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"I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them."

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
EU / NATO

Senator Lugar Honored for National Security Work

Senator Lugar inspects a Soviet SS-18 ICBM being readied for destruction in 2002. Photo Credit: Office of Senator Richard Lugar By Kelsey Davenport The American Security Project (ASP) honored Senator Richard Lugar (R–Ind.) on Wednesday for his extensive contributions to national security as the first recipient of an ASP award for leadership in national security . ASP will annually present "the Lugar Award" to an individual that embodies the Senator's efforts to solve pressing national security concerns. As a former intern in Senator Lugar's Washington DC office, I felt honored to be present...

Key Senator May Oppose New Treaties

Tom Z. Collina

A key Republican senator who voted for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) threatened to block future treaties, citing what he said was the failure of the Obama administration to keep its promise, made in talks with the Senate over New START in 2010, to increase funding for nuclear weapons programs.

At a June 21 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that he was “highly disappointed” that the administration had not requested as much for nuclear weapons in fiscal year 2013 as it said it would in 2010. Corker, who faces an August primary challenge, said he “would be very reticent to agree to any treaty with this administration on any topic, until something changes as it relates to the commitments on this START treaty.”

The White House has indicated that it is seeking a ratification vote on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea later this year, may seek approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty next year, and eventually may ask for a Senate vote on a follow-on treaty to New START.

Corker may become the ranking Republican on the committee in the next Congress, as the current ranking member, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), lost his primary election in May. If the Republicans win control of the Senate in November, Corker could become chairman of the panel.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the current committee chairman, addressed Corker’s criticism by saying that the administration has been “working hard” to provide increased support for weapons programs “at a time when almost all other budgets are being slashed.” Kerry pointed out that, for fiscal year 2012, the administration had requested the full amount projected in the November 2010 funding estimate, known as the 1251 report, but that it was “the House of Representatives that cut the funding below the request, not the president, and not the Senate.” For fiscal year 2013, the administration is requesting a 5 percent increase for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons funding over the 2012 amount, he noted. (See ACT, April 2012.) The NNSA, which is a semiautonomous agency in the Department of Energy, is responsible for maintaining the nuclear weapons production complex.

The fiscal year 2012 congressional appropriation for NNSA weapons funding was $416 million, or 4 percent, less than the administration’s $7.6 billion budget request, which matched the 1251 report’s projection for fiscal year 2012. Under the Senate resolution of approval for New START, this shortfall triggered a requirement that the administration report to Congress on how to address any funding gap. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta submitted this report on June 5, finding that the fiscal year 2013 request meets military requirements “even during a time of pronounced fiscal austerity” and that “no additional resources are requested.”

NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino testified June 21 that “we [will] have the resources we need” if Congress approves the administration’s full fiscal year 2013 request. “I’ve seen an unprecedented level of commitment on the part of [the] executive branch towards taking care of our nuclear security enterprise,” he testified.

House, Senate Differ

Corker stopped short of suggesting, as his House colleagues have, that New START should not be implemented unless the funding levels specified in the 1251 report’s 10-year projection are requested and appropriated.

In the House, Republican leaders such as Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, are trying to prevent the implementation of New START as well as additional reductions. The fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House on May 18, includes language that could block arsenal reductions under New START if the administration does not increase its spending request for certain nuclear weapons-related projects, for which the Pentagon and the NNSA did not ask.

In a May 15 statement, the administration issued a warning that it may veto the defense bill over these provisions, which the White House said would “impinge on the President’s ability to implement the New START Treaty and to set U.S. nuclear weapons policy.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee, which completed its version of the defense bill on May 24, did not seek to link New START implementation to additional funds for modernization. Instead, the committee found that “the linkage between nuclear modernization and the New START Treaty’s implementation is sufficiently established.”

At the June 21 hearing, Lugar said he was “very concerned by attempts to force U.S. withdrawal from the New START Treaty or suspend its implementation. We should not risk either the transparency achieved by the Treaty nor the reliability and performance of our strategic nuclear forces.”

Kerry said that “those who say we should just walk away from New START” have to explain how “retaining more nuclear weapons than our military advisers say we need, and how having less insight into Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal” would be beneficial. “We need to see the logic of that,” Kerry said.

