be to bolster the ground-based ballistic missile interceptor capability in Alaska, which is actually quite minimal at the moment.

      So, you know, that is going to lead to a Chinese reaction, a very negative one.  And, you know, if China begins to increase its nuclear capabilities, I think Russia will have to pay attention, and it will make Russia far less interested in deeper nuclear reductions with the United States because it will continue, as Sergey said, to remind the world that, "Well, we don't just have the United States and NATO to worry about, we have these third countries that happen to be on our border."

      So, you know, the North Korean proliferation challenge does have serious ramifications for in the long run, the U.S.-Russia risk reduction agenda we're talking about.  Ambassador Schmid, you had some thoughts.

      SCHMID:  Just adding a question to this.  Of course, once you get North Korea with ICBMs, you need a missile defense against the ICBMs.  And this would be a worldwide missile defense.

      PIFER:  And I think just to reiterate what Daryl said.  You know, right now, the United States has a rather thin missile defense against the North Korean ICBM.  Interceptors in Alaska and California, the goal is I think to have 40 interceptors by the end of this year.  That probably doesn't threaten Russian forces or Chinese forces.

      But if the North Korean advances lead to an increase in that, even though I think -- where the U.S. military now is we accept we're not going to be able to defend the United States against a Russian attack and we probably couldn't stop a Chinese attack.  But what we may end up doing is if we have to push our numbers up to defend against North Korea, then do we lead the Chinese and the Russians to say they have to add, and we could get into this inadvertent U.S.-China cycle even though the goal of our missile defense is to stop a North Korean attack. 

      So this potentially has ramifications that go well beyond just the U.S.-North Korean balance.

      ROGOV:  So as the question deals with the Russian-American relations, I can  (inaudible).  Russia is very critical of North Korea, North Korean nuclear policy, North Korean testing.  We consider it's a very serious problem.  But at the same time, Russia is against a military solution to the North Korean challenge.

      And there is concern in Russia taking into account that the new U.S. administration speaks that the time for strategic patience is gone, that the United States may decide to run a preemptive attack on North Korean nuclear and missile facilities.  And that's right near Russian border.  So that would be a development which will have very serious consequences for Russia's security.

      Another factor is the Aegis Ashore in Europe, which the United States claims was not against Russian missiles but against Iranian and North Korean missiles.  Well, since -- as far as Iran is concerned, we have at least a 10-year grace period about the Iranian nuclear program, who is left?  North Korea.

      And it's extremely difficult for me to imagine a scenario when North Korea decides to attack with its missiles Germany.  So, well, this contributes to the Russian perception that the American ballistic missile defenses in Europe are in fact aimed against Russia.

      Can Russia play a more important role?  Since we are not providing North Korea with economic assistance or sophisticated weapons like we used to do many decades ago, we don't have much of a leverage.

      But we can work with the Chinese, engaging them to bring greater pressure on North Korea to give up some of its provocations.  But, on the other hand, if the United States says, well, that it's not going to negotiate with North Koreans, hardly Russia can do much.  But one possibility that we have a multilateral format dealing with North Korean problem like we had five plus one with the Iranian problem.

      So in my interpretation, North Korea could be one of the areas where Russia and the United States can cooperate.  But, again, well, it's very difficult right now to understand what is the new administration policy towards North Korea.

      KIMBALL:  Although I would just add, the U.S. policy towards North Korea may become clearer sooner because President Xi will be having a fabulous weekend in Mar-a-Lago and he'll be speaking with President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson.  And it is my guess -- I don't have any inside information but it's my guess that that is the point at which the U.S. policy will, you know, essentially be clarified, because this problem with North Korea is even more urgent in terms of the timing than the Russia-U.S. issues we were just discussing. 

      Other thoughts, questions?  Yes.

      QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

      KIMBALL:  All right.  So the -- how could INF unraveling lead to a broader unraveling of the nuclear arms control architecture and -- that's a good question.  How could the other nuclear armed states be engaged in a nuclear risk reduction dialogue?  What are the modalities?  So let me ask you, Sergey and then Steve, to talk about the modalities on engaging third party nuclear states.  There are no easy answers as one but there are some ideas.

