“Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.”

– George Stephanopolous
ABC News
January 1, 2005
Arms Control Today

Following Summit, Clinton Looks To Activate Sino-U.S. Nuclear Accord

CLAIMING THAT China has made a marked improvement in its non proliferation behavior, President Bill Clinton announced on October 29 during his summit meeting in Washington with Chinese President Jiang Zemin that he will soon submit to Congress the package of certifications needed to activate the never implemented 1985 Sino U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement. The president's announcement marked a milestone in the administration's much criticized policy of engagement with China, and capped two years of intense diplomatic efforts to improve China's non proliferation credentials. Once in effect, the bilateral nuclear accord could mean billions of dollars worth of new contracts to U.S. firms eager to enter China's potentially enormous nuclear market.

For the 1985 agreement to take effect, the president must make two certifications regarding the security and future use of U.S. origin materials and a third verifying that, on the basis of all available information, China is not assisting any non nuclear weapon state in acquiring nuclear weapons and that Beijing has provided "clear and unequivocal assurances" that it is not currently providing such assistance and will not do so in the future. Also required by law is a report to congressional leaders detailing the history and current developments in China's non proliferation policies and practices.

At a background briefing following Clinton's announcement, senior administration officials identified five areas where changes in Beijing's proliferation behavior justified the president's decision to provide the certifications. The most dramatic of these changes occurred during the summit when the two sides reached agreement on a document stating that China would not engage in new nuclear cooperation with Iran, and would end all such cooperation once it completes two nuclear projects now underway: the construction of a "zero power" research reactor at the Esfahan Nuclear Research Center and a plant that will produce the zirconium cladding used in nuclear fuel elements.

Even though Iran is a member of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is entitled to peaceful nuclear cooperation, the Clinton administration has sought to prevent all international nuclear trade with Tehran on the grounds that even peaceful nuclear activities will aid Iran's clandestine efforts to acquire nuclear weapons in violation of the NPT. The summit pledge may finally put to rest fears that China would provide Iran with a uranium hexaflouride conversion facility, technology necessary to enrich uranium. However, the exact nature of Beijing's commitment regarding Iran is still unclear because China's "authoritative written communication" was provided on the condition it not be made public. U.S. officials said the secrecy was necessary to get the specific reference to Iran, but stated that members of Congress would be able to review the actual document.

Second, U.S. officials highlighted China's continued adherence to its May 1996 pledge not to provide assistance to nuclear facilities that operate without monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Beijing made the pledge to avoid U.S. sanctions that could have resulted from its 1995 sale to Pakistan of 5,000 ring magnets, used in enrichment of uranium. At the summit, U.S. officials raised concerns about "contacts" occurring between certain Chinese and Pakistani individuals, but came away convinced that China had not violated its commitment.

Third, on October 16, Beijing joined the Zangger Committee, a 31 nation nuclear suppliers' arrangement whose members condition the supply of nuclear specific materials and technology on the presence of IAEA safeguards at the transferred items' destination. The Zangger Committee also provides NPT member states with the "trigger list" of materials and technologies requiring IAEA monitoring as a condition for supply.

Fourth, U.S. officials pointed to the adoption in September by China's State Council, or cabinet, of a set of comprehensive export control regulations for nuclear materials and technologies as well as a commitment by Beijing to add new regulations on dual use items by mid 1998. The new Chinese regulations follow months of vigorous diplomacy and working level meetings with U.S. officials who provided copies of U.S. laws and suggested approaches the Chinese might consider in creating an effective export control system that would meet the requirements for U.S. certification.

Finally, the Clinton administration argued that China's growing support for and participation in major multilateral arms control agreements deserves recognition. Since joining the NPT in 1992, Beijing has promised to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), supported the indefinite extension of the NPT, and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Beijing has also supported efforts to negotiate a fissile material cutoff treaty at the UN Conference on Disarmament, the recent strengthening of the IAEA's inspection authority, and the U.S. led effort to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons potential.

During the summit, U.S. officials also sought additional assurances from China that it would stop selling advanced anti ship cruise missiles to Iran. Since the mid 1980s, China has been Iran's principal supplier of such systems, reportedly providing Tehran with 25-50 C-802s, more than 200 C-801s, and 100 HY-2 "Silkworms" together with the technology to make more indigenously. Although they failed to gain such a pledge, a State Department official said, "We have reason to hope the last shipments have taken place." Chinese officials in the past have linked conventional weapons sales to Iran with U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and Beijing's refusal to forswear such sales may allow Beijing to take credit for responsible behavior without giving up any of the diplomatic leverage provided by the potential sale of such weapons.

Opponents of the president's certification decision have drawn attention to China's refusal to end its peaceful nuclear trade with India and Pakistan and join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). A body similar to the Zangger Committee, the NSG requires "full scope" safeguards (monitoring of all of a nation's nuclear facilities), as a condition for supply, rather than the application of safeguards only at the particular facilities where nuclear items will be sent (as required by the Zangger Committee). Critics argue that even though U.S. laws do not require membership in the NSG as a condition for nuclear cooperation, the president should have insisted that China accept the more comprehensive NSG standard for nuclear trade to avoid tacit endorsement of a double standard among nuclear suppliers.

Congressional opponents of certification, which include three key committee chairmen—Senator Jesse Helms (R NC) of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R AL) of the Intelligence Committee and Representative Benjamin Gilman (R NY) of the International Relations Committee—have also asserted that China's checkered proliferation record makes its commitments unreliable, and that any U.S. nuclear contracts resulting from certification should be deferred at least a year to see if Beijing is standing by its promises.

In letters to the president, congressional opponents of certification noted that as recently as May the United States sanctioned Chinese companies for transferring chemical weapons precursors to Iran, and in June a CIA report named Beijing as "the most significant supplier" of proliferation technologies and advanced weapons in the last half of 1996.

Congress has also been troubled by Beijing's sales of anti ship cruise missiles to Iran and reports that Tehran's longer range missile programs are receiving technical assistance from Chinese entities, possibly in violation of the MTCR.

Nevertheless, Clinton administration officials, recalling their victory in June in the debate over China's most favored nation trading status, remain confident that Congress will not reverse the president's decision. Under the 1985 congressional legislation approving the Sino U.S. nuclear accord, Congress has 30 days (while in session) to review the president's certification before any licenses for exports can be issued. To reverse the president's decision, both houses would have to pass a joint resolution changing certification requirements by at least a two thirds majority, ensuring a sufficient margin to protect against a presidential veto.

United States Remains on Top Of UN Conventional Arms Register

AS IN PREVIOUS years, the 1996 UN Register of Conventional Arms, released on October 17, continued to be hampered by a lack of participation and inconsistencies in national submissions. Prior to the release of the final 1996 declarations, the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the UN Register highlighted the regime's shortcomings in a report endorsed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, but proposed few solutions to remedy the register's ills.

The register, designed to promote transparency in armaments, publishes information voluntarily submitted by states on their imports and exports in seven categories of conventional weapons—battle tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. States are also invited to provide additional data on their military holdings and their procurement through national production, but less than one third (largely European countries) of the 90 reporting states volunteered information beyond the seven categories.

The 26 members of the GGE, selected by the UN Center for Disarmament Affairs to review the register's operation and explore its future development, met for three 1997 sessions (March 3 7, June 16 27 and August 4 15), but failure to achieve consensus on substantive changes to the register limited it to reporting its observations.

Participation in the register declined to 90 states from 96 in 1995. The GGE noted that at least 90 countries have participated each year and during the first five years of the register's operation 138 states have submitted at least one report, while 49 countries have never participated. As in past years, the leading exporters submitted reports while key importing states of the Middle East did not; only Israel and Iran participated from the Middle East. Exporting states claimed that 2,568 weapons were delivered to non participating states in the region in 1996, of which the overwhelming amount went to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States retained the distinction of being the top exporter, although its 1996 exports amounted to only 48 percent of 1995's. U.S. exports in 1996 totaled 2,342 pieces of equipment as opposed to the previous year's total of 4,843. (See table below. [Not available in web form at this time, please contact ACA for more information]) A 1995 transfer of 2,208 missiles and missile launchers to Greece accounted for much of the discrepancy between the two years.

Russia and Germany, the second and third leading exporters, respectively, in 1995, also reported fewer exports in 1996. Russia's total exports declined from 708 total items in 1995 to 544 in 1996, while Germany's total exports dropped 50 percent to 187. The United Kingdom surpassed Germany, more than doubling exports to 509 in 1996. China and France also increased their exports from 1995, but their reported exports were still relatively low at 137 and 136 items, respectively, in 1996. Other notable changes from 1995 involved an increase of 614 items exported from the Netherlands, of which 590 were ACVs to Egypt, and Turkmenistan's transfer of 1,271 pieces of equipment (mostly tanks and ACVs) to Russia, which Russian data did not confirm.

A total of 26 countries noted exports of 6,489 weapons, while 38 countries claimed imports totaling 3,720 weapons in the 1996 register. A mere 32 percent of the transactions were reported by both parties involved. For example, Hungary reported receiving 520 missiles and missile launchers from Russia, and Pakistan noted accepting 526 from the United States, but neither exporter declared these transactions. The GGE attributed such inconsistencies to the lack of a common definition of a transfer and differing national practices in reporting and processing transfers. In order to diminish inconsistencies between national submissions, the GGE recommended that each nation establish a point of contact to clarify and facilitate reporting and that the deadline for reporting be moved back from April 30 to May 31 to allow states more time to submit information.

