“The Arms Control Association and all of the staff I've worked with over the years … have this ability to speak truth to power in a wide variety of venues.”
– Marylia Kelley
Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment
June 2, 2022
Arms Control Today

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

The Testimony of Kathleen C. Bailey

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

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

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

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

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


The 'Unconventional' Needs of Proliferators

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

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

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


Challenges to the NPT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Evading the Test Ban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nuclear Modernization

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

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

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

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

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

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


A High Cost for Limited Benefit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

Cochran, Inouye Introduce Alternative NMD Bill

March 1998

As an indication that the debate on national missile defense (NMD) policy is intensifying, Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced the "American Missile Protection Act of 1998" on March 19, thereby offering another alternative to the Clinton administration's "3+3" program (see ACT, January/February 1998). The legislation (S.1806) would make it U.S. policy "to deploy as soon as is technologically possible" an NMD system that is capable of defending the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized or deliberate). Their proposal differs from the NMD bill introduced last year by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), which calls for deployment by the end of 2003, in that it does not mandate a specific deployment date and does not require the United States to consider withdrawing from the ABM Treaty if an amendment is not reached with Russia within one year to permit NMD deployment. Under the Clinton administration's 3+3 plan, the United States seeks to develop the elements of an NMD system by the year 2000 that can then be deployed within another three years if the ballistic missile threat makes it necessary.

Cochran, Inouye Introduce Alternative NMD Bill 

Challenges of Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Under A Comprehensive Test Ban

March 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A World Without Testing

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

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

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

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

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


The Role of DOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Deterrence Under a CTB

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

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


Debunking Misconceptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Challenges of Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Under A Comprehensive Test Ban

DOE Conducts Third Subcritical Experiment

March 1998

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

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

DOE Conducts Third Subcritical Experiment 

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

March 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Panel Drops Arms Sales 'Code of Conduct'

On March 10, the House-Senate conference committee dropped arms sales "code of conduct" legislation from the State Department authorization bill for fiscal years 1998-1999.

The House of Representatives had attached code of conduct legislation as an amendment to the State Department authorization bill in June 1997, but action on the bill was held up over a number of contentious issues. The modified code required the president to submit two lists to Congress every fiscal year. One would detail states that promote democracy, respect human rights, are not engaged in "armed aggression" and fully participate in the UN Register of Conventional Arms and are therefore eligible for U.S. military assistance. The second would list states that did not meet the four criteria, but that the president determined should be allowed to receive U.S. military arms and equipment. To block arms transfers to states on the second list, Congress would be required to vote a resolution of disapproval for each state.

House supporters of the code-of-conduct legislation plan to continue efforts to make the code law by pressing for its inclusion on the foreign aid authorization bill. A nearly identical code remains alive as a stand-alone bill in the Senate where Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced it on July 24, 1997. Code-of-conduct legislation first appeared in Congress in late 1993, but has been rejected by votes in the House in 1995, by the Senate in 1996 and in the House International Relations Committee in April 1997.

Administration Clears Way for South African Arms Trade

March 1998

By Wade Boese

In lifting sanctions on South Africa's primary weapons companies, the Clinton administration has cleared the way for U.S. arms sales to South Africa for the first time in 35 years. Removal of the prohibitions follows the adoption of export control programs by three firms after the recent settlement of a U.S. federal court case against them for export control violations and comes amidst a South African military modernization program.

The decision, announced in a joint statement between Vice President Al Gore and South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki on February 27, ended the debarment of the three companies—Armscor (the procurement company for South Africa's military), Denel and Fuchs Electronics—from participating in U.S. arms deals. Transactions involving these companies will now be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

During the apartheid era, the United Nations maintained an arms embargo on South Africa, beginning with a voluntary embargo in 1963 and then a mandatory one in 1977. Although the United Nations lifted its embargo in 1994, the United States continued to forbid arms deals with the three firms because of a 1991 indictment charging the companies with violating the U.S. Arms Export Control Act by illegally acquiring U.S. arms for South Africa and smuggling weapons to Iraq in the 1980s through front companies.

The firms eventually pleaded no contest to the charges in February 1997 and accepted criminal fines totaling $12.5 million. The State Department opted to waive civil fines in lieu of a pledge by the three to pay an additional $6.25 million to strengthen South Africa's export control system by the year 2000.


Resolving the Issues

As a condition for ending their debarment, each company agreed to develop exportcontrol compliance programs to ensure that U.S. arms would be handled according to U.S. law and not be retransferred to unauthorized third parties. A team of U.S. government experts reviewed the compliance programs from February 20-26 and determined the programs were "satisfactory."

South Africa is currently considering a substantial military acquisition program, reportedly valued at more than $2 billion, that includes submarines, battle tanks, fighter aircraft, light utility and maritime helicopters, corvettes, and jet trainer aircraft. Foreign supplier proposals, including packages and offsets, are due in May.

Although it may be too late for U.S. arms firms to participate, the policy change could benefit Sweden. The State Department denied a Swedish request earlier this year to market its JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft, which contains a significant amount of U.S. components, to South Africa. With the removal of U.S. restrictions, Swedish officials will likely press the United States to allow the Gripen to compete for the sale.

Early last year, Washington and Pretoria openly disputed a South African decision to upgrade Syria's battle tanks with more sophisticated sighting systems. The deal drew strong U.S. criticism and never went forward. South African officials claimed they never received an official request from Syria and denounced U.S. interference in South Africa's affairs. As recently as November 1997, South African Defense Minister Joe Modise insisted that Pretoria "will most certainly agree to all [weapons] requests by Syria and by other Arab states."

Administration Clears Way for South African Arms Trade

The CTB Treaty and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: The Debate Continues - Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr.

The Testimony of Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr.

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am honored to be here today at your invitation to present my views on the relationship between the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and nuclear non-proliferation. I particularly appreciate this opportunity to discuss this issue with you, an issue which I have been involved in in a number of capacities since 1948.

As outlined in my prepared statement, my involvement began as an officer and civilian in Air Force intelligence, tracking the emerging Soviet nuclear weapons program, the first case of nuclear proliferation, and then as an active participant in the initial efforts of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy to negotiate a comprehensive test ban.

Looking back on the past 50 years, I am indeed pleased that the CTBT has at last been completed and is now before the Senate for its advice and consent.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you and your committee for holding hearings on the impact of the CTBT on U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy. This is the reason that the treaty is of such great importance to U.S. security.

As you requested, I will focus my remarks on the five specific reasons for ratification from the White House Working Group on the CTBT.

First, I agree with their first reason: " The CTBT will constrain the development of more advanced...weapons by the declared nuclear powers." In fact, as a practical matter, I believe it will prevent such developments by these states. By these developments, I mean not only radical new concepts such as the nuclear explosion-pumped X-ray laser or pure fusion weapons, but also new designs for classical two-stage thermonuclear weapons with significantly different parameters from existing weapons.

Even the very sophisticated research facilities and advanced supercomputers called for in the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP) will not permit the development, production and deployment of such advanced new weapons in which responsible officials would have confidence. Pursuit of new designs would appear to be even more problematic in the case of other nuclear-weapon states that will not share the luxury of the elaborate facilities available to the United States in its stewardship program.

Within the U.S. stewardship program, one might make minor modifications in existing weapons designs to take into account changes in materials or manufacturing techniques which could be checked out by supercomputers and non-nuclear testing. However, to maintain high confidence in the U.S. stockpile, such modifications would have to be closely controlled and held to an absolute minimum. And there is no reason to think many such changes would be deemed necessary even over a very extended period of time.

