"I want to tell you that your fact sheet on the [Missile Technology Control Regime] is very well done and useful for me when I have to speak on MTCR issues."

– Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi
Chair, MTCR
May 19, 2021
Arms Control Today

U.S. Test-Fires 'MIRACL' at Satellite Reigniting ASAT Weapons Debate

ON OCTOBER 17, the U.S. Army tested its ground based Mid Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) against an orbiting U.S. satellite, yielding data which could have applications for antisatellite (ASAT) warfare. The designated emergency ASAT weapon, used in conjunction with the smaller Navy Sea Lite tracking beam, "illuminated" an Air Force satellite, raising concerns that such activity could encourage an international race to develop anti satellite systems and undercut 35 years of U.S. efforts to establish space as a sanctuary for most scientific, commercial and military activities.

To investigate the effects on the imaging satellite's sensors, the laser fired beams of varying durations (1 second and 10 seconds), simulating both an inadvertent lasing and a hostile attack on a satellite. On the third attempt at the White Sands Missile Range in two weeks, the Army called the effort only "a partial success" because the satellite "failed to download data during the lase," according to an October 21 Army information paper obtained by Inside Missile Defense.

Critics question whether any information on satellite vulnerability could be determined in a space test that could not be obtained from ground testing.

The test prompted Russia to issue an October 21 Foreign Ministry press release that said laser programs "may become a step toward creating an anti satellite potential." Though no treaty limits ASAT—U.S. Russian attempts to draw up an ASAT treaty in the late 1970s failed—space nations have exercised restraint in development and deployment of systems that could threaten satellite functions that are considered vital to intelligence collection and high tech warfare as well as commercial communications.

Critics suspect that the test sought to demonstrate an offensive capability, as opposed to just testing satellite vulnerability. Aside from a Russian ground launched coorbital ASAT—dormant since 1982—no countries possess ASAT systems and, according to John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, "No other country, with the possible exception of Russia, has a laser that could conceivably damage our satellites."

It has been long standing U.S. policy to keep space an open realm, with the exceptions of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty ban on weapons of mass destruction in orbit and the 1972 ABM Treaty prohibition on space based ballistic missile interceptors, including lasers. These ABM limits were extended to theater missile defense systems as well in clarifying amendments signed this year. (See ACT, September 1997.) Current U.S. policy, which reflects U.S. space command's operational requirements for an ASAT, clearly contradicts the goal of maintaining space as a sanctuary.


Congressional Involvement

A Democratic Congress, concerned about the costly and provocative nature of ASAT activities, passed an amendment to the fiscal year 1990 defense authorization bill which specifically prohibited test firing MIRACL at a satellite in space. In 1995, a Republican dominated Congress, interested in sustaining the laser project and exploring its ASAT and ABM potential, failed to renew the five year prohibition.

Prior to Secretary of Defense William Cohen's October 2 approval of the MIRACL test, some Congressional leaders, including Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (MS), the ranking Democrat on the House National Security Committee, Ron Dellums (CA) and John Spratt, (SC) ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee called for its postponement. In a September 26 letter to President Bill Clinton they said, "We are deeply troubled that a test of a ground based laser system with such obvious ASAT warfare capabilities would proceed ahead of any debate or deliberate policy development." Senator Tom Harkin (D IA) also expressed his opposition to the MIRACL test in a September 25 letter to Clinton and said, "Demonstration of a developing ASAT capability would seriously harm our nation's international arms control interests by potentially encouraging such development by other countries. The United States should not start an unnecessary and expensive ASAT arms race."

The Defense Department has scaled back the MIRACL project since the 1980s Strategic Defense Initiative, ("Star Wars") and has spent only about $25 million per year for the last three years toward developing the MIRACL laser at the $800 million high energy laser facility. Though the scope of the MIRACL program is classified, the Army says it supports a variety of research and development programs, including subsonic and supersonic missile engagements and tests of the effects of turbulence on high energy laser beams. Additional MIRACL tests against satellites are not scheduled.

Nunn Lugar's Unfinished Agenda

The assertion by retired Russian General Alexander Lebed in mid 1997 that several dozen nuclear "suitcase bombs" could not be accounted for has fueled the latest political drama relating to the post Cold War security of Russia's nuclear arsenal and weapons usable nuclear materials. Lebed's claim seemed frighteningly possible, especially considering the evident weaknesses of an accounting system dependent upon the proverbial "babushka with a notepad." In order to know whether something is missing, it is first necessary to know what exists; a fact which, in this case, has been difficult to establish. Accordingly, while Lebed has not been able to substantiate his claim, Russian officials have not fully disproved it.

Against the backdrop of an "ongoing revolution" in Russia and the other newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union, the dangers posed by the dissolution of a nuclear superpower remain real. Continuing concerns over nuclear "leakage" coexist with recurrent questions over the viability of Russia's evidently fraying command and control apparatus. Approximately 1,200 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and nearly 200 tons of plutonium are spread across an estimated 50 sites in Russia and the other former Soviet republics. The continuing dismantlement of 1,000 to 2,000 Russian nuclear warheads per year guarantees that the non weaponized stocks of fissile materials that constitute roughly half of those totals will grow over the next several years. Additionally, a growing crisis in funding plagues the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM), the primary custodians of the Russian nuclear establishment.

In 1991, the United States established a wide ranging security assistance initiative to help alleviate the adverse risks associated with many NIS nuclear related problems. Informally called "Nunn Lugar" for its initial sponsors, Senators Richard Lugar (R IN) and Sam Nunn (D GA), the program is often referred to by its advocates as "defense by other means." For the rough equivalent of three tenths of 1 percent of annual U.S. military expenditures, the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of State each administer and fund elements of the program. With a cumulative seven year price tag of under $3 billion—less than the annual cost of missile defense research and development efforts—Nunn Lugar has had a considerable impact in the NIS and has proven to be a wise investment in U.S. national security.

The security imperative is clear, and many of the tools and processes are already in place to help mitigate residual NIS nuclear (and other) threats. The question now is whether the United States will marshal the political will and devote the resources necessary to sustain the program. Weighed against the prospective and ongoing risks associated with the post Soviet transition, the cost of not doing so may ultimately be much higher.


Scope and Composition

Since its creation, Congress has variously expanded and curtailed the Nunn Lugar program. The fiscal year (FY) 1997 Defense Authorization Act defines "cooperative threat reduction [CTR] programs" writ large as those which:

  • facilitate the elimination, and the safe and secure transportation and storage, of nuclear, chemical and other weapons and their delivery vehicles;
  • facilitate the safe and secure storage of fissile materials derived from the elimination of nuclear weapons;
  • prevent the proliferation of weapons, weapons components and weapons related technology and expertise; and
  • expand military to military and defense contacts.
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Accordingly, Nunn Lugar has three major program areas: destruction and dismantlement; safety, security and non proliferation; and demilitarization and defense conversion. While functionally autonomous, these areas overlap. Budgetary and administrative responsibility for each of the areas is split between DOD, which implements the CTR program; DOE, which is the executive agent for fissile material, protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) efforts and the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program; and the State Department, which is responsible for the science centers in Moscow and Kiev and, along with the Department of Commerce, for export control efforts in the former Soviet Union.