      ROGOV:  Well, let me start by saying that there are nuclear weapon states and nuclear weapon states.  And it's not easy to find the common denominator for other nuclear weapon states.  But I want to talk a little bit about the European situation.

      When the nuclear arms control process started, the Soviets, when Steve and I were very young, insisted that we should count in the nuclear balance and restrict not only American strategic weapons but also American forward-based tactical nuclear weapons, and there were thousands of them at the time.  And British and French nuclear weapons, since the United Kingdom and France are members of NATO.

      So, well, that was I presume our position almost at the beginning of each next tour of strategic arms reductions.  And each time, we agreed not to count American tactical nuclear weapons which could reach the Russian territory from Central Europe, and not to count the British and French nuclear weapons, but narrow the definition of the strategic stability only to the long-range ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers which the United States and Russia possessed.

      And this is related to the present problem including the INF.  As Mr. Ambassador said, Russian medium-range missiles could attack targets in Europe and in Asia.  But not on American territory.  But American medium-range weapons like Pershing II could attack Moscow, could attack other targets in the European part of the Soviet Union. 

      So, for us, they were strategic weapons.  And in this sense, the whole story of INF was the Soviet decision to agree to a complete elimination of medium-range missiles, which could cover Europe and Asia, in return for elimination of American medium-range missiles which were an element of American strategic posture playing an extremely dangerous role for us with the short flight time of 10 or 12 minutes.

      So well, in the scenario of the preemptive decapitating and even disarming strike, the Pershing IIs were quite prominent.  So, well, that means that what seemed to be a Russian concession agreeing to eliminate completely the entire class of weapons was -- I believe that was a great gain for Russian security, because we got rid of that American possibility to start a surprise attack with a first salvo of the American forward deployed weapons.

      And when we talk now about the present problems of the INF, there are some people in Russia who complain that we face thousands of medium-range missiles in Asia, but have no symmetrical system which could counterbalance those medium-ranges, not American but medium-range missiles of Russia. 

      And from time to time, there is a discussion in Russia that, well, the INF Treaty is something which may be not so good for Russia.  But if the INF Treaty collapses and the United States again deploys the new generation of medium-range missiles, it will be not in western Germany.  It will be in Estonia, in Poland, and Romania.  And the flight time to Moscow will be just a few minutes.  So that's what makes many Russia very much concerned about, well, proposals like which I've mentioned of Senator Cotton.

      (UNKNOWN):  Rubio.

      ROGOV:  No, that -- Rubio also made noises about it but Cotton introduced the bill on preservation of the INF Treaty, which actually means total abolishment of it.  So well, the -- in this scenario, Russian security will be enormously jeopardized.  Another point is -- there is a discussion that, on Russian tactical nuclear weapons.  And we have more tactical nuclear weapons than the United States, although the official number has not been announced but nobody questions that issue.

      But in Europe, Russia faces in the balance with NATO not only 200 of American forward deployed tactical nuclear weapons, but 500 of British and French nuclear weapons, which are not covered by the START Treaty.  So in terms of the Russia-NATO balance, there is a situation where not only tactical nuclear systems of Russia and the United States should be counted but also the British and French.  It's a very complicated scenario and sometimes it's forgotten, but this should be kept in mind.

      KIMBALL:  Steve, some thoughts on this and...

      PIFER:  Yes, we did actually a fairly long paper at Brooking back last August looking at the question.  I'd start out by saying that if you look at the levels of American and Russian nuclear weapons, probably 4,000 to 4500 weapons on each side.  And then compare them to third countries, the largest country would be France at 300, China about 280, the U.K. about 220.  That's a huge gap.  And I would argue there's probably room for another U.S.-Russia bilateral negotiation without getting to third countries.

      Now, having said that, if you look at what the Russian government has said going back to 2011, 2012, there seems to be an insistence on the Russian part that there has to be something done with third countries.  It's not easy.  Even though the Russian government and Foreign Minister Lavrov several times have said the next negotiation has to be multilateral, there's never been a suggestion by the Russian government as to what that negotiation would look like.

