"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

NMD Bill Clears Congress as Senate Re-Examines ABM Treaty

Craig Cerniello

IN LATE MAY, the House approved legislation stating that it is U.S. policy to both deploy an "effective" national missile defense (NMD) system "as soon as is technologically possible" and to "seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces." The bill, which is identical to a measure adopted by the Senate in mid-March, will now be sent to President Clinton, who is expected to sign it. The legislation will not alter the administration's plans to make a decision in June 2000 on whether to deploy a limited NMD system. Clinton has already stated that the decision will be based on four key criteria: technological readiness, the maturity of the so-called "rogue state" missile threat, cost factors and arms control considerations.

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee conducted a series of seven hearings throughout April and May on ballistic missile defenses and the ABM Treaty, in anticipation of a vote this year on several amendments to the treaty that were signed in 1997 but have not yet been submitted to the Senate. Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) had given the White House a June 1 deadline for submitting the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on ABM Treaty succession as well as two agreed statements establishing a "demarcation line" between strategic and theater missile defenses. The Clinton administration will not meet Helms' deadline, however, because it has refused to submit the ABM amendments for Senate advice and consent until Russia has ratified START II. Failure to transmit these agreements has already prompted Helms to freeze all committee action on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to question the validity of the so-called "flank agreement" to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (See story.)

After the adoption of two amendments, dealing with reductions in Russian nuclear forces and appropriations of funding, the Senate on March 17 passed legislation, sponsored by Thad Cochran (R-MS), calling upon the United States to deploy an effective NMD system against limited ballistic missile attack "as soon as is technologically possible." (See ACT, March 1999.) That same day, Clinton endorsed the Cochran bill as amended because it made clear that no final decision had yet been made on NMD deployment and recognized the importance of cost and arms control factors in such a decision.

On March 18, the House approved a one-sentence bill, sponsored by Curt Weldon (R-PA), stating "That it is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense." This version, however, did not have White House support because it made no mention of the basic criteria for deployment. In a compromise designed to ensure passage of NMD legislation this year, the House accepted the Cochran language on May 20 by a vote of 345-71.

In voting for the Senate language, Weldon argued that the two amendments were meaningless and accused the administration of deferring an NMD deployment decision until 2000 so that Vice President Al Gore could announce U.S. intentions to field such a system in the midst of a presidential campaign.

Not surprisingly, Russia continued to denounce U.S. interest in NMD. "By pursuing a policy of creating and deploying a [NMD] system, which is banned by the ABM Treaty, the U.S. ignores the opinion of an absolute majority of the states of the world, which justifiably regard such a policy as directly undermining global security and stability," a Russian Foreign Ministry official stated May 27.

ABM Treaty Under Siege

In a series of hearings heavily stacked against supporters of the ABM Treaty, several prominent former government officials argued that the strategic rationale for the 1972 accord no longer exists and that the United States must either negotiate substantial modifications allowing for NMD deployment or exercise its right to withdraw.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the principal architect of the ABM Treaty, argued on May 26 that the United States must deploy missile defenses for both strategic and moral reasons. "Strategically, because of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the missile technology to deliver them. Morally, because the doctrine of mutual assured destruction…is bankrupt," he said. Former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey also argued on May 5 that the logic behind the ABM Treaty "seems dated now," in light of the end of the Cold War, the increasing possibility of an accidental or unauthorized Russian nuclear launch and the emerging rogue-state ICBM threat.

Nevertheless, Kissinger and Woolsey concluded that it would be better for the United States to negotiate amendments to the ABM Treaty than to simply withdraw—a point also made by former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Strategic Command General Eugene Habiger on May 5 and former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger on April 20. Earlier, on April 15, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger called for U.S. abrogation, claiming that an effective defense could not be deployed under the treaty.

Some witnesses—most notably Stephen Hadley, former assistant secretary of defense during the Bush administration, and Keith Payne, president of the National Institute for Public Policy—also advocated a return to the 1992 U.S.-Russian dialogue on global missile defense cooperation. President Boris Yeltsin surprisingly endorsed such a concept in January of that year, when he said Russia was prepared to "develop, then create and jointly operate a global defense system, instead of the Strategic Defense Initiative system." (See ACT, January/February 1992). There does not appear to be any official U.S. or Russian interest in such a proposal at present.

Witnesses were divided on the issue of whether the technology exists to deploy an effective NMD system. While Bill Graham, former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Reagan administration, and General John Piotrowski, former commander-in-chief of U.S. Space Command, argued that it was technologically feasible to deploy an effective NMD, Richard Garwin, a well-known expert on nuclear weapons who served on the Rumsfeld Commission, and David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed to the system's limitations and inherent vulnerability to countermeasures.

The panelists were also split on the legal status of the ABM Treaty. Attorneys Douglas Feith and David Rivkin asserted on May 25 that the treaty had lapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union and that it could only be revived by the Senate. UC-Davis law professor Michael Glennon, however, testified that the ABM Treaty remains in force today and will continue to be in force even if the Senate rejects the MOU on succession—a view shared by the Clinton administration.

Arms Control in 1999


Annual Arms Control Association
Membership Meeting and Luncheon

Friday March 26, 1999

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The Arms Control Association's annual membership meeting and luncheon was held Friday, March 26, 1999 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. The day included a panel discussion on arms control issues in 1999 (panelists listed below) and an address by John D. Holum, acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. Below are links to rush transcripts of the proceedings. Final, edited versions of both the panel discussion and the lunch address appear in the March 1999 issue of Arms Control Today.

The Panelists:

(Click on the underlined names of the participants to jump directly to their portions of the transcript in the March 1999 issue of Arms Control Today.)

  • Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., President and Executive Director of the Arms Control Association
  • John Rhinelander, former legal advisor to the U.S. SALT I delegation that negotiated the ABM Treaty
  • Matthew Bunn, Assistant Director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, Harvard University
  • David Albright, Director of the Institute for Science and International Security
  • Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers
The presentations were followed by a brief period of questions and answers which is included at the end of the transcript.


