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– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
EU / NATO

Abandonment of Open Skies Treaty Would Undermine U.S. and European Security

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For Immediate Release: October 9, 2019

Media ContactsKingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104; Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202-463-8270 ext 110.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The Trump administration is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from yet another key arms control treaty: the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. If President Trump decides to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty, it would undermine the security of the United States and European allies, including Ukraine, say leading arms control and national security experts.

The Open Skies Treaty entered into force in 2002 and currently has 34 states-parties, including the United States and Russia. The treaty allows for information-sharing that increases transparency about military forces among members, thereby contributing to stability and improving each participating state’s national security.

The treaty allows aerial imaging through short-notice, unarmed observation flights over each other's entire territory. The flights allow observing parties to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles. Open Skies aircraft can only be equipped with cameras verifiably limited to a resolution below state-of-the-art technology, and the treaty disallows the collection of any other electromagnetic signals. The 34 states-parties have yearly quotas on overflights and must make the collected information available to all treaty parties.

Since entering into force, the United States has conducted almost 200 flights over Russian territory. Russia has carried out more than 70 flights over U.S. territory. U.S. allies continue to value and rely on the Open Skies Treaty for imagery collection.

National security officials, members of Congress, and arms control experts are warning the Trump administration that withdrawal would be "reckless" and would reduce the ability of the United States and European allies to monitor and counter Russian aggression against Ukraine.


QUICK QUOTES

"The Open Skies Treaty provides information about Russian military activities for the U.S. and our allies and provides the Russians with insight on our capabilities. Such transparency reduces uncertainty and the risk of conflict and miscalculations due to worst-case assumptions."
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

"U.S. flights over Ukraine and western Russia have yielded valuable data, easily shared between allies. The flights strengthen ties between the United States and its allies and reassure non-NATO members on Russia’s periphery. Withdrawing from the treaty would be another step in the collapse of U.S. leadership and further alienate U.S. allies and partners."
Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy


RESOURCES


EXPERTS AVAILABLE IN WASHINGTON

To schedule an interview with or appearance by an expert on U.S-Russian arms control agreements, please contact Tony Fleming, director for communications, (202) 463-8270 ext 110.

  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, [email protected], (202) 463-8270 ext. 104

  • Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State, and member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association, [email protected], (571) 264-7053

  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, [email protected], 202-277-3478
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The treaty provides transparency about Russian military activities for the U.S. and our allies. Withdrawing from the treaty would be another step in the collapse of U.S. leadership and further alienate U.S. allies and partners, note arms control experts.

Country Resources:

French Proposal on Hold as Tensions Mount | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 24, 2019

French Proposal on Hold as Tensions Mount The latest attempt by European powers to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal hit a roadblock this month when the Trump Administration hesitated to engage in a French-sponsored initiative. In August, French President Emmanuel Macron offered a proposal before world leaders at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France for a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran in exchange for its full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to the plan, the $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil and would help compensate...

New U.S. Intermediate-Range Missiles Aren’t Needed for Precision Strike in Europe

With the Aug. 2 withdrawal of the United States from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which ended the deployment of intermediate-range missiles by NATO and the former Soviet Union in Europe, plans to develop a new generation of treaty-noncompliant missiles have led to fears that they will return to the continent. Defense Secretary Mark Esper referred that same day to the need for “proactive measures” to develop new intermediate-range capabilities in the European theater. The Department of Defense requested nearly $100 million in fiscal year 2020 to develop three new...

NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg's INF Response Is Inadequate

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NATO Ministerial to Discuss INF Treaty


June 2019
By Shervin Taheran

NATO defense ministers will meet June 26 to prepare defense and deterrence measures “to ensure the security of the alliance” if Russia does not come back into compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, according to a European official speaking with Arms Control Today.

The meeting will come just weeks before the United States is expected to withdraw from the treaty, alleging that Russian deployment of the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile constitutes a treaty violation. NATO believes the missile can strike targets in Europe. (See ACT, March 2019.)

The INF Treaty bans the testing and deployment of land-based missiles that can fly distances of 500 to 5,000 kilometers. The agreement, concluded by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, significantly eased tensions in Europe over Soviet and U.S. deployments of these systems, which can reach their targets rapidly and with little warning. The likely termination of the treaty on Aug. 2 opens the door to the possible redeployment of INF Treaty-range missiles in Europe, which experts say could increase escalation risks and the potential for miscalculation in a crisis.

In an April 4 press statement following a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Washington, the ministers discussed “Russia’s ongoing violation” of the INF Treaty, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO “has no intention” to deploy “ground-launched nuclear missiles in Europe.” This does not preclude deploying conventionally armed INF Treaty-range missiles in NATO countries, which is what the Trump administration has announced it is seeking to develop. (See ACT, May 2019.)

The United States is “moving forward with developing ground-launched INF [Treaty]-range missile capabilities,” senior administration officials reiterated on May 15 to Congress. The work is “designed to be reversible should Russia return to compliance by verifiably destroying its INF Treaty-violating missiles, launchers, and associated support equipment,” said David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, in written testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also noted that the system ultimately developed would be “driven by our assessment of military requirements and in consultation with Congress and with our allies
and partners.”