Now, all of this is not to say that the CTBT can prevent scientists in the weapons laboratories in this country or abroad from thinking about new designs which might be of interest in the unlikey event that the test ban regime collapsed. It is indeed difficult, however, to imagine the circumstances in which responsible political, military or scientific leaders in any nuclear-weapon state would be interested in employing unproven designs in the absence of testing when a wide variety of highly reliable, proven weapons are already available in their arsenals.


'To Pursue Negotiations in Good Faith...'

Second, I agree that, "The CTBT will strengthen the NPT regime and the U.S. ability to lead the global non-proliferation effort." Moreover, I believe the failure of the United States to ratify the CTBT promptly will seriously undercut U.S. ability to carry out its critical role in leading the global non-proliferation effort.

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which constitutes the framework for the non-proliferation regime, is by its very nature discriminatory since it divides the world into nuclear weapons haves and have-nots. The treaty was based on the correct assumption that most countries are more concerned with preventing their neighbors and adversaries from acquiring nuclear weapons than with maintaining the option to acquire such weapons for themselves or, for that matter, with requiring the existing nuclear-weapon states to divest themselves of weapons as a precondition. Nevertheless, serious concern about the treaty's discriminatory nature was, and remains, a divisive factor within the regime.

Article VI was included to obligate the nuclear-weapon states "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament."

When President Eisenhower initiated the first comprehensive test ban negotiations in 1958, he then saw it as the best hope to constrain both the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union—vertical proliferation—and the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the three countries that then possessed them—horizontal proliferation. President Kennedy shared these hopes and resumed the negotiations that had been recessed after the shoot-down of the U2 over Sverdlovsk. Unfortunately, these early negotiations failed to produce an agreement.

A decade later, the NPT, which was successfully negotiated under President Johnson and ratified by President Nixon, provided a strong barrier to horizontal proliferation. The NPT also banned nuclear testing for all non-nuclear-weapon parties to the treaty since they foreswore the development or acquisition of nuclear explosive devices.

In these circumstances, the non-nuclear-weapon states that were parties to the treaty looked on the continued nuclear testing by the nuclear powers as a constant reminder of the discriminatory nature of the NPT. They looked on progress in achieving a global comprehensive test ban as the most visible demonstration of the willingness of the nuclear-weapon states to end the nuclear arms race. The global cessation of nuclear testing has become the litmus test of the seriousness of the nuclear-weapon states to meet their obligations under Article VI of the NPT.

When the NPT came up for renewal at its 25th anniversary conference in 1995, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the record of the nuclear-weapon states in fulfilling their obligations under Article VI, particularly with regard to the nuclear test ban. The conference had to decide whether to extend the NPT indefinitely or for only a fixed period.

In view of the significance of the decision, the conference sought approval of inefinite extension by consensus rather than the simple majority required by the treaty. This consensus was achieved by the adoption of a resolution of principles and objectives which contained many commendable generalizations but one very specific objective: the completion of a universal CTB Treaty no later than the end of 1996.

To the surprise of many, the CTB Treaty was completed on schedule, in large part due to the initiatives taken by President Clinton, and then was opened for signature on September 24, 1996. To date 149 states have signed the treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon states, and eight countries, by my count—soon to be joined by France and Britain—have ratified the treaty. However, most key countries, including Russia and China, as has been pointed out, will not move on ratification until the U.S. Senate acts.

Third, I agree that, "The CTBT will constrain 'rogue' states' nuclear weapons development and other states' nuclear capabilities." The treaty cannot by itself, however, prevent such states from obtaining a first generation nuclear weapons capability. When the CTBT enters into force with essentially worldwide support, including the five nuclear-weapon states, an international legal norm against testing will have been established. While this could not prevent testing by a rogue state, the act of testing would, by violating a universal norm, put that state at odds with the entire international community and make it a prime candidate for serious sanctions.

Technically, however, such a "rogue" state could develop a first generation nuclear weapon without testing. Such a weapon would probably be similar to the untested gun-type U-235 weapon that destroyed Hiroshima or the plutonium implosion weapon that had been successfully tested at Trinity prior to use against Nagasaki, or the early U-235 implosion weapons tested by China. Such weapons are known to have been developed (without tests) by South Africa, and presumably by Israel and Pakistan as well.

Such a rogue state would not, however, be able to go very far in optimizing and miniaturizing fission weapons and would certainly not be able to develop thermonuclear weapons without extensive testing or access to detailed plans and direct technical assistance from a nuclear-weapon state that had successfully developed and tested them.

Although the undeclared nuclear-weapon states—India, Israel and Pakistan—which presumably already have first generation weapons, are more experienced in the field, they would also not be able to develop thermonuclear weapons without testing or external assistance by a nuclear-weapon state. If a state were a member of the NPT, such a program would, of course, be a violation of the NPT and would probably be revealed by the new, more intrusive IAEA inspection program, which can inspect suspicious sites.


Treaty Verification

Fourth, I agree that, "The CTBT will improve America's ability to detect and deter nuclear explosive testing." Under the CTBT, the establishment of the International Monitoring System [IMS], with stations in Russia and China, and mandated procedures for on-site inspections of suspicious events will significantly supplement the already impressive unilateral U.S. system of national technical means [NTM] with which the United States has successfully monitored nuclear testing worldwide since the first Soviet nuclear test in August 1949.

The IMS, when fully operational, is designed to have a worldwide identification capability down to about one kiloton, lthough I believe in geographic areas of special interest it will be considerably better than that. The IMS has the advantage that it will be an open international operation so that all parties to the treaty have access to the data and will not be solely dependent on U.S. conclusions, which are often based on data that the United States is not prepared to share and which some parties may perceive as biased. Moreover, the treaty establishes specific procedures to allow on-site inspections of suspicious events. The prospect of on-site inspections should act as a powerful deterrent since they would have a good chance of identifying even very small tests; and if the country where the event occurred rejected or obstructed the inspections, the action in itself would strongly suggest that the party in question was trying to hide a clandestine test. In making the case for inspections of a suspicious event, the United States can also present information from its powerful classified NTM system that it would not be willing to share with the rest of the world on a routine basis.

As discussed in more detail in my prepared statement, the powerful synergistic effect of U.S. NTM capabilities and the IMS is well illustrated by the earthquake in the vicinity of Novaya Zemlya on August 16 last year. U.S. photo reconnaissance alerted U.S. intelligence agencies when it detected unusual activity at the Novaya Zemlya site in August, activity that in retrospect was probably associated with permitted subcritical experiments of the type the United States was conducting at the same time at the Nevada test site.

Concern that it might be a nuclear test was eliminated when seismic data that became available within days determined it was an earthquake 130 kilometers from the test site beneath the floor of the Arctic Ocean. If the CTB had been in force and the event had been close to the test site, the United States could have requested an on-site inspection, and would certainly have had a strong case to obtain it.

In judging the effectiveness of a detection system, it must be recognized that every system that depends upon technical measures has a threshold below which signals are lost in the background noise. While, in the case of the CTBT one can with high confidence identify tests down to one kiloton equivalent and with less confidence to considerably lower levels, there will always be a range of yields above zero that cannot be detected.

Despite these technical limitations, the verification system can still be correctly defined as effective because the tests below the threshold do not constitute a security risk to the United States. Clandestine testing below the threshold by the nuclear-weapon states would not permit development of radically new or significantly improved nuclear weapons. In the case of non-nuclear-weapon states, tests below the threshold would not contribute to the production of a first generation primitive weapon, which would either be tested at full yield or be produced without testing since little would be gained by the testing of such weapons at very low yields.