The Luncheon Address by John D. Holum:

John D. Holum served as Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) from 1993 until it's integration into State Department on April 1, 1999. In December of 1997 he simultaneously took on the role of Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, the position he currently holds. As director of ACDA, Holum served as the principal adviser to the Presient and the Secretary of State on the full range of arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament matters.

Previously, Mr. Holum served on the policy planning staff in the State Department from 1979 to 1981, working on arms control and legal issues. From 1965 to 1979, he was a member of Senator George McGovern's staff, serving as legislative director and managing the Senator's work on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Jump to the transcript of Holum's presentation and question and answer period. (From the March 1999 issue of Arms Control Today.)

ACA Annual Membership Meeting

National Missile Defense, The ABM Treaty and the Future of Start II



The Brookings Institution

Wednesday, January 27, 1999


The Panelists:

(Click on the photos of the participants to jump directly to his or her portion of the transcript published in the November/December 1998 issue of Arms Control Today.)

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., President and Executive Director of the Arms Control Association; former Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

John Pike, Director of the Space Policy Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Author of over 200 studies and articles on space and national security, and co-author of The Impact of U.S. and Soviet Ballistic Missile Defense Programs on the ABM Treaty.

John Rhinelander, Senior Counsel at the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge; former legal adviser to the U.S. SALT I delegation that negotiated the ABM Treaty.

Susan Eisenhower, Chairman of the Center for Political and Strategic Studies and President of the Eisenhower Group, Inc. She has written and spoken extensively on U.S.-Russian relations. Q&A The presentations were followed by a question and answer period, click to procede directly to that portion of the transcript.


From the invitation:

The panel will address Secretary Cohen's recent announcement on the U.S. national missile defense program and its implications for the ABM Treaty, Russian ratification of START II and further progress in reducing strategic nuclear arms. These issues were central to Secretary Albright's meetings in Moscow this week.

[Jump to the Transcript]


Press Conference Briefing Materials:

ACA Press Conference

Helms Sets June Deadline for ABM Agreements

On January 22, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) announced that the Clinton administration has until June 1 to submit the September 1997 ABM agreements to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The agreements establish a "demarcation line" between permitted theater missile defense (TMD) systems and restricted ABM systems, and recognize Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as the successor states to the former Soviet Union under the ABM Treaty.

The administration has consistently stated that it will not submit the ABM agreements (along with the START II extension protocol) to the Senate until after Russia has ratified START II.

Helms, a long-standing critic of the ABM Treaty, stated that "For the first time in 27 years, the Senate will have a chance to re-examine the wisdom of that dangerous treaty. And, if I succeed, we will defeat the ABM Treaty, toss it into the dustbin of history, and thereby clear the way to build a national missile defense for the United States." The Clinton administration, however, believes that the treaty will remain in force even if the Senate rejects the 1997 agreements.

Helms also restated his position that the Foreign Relations Committee will not take action on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) until after its consideration of the ABM agreements and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which the administration likewise has yet to submit to the Senate. National Security Adviser Samuel Berger told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on January 12 that achieving Senate approval of the CTBT is one of the administration's top priorities for 1999.

DOD Official Says NMD System May Require Treaty Withdrawal

IN OCTOBER 2 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre said that "our recourse would be to withdraw" from the ABM Treaty if a decision were made to deploy a national missile defense (NMD) system requiring amendments to the treaty and if these amendments could not be negotiated in the necessary timeframe. Hamre's statement is the strongest to date by the Clinton administration on the relationship between NMD deployment and the ABM Treaty. At the same hearing, General Joseph Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined, for the first time, the schedule under which such amendments would have to be negotiated to enable the United States to deploy an NMD system by 2003.

Despite these disturbing developments, the United States and Russia, together with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine reaffirmed the "fundamental importance" of the ABM Treaty at its fifth review conference, conducted during the September 9–October 14 session of the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) in Geneva.


NMD and the ABM Treaty

In his prepared statement, Hamre said: With respect to NMD deployment, at the time of a decision to deploy an NMD system, we would determine whether the system we intend to deploy would comply with the ABM Treaty. If we determined that deployment of an NMD system would require changes to the Treaty, we would seek agreement on such changes. If, contrary to our expectations, we were not able to reach agreement in the necessary timeframe, then our recourse would be to withdraw from the Treaty because of supreme national interests, which the Treaty permits on six months' notice. Secretary [of Defense William] Cohen has authorized me to be very clear on this point. (Emphasis added.) Although the United States intends to engage Russia on possible amendments to the ABM Treaty allowing for NMD deployment, Hamre said, "[W]e will not permit protracted negotiations to delay our deployment and prolong a risk to our people."

The Clinton administration has consistently stated that the development phase of its NMD program is compliant with the ABM Treaty, but that the deployed system, depending on its configuration, may require amendments to the treaty. Hamre's testimony took this long-standing policy one step further by mentioning the possibility of withdrawal from the treaty.

In his testimony, General Ralston stated that in order for the United States to be able to make an NMD deployment decision in fiscal year (FY) 2000, as planned in the administration's "3+3" program, ABM Treaty modification issues "may need to be fully addressed and evaluated" by December 1999, with negotiations completed by May 2000.

During the same hearing, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) called on the administration to immediately begin "preliminary discussions" with the Russians on NMD deployment and the ABM Treaty. The United States "might as well begin discussions now…since it may take some time for those discussions to bear fruit," Levin argued. On October 6, Cohen told the committee that he favored preliminary discussions with Russia on the NMD deployment issue.

These developments occurred as several members of Congress continued to attack the ABM Treaty and called for more robust missile defenses. In an October 5 letter to Clinton, a group of eight senators, led by Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC), stated that "the ABM Treaty did not survive the dissolution of the Soviet Union." The treaty can only be revived, declared the senators, if the Senate approves the memorandum of understanding (MOU) identifying Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as the successor states to the former Soviet Union under the treaty.