      And I think that's because it's very, very hard.  How do you get the -- let's just take the United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China.  The five countries that are on the U.N. Security Council as permanent members.  How do you come up with a negotiation that deals with that?  My guess is Britain, France, and China would not have accepted if it says the United States and Russia can be up here at 4,000 and you stay at 300. 

      We're not going to be able to negotiate something like the Washington Naval Treaty of the 1920s which had different levels for different countries.  So that's a big problem.  My suggestion would be is that the United States and Russia engage in a negotiation that brings their levels of nuclear weapons down below New START, brings in all of the stuff that's not covered by the New START Treaty, non-strategic weapons.  And then the United States and Russia jointly ask the British, and French, and Chinese to say, "Look, as long as the U.S. and Russia are coming down towards that treaty that goes below New START, we, the British and French and Chinese, will not increase our weapons."

      You're going to have to narrow that gap to the point before you can get to a real negotiation where you start doing numbers because it's very difficult to see any state saying, "Sure, I'll take a number of 400 while you're allowed 4,000."  I don't see how that works.  So it's tough. 

      On the question of how the INF treaty unravels.  Here's my theory.      If we can't come to grips with the compliance issues and if, as I believe is happening, Russia continues to deploy a ground launched cruise missile of intermediate range, I think the regime is in danger.  You've already seen in Congress the proposals, one of which is to declare Russia in material breach.  Typically, you do not do that until you're saying that the violation is to such a point where it destroys the fundamental purpose of the treaty.  That declaration is typically a precursor to withdrawal from the treaty.

      Other ideas that have come in Congress, again, deploying an American intermediate-range missile basically contribute to the downfall of the treaty.  If the INF Treaty collapses, you also have proposals in Congress that would say we should defund American implementation of the New START Treaty. 

      So you could see this carrying over to the New START, it might not -- it might not end the New START Treaty, but it would make very difficult for extending the New START Treaty beyond 2021 and it would not be in the interest of either the United States or Russia in 2021 to find that the INF treaty was gone, the New START treaty was gone.  And that for the first time in 50 years, there were really no negotiated treaty limits covering U.S. and Russian nuclear forces.

      KIMBALL:  So we're running short on time, I wanted to try to sum up some of the ideas that my colleagues have expressed here in terms of a positive agenda for action.  And I'm drawing bits and pieces from several of their comments here, and I mean -- so first of all, the United States and Russia have an urgent need to reduce overall tensions.  There will be a summit between the two presidents at some point later this year.

      There are ways that they can lower the temperature through a joint statement that expresses their support for cooperative measures in other areas.  And also that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, the words of Gorbachev and Reagan from about 30 years ago, still true today.

      Another key part of reducing tensions would be to set up the kind of long term negotiation that Steve just talked about with other nuclear armed states.  A pre-condition would be to, at the very least, extend New START for another five years maintaining the existing balance and enabling if the two sides wished engage in further talks about a wide range of issues, conventional strike, missile defense, strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, over the course of that longer period when New START would continue.

      The INF treaty violations, I think we all agree here, it is absolutely essentially the two sides sit down together again to try to work through what the dispute is, how it can be resolved, that takes leadership from the top.  And in the meantime, it's important that there aren't actions like those that Steve was just describing that make a bad situation worse. 

      And not to neglect this, it is just as important, as Ambassador Schmid was describing, there are dangerous military incidents that are occurring on a fairly regular basis.  It is important to avoid those and that requires military to military conversations. 

      And there is the longer term conventional balance that we spoke about here today.  The conventional forces in Europe treaty no longer exists.  That was another key instrument to ending the Cold War but there can and should be a new dialogue on how there can be mutual restraint measures including some regional arms control limits that provide greater confidence and predictability going forward in the future. 

      And there some ideas that the German government has begun to forward in this regard that could be built upon.  So I think those are some of the key themes from our presentations today.  I hope this has been helpful.  And there's even more, of course, in the third report of the Deep Cuts Commission, which we have copies of.  So thank you very much for being here. 