Although the annual congressional funding process is ongoing, the House Appropriations defense subcommittee already released its version of the fiscal year 2020 budget, which effectively eliminated the requested funding for the three new INF Treaty-range missiles that the administration announced it would be pursuing following its withdrawal from the treaty. The House Armed Services Committee, led by Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), is expected to follow suit in the annual defense authorization process, but Senate Republicans are expected to support the administration’s plans.

NATO defense ministers are set to discuss how to handle the impending termination of the INF Treaty.

TAKE ACTION: Save Nuclear Arms Control (even if you don't have a Senator)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with John Bolton, National Security Adviser to the US President, during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Maxim Shipenkov/AFP/Getty Images)Unfortunately, you don't have a Senator to whom you can write in support of S.1285. But you can still take action. 

There is similar legislation in the House which your Representative can support.  

The “Richard G. Lugar and Ellen O. Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russian Nuclear Forces.” (H.R. 2529) will express the sense of Congress that the United States should seek to extend the New START Treaty so long as Russia remains in compliance. It's an important complement to the SAVE Act. 

Please use the form below to urge your Representative join her or his colleagues in cosponsoring H.R. 2529. 

You can also share this action alert with your friends who do have representation in the Senate by sharing this on Facebook or Twitter.

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The INF Treaty Crisis: Filling the Void With European Leadership


March 2019
By Nikolai Sokov

The pending demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty indicates the larger deterioration of the U.S.-Russian arms control relationship. The chances that the parties will resolve their disagreements are extremely low or, more realistically, nonexistent.

Russia displays a purported canister and launcher for the disputed 9M729 cruise missile January 23. The gesture of transparency may have been intended to demonstrate Russian willingness to save the INF Treaty, but both the United States and Russia suspended their adherence to the treaty several days later. (Photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images)The United States and Russia have each announced they will suspend adherence to the treaty, and Washington has formally announced its plans to withdraw from the pact in early August.

The next likely victim is the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). All signs suggest Washington and Moscow will not be able to engage in constructive dialogue on arms control for a long time, perhaps years. Others must fill that void to prevent an unregulated arms race, and key European nations are best positioned for that role.

There is little doubt that the gap between the U.S. and Russian positions can be bridged as long as the two nations view their differences as technical issues, but the problems are virtually insurmountable at the political level. The United States will continue to insist that Russia admit to violating the INF Treaty by deploying a missile that can fly farther than the treaty allows, but Russia will never concede such a violation, even if it were to agree to remove the offending 9M729 missile. Similarly, Russia could drop its concern that the U.S. MK-41 missile defense launcher could be used to fire treaty-prohibited missiles, but the United States has so far refused to treat that issue as a valid concern or allow Russia to inspect the launcher. In other words, broader foreign policy and domestic political impulses are prevailing over substantive arms control or security considerations.

Some technical discussion was initiated, but too late. At a January 15, 2019, meeting in Geneva, Russia reportedly offered a demonstration of the 9M729 missile while the United States outlined procedures for the verifiable elimination of that missile. Predictably, the United States said the Russian demonstration would not be enough to prove the missile’s range, and Russia rejected both U.S.-proposed procedures for such a demonstration and the procedures for the verified elimination of the missiles as excessively intrusive. Such disagreements are natural at an early stage of negotiations, but the remaining time is short, and political conditions are not conducive for mutual concessions.

Worse still, the situation concerning the extension of New START, which expires in early 2021, is almost identical. Russia has declared it would agree to such an extension only if its concerns about the U.S. implementation of the treaty are addressed. Moscow says it is not able to confirm the irreversibility of the conversion of missile tubes on U.S. strategic submarines. The United States has denied any wrongdoing and rejected any additional verification measures. This conflict has remained overshadowed by the INF Treaty crisis so far, but after that treaty’s demise, New START will move to the forefront.

Given these developments, it will be vital to begin consultations on possible new arms control measures without delay because an unregulated, nontransparent, and unpredictable military balance is simply too dangerous. The collapse of arms control regimes is driven primarily by political factors, so the prospects of new consultations will depend primarily on how the INF Treaty will end, namely, whether relevant actors demonstrate, even if only indirectly, that they are prepared to start looking beyond the INF Treaty. After all, in diplomacy, signals and appearance matter as much as substance, sometimes even more.

The prospects for a renewed arms control effort will be defined by answers to two related questions: Who will agree to talk to Russia, and with whom will Russia agree to talk?

Who Will Negotiate With Russia?

The likelihood of serious U.S.-Russian bilateral engagement seems minimal. Interaction in the remaining months of the INF Treaty’s existence will continue to be rancorous, an atmosphere that will likely persist as the deadline for an extension of New START approaches. The political atmosphere in the United States is not conducive to a serious dialogue with Moscow, and the issue of INF Treaty compliance, which will remain unresolved, is bound to generate strong opposition to a new exercise in arms control because Russia will be seen as untrustworthy by definition. Resumption of a serious bilateral dialogue will likely take years.