In an October 21 letter to Clinton, Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) urged the administration to commit to an NMD system "that includes ground-based, sea-based, and space-based components," the last two of which are prohibited by the ABM Treaty. That same day, Clinton signed the FY 1999 omnibus appropriations bill, which includes an additional $1 billion for ballistic missile defenses beyond the $3.5 billion already approved for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.


ABM Review Conference

In an October 14 joint statement following the latest mandated five-year review of the ABM Treaty, representatives from the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine "agreed that the [ABM] Treaty continues to operate effectively and reaffirmed the fundamental importance of the Treaty, as a cornerstone of strategic stability, for strengthening international security and for promoting the process of further reductions in strategic offensive arms."

The representatives stressed the importance of the September 1997 package of ABM-related agreements in ensuring the treaty's effective implementation. This package, which has been submitted to the Russian Duma but not the U.S. Senate, includes agreements on treaty succession, establishing a "demarcation line" between permitted theater missile defense (TMD) systems and restricted ABM systems, confidence-building measures (CBMs) pertaining to TMD deployment, and new operating regulations for the SCC.

Also at this session of the SCC, the five states completed implementing details for the CBMs agreement. In the eyes of key Duma members, the positive outcome of the SCC meeting may partially offset the damaging statements on NMD made at the October 2 Senate hearing.

Arms Control in 1998: Congress Maintains the Status Quo

The year 1998 was a status quo year for arms control and national security issues in the 105th Congress. There was neither major progress nor significant backsliding. Although the Senate overwhelmingly approved the expansion of NATO, there was no breakthrough in securing Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. Congress also refused to appropriate the billion-plus dollars required to pay the U.S. debt to the United Nations.

On the other hand, where things could have gotten much worse, they did not. The Senate did not vote to cripple or abrogate the 1972 ABM Treaty. Congress turned back Republican-led efforts to mandate deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system. B-2 proponents finally gave up hunting for funds to build more than 21 bombers. Congress appropriated just enough money to avoid the loss of the U.S. vote in the UN General Assembly. House Republicans failed to decimate Nunn-Lugar security assistance funding to punish Russia for alleged bad behavior (such as selling advanced weaponry and nuclear-related technology to Iran).

The last major bill adopted by Congress as it headed out the door—the $520 billion omnibus appropriations bill—provided some good news and some bad news. While the bill included more funding to deal with nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union and to implement the 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework, Congress also added billions of dollars to the military budget and to ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs in particular.

Considering the lengthy arms control agenda facing Congress, however, 1998 should be judged on opportunity costs; that is, another year lost in which there was scant progress toward reducing or eliminating weapons of mass destruction.


Assault on the ABM Treaty

Republican hopes to cripple or kill the ABM Treaty were thwarted when the Clinton administration refused to submit a series of agreements between the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine clarifying the "demarcation line" between permitted theater missile defense systems and limited strategic missile defenses, and enumerating the successor states to the Soviet Union to which the ABM Treaty applies. The administration held off submitting the agreements to the Senate until after the Russian Duma considered START II, which U.S. officials hope will be before the end of the year.

In 1998, Republicans resumed their push for NMD deployment. They had been wary of the issue since December 1995, when they precipitated a Clinton veto of the fiscal year (FY) 1996 defense authorization bill, which included language mandating deployment of a multiple-site NMD system (intended to protect all 50 states) by 2003. In 1996 and 1997, the administration and Congress reached a tacit compromise on the NMD issue: while avoiding recorded votes, Congress added money to the administration's budget request for NMD but did not try to force the administration's hand on deployment.

In March 1998, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) launched a new campaign by introducing the "American Missile Protection Act of 1998." The bill declared: "It is the policy of the United States to deploy as soon as is technologically possible, an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate)." Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) brought up the legislation in May as an independent measure in order to avoid another veto of a defense bill, but the bill's supporters fell one vote short in their attempt to force a floor vote.

On May 13, the Senate voted 59-41 (60 votes are needed for a motion of cloture) to end debate and bring the bill before the full Senate. All 55 Republicans voted for the motion, as did four Democrats: Daniel Akaka (HI), Ernest Hollings (SC), Daniel Inouye (HI) and Joseph Lieberman (CT). Lott brought up the measure a second time on September 9 in a vain ploy to inject the issue of missile defense into the upcoming congressional elections, but the motion of cloture was rejected by an identical 59-41 vote.

The House of Representatives never voted on the issue of NMD deployment. On August 5, Representatives Curt Weldon (R-PA) and John Spratt (D-SC) introduced a bill with 49 co-sponsors from both parties stating "That it is the policy of the United States to deploy a national missile defense." However, that measure was never put to a vote. Hard-line Republicans, hoping to sharpen the differences between the two parties for the mid-term elections, pushed an alternative measure mandating NMD deployment by a date certain. The split among Republicans over the best strategy was never resolved, and the House ran out of time to schedule a vote.

Congressional Republicans did succeed, as in past years, in pumping more money into missile defenses than the administration had requested. After appropriating $3.7 billion in the defense appropriations bill for national and theater defenses (close to the administration's request), Congress added another billion dollars in supplemental appropriations as part of the omnibus appropriations bill passed in October before the 105th Congress adjourned. The exact allocation between national and theater missile defense programs was left to the Pentagon.


The Debate Intensifies

Ironically, the administration's victory on BMD policy and the Republican win on BMD funding—an outcome identical to the previous three years—came despite a series of major developments in 1998 that fueled the debate over missile defense policy. In February, an independent panel of missile defense experts appointed by the Pentagon and headed by retired General Larry Welch, former Air Force chief of staff, issued a study that was highly critical of the flight test programs involving four "hit-to-kill" missile defense systems, including the NMD program. Their report concluded that the programs suffer from a "rush to failure" because of efforts to rapidly deploy the systems without thorough flight testing. The Welch Panel said it was "highly unlikely" that the administration would meet its current goal of developing an NMD system in three years and, should a deployment decision be made, of fielding the system three years later.