Destruction and Dismantlement

Nunn Lugar funds have been provided to enable or accelerate the dismantlement and destruction of nuclear, and, to a lesser extent, chemical and biological weapons and delivery systems. Indeed, the removal of all Soviet strategic nuclear weapons from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine by the end of 1996 was a milestone for the program. These states did not have adequate financial resources or capabilities to dismantle, destroy and denuclearize following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. CTR funds both provided material aid (such as mobile cranes, plasma cutters, laptop computers and incinerators to destroy liquid rocket fuel) and proved a key incentive for these states to forgo the nuclear option—a key U.S. non proliferation objective.

As the agreed sole nuclear successor state to the Soviet Union, Russia presented a very different case from the outset. With a common interest in denuclearizing the three non Russian former Soviet republics, Moscow and Washington cooperated extensively to that end. At the same time, however, Russian officials remained reluctant to involve their U.S. counterparts in the actual dismantlement of nuclear warheads. Although U.S. Russian arms reduction agreements do not, so far, require warhead dismantlement, Clinton administration officials can correctly argue that CTR assistance has helped expedite—by as much as two years—Russian compliance with the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I).

With Nunn Lugar assistance, more than 3,300 strategic nuclear warheads had been transferred by April 1997 from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to Russia for dismantlement; roughly 1,200 Russian strategic nuclear warheads had been removed from deployed systems; and 150 ICBM silos had been eliminated, complemented by the destruction of 128 submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and 35 strategic bombers. While Russia should continue to shoulder the bulk of the implementation costs associated with the START process, U.S. aid can continue to act as a positive material incentive for meeting destruction timetables.

The destruction of an estimated 40,000 metric tons of Russian chemical weapons (CW) agent has traditionally been a second order concern for CTR planners. Intended to "jump start" the process of CW destruction, CTR assistance has focused on the construction of a pilot CW destruction facility, demilitarizing a former Russian production facility and helping Uzbekistan destroy a former CW production facility. But U.S. Russian disagreements over the appropriate technology for CW destruction, and obstacles in Russia associated with local, state and federal licensing and implementation issues (similar to those in the United States) slowed progress. After lengthy delays, initial funding was provided in 1996 for the pilot destruction facility at Shchuche that will have a modest capacity of 1,200 tons per year. Russia's ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in November 1997 added renewed impetus for CW destruction, but resource availability and a mutually acceptable U.S. Russian division of labor for the pilot plant's final design, construction and operation remain unsettled. Moreover, the threat posed by the lack of security at CW storage sites arguably equals the security threat posed by insecure Russian fissile materials.

Biological weapons (BW) destruction presents an even more difficult case. While some small scale CTR funding was provided in FY 1997 to Kazakhstan for converting a former BW production facility, Russia maintains that it does not need assistance in this area. Indeed, until Moscow fulfills its 1992 pledge to terminate its involvement in BW production and stockpiling, or perceives a need to destroy BW stocks with external assistance, there is only a limited amount that Washington can do to encourage cooperation in this area. However, Nunn Lugar may provide some motivation for full Russian compliance with the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).


Safety, Security and Non Proliferation

The most difficult part of building a nuclear explosive device is securing the requisite weapons usable ingredients—plutonium or HEU. Consequently, plutonium storage, ending plutonium pro duction for weapons purposes and protecting non weaponized fissile material have all become U.S. concerns, largely addressed through Nunn Lugar and the U.S. purchase of Russian HEU from weapons. Supply side prevention, interdiction and consequence mitigation together form the essential elements of a "layered defense" strategy designed to meet the challenges inherent in the "loose nukes" problem.

Warhead Security: While assembled nuclear weapons are, probably, less subject to theft or diversion than stocks of fissile material or constituent components, their security is of obvious importance. For the consolidation of Soviet strategic nuclear weapons in Russia, railcar enhancements, the provision of armored blankets and similar measures help ensure the safety and security of the weapons during transit. Ongoing DOD led efforts emphasize weapons security measures, the construction and provision of fissile material storage containers and a permanent plutonium storage facility at Mayak.

Plutonium Storage and Production: Plutonium storage, long a matter of U.S. Russian controversy, appears to be making headway. Although an early CTR concern, construction did not begin on the Mayak facility until early 1996. Subsequently, DOD stated that it would not completely disburse programmed funds "unless and until transparency measures have been worked out with Russia." Since that time, considerable progress has been made on transparency—ensuring that the appropriate material goes into storage, is secure while stored and exits only for agreed, non weapons "disposition" purposes.

In September 1997, after considerable delay on both sides, Washington and Moscow reached an agreement on converting the cores of three plutonium producing reactors at Seversk and Zheleznogorsk (the former "nuclear cities" known as Tomsk 7 and Krasnoyarsk 26) by 2001 under joint DOD MINATOM responsibility. Implemented by DOD with technical assistance from DOE, and funded equally by the United States and Russia, the $150 million project will convert the three reactors, which together have continued to produce 1.5 tons of plutonium per year in addition to the heat and electricity for neighboring cities. Additional funds may be required to either create special low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel or to assure the secure transportation and MPC&A for an alternative HEU fuel stored on site.

MPC&A: A properly functioning MPC&A that addresses the risks of existing fissile material diversion is also centrally important in reducing the NIS nuclear threat. Lawrence Gershwin, a senior CIA official, testified in 1992 that the Soviet system underemphasized material protection due to its focus on external threats. For the United States to have any assurances at all that NIS officials can control and account for their non weaponized fissile materials, three conditions must be satisfied. First, physical protection, provided by alarms, sensors and other barriers designed to deter, delay and defend against intruders and insiders attempting to remove protected material. Second, material control, provided by locked vaults for nuclear material storage; portal monitors equipped to detect nuclear materials (which prevent workers from carrying nuclear material off site); continuous monitoring of storage sites with tamper proof cameras, seals and alarms; and a requirement for personnel to enter sites containing sensitive materials in pairs. Finally, material accounting, which provides a regularly updated, measured inventory of nuclear weapons usable material, based on routine measurements of material arriving, leaving, lost to waste and remaining within the facility. Personnel reliability might also be improved by systematic background checks, training and reliable salaries for nuclear custodians. External oversight by a regulatory and inspection agency with real enforcement powers would also enhance MPC&A.

Although most of the early cooperative work involved destruction and dismantlement, material protection issues have become a growing concern for program planners. With the 1993 advent of a dual track approach—bottom up lab to lab and top down government to government efforts—cooperation intensified rapidly. While DOD contributed financially to these efforts through 1995, in 1996 DOE became the executive agent for MPC&A efforts. By mid 1997, cooperative agreements were in place at 46 nuclear sites in the NIS, and the heretofore elusive prospect of even limited cooperation at Russia's four nuclear weapons dismantlement facilities (Arzamas 16, Penza 19, Sverdlosk 45 and Zlatoust 36) appeared to be within reach. Because this roster constitutes virtually the entire universe of known NIS civilian and military sites where weapons usable materials are located, the task now is to deepen the extent of cooperative MPC&A in each of these locations in the most expedient manner possible.