I should add that, in addition to detection by sensors recording the event itself, a potential clandestine tester would have to take into account the possibility that his actions would be revealed by human sources or by a failure of communications security. Such sources of information, although unquantifiable, should have a significant deterrent effect on low-yield clandestine testing.

Fifth, I agree that, "CTBT ratification by the United States and others will constrain non-signatories from conducting nuclear tests." Moreover, I believe ratification is critical to the U.S. efforts to maintain an effective leadership role in maintaining and strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which is the principal constraint on testing by non-nuclear-weapon states.

It has been suggested that the Senate does not have to hurry in considering the CTBT since India, one of the 44 countries that must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, has stated emphatically that it will not sign the treaty. The urgency for the U.S. action derives no only because our leadership role will probably stimulate a wave of ratifications, including Russia and China, but also because it will give the United States a seat at a special conference that can be called after September 24, 1999—three years after the treaty was opened for signature—to decide what measures can be taken to accelerate the ratification process and facilitate early entry into force of the treaty. If Indian participation does not appear to be forthcoming, the conference can recommend a number of ways to bring the treaty into force provisionally. If the United States fails to ratify the treaty before September 24, 1999, it will only be able to participate in the conference as an observer, without a vote or voice in these efforts to bring into force a treaty in which it has played such a central role over the years.

In the year 2000, there will be a major NPT Review Conference. The main focus of attention at that conference will be on the extent the nuclear-weapon states have met their obligations under Article VI and implemented the Principles and Objectives Resolution that accompanied the indefinite extension of the NPT.

If the United States has ratified the CTBT and the treaty is moving toward entry into force, the United States will be in a very strong position to press the conference to support its other efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime with respect to potential proliferators. But if the treaty has been rejected or is still before the Senate, the United States will be strongly attacked at the NPT Review Conference as the barrier to an effective non-proliferation regime and will lose much of the leadership role it has rightly achieved over the years.

In summary, I believe the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is an extremely important component of the U.S. strategy to establish a permanent global non-proliferation regime. I urge the Senate to act promptly to give its advice and consent to the treaty in order to reinforce the leadership role of the United States in extending and strengthening the non-proliferation regime.

Thank you.

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

March 1998 Bibliography

Compiled by Sami Fournier



Arkin, William, Robert Norris and Joshua Handler. "Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998," Natural Resources Defense Council, 1998, 94 pp. Ph. (202) 289-6868.

Arms Control Briefing Book: Arms Control and Security in the Post-Cold War Era, Council for a Livable World, March 1998, 64 pp. Ph. (202) 543-4100, http://www.clw.org/pub/clw/welcome.html

Buchanan, Patrick. "Encircling the Fallen Bear's Old Lair," The Washington Times, March 11, p. A17.

Global Focus:A New Foreign Policy Agenda 1997-1998, Interhemispheric Resource Center and Institute for Policy Studies, March 1997, 282 pp. Ph.(202) 234-9382/3, http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org


Cook, Robin. "The Good Fight After the Cold War," The Washington Post, March 29, 1998, p. C7.

Keeny, Spurgeon M., Jr., Jack Mendelsohn, Susan Eisenhower and John Isaacs. "Advancing the Arms Control Agenda: Pitfalls and Possibilities," Arms Control Today, January/February 1998, pp. 11-19.

Yumin, Hu and Mu Changlin. "International Arms Control Situation of 1997 and its Trend of Development," International Strategic Studies, January 1998, pp. 22-25.


Burgess, Lisa. "Nuclear Policy Battle Looms as NATO Expansion Nears," Defense News, March 30-April 5, 1998, p. 42.

Schwartz, Stephen. "Miscalculated Ambiguity: U.S. Policy on the Use and Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons," Disarmament Diplomacy, February 1998, pp. 10-15.

"U.S. Image: A Mad Dog With Nukes," The Washington Times, March 2, 1998, p. A13.


Bongioanni, Carlos. "U.S. 'Ghost' Base Gets Visit From Russian Inspectors," European Stars and Stripes, March 20, 1998, p. 3.



Cranston, Alan. "Nuclear Abolition Statement by International Civilian Leaders: An Assessment and an Appeal," Disarmament Diplomacy, February 1998, pp. 2-6.

Erlanger, Steven. "Russia Vows to Push Arms Pact, to Pave Way for Summit," The New York Times, March 12, 1998, p. A11.

Grossman, Elaine. "U.S. Ponders Force Posture Options Under START III Treaty," Inside the Pentagon, March 26, 1998, p. 1.

Schmitt, Lt. Col. Michael. "The International Court of Justice and the Use of Nuclear Weapons," Naval War College Review, Spring 1998, v. L1, No. 2, pp. 91-116.

Tucker, Jonathan B. "Verifying a Multilateral Ban on Nuclear Weapons: Lessons from the CWC," The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998, pp. 81-90.



Gertz, Bill. "Pentagon Confirms Details on Iranian Missiles," The Washington Times, March 27, 1998, p. A10.

Gormley, Dennis. "Hedging Against the Cruise-Missile Threat," Survival, Spring 1998, pp. 92-111.

Khromov, Gennady. "The Threat of Cruise Missile Proliferation Requires Urgent Coordinated Actions," The Monitor, Center for International Trade and Security, University of Georgia, Fall 1997/Winter 1998, pp. 3-5. Ph. (706) 542-2985.

Pikayev, Alexander, Leonard Spector, Elina Kirichenko and Ryan Gibson. "Russia, the US and the Missile Technology Control Regime," Adelphi Paper 317, IISS, March 1998, 94 pp.

"Selling Missiles to China," The Washington Times, March 23, 1998, p. A19.

Weiner, Tim. "U.S. Weighs Deal to Halt Missile-Gear Sales by China," The New York Times, March 19, 1998, p. A8.



Burgess, Lisa. "BMDO Faces Conflicting Signals," Defense News, March 30-April 5, 1998, p. 8.

Burgess, Lisa and George Seffers. "Gansler Pledges to Field NMD," Defense News, March 2, 1998, p. 4.

Graham, Bradley. "Review of Missile Defense Programs Follows Warning of 'Rush to Failure,'" The Washington Post, March 24, 1998, p. A5.

Mann, Paul. "Missile Defense Riddled With Diverse Failures," Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 30, 1998, p. 22.

Ranger, Robin. "Theatre Missile Defences:UK Strategic Defence Review Poses Difficult Questions," Global Defence Review, 1998, pp. 29-36.

"U.S. Sen. Robert Smith," (Interview), Defense News, March 2-8, 1998, p. 22.



Arnett, Eric. "Norms and Nuclear Proliferation: Sweden's Lessons for Assessing Iran," The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998, pp. 32-43.

Gellman, Barton and John Pomfret. "U.S. Action Stymied China Sale To Iran," The Washington Post, March 13, 1998, p. A1.

Gill, Bates. "U.S., China and Nonproliferation: Potential Steps Forward," The Monitor, Center for International Trade and Security, University of Georgia, Fall 1997/Winter 1998, pp. 27-32. Ph. (706) 542-2985.

Kelly, Michael. "Certifying China's Proliferation," The Washington Post, March 25, 1998.

Kristensen, Hans. "Nuclear Futures: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and U.S. Nuclear Strategy," BASIC Research Report 98.2, March 1998, 32 pp. Ph. (202) 785-1266.