On May 12, the day before the Senate voted on the Cochran bill, the U.S. Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system failed its fifth consecutive test, again calling into question the technological viability of the Pentagon's most advanced BMD system. The test failure of THAAD (one of the four programs analyzed by the Welch Panel) underscored a key contention of missile defense opponents: after more than 30 years of research, development and testing, intercepting warheads still remains a major technological hurdle. Any workable NMD system will have to incorporate similar but more sophisticated technology than that used in THAAD and other theater missile defense systems.

Next, on July 7, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) released a General Accounting Office (GAO) report that reviewed the costs and risks involved in the NMD program, and concluded that the program's schedule and technical objectives remain "high risk." The report cast further doubts on Republican plans to accelerate deployment.

Finally, on July 15, a report from a panel headed by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld—including experts across the arms control spectrum—warned that a long-range missile threat to the United States could develop much earlier than had been anticipated. The Rumsfeld Commission's conclusion was reinforced by Iran's test only one week later of an intermediate-range missile capable of hitting much of the Middle East, and an August 31 North Korean launch of a Taepo Dong-1 missile that demonstrated some aspects of ICBM development, most notably multiple-stage separation.

In response to the Rumsfeld Commission report, the CIA stood by its conclusion that no country other than Russia, China and North Korea could develop ICBMs capable of threatening the United States before the year 2010. And on August 24, the Joint Chiefs of Staff—much to the chagrin of missile defense hawks—weighed in against speeding up NMD deployment. The controversy over the immediacy of the ballistic missile threat to the United States continued to the end of the year.


CTB Treaty

A summation of Senate progress on the CTB Treaty can be short: there was almost no movement whatsoever. While President Clinton submitted the treaty to the Senate in September 1997 and promised to make ratification a top priority in 1998—at least after the Senate voted on NATO expansion—Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) ignored the treaty and the president never followed through on his pledge to make the treaty a top priority.

The president started the year on a high note, with a ringing affirmation of the CTB Treaty in his January State of the Union address and a letter from four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorsing the treaty. In February, the president toured the Los Alamos National Laboratory and received a helpful endorsement by the directors of the nation's three major nuclear weapons laboratories of U.S. efforts under the test ban to maintain a robust nuclear weapons force.

Helms, however, had made his views crystal clear at the beginning of the year. In a January 21 letter to the president, Helms said his committee would only consider the CTB Treaty after the president had submitted the ABM Treaty-related agreements and the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to the Senate for prior action. Lott backed up the powerful chairman. True to his word, Helms never held a single hearing on the CTB Treaty all year.

Arms control advocates vainly hoped that after the Senate vote on NATO enlargement at the end of April, the president would make the test ban treaty his top priority and lean on the Senate to act. However, the administration's decision not to submit the ABM Treaty-START II package to the Senate until after the Russian Duma approved START II further stalled consideration of the CTB Treaty. The Duma refused to cooperate by not approving START II, and the administration had no alternative plan.

When Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivered a comprehensive arms control speech to the Henry L. Stimson Center on June 10, she said that all Senator Helms had to do was to whistle and she would be glad to testify on behalf of the treaty. Helms never whistled and the administration turned its attention to fresh crises in Bosnia, North Korea, Iraq and Kosovo.

Even after India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in May, the drift continued. Test ban advocates from the president on down argued that the CTB Treaty was more important than ever. The South Asian nuclear developments, they argued, should serve as a wake-up call for the United States and the world. Treaty critics Helms and Lott, on the other hand, suggested that developments in South Asia rendered the test ban irrelevant, citing the failure of the U.S. intelligence community to anticipate the Indian tests and the likelihood that New Delhi would never sign the test ban treaty. Lott went so far as to argue that the Indians tested nuclear devices because of the administration's support for the CTB Treaty.

While most Senate Republicans, unsure if the test ban will ever be brought up for a vote, have declined to take a position on the treaty, Republican Senator Arlen Specter (PA) was motivated by events in South Asia to endorse the treaty. Working with Democrat Joseph Biden (DE), Specter tried to force the issue by offering an amendment to restore the administration's $28.9 million request for FY 1999 funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission, which the Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee had failed to endorse. The CTBTO's International Monitoring System will allow the United States to significantly improve its worldwide nuclear weapons test monitoring capabilities.

On September 1, the Senate approved the Specter-Biden amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill by a vote of 49-44. Not surprisingly, there were two very different interpretations of the vote. CTB advocates pointed to the success of the Specter-Biden amendment, while treaty opponents suggested that the "success" instead showed how far short CTB supporters were of the 67 votes needed for advice and consent to ratification. In the end, this vote will have little long-term significance. Specter pushed the vote while expending little effort to sway colleagues, and although Lott persuaded most Republicans to oppose the amendment, several senators who voted "nay" privately conceded that their vote did not foretell their final position on the treaty.

In the meantime, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott engaged in a series of separate negotiations with Indian and Pakistani officials to defuse the rising nuclear tensions on the sub-continent. Congress cooperated by giving President Clinton the authority to ease U.S. sanctions imposed on both countries after their May tests. In November, after modest progress in the Talbott negotiations, the president announced a relaxed sanctions policy.


Chemical Weapons Convention

In October 1998, a year and a half after the Senate approved the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Congress finally passed legislation conforming U.S. law to all treaty obligations. This "implementation legislation" became a last-minute insert into the huge omnibus appropriations bill. On April 24, 1997, the Senate had voted 74-26 to give its advice and consent to ratification of the CWC, which entered into force five days later. In May 1997, the Senate approved implementation legislation for the CWC, which the House adopted in November but which was linked to unrelated legislation imposing sanctions on Russian companies accused of selling missile parts and technology to Iran. House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) sought a trade-off: the CWC legislation, which the administration favored, in return for the Russian sanctions bill the administration opposed and had threatened to veto. A deadlock ensued for the next year and a half, and the administration never made the issue a high priority. Republicans, for their part, were more interested in political gamesmanship.