New START on Track

As Corker accused the administration of breaking its promises, administration witnesses argued that New START was advancing U.S. security interests. Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, testified that the treaty, which entered into force in February 2011, “is providing ongoing transparency and predictability regarding the world’s two largest deployed nuclear arsenals” while preserving the U.S. ability to maintain a strong nuclear deterrent.

In the treaty’s first year, the United States and Russia conducted the maximum of 18 on-site inspections, Gottemoeller said. So far in the second year, Russia has conducted eight inspections, and the United States has conducted seven. These inspections have taken place at intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missile, and heavy bomber bases, as well as at storage facilities, conversion or elimination facilities, and test ranges, said Gottemoeller, who was the lead U.S. negotiator of New START.

On the issue of when the United States plans to reduce its arsenal to New START levels, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon testified that the Pentagon plans to “make most of the reductions in deployed systems towards the end of the seven-year reduction period,” or by 2018. By then, the United States, which currently deploys 1,737 warheads, 812 delivery systems, and 1,040 launchers, must meet the treaty’s limits of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads, 700 delivery vehicles, and 800 launchers.

Creedon testified that initial reductions will come from the conversion or elimination of systems that were counted under the 1991 START but are no longer maintained “in a deployable status.” These previously retired systems, often referred to as “phantoms” because they are no longer deployed but still counted under the treaty, include 50 empty Peacekeeper ICBM silos at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, 50 empty Minuteman III ICBM silos at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, three excess ICBM test silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; and 34 B-52G and 13 B-52H bombers currently stored at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The estimated cost to eliminate or convert these systems is $47 million, she said.

A key Republican senator who voted for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) threatened to block future treaties, citing what he said was the failure of the Obama administration to keep its promise, made in talks with the Senate over New START in 2010, to increase funding for nuclear weapons programs.

NATO Fields Interceptors Without Russia

Tom Z. Collina

NATO now has an “interim capability” for its U.S.-built missile interceptor system, the alliance announced at its May 20-21 summit in Chicago, but the future of NATO-Russian cooperation on missile defense remains uncertain.

The announcement of NATO’s capability, which is part of the so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach, was expected, as was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to attend the summit in protest. (See ACT, April 2012.) Russia had wanted the cooperation agreement to be worked out before NATO went ahead with the interceptor system.

When NATO leaders first endorsed U.S. missile interceptor plans for Europe in late 2010, NATO and Russia agreed to explore ways to cooperate on missile defenses. Since then, however, the two sides have been unable to agree on the specifics of that cooperation, with Moscow seeking binding assurances that the system would not undermine its security, which Washington refused to provide. Although there has been no agreement in this area, both sides say that the door to cooperation remains open.

According to a May 20 White House summary, “interim capability” means that, in a crisis, NATO could assume operational command of the U.S. missile interceptor system in Europe, currently composed of an Aegis-equipped ship with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) IA interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea, an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey, and a command and control center in Germany.

The U.S. Department of Defense has been directed to transfer operational control of the radar to NATO, but SM-3-armed ships in the area would operate under NATO control only “when necessary,” the summary said. NATO designated its most senior military commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, to oversee the missile defense mission, the White House said.

Future phases of the European system include increasingly capable SM-3 interceptor deployments at sea and on land in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018). The current interim capability would be followed by “initial operational capability” in 2015 and “full operational capability” in 2018, the White House said. Phase four of the system, including SM-3 IIB interceptors with some capability against long-range missiles, would be deployed in 2020.

“NATO will now have an operationally meaningful ballistic missile defense mission. It will be limited in the initial phase, but it will expand over time,” U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder said at a May 20 press briefing at the summit. “It will, as of today, provide real protection for parts of NATO Europe against ballistic missile attack,” he said. Daalder declined to specify which nations in southern Europe would be protected, explaining that “a wide variety of places” could be protected because “the ship can be moved.”

The next SM-3 interceptor to be deployed, the IB, hit its target in a May 10 test, according to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Last September, the system failed in its first intercept test. This interceptor would be deployed on land in Romania by 2015 and on ships at sea.