In one instance where U.S. officials feared a potential diversion of fissile material, they mounted a massive effort to move the material out of harm's way. In November 1994, DOD and DOE officials undertook Project Sapphire, the airlift of more than 600 kilograms of unsecured HEU from Kazakhstan to the United States. Carried out under the aegis of Nunn Lugar, the operation was a spectacular non proliferation success. There may be other instances involving non Russian states where similar efforts may be warranted.

Science Centers: With the breakup of the Soviet Union, U.S. officials were concerned by early 1992 that scientists and technicians with weapons related knowledge would emigrate to such potential proliferant countries as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea. Aware that this human potential was perhaps the central element needed by countries with nuclear weapons ambitions, DOD helped fund, along with the European Union and Japan, the creation of the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow and the Science and Technology Center Ukraine in Kiev. By funding basic research and development in a wide range of disciplines, the centers have helped prevent a "brain drain" of scientific expertise in the former Soviet missile and nuclear weapons complexes. In 1995, the State Department adopted responsibility for the centers, and by the end of 1996 almost 19,000 NIS scientists and technical experts—out of a total of some 65,000 personnel involved in weapons areas—had taken part in this initiative. These low cost non proliferation centers remain underutilized, however. In FY 1997, although other countries funded other projects, $64 million in proposals met the highest standards of U.S. peer review, while only $12.6 million in U.S. assistance was available to fund them.

Export Controls: Since 1992, there have been hundreds of reported cases of nuclear smuggling or attempts at nuclear theft in the former Soviet Union, but only a half dozen of these actually involved weapons grade or weapons usable materials, and then in very small quantities. However, the propensity for such illicit transactions on the black market remains acute. A sound export control system must be put in place as a "second line of defense" against the diversion of vulnerable fissile material stocks by proliferating states or sub state actors. However, a functioning system throughout the NIS that effectively regulates the transfer of items on the control lists of various international regimes is only now being established.

At the outset, NIS export control efforts were plagued by weak state structures and an initial unwillingness on the part of Russian export control officials to engage in assistance programs with DOD officials. With the help of Western non governmental organizations (NGOs), Russia and many other NIS are now adopting legal based export control laws and regulatory structures. But NIS officials, like their counterparts in other states' export control bureau cracies, often have neither the technical information nor the political incentive to balance the prospective economic gains realized by export controls against the international security implications of such transfers.

On the U.S. side, it is evident that the relatively low priority status attached to export controls in general and Washington's minimal funding for NIS export control assistance have slowed progress. Only recently have State Department officials begun treating export control assistance efforts as low cost, high yield tools worthy of higher funding requests. As such, the integration of export control related programs that also include the Department of Commerce, DOE and U.S. Customs may now hold greater promise than ever before.


Demilitarization and Conversion

The Soviet successor states inherited a very large military industrial complex consisting of 2,000 to 4,000 production enterprises, research and development facilities and other related entities which employed between nine million and 14 million people. In addition, the Soviet Union employed almost 1 million people throughout its large nuclear complex. NIS officials were faced with a critical problem: What to do with the surplus human element and production dimension of the nuclear and military industrial establishments?

Congress established two new defense conversion programs in 1994: the Defense Enterprise Fund (DEF) and the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program. Although some 300 facilities previously devoted to weapons related work were identified by DOD as desirable conversion targets, only a handful had received any sort of significant attention by 1996, and the DEF came under severe attack on Capitol Hill because of early concerns about program performance and management. Together, inconsistent and inadequate funding levels, a perception by private industry that investment in Russia and other NIS was high risk, and an inevitable time lag in implementing policy all compounded these perceptions.

Although subject to periodic congressional attacks, the IPP contains the seeds of a more promising non proliferation program. The IPP helps identify and commercialize private ventures, funded by U.S. industry, that employ former Soviet weapons personnel, and create the economic basis for improved and enduring nuclear security in the NIS. Like the science center projects, some IPP projects also include efforts to improve indigenous monitoring, measuring and verification technologies for MPC&A and other nuclear related activities like Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty verification, plutonium disposition and nuclear reactor safety.

Since 1994, 371 projects have entered IPP's research and technology validation phase, and 77 have moved to the product development stage, which requires the direct participation of and matching funds from industry. With a new and expanded IPP management team now in place, efforts are now underway with DOE and with a consortium of IPP participating industries to move a substantial number of these projects into the production stage, in which projects become self sustaining ventures between U.S. private industries and NIS partners. DOE's IPP reforms, combined with an explicit mandate from the FY 1998 defense appropriations bill to increase IPP activities in the Russian nuclear cities, has prompted closer collaboration between the IPP and State Department science center managers so that the core competencies of these and other programs are efficiently brought together to maximize the effects of U.S. funded non proliferation efforts.

Reflecting the decidedly long term nature of threat reduction, these programs, along with the science centers, attempt to reduce the capacity and economic pressures in the NIS to continue production of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. defense conversion assistance, its advocates argue, both encourages the development of a market based economy in the recipient states and helps prevent the proliferation and sale of advanced weaponry, as well as the incentives for relying on such sales for income.

Nevertheless, although Congress established defense conversion programs in early legislation, and while these programs received strong support from NIS recipient states and from senior Clinton administration officials, CTR defense conversion funds proved to be among the most controversial elements of the entire Nunn Lugar program. While the IPP continues, its funding has fluctuated considerably, and in 1995 Congress ended CTR funding for the DEF. Other demilitarization efforts such as environmental site restoration or the provision of housing for demobilizing NIS military officers were also congressionally sanctioned in 1992 93, but met with congressional disapproval by 1995. They are not likely to be dealt with under the aegis of the CTR program, but might be usefully addressed elsewhere. While defense conversion writ large will likely remain beyond CTR's purview, devoting attention to the steadily eroding and critically important nuclear complex would be prudent.

Military to Military Contacts: In the FY 1993 legislation, defense and military contacts were added to CTR's mandate to promote transparency through increased information exchange, institutionalized dialogue and increased mutual understanding between the armed forces of the United States and those of the NIS. By 1997, more than 500 such contacts had taken place, and steps were taken to expand them into all eligible NIS.


The Role of Congress

Nunn Lugar was originally a creature of Congress, and congressional supporters have often intervened to improve program implementation and to alter program directions in response to new threats and priorities. At the same time, congressional critics have often voiced concerns about Russian behavior in relation to program objectives, fencing or capping specific program funds and monitoring recipient states' compliance in the context of the six conditions placed on CTR expenditures by Congress in the original legislation. The president must certify to Congress every year that Russia is "committed to":

  • Making a substantial investment of its resources for dismantling or destroying such weapons;
  • Forgoing any military modernization program that exceeds legitimate defense requirements;
  • Forgoing any use of fissionable and other components of destroyed nuclear weapons in new weapons;
  • Facilitating U.S. verification of weapons destruction carried out in conjunction with U.S. assistance;
  • Complying with all relevant arms control agreements; and
  • Observing internationally recognized human rights.
While debates as to the interpretation of these conditions have often been heated—such as over "legitimate" defense requirements or "relevant" arms control agreements—they have served as the basis for additional legislative requirements and recommendations relating to Russia's chemical weapons program, plutonium production and plutonium storage plans, as well as other Russian policies with a direct bearing on the purposes of Nunn Lugar. Significantly, these conditions largely affect DOD's CTR program; DOE and State Department efforts do not face similar standing certification hurdles in their respective authorization and appropriations subcommittees. As such, much of the annual Nunn Lugar debate occurs in connection with CTR.