One alternative would be for Europe to take a larger role in engaging Russia on arms control issues. Although a more proactive European role is feasible and desirable, certain challenges must be understood and addressed to ensure success.

The first is the potential risk of undermining Atlantic solidarity and having such a new role be seen as a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although the concern is certainly valid, Atlantic solidarity is not synonymous with providing unquestioning support of the United States or of taking the most unyielding position possible on Russia. Solidarity presupposes consensus on policy decisions, but at the stage of policy development, debates are feasible and welcome.

Second, the probability of Europe becoming a single actor appears low (members of both NATO and the European Union differ considerably on handling Russia), so the burden of new arms control initiatives will have to be borne by individual countries. This will become particularly vital if the United States decides to deploy new intermediate-range weapons in Europe under bilateral agreements rather than joint NATO arrangements.

The better option is for Germany or other key European nations to take the leadership reins. Germany has been increasingly active in promoting new approaches to arms control, marked in  2016 by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s initiative to launch a structured dialogue with Russia within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.1 More recently, Germany has become even more active on these issues under Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose call for a renewed dialogue on arms control, rather surprisingly, has enjoyed the support of the United States and Russia.2

Third, European countries will likely find it difficult to include China in a future dialogue. Engaging Chinese experts is possible, but the prospects are not particularly encouraging. Nonetheless, the value of restarting serious arms control dialogue will overshadow that shortcoming. If that endeavor succeeds, China could be integrated at a later date.

Areas for European Discussion

Given the challenges of Europe-wide representation, Germany and other European nations could play this vital role in several ways in the coming months and years. First, they can provide a platform for a wide-ranging discussion about a new framework for arms control. The German initiatives for renewed dialogue move in the right direction, but conferences cannot provide answers; they are good primarily for formulating questions. Perhaps even more vital is making such a platform sustainable. That will require creating a series of back-channel discussions, often called Track 1.5 and Track 2 meetings, to enable nongovernmental experts as well as national officials in unofficial capacities to begin to formulate solutions to technical, political, and legal issues on a broad variety of outstanding issues.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet the press after discussing INF Treaty issues in Moscow January 18. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)Options for regulating weapons with nuclear and conventional capability. NATO in the 1960s and 1970s and Russia from 2000 to 2014 relied on nuclear weapons to balance their adversaries’ conventional advantage. It seems increasingly likely that the United States and NATO could respond in a similar way to the acquisition and deployment of more conventionally armed weapons by Russia. Consequently, arms control no longer can be limited to nuclear weapons.

Tactical, or short-range, nuclear weapons. The traditional arms control approach, which has emphasized counting launchers and missiles, not warheads, does not apply well to this category of weapons, so it will be necessary to count warheads for limits on tactical nuclear weapons. Any breakthrough on this issue will help reframe strategic nuclear weapons arms control in the direction proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010 to address strategic and nonstrategic, deployed and nondeployed nuclear weapons.3

Sea- and air-launched intermediate-range weapons in and around Europe. None of these weapons were limited by the INF Treaty, an omission that was a major Soviet concession during the treaty’s negotiation and will not be repeated. Today, Russia has similar weapons of its own, and their number is rapidly growing along with their capabilities, especially with the planned introduction of hypersonic weapons.

The role of missile defense in European security and options for regulating it. Missile defense remains an untouchable topic for the West, but that situation is not sustainable. Russia will refuse to conclude new arms control agreements that exclude missile defense, and its own defense capability is growing. U.S. and NATO concerns about Russian defensive weapons deployments in Kaliningrad is an indicator of a much larger problem that cannot be addressed without putting Western defense assets on the table.

Confidence-building and transparency measures between military forces deployed on land, sea, and air in Europe. Although not directly weapons related, this issue is timely, given the deterioration of the security environment and the growing likelihood of unintended confrontations with escalation potential. The need to address these risks in new regimes is acute. Luckily because they are easier to achieve, they should be made an independent avenue for early action.

Developing Verification Tools

In addition to these discussions, an independent role of European countries could emphasize technical issues, especially accounting and verification. Nongovernmental and international organizations have done much forward-looking work in that area—the UN Institute for Disarmament Research has been particularly productive—but that work needs to be transferred to at least a semiofficial dialogue. Arms control negotiations have shown that these issues are particularly challenging and may take a very long time. It would help if at least some relevant work is done outside formal negotiations. There is even a vehicle that could be used for focused work in that area: the European Nonproliferation and Disarmament Consortium, which consists of a network of European think tanks and research centers.

Nongovernmental work can be complemented by groups of technical experts, which are a time-honored, efficient tool for this kind of work beginning with the development in the 1950s of measures to verify limits or a ban on nuclear testing. Such groups could be initiated and sponsored by European countries, and they could pave the way for diplomats and politicians.

European Treaty Crafters

Another role for European nations could involve developing European positions or drafts of future arms control agreements. Although there was a long-term decline in arms control expertise after the end of the Cold War, interest in these issues has surged in recent years, and there is a new generation of arms control experts. In fact, a close look suggests that the arms control community in Europe is growing as fast or faster than in the United States. European countries might produce a well-developed foundation for future agreements, including possible treaty language, and negotiate them separately with the United States and Russia so that the two Cold War superpowers would come to the negotiating table with ready text proposals.