Landay, Jonathan. "China Foils the Spread of Nukes.Probably," The Christian Science Monitor, March 13, 1998, p. A1.

The Proliferation Primer, A Majority Report of the Subcomittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, January 1998, 112 pp.

Rauf, Tariq. "The April 1998 NPT PrepCom," The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998, pp. 121-131.

Schweid, Barry. "Russia Vows to Bar Arms Exports to Iran," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 12, 1998.

Shuey, Robert. "Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons and Ballistic Missiles: The State of Proliferation," CRS Report for Congress, February 10, 1998, 6 pp.



"Improving Nuclear Materials Security at the Sosny Science and Technical Center-Minsk," Belarus, Russia/NIS Nuclear Material Security Task Force, Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of Energy, June 1997, 6 pp.

Johnson, Mark. "Nukes and the Russian Mob," Journal of Commerce, March 13, 1998, p. 6.

"MPC&A Program Strategic Plan," U.S. Department of Energy, January 1998, 21 pp.

Schaper, Annette. "Viewpoint: The Case for Universal Full-Scope Safeguards on Nuclear Material," The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998, pp. 69-80.

von Meier, Alexandra, Jennifer Lynn Miller and Ann C. Keller. "The Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: A Comparison of Three Narrative Contexts," The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998, pp. 20-31.



Bell, Robert. "Strategic Agreements and the CTB Treaty: Striking the Right Balance," Arms Control Today, January/February 1998, pp. 3-10.

Sullivan, Jeremiah. "The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," Physics Today, March 1998, pp. 24-39.

Turbak, Gary. "Under the Mushroom Cloud," VFW Magazine, March 1998, pp. 12-19.

"U.S. Plans Underground Explosive Tests," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1998, p. 13.



Bonner, Raymond. "Russia Reported to Agree to Sell Heavy Weapons to Yugoslavia," The New York Times, March 25, 1998, p. A3.

"Europe's Arms Code," Defense News, March 2-8, 1998, p. 12.

Kotler, Jared. "Munitions Still Killing Despite End of Strife," The Washington Times, March 3, 1998, p. A19.

Murphy, Caryle. "The Nobel Prize Fight," The Washington Post, March 22, 1998, p. F1.

Shenon, Philip. "U.S. Fails to Get Firmer Yugoslav Sanctions," The New York Times, March 26, 1998, p. 3.



Altman, Lawrence. "Botulinum Toxin's Promise as Drug May Rival Its Potential as Weapon," The New York Times, March 10, 1998, p. C7.

The Challenge of Old Chemical Munitions and Toxic Armament Wastes, Thomas Stock and Karlheinz Lohs, eds., SIPRI, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 337 pp.

Croddy, Eric. "Putting the Lid Back on the Chemical Box," Jane's Intelligence Review, January 1998, pp. 41-44.

Garrett, Benjamin. "Destruction of Russia's CW Stockpile: A Progress Report on International Assistance," The Monitor, Center for International Trade and Security, University of Georgia, Fall 1997/Winter 1998, pp. 14-15. Ph. (706) 542-2975.

Kortunov, Sergei and Sergei Vikulov. "Destruction of Chemical Weapons in Russia is an International Challenge," The Monitor, Center for International Trade and Security, University of Georgia, Fall 1997/Winter 1998, pp. 11-14. Ph. (706) 542-2975.

Preston, Richard. "Biological Armageddon," The New Yorker, March 9, 1998, pp. 52-65.

Tucker, Jonathan B. "Strengthening the BWC: Moving Toward a Compliance Protocol," Arms Control Today, January/February 1998, pp. 20-27.




Dzanic, Enis and Norman Erik. "Retraining the Federation Forces in Post-Dayton Bosnia," Jane's Intelligence Review, January 1998, pp. 5-9.

O'Hanlon, Michael. "Turning the Bosnia Ceasefire into Peace," The Brookings Review, Winter 1998, pp. 41-44.


Coleman, Fred. "Foes: Kiriynko Can't Be Trusted With Nuclear Arms," USA Today, March 30, 1998, p. 10.

Gertz, Bill."Russians Won't Say How Nuclear Plants Got Supercomputers," The Washington Times, March 10, 1998, p. A3.

"Nuclear Successor States of the Soviet Union: Status Report on Nuclear Weapons, Fissile Material, and Export Controls," The Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 1998, 115 pp.

Trenin, Dmitri. "Russia and the Emerging Security Environment in Northeast Asia," Security Dialogue, March 1998, pp. 79-88.


Baker, Howard Jr., Alton Frye, Sam Nunn and Brent Scowcroft. "Will Expansion Undercut the Military?" The Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1998.

Drozdiak, William. "West Vows New Sanctions on Yugoslavia," The Washington Post, March 26, 1998, p. A26.

Gaddis, John Lewis. "History, Grand Strategy and NATO Enlargement," Survival, Spring 1998, pp. 145-151.

Harris, Paul. "Support Now Shifts Towards Serb Army," Jane's Pointer, January 1998, p. 3.

Hunter, Robert. "Our Postwar Alliance Retools for the Millennium," The Los Angeles Times, March 16, 1998, p. 11.

Landay, Jonathan. "Walls Falling to Bigger NATO," The Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 1998, p. 1.

Laurenzo, Ronald. "NATO Expansion Could Make Russia Go Nuclear," The Washington Times, March 22, 1998, p. A8.

Mandelbaum, Michael, Susan Eisenhower, Jack Mendelsohn and Jonathan Dean. "The Wrong Idea at the Wrong Time? The Case Against NATO Expansion," Current History, March 1998, pp. 132-136.

Schmitt, Eric. "An Unlikely Pair of Senators Oppose Expansion of NATO," The New York Times, March 14, 1998, p. A4.

Schneider, Greg. "U.S. Taxpayers to Foot the Bill for a Bigger NATO, Critics Say," The Baltimore Sun, March 5, 1998, p. C1.

Seelye, Katharine. "Arms Contractors Spend to Promote an Expanded NATO," The New York Times, March 30, 1998, p. A1.

Spolar, Christine. "NATO Hopefuls Lag in Meeting Requirements," The Washington Post, March 18, 1998, p. A16.

Vorontsov, Yuli. "One Thing All Russians Agree On," (Russian attitude toward NATO expansion), The Washington Post, March 10, 1998, p. A17.


Boyne, Sean. "Iraq's MIO: Ministry of Missing Weapons," Jane's Intelligence Review, March 1998, pp. 23-25.

Keeny, Spurgeon M., Jr. "Give Diplomacy A Chance," Arms Control Today, January/February 1998, p. 2.

Crossette, Barbara. "Rapid-Fire Inspections Planned for Iraq Sites," The New York Times, March 22, 1998, p. A8.

Demick, Barbara. "Hussein's Opulent Palaces Defy Reality in Postwar Iraq," The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 18, 1998, p. 1.

Dolley, Steven. "Iraq and the Bomb:The Nuclear Threat Continues," Nuclear Control Institute, February 19, 1998, 18 pp. Ph. (202) 822-8444.

Joshi, Vijay. "U.N. Searches 1st Iraqi Presidential Site Since Pact," The Washington Post, March 27, 1998, p. A29.

Kumaraswamy, P.R. "Has Israel Kept its BW Options Open?" Jane's Intelligence Review, March 1998, p. 22.

Mann, Paul. "Tighter Sanctions Urged Against Iraqi Smuggling," Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 9, 1998, p. 27.

Vogel, Heinrich. "Iraqi Showdown Highlights Strategy of Russia Leadership," Defense News, March 9-15, 1998, p. 23.