Beginning in 1994, one key development instrumental in reshaping Congress' role was the "Republican revolution," which witnessed the elevation to leadership roles of House Republicans intent upon limiting or eliminating a range of Nunn Lugar programs. Most of the criticisms leveled against Nunn Lugar by the new leadership were extensions of the same concerns raised earlier. Of particular importance, these leaders rejected the previous majority view that Nunn Lugar was a national security initiative, and they actively promoted the notion that most, if not all, of these programs were foreign aid. This made them vulnerable to reductions when debates about how to fund other national security priorities came to the fore.

The first effort in 1997 to redirect Nunn Lugar funds came in an amendment offered by Representative Gerald Solomon (R NY) to the FY 1997 supplemental defense appropriations bill. Although the amendment was eventually withdrawn for a lack of support, Solomon's intent to transfer unobligated CTR funds rather than use the DOD operations and maintenance account to help pay for unanticipated costs associated with peacekeeping activities in Bosnia and other DOD funding requirements, was initially received enthusiastically by both fiscal conservatives and defense hawks, but was defeated in the face of considerable lobbying efforts by supportive members of Congress and administration officials.

Later in 1997, attempts were made both in the House and Senate to cut Nunn Lugar funding. At the insistence of Senator Bob Smith (R NH), chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, the Senate defense authorization bill included a $60 million cut for CTR and a $25 million cut for MPC&A. A successful counterattack was subsequently launched by Senators Lugar, Pete Domenici (R NM), Jeff Bingaman (D NM) and Carl Levin (D MI) to restore full funding and to demonstrate the enduring bipartisan Senate consensus behind Nunn Lugar. Their floor amendment to the Senate defense authorization bill was accepted by voice vote, demonstrating that despite Senator Nunn's retirement, Nunn Lugar would continue to be a Senate national security priority for the foreseeable future.

House National Security Committee cuts to FY 1998 Nunn Lugar funding were even more extensive and potentially debilitating than those in the Senate. House authorizers slashed $97.5 million from the administration's $382 million request for FY 1998. Cuts were targeted to specific programs, including the complete elimination of plutonium reactor conversion and IPP funding. Senate negotiators subsequently forced their House counterparts to accept the Senate position that the administration's entire request be approved, highlighting Senate dominance in this issue area. Nonetheless, House Republican leaders are likely to continue attacking Nunn Lugar in the years to come, using three arguments that have emerged in House debates over the past several years:


Argument #1: Don't spend money on Nunn Lugar if Russia misbehaves.

House action during 1997 came on the heels of "killer" amendments to the FY 1996 and FY 1997 defense authorization bills. These amendments placed a number of conditions on CTR expenditures whose provisions were either impossible to evaluate or to satisfy. In the first of these efforts, Representative Robert Dornan (R CA) successfully attached conditions to the FY 1996 House defense authorization bill, later removed in conference, which prohibited CTR funding unless and until the president could certify that the Russian government had terminated research into its reportedly ongoing offensive BW program. Other language in the draft bill would have deleted the phrase "committed to" from the certification requirements, thereby forcing the administration to make a technical rather than political certification that Russia was in compliance with, rather than committed to, the six conditions—a task that the Clinton team could not comfortably do.

The following year, Solomon attempted to attach an expanded list of 10 largely uncertifiable or unachievable conditions to the FY 1997 defense authorization bill. The floor amendment to the bill contained conditions ranging from terminating military activities in Chechnya to ending Russian intelligence sharing with Cuba. Due to a concerted effort by House and Senate Nunn Lugar supporters, and because of the intervention of Cabinet secretaries, the National Security Council (NSC), the office of the vice president and a coalition of outside NGOs, the amendment was defeated by a vote of 220 202.


Argument #2: Nunn Lugar funding frees resources for Russian weapons development.

The FY 1997 Solomon amendment also called the entire CTR effort into question by asserting that Nunn Lugar funding allowed Russian officials to transfer resources from nuclear weapons elimination to nuclear weapons modernization accounts. This funding "fungibility" allegation against Nunn Lugar was based upon the twin notions that ongoing Russian strategic nuclear weapons programs were actually receiving substantial funding, and that, in the absence of a modernization program, the Russian government would have allocated resources to weapons protection and elimination. Administration officials, of course, have consistently argued the opposite: that cash poor Russia needs dismantlement assistance, the provision of which also serves U.S. interests. Moreover, it is far from clear that Russia would, in fact, have channeled limited funds into weapons protection or elimination in the absence of CTR.

The near victory of the amendment was partly a reflection of the disagreement of many new House members with previous bipartisan U.S. national security policy. In this environment, Solomon's attempt to undercut Nunn Lugar with the fund diversion argument was enhanced by the Russian government's refusal to disclose the purpose of an underground military complex at Yamantau Mountain. This compounded the misperception that the Russian strategic systems under development were unnecessary, unwarranted or posed serious threats to U.S. strategic interests. By contrast, most defense and arms control specialists agreed that new Russian weapons programs were START compliant, had the potential to further stabilize the U.S. Russian strategic balance by increasing the number of single warhead missiles (while simultaneously eliminating multiple warhead missiles) in the Russian arsenal, and would reduce the likelihood of crisis by improving the survivability of Russian nuclear forces.


Argument #3: Nunn Lugar is inappropriate if Russia or Ukraine are uncooperative on U.S. security priorities.

In 1997, Representatives Solomon and Dana Rohrabacher (R CA) also nearly succeeded in fencing off all CTR funding unless Russia canceled plans to sell the 1970s era, short range, nuclear capable "Sunburn" anti ship missile to China. This amendment to the FY 1998 House defense authorization bill replicated an amendment successfully attached to the FY 1998 House foreign assistance authorization bill by Rohrabacher. The Rohrabacher amendment conditioned all $348 million in foreign assistance spending to Russia upon Moscow's cancellation of the planned sale.

The Rohrabacher Solomon amendment initially passed by a vote of 213 205. But in a complex and rare parliamentary maneuver, Representative Ron Dellums (D CA) used his prerogative as the ranking member of the National Security Committee to call for a re vote. With the assistance of senior committee member John Spratt (D GA), a sufficient number of members reconsidered their position, and Rohrabacher Solomon was defeated by a vote of 215 206.

The re vote on Rohrabacher Solomon highlighted several emerging trends in the House. Despite the cross party appeal of the amendment's terms, the Democratic members remained united behind Nunn Lugar. As in the past, Spratt and key administration officials successfully secured the support of conservative, pro defense Democrats like Norm Dicks (D WA), John Murtha (D PA), Ike Skelton (D MO) and Gene Taylor (D TN). For his part, Dellums had managed to secure the support of liberal Democrats who share concerns with Republicans about Russian proliferation related activities.