Such an endeavor would be a long shot—Europe is simply not accustomed to that role—but it is not unthinkable. The young generation of arms controllers in Europe seems to be professionally and psychologically ready to cross the traditional boundaries that Europe has set for itself and take a more proactive and central role in arms control.

Russian Acceptance of Negotiating Partner

The second major question then is with whom Russia may be prepared to seriously engage. It is not enough for Europe to assume a leading role for interacting with Russia; it is also necessary for Russia to agree to talk with Europe in a serious, professional way without trying to utilize them for other purposes. Attempts to split NATO are, in the end, one possible goal for such interaction, and it will be vital to make such interaction focused on arms control rather than on unrelated policies.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces the U.S. suspension of its INF Treaty obligations at a Febuary 1 press briefing in Washington. The following day, the State Department also formally notified Russia that the United States would withdraw from the treaty in six months. (Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)There is little reason to believe that Russia will want to engage in an arms control dialogue with the United States, although it will declare its readiness to do so. The likelihood of such dialogue was further reduced by Putin’s announcement that Moscow will no longer take a proactive approach, although all its earlier initiatives will remain on the table.4 Effectively, he has said that Russia will sit patiently and wait for others to come to it to ask, even beg, for arms control. The delay in arms control interaction will be driven not just by Washington, but equally by Moscow.

Whether Russia may be interested in a meaningful dialogue with Europe will be largely determined by Europe’s behavior during the remaining months of the INF Treaty and New START. Russia offered a positive response to German initiatives when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met his German counterpart, Maas, on January 18 in Moscow expressing readiness to “jointly consider” development of new norms on nuclear weapons and, more broadly, strategic stability.5 A closer look, however, suggests that Russian post-INF Treaty interaction with Europe is far from assured.

Europe has become a meaningful player in the INF Treaty conflict rather recently, after a briefing conducted last fall by the United States for its NATO allies to explain the U.S. position. Obviously, NATO supported this position and has tried to pressure Moscow to accept everything the United States wants. Germany has been particularly active in this regard; Maas has been making relevant statements on an almost weekly basis.

Russian Outreach

A series of events launched after the failed U.S.-Russian consultations on January 15 in Geneva apparently were intended primarily for European consumption. Russia held two such events: a briefing for diplomats stationed in Moscow on January 18, which was held by the Foreign Ministry, and the display of the controversial 9M729 cruise missile—rather the purported missile in its canister and its associated launcher—by the Defense Ministry on January 22. The former was confidential, the latter was public, and significantly, Moscow disclosed new details about that missile system, which never been seen in the public domain. On January 25, Russia presented its perspective at the NATO-Russia Council, this time again behind closed doors.

This activism can be interpreted in different ways. Some see it as evidence that “pressure is working” and that the INF Treaty could be saved with more pressure by the unified West to eventually force Moscow to accept U.S. demands before the treaty’s six-month withdrawal period. Such a development, which is not impossible but highly unlikely, would require a major Russian retreat and effectively return its policy to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s era, which is perceived today in Russia as bordering on high treason. More likely, Moscow will declare, “Well, we tried,” and happily allow the INF Treaty to end.

Another explanation for Russia’s recent outreach entails a two-fold goal. The first is to demonstrate that Moscow had “gone the extra foot”—it would be too much to say “extra mile”—so that the collapse of an important arms control treaty could be blamed on Washington. This will hardly succeed. Alternatively, Russia’s recent engagements could be an attempt to find a better interlocutor in the West, one capable of listening to Russia. It is difficult to say whether Moscow truly hopes to split the West—such an endeavor is doomed to failure—but an attempt to open a new channel for dialogue on arms control cannot be ruled out. At the very least, Europe could transfer Moscow’s messages to Washington even if it refuses to develop its own, independent approach. In other words, the recent steps might indicate that Russia is already looking beyond the INF Treaty.

Europe’s Next Steps

Moving forward, Europe will need to fashion its statements and actions in such a way that they signal Atlantic solidarity and open-mindedness about future arms control regimes. As long as the latter is present, the former will hardly be seen in Moscow as discouraging.

To achieve a proper balance between the two goals, Europe must demonstrate its ability and willingness to listen. Therefore, the decision by the majority of NATO members, including Germany, to decline the invitation to Russia’s January 22 missile demonstration was a mistake. It would have been better to attend and then criticize the insufficient transparency. After all, diplomacy is not about acceptance but about engagement. Refusal to talk does not improve prospects of an agreement; it makes agreement less likely.

A riskier but still tenable proposition for Europe would be a demonstration of some understanding of Russian concerns about the implementation of the INF Treaty, in particular by hearing Russian complaints about the MK-41 launcher and maybe others. During U.S. President George W. Bush’s first term, Moscow proposed to address armed unmanned aerial vehicles through an amendment to the INF Treaty, which would have excepted them from the definition of cruise missile, but that proposal was rejected. It is not too late to return to
that option.