Chellaney, Brahma. "India Moves Toward Joining Nuclear Club," The Washington Times, March 21, 1998, p. A10.

Moon, Chung-in. Arms Control on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 1997, 327 pp.

Rethinaraj, T.S. Gopi. "Tritium Breakthrough Brings India Closer to an H-Bomb Arsenal," Jane's Intelligence Review, January 1998, pp. 29-31.

Sheppard, Ben. "Too Close for Comfort: Ballistic Ambitions in South Asia," Jane's Intelligence Review, January 1998, pp. 32-35.


Diamint, Rut. "Latin American Security: Contradictions in US Policy," Disarmament Diplomacy, February 1998, pp. 6-10.

Fulghum, David. "Latin America Faces Tough Military Aircraft Decisions," Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 16, 1998, pp. 46-49.

Robinson, Tamara. "Nonproliferation Approaches in the Caucasus," The Nonproliferation Review, Winter 1998, pp. 108-120.



Callahan, David. Unwinnable Wars: American Power and Ethnic Conflict, New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1997, 273 pp. http://www.tcf.org

Pincus, Walter. "Pentagon Stresses Control of Space," The Washington Post, March 15, 1998, p. A6.

Priest, Dana. "Pentagon Still Overpays for Parts, Audit Finds," The Washington Post, March 19, 1998, p. 7.

Smart, Tim. "Justice Dept. Resisting Lockheed-Northrop Deal," The Washington Post, March 10, 1998, p. A1.

Improving Nuclear Materials Security In the Former Soviet Union: Next Steps for the MPC: A Program

March 1998

By James E. Doyle

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, experts asserted that political and economic instability in the region could drastically weaken the security of hundreds of tons of plutonium (Pu) and highly enriched uranium (HEU) suitable for building nuclear bombs. While precise amounts have not been confirmed, the Soviet Union is believed to have produced 1,200 to 1,300 metric tons of HEU (enriched to a level of 20 percent or greater of the isotope uranium-235) and 150 to 200 metric tons of Pu; roughly half of the material is in non-weapon forms.

These materials are used or stored at several dozen military and civilian sites across Russia, and at civilian sites in five of the newly independent states (NIS) and in the Baltics. Responding to these warnings in 1992, the United States proposed to several of these states the creation of joint programs for improving the effectiveness of nuclear material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A).

After initial delays, U.S.-supported MPC&A improvements were begun in several countries in 1994. Since then, a rapidly expanding program of cooperation has been successfully addressing one of the gravestthreats to international security in the post-Cold War era: the possibility that proliferant states or terrorists could acquire weapons-usable nuclear materials. Efforts to strengthen and expand the MPC&A program have been spurred by thefts of such material during the period 1992-1995, and by terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Tokyo subway and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.(1) These attacks, severe as they were, did not involve nuclear explosives. However, they focused public attention on the potential for nuclear terrorism and the continuing need for improved nuclear material security.

Originally funded by Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) initiatives, the so-called Nunn-Lugar program, the MPC&A effort has been directed since September 1995 by the Department of Energy (DOE) Russia-NIS Nuclear Materials Security Task Force. DOE relies on technical experts from the U.S. national laboratories, who work directly with their counterparts in Russia and the NIS, to design and install improved MPC&A systems. In 1995, DOE estimated that rapid improvements to MPC&A systems for all weapons-usable nuclear material in Russia and the NIS could be completed by the end of 2002, at a total cost of approximately $800 million.(2)

Since 1994, tremendous progress has been made toward this objective. Strong working relationships have been established among scientists, nuclear facility operators, managers and key government officials in the countries involved. DOE officials have signed agreements for MPC&A cooperation with more than 50 nuclear sites in Russia and the NIS, and by early 1998 joint work was underway at all of these sites. (See pp. 14-16.) This encompasses nearly all sites believed to contain weapons-usable nuclear material in the former Soviet Union. Only a small number of additional sites are expected to emerge as cooperation continues. New site-wide MPC&A systems have been installed at 17 of these sites, and over 1,000 Russian and NIS personnel have received U.S.-supported MPC&A training.

Despite these accomplishments, large quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials in Russia and the NIS remain inadequately secured.(3) Moreover, the problem of sustaining the effectiveness of newly installed MPC&A systems presents a difficult long-term challenge. Now that the approximate mid-point of the planned timeline for the program has been reached, there is a need to review the lessons learned from past years, update program priorities, and adjust plans according to new conditions and requirements. It is also clear that in order to ensure the long-term viability of MPC&A efforts, particularly the development of indigenous capabilities and a responsible nuclear safeguards culture, the United States must commit itself to adequately supporting these programs beyond their current timelines and to further strengthening its shared security interests with Russia and the NIS.


Lessons Learned


Scope of the Problem

MPC&A experts now realize that the scope of the nuclear materials security problem within the former Soviet nuclear complex is much larger than was estimated when the original plans were formulated in 1994 and 1995. At that time, the U.S. government estimated that approximately 80-100 facilities at several dozen sites in Russia and other former Soviet republics contained weapons-usable nuclear materials. However, by early 1998, DOE had identified over 150 facilities at 53 sites containing such materials or related to their security. Joint MPC&A upgrades ae complete or underway at more than 100 of these facilities and planning has begun for work at those remaining. Moreover, it is expected that some additional facilities at these sites and in Russia's naval nuclear fuels sector and nuclear weapons complex will be identified for future cooperative efforts.

One reason for the original underestimation was the lack of detailed knowledge regarding the network of nuclear installations in Russia's military sector. There are 10 closed or formerly closed so-called "nuclear cities" in this sector that perform functions related to Russia's nuclear arsenal. These sites are large, geographically remote and contain large quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials in multiple facilities. Because of the sensitive nature of the work they perform, the sites have proceeded cautiously with MPC&A cooperation. However, as joint efforts have progressed, these sites have identified a number of new facilities for MPC&A upgrades. As a result, it is taking longer than expected to complete upgrades at these sites. A similar pattern is occurring with Russia's large civilian nuclear fuel fabrication plants.


Domestic Obstacles

During the past four years, U.S. personnel have learned a great deal about societal and organizational factors that continue to hinder the development of effective MPC&A systems. The region's persistent economic crisis presents one of the greatest obstacles to progress. Nuclear facilities receive only fractions of their requested budgets from government ministries, which in turn get only part of their planned budget from the federal government. The former director of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM), Viktor Mikhailov, claimed his ministry received only 48 percent of its budget in 1997. Many nuclear workers are still not receiving wages for long periods of time, and the quality of available food, housing and medical care remains poor. These conditions increase the chance that "insider" personnel could be tempted to divert nuclear material for financial gain.

The lack of financial resources prevents nuclear facilities from investing in MPC&A improvements. In fact, budget shortfalls have forced many facilities to cut spending for nuclear material security systems in order to retain key scientific staff. Original DOE plans projected that Russia and the NIS would be able to devote an increasing share of resources to sustaining and expanding MPC&A improvements during the second half of the "rapid upgrade" phase (roughly 1999-2002). Clearly, the region's economic recovery is taking longer than expected and it is unlikely that the financial situation of most sites requiring MPC&A upgrades will improve significantly before the end of 2002.