Richard Lehner, an MDA spokesman, declined to say whether the test included countermeasures such as decoys that an enemy likely would use to try to overwhelm the defense. “We don’t divulge presence of countermeasures for any missile defense tests,” he told Reuters May 10.

Moscow’s Concerns

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern that the SM-3 IIB, which is supposed to be deployed in 2020 and is still on the drawing board, could fly fast enough to threaten its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) based in western Russia. At a May 3-4 missile defense conference in Moscow, Nikolai Makarov, chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, raised the possibility of delivering pre-emptive strikes against NATO missile defense systems if the alliance goes ahead with current plans. In addition, Russia tested a new ICBM on May 23 that the military said was designed to evade U.S. defenses.

In its declaration at the Chicago summit, NATO sought to reassure Russia by stating that “NATO missile defense is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities.” The declaration said the allies regretted “recurrent Russian statements on possible measures directed against NATO’s missile defense system” and welcomed Russia’s willingness to continue dialogue “on the future framework for missile defense cooperation.”

In addition to the legally binding commitment that NATO missile interceptors would not be targeted at Russia, Moscow has been seeking limits on numbers, velocities, and deployment locations of SM-3 interceptors. In one of the Russian presentations at the Moscow conference, Col. Evgeny Ilyin said ship-based interceptors in the Baltic Sea or Norwegian Sea traveling at speeds greater than five kilometers per second would be “a real threat to the Russian deterrence capability.” Slower interceptors do not pose the same level of concern, Ilyin said.

House Pushes East Coast Site

Meanwhile, on May 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which would increase spending on the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by $460 million above the $903 million requested by the Department of Defense. Of that additional amount, the bill would authorize $100 million to study the deployment of missile interceptors on the U.S. East Coast by late 2015. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this new project would cost $3.6 billion over five years.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and the leading proponent of an East Coast site, based his position on a forthcoming report by the National Research Council, an independent advisory group to the U.S. government. However, a summary of the report states that the current West Coast interceptor system “has serious shortcomings” and would have to be completely redesigned, retested, and rebuilt before it could be installed on the East Coast, making the 2015 time frame appear unrealistic.

The main conclusions of the council’s report, called “Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives,” were made public in an April 30 letter from report co-chairs L. David Montague and Walter Slocombe to the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The United States already has one site in Alaska and one in California, with a total of 30 deployed interceptors, to handle potential future attacks from Iran and North Korea. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test since 2008, with two failures in 2010. Neither Iran nor North Korea has yet deployed long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The Pentagon did not request funding for an East Coast site, and on May 10, the nation’s top military officer said there was no need for a third site. The current program “is adequate and sufficient to the task,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news briefing. “So I don’t see a need beyond what we’ve submitted in the last budget.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in preparing its version of the fiscal 2013 defense bill, did not authorize an East Coast site.

NATO now has an “interim capability” for its U.S.-built missile interceptor system, the alliance announced at its May 20-21 summit in Chicago, but the future of NATO-Russian cooperation on missile defense remains uncertain.

NATO Sticks With Nuclear Policy

Oliver Meier

Leaders from NATO’s 28 countries, meeting at a May 20-21 summit in Chicago, adopted a report that confirms the basic tenets of the alliance’s nuclear posture and lays the groundwork for future confidence-building talks with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons.

It describes the contributions of nuclear and conventional forces as well as missile defenses and arms control and finds that nuclear weapons remain a “core component” of NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities.

In 2009, Germany had triggered an extensive debate about the continued deployment of about 180 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons under NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey by promising to advocate withdrawal of U.S. weapons from Germany. (See ACT, December 2009.) At NATO’s Lisbon summit in November 2010, the allies launched the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, primarily to resolve differences among them on the future role of nuclear weapons and to define the mix between NATO’s different defense capabilities. (See ACT, October 2011.) The seven-page document that the NATO heads of state and government formally adopted on May 20 is the result of that review.

The report finds that NATO’s “nuclear force posture currently meets the criteria for an effective deterrence and defence posture,” but the allies also pledge to “ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective for as long as NATO remains a nuclear alliance.”