Resolving the major discrepancies will require greater participation, a goal the GGE characterized as of "paramount importance." However, the League of Arab States contends the register does not "adequately meet their security needs" and is "neither balanced nor comprehensive" in its present form. Arab states demand an expansion of the register's categories to include weapons of mass destruction and "high technology with military applications" to provide a more accurate portrayal of world military forces. Other developing states have lobbied for including small arms categories or at least an expansion of the existing categories, such as lowering the caliber of artillery systems from 100 millimeter to 75 millimeter to capture lighter weapons, which they consider more relevant to their security concerns. The GGE explored these proposals, but disagreed over whether to recommend such changes as feasible or useful.

Egypt later presented, on October 27, a resolution to the UN First Committee calling for an expansion of the register to include weapons of mass destruction.

Parties Complete Weapons Reductions Under Balkan Arms Control Accord

THE FORMER warring parties in the Balkans conflict have eliminated nearly 6,600 heavy weapons from their active forces to meet final reduction requirements under the June 1996 Agreement on Sub Regional Arms Control. Although an official assessment of the 16 month reduction period, which ended October 31, will not be announced until November 21, the State Department has called the process a "near total success."

Modeled after the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the agreement, a key goal of the 1995 Dayton peace accord, establishes numerical ceilings on tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), combat aircraft, attack helicopters and artillery that the parties could possess. Unlike the CFE Treaty, which imposed equal limits on two blocs of states, the sub regional agreement allocated ceilings according to each party's population on a ratio of 5:2:2 among Serbia (which forms the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Montenegro), Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia's limits were further divided on a ratio of 2:1 between two entities—the Muslim Croat federation and the Bosnian Serbs. (Because the actual weapons holdings for the parties were never officially released, estimated reduction requirements are derived from non governmental estimates.) (See table below)

Balkan Arms Ceilings (1995 Estimates1/Agreement Ceiling)
Country or Entity Combat
ACVs Artillery2
Serbia 280/155 110/53 1,300/1,025 1,000/850 4,000/3,750
Croatia 20/62 30/21 400/410 300/340 1,700/1500
Bosnia and Herzegovina --- /62 --- /21 --- /410 --- /340 --- /1,500
  • Muslim-Croat
0/41 12/14 135/273 80/227 1,500/1,000
  • Bosnian Serbs
40/21 30/7 330/137 400/113 1,600/500

SOURCES: Agreement on sub-Regional Arms Control; International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1995/96; and other sources.
NOTES: 1. Declared holdings were not made public. 2. Artillery pieces are all those with diameters of 75 millimeters or greater, including mortars.

While the ceilings for Serbia and Croatia corresponded closely with their actual holdings, thereby obligating them to make minimal reductions, the Bosnian Serbs have reduced their holdings in all five categories of "agreement limited armaments" (ALA) by more than half and in the case of artillery by two thirds, from 1,600 pieces to 500. Because the Muslim Croat federation's holdings were substantially less than its ceilings (except in artillery, which had to be reduced by 500 pieces), the federation will be able to more than double its numbers of tanks, ACVs and combat aircraft. The reductions comprised over 700 tanks, 80 ACVs, 60 combat aircraft and more than 5,700 pieces of artillery. According to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and State Department officials, the parties destroyed an overwhelming portion of their items; some weapons were exported, converted to non military purposes or placed on static display.

Originally, allegations of under reporting, particularly by the Bosnian Serbs, threatened to undermine the agreement, but throughout the implementation period all parties voluntarily increased their reduction responsibilities. The parties, which completed 185 inspections during the reduction process, are expected to conduct more than 50 inspections between November 1 and March 1 to verify compliance with the new ceilings. After this validation period, the parties will be obligated to accept an annual quota of inspections equaling 15 percent of their "objects of inspection" (any formation, unit, storage and reduction site with ALA) for the unlimited duration of the agreement.


'Train and Equip'

Occurring simultaneously with the arms reduction process, the controversial U.S. led "train and equip" program provided the Bosnian federation with $250 million worth of armaments ($100 million from the United States), including 45 M 60A3 tanks, 15 utility helicopters and 80 M 113 armored personnel carriers. Brunei, Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also contributed equipment, funding or training.

The Clinton administration initiated "train and equip" to provide the Muslim Croat federation with a defensive capability to ensure a stable military balance within Bosnia. Critics of the program, which include most U.S. European allies, assert that the program is creating a qualitatively superior federation force that will seek to redress its grievances through force if the international presence is withdrawn.

Ambassador James Pardew, the U.S. special representative for military stabilization in the Balkans, disputes such allegations, claiming that the Bosnian Serbs still hold the advantage because of their continued close relationship with Serbia and that, despite the federation's newer equipment, its forces lack sufficient training to constitute an effective counter against the Serbs. "Equipment is important, but it is only so much metal if you don't know how to use it effectively," Pardew said. He further stressed that "train and equip" reinforces the arms control agreement since continuation of the program is dependent upon the federation's compliance with the agreement.

However, critics argue that the program reflects the fundamental shortcoming of the sub regional agreement: any party may import new equipment or improve its force's skills as long as numerical ceilings are not exceeded. Other critics point out that the war was primarily one of small arms and small artillery—equipment not included or deliberately exempted from the agreement—and the agreement therefore does little to control the weapons that would be used if hostilities resume.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military and arms control analyst at the Brookings Institution, believes that taken independently, the arms control aspect of Dayton and "train and equip" were a success, but when factored in with lingering tensions and the lack of any real political settlement, notably the agreement over how much refugee resettlement to allow, aspects of both could be "incendiary."

With the arms control provisions of the Dayton accords now completed, attention may turn toward the accord's call for the negotiation, under OSCE auspices, of a larger regional arms control agreement encompassing more of the states in and around the former Yugoslavia. An OSCE official said that the current parties are "anxious" to start such negotiations, but other states in the region have refused to commit to the talks, and ambiguity surrounding the Dayton accord's provisions could stall the process.

Testing the CTB Regime

After a 10 week delay, the CIA finally conceded that the much publicized seismic event on August 16 in the Arctic Ocean was not caused by a nuclear explosion as it had previously strongly suggested. This conclusion was quietly revealed on November 4 in a press release that was more concerned with justifying the agency's dilatory performance than clarifying the nature of the event. The statement could simply be dismissed as an egregious example of self righteous bureaucratic protectionism were it not for the unwarranted doubt it cast on the ability to monitor the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, even though the so called Novaya Zemlya seismic event actually demonstrated that the CTB regime can be "effectively" verified.

Having detected renewed activity at the old Soviet underground nuclear test site on the island of Novaya Zemlya, U.S. intelligence was understandably alarmed when reports were received of a seismic event whose initial location was deemed sufficiently uncertain to possibly include the test site. As more information became available, however, both U.S. government seismologists and the international seismological community concluded that the event had occurred 130 kilometers from the test site and beneath the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The location alone should have established that it was a natural earthquake unrelated to the test site activity. But the CIA continued to insist that the event could be a nuclear explosion despite a growing consensus among U.S. and foreign seismologists, working with open data, that the seismic signals were consistent with those from earthquakes and similar to a small earthquake recorded previously in the same general area. Moreover, a very small aftershock, characteristic of an earthquake, had occurred several hours after the main event at the same location. For its part, the Russian government promptly denied there had been a nuclear test and explained that activity at the Novaya Zemlya site related to permitted subcritical tests similar to those being conducted concurrently at the U.S. test site in Nevada.

In the end, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, unable to resolve the issue internally, convened an outside panel which concluded that the event was indeed not a nuclear explosion. Unfortunately, the panel inexplicably avoided identifying the event unambiguously as an earthquake, an evasion that incorrectly left a misleading impression about the capabilities of the regime's international monitoring system. The CIA's failure to take a clear stand on the nature of the event is most unfortunate given the critical importance of the powerful array of U.S. national intelligence assets to the discovery of potentially suspicious activities relating to any of the very large number of natural seismic events that occur (averaging some 50 a day more powerful than the recent event). Suspicious activities, however, do not turn an earthquake into a nuclear explosion. To insist that seismic events may be nuclear tests when the technical information available to the international community demonstrates the contrary undercuts the credibility of U.S. intelligence, which is rightfully internationally respected and will be critical to marshaling support to respond to suspected clandestine tests under the CTB Treaty.

The lesson of the August 16 event is not, as the CIA emphasized in its statement, that very small seismic events are hard to identify, which is well known, but rather that the capability exists to verify the CTB effectively. Even before becoming fully operational, the international monitoring system was able to locate the event accurately and identify it as an earthquake with an equivalent yield of around 100 tons of TNT, or one tenth the system's advertised identification threshold of 1 kiloton, as well as an aftershock of around 10 tons, or one hundredth of the identification threshold. At such low yields, undetected tests would not constitute a threat to U.S. security. Such tests would not give the nuclear powers confidence in new designs for higher yield weapons and would not provide potential proliferators with an exploitable path to a first weapon. Moreover, the success of U.S. intelligence capabilities in detecting activities at the Novaya Zemlya test site should help deter others because such activity collocated with a truly suspicious seismic event or other incriminating information would indeed be persuasive evidence of a nuclear test.

The CTB regime successfully passed the test presented by the August 16 earthquake, demonstrating its effectiveness and underscoring the imperative of maintaining the international credibility of U.S. intelligence as a central input to verification of the CTB Treaty. The power and objectivity of this unique U.S. capability must not be called into question by crying wolf when other countries are capable of judging for themselves whether there are any wolves or by failing in the future to draw obvious conclusions about treaty compliance when the evidence is clear.

Senate Panels Begin Hearings On CTB Treaty and Stewardship

October 1997

By Craig Cerniello

In late October, two preliminary Senate hearings were held on the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty and the Clinton administration's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP), a $4.5 billion a year plan designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing. Although they did not break any new ground, the hearings marked the Senate's first attempt to examine these issues since the administration's September 22 transmittal of the treaty, and provided an early indication as to the types of concerns that may dominate the CTB ratification debate in the months ahead.