On the Republican side, a small and consistently supportive group of Republicans has emerged. House National Security Military Research and Development Subcommittee Chairman Curt Weldon (R PA) voted against Nunn Lugar cuts in 1997, but did not play the leadership role that he had in prior years. In contrast Representative Mac Thornberry (R TX) has emerged as a leading Nunn Lugar proponent, and has demonstrated a willingness to confront Nunn Lugar opponents in the National Security Committee and on the floor. Other Republican representatives who have consistently supported Nunn Lugar include Doc Hastings (R WA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R NJ), Bill Redmond (R NM) and Christopher Shays (R CT). Thornberry, Hastings and Redmond all represent DOE laboratories or facilities that store nuclear weapons, wastes or materials, and therefore have more experience with these issues than many other House members.

Whatever their motivations, a common thread between Nunn Lugar supporters of both parties is their agreement that these programs contribute directly to U.S. national security interests. This fact was perhaps best illustrated by a "Dear Colleague" letter opposing Rohrabacher Solomon circulated by Representatives Thornberry and Ed Markey (D MA), in which they stated that although they had voted for the amendment to the foreign affairs legislation, they rejected the wisdom of placing these same conditions on CTR. This is not to suggest that the national security imperative will indefinitely hold together a pro Nunn Lugar constituency in the House. Indeed, Dellums' impending exodus might well adversely affect Nunn Lugar, since Dellums was one of the few seasoned legislators on either side of the aisle who was willing and able to clearly articulate the national security purposes of these programs.


The Executive Branch

Strong support for Nunn Lugar throughout the national security bureaucracy in the first Clinton term prevented it from becoming merely a footnote on the nation's national security policy agenda. As the scope of the Gore Chernomyrdin Commission expanded to include a growing range of Nunn Lugar issues, Defense Secretary William Perry and Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary were joined by Vice President Al Gore in internal policy debates over the value of expanding U.S. Russian nuclear related cooperation. The often heated exchanges between officials in DOD, DOE, the State Department and the NSC, which characterized the early years of Nunn Lugar, were alleviated considerably by the 1995 "balkanization" of the program. In this compromise, budgetary and administrative responsibility for several program elements were transferred from DOD to DOE and State. Although some officials worried that this would fragment a cohesive national effort to the detriment of programmatic effectiveness, allocations for many of these programs actually increased in subsequent years.

One key benefit of the political compromise was increased interaction between DOE and MINATOM, with expansion of lab to lab MPC&A work. O'Leary also developed a personal rapport with the much criticized director of MINATOM, Viktor Mikhailov. This positive relationship, combined with DOE contracting practices that are less formalized and more quickly implemented than those used by DOD, proved crucial to the continued expansion of Nunn Lugar. DOE's involvement, along with elements of the NSC and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, meant that MPC&A work in the NIS could be rapidly expanded, and a whole range of MINATOM related problems such as reactor core conversion could be at least discussed at the informal, technical level. The addition of Energy and the State Department to the list of agencies responsible for executing Nunn Lugar programs also contributed to larger than expected increases in Nunn Lugar funding for the MPC&A program just as that program was prepared to absorb these increases.

However, support for Nunn Lugar at the cabinet level did not translate into political attentiveness in the White House. The narrow defeat of the first Solomon amendment in 1996 had little noticeable effect on the program's low priority. To be sure, mid and senior level NSC and DOD staff played crucial roles in responding to CTR's "near death experience" resulting from the amendment. However, internal administration fights over issues such as how to manage and fund reactor core conversion distracted the main players from their shared objective of sustaining Nunn Lugar. At the same time, congressional concerns that Nunn Lugar was not effectively coordinated arose, and even administration officials conceded that they were less aware of their counterparts' specific activities as the NSC coordinated Nunn Lugar working group met less and less frequently. The ultimate price of "balkanization" was an increasing lack of coordination among the principal Nunn Lugar implementing agencies.

Many of the key players left office by the end of Clinton's first term, and, while this undoubtedly afforded opportunities to move beyond first term interagency politics, the administration lost some of its institutional memory. In 1997, key administration officials were actively engaged in defeating the Solomon Rohrabacher amendment. But the general leadership void on these issues remained. Indeed, the recently announced reorganization of the DOD branch which coordinates CTR policy, an initial void in DOE leadership after its primary advocates left by early 1997, and the continuing prospect of State Department absorption of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency together called into question the administration's commitment to non proliferation. While the leadership void at DOE has now been filled, many in the administration are taking a wait and see approach to the Pentagon's reorganization plans.

At least as far as Nunn Lugar is concerned, some of this is now changing at the cabinet level. In one of the first pro active cabinet level interventions since the Perry era, Defense Secretary William Cohen and Energy Secretary Federico Peña made a joint presentation on Nunn Lugar for nearly a dozen senior senators in November 1997. With at least the political support for the CTR and MPC&A programs seemingly secure, the only remaining question is whether Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be able to take steps to assure the continued funding of programs in the purview of her department. Questions surrounding the State Department's capacity to replace science center and export control funding once provided by DOD remain to be answered. State Department budget officials appear especially hard pressed to find funding for these important non proliferation tasks during a period of contracting State Department budgets, even though these items represent only a modest percentage of regional assistance efforts.


Conclusions and Recommendations

The following programmatic recommendations would strengthen each major Nunn Lugar program and improve the ability of mid and upper level officials to integrate the work between their respective programs within existing structural and political constraints:

DOD should allow CTR to expand as fast as the Russian government will let it grow. In early 1997, the Russian Ministry of Economy informed CTR officials that the ministry had prepared a list of 29 additional START related projects. The specifics of these projects are not now publicly known. However, it remains in the U.S. national interest to carry on the START process using the inducements available through the CTR program. Economic conditions will result in the further reduction of Russian strategic nuclear weapons toward START II levels in the short term, and probably well below these levels over the next decade. Using CTR, the United States should continue to expedite a structured and verifiable build down and restructuring of Russian strategic forces by providing any additional funds that could be effectively absorbed by Russia above and beyond the FY 1998 CTR allocation of $382 million.

Increase and help identify outside funding for Russian chemical weapons demilitarization. When the Duma ratified the CWC in 1997, it stipulated that Russian CWC compliance would be contingent upon the several billion dollars in assistance necessary to complete a minimally sufficient chemical weapons destruction campaign. Yet, only up to $500 million in Nunn Lugar funds is planned for this purpose. Progress toward CWC implementation will require sustained CTR contributions over the next few years, combined with a renewed U.S. led effort to integrate potential European Union and other contributors into a long term Russian CW destruction effort. Enabling Russian compliance with the CWC is crucial not only to the goal of securing and eliminating chemical weapons worldwide, but to sustaining Russian political support for continued nuclear security cooperation.

Fully fund Russian plutonium reactor conversion, and make additional funds available for the chosen reactor fuel. The $41 million in appropriated CTR and DOE funds in FY 1998 combined with CTR's planned $30 million FY 1999 request puts the United States on track to contribute its portion of anticipated expenses by the time the reactors are all converted by 2001. But a reactor fueling decision has not been made. If the HEU fueling option favored by Russia is chosen, the United States should accelerate its MPC&A expenditures to safeguard easily diverted HEU fuel elements. However, if it is technically and politically feasible to bring the reactor agreement in line with its policy to reduce the use of HEU in foreign reactors, the United States should help supply the resources needed to manufacture specialized, LEU fuel for the reactors.