      Please join me in thanking our expert speakers.

      [APPLAUSE]

Country Resources:

Posted: March 22, 2017

Russia Advances Banned Cruise Missile

U.S. officials say Russia has deployed a new missile type prohibited by the INF Treaty.

March 2017

By Terry Atlas and Maggie Tennis

The U.S.-Russian dispute over compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is growing, with a report that Russia has deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) banned by the 1987 accord. 

The United States and Russia now are in disputes over alleged violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed in the East Room of the White House on December 8, 1987. (Photo credit: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)The Russian action, disclosed by unnamed U.S. officials cited in The New York Times on Feb. 14, casts a pall over the future of the landmark Cold War-era agreement by the two countries credited with eliminating an entire category of nuclear weapons. 

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement that the deployment presents “a significant military threat to U.S. forces in Europe and our NATO allies” and requires that the United States “take immediate action to enhance our deterrent posture in Europe and protect our allies.” But no European nation has publicly cited the development as changing the military balance in Europe or requiring military countermeasures that could fuel an arms race in Europe.

The development presents a major challenge for President Donald Trump, who has frequently said he will seek to lower tensions with Russia, which has set out its own complaints that the United States is violating the treaty with some missile defense activities. In response to the new report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Feb. 15 that Russia remains committed to its international obligations, including those under the INF Treaty, according to the state-owned Russian news agency TASS.

Beyond the immediate implications for the INF Treaty, the new Russian cruise missile deployment comes at a time of nervousness over U.S. security commitments in the aftermath of Russia’s seizure of Crimea, its ongoing intervention in Ukraine, and threats to other borders in Europe. In one sign of allies’ anxieties, a senior Polish political leader last month floated the idea that the European Union develop its own nuclear deterrent, a move he acknowledged is unlikely given the costs and other factors. 

The United States and Russia have been shadowboxing over alleged INF Treaty violations for several years, during which positions on both sides seem to have hardened. In July 2014, after months of press reports, the Obama administration notified Congress of its finding that Russia had been testing a new cruise missile and was “in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test … [GLCMs] with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.” Russia had called the allegation “groundless,” and a rare meeting of the dispute resolution body known as the Special Verification Commission, called by the United States in November 2016, failed to resolve the issues.

Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, called the prospect of resuming dialogue with the United States on the INF Treaty a “thankless task,” according to an interview with state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, published Feb. 8. Ulyanov said that the Kremlin is waiting to see how the Trump administration will follow up on the Obama administration’s allegations against Russia as well as how it will respond to Russian allegations against the United States. Russia contends that the United States is violating the INF Treaty by placing a missile defense launch system in Europe that also can be used to fire cruise missiles, using targets for missile defense tests with similar characteristics to treaty-prohibited intermediate-range missiles, and making armed drones that are equivalent to GLCMs.

Ulyanov condemned U.S. efforts to expand its missile defense capabilities in Europe and the Pacific. “We believe that the unilateral deployment of such systems without considering other countries’ interests—in the first place, the Russian Federation—is not only unconstructive, but also harmful and dangerous,” he said. 

At the same time, Ulyanov dismissed predictions that the United States and Russia are headed toward an arms race. Russia will use diplomacy or a “military-technical response” to respond to what it perceives as a destabilizing initiative by the United States to build up its global missile defense system, he said. 

What has been a persistent U.S. concern during the alleged development of a new Russian cruise missile has escalated with news of apparent limited deployment. The administration will now have to weigh whether to respond with military capabilities as well as how it will affect the prospects for any possible new nuclear arms control initiatives.

Under the INF Treaty, the two sides eliminated 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range nuclear-armed missiles by 1991. Those missiles were seen to be particularly destabilizing because, with their very short flight time, they allow a leader only minutes after a possibly false attack warning to decide whether to launch a nuclear second strike. 

Russia has two battalions of the new cruise missile, which U.S. officials called the SSC-X-8 during the development phase, according to the Feb. 14 New York Times article. One of those battalions was shifted to an operational base in December, the newspaper reported, citing U.S. officials.