A senior Polish official said in a May 23 interview that this statement “is related primarily to the replacement of aging delivery means,” a reference to nuclear-capable aircraft in Europe that are scheduled to go out of service this decade. The U.S. life extension program for B61 gravity bombs in Europe, which will lead to the deployment of newer and more capable nuclear weapons after 2019, “is of secondary importance in this regard,” he said.

The report calls on NATO members “to develop concepts for how to ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies concerned in their nuclear sharing arrangements, including in case NATO were to decide to reduce its reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons based in Europe,” but a senior official from a western European country argued in a May 21 interview that this does not represent a significant departure from the existing perspective on nuclear sharing arrangements. That perspective is described in the 2010 Strategic Concept, which was adopted at the Lisbon summit.

A senior French diplomat said on May 22 that “France’s nuclear deterrent will not be directly affected by discussions on the possible reduction of tactical nuclear weapons but we still have to decide in which format such discussions could take place.” France does not commit any nuclear forces to NATO and does not participate in the alliance’s Nuclear Planning Group.

Those who had hoped that NATO’s renewed commitment to territorial missile defense might lead to a reduction of the role of nuclear weapons were disappointed. Ahead of the summit, newly elected French President François Hollande had made protection of the French nuclear deterrent a precondition of France’s support for missile defense. As a result, the posture review report states that “[m]issile defence can complement the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence; it cannot substitute for them.”

Arms Control Proposals

The report links changes in the alliance’s nuclear posture to Russia’s nuclear policy by stating that “NATO is prepared to consider further reducing its requirement for non-strategic nuclear weapons assigned to the Alliance in the context of reciprocal steps by Russia, taking into account the greater Russian stockpiles of non-strategic nuclear weapons stationed in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

Like NATO, Russia keeps the numbers and locations of tactical nuclear weapons secret, but is estimated to possess about 2,000 operational weapons.

In the report, NATO states that it wants “to develop and exchange transparency and confidence-building ideas with the Russian Federation in the NATO-Russia Council, with the goal of developing detailed proposals on and increasing mutual understanding of NATO’s and Russia’s non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe.”

The western European official said that “NATO would like to enter into a dialogue with Moscow on this issue as quickly as possible,” but conceded that “realistically we might have to wait until after the U.S. elections. In the meantime, allies should try to elaborate the package of proposals they would like to bring to the table.”

The allies agreed to establish a new committee “as a consultative and advisory forum” on arms control issues, whose name and mandate will be decided by the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s highest decision-making body.

The Polish official predicted that the new arms control committee, which replaces the Weapons of Mass Destruction Control and Disarmament Committee set up in Lisbon, “will try to build its own identity and expand its role, including a general discussion of what role NATO can play in arms control and disarmament.”

The French diplomat, however, argued that the “added value” of the new committee is “to define the conditions for reciprocity of nuclear reductions.” He added, “We do not see a role for this committee in addressing the alliance’s nuclear posture or declaratory policy.”

Confusion on Nuclear Doctrine

Repeating language from NATO’s Strategic Concept, the report states that “the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote.”

Yet, in the report the allies attempted to reflect recent changes in the nuclear doctrines of the United Kingdom and the United States. Both countries pledged in 2010 not to use or threaten to use their nuclear weapons against members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that comply with their nonproliferation obligations, although the specific conditions of these negative security assurances differ slightly between the two countries.

The western European official said that “agreement on declaratory policy was among the most difficult issues” in drafting the report. In the end, allies merely “acknowledge” the “independent and unilateral negative security assurances offered by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.”

The French diplomat said that “the agreement in the [report] was a useful step because NATO now recognizes the value of national security guarantees.”

Because France does not assign any of its nuclear weapons to the alliance, NATO’s nuclear planners draw only on British and U.S. nuclear weapons. The posture review report notes that “the states that have assigned nuclear weapons to NATO apply to these weapons the assurances they have each offered on a national basis, including the separate conditions each state has attached to these assurances.”

Most officials described the impact of these statements on NATO’s nuclear policy as marginal at best. In contrast, during a May 22 conference call with reporters, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder called it “a very significant step” that “the U.S. policy as enunciated in the [2010] Nuclear Posture Review is now recognized by NATO as applying to U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.”