Expand MPC&A as quickly as possible. DOE's MPC&A program appears well poised to help secure hundreds of metric tons of fissile materials over the next decade. Even under optimistic MPC&A funding scenarios, however, the NIS will spend only a fraction of the amount annually spent by DOE to protect U.S. nuclear materials and non deployed warheads. To broaden and accelerate the extent of cooperation at all 50 NIS sites, the MPC&A program could easily absorb an additional annual investment of $30 million to $50 million over the FY 1998 allocation of $137 million. Specifically, this increased funding would allow the program to accelerate MPC&A upgrades within the large sites of Russia's nuclear weapons complex and at Russian naval nuclear fuel sites, expand MPC&A training activities and strengthen national nuclear regulatory systems within the NIS.

Place the science centers on a reliable funding path. Over the past year, the science centers have turned away thousands of peer reviewed studies with the potential of employing thousands more former NIS weapons scientists and technicians. This has been due in part to the termination of DOD cash transfers to the State Department for the centers, and in part because of internal State Department politics in the context of downward pressure on foreign policy resources. After allocating $15 million in funding last year, and after using the remainder of the previously transferred DOD funds, State is expected to request roughly $25 million for the science centers in FY 1999. However, increasing program funding by 15 20 percent beyond this level would allow a larger share of unfunded proposals to receive funding while at the same time maintaining rigorous program standards.

Redouble U.S. efforts to improve NIS export control systems. State Department export control programs in the NIS totaled $3.6 million in FY 1998. Spending on these programs has not amounted to more than several million dollars over each of the past two years. Ongoing development of NIS export control institutions offers a growing opportunity for effective U.S. assistance. As the anticipated, three fold increase in the State Department's FY 1999 request for the region suggests, a more concerted effort must be made to integrate the key roles played by State as well as other relevant agencies.

Highlight the range of non proliferation benefits emerging from the IPP while providing additional resources when required to expand the range and scope of U.S. industry participation. Given the inherent difficulties associated with any product development project, especially in the NIS, the half dozen fully commercialized IPP projects and the scores of second stage projects already attracting private investment demonstrate the commercialization potential of this program. Between FY 1994 and FY 1997, the IPP sometimes received no funding at all, and at other times received as much as $35 million. DOE is likely to request $30 million for FY 1999, the same amount received this year. Rather than making these funds available exclusively to projects already identified by U.S. lab officials, some funding should be set aside for newer, more promising initiatives to improve economic opportunities in the closed nuclear cities.


The President's Role

Beyond the existing Nunn Lugar work, the United States has other national security and non proliferation priorities in the NIS. Some, like the HEU purchase agreement, are already funded but could possibly be accelerated. Still other priorities, such as warhead dismantlement (under the START process or outside of it) and plutonium disposition, require additional diplomatic progress and financial resources before being realized. Some low level Nunn Lugar programs actually address these issues; a DOE project is underway that demonstrates for Russian officials how plutonium "pits" can be efficiently destroyed, and the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow has funded various research projects on plutonium disposition. Unfortunately, the leverage represented by these low level projects, not to mention the overall political and economic leverage represented by Nunn Lugar as a whole, will not be brought to bear on these larger objectives without a significant, high level effort.

Thus, in addition to the above programmatic recommendations, the following two steps should be taken by the president to further increase the internal coherence of Nunn Lugar and make it more amenable to the pursuit of broader U.S. NIS objectives:

Remedy the effects of programmatic "balkanization" while drawing on its successes. Nunn Lugar's 1995 fragmentation ultimately afforded greater resources in the near term than might have otherwise been available for U.S. NIS cooperative nuclear security relations, while at the same time broadening the scope of interaction between U.S. and NIS officials and scientists. But it also had longer term negative effects on program coordination and focus. At present, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, special advisor to the president and secretary of state on assistance to the NIS, has formal jurisdiction over all NIS aid efforts, including Nunn Lugar. But in practice the coordination of U.S. NIS nuclear cooperation is lacking, and implementation is, of course, in the purview of the various semi autonomous executive branch agencies.

While some of the larger CTR dismantlement endeavors essentially stand alone, other CTR activities (like reactor conversion) along with many IPP, science center and MPC&A efforts related to fissile material production and control issues, each target different aspects of larger problems. Thus, although threat reduction priorities may be complementary, cumulative resources and political leverage could be greater and programmatic gaps plugged. For example, although substantial resources are employed to help achieve U.S. security objectives relating to the Russian nuclear cities, no program is currently devoted to helping Russia develop indigenous MPC&A capabilities. Similarly, while there have been some modest low level IPP and science center interactions with biological and chemical weapons personnel throughout the NIS, these remain underutilized as levers to achieve broader policy objectives.

Overall, the executive branch needs a better mechanism to coordinate what have become a disparate set of non proliferation efforts in the NIS. While the Gore Chernomyrdin Commission provides a useful umbrella for brokering projects often conceptualized at the mid level, additional, sustained White House leadership is essential to advancing a comprehensive agenda with adequate resources. To this end, President Clinton should appoint a senior special advisor on the NSC staff to lead a revitalized Nunn Lugar interagency working group and coordinate the relevant work of all involved agencies.

The special advisor must have the capacity to propose initiatives and technical solutions to the many challenges facing the Nunn Lugar program. Appropriately staffed involvement at the technical level could help break the bureaucratic logjams that have slowed innovation and resulted from the lack of non proliferation leadership.

Work more effectively with Congress to secure long term support for Nunn Lugar. The work of the proposed coordinator should have a positive impact on congressional critics who have argued that Nunn Lugar as a whole has often been inadequately coordinated within the executive branch. However, it is the job of the president and his senior security policy officials to engage Congress and the American electorate, which are fearful of nuclear diversions, proliferation and terrorism. As such, Nunn Lugar should virtually sell itself if placed in the context of a possible theft or purchase of weapons usable materials by a state or terrorist organization.

If the administration wishes to maintain maximum flexibility while blunting anti Russian attacks on security cooperation from skeptical legislators and other critics, it must more fully discuss the proliferation threat so that future targets of opportunity—similar to the November 1997 CTR purchase of 21 MiG 29 aircraft, including 14 nuclear capable versions, from Moldova (see "U.S. Buys Moldovan Aircraft to Prevent Acquisition by Iran," ACT, October 1997 ) or the 1994 airlift of approximately 600 kilograms of unsecured HEU from Kazakhstan—can be accomodated.

Administration officials must continue to underscore that Russian vulner abilities in the nuclear complex often pose security risks for the United States, and that Nunn Lugar has already brought a degree of order and accountability to demoralized and impoverished nuclear institutions, but more work remains.

Although Washington and Moscow obviously disagree on some matters of security policy, their common interests in nuclear stability and non proliferation remain prima facie justifications for a continued, robust Nunn Lugar program.

Jason D. Ellis is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Todd Perry is Washington representative for arms control and international security at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

William F. Burns, former director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), spoke at the annual dinner of the Arms Control Association (ACA) October 14 on "The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy." A member of the ACA Board of Directors, Burns was director of a similarly titled study by the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) released in mid 1997. (See ACT, May 1997.)