Russia is waiting to see what develops out of the new administration’s review of U.S. nuclear policy. Ulyanov said that the Russians remain focused on finding common ground with the Trump administration and that Russia and the United States are likely to cooperate regarding the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Obama administration chose to try quietly to sway the Russians to halt the missile development. With the report of the system’s deployment, it may be more difficult for Trump to do the same, if so inclined.

Posted: March 1, 2017

No Winners in a Nuclear Arms Race, Mr. Trump

Sections:

Description: 

Our response to comments by President Trump on New START

Body: 

(Washington, DC) -- In an interview with Reuters published today, President Donald Trump said he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the "top of the pack," saying the United States has fallen behind in its nuclear weapons capacity and he said he thinks the 2010 New START agreement is “one-sided.”

Mr. Trump’s comments suggest, once again, that he is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and has a poor understanding of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons.

The history of the Cold War shows us that no one comes out on “top of the pack” of an arms race and nuclear brinksmanship. President Trump needs to work with Russia's President Putin to build down, not build up their excessive nuclear arsenals and stop stirring up nuclear tensions. 

New START Data Exchange Number for Deployed Warheads and Deployed Delivery Vehicles (February 2017)In reality, New START has advanced U.S. and global interests by lowering and capping the two nation’s excessive strategic deployed nuclear arsenals, both of which remained poised on "launch-under-attack" alert status, meaning that thousands of nuclear weapons could be launched by the U.S. and Russian leaders within minutes of a presidential order.

Discarding New START would irresponsibly free Russia of any limits on its strategic nuclear arsenal and would terminate the inspections that provide the United States with significant additional transparency about Russian strategic nuclear forces.

A wide-range of U.S. national security leaders from, including Mr. Trump’s own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, support New START. 

With up to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons allowed under New START and no limits on the tactical nuclear weapons possessed by each side, Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by any other nuclear-armed country. Neither the United States nor Russia comes out of the treaty “ahead” or “behind.” 

Currently, Russia deploys 1,796 strategic warheads, the United States 1,367, but the United States deploys 681 strategic delivery vehicles (ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers) to Russia’s 508, giving the United States a substantially greater warhead upload potential. 

Both countries will be required to meet the New START limits by February 2018. The agreement expires in 2021 but the two leaders could extend the treaty for another five years and take parallel, reciprocal steps to achieve further nuclear reductions.

In 2013, President Barack Obama, with input from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other elements of the national security establishment, determined that the United States can reduce its nuclear force by another one-third below New START levels and still meet U.S. deterrence requirements.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, 1962-2017Further nuclear reductions would reduce the price—estimated at $400 billion over 10 years by the Congressional Budget Office—to replace the U.S. arsenal at current levels. Expanding the U.S. arsenal with new or additional nuclear weapons would cost billions more.

The five most recent U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, all negotiated agreements with Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles. 

In his final news conference as president, Barack Obama noted that if incoming President Donald Trump can restart the stalled U.S.-Russian dialogue on further nuclear risk reduction measures in a serious way, “… there remains a lot of room for both countries to reduce our nuclear stockpiles.” 

Mr. Trump must get smart and avoid reckless statements or actions that upend decades of successful efforts to reduce bloated nuclear arsenals and renew dangerous U.S. and Russian nuclear competition.  

Country Resources:

Posted: February 23, 2017

Russia Must Immediately Resolve INF Treaty Noncompliance Issue

Sections:

Description: 

Press Release: Russia Must Immediately Resolve INF Treaty Noncompliance Issue

Body: 

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2017

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 105

(Washington, DC)—The New York Times report based on U.S. government sources that Russia has allegedly deployed an operational unit of ground launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) that violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is extremely troubling and requires the immediate attention of senior policymakers in Moscow and Washington.

According to the report, Russia has not only tested noncompliant systems but has apparently deployed INF Treaty noncompliant missiles, a breach of a key cornerstone of the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control architecture that helped to halt and reverse the Cold War-era nuclear arms race and remove a significant threat to Europe.