Throughout that period, the United States was in "technical violation" of the CWC because it had not declared treaty-related activities at U.S. commercial facilities. Both the House and the Senate approved the sanctions legislation (the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act) to which the CWC implementing legislation had been attached, but President Clinton vetoed the legislation on June 23. For a time, it appeared that an overwhelming congressional majority would override the veto, but in mid-July Clinton announced the imposition of trade sanctions against nine Russian companies that had been aiding Iran's missile program. The Republican leadership decided against an override vote.

As the 105th Congress completed its work in October, it appeared that the CWC implementing legislation would have to be reconsidered in 1999. However, a last-minute miracle occurred. With pressure from the Chemical Manufacturers Association and the administration, Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, with the acquiescence of incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston (R-LA), managed to include the legislation in the omnibus appropriations bill. However, the implementing legislation contains a number of disputed provisions, including one that gives the president the authority to block "challenge" inspections in this country on national security grounds and a second that prevents the transfer outside the United States of samples from U.S. facilities for analysis. The bill's controversial provisions are likely to be revisited in 1999.


ACDA's Merger

In 1995, then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher proposed merging the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), the Agency for International Development (AID) and the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) into the Department of State. Although these agencies fought the merger and won early bureaucratic battles within the Clinton administration, Helms ran with the idea, having long wanted to abolish the independent arms control agency. In April 1997, the administration announced that it would agree to merge ACDA and USIA into the State Department. That plan, after negotiations with Helms and Biden, was inserted into the fiscal years 1998-99 State Department authorization bill in the summer of 1997. As part of the bargain, Helms agreed to payment of the U.S. debt to the United Nations. The legislation stalled, however, when House Republicans insisted on adding anti-abortion restrictions on international family planning funding to the State Department authorization bill. The president had made it clear that he would not jeopardize his support among women by compromising on this issue.

The bill languished through the remainder of 1997 and most of 1998. ACDA, which had engaged in an extensive planning process for the expected merger, was left in limbo. In April 1998, the bill—including the anti-abortion language—cleared Congress, but it was not sent to the president for another six months. Republicans hoped to build pressure on the president to sign the legislation. That tactic failed; on October 21, Clinton vetoed the bill.

ACDA has remained in limbo for two years—neither independent nor a part of the State Department. Administration lines of authority on arms control issues have become even more blurred than usual. ACDA Director John Holum was designated acting under secretary for arms control but held his original post as well. Thus, when Republicans at the last moment attached the State Department reorganization measure to the omnibus appropriations bill—minus the UN funding, which was still linked to the abortion issue—even devoted supporters of ACDA felt that an unsatisfactory solution was better than none at all. The merger is to be completed no later than April 1999.


NATO Expansion

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO grappled uncertainly with its mission. The military alliance established to confront the communist menace had to find a new role for itself. Nevertheless, NATO decided to expand the alliance to include former Warsaw Pact members in Central and Eastern Europe. The enlargement process was moving at a rather languid pace until the 1996 presidential campaign when President Clinton, under pressure from Bob Dole, promised to expedite NATO's expansion. In December 1996, NATO adopted an accelerated timetable for enlargement, and in July 1997 designated the first three countries to be invited into the venerable institution: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In December 1997, NATO formally agreed to accept those three countries, subject to approval by the 16 current members, including a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate.

Many arms control advocates opposed NATO expansion on the grounds that it undermined the goal of safeguarding and reducing weapons of mass destruction in an increasingly chaotic former Soviet Union. Partly in response to NATO's decision to expand, which is opposed by Russians of all ideological stripes, the Russian Duma has held up approval of START II for three years. In addition, drawing Russia into closer economic, political and military relationships with the West could help reduce the likelihood of military confrontation in Europe—confrontation that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. The United States chose this path with Germany and Japan after World War II. In contrast, the expansion of NATO served to drive Moscow away from the West, drawing a new dividing line in Europe with struggling Russia on the other side of the line.

The debate over NATO expansion became heated, but only as the Senate approached an April 30 vote on the issue. The Clinton administration had significant advantages in its pursuit of ratification. It was unusually well-organized and highly focused on the NATO issue, having appointed a government-wide coordinator many months before. Moreover, key Republicans such as Helms and Lott agreed with the administration's policy and worked with it to win Senate approval.

In addition, few senators were willing to invest time and energy in the fight against NATO enlargement early, when it would have been most effective. Most senators are reluctant to focus on an issue that is many months away from a vote. By the time senators closely examined NATO expansion, any doubts they may have had were overridden by concerns that it was too late to stop a train that had long since left the station. In other words, first, it was too early; then it was too late. In 1997, only Senator John Warner (R-VA) had publicly declared his opposition to NATO enlargement.

In April 1998, NATO expansion opponents offered a series of amendments to crack the pro-enlargement coalition, but failed. The closest vote, which lost 41-59, came on an amendment offered by Warner to delay further expansion of NATO for at least three years. On April 30, the Senate voted 80-19 to approve the new members. The bipartisan majority included 45 Republicans and 35 Democrats. Opposition too was bipartisan, with the "nay" votes spanning the political spectrum from Paul Wellstone (D-MN) on the left to John Ashcroft (R-MO) on the right.

In April 1999, the 50th anniversary of the founding of NATO, the United States will host a NATO summit in Washington, DC, at which the three countries formally will join the alliance. NATO enlargement opponents hope that the concerns raised in early 1998 will lead NATO to avoid hasty moves to add more Central European countries, and particularly to avoid the flashpoint of admitting the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.


Military Spending

A White House-congressional deal cut in 1997 capped military spending budget authority at $271 billion for FY 1999. That cap was first loosened and then eviscerated completely. Early in the year, the president permitted the Pentagon to retain about $21 billion in extra funding over five years due to savings from lower-than-anticipated inflation rates. Then Congress played budget games to give the Pentagon an additional $3.5 billion in FY 1999 spending. Finally, the omnibus appropriations bill added another $8.3 billion in "emergency" funding for Pentagon programs. The final budget authority total for the Department of Defense comes to about $279 billion. These increases came while many members of Congress, along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, launched a lobbying campaign to persuade President Clinton to include another large hike in the new defense budget to be presented in February 1999.