Due to its preoccupation with NATO enlargement, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not hold its hearings on the ratification of the CTB Treaty until next year. The administration hopes that a Senate floor vote on advice and consent to ratification will take place in the spring of 1998.

During the hearings, which were held on October 27 and 29 in the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, several key administration officials testified that the SSMP is capable of fulfilling its objectives and that the CTB Treaty will enhance U.S. and international security. Critics, however, questioned whether the United States would be able to maintain the safety and reliability of its nuclear stockpile in the long term without nuclear testing.

Addressing these concerns, Secretary of Energy Federico Peña said, "I have visited each of the department's three weapons laboratories, and have personally engaged each of the weapons laboratory directors in discussions about the strength and adequacy of stockpile stewardship. . . . I am pleased to report that there is a strong consensus that stockpile stewardship is the right program to address the challenges of maintaining our nuclear deterrent without underground nuclear testing." Peña also stated that he and Secretary of Defense William Cohen will soon certify to President Clinton that the U.S. nuclear stockpile is currently safe and reliable, the second such certification since the annual procedure was established by Clinton in August 1995.

Furthermore, Peña said during his October 29 testimony that the United States will be able to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTB Treaty because of the six "safeguards" Clinton announced more than two years ago.

These safeguards include the conduct of the SSMP; the maintenance of modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology; the maintenance of the basic capability to resume nuclear testing; the continuation of a research and development program to improve our treaty monitoring capabilities and operations; the continued development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities; and the option of withdrawing from the CTB under the "supreme national interests" clause in the event that a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of a nuclear weapon type critical to the U.S. nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified.

Appearing before both subcommittees, Victor Reis, assistant secretary of energy for defense programs, said, "We can maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons in the stockpile indefinitely without underground testing and keep the risks to manageable levels." (Emphasis added.) According to Reis, the basis for this optimism stems from the belief that the United States already has a substantial understanding of the nuclear stockpile due to its extensive experience with nuclear testing. In response to concerns that the SSMP will not be capable of meeting its objectives, Reis pointed out that stewardship efforts are working now, as demonstrated by the fact that the nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable today even though it has been five years since the last U.S. nuclear test.

Representing the Department of Defense, Franklin Miller and Harold Smith testified that the CTB Treaty will strengthen U.S. security and is effectively verifiable. Miller said the treaty "is an important element of our approach to national security in the post Cold War world. . . . It will constrain nuclear and non nuclear weapons states from developing more advanced nuclear weapons capabilities."

Smith added that the United States will be able to monitor compliance with the CTB through its own intelligence capabilities, on site inspections permitted under the treaty, bilateral agreements with key countries (including Russia) and various open sources.


Critical Testimony

In their October 27 testimony, James Schlesinger, former secretary of defense and energy, and Robert Barker, assistant to the director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, both challenged the capacity of the SSMP to be a viable alternative to nuclear testing. Despite the best efforts of the SSMP, Schlesinger claimed that confidence in the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile will "inevitably" decline over the next several decades if the Senate approves the CTB Treaty. He said that U.S. nuclear weapons will be "vulnerable to the effects of aging" under the test ban and that "there is no substitute for nuclear testing" when it comes to ensuring weapon reliability. Schlesinger argued that he was especially concerned about the permanent nature of the CTB as well as its complete ban on nuclear tests, even those involving low yields.

In his prepared testimony, Barker said that "sustained nuclear testing, with no less than six tests per year, is the only demonstrated way of maintaining a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent." He stated that confidence in the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has already declined since the cessation of nuclear testing in 1992, and that the SSMP will never be a perfect "substitute" for nuclear testing. In a statement for the record, C. Bruce Tarter, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, contradicted these views and said he is "quite optimistic" that the SSMP will enable the United States to preserve confidence in the safety and reliability of its nuclear stockpile under the CTB.

In late October, two preliminary Senate hearings were held on the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty and...

The Issues Behind the CTB Treaty Ratification Debate

On October 20, just days before the Senate was to begin hearings on the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers held a press conference to discuss some of the key issues likely to arise during the debate over ratification. The coalition, a national alliance of 17 of the country's largest and most active arms control organizations, including the Arms Control Association, has played a key role in informing the Congress, the media and the public about the national security benefits of the treaty.

Moderated by coalition Executive Director Daryl Kimball, panel participants included Robert Bell, special assistant to the president for national security affairs at the National Security Council; Charles Curtis, former undersecretary and deputy secretary of energy and a member of the Nuclear Weapons Council from 1994 to 1997; Richard Garwin, a long time consultant on nuclear weapons and national security who is Thomas J. Watson Fellow Emeritus at IBM Research Laboratories; and Lynn Sykes, Higgins Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and a leading expert on seismic detection of underground nuclear tests.

The following is an edited version of the press conference, which took place prior to the CIA announcement that the Novaya Zemlya seismic event was not a nuclear explosion.


Robert Bell

We were very glad to get the treaty to the Senate on September 22 with the president's announcement of submission when he gave his speech to the United Nations. We worked hard to get the treaty before the Senate formally this session, including several months of very focused work on getting the funding issue settled for the stockpile stewardship program—one of the key aspects of the Senate's consideration of the treaty. We have been clear with the Senate leadership and with [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] Chairman [Jesse] Helms [R NC] that we do not expect them to try to come to a judgment on this treaty this session. Our goal, this session, is to get hearings started to have a foundation to work from by informing senators and their staffs about the treaty and the arguments for the treaty.

The Foreign Relations Committee, as many of you know, is very deeply invested now in the issue of NATO enlargement. It is going through a commendable series of hearings, with the support of the leadership of both parties, to try to have the informational phase of NATO enlargement completed before the Senate goes out. The idea being that the single, short protocol, which is the instrument of accession for the three states, should come before the Senate early next year and be acted on, we hope and trust favorably, as soon as March. While NATO enlargement is the priority for the Foreign Relations Committee, we think that the Senate, at the informational level, can do two or more things at once. We are looking forward to the hearings that Senator [Pete] Domenici [R NM] and Senator [Thad] Cochran [R MS] will be having in about a week. We hope there may yet be an opportunity for hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee, but we are not pressing to get this to a floor vote before the Senate goes out. We will deal with that next spring.

In terms of the treaty itself, I would just make five points. First, it is important to recognize that this is a historic treaty. I don't mean to suggest that some of the treaties that we have moved in the last couple of years have not been important. But as the president said, this is "the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms control." The attainment of a comprehensive test ban has been a goal of U.S. foreign policy dating back to President Eisenhower, who, we understand, considered the failure to achieve a CTB to be one of his main regrets as a two term president. We also understand that President Kennedy considered his greatest legacy as president to have been the attainment of the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. So we hope that the historic dimension of the CTB Treaty will be very much on the minds of senators as they turn their attention to it.

Second, it is important to understand that we are out of the nuclear testing business, based on unilateral decisions that were made in this country. The Hatfield Exon Mitchell legislation of 1992 enacted a permanent ban on nuclear testing [after September 30, 1996] unless another state tested, in which case the legislation drops. As the CTB is debated, I think it is important to distinguish between concerns that individual senators may have about parts of the treaty, whether it is verification or costs or whatever, and the corollary proposition, which to me seems untenable, that the United States resume nuclear testing. It is hard for me to imagine that there is majority support in either body of this Congress for a proposition that we resume nuclear testing. If we are indeed out of the nuclear testing business in the same way that we decided to get out of the chemical weapons production business, then it seems to me that it is fundamentally in our interest, through a treaty, to try to get as near to universal adherence to that norm as possible.

We have the good fortune in this case of being joined separately by decisions by Russia, China, France and Britain, which came together in roughly the same timeframe, to end their testing programs as well. There really is an opportunity here to make universal a norm that is shared not only by the United States unilaterally, but by the five nuclear weapon states collectively.

The third point is that whether or not there is a CTB, the U.S. intelligence community has got to give priority to monitoring nuclear related activities of the nuclear powers and the nuclear "wanna bes." The CTB Treaty gives them new tools to do that job better and it is a net plus for the intelligence community. Whether the CTB rises or falls in the Senate, and we are, of course, confident that it will rise, the intelligence community has got to fulfill this role with or without a CTB.

The fourth point is that we do have a very sound program to maintain high confidence in our nuclear inventory absent actual nuclear explosions. We are in the fourth or fifth year of developing the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program [SSMP] and we are committed to it, as evidenced by our recent decision to increase—by about $300 million per year—the amount of money we propose to spend on this effort. We are putting our money where our commitments are in terms of maintaining that confidence.

The last point is simply that it is clear to us that the American public overwhelmingly supports the CTB Treaty. I do hope that this is a case where what the people want is appreciated "inside the beltway." Just as with the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC], it seems to me the question is: "Are we better off with the treaty or without it?" The Clinton administration is convinced that we are better off with the treaty. That is the argument we will present to the Senate.

Now, with regard to Novaya Zemlya, I want to stress a couple of points. First, I want to emphasize that the U.S. government never accused Russia of having conducted a nuclear test. We made explicit in each statement that we were not "accusing" the Russian government of having conducted a nuclear test. There appears to be a debate now about whether we should retract an accusation, but we did not make an accusation.