General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan signing the INF Treaty in Washington, DC, December 8, 1987 (Photo:Wikimedia)The INF Treaty required the United States and the then-Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

We call on Russia to immediately decommission the noncompliant missiles systems and return to compliance with the INF Treaty.

We also urge President Donald Trump and administration officials to reiterate U.S. support for the agreement and convene another meeting of the treaty's Special Verification Commission (SVC) to address and resolve the compliance issues.

The SVC was convened in November 2016 at the request of the United States for the purpose of addressing U.S. charges that Russia had conducted several tests of the INF Treaty prohibited system.

We also call upon the administration to seek new ways to provide further details about the nature of the Russian violation, particularly to U.S. allies threatened by the missiles. The inability to share more information has made it easier for Russia to deny a violation exists and harder for U.S. allies and other countries to put additional pressure on Russia.

Retaliating to Russia's violation by withdrawing from the INF Treaty, or stopping U.S. implementation of the successful 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), would be counterproductive and self-defeating.

A wide-range of U.S. national security leaders, as well as U.S. military officials, continue to assess that New START remains squarely in the U.S. national interest and that terminating or withdrawing from the agreement would undermine U.S. security.

Without continued U.S. support for existing nuclear arms control agreements and other types of cooperative nonproliferation engagement, Russian forces would be unconstrained. Not only would the United States have little leverage or basis to constrain Russian forces other than military and economic measures, it would not have verification measures in place to assess what Russia is doing.

The United States should pursue firm but measured steps to reaffirm its commitment to the defense of those allies that would be the potential targets of these new INF Treaty noncompliant missiles.

But it would not be militarily useful for the United States to deploy new offense missiles in Europe or seek to accelerate or expand U.S. ballistic missile defense capabilities in Europe, which would not increase the security of our allies and would only give the Russians a cynical excuse to withdraw from the treaty.

RESOURCES:
1) The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance (February 2017)
2) U.S., Russia Discuss INF Disputes (Arms Control Today, December 2016)

Subject Resources:

Country Resources:

Posted: February 14, 2017

U.S., Russia Discuss INF Disputes

The United States and Russia met in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty’s implementation forum last month to discuss outstanding issues.

December 2016

By Kingston Reif

The United States and Russia met in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty’s implementation forum last month “to discuss questions relating to compliance with the obligations assumed under” the 1987 agreement, according to a State Department press release. 

The Special Verification Commission meeting, which was called by the United States over alleged Russian treaty violations, took place in Geneva on Nov. 15-16, the State Department said. (See ACT, November 2016.) Last convened 13 years ago, the commission was established by the treaty as the forum to discuss compliance disputes and to “agree upon such measures as may be necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness” of the treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi on October 27, during which he said that almost all of Russia's neighbors possessed missiles prohibited by the INF Treaty. (Photo credit: Russian Presidential Executive Office)The United States continues to stand by the assessment, first made publicly in July 2014, that Russia is in violation of its INF Treaty obligations “not to possess, produce, or flight-test” a ground-launched cruise missile having a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers or “to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.”

Russia denies that it is breaching the agreement and has countered with its own charges of noncompliance by Washington. It asserts that the United States is placing a missile defense launch system in Europe that can also be used to fire cruise missiles, using missiles with similar characteristics to INF Treaty-prohibited intermediate-range missiles in missile defense tests, and making armed drones that are equivalent to ground-launched cruise missiles.

The United States disputes the Russian charges and maintains it is in compliance with the agreement. 

It is not clear whether the November meeting made progress toward resolving the compliance disputes or whether the parties agreed to meet again. A State Department official told Arms Control Today in a Nov. 17 email that the department had nothing to announce beyond that the meeting took place. The session marked the 30th meeting of the commission since the treaty took effect.

In an Oct. 27 press conference at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that almost all of Russia’s neighbors possess missiles of the range prohibited by the INF Treaty “whereas none of the countries sharing borders with the United States…manufacture such weapons.”

“So, for us” the agreement “is a special test,” Putin said. “But nevertheless, we believe it is necessary to honor this treaty.”

Posted: November 30, 2016

Subscribe to RSS - INF Treaty