Other economic factors that have hampered the MPC&A program are foreign taxes and duties on U.S. assistance. Although government-to-government agreements have been signed with the participating states that exempt U.S. assistance from taxes and duties, the MPC&A program still faces tax law uncertainties, debates over deferment versus exemption and inconsistent enforcement, resulting in delays and increased costs on this supposedly tax-free program. The effort needed to actually receive tax exemption in many cases is so great that it is less costly just to pay the taxes, drawing off program resources that could be spent on MPC&A upgrades.

Another major societal or cultural problem is the need to change entrenched Soviet-era attitudes and approaches to nuclear materials security that are poorly adapted to current conditions. While progress has been made at the level of national leadership and at the few sites that have been cooperating with the MPC&A program since 1994, the majority of managers and workers are still unfamiliar with modern, technology-based MPC&A systems.(4) The transition from a system based on guards, secrecy, rigid controls on personnel and production target-based rather than actual materials-based accounting procedures for nuclear material inventories will continue well beyond the end of 2002.


More Work To Be Done

DOE's "MPC&A Program Strategic Plan," released in January 1998, projects that 27 sites out of 53 total will have received upgraded MPC&A systems by the end of 1998. However, nearly all of these 27 sites are small nuclear research or reactor complexes that contain few separate facilities and low quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials. Moreover, most of these sites perform only civilian nuclear activities. Because these activities are less sensitive, MPC&A cooperation typically progresses more rapidly at these sites than at the closed, military-related sites. By the end of 1998, the installation of new MPC&A systems at the largest sites—those with the greatest quantities of nuclear materials and the most restrictions on cooperation—will still be a very long way from completion. In addition, at many of the 27 sites that will have new MPC&A systems in place, cooperative work will have to continue well past 1998 in order to complete training and to support the early phases of system operation. Thus, the accomplishment of original program goals will likely require continued increases in the level of effort for the MPC&A program during the period 1999-2002.


Long-Term Commitment Needed

Fostering and shaping the transition in Russia and the NIS to sustainable, internationally accepted techniques for MPC&A will take many years. These MPC&A systems should be appropriate for the new conditions these states face and compare favorably in terms of effectiveness with U.S. and international standards for nuclear materials security. It is clear that a second phase of the MPC&A program is needed, moving beyond the mandate of the "rapid upgrade" phase that is currently scheduled for completion by the end of 2002. The key objective of the second phase is to convince the countries receiving MPC&A assistance to take ownership of the newly installed systems and procedures and to help them develop the capability to maintain these systems over time.

If Russian and NIS officials are soon faced with the prospect of sharply reduced U.S. funding for the MPC&A program, they may decide that modern systems are unaffordable and attempt to rely on outmoded safeguards approaches. Making sure that an indigenous foundation for modern MPC&A systems is established is crucial to sustaining the effectiveness of the systems that have been jointly installed during the past four years. While it is inevitable that the U.S. financial commitment to this program will eventually decrease, it certainly is not in the U.S. interest to cut back until the national security threat posed by loose nuclear materials has been sufficiently addressed.


The Role of U.S. Personnel

The MPC&A program places great demands on DOE and national laboratory personnel. Program implementation requires stressful travel schedules, long stays in remote and economically depressed areas, significant health and safety risks, and coping with language and cultural barriers. Communications are difficult, and transportation, emergency response and health care systems are poor compared to the West. Crime, poor law enforcement and hazards at nuclear facilities present additional risks. Despite the demanding nature of the work, successful implementation of the MPC&A program increasingly depends on the retention of skilled personnel with the greatest experience in Russia and the NIS. Individuals who have developed strong personal and professional relationships with their counterparts in Russia and the NIS are key assets to the MPC&A program. Without them cooperation cannot flourish, and their loss results in delays and increased costs. Unfortunately, DOE and the national laboratories do not have as much experience as other government agencies or organizations in supporting personnel overseas. Despite aspects of the program that balance the hardships, such as an opportunity to contribute to a vital national security objective and to work directly with similarly motivated foreign colleagues, the MPC&A program is already having difficulty attracting and retaining the most qualified nuclear security experts.

The Need for Outside Assistance

Many of the deficiencies in nuclear materials security in Russia and the NIS stem from economic difficultes at nuclear sites. Therefore, initiatives outside of the MPC&A program that provide resources for these sites and are consistent with overall U.S. non-proliferation objectives can have a positive effect. Projects supported by the International Science and Technology Centers in Moscow and Kyiv, and by DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) that employ staff at impoverished nuclear sites can play such a role. Other cooperative projects, such as the U.S.-Russian HEU Purchase Agreement and laboratory-to-laboratory initiatives for basic science, nuclear materials disposition and nuclear weapons reductions also provide U.S. and international funds to Russian and NIS nuclear sites. These additional income streams may reduce the economic motivations of nuclear site personnel to steal or divert nuclear materials and allow site managers to devote a greater portion of operating budgets to improving MPC&A systems.(5)

Other activities that increase pressure for MPC&A improvements are those that intensify public awareness in Russia and the NIS on the need for adequate nuclear materials security. The protection of nuclear materials is a public safety issue as well as a national security issue. As knowledge of this problem grows among public interest groups and elected officials, the government authorities accountable for nuclear activities will take notice. This increases official incentives for nuclear regulatory enforcement and could lead to larger budgets for MPC&A improvements.


Next Steps


Extend Program Planning and Budget

The MPC&A program received $137 million for fiscal year (FY) 1998. The highest annual funding level is expected in 1999, followed by a sharp reduction in funds for the years 2000-2002. This budget profile, however, is not consistent with the scope of the remaining nuclear material security problem. Assuming that the FY 1999 budget is approximately $160 million, appropriations for the next three years should decrease by no more than $20 million annually. Given our current understanding of the nuclear materials security problem in Russia and the NIS, planning should begin for a second phase of the MPC&A program (from 2003 to 2007) funded at a level of approximately $50 million per year. While this would result in a total program cost of approximately $1.2 billion (over 15 years), it is a small price to pay given the potential consequences of further proliferation or nuclear terrorism.

This program extension would allow rapid expansion and acceleration of two key MPC&A sectors in Russia: naval fuels and the nuclear weapons complex. It would also improve the chances that rapid upgrades in Russia's large fuel facilities and "nuclear cities" can be completed during the next three to five years. Finally, such an extension would allow for the operational evaluation of newly installed MPC&A systems and the establishment of an indigenous infrastructure that can sustain the effectiveness of these systems over the long term, including a further consolidation in the number of sites and facilities containing weapons-usable nuclear materials. This second phase should, of course, not be open-ended. The two related factors that should determine the level and duration of this phase are an assessment of the threat of nuclear leakage in the region and the ability of the cooperating states to take full responsibility for maintaining effective MPC&A systems. If the threat decreases and the Russian and NIS systems improve dramatically, then the level of assistance can be scaled back.


Devise a Detailed Phase II Strategy

A follow-on strategy should be designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of improved MPC&A systems and should contain the following components:

Reaffirm the MPC&A Partnership. The United States must reassure Russia and the NIS that improving MPC&A systems is in our mutual interest, and that the U.S. government is committed to continuing this partnership until adquate systems are in place and can be indigenously maintained. At some point this will require the United States to acknowledge that support for MPC&A cooperation, especially with Russia, where the vast majority of weapons-usable nuclear material resides, will extend beyond 2002. A positive step in this direction was taken in March 1998, when DOE and MINATOM agreed to develop a single Joint Action Plan for coordinating MPC&A cooperation. A formal DOE-MINATOM agreement for MPC&A cooperation is also needed to replace the existing Department of Defense-MINATOM agreement that expires in September 1998.