Second, there also seems to be a debate now about whether we acted "too hastily." I would simply say two things. One, the information about the seismic event was almost immediately available on the internet. So we felt we were in a countdown situation before there was going to be a public debate about what the information suggested. I hope this does not come as a shock to this audience, but we do occasionally have leaks. When there is information available throughout the intelligence community or the defense community, it is often just a matter of hours before there is a story in which someone, contrary to their obligations under the law, has taken it upon themselves to give their spin on information that is still being analyzed. We not only knew that there was a possibility of a leak in terms of what individuals might have thought of this event, but we knew that the fact in and of itself was on the internet. It seemed incumbent to us to approach the Russian government and be very clear in what we were saying and not saying, namely, that there had been an event where the information could suggest a nuclear test, but that alternate interpretations were possible. We were not accusing them of having conducted a nuclear test, but we were keenly interested in asking them to cooperate with us in helping decide what it was or wasn't.

Now, in terms of where we are today, the best information I have still, as of this hour, is that we have a set of information on the technical side that is somewhat of an enigma. You cannot rule out that it was an earthquake and you cannot rule out that it was explosive in nature. We cannot prove that it was an earthquake and we cannot prove that it was not an earthquake. I think this makes the point that the CTB Treaty brings added value to the equation. With the CTB you have a mechanism under very tight timelines in terms of when you need to react and how much time you have to decide these things. The CTB also brings added tools in terms of consultation, clarification and on site inspection that helps shed light on events that are not necessarily clear cut.


Charles Curtis

I would like to talk about the science based Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program of the Department of Energy [DOE], which is the principal safeguard on which the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty rests. A steward is someone who is entrusted, usually with the keeping of an estate; in this case it is with the keeping of an enduring nuclear stockpile with a high degree of confidence that it is both safe and reliable. President Clinton in 1993 established the task of developing a science based stockpile stewardship program that could discharge that responsibility in the absence of testing.

When I arrived at DOE, the planning for that program was in the initial stages, and there was a fair amount of skepticism within the laboratories and within the department itself, and certainly within the Department of Defense, as to whether that challenge could be effectively met. I think that for this treaty to be accepted by the Congress, the departments of Energy and Defense and the administration, collectively, will have the burden of persuading the Senate and the Congress generally on a bipartisan basis that this challenge can indeed be met with a high degree of confidence. What I tried to bring to that process was what auditors bring to their task, namely, a healthy skepticism. In the nearly four years I was at the department, I helped contribute to the maturation of the planning process.

There are a couple points that I think often get lost in this discussion, but are important to keep in mind. First of all, this is not just the invention of the Department of Energy. The science based stockpile stewardship program is a carefully constructed and detailed program plan that has been worked out in close collaboration with the Strategic Command and the Joint Staff at the Department of Defense, and it represents the very considered collective view of the departments of Defense and Energy with respect to what is required to make this plan work. That detailed program plan is embodied in something called the Green Book, a classified document that is now in the second stage of iteration and that will be, I expect soon, transmitted to the Congress. The first iteration has already been provided. It represents the collective view of those involved in the process as to what is in place and what is planned to discharge the stewards' duty to provide a high degree of confidence in the safety and reliability of the stockpile.

The second thing that I would like to emphasize is the linkage of the science based stockpile stewardship program with the annual certification process for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This certification process involves the directors of the three weapons laboratories—Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia—the commander in chief of the Strategic Command, the Joint Staff and the Nuclear Weapons Council. The council is composed of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a designee of the Department of Energy. In the period I was at DOE, that was me. It is usually the undersecretary or the deputy secretary, as the secretary of energy specifies. This wholly transparent and disciplined process provides assurance to the president, through the secretaries of Defense and Energy, that the weapons in the enduring stockpile are indeed safe and reliable and sufficient for their military missions. It is a process that, now in its second year, has been and will continue indefinitely to be an important part of the safeguard regime.

The third point I would like to make is that one of the important roles of the stewardship program is to greatly enhance the stewardship process underway today, in advance of bringing on the new proxies for testing in the form of new facilities and equipment. The Department of Energy has greatly improved the surveillance mechanism in place to create a dual track process to validate each of the weapons in the enduring stockpile involving both of the design laboratories. As we start to bring the new proxies into the stewardship program, we are committed to the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore and the reinstituted construction of the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility at Los Alamos, and we have also invested in greatly improving the computational capability of the department through the Advanced Strategic Computing Initiative.

Lastly, we acted on what is perhaps the most significant challenge, which is to retain and renew the talent of the laboratories. We have done that by providing for a long term investment in the laboratories to attract the best and the brightest.

We often refer to a nuclear weapons system as consisting of limited life components. Probably the weakest link in the system is the limited life component of our scientists who are engaged in nuclear weapons work in our laboratories. In the post Cold War period, this is not the most exciting endeavor to recruit personnel for. So it is very important that we support this enormous challenge of providing for the stewardship of this enduring stockpile by equipping these laboratories with the facilities to do great science and to give these laboratories and this program budgetary support over a long time period. Incidentally, the latest actions to provide a budget deal with the Congress have provided the ability to sustain a long term budgetary commitment. For three of the four years that I was at DOE, the ability to speak in any credible way to budget out years was frankly non existent while the budgetary conflict waged. Now, with the budget deal, it is possible for the first time to provide for that out year budget security, which is so essential to support this program and was identified in the president's safeguard regime as well.


Richard Garwin

The U.S. interest in the CTB Treaty arises because the treaty severely restricts or eliminates significant nuclear weapons advances by other nuclear weapon states and by those countries that might acquire nuclear weapons. Such advances might include a reduction in the amount of fissile material required to make a weapon, which would increase the number of nuclear weapons in the other stockpiles. The treaty alleviates U.S. concerns about and competition for new types of nuclear explosion powered weapon systems and it frees resources that can be used for maintaining a safe and reliable stockpile. An indirect, but critically important, benefit of the CTBT is non proliferation. By ending the testing, and hence the advancement, of nuclear weaponry by the five nuclear weapon states, the CTBT legitimizes U.S. non proliferation efforts and provides the basis for universal enforcement of a CTBT even against the few nations that may not adhere.

As for the impact of the treaty on U.S. nuclear weapons programs, I am convinced that the U.S. can confidently maintain its nuclear weapon stockpiles safely and reliably for dozens or even hundreds of years. To do this will require a surveillance program of the same type that we have operated over the last decades. You have heard from Charlie Curtis that we now have an enhanced surveillance program and in due time we'll have a facility for remanufacturing every element of a nuclear weapon. A stockpile stewardship program has been instituted by the Department of Energy to carry out this activity. I support it as an important contribution to maintaining our nuclear stockpile for as long as we have nuclear weapons.

However, if the program is expected to allow the development of new types of nuclear weapons or to permit major changes in the untestable portions of a nuclear weapon—the primary and the secondary explosive charges—then the program will lead to a lack of confidence in the regime. The proper role of the program is to provide the basis for confidence in a conservative remanufacturing and surveillance program. I don't blindly support everything that has an SBSS label stuck on it, but I do believe that a program that will cost $4 billion or $4.5 billion a year is appropriate for this important task.

In the evolution of the U.S. position on the CTBT, the weapons laboratories at one time were divided on the desirability of allowing so called hydronuclear tests with nuclear yields up to the equivalent of 2 kilograms of high explosive, that is, 4 pounds or one ten millionth of the first nuclear weapons. The JASON committee review of the information one could obtain from such experiments convinced us that such extreme modifications in the weapon were required to reduce the yield to this level that the U.S. would gain very little benefit from such tests. Accordingly, a true zero yield CTB Treaty should be more acceptable than one that permits hydronuclear tests. These tests were, however, important in the past in certifying that our present weapons designs are "one point safe" against accidental detonation of the high explosive; but once accomplished, those tests do not need to be repeated. So that is a dead issue.

Now, as for verification of a CTBT, the U.S. should not sign a treaty for which it cannot adequately verify the compliance of the other participants. The CTB Treaty creates an international monitoring system that is augmented by unilateral intelligence capabilities. The word "adequate" is an important qualifier in assessing arms control treaties, emphasized by Paul Nitze as relating to militarily significant violations of a treaty. The four components of the treaty's international monitoring system provide confidence that we will be able to detect a 1 kiloton nuclear explosion on Earth, and the capability is much better in the vicinity of the declared test sites of the nuclear powers. Furthermore, it should be expected that the U.S. would focus additional resources to augment this international system.

An additional deterrent to non compliance is posed by the on site inspection rights under the treaty, which will allow for the detection, in some cases, of the radioactive gases leaking from an underground nuclear test. That the CTBT bans activities that cannot be detected by the system is not a weakness of the treaty but a strength. If a threshold test ban treaty banned only nuclear explosions above 1 kiloton, we could be more confident of detecting violations although there would be the problem of ensuring that an explosion that registered at 0.6 kilotons was not, in fact, 2 kilotons.

Between the 1 kiloton threshold that we can confidently verify worldwide—not to mention the substantially lower detection levels obtainable at the declared test sites and many areas around the world—and the zero yield limit of the CTBT is a vast range of lower yields with less and less, and eventually zero, military utility to a violator of the CTBT. Nevertheless, we should care if a CTBT member violates the regime by testing at a nuclear yield of 2 kilograms or 10 tons, but not because we will be militarily disadvantaged by the results. Normal intelligence gathering systems will provide some probability of detection of such militarily irrelevant violations, which should be sufficient to deter such actions by others. The CTBT is of indefinite duration and I personally hope that conditions are such that it endures forever.

In reality, any signatory to any treaty can be expected to renounce the treaty if the survival of the nation or its supreme national interests are at stake. A mechanism for invoking the supreme national interest clause is written into some treaties. In the case of the CTB Treaty, President Clinton has specified that if the Department of Energy cannot certify the continued safety and reliability of the enduring stockpile, this would be grounds for the abandonment of the treaty.