>North Korea

A number of members of Congress, such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ), threatened to cut off all U.S. funding for North Korean oil purchases due to a raft of stories about possible nuclear weapon-related activities in the North and the country's continuing sales of ballistic missiles. The oil purchases are a key element in the 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework, by which the administration is seeking to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons pretensions. At the end of the year, a compromise was reached: the omnibus appropriations bill included $35 million for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the international consortium leading the implementation of the nuclear deal, but the funds will become available only after March 1999 and only if North Korea makes progress in ending its weapons of mass destruction programs.


Nuclear Security Issues

Congress endorsed and even exceeded the administration's funding requests to deal with the problem of unsecured nuclear materials and weapons in the former Soviet Union. At the beginning of the year, the administration requested $442 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program (the Nunn-Lugar program) in the defense bill. Congress appropriated all but $2 million of that amount. In the omnibus appropriations bill, thanks to efforts by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Congress approved $200 million toward the disposal of 50 tons of excess Russian weapons-derived plutonium, and $325 million to permit the Department of Energy to pay Moscow for some of the costs it incurred in 1997 and 1998 for down-blending highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium for sale to the United States under the 1993 HEU deal.


UN Funding

Congress narrowly avoided a loss of U.S. voting rights in the UN General Assembly by approving a little less than $300 million for the United Nations' regular budget and another $231 million for UN peace-keeping activities. Nonetheless, the United States still owes the United Nations more than $1.3 billion in unpaid dues. A deal at the end of the 105th Congress to fund a substantial portion of those arrears ultimately floundered on the linked anti-abortion issue.


A Peek Ahead to 1999

The 106th Congress, which will be sworn in on January 6, 1999, will look remarkably like the 105th Congress. The Senate will continue to have a ratio of 55 Republicans to 45 Democrats. While the Democrats picked up five seats in the House, Republicans retained control of that body as well. Nonetheless, Democrats have been emboldened and Republicans chastened by a worse-than-expected electoral performance by Republican candidates. Senate Democrats early in the year had been wary of a filibuster-proof, 60-seat Republican majority that would limit their influence in the Senate. Avoiding that train wreck means that Democrats remain in a strong position to push their priority issues.

In 1999, the two parties will have to negotiate in both the House and Senate to enact any legislation. That result, and a possible favorable Russian Duma vote on START II, are good news for the CTB Treaty during the next Congress. Democrats will have an opportunity to force this treaty onto the Senate agenda despite Helms' continued objections.

There is one major unknown at this point that could have a significant impact on the 106th Congress. If the Duma approves START II, the administration is expected to send to the Senate a package of five agreements related to the ABM Treaty in the face of stiff Republican opposition to the 1972 agreement limiting strategic missile defenses.

However, the administration has been gradually giving ground in the face of the onslaught. In October, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre agreed with Republican questioners that the ABM Treaty would not be permitted to block NMD deployment if the United States deems deployment necessary. As part of its deliberations in December over the budget to be presented in February, the administration has to decide whether to include deployment funds in its five-year Pentagon spending plan. It is also considering an approach to the Russians to propose changes in the treaty to reflect eventual missile defense deployment.

A second major uncertainty is a Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton. For arms control proponents, 1999 offers more than the usual unknowns.

John Isaacs is president and executive director of the Council for a Livable World in Washington, DC.

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House Prohibits Funds for ABM Succession

On August 5, the House approved (240-188) an amendment to the departments of Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary appropriations bill prohibiting any funds to be used by U.S. delegates to the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ABM Treaty succession. Signed in September 1997, the MOU identifies Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as the successor states to the former Soviet Union under the treaty. The amendment, introduced by Representative David McIntosh (R-IN), seeks to prevent implementation of the MOU before the Senate has given its advice and consent to ratification. The administration has stated that it will not submit the MOU (as well as the START II extension protocol and the ABM-TMD "demarcation" agreements) to the Senate until Russia has ratified START II. Some congressional Republicans have argued that the ABM Treaty is not currently in force pending Senate approval of the MOU.

The final language on the McIntosh amendment must still be worked out in a House-Senate conference. The administration maintains, however, that it has no plans to implement the MOU at the current session of the SCC, which began on September 9. During this session, the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are scheduled to conduct the latest five-year review of the ABM Treaty and complete the implementing details for the September 1997 agreement on confidence-building measures (CBMs) for theater missile defense systems.

The New Missile 'Threat' Gap

June/July 1998

By Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

A new "threat" gap has suddenly burst upon the political scene. The congressionally mandated Rumsfeld Commission has concluded that rogue states could shortly threaten the United States with ICBMs armed with weapons of mass destruction. Advocates of immediate deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system heralded the report as establishing a new clear and present danger.

The commission credits Iran and North Korea with the ability to develop and deploy ICBMs armed with nuclear, biological or chemical warheads indigenously within five years of a decision, and claims that such a program could be carried out clandestinely without U.S. knowledge. Since the decision could have been made years ago, it follows that the threat could appear full blown at any time and that the United States "might well have little or no warning before operational deployment." This startling assessment differs radically with the 1995 National Intelligence Estimate, reaffirmed this March, that such a threat from rogue nations would not emerge before 2010 with the possible exception of a potential North Korean capability against the largely uninhabited western-most parts of the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska.

Despite the commission's strong criticism of the intelligence community's estimating methodology, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet stood by the national estimate, emphasizing that it represented the community's assessment taking into account the real world factors affecting these programs. Moreover, General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated unequivocally that the chiefs remained confident that the intelligence community would provide "the necessary warning" of any ICBM threat to the United States by rogue countries.