Burns, a retired U.S. Army major general, has been involved with U.S. nuclear weapons and U.S. nuclear policy since the mid 1950s, when he was commissioned in the field artillery and assigned to one of the first nuclear armed artillery battalions in Europe. Burns was appointed in 1981 as the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the intermediate range nuclear forces negotiations, a position he held until 1986 when he was appointed principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political military affairs. Burns retired from the Army in 1987 when he became ACDA's ninth director.

In 1992, Burns served as the first U.S. special envoy to the denuclearization negotiations with the states of the former Soviet Union, and in 1993 signed the U.S. Russian agreement on the U.S. purchase from Russia of highly enriched uranium derived from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons. Burns now resides in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he is a distinguished fellow at the Army War College. The following is an edited version of his remarks.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here tonight for a number of reasons. First of all, I think the study we did is important, and it's an audience like this, which by better understanding the study and what motivated us, can help us to disseminate the ideas it contained. Secondly, this audience is filled with old friends, and although I would certainly not want to try to identify all of them here, let me just identify two. First, my mentor, Paul Nitze. If it had not been for Paul, I'd be a retired one star right now probably trying to teach someplace. I consider Paul to be the father of arms control in this generation. The other individual, the individual without whom we would not have had a CISAC study is Jo Husbands, the staff director of CISAC.

What I'd like to do this evening is not just talk about the CISAC study, but talk in more general terms about assessing the progress and future of arms control. I became involved in arms control many, many years ago, but I didn't realize it. I didn't realize that the military, whether you're a lieutenant or a captain or a major or a general, are certainly your primary arms controllers. When I first became involved with nuclear weapons in the mid 1950s, the Army didn't know very much about nuclear weapons but we saluted the flag and took them. We were given no particular assets with our nuclear weapons, beyond what an 8 inch howitzer battalion had.

The first nuclear weapon I saw was a training round. It contained only Uranium 238, not Uranium 235 [U 235] and was not capable of nuclear detonation. It was in the back of an M 109 van tied down with a frayed piece of hemp, and a corporal in the van was going to tell us how to put five components together and make an 8 inch projectile. After about three hours and after many false starts on his part, with the manual we were able to more or less put the projectile together. After this we were certified as being able to put together "a nuclear round," and two weeks later we deployed to the United States Army Europe.

In Europe, we suddenly found ourselves proud owners of not only a training round but several of those olive green colored nuclear rounds. For the next three years my battalion was custodian of these rounds. It was an interesting situation because there was very little guidance compared to the guidance in later years. This was before the days of Permissive Action Links or very elaborate release systems. Release was basically tied to the command chain. I had no doubt in my military mind that if my battalion commander said "Shoot," we would shoot, and if my battalion commander said "Don't shoot," we would not shoot. It was as simple as that.

The safest place to secure nuclear rounds was in the basement of our battalion headquarters building. The building had been the former Gestapo headquarters of the town and it had cells behind steel and barred doors, making a very secure arrangement.

What strikes me about this particular weapon—a gun assembly type weapon that is very primitive by today's standards—is that it's the kind of weapon that a terrorist organization or a small, economically deprived nation state could build with a reasonably adequate machine shop; 75 to 80 kilograms of stolen U 235 or maybe plutonium; and a couple of individuals who had degrees, perhaps even a graduate degree, in physics. All you need is a system that allows you to take two sub critical masses of uranium and jam them together long enough so they become super critical. What concerns me today is that the technology of 50 years ago could be used to build a weapon that could end up in the hands of a fairly small terrorist group.

Have we made progress in the last few years? I certainly think we have. Let me give you a report card on where I think we stand.

In terms of bilateral nuclear weapons reductions, that is, between the United States and Russia involving delivery systems with ranges of over 500 kilometers, I'd give us a B+. We have the 1988 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces [INF] Treaty, which most people forget about today but has been very, very successful. Although the INF Treaty is of indefinite duration, the on site inspections conducted under the treaty will conclude in 2001. With all the talk about START II and START III, it is important to remember that we do have a START I agreement and we are dismantling weapons at a pace somewhere near the capacity of both sides. So, I'd give us a B+ in that area.

In bilateral reductions in delivery systems with ranges below 500 kilometers, I'd give us only a D. When Presidents Bush and Gorbachev announced in 1991 unilateral reductions in non strategic weapons—weapons in Europe—I thought it was a great idea. I've rethought that since. I think it was a terrible idea because in the process we really lost count of non strategic weapons, which are the weapons that can most easily be proliferated.

As for the accountability of nuclear material in Russia, I'd give us a C+. I had great hopes in 1993 that the agreements we had signed under Nunn Lugar would give us a clear handle on these materials, and it has helped. But we've been very slow in the last few years in moving to build a facility there to store the material, to develop a system of accountability to which the Russians agreed, and to encourage greater openness with regard to this nuclear material in the hands the Russians.

In verification procedures I'd give us a B. I think this grade mostly accrues to the On Site Inspection Agency [OSIA], which has done a tremendous job in establishing routine procedures for the verification of all sorts of things pertaining to nuclear weapons. OSIA has been able to respond with great alacrity to the kinds of unknowns that have developed over the last several years.

With regard to the inclusion of third parties in the control of nuclear weapons, I would give only a C. We haven't done very much with the Chinese, although some would argue that that's a very difficult task. Well, it was a very difficult task in 1981 to begin to convince the Soviets that "zero zero" was a reasonable option in the INF talks. We could exert ourselves a little bit more in dealing with the Chinese. We also should be exerting ourselves more with the British and the French to make sure that, if we can make substantial reductions in the U.S. and Russian arsenals, the British and the French are prepared to join that process.

The final area to which I would give a grade is surveillance and defeat of non state actors such as terrorist groups bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. I would say that we've got a solid D or D+ here. One of the problems the United States government has is that it often sloganizes itself into meaninglessness. Remember counter terrorism in the 1970s? We were going to solve the problem of terrorism in the world. We were also going to solve the problem of insurgency in the 1960s. And I just watched on television a travelogue on Vietnam, where we didn't make out so well. I hope that's not the case in our counter proliferation efforts, where we're at the beginning stage, not the end stage.

The greatest threat to our security today is not the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of other nation states, necessarily, but the threat posed by the proliferation of these weapons into the hands of states that may not show the same restraint that the nuclear weapon states have over the last 50 years.


The CISAC Study

Let me talk a bit about the CISAC study, which is entitled "The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy." It was a difficult undertaking because we had a very broad range of views in our committee. I think the strength of our study is that after literally two and a half years of arguments—face to face or via fax and e mail—we were able to reach a fairly strong consensus and there were fairly strong arguments supporting that consensus.

The study recommends significant changes to U.S. nuclear weapons policies to reflect the realities of the post Cold War world. The central recommendation is that the core mission of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter the use of nuclear weapons by others. Reflecting this limited role, the study calls for a regime of progressive constraints on U.S. and Russian forces to levels of 2,000 strategic warheads and then to levels of 1,000 total warheads each, with concurrent steps to reduce alert levels and reorient nuclear doctrine away from rapid, massive responses. It further concludes that, given the right security environment, verification procedures and participation of other declared nuclear powers, reductions to a few hundred nuclear warheads would assure the core deterrence mission. Finally, the study examined a number of paths by which the possession of nuclear weapons might be safely prohibited even though their absolute permanent elimination might not be guaranteed.