In summary, the CTBT will make a major contribution to U.S. national security through the imposition of limits on the weapons of potential adversaries and through the support it gives against proliferation of nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear weapons in the enduring stockpile can be maintained safely and reliably under such a treaty through the science based Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program. The treaty can be adequately verified in the sense that militarily significant violations can be detected with confidence. In sum, the U.S. is far better off with a CTBT than without it.


Lynn Sykes

First, some general remarks about verification, which has always been a central U.S. concern. The U.S. government insisted on very high standards of verification during the negotiations for the test ban treaty. I believe that the United States, in fact, got what it wanted in terms of the four major types of global monitoring systems under the international monitoring system [IMS]. These consist of seismological, underwater sound, atmospheric infrasound and a sampling of radionuclides produced by nuclear explosions. This monitoring system provides for monitoring of all different types of environments.

In addition to these international monitoring systems, of course, the United States, under the treaty, is allowed to use its so called national technical means of verification; that is intelligence gathering systems that include satellite imagery and other types of sensors. For example, with regard to seismology, the treaty provides for a global network of 170 stations and also an international data center. Many people may not be aware that, in fact, both of these have been operating for almost three years. At the present time, of those 170 stations, 121 are now operating and by the end of this year we should have 10 more.

In addition, around the world, particularly in a number of the countries in which there is concern about proliferation, including North Africa and the Middle East, there are other so called auxiliary seismic stations. The field of seismology, just like that of meteorology, has had a very long history of exchange of international data. For example, today modern digital data are accessible from many of these other stations very rapidly.

Let me turn now to the August 16 seismic event. On August 28, The Washington Times carried the story that the Russians were suspected of having carried out a nuclear test at their arctic test site at Novaya Zemlya. I believe that the data are very strong—both from the international monitoring system and from other key stations that were available almost instantaneously, as well from Europe and Asia—and show that the event was a small earthquake in the ocean and not a small nuclear explosion. On my hand out, the location of a small earthquake in 1987 is shown. Many people are not aware that there were four previous small earthquakes or small seismic events, and three of those also caused considerable concern within the U.S. government, although I think it is fair to say not as much as the present event. The data, particularly from seismic stations in northern Finland and Norway, show that, based on the ratios of certain seismic waves, all five of these events were earthquakes. The largest one was in 1986 and there is multiple evidence that it was an earthquake.

What are some of the reasons for believing that this latest event was an earthquake? It was located more than 80 miles from the Russian nuclear test site. It occurred in the ocean. The ratio of so called "sheer" waves to "compressional" waves, the S:P ratio, providing it is taken at moderately high frequency and at stations a distance of no more that 1,000 kilometers, indicates that the event had the character of an earthquake. It was quite different from previous nuclear explosions that the Russians detonated up until the time that they stopped testing in 1990. There is also a report by British scientists, who have worked in this field for many decades, that compared the signals from this most recent earthquake with the 1986 event, which they showed quite unambiguously to be an earthquake. They put in the mechanism for the 1986 earthquake and they were able to explain the suddenness or lack of suddenness of certain seismic waves, the P and S waves, at the various stations that recorded the 1997 event. Finally, in going back over the 1997 data, it became apparent that there was an aftershock four hours after the main event. I think that all these pieces of evidence show quite unambiguously that this was an earthquake.


Questions and Answers

Q: Can those in Congress who oppose the CTB Treaty, and arms control treaties in general, say since you cannot even decide what the August 16 event was, how can we have confidence that the international monitoring system is going to work under the test ban?

Bell: I think you have to step back and put the whole debate into context. We are making the argument that on balance we are better off with the CTB than without it. We are making no claim that the CTB will prevent nuclear proliferation or prevent countries from acquiring nuclear capability. If a state wants to build a crude nuclear device without testing it, obviously the CTB does not come into play. You have to accept that. Beyond that, we are quite clear in saying what the strengths of the verification regime are and what the limitations are. If you are asking the CTB to provide high confidence that you can detect and confirm any very low yield test or hydronuclear test, then you are asking too much of the CTB. Does that mean, though, that you should reject the CTB? No, because our basic argument is that the CTB constrains proliferation both in vertical and horizontal dimensions.

In his letter of transmittal to the Senate, President Clinton said the treaty is "effectively verifiable." We believe the treaty is effectively verifiable because, in our view, the tests that a state would have to conduct to advance its nuclear capability—both in terms of number and yield—will likely be detected under this treaty. Of course, you can remanufacture or build any nuclear device you want and tell yourself that you have made it more capable, more deadly or more sophisticated. But the issue is whether you have confidence that you have achieved that goal. Our view is that most nuclear powers, given the realities of the CTB, are not going to take a chance on putting some new weapons type into their inventory that has never been tested, or take a chance at some tests below the full level of the primary and then try to extrapolate the results. Beyond that you have to ask yourself why would you take the risk at all.

Moreover, it is one thing to say that we will not have high confidence that we could detect very low yield testing. That does not mean, however, you do not have any chance of detection. You have other means available, such as human intelligence and signal intelligence. These are sources beyond the treaty's international monitoring system. Is any state going to take that chance for a technical result that is of such meager value? Our assessment is no. That is why we assert that the treaty is effectively verifiable.

Garwin: Let me add two specific points. First, when the CTBT enters into force, I hope that there will be open seismographs at the test sites so this sort of thing would not happen in the future. We would know very well the time of origin of the event, and then by analyzing the seismic data we would be able to determine the depth and a better estimate of the location of the event. It is very important though that this information be made available, as provided by the treaty, openly and promptly. It is now available to all of the nations in the prototype international monitoring system, but it is not available, really promptly, to the independent seismological community. It would be much better if it were rather than having to rely on leaks, or American seismologists having to get data from the Norwegians rather than from the data center here in Arlington.

Finally, since we all agree that this event took place either in the Kara Sea or below the sea floor there, if it was a nuclear explosion there are fission products in the water. There are going to be people going around looking for those fission products, so we will find out. What anybody would do with a 5 ton nuclear yield test is not at all clear. If it is below the ocean floor, how did they do it? How did they dig a hole deep enough to contain a 100 ton test without being noticed? If you are worried that in the future somebody is going to dig into the sea bottom and detonate an explosive, that is a pretty bizarre scenario without military benefit so far as I can see.

Q: While there were a lot of activities at the Russian test site that caused legitimate concern, the Russians have said they are identical to those experiments that the United States conducted last summer at the Nevada Test Site. There have been proposals to have these permitted activities be mutually verified, but the U.S. has turned them down. Wouldn't it make sense to come up with a proposal for mutual verification of these activities?

Bell: The short answer to your question is yes, but I'm afraid you have it backwards. We have proposed transparency at our mutual test sites, but unfortunately, to date, we have not been able to reach agreement with the Russian government on a set of measures that could be mutually applied at the test sites to increase transparency and confidence that the kinds of experimental activities undertaken at the sites are, in fact, not in violation of the treaty. But we are still in the middle of those discussions. I am cautiously optimistic that we will work out an arrangement with the Russians that will allow us to have more confidence as to what is going on at Novaya Zemlya and allow the Russians to have a clear understanding of what is going on at the Nevada Test Site.

Q: Could you comment on the issue of verifying other activities at test sites?

Garwin: If you talk to the Russians about monitoring, informally and non governmentally, they say it might be okay to have bilateral monitoring but not international monitoring because that could lead to proliferation. Whether you believe that or not, there is a distinction in their minds between the two. If we are interested in bilateral monitoring then we have to make that clear to them.

With regards to transparency, the JASON committee's report on sub critical experiments went into considerable detail as to how much plutonium would be used with how much high explosives. The Department of Energy announcement of the second sub critical experiment also included these details. I think that is a good development. We do not have anything like that in the way of transparency from Russia, and we cannot insist on it. Yet, it would be good to have a Russian presence, in my opinion, at the Nevada Test Site and a U.S. presence at Novaya Zemlya.

Sykes: An additional set of data is available from the IRIS Consortium, a university based seismic research group located in the U.S. In fact, it is available over the internet. Of the 170 modern seismic stations worldwide, more than 50 are run by this consortium and some of those are getting plugged into the international monitoring system. There were two key stations that were not plugged in. I believe if those data had been fed into the process within a day or so after the event, they would have made a difference in terms of providing a better location of this event.

I think that there is now no question that the event was not at the Russian test site but was in the ocean. That conclusion I think will be developed over the next few weeks in articles by U.S. scientists and British scientists looking at the ratio of seismic waves, and looking at other small events near Novaya Zemlya and how they compare with some of the previous Russian tests there before the Russians stopped testing. The data exists, particularly data from Norway, that show, quite unambiguously, that the event was an earthquake. In fact, augmented by these key stations, the international monitoring system is doing quite a good job.

There is no question that calibration chemical explosions at the U.S., Russian and, I hope, Chinese test sites would give us additional confidence, as would seismic stations at these sites and personnel who would be there at the time any chemical explosions are set off. I understand that there are plans to have some chemical explosions at the Nevada Test Site, and if the Russians did this at their test site this would be helpful. I think that there are reasons for having some observers with equipment there or announcing explosions of that type as well as sub critical explosions.

Q: One of the questions asked by some Senate critics of the CTBT is why do we have to ratify this treaty now since there is not a deadline involved unlike the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention? How do you respond to that?