The Rumsfeld Commission apparently assumes that rogue states will give overriding priority to deploying a small number of ICBMs armed with weapons of mass destruction to threaten some targets in the United States in the belief that this would deter U.S. intervention in regional conflicts. In reality, however, even the most "irrational" rogue state would be deterred from threatening, much less undertaking, such an attack by the prospect of overwhelming U.S. retaliation or even pre-emptive strikes, since in the post-Cold War era there is little danger of military escalation involving other nuclear powers.

The report suggests that rogue states, unfettered by the exacting engineering demands in advanced nuclear-weapon states, could move expeditiously to simplified ICBMs and concurrently defeat U.S. intelligence by working underground with only a final proof test. For these countries with limited technical and management expertise such high technical risk programs represent a most unlikely scenario. The suggested alternative that complete operational ICBM systems might be purchased from Russia or China appears equally unlikely, given their own security concerns and the increasing cooperation of these countries in restricting relevant trade with the suspect states. If these scenarios seem implausible, the report suggests that rogue states could simply launch shorter-range missiles from ships, aircraft or the territory of U.S. neighbors. One wonders which neighbors would sacrifice themselves for a rogue state.

To deal with these unlikely missile threats, there are strident congressional calls for the immediate deployment of a national missile defense even though no such system exists and those in development could, according to one member of the Rumsfeld Commission, be easily defeated by any state technologically sophisticated enough to produce an ICBM. Moreover, to meet other nuclear threats suggested by the commission and others, the United States would also have to deploy a massive air defense system to deal with aircraft delivery and seal U.S. borders and coasts against smuggling threats.

The best defense against future missile threats by rogue states is not a crash effort to deploy expensive, unproven defenses, but rather aggressive pursuit of measures to reduce the possibility that such threats will ever materialize. Such measures include improved controls on international trade through the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Nuclear Suppliers Group; prompt U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to secure U.S. leadership in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime; passage of implementing legislation to bring the United States into compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention; and major, imaginative efforts focused on ending missile and weapons of mass destruction programs in the few states of concern.

How ironic and tragic it would be if the United States, having successfully survived and won the Cold War against an extremely powerful adversary, should now retreat into a fortress America in fear of a very unlikely missile threat from a few weak rogue states.

The New Missile 'Threat' Gap

Taking a Closer Look at the 'Demarcation' Agreements

To the Editor:

John Pike's article "Ballistic Missile Defense: Is the U.S. 'Rushing to Failure'?" (April 1998) mischaracterizes the ABM Treaty modifications signed by the United States and Russia last fall. (See ACT, September 1997.) He correctly points to the large hole these modifications open in the treaty, but overstates the extent to which the Clinton administration achieved its objective of changing the accord to accommodate its missile defense plans.

Although the administration declared these treaty modifications to be a successful conclusion to almost four years of difficult negotiations with Russia, a look at the agreements themselves reveals that the United States failed to get the deal it wanted—despite pushing Moscow very hard. It was precisely because of this failure that the United States announced that each country would individually determine the treaty compliance of its defense systems.

The administration spin on the agreements is, in part, intended for domestic consumption—in particular, to convince Senate Republicans that the ABM Treaty would not stand in the way of U.S. missile defense programs. But it may also be intended as a warning to Russia that, regardless of what the modifications actually permit, the United States intends to go forward with its missile defense programs. For this reason, it is especially important to understand what the modifications do and do not permit, and for the U.S. arms control community to hold the United States to the terms of the treaty.

The ABM Treaty limits strategic missile defenses, and to prevent circumvention it places two restrictions on other types of defenses (for example, defenses against aircraft and theater missiles). Such defenses may not be tested against strategic missiles and may not be given a capability to counter strategic missiles. But the treaty does not specify what a strategic missile is nor how to assess whether a defense has a capability to counter strategic missiles. The nominal goal of the U.S.-Russian talks was to draw a clear line between prohibited and permitted defenses. The United States was seeking to draw this line so that all its planned theater missile defenses would be legal.

The U.S. opening proposal was to simply drop the restriction on capability and retain the restriction on testing by defining a strategic missile as one with a range greater than 3,500 kilometers (and hence a reentry speed of greater than 5 kilometers per second). Thus, any system that was not tested against a target travelling faster than 5 kilometers per second would be legal, regardless of its inherent capability. The Russian counterproposal was to also limit the speed of the defense interceptor to 3 kilometers per second. This would permit the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system but not the Navy Theater Wide system. The United States wanted no limits on interceptor speed.

The agreement reached four years later demonstrates that very little progress was made. The so-called First Agreed Statement (dealing with lower-velocity systems) is essentially the Russian counter-proposal: it permits all defense systems with interceptors slower than 3 kilometers per second as long as they are not tested against targets travelling faster than 5 kilometers per second.

However, the Second Agreed Statement, which covers "high-speed" defenses with interceptors faster than 3 kilometers per second, has a very different character from the "low-speed" agreement and is really an agreement to keep talking. It does not specify which types of ground-, sea- or air-based systems are permitted or prohibited, although it stipulates that any permitted systems must adhere to the same 5-kilometer-per-second testing restriction. Moreover, it goes on to state that parties to the treaty will continue to hold consultations on high-speed defenses. There is no wording in the agreement to support the U.S. assertion that compliance decisions will be made by the owner country. The agreement does clearly prohibit all space-based interceptors, which are inherently capable of strategic defense.

Thus, Russia did not sign off on Navy Theater Wide. Equally important, Moscow has not signed off on space-based tracking systems—such as the low-altitude component of the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS-low)—that the United States is developing and planning to deploy in the next decade. Indeed, in a recent interview, Viktor Koltunov, the head of the Russian delegation to the ABM Treaty talks, notes that "…if such space-based systems, capable of providing target acquisition and counter-missile guidance, were developed it would be a significant breach of the agreements reached." ("Additional Limitations on Theater Missile Defense Systems will be Considered as New Systems Technologies are Developed," interview with Viktor Koltonov, Nuclear Control Digest, No. 7, Spring 1998, originally published in Yaderny Kontrol, No. 36, December 1997, PIR Center, Moscow.)