I assume most of you have read the study, and I'm not going to bore you with a line by line recital of all of the study's many conclusions and recommendations. Let me explain to you what the CISAC study does not say or does not do.

The CISAC study does not minimize the continuing value of nuclear weapons in deterring the escalation of conflicts into unlimited war among major powers. In fact, it suggests, quite the contrary, that nuclear weapons, even after they are reduced to very low levels, or even prohibited, will continue to deter conventional war among major powers simply because these weapons can always be resurrected. The study does not advocate a unilateral commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons now. We are not ban the bomb advocates in the sense that we say that the primary necessity is to eliminate nuclear weapons. We recognize that nuclear weapons have served a necessary and essential role for the last 50 years and that to eliminate nuclear weapons right now is not possible. We do not advocate unilateral reductions by the United States. We do not ignore the threat of other weapons of mass destruction. We do not advocate de alerting because of perceived concerns that U.S. nuclear weapons are unsafe or dangerous in any absolute sense. We do not advocate the prohibition of all ballistic missile defenses. And we do not advocate the abandonment of target planning against potential nuclear adversaries.

What the CISAC study does do is provide tools to continue the process of reducing nuclear weapons, both strategic and non strategic, in the hands of declared nuclear weapon states. It also provides motivation for the non declared weapon states to reassess their security needs, and provides the United States with timely methods of monitoring the stockpiles of others.

The CISAC response to the present nuclear situation suggests the following: There are risks in the world today because of nuclear weapons. They're not the same risks that existed when the United States and the Soviet Union faced off against each other, but they're still risks. The risks now tend to be associated with proliferation and the dangers of erroneous or unauthorized or accidental use of nuclear weapons.

The CISAC study really argues for a two pronged approach to address these dangers. First, the reduction of nuclear weapons to the lowest possible levels, whatever those levels might be. And second, a concomitant regime of progressive constraints which will ensure that nuclear weapons, as they are being reduced, are less likely to be used. I group these constraints into several kinds of initiatives.

First of all, there are the policy initiatives. We argue that it's time for the United States to adopt a no first use policy because the first use policy has more or less outlived its usefulness. But, we argue that if we are to adopt a no first use policy, the United States must maintain strong conventional forces so that it can meet its commitments and, if you will, execute its will without resort to nuclear weapons.

I don't think many of us really realize, unless we've done a lot of traveling outside the United States, what the effects of the Gulf War have been on the rest of the world. They give us much more credit than we deserve for our conventional capability. They believe that the M 1 tank will cut through anything anybody has, and that the F 16 fighter and the various Stealth fighters and bombers can do what they want and there's no stopping them. They believe that the U.S. cruise missiles are absolutely systems against which there is no defense.

And ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to keep the rest of the world thinking that. But, that means that we need to maintain a strong conventional defense.

We believe that we must maintain a strong system of strategic warning. I don't mean warning of a missile attack, but warning through intelligence channels, so we know well in advance, years in advance, perhaps, of any other nation that might be considering a clandestine buildup. We believe strongly that we should maintain the ABM Treaty as it currently exists with regard to a nationwide strategic defense, but we should also ensure that our forces deployed in the field are protected against missile attack.

With regard to operational initiatives, we believe that mutual de alerting should be employed as soon as possible to expand the amount of time—from minutes to hours to days, perhaps to weeks—that decision makers have in the event of a nuclear crisis. We also believe that to maintain the deterrent credibility of our forces, the readiness of individual nuclear elements must remain high.

With regard to technical initiatives, we have a number of challenges ahead of us. If we are to bring down the numbers of nuclear weapons that we have, and we believe that a level below 1,000 is possible, then it's essential that this thousand include all nuclear warheads—deployed, non deployed and so forth. Right now we don't have a system or a theory or an approach that will allow us to count, with great accuracy, nuclear warheads. So we believe that verification of compliance in such a regime will require us to develop a technical system for counting warheads.

We also need to develop systems for securing warheads. If a de alerting measure requires you to remove warheads and place them in a common storage area, obviously under national control, then how do you secure these warheads to the satisfaction of the other side? Sandia National Laboratory has done some very interesting work along these lines in cooperative monitoring, and it seems to me that that kind of work must be extended.

Also important from a technical point of view is how you extend this regime to third parties. In one sense it's fairly simple for the United States and Russia to come up with verification measures. But we found out with the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe [CFE] Treaty how difficult it is to extend these measures to multilateral agreements. I found out in 1988 how difficult it was to take the bilateral INF agreement and extend it to our allies where these systems were based. In 1988, we had not really thought too much about how we were going to deal with the verification provisions of our own agreement. I remember sitting in a meeting in the State Department when it was suggested that we should talk to the basing country allies about inspections. So we called a meeting and within about 10 minutes it was obvious that we were not prepared to deal with allies' concerns.

I remember one representative who said, "Do you realize that you're prepared to sign an agreement with the Soviet Union that authorizes you and the Soviets to do away with our customs regulations and bring anyone into our country without our permission?" And I said, "Well, we haven't really thought about it that quite that way." Nine months later we concluded negotiations with five basing countries that would enable us to execute the verification provisions of the INF Treaty. We cannot afford to make this miscalculation again.

That convinced me that we should not take it as a given that at some time in the future other nuclear powers are suddenly going to say to the United States: "You've done such a great job in this. We're just anxious to sign your treaty as another partner." It's not going to happen. We must take that into consideration right now.

There are other technical problems as well. For instance, let's say that at some point we abandon our nuclear triad. What does that mean? How far do you shift into what we call "adaptive targeting" and away from the present single integrated operational plan [SIOP] targeting? What are the effects as you get down to very low numbers, say, in the hundreds of warheads? One of the issues we raised in our study was the fact that we will probably never be able to eliminate nuclear weapons, at least in a verifiable way. But perhaps nuclear weapons can be prohibited in terms of their use. We haven't really thought enough about that, and that's an area that we suggest needs to be explored.

I think it's important that we learn from our own experience. Let's make sure that we understand the technical problems that proliferators face, and how we dealt with them in a less sophisticated time and how we might deal with them in the future. By profiting from what we learn, perhaps we can cope better with issues of "loose nukes" in the 21st century as the declared nuclear powers continue to reduce their stockpiles. I am optimistic that we can do this and do it well.

The CISAC study, obviously, is not a "be all" and an "end all"; it's a beginning. I encourage and charge others to think more deeply than we were able about some of the problems that we raised. But I see a general sea change beginning. Some of the things that we talk about in the study would have been anathema five years ago, certainly 10 years ago, in government circles. Today, in my private conversations with individuals in government, the anathema is not holding quite as strongly.

So, it seems to me that now is the time and now is the opportunity, for us as individuals and groups we might represent here tonight, to move forward and seize the opportunities as they present themselves, to ensure that the Pandora's box which was opened in 1945 is at least managed carefully, if the lid cannot be shut completely. Thank you very much.

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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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.


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