Bell: There are two points. One is the U.S. should lead. We have taken the lead for 40 years. We took the lead in the negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament [CD] in getting this treaty completed. President Clinton took great pride in being the first head of state to sign the CTB a year ago. I hope we would be in the vanguard of states to get the treaty ratified. Second, there is more of a direct issue concerning the entry into force conditionality of this treaty. The treaty requires the ratification of India and Pakistan for entry into force at the earliest opportunity a year from now. You are all familiar with India's position on this. In the endgame in negotiating the treaty, we had a choice: not to have a treaty because China was not going to agree to the treaty unless there was a prospect of India being in it, or come up with a middle ground position, which we were able to get at the very end of the negotiations, that there would be two ways to secure entry into force. The first is through the front door; 44 states, including India and Pakistan have to ratify for the treaty to enter into force in the fall of 1998. If that fails though, there is the three year mark in the fall of 1999, when the states that have ratified the treaty get to vote on calling an extraordinary conference to figure out how to get the treaty into force despite these provisions. The catch is that you have to have ratified the treaty to be able to vote to convene that conference.

If the U.S. were to take the position that it is not going to act until India acts, I think it would be a fundamental mistake. We would not even get to have a say then in whether there is an extraordinary conference to explore an alternative means of getting this treaty into force. So I think that it is incumbent that the Senate act on this treaty next year both to maintain the U.S. position of leadership on this issue to ensure that we are in a position to talk to the Indian government with moral force, in terms of already having ratified the treaty, and so that we are in a position to call for this treaty conference in the fall of 1999.

Q: There has been an amazing coalition supporting the stockpile stewardship program. Will this coalition fall apart when the Senate begins its consideration of the CTB Treaty? Do you think the Clinton administration will be able to stave off the criticism from the arms control community of some of the facilities involved in the program?

Bell: I think its critical that the broad base of support we have for the stockpile stewardship program continues through the years. It is in the best interest of the arms control community to maintain its strong support of this and not leave the field once the treaty is secured. As Dick Garwin pointed out, the submission to the Senate makes clear we are asking the Senate to adopt a condition in its resolution of ratification that will lock in this mechanism under which the secretary of energy and secretary of defense, as advised by the lab directors, the head of the Strategic Command and the Joint Staff each year in perpetuity, must certify as to their high confidence in the safety and the reliability of these weapons. If, in any year, they could not be so certain, the president has said that he is prepared to withdraw from the treaty and conduct the necessary testing required to fix a weapons type that is crucial to our deterrent. That does not mean some old bomb that is about to come out of the inventory and be retired, but a warhead on which our deterrent rests. You can fill in the blanks whether it is a D 5 or Minuteman missile and there is a crisis with regard to the confidence in that weapon's ability to perform. We are making this position very clear and we are putting it into the resolution of ratification.

Now, to be able to avoid that, President Clinton was very clear when he announced this in 1995 that he does not anticipate that eventuality ever coming to bear. We have got to deliver on the stockpile stewardship program. For the sake of the treaty, I would hope that all arms controllers would agree that it is in everyone's interest to maintain support for these facilities so we can make those certifications year after year.

Garwin: We are still in the early stages of the stockpile stewardship program and we will know more about it as time goes on. Costs may increase; costs may come down. It is possible that as we accumulate information we will be able to do stockpile stewardship and retain people for less money, but it might cost more. So what is important, in my opinion, is the outcome. I support strenuous efforts for economy and efficiency as well. Some of these major systems are not the most important part of the stewardship program; the most important part is the enhanced surveillance and the remanufacturing.

Q: How do we make sure that the United States is not designing new kinds of nuclear weapons that would upset the spirit of the CTB Treaty?

Garwin: We have statements going back to President Bush that we are not doing that, and that we don't have any need for it from the Strategic Command. Weapon designers are always thinking about preliminary designs. But the people who are in charge of the design efforts take seriously the directive that we are not to do this and they are not doing it. I do not believe that we have any significant effort to design new kinds of weapons. And I would say that a new kind of weapon is not only one that exceeds the parameters, such as higher yield, of weapons we already have. You could have a brand new weapon, but dangerous from the point of view of low confidence, which was designed to reproduce exactly the yield of an existing weapon but claimed to be safer or more reliable. In the absence of testing, this would be a wolf masquerading in sheep's clothing. I hope that we will have the good sense not to do any thing like that.

Bell: I think Dick is exactly right. You have to begin by appreciating that there is a fine line here. We are asking our nuclear establishment to maintain their capability into the indefinite future. You cannot build a nuclear weapon and put it in a warehouse somewhere and come back 20 years later and take it off the shelf. They are very vibrant and dynamic entities. For the indefinite future, they have to be able to fix and replenish and repair, and if necessary swap parts when suppliers leave the business, so that you can maintain their effectiveness on this level of certification. The idea that our military establishment would come up with a secret plan to replace our current inventory with new types that have never been tested, in which performance was based strictly on computer extrapolations, I think stretches the doable.

Q: There is an enormous amount of work going on at the labs improving non nuclear components of the weapons that will give them new capabilities. What does not seem apparent from the program is when you cross the line from present capability to advanced capability that constitutes a new weapon, even though you have not done any new development on the physics package. How can you tell the American public and international community that we are not designing new weapons?

Bell: Let me cite just one example. The W 61 Model 11 is a case where a proven, thoroughly tested physics package was repackaged in terms of the weapon that it was placed in. I think that it is good that we have done this, because we are able to recycle an existing physics package into a new container. This means we have been able to retire a much more dangerous nuclear weapon. We were able to take a 9 megaton airblast behemoth that we have relied upon to take out deeply buried and hardened command centers and replace it with this repackaged weapon. So, by any standard of arms control, it seems to me this is a good development. But it is not a new nuclear design.

Garwin: I have no trouble supporting activities that maintain the physics package and replace the other elements on a cost effective basis, including the electromechanical switches. I think that is a good thing and the CTBT is not the forum in which to fight that. If you are against that, then you want to fight it in a forum addressing numbers and uses of nuclear weapons. I am in favor of this development, but I am also for restrictions on numbers of nuclear weapons in the future.

Arms Control in Print



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Ferster, Warren. "Private Spacecraft Imagery Evolves as Treaty Tool," Space News, October 20 26, 1997.

Myers, Steven Lee. "A Defiant Iraq Bars Entry to 3 U.S. Arms Inspectors," The New York Times, October 31, 1997, p. A3.



Blair, Bruce, Harold Feiveson and Frank von Hipple. "Taking Nuclear Weapons Off Hair Trigger Alert," Scientific American, November 1997, p. 81.

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Erlanger, Steven. "U.S. Says Chinese Will Stop Sending Missiles to Iran," The New York Times, October 19, 1997, p. A1.

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Landay, Jonathan S. "More Flaws In Policy to Isolate Iran," The Christian Science Monitor, October 23, 1997, p. 4.

"Nodong Test Launch Imminent, Claim Reports," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 8, 1997, p. 29.

Rodan, Steve. "Secret Israeli Data Reveals Iran Can Make Missile in Year," Defense News, October 6 12, 1997, p. 4.



Codevilla, Angelo M. "This Missile Defense Program Just Won't Fly," The Wall Street Journal, October 22, 1997.

Fulghum, David. "Airborne Laser Tested, Weighed for New Missions," Aviation Week & Space Technology, October 27, 1997, pp. 26 27.


Cerniello, Craig. "SCC Parties Sigtn Agreements On Multilateralizations, TMD Systems," Arms Control Today, September 1997, p. 26.

Smith, David. "ABM Treaty Expansion Would Entangle Missile Defense," Defense News, October 20 26, 1997, p. 21.


"BMDO Fears Lack of Funding Will Kill MEADS," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 22, 1997, p. 8.

Holzer, Robert. "Navy: $800 Million is Needed to Speed Theater Wide System," Defense News, October 20 26, 1997, p. 3.



Broder, John M. "Beijing to Halt Nuclear Deals With Iran," The New York Times, October 30, 1997, p. A1.

Cupitt, Richard T. and Yuzo Murayama. Export Controls in the People's Republic of China, Status Report 1997, Center for International Trade and Security, The University of Georgia, 30 pp. Ph. (706) 542 2985, http://www.uga.edu/~cits

Gerth, Jeff and Michael R. Gordon. "Despite Ban, Russia Buys I.B.M. Computers for Atom Lab," The New York Times, October 27, 1997, p. A1.

Parish, Scott. "Are Suitcase Nukes on the Loose? The Story Behind the Controversy," CNS, Monterey, November 1997, 13 pp. Ph. (408) 647-3515, Email: [email protected]

Starr, Barbara. "List Reveals Institutions That Could Make WMDs," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 22, 1997, p. 5.


U.S. Commitment to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, ACDA, October 1997, 9 pp. Ph. (800) 581 2232, http://www.acda.gov



Cerniello, Craig. "U.S., Russia Sign Agreements On Plutonium Producing Reactors," Arms Control Today, September 1997, p. 28.

Eisler, Peter. "Nuclear Arms Stockpiles Vulnerable," USA Today, October 22, 1997, p. 2.

Medalia, Jonathan. Nuclear Weapons Production Capability Issues: Summary of Finding, and Choices, CRS Report for Congress, October 21, 1997, 25 pp.



Broad, William J. "Hints of a Nuclear Test In Russia Are Disputed," The New York Times, October 21, 1997, p. A12.

McNally, James H. "The Importance of Nuclear Testing," The Washington Times, October 13, 1997, p. A19.


Cerniello, Craig. "Clinton Sends CTB Treaty to Senate; Hearings Set to Begin in October," Arms Control Today, September 1997, p. 25.

Dupont, Vincent and Richard Sokolsky. "On Balance, CTBT Works," Defense News, October 13 19, 1997, p. 62.

Ferster, Warren. "Satellites Will Bolster CTBT," Defense News, October 20 26, 1997, p. 6.

Kouidri Kuhn, Eve. "Nuclear Watchdog Lacks OK to Keep Eye on Tests," The Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 1997, p. 6.