As MPC&A cooperation matures and new systems become operational, the role played by the United States should transition from one of systems design and installation to one in which advice and recommendations are offered regarding system operation, enhancement and integration. This would be similar to the types of nuclear security cooperation that the United States maintains with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Japan and others. In addition, there will be opportunities for the United States and its MPC&A partners to cooperate on the further refinement of nuclear safeguards systems, possibly leading to the identification of systems that could be exported to developing states.

Expand Training Programs. The training of national personnel in the concepts and operations of modern MPC&A systems is essential to the long-term improvement of nuclear materials security in Russia and the NIS. This has been recognized from the beginning of MPC&A efforts and training programs are an integral part of the U.S.-supported upgrades at each site. Dedicated training centers, such as the Russian Methodological and Training Center (RMTC) at Obninsk have also been established. These programs can be expanded by broadening the curriculum to include a greater range of safeguards techniques and by the development of mobile training teams and distance-learning capabilities. Dedicated safeguards training centers should be temporarily established in most of the NIS and at least one additional center should be opened in Russia east of the Ural Mountains to provide easier access for nuclear sites in Siberia. Such a center is under consideration for Tomsk Polytechnical University.

The final objective of the training effort, however, should be a complete transition from U.S. instructors and U.S.-developed training materials to local instructors and locally produced course materials. All nuclear sites should have self-sustaining MPC&A training programs. Operational training and retraining at each site should be emphasized in order to develop a cadre of experts who are responsible for MPC&A systems. As these personnel become more skilled with modern safeguards systems they will be more likely to adopt them permanently and refine these systems according to their particular needs.

Complete Regulatory Structure Development Plans. The United States has several initiatives under way to assist Russia in developing a national nuclear regulatory structure, an essential step to the development of consistent and effective MPC&A practices. These efforts include drafting of MPC&A regulations and guidance at the national and facility level, designing a federal nuclear material control and accounting (MC&A) information system, providing nuclear measurement equipment to inspectors from Russia's nuclear regulatory authority, Gosatomnadzor (GAN), and GAN inspector training. The majority of MPC&A regulations could be adopted in 1999, providing guidance for system design, certification and evaluation. Demonstrations of inspection equipment provided to GAN have already taken place. While some progress is being made, Russia's nuclear regulators remain weak and underfunded, regulations in key areas have not yet been issued, and progress in establishing a national information system has been slow. U.S. technical personnel should advise their Russian counterparts regarding the difficulties that have been experienced with the U.S. national MC&A system with an aim to avoiding similar problems.

The United States should continue to support the strengthening of GAN in hopes that t can become a strong, independent, nuclear regulatory agency with responsibility for inspections, licensing and license reviews at all nuclear sites in Russia that are not devoted to nuclear weapons operations. The establishment of such an agency increases the chances that over time, nuclear facilities that fail to develop and maintain effective MPC&A systems will not be permitted to continue operating. Consistent with this objective, the United States should consider supporting the permanent assignment of a GAN MPC&A inspector at all large nuclear sites. However, given continuing debate over GAN's authority in the Russian nuclear complex, the United States might also consider encouraging MINATOM to strengthen its internal capabilities for the inspection and evaluation of its nuclear sites.

Foster the Development of Indigenous Capabilities. The manufacture of modern MPC&A technologies is slowly growing in Russia and the NIS. For example, several institutes and companies have begun manufacturing portal monitors based on Western technology that can detect the presence of nuclear materials. There have also been several spin-off companies that have engaged in the production and installation of physical protection equipment. In addition, the joint development of pilot MPC&A systems, using mostly indigenous equipment, was one of the early thrusts of the MPC&A program.

The United States should increase its support for these activities in the second phase of the MPC&A program. Joint design, testing and certification of indigenously produced MPC&A equipment should be continued, and legal arrangements should be made that encourage the commercialization of these technologies. This will increase the local availability of effective MPC&A equipment, maintenance services and skilled personnel, while reducing costs.

Strengthen the Nuclear Safeguards Culture. Another challenge to sustaining effective MPC&A systems in Russia and the NIS is to help develop a pervasive, shared belief among political leaders, senior managers and all nuclear site personnel that effective MPC&A is vitally important. They must demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice other important goals when necessary (such as meeting production schedules) to ensure MPC&A is effective. This is a key component of phase two of the MPC&A program and requires a long-term effort.

The roots of a safeguards culture are twofold. First, all personnel have to understand and agree with the need for effective MPC&A. Second, they must know and consistently follow the rules and procedures that, along with the equipment, constitute an MPC&A system. Supporting MPC&A and non-proliferation training is the primary means by which the United States can help strengthen such attitudes. Developing a strong regulatory agency with enforcement powers and the authority to shut down faulty operations will also create incentives that promote a safeguards culture.

The second phase of MPC&A should focus on improving organizational aspects of a safeguards culture, including support for developing an integrated hierarchy of MPC&A plans and procedures at the national and site levels. These procedures should cover a spectrum ranging from the smallest level of MPC&A equipment calibration and repair to the drafting and approval of plans that describe the movement of nuclear material throughout a site or facility. To facilitate such efforts, the United States should encourage the designation of a management official at every nuclear site (as has already been done at Chelyabinsk-70 and the Institute for Physics and Power Engineering) who will be responsible for MPC&A and is independent from other activities. Another joint activity that should be pursued is to explore the development of common approaches to evaluating the overall progress of the MPC&A program and the effectiveness of MPC&A upgrades.

Implement Strategies for Materials Consolidation

One of the strongest recommendations of a 1997 National Research Council review of the MPC&A program in Russia and the NIS was to reduce the scope of the problem by encouraging the consolidation of weapons-usable nuclear materials at a smaller numberof buildings, facilities and sites.(6) This process has begun and should be continued within Russia's large fuel facilities as well as in its naval nuclear fuels sector, where some shipyards and storage sites may contain weapons-usable nuclear materials that are no longer needed for fleet operations. Consolidation and downsizing are also possible in Russia's nuclear weapons complex. MINATOM recently announced the planned closure of three sites, including two in its network of closed cities. U.S. and Russian officials need to know what impact these plans will have on MPC&A requirements at these sites.

Finally, there are dozens of research reactors in Russia and the NIS that use weapons usable HEU fuel. DOE's current program to develop low enriched uranium (LEU) fuels for these reactors—the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR)—should be accelerated so that HEU fuels can be removed from these sites, reducing the required level of MPC&A. Because the conversion to LEU fuel can be costly and might not allow some types of experiments, economic and regulatory actions need to be taken that overcome these disincentives and encourage these sites to use LEU fuels. Moreover, a significant number of these reactors should be shut down instead of converted and their fuel moved to locations with effective MPC&A systems.


Continue Cooperation With Guard Forces

At many nuclear sites, the armed guard forces that respond to alarms and unauthorized attempts to enter are organizationally distinct from other site personnel. For example, many Russian sites are guarded by Interior Ministry (MVD) troops, which currently operate some MPC&A equipment at these sites. Therefore, certain types of MPC&A training and equipment for these troops would greatly improve overall nuclear materials security. At MINATOM-controlled sites in Russia, U.S. cooperation with independent guard forces should proceed only with MINATOM approval. Appropriate cooperation with guard forces could include central alarm station upgrades, defensive tactics, procedures for materials transportation and vulnerability assessment training.