Satellite systems that could guide the interceptor to an incoming warhead would eliminate the need for the interceptor to be controlled by a ground-based radar, and thus permit very large defended areas (using high-speed interceptors) against strategic missiles. In the same way that space-based interceptors are inherently strategic capable, so are space-based tracking systems. The ABM Treaty addresses the issue of such satellite systems, which in the language of the treaty are components "based on other physical principles" that are "capable of substituting for ABM radars." Such components are subject to discussion and the treaty can be amended to permit or limit them, but the provisions of the original ABM Treaty stand until they are modified by agreement. It follows that such satellite systems are not permitted under the current treaty, even with the recent modifications.

Deep reductions in nuclear weapons will be much more difficult to achieve (if not impossible) without effective constraints on strategic-capable missile defenses. What will happen in the future will depend on many complicated factors—both international and domestic. It is true that Russia could agree to further weaken the treaty in the future, especially if it is pressured to do so in exchange for continued U.S. economic assistance. It is also true that the United States seems poised to go forward with its SBIRS-low and Navy Theater Wide programs by simply declaring them to be treaty compliant. This makes it all the more important that U.S. arms controllers not throw in the towel yet, but continue to insist that the United States abide by the actual modified treaty rather than its unilateral interpretation of it.

Lisbeth Gronlund
Senior Staff Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists and Research Fellow, Security Studies Program, MIT

Administration, Congress Continue Debate Over Membership, Future of ABM Treaty

May 1998

By Craig Cerniello

During the past year, a dispute has been quietly simmering between the Clinton administration and Congress over the issue of which states are currently parties to the ABM Treaty pending entry into force of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on succession, an agreement signed in September 1997 that defines Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as the successor states to the former Soviet Union under the treaty. (See ACT, September 1997.) In a May 21 letter to House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC), President Clinton stated that the United States and Russia are "clearly" parties to the ABM Treaty today and that "a strong case can be made" that Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are also parties to the treaty "even without the MOU."

The Clinton letter is likely to draw a sharp response from certain conservative Republicans, who maintain that if the Senate can defeat the MOU on succession then the ABM Treaty will become null and void. Senator Helms plans to conduct hearings on the ABM Treaty in the coming weeks, during which the MOU is certain to be strongly challenged. The Clinton administration has stated that once Russia ratifies START II, it will submit the MOU on succession (along with the START II extension protocol and the ABM-TMD "demarcation" agreements) to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The outcome of this debate has the potential to shape the future of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agenda.


The Exchange of Letters

In a June 16, 1997 letter to Clinton, Gilman posed a series of questions concerning the status of the ABM Treaty and the administration's efforts to include Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as treaty partners. Most significant, Gilman asked what countries in addition to the United States were parties to the ABM Treaty and what countries would be parties to the treaty in the event that the Senate either failed to act on or rejected the MOU on succession.

Clinton explained the rationale for the MOU in his November 21, 1997 response to Gilman. Clinton stated that, in light of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became necessary to determine which of the former Soviet republics would collectively assume the rights and obligations of the former Soviet Union under the ABM Treaty. In making this determination, he said a key U.S. objective has been to "preserve the substance of the original treaty regime as closely as possible." To this end, Clinton noted that the MOU on succession collectively limits Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the terms of the ABM Treaty: no more than 100 ABM interceptors at a single site.

Moreover, Clinton pointed out that ABM Treaty membership was an important issue for certain key successor states of the former Soviet Union, especially Ukraine. If the United States did not include these successor states into various arms control agreements (such as the START, INF and ABM treaties), "it is unlikely that we would have achieved the kind of comprehensive resolution of issues related to the disposition of strategic assets that has been achieved," he said.


Non-Russian Facilities

Clinton also stated that Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine each have ABM-related facilities on their territory and have participated in the sessions of the Geneva-based Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), where issues pertaining to the implementation of the ABM Treaty are regularly discussed. He said the eight other former Soviet republics were informed of these SCC meetings but did not participate, and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova indicated that they were not interested in joining the treaty.

In closing his initial letter to Gilman, Clinton argued that the New York package of START and ABM agreements will bolster U.S. national security. "If, however, the Senate were to fail to act or to disagree and disapprove the agreements, succession arrangements will simply remain unsettled. The ABM Treaty itself would clearly remain in force," he said.

Clinton's letter, however, did not satisfy congressional critics. In their March 3 response, Gilman and Helms returned to the basic issue of which states are currently parties to the ABM Treaty. They said Clinton's position appears to be that "Until an agreement on succession to the ABM Treaty comes into force, the identity of the other party or parties to the ABM Treaty is 'unsettled'." Gilman and Helms argued that this position is unacceptable. "If it is unclear as a matter of law whether Russia or any other country that emerged from the Soviet Union is today bound by the ABM Treaty, then it also should be unclear whether the United States is so bound," they stated.

In closing their letter, Gilman and Helms asked the Clinton administration to clearly identify the other states that are currently party to the ABM Treaty. "In the absence of such clarification, we will have no choice but to conclude that the ABM Treaty has lapsed until such time as the Senate approves a succession agreement reviving the Treaty," they said.


Administration Position

Clinton attempted to address these concerns in his May 21 response. He stated that the United States and Russia are "clearly" parties to the ABM Treaty and that "a strong case can be made" that Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are also parties to the treaty, regardless of the MOU on succession. Citing many of the same points made in his previous letter, Clinton argued that Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine each have ABM facilities on their territory, each have participated in the sessions of the SCC and each have expressed an interest in assuming the rights and obligations of the former Soviet Union under the ABM Treaty.

Finally, Clinton emphasized that "there is no question that the ABM Treaty has continued in force and will continue in force even if the MOU is not ratified." He said entry into force of the MOU is important, however, because it will resolve the uncertainty associated with which states other than Russia are parties to the treaty. "Equally important, maintaining the viability of the ABM Treaty is key to further reductions in strategic offensive forces under START II and START III," he concluded.

Administration, Congress Continue Debate Over Membership, Future of ABM Treaty


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