Peña, Federico. "Nuclear Weapons and the CTBT," The Washington Times, October 29, 1997, p. A19.

Schwartz, Stephen I. "Debunking Myths About the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," The Washington Times, October 31, 1997, p. A20.



Boese, Wade. "Deadlock Continues to Plague CD Through Final 1997 Session," Arms Control Today, September 1997, p. 32.

Bonner, Raymond. "Success in Balkans, as All Sides Destroy Heavy Weapons," The New York Times, October 23, 1997, p. A6.

"Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction: Analysis and Text," Arm Control Today, September 1997, pp. 11 18.

Deen, Thalif. "Norway Donates $100m to Global Drive for Mine Clearance," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 8, 1997, p. 6.

Erlich, Jeff and Caroline Faraj. "Saudis, S. Africa to Swap Oil for Weapons," Defense News, October 13 19, 1997, p. 1.

Kemp, Ian. "UK Posts Five Point Plan to Help Clear Landmines," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 29, 1997, p. 13.

Komarow, Steven and Lee Michael Katz. "Mine Czar' to Be Named by Albright," USA Today, October 31, 1997, p. 1.

Komarow, Steven. "Proposal: Pay Bosnians to Help Clear Land Mines," USA Today, October 6, 1997, p. 10.

Lewis, J.A.C. "France, Russia Sign Contracts." Jane's Defence Weekly, October 8, 1997, p. 19.

Miller, Charles. "Study: World Arms Trade Reverses Decline," Defense News, October 20 26, 1997, p. 9.

Morrison, Philip and Kosta Tsipis. "New Hope in the Minefields," MIT Technology Review, October 1997, pp. 38 47.

"Mulsims and Croats in Bosnia Must Trade Old Guns for New," The New York Times, October 30, 1997, p. A5.

Priest, Dana. "Administration Drops Plans to Find Substitutes for Antipersonnel Mine," The Washington Post, October 31, 1997, p. A28.

Reynolds, Maura. "Russia's Cash Quest Spurs Arms Industry," The Washington Times, October 13, 1997, p. A13.

"Russia Sets No Date for Mine Ban," The Washington Post, October 12, 1997, p. A33.

Tirman, John. Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America's Arms Trade, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, 310pp.

Wilson, George C. "Report Blames Land Mines for Fratricide at NTC," The Army Times, October 13, 1997, p. 3.

Wilson, George C. "U.S. Supporters Will Keep Fighting for Land Mine Ban," Defense News, October 13 19, 1997, p. 32.



Gertz, Bill. "U.S. Concedes China Still Aiding Iran," The Washington Times, October 31, 1997, p. A13.

Rosenthal, A.M. "The Chosen Weapon," The New York Times, October 17, 1997, p. A39.

Starr, Barbara. "DARPA Begins Research to Counteract Biological Pathogens," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 15, 1997, p. 8.

Starr, Barbara. "USA to Spend $800m on Search for BW Vaccine," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 29, 1997, p. 10.

Utgoff, Victor. Nuclear Weapons and the Deterrence of Biological and Chemical Warfare, Stimson Center Occasional Paper No. 36, October 1997, 31 pp.



Erlanger, Steven. "U.S. Officials Said to See Need to Extend Bosnia Mission," The New York Times, October 29, 1997, p. A3.

"Will Congress Force America Out of Bosnia," The Economist, October 25 31, 1997, p. 25.


Kralev, Nickolai. "Peace Brings No Dividends to Black Sea Fleet," The Washington Times, October 5, 1997, p. A8.

Tigner, Brooks. "Progress by NATO, Russia Joint Council Will Take Time," Defense News, October 20 26, 1997, p. 18.


Albright, Madeleine and William Cohen. "NATO Expansion Makes U.S. Safer," USA Today, October 7, 1997, p.14.

Bonnart, Frederick. "Mystery: If NATO Is to Grow Bigger and Bigger, What For?" The International Herald Tribune, October 17, 1997, p. 8.

Buchan, David, and Bruce Clark. "Solana Warns U.S. On NATO Expansion," The London Financial Times, October 22, 1997, p. 2.

Christopher, Warren and William J. Perry. "NATO's True Mission," The New York Times, October 21, 1997, p. A33.

Erlanger, Steven. "A War of Numbers Emerges Over Cost of Enlarging NATO," The New York Times, October 13, 1997, p. A1.

Naicheng, Wang. "The Impact of NATO's Eastward Expansion on Relations between the U.S., Russia and Europe," International Strategic Studies, No. 4, 1997, China Institute for International Strategic Studies, pp. 34-39.

Pisik, Betsy. "Cyprus Leader Warns UN of Armament Plans," The Washington Times, October 7, 1997, p. A16.

Tigner, Brooks. "NATO Rift Widens Over Expansion Costs," Defense News, October 6 12, 1997, p. 6.


Blanche, Ed, Christopher F. Foss and Barbara Starr. "Country Briefing: Iran," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 15, 1997, pp. 19-23.

Blanche, Ed. "Iranian Test firings Back 'Missile Power' Claim," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 29, 1997, p. 4.

Goshko, John M. "Iraq Bars Entry By American Arms Inspectors," The Washington Post, October 31, 1997, p. A27.

Goshko, John M. "U.S. May Delay Pressing New Iraq Sanctions," The Washington Post, October 21, 1997, p. A15.

Reid, Robert H. "Sanctions on Iraq Divide UN Council," The Washington Times, October 19, 1997, p. A7.


Bedi, Rahul. "Hotline' Is Activated As Tension Rises in Kashmir," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 8, 1997, p. 8.

Berry, William E., Jr. Threat Perceptions in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, INSS Occasional Paper 16, Colorado: September 1997, 61 pp. http://www.usafa.af.mil/inss

Cobban, Helena. "Chinese Nuclear Exports: No Easy Ride," The Christian Science Monitor, October 9, 1997, p. 15.

Diamond, Howard. "Clinton Steps Up Effort To Enact 1985 Sino U.S. Nuclear Agreement," Arms Control Today, September 1997, p. 31.

Edwards, James B. "Going Nuclear With the Chinese," The Washington Times, October 20, 1997, p. A19.

"Jiang: The Supreme Interest of China Is Peace and Nation Building,'" The Washington Post, October 19, 1997, p. A22.

Mann, Paul. "U.S. China Summit: Milestone and Minefield," Aviation Week & Space Technology, October 27, 1997, pp. 24-25.

"Missile Base Will Extend Korean Reach," Jane's Defence Weekly, October 29, 1997. p. 6.

Opall, Barbara. "Ant- China Legislation is Proliferating on Capitol Hill," Defense News, October 20 26, 1996, p. 8.

Smith, R. Jeffrey. "Limits on Iran Ties Open Way for China to Buy U.S. Reactors," The Washington Post, October 25, 1997, p. A1.

"A U.S. Push for Chinese Military Transparency,' a Q&A with William Cohen," The International Herald Tribune, October 9, 1997, p. 10.


Byrne, Hugh. "Clinton's Latin Slip," The Christian Science Monitor, October 16, 1997, p. 19.

Mann, Jim. "U.S. Aim: Arms Dealer for the Americas," The Los Angeles Times, October 8, 1997, p. 7.

Opall, Barbara. "Arms Control Groups Push 2 Year Latin America Freeze," Defense News, October 20-26, 1997, p. 18.

Strobel, Warren P. "Clinton Hails Argentina Ties, Calls It Major' Military Ally," The Washington Times, October 17, 1997, p. A4.



Dornheim, Michael A. "Laser Engages Satellite, With Questionable Results," Aviation Week & Space Technology, October 27, 1997, p. 26.

Landay, Jonathan S. "Dawn of Laser Weapons Draws Near," The Christian Science Monitor, October 20, 1997, p. 1.

Richter, Paul. "Russia Issues Warning After U.S. Laser Test," The Los Angeles Times, October 22, 1997, p. 4.

Tigner, Brooks. "NATO Panel to Consider Nonlethal Weapon Guidelines," Defense News, September 29 October 5, 1997, p. 14.

U.S., Russia Sign START II Accords; Yeltsin Pushes for Treaty

ON SEPTEMBER 26, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov signed a set of agreements related to START II, codifying commitments made by the United States and Russia at the Helsinki summit in March, as part of a joint effort to obtain approval of the treaty by the Russian Duma, the lower house of parliament. Just days before the signing ceremony, held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, the Yeltsin administration launched a renewed effort to win approval of START II.

At Helsinki, the United States and Russia agreed in principle to delay the START II deadline for the elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2007. The new treaty protocol, which must be ratified by each side before entering into force, preserves the accord's original 10 year reduction period, but instead of occurring from 1993 to 2003, the sides now have from 1997 to 2007 to complete the required reductions.

In addition, the United States and Russia issued a "Joint Agreed Statement" in New York that enables the United States to "download" (remove warheads from) Minuteman III ICBMs under START II "at any time before December 31, 2007." Previously, the United States was required to download its Minuteman IIIs within seven years of START I's entry into force (December 5, 2001). In a September 26 background briefing, a senior Clinton administration official said the Joint Agreed Statement provides for "reciprocity" because now the downloading of both Minuteman IIIs and Russian SS 19s under START II does not have to be completed until the end of 2007.

Albright and Primakov also exchanged letters codifying the Helsinki commitment that the United States and Russia will deactivate by December 31, 2003, all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles to be eliminated under START II (for the United States the MX ICBM and for Russia its SS 18 and SS 24 ICBMs) "by removing their nuclear reentry vehicles or taking other jointly agreed steps." Reflecting Moscow's interest in achieving a START III agreement, which will reduce the forces of each side to 2,000 2,500 deployed strategic warheads, Primakov's letter states that Russia expects the agreement to have entered into force "well in advance" of the START II deactivation deadline. Albright's letter takes note of Russia's unilateral declaration on START III.