Improve Support for U.S. Personnel

In order to attract and retain the most qualified MPC&A specialists, DOE must improve program support both stateside and in the field. Reducing the frequency of trips to Russia and the NIS could reduce the stress on personnel, while the use of Western-operated services for traveler orientation, transportation, communications and emergency medical care—despite the extra costs—could reduce some of the risks faced by field personnel and provide critical assistance in the case of a serious emergency. DOE could also open several regional offices close to the largest nuclear sites that could coordinate some of these services and serve as command centers when problems arise.

To do the extra management and coordination tasks necessary to support technical personnel abroad and to keep pace with the expanding level of activity, the MPC&A Task Force needs more staff. Less than two dozen full-time federal and contractor employees are currently assigned to this program, which now exceeds $100 million annually. DOE needs to provide this team with greater resources.


Support Related Activities

In addition to the direct efforts of the MPC&A program, other DOE programs and activities performed by other government agencies or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can have an indirect but positive influence on nuclear materials security in Russia and the NIS. These activities can include educating foreign decision-makers on the need for effective MPC&A systems in order to prevent nuclear terrorism and proliferation, maintain public safety and protect the environment. They can also generate income streams at nuclear sites that reduce the chances that workers will be tempted to steal nuclear material or sell sensitive information and allow site managers to increase their contribution to improving MPC&A procedures and equipment. Finally, the actions of these other groups can encourage government officials, lawmakers and the public in Russia and the NIS to call for increased budgets for nclear materials security.

In addition to DOE initiatives, there is a broad range of scientific and technical cooperation between the U.S. national laboratories and their counterparts in Russia and the NIS that is funded by various U.S. government agencies. Together with the MPC&A program, these activities have provided approximately $500 million to Russia and the NIS.(7) These government efforts should be continued and can be supplemented by non-governmental activities that share the objective of improving nuclear materials security. Financial support for non-governmental activities would expand the network of contacts between various constituencies in the academic, commercial, technical and public policy communities that are committed to reducing the risks of proliferation. NGOs can organize events that attract a broad spectrum of foreign experts such as symposia, conferences and educational programs related to nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation. NGOs are also sources of independent ideas for advancing a common nuclear security agenda. Many of these organizations already have solid relationships with senior officials in Russia and the NIS and have completed detailed proposals for joint work.


Prepare a Second Line of Defense

Despite the great progress that has been made in improving nuclear materials security in Russia and the NIS, the risk that nuclear materials could be stolen or diverted remains significant. Upgraded MPC&A systems will not be installed at all sites for several more years and there is no way to know how much material may already be outside of these sites and under the control of individuals or groups that will attempt to smuggle it across national borders.

Although DOE and other U.S. government agencies have programs under way to deal with nuclear smuggling (funded separately from the MPC&A program), it would be prudent for the United States to help create a stronger second line of defense to prevent the unauthorized removal of nuclear material from Russia and the NIS. Following a layered-defense concept with the first line being effective MPC&A systems at the sites authorized to contain nuclear materials, the second line of defense should be placed along the national borders of Russia and the NIS. DOE plans to work with the national laboratories to provide Russian and NIS customs officials and border guards significantly improved capabilities for deterring, detecting and interdicting the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction at ports and border crossings. Because of the length of these borders and the fact that large quantities of goods move across at uncontrolled points, a second line of defense program can only be expected to make incremental improvements to overall nuclear materials security. Nevertheless, because of the potentially dire consequences of nuclear smuggling, and because border controls will improve over time, it is clearly in the U.S. interest to seek the additional, limited protection. An additional $5 million to $10 million per year should be added to the MPC&A budget for this effort.


Challenges Remain

The unprecedented joint efforts by the United States and its Russian-NIS partners to improve nuclear materials security, initiated during the Bush administration, have developed rapidly over the past four years and become one of greatest successes of the Clinton administration's national security policy. The strategies for cooperation and the mechanisms for jointly installing improved MPC&A systems have been proven effective. The MPC&A program thus demonstrates that innovative approaches can be found to reduce the key threats of the next 50 years of the nuclear age. These are the threats posed by continued nuclear proliferation and the need to safely dismantle and dispose of the vast Cold War surplus of nuclear weapons, materials and infrastructure. Therefore, the value of the cooperative working relationships that have been developed by MPC&A participants cannot be overestimatd.

These relationships aid the former Cold War rivals in expanding their partnership for nuclear materials security. They will contribute to progress in other areas such as the safe and secure storage of dismantled nuclear weapons, the removal of nuclear materials from weapons applications, the conversion of weapons-usable nuclear materials to non-weapons-usable forms and the placement of excess weapons-usable nuclear materials under international safeguards. The success of the MPC&A program also facilitates efforts to achieve another round of U.S-Russian nuclear arms reductions (START III). MPC&A cooperation is vital to all these efforts because without effective controls over the resulting materials, the dismantlement of nuclear weapons could actually increase rather than decrease proliferation threats. The MPC&A program also provides a model for cooperation that may be replicated in the future with other nations that have inadequate nuclear material controls.

The Department of Energy has put in place a very effective organizational structure for addressing the nuclear materials security problem. The Russia-NIS Nuclear Materials Security Task Force has initiated or is planning most of the next steps recommended above, including enhanced training, indigenous infrastructure development and regulatory structure projects. Other key elements of the program that are already receiving attention are materials consolidation, guard force training, improving support for personnel working abroad and creating a second line of defense. The challenge in the coming years is to successfully integrate these efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of improved MPC&A systems. Another challenge for DOE is to develop mechanisms that coordinate the efforts of other states, other U.S. government agencies and NGOs with its own MPC&A efforts in order to optimize the contribution that these other activities can make to nuclear materials security in Russia and the NIS.

Meeting these challenges are goals for the next phase of the MPC&A program and will require many years of sustained effort. Carefully planning this next phase of MPC&A cooperation will bring closer the ultimate objective of effective, comprehensive and indigenously sustained MPC&A systems throughout Russia and the NIS. Only the achievement of this objective will adequately resolve the threat of loose nuclear materials in the region. In the original publication in Arms Control Today, March 1998, this article was accompanied by the following sidebars not available online at this time:

  • Chelyabinsk-70: After the Cold War
  • MPC&A: Military, Civilian and NIS & Baltic Sites


1. For a review of the known nuclear smuggling cases, see William C. Potter, "Before the Deluge? Assessing the Threat of Nuclear Leakage From the Post-Soviet States," Arms Control Today, October 1995, pp. 9-16.

[Back to 1]

2. General Accounting Office (GAO), "Nuclear Nonproliferation: Status of U.S. Efforts to Improve Nuclear Material Controls in the Newly Independent States," GAO/NSIAD/RCED-96-89, March 1996.

[Back to 2]

3. Prepared testimony of Rose E. Gottemoeller, director of the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security, before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 3, 1998, p. 3.

[Back to 3]

4. James E. Doyle and Stephen V. Mladineo, "Assessing the Development of a Modern Safeguards Culture in the NIS," The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, (Winter 1998), pp. 91-100.

[Back to 4]

5. "Proliferation Concerns: Assessing U.S. Efforts to Help Contain Nuclear and Other Dangerous Materials and Technologies in the Former Soviet Union" National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC), April 1997, p. 76.

[Back to 5]

6.Ibid., NAS/NRC, p. 12.

[Back to 6]

7. Statement by Robert Bell, special assistant to the president for national security at the National Security Council, "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer," March 19, 1998.

[Back to 7]

James E. Doyle, a senior analyst at Science Applications International Corporation, is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The views expressed are the author's own.

Improving Nuclear Materials Security In the Former Soviet Union: Next Steps for the MPC: A Program


Subscribe to RSS - Arms Control Today