With today’s U.S.-Russian animosity, illustrated by the almost-dead INF Treaty and the similarly fated New START, the only actor who can successfully talk to Russia and with whom Russia may talk is Europe or, more precisely, certain individual European countries. They have the capacity to play that role.

They can translate capacity into real action on two conditions. First, they need the political will to emerge from their traditional place on the margins to a more proactive role. Second, they need to start sending the correct signals now, without waiting for the end of the INF Treaty. The manner in which the treaty ends will determine how long the world must wait for renewed arms control. The longer the security environment is unregulated, the lower the chances for survival. During the Cold War, arms control efforts resulted from the Cuban missile crisis. Waiting for a similar stimulus is not the wisest course of action, as the world might not survive this time.

 

ENDNOTES

1. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, “More Security for Everyone in Europe: A Call for a Re-launch of Arms Control,” Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, n.d., https://www.osce.org/cio/261146?download=true (article originally published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on August 26, 2016).

2. “National Statement by Heiko Maas, Member of the German Bundestag, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the OSCE Ministerial Council,” MC.DEL/25/18, December 7, 2018, https://www.osce.org/chairmanship/405665?download=true.

3. U.S. Department of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” April 2010, p. 47, https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/defenseReviews/NPR/2010_Nuclear_Posture_Review_Report.pdf.

4. “Meeting With Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu,” February 2, 2019, http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/59763 (in Russian).

5. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Statement and Answers to Media Questions During a Joint News Conference Following Talks With Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas,” January 18, 2019, http://www.mid.ru/ru/vizity-ministra/-/asset_publisher/ICoYBGcCUgTR/content/id/3478159?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_ICoYBGcCUgTR&_101_INSTANCE_ICoYBGcCUgTR_languageId=en_GB.

 


Nikolai Sokov is a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, a program of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. A former official in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he participated in negotiations for the first and second strategic arms reduction treaties.

 

In the absence of active U.S.-Russian efforts to resolve disagreements over the INF Treaty, other nations may be
able to lead the way toward preventing a new arms race.

EU Trade Tool Seeks to Save Iran Nuclear Deal


March 2019
By Kelsey Davenport

France, Germany, and the United Kingdom established a trade mechanism in January designed to facilitate commercial transactions with Iran as the United States ratchets up pressure on Tehran. The new structure aims to allow European entities to maintain trade with Iran, but it remains unclear how the new arrangement will affect Iran’s commitment to the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left), UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (center), and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met the press in Romania on Jan. 31 to announce the creation of a financial mechanism to enable European trade with Iran in the face of U.S. sanctions.  (Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced in September 2018 that the European Union would pursue a trade mechanism, known then as the Special Purpose Vehicle, to bypass sanctions imposed by the United States following its May 2018 withdrawal from the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). (See ACT, June 2018.) Originally described as a tool for preserving legitimate trade with Iran, including oil sales, the mechanism, now known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), will initially be limited to trade exempt from U.S. sanctions. INSTEX will operate like a barter system to coordinate payments for imports and exports, bypassing U.S. sanctions targeting Iranian banks and financial messaging services.

In a Jan. 31 statement announcing INSTEX, the French, German, and UK foreign ministers said the mechanism would focus “initially on the sectors most essential to the Iranian population,” such as pharmaceutical and agricultural goods and medical devices. They described INSTEX as a “first step” and committed to explore opening the mechanism to countries outside the EU interested in legitimate trade with Iran.

For INSTEX to become operational, Iran will need to set up a similar institution to coordinate payments in Tehran.

U.S. officials quickly dismissed and condemned INSTEX. At a Feb. 13–14 international ministerial summit on the Middle East in Warsaw hosted by the United States and Poland, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called INSTEX “an effort to break” U.S. sanctions against Iran and an “ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU, and create still more distance between Europe and the United States.” He called on Europe to “stop undermining U.S. sanctions on Iran” and to join the United States “as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region, and the world the peace, security, and freedom they deserve.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed INSTEX on Feb. 14, saying that if it remains focused on humanitarian aid, INSTEX will “have nearly no impact” on the U.S. sanctions regime and U.S. goals to counter Iran.

Tehran welcomed the creation of INSTEX, said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Feb. 1, but he added that the mechanism comes “too late” and Iran has “not seen tangible results” from EU actions to preserve the nuclear deal. He called for the EU to accelerate its efforts so that Iran can “reap the economic benefits” of the nuclear deal.

Iran is likely referring to efforts to preserve oil sales, which INSTEX will not initially cover. U.S. sanctions that took effect in November require states importing oil from Iran to receive waivers from the United States or face sanctions. To be eligible for a waiver, states must make a “significant reduction” in oil purchases from Iran every 180 days. The United States granted waivers to eight states in November, but U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said on Feb. 6 that “Iran’s oil customers should not expect new waivers to U.S. sanctions.” The current waivers expire in May.

Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization, said in January that the country is already in “dire straits when it comes to exporting oil,” and Iranian officials have stated they will resume nuclear activities limited by the deal if implementing the agreement is no longer in Tehran’s interest.