During the signing ceremony in New York, Albright said, "Together, the ABM and START II documents we will sign here today should pave the way for the Russian Duma to ratify START II, and that will trigger deep reductions in our arsenals." Primakov said the agreements "will determine the progress of the disarmament process for many years to come" and are "an important step" in the implementation of the Helsinki joint statements.

In recent weeks, the Yeltsin administration has accelerated its efforts to achieve Duma support for START II. On September 15, Yeltsin instructed Primakov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev to begin the process of convincing the skeptical Duma that START II is in Russia's national security interest. During their meeting, Yeltsin reportedly said, "We are secure with 1,000 warheads, let alone with" and "We must prove to the legislators that START II is advantageous and necessary for us."

The next day, Primakov and Sergeyev briefed influential members of the Duma on the foreign policy and military implications of START II for Russia. According to various press reports, their presentation was not well received. Alexei Mitrofanov, chairman of the Geopolitics Committee, said, "This agreement [START II] was reached on the crest of a political wave when Russia was making concessions on everything. Now we have to bite back." Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the powerful Communist Party, said, "Today we were not convinced that START II should be ratified." Likewise, Lev Rokhlin, chairman of the Defense Committee, claimed that START II ratification "will complete the ruin of the Russian army."

However, Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the International Affairs Committee, stated "We don't want to be engaged in politics now. Instead, we must listen very carefully to the top experts in the country on these issues. General Sergeyev is one of them." In addition, the Russian defense minister said the briefing "yielded good results" and that the sides "reached a better understanding on many issues." Following Primakov's September 22 meeting with President Clinton at the UN General Assembly in New York, National Security Advisor Samuel Berger also indicated that the Russian foreign minister "had some higher degree of optimism" that the Duma would eventually approve START II than in previous meetings.

Most observers expect the Duma to vote on START II (as amended) by the end of this year or beginning of 1998. In his September 8 remarks before the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Robert Bell, senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, said that once Russia ratifies START II, the Clinton administration plans on submitting a package of arms control agreements to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. This package will include the START II protocol and associated documents; an amendment, which has not yet been completed, making START I unlimited in duration; and three other agreements related to the ABM Treaty.

Russian Officials Deny Claims Of Missing Nuclear Weapons

THE CONTINUING debate over Russia's command and control of its nuclear arsenal intensified on September 7 when retired General Alexander Lebed, former secretary of the Russian Security Council, told the CBS news program "60 Minutes" that he believes more than 100 "suitcase sized" nuclear weapons are unaccounted for. Lebed's charge elicited an immediate response from several senior Russian government officials, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who denied the existence of these weapons—known in the West as atomic demolition munitions (ADMs)—and argued that the Russian arsenal remains safe and secure. The State Department also reiterated its strong confidence in Russia's command and control system. Lebed's account is detailed in a new book, One Point Safe, by journalists Andrew and Leslie Cockburn.

Although lacking in many specific details, Lebed told "60 Minutes" that the 1 kiloton weapons, once assigned to the Spetsnaz special forces of the former Soviet Union, are especially dangerous because they can be transported and detonated by a single person. Made in the form of a suitcase, he said these devices are not protected by launch codes and could be prepared in approximately 30 minutes, potentially killing 50,000 to 100,000 people if detonated in a large city. Lebed said he attempted to make an inventory of the weapons while he was Security Council secretary but was unable to complete it before being fired by President Boris Yeltsin in October 1996.

In May 1997, Lebed informed six members of Congress about these missing weapons during their visit to Moscow. Lebed told the delegation, led by Representative Curt Weldon (R PA), that he could only locate 48 out of the 132 suitcase sized nuclear devices. However, during his "60 Minutes" appearance in September, Lebed asserted that more than 100 out of an estimated total of 250 weapons are unaccounted for. Although uncertain about their location, he speculated that they could be somewhere in Georgia, Ukraine or the Baltic states.

Subsequently, former Russian government officials elaborated on Lebed's account. In a September 13 interview with Interfax, Lebed's former deputy, Vladimir Denisov, said he led a special working group in July 1996 to explore whether the weapons had been deployed. According to Denisov, the working group concluded within two months that there were no such devices in the active Russian arsenal and that all the weapons were in "appropriate" storage facilities. However, he said the group could not rule out the possibility that similar weapons were located in Ukraine, Georgia or the Baltic states.

Then, in a September 22 interview with the Russian network NTV, Alexei Yablokov, a former environmental advisor to Yeltsin, maintained that suitcase sized nuclear weapons were developed for the Russian KGB in the 1970s. "I have spoken to the people who made these bombs, so I know that they exist," he said.

Lebed's claim has provoked a sharp response from several Russian government agencies responsible for safeguarding nuclear weapons¾the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) and the Federal Security Service¾as well as key officials in the Yeltsin administration. While traveling in Lithuania just days before the "60 Minutes" episode, Chernomyrdin ridiculed Lebed's account as "absolute stupidity" and said that "all Russian nuclear weapons are under the total and absolutely reliable control of the Russian armed forces." Yeltsin's spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, also challenged the credibility of Lebed's claim. "Lebed is looking for pretexts to remind the people about himself. I believe this is not the best way," he said September 10.

That same day, MINATOM and the Federal Security Service issued strong statements contradicting Lebed's story. MINATOM stated that the existing Russian nuclear command and control system "guarantees full control over the nuclear charges and seals off any channels of their unauthorized movements." The statement also noted that all former Soviet strategic and tactical nuclear weapons have been returned to Russia, refuting Lebed's point that the weapons may be located in Georgia, Ukraine or the Baltic states. Moreover, the Federal Security Service, whose primary function is to block the unauthorized use of Russian nuclear weapons, declared that "no serious decrease in the security, let alone loss or theft, of nuclear weapons and their components has been detected."

On September 5, Vladimir Utavenko, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said "there are no nuclear bombs in Russia out of [the] control of the Russian armed forces." Utavenko also questioned the credibility of Lebed on this particular issue because "he never dealt with nuclear security questions and cannot know the situation."

Furthermore, Lieutenant General Igor Volynkin, head of the Defense Ministry's 12th Main Directorate (which controls the production, operation and storage of Russian nuclear weapons) said in a September 25 news briefing that such devices "were never produced and are not produced." Although admitting that the production of suitcase sized nuclear weapons is theoretically possible, Volynkin said it would be a "very expensive and ineffective undertaking" because they would only have a short life span and would require frequent maintenance.

In a September 5 State Department briefing, deputy spokesman James Foley said, "The government of Russia has assured us that it retains adequate command and control of its nuclear arsenal and that appropriate physical security arrangements exist for these weapons and facilities." Foley also said the United States is providing assistance to Russia under the Cooperative Threat Reduction ("Nunn Lugar") program to bolster the physical security of its nuclear storage facilities.

U.S., Russia Sign Agreements On Plutonium-Production Reactors

VICE PRESIDENT Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met in Moscow September 22 23 for the ninth session of the U.S. Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation, commonly known as the Gore Chernomyrdin Commission. During this session, the sides completed a set of agreements to convert Russia's three remaining plutonium producing reactors so that they no longer produce weapons grade plutonium. At a joint press conference in Moscow, Gore said the agreements make "a major contribution to the advancement of our non proliferation interests."

In June 1994, the United States and Russia signed an agreement under which Moscow would shut down the three reactors at Tomsk 7 and Krasnoyarsk 26, former secret nuclear cities now called Seversk and Zheleznogorsk, by the year 2000. (See ACT, July/August 1994.) Russia, however, would not allow the accord to enter into force until alternative sources of energy had been found, arguing that the "dual use" reactors provide most of the heat and electricity for the surrounding cities. After completing an alternative energy feasibility study in 1995, the United States and Russia determined that conversion of the reactor cores was the best way to meet civilian energy needs while also halting the production of weapons grade plutonium. Since then, the sides proceeded with the design and engineering phase of the core conversion project.

Under an agreement signed by Gore and Chernomyrdin on September 23, Russia is required to modify the three reactors by December 31, 2000. The modified reactors will continue to operate until they have reached the end of their normal lifetimes, taking into account safety considerations. In an effort to reduce Moscow's stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the sides agreed that fuel for the modified reactors will incorporate uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, the agreement prohibits the United States and Russia from restarting any plutonium producing reactors that have already been shut down. The United States shut down all 14 of its plutonium producing reactors by 1989, while Russia has ceased operating 10 of its 13 reactors. The agreement, which enters into force immediately, further stipulates that any plutonium produced between now and the completion of the core conversion (as well as any HEU recovered after conversion) cannot be used in nuclear weapons.

In order to help ensure compliance with its provisions, the agreement contains a detailed annex on verification measures. In plutonium producing reactors that have already been shut down, for example, the United States and Russia will be permitted to install seals and other agreed monitoring equipment to provide assurances that the reactors cannot resume operation without being detected.

In addition, the Department of Defense and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) signed a separate Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) implementing agreement to facilitate core conversion of the reactors. In fiscal year 1997, Congress appropriated $10 million in CTR assistance for this project.

In a side letter to the implementing agreement, the Department of Defense stated that it intends to provide up to an additional $70 million in CTR assistance for core conversion purposes. The total cost of the project, which will be divided between the United States and Russia, is expected to be about $150 million.

The United States and Russia also signed two other agreements related to the core conversion of the plutonium producing reactors. The Department of Energy and MINATOM signed a memorandum of understanding dealing with liability concerns, while the chairmen of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Nuclear and Radiation Safety Authority of Russia issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of nuclear safety issues.


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