Hook’s comment ruling out a second round of oil waivers is just one element of U.S. efforts to further isolate Iran and urge the remaining parties to the JCPOA (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the EU) to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.

At the Warsaw summit, for example, Pence urged Europe to “withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal” and said leaders agreed that Iran poses the “greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East.” The summit, however, does not appear to have eroded Europe’s commitment to the nuclear deal.

Although German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas did not attend the Warsaw summit, he defended the Iran nuclear deal at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 15 and said Europe would be “a step closer to open confrontation” without the nuclear agreement. Mogherini also skipped the Warsaw summit, but said at the Munich conference that the nuclear deal is “fundamental and crucial” to Europen security and is “a fundamental pillar for the nuclear nonproliferation architecture globally."

Iran was not invited to the Warsaw summit, and Zarif dismissed the meeting’s attempt to isolate Iran as “dead on arrival,” describing it as “another attempt by the United States to pursue an obsession with Iran that is not well founded.”

The United States may also be pressuring the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit sites in Iran where past activities related to nuclear weapons development may have occurred.

 IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano warned against pressing the international nuclear watchdog, saying on Jan. 30 that “if attempts are made to micromanage or put pressure on the agency in nuclear verification, that is counterproductive and extremely harmful.”

He said that “independent, impartial, and factual safeguards implementation is essential to maintain that credibility.”

Although Amano did not refer to any specific state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the IAEA to investigate sites Israel identified as housing materials documenting Iran’s past nuclear weapons-related activities and follow up on information Israel took from Iran in 2018. U.S. officials reportedly told the Israeli government that the Trump administration would be more aggressive in pushing the IAEA to follow up on the information provided by Israel.

The documents Israel removed from Iran appear to relate to Iran’s past nuclear weapons development activities, and there is no indication from U.S. intelligence or the IAEA that Iran has resumed such activities. U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in the intelligence community's 2019 global threat assessment report that “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

 

Iranian Space Launch Attempts Draw U.S. Criticism

Two Iranian attempts to put satellites in orbit earlier this year drew quick condemnation from the United States, which wrongly charged that the launches defied a UN Security Council resolution.

A Jan. 15 launch attempt failed to orbit a satellite, Iran acknowledged. But Tehran has not publicly described the second launch, which took place in late January or early February based on satellite imagery of the Imam Khomeini Space Center. It is unclear if the second launch went as planned, but historically Iran has announced its successful attempts.

The Jan. 15 launch used the Simorgh three-stage launch vehicle, which failed during a prior launch attempt in 2017. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s minister of communication and information technology, said afterward that the first two stages of the rocket fired successfully, but the third stage failed to place the Payam satellite into orbit approximately 500 kilometers above the earth.

The second launch likely used the two-stage Safir launch vehicle, which Iran has successfully used to launch satellites in the past.

The U.S. State Department condemned both launches and warned Iran against “continued defiance” of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which approved the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Neither the nuclear deal nor the resolution prohibits Iranian satellite launches. Resolution 2231 calls on Iran to refrain from activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, but the language is nonbinding and does not limit satellite launches.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Jan. 3 that rockets used to launch satellites “incorporate technologies that are virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles, including in intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Satellite launches can provide Iran with data relevant to ballistic missile development, but there are significant technical differences between satellite launch vehicles and long-range ballistic missiles, which must, for example, protect warheads during re-entry into the atmosphere.

Valdimir Ermakov, director of nonproliferation and arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, defended Iran’s right to launch satellites. He said on Feb. 12 that “UN Security Council resolutions do not prohibit Iran from independently” developing, testing, and producing space launch vehicles or ballistic missiles. —KELSEY DAVENPORT

European powers have developed a trade mechanism to enable commercial transactions with Iran
despite U.S. sanctions.

The Status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Signatories and Ratifiers

February 2019

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Despite nearly 20 years of global efforts to promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the treaty’s enactment appears a long way off.

President George H. W. Bush signed into law the unilateral declaration to forego full-scale nuclear weapons testing October 2, 1992. The United States signed the CTBT on September 24, 1996, the day it opened for signature, but the Senate dealt a severe blow to the near-term prospects for U.S. participation when it refused to provide its advice and consent October 13, 1999. President Obama, however, stated in February 2009 that he intended to pursue Senate advice and consent to ratification of the treaty "immediately and aggressively."

The CTBT will formally enter into force after 44 designated “nuclear-capable states” (as listed in Annex 2 of the treaty) have deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN secretary-general. To date, 184 states have signed and 168 have ratified the treaty. Yet of the 44 specified countries, India, Pakistan, and North Korea still have not signed, and only 36 have ratified the treaty.

For more information on the CTBT, see Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at a Glance.

The following chart identifies the treaty’s signatories and ratifiers. States whose ratification is required for the treaty to take effect are shaded and marked with an asterisk (*).


Total Signatories: 184
Total Ratifiers: 168

Annex 2 Ratifications (out of 44): 36

Country
Signature
Ratification
Afghanistan 9/24/03 9/24/03
Albania 9/27/96 4/23/03
Algeria* 10/15/96 7/11/03
Andorra 9/24/96 7/12/06
Angola 9/27/96 3/20/15
Antigua and Barbuda 4/16/97 1/11/06
Argentina* 9/24/96 12/4/98
Armenia 10/1/96 7/12/06
Australia* 9/24/96 7/9/98
Austria* 9/24/96 3/13/98
Azerbaijan 7/28/97 2/2/99
Bahamas 2/4/05 11/30/07
Bahrain 9/24/96 4/12/04
Bangladesh* 10/24/96 3/8/00
Barbados 1/14/08 1/14/08
Belarus 9/24/96 9/13/00
Belgium* 9/24/96 6/29/99
Belize 11/14/01 3/26/04
Benin 9/27/96 3/6/01
Buhtan    
Bolivia 9/24/96 10/4/99
Bosnia and Herzegovina 9/24/96 10/26/06
Botswana 9/16/02 10/28/02
Brazil* 9/24/96 7/24/98
Brunei Darussalam 1/22/97 1/10/13
Bulgaria* 9/24/96 9/29/99
Burkina Faso 9/27/96 4/17/02
Burundi 9/24/96 9/24/08
Cambodia 9/26/96 11/10/00
Cameroon 11/16/01 2/6/06
Canada* 9/24/96 12/18/98
Cape Verde 10/1/96 3/1/06
Central African Republic 12/19/01 5/26/10
Chad 10/8/96 2/8/13
Chile* 9/24/96 7/12/00
China* 9/24/96  
Colombia* 9/24/96 1/29/08
Comoros 12/12/96  
Congo 2/11/97 9/2/14
Cook Islands 12/5/97 9/6/05
Costa Rica 9/24/96 9/25/01
Côte d'Ivoire 9/25/96 3/11/03
Croatia 9/24/96 3/2/01
Cuba    
Cyprus 9/24/96 7/18/03
Czech Republic 11/12/96 9/11/97
Dem. Republic of Congo* 10/4/96 9/28/04
Denmark 9/24/96 12/21/98
Djibouti 10/21/96 7/15/05
Dominica    
Dominican Republic 10/3/96 9/4/07
Ecuador 9/24/96 11/12/01
Egypt* 10/14/96  
El Salvador 9/24/96 9/11/98
Equatorial Guinea 10/9/96  
Eritrea 11/11/03 11/11/03
Estonia 11/20/96 8/13/99
Ethiopia 9/25/96 8/8/06
Fiji 9/24/96 10/10/96
Finland* 9/24/96 1/15/99
France* 9/24/96 4/6/98
Gabon 10/7/96 9/20/00
Gambia 4/9/03  
Georgia 9/24/96 9/27/02
Germany* 9/24/96 8/20/98
Ghana 10/3/96 06/14/11
Greece 9/24/96 4/21/99
Grenada 10/10/96 8/19/98
Guatemala 9/20/99 1/12/12
Guinea 10/3/96 09/20/11
Guinea-Bissau 4/11/97 09/30/13
Guyana 9/7/00 3/7/01
Haiti 9/24/96 12/1/05
Holy See 9/24/96 7/18/01
Honduras 9/25/96 10/30/03
Hungary* 9/25/96 7/13/99
Iceland 9/24/96

6/26/00

India*    
Indonesia* 9/24/96 2/6/12
Iran* 9/24/96  
Iraq 8/19/08 09/26/13
Ireland 9/24/96 7/15/99
Israel* 9/25/96  
Italy* 9/24/96 2/1/99
Jamaica 11/11/96 11/13/01
Japan* 9/24/96 7/8/97
Jordan 9/26/96 8/25/98
Kazakhstan 9/30/96 5/14/02
Kenya 11/14/96 11/30/00
Kiribati 9/7/00 9/7/00
Kuwait 9/24/96 5/6/03
Kyrgyzstan 10/8/96 10/02/03
Laos 7/30/97 10/5/00
Latvia 9/24/96 11/20/01
Lebanon 9/16/05 11/21/08
Lesotho 9/30/96 9/14/99
Liberia 10/1/96 8/17/09
Libya 11/13/01 1/6/04
Liechtenstein 9/27/96 9/21/04
Lithuania 10/7/96 2/7/00
Luxembourg 9/24/96 5/26/99
Macedonia 10/29/98 3/14/00
Madagascar 10/9/96 9/15/05
Malawi 10/9/96 11/21/08
Malaysia 7/23/98 1/17/08
Maldives 10/1/97 9/7/00
Mali 2/18/97 8/4/99
Malta 9/24/96 7/23/01
Marshall Islands 9/24/96 10/28/09
Mauritania 9/24/96 4/30/03
Maritius    
Mexico* 9/24/96 10/5/99
Micronesia 9/24/96 7/25/97
Moldova 9/24/97 1/16/07
Monaco 10/1/96 12/18/98
Mongolia 10/1/96 8/8/97
Montenegro 10/23/06 10/23/06
Morocco 9/24/96 4/17/00
Mozambique 9/26/96 11/4/08
Myanmar 11/25/96 9/21/16
Namibia 9/24/96 6/29/01
Nauru 9/8/00 11/12/01
Nepal 10/8/96  
Netherlands* 9/24/96 3/23/99
New Zealand 9/27/96 3/19/99
Nicaragua 9/24/96 12/5/00
Niger 10/3/96 9/9/02
Nigeria 9/8/00

9/27/01

Niue 4/9/12 3/5/14
North Korea*    
Norway* 9/24/96 7/15/99
Oman 9/23/99 6/13/03
Pakistan*    
Palau 8/12/03 8/1/07
Panama 9/24/96 3/23/99
Papua New Guinea 9/25/96  
Paraguay 9/25/96 10/4/01
Peru* 9/25/96 11/12/97
Philippines 9/24/96 2/23/01
Poland* 9/24/96 5/25/99
Portugal 9/24/96 6/26/00
Qatar 9/24/96 3/3/97
Romania* 9/24/96 10/5/99
Russia* 9/24/96 6/30/00
Rwanda 11/30/'2004 11/30/04
St. Kitts and Nevis 3/33/04 4/27/05
St. Lucia 10/4/96 4/5/01
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 7/2/09 9/23/09
Samoa 10/9/96 9/27/02
San Marino 10/7/96 3/12/02
Sao Tome and Principe 9/26/96  
Saudi Arabia    
Senegal 9/26/96 6/9/99
Serbia and Montenegro 6/8/01 5/19/04
Seychelles 9/24/96 4/13/04
Sierra Leone 9/8/00 9/17/01
Singapore 1/14/99 11/10/01
Slovakia* 9/30/96 3/3/98
Slovenia 9/24/96 8/31/99
Solomon Islands 10/3/96  
Somalia    
South Africa* 9/24/96 3/30/99
South Korea* 9/24/96 9/24/99
South Sudan    
Spain* 9/24/96 7/31/98
Sri Lanka 10/24/96  
Sudan 6/10/04 6/10/04
Suriname 1/14/97 2/7/06
Swaziland 9/24/96 9/21/16
Sweden* 9/24/96 12/2/98
Switzerland* 9/24/96 10/1/99
Syria    
Tajikistan 10/7/96 6/10/98
Tarzania 9/30/04 9/30/04
Thailand 11/12/96 9/25/18
Timor-Leste 9/26/08  
Togo 10/2/96 7/2/04
Tonga    
Trinidad and Tobago 10/8/09 5/26/10
Tunisia 10/16/96 9/23/04
Turkey* 9/24/96 2/16/00
Turkmenistan 9/24/96 2/20/98
Tuvalu 9/25/18  
Uganda 11/7/96 3/14/01
Ukraine* 9/27/96 2/23/01
United Arab Emirates 9/25/96 9/18/00
United Kingdom* 9/24/96 4/6/98
United States* 9/24/96  
Uruguay 9/24/96 9/21/01
Uzbekistan 10/3/96 5/29/97
Vanuatu 9/24/96 9/16/05
Venezuela 10/3/96 5/13/02
Viet Nam* 9/24/96 3/10/06
Yemen 9/30/96  
Zambia 12/3/96 2/23/06
Zimbabwe 10/13/99 2/13/19

Nuclear Testing

Country Resources:

THANK YOU for Telling Congress No Funding for U.S. INF Missiles in Europe

Body: 

Thanks for writing to your Senators and urging their support for the "Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2019."

This bill is a step in the right direction if we are to prevent a new destabilizing missile race with Russia.

More Senators need to hear from us on this. Can you spread the word to keep up our momentum?

  • Click here to share this on Facebook.
  • Click here to share this on Twitter.
  • Copy and paste this letter in an email to your friends:

    Dear Friend,

    I have just written my Senators asking them to oppose funding for new U.S. INF missiles in Europe. 

    The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty led to the verifiable elimination of over 2,500 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe and helped bring an end to the Cold War.
    But now, the United States and Russia have suspended their obligations under the treaty and are on course to withdraw from the agreement in six months.  

    This opens the door for Russia and the United States to develop and field more and new types of ground-launched intermediate-range missiles–a move that would increase the risks of a destabilizing new missile race.

    I have written my Senators to urge their support for the "Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2019," (Bill number S.312) which would prohibit funding for the procurement, flight-testing, or deployment of a U.S. ground-launched or ballistic missile  until the Trump Administration meets seven specific conditions, including identifying a U.S. ally formally willing to host such a system, and in the case of a European country, have it be the outcome of a NATO-wide decision. 

    This bill is a step in the right direction. New U.S. ground-launched cruise deployments in Europe or elsewhere would cost billions of dollars, take years to complete, and are militarily unnecessary to defend NATO allies because existing weapons systems can already hold key Russian targets at risk.

    Our Senators need to hear from us on this. Can you join me in writing a letter to yours?

    https://www.armscontrol.org/take-action/tell-congress-no-funding-for-inf-missiles-in-europe

    Sincerely,


Thank you!

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