The western European official predicted that discussions on declaratory policy “will be off the table for the time being” even though the United States and some European allies were willing to go further on negative security assurances. An Italian diplomat in a May 22 interview said Italy was “open to a discussion on a declaratory policy specifically addressed to the nuclear forces assigned to NATO.”

What Next?

Official and independent assessments of the posture review report differ markedly. The French diplomat said it “is the best possible agreement, nobody had to cross any redlines, and the fundamentals of nuclear deterrence, as defined in NATO’s Strategic Concept, remained untouched.” By contrast, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), the co-chairman of the nongovernmental Nuclear Threat Initiative, argued in a May 21 statement that the report indicates “little progress in defining a clear strategy for changing the nuclear status quo and deserves, at best, a grade of ‘incomplete’.”

The Italian diplomat said that Rome is happy with the outcome because it “sets the stage for further debates on NATO‘s reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons.” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in a May 22 interview with Deutsche Welle, described the posture review report as “remarkable” because, “for the first time a security alliance like NATO has made disarmament a constituent part of its own strategy.” Daalder said the report represents “major progress” because “we now have an alliance firmly on record as wanting to reduce the reliance on nuclear weapons, wanting to find ways to shift the focus to other means of deterrence and defense and to do so on a consultative and reciprocal basis.”

Leaders from NATO’s 28 countries, meeting at a May 20-21 summit in Chicago, adopted a report that confirms the basic tenets of the alliance’s nuclear posture and lays the groundwork for future

NATO On Nuclear Weapons: Opportunities Missed and Next Steps Forward

By Daryl G. Kimball, Oliver Meier, and Paul Ingram At their May 20-21 summit in Chicago, NATO leaders missed an important opportunity to change the Alliance's outdated nuclear policy and open the way to improving European security by the removal of the remaining 180 U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe, which serve no practical military value for the defense of the Alliance. The Alliance's Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) was launched at NATO's Lisbon summit in November 2010 primarily to resolve differences among allies on the future role of nuclear weapons. The result is an indecisive...

Experts Available to Comment on NATO Nuclear Policy Review, Tactical Nuclear Arms Control

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For Immediate Release: May 14, 2012

(Washington, D.C.) At the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago, the alliance is expected to approve and release its Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) report. The DDPR was launched following the previous NATO summit to determine the proper mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defense assets for the alliance.

Unfortunately, the DDPR report will not directly lead to changes in the deployment of some 180 U.S. nuclear gravity bombs in five European NATO countries. Senior U.S. officials have stated that "whatever military mission" tactical nuclear weapons serve "could of course also be accomplished through the use of systems that are not tactical systems based in Europe."

However, the DDPR may provide some refinement of NATO's policy for when and why those nuclear weapons might be used, outline concepts for working with Russia to account for U.S. and Russian tactical bombs left over from the Cold War, and establish a body for future NATO deliberations on arms control. The document has been described by one official familiar with the deliberations as the foundation for change, but not the change itself.

Arms Control Association and other NGO experts will be available to comment on these and other issues:

Daryl G. Kimball
, ACA Executive Director (202) 463-8270 x107

Oliver Meier
, ACA International Representative (in Berlin) +49-171-359-2410

Paul Ingram
, Executive Director, British American Security Information Council +44-790-870-8175

Additional Resources:

"The NATO Summit: Recasting the Debate Over U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe", by Oliver Meier and Paul Ingram, Arms Control Today, May 2012.

"NATO's DDPR: What to Expect and What Needs to Be Done After the Chicago Summit," by Paul Ingram and Oliver Meier, ArmsControlNow, May 3, 2012.

"NATO's Incredible Nuclear Strategy: Why U.S. Weapons in Europe Deter No One,"by Edmund Seay (former principal arms control adviser to the U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2011), Arms Control Today, November 2011.

"Strategic Choices on Tactical Weapons," Daryl G. Kimball, editorial, Arms Control Today, November 2011.

 

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Description: 

(Washington, D.C.) At the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago, the alliance is expected to approve and release its Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) report. The DDPR was launched following the previous NATO summit to determine the proper mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defense assets for the alliance.

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

NATO's DDPR: What to Expect and What Needs to Be Done After the Chicago Summit

By Paul Ingram and Oliver Meier NOTE: This post follows up on an article published in Arms Control Today , May 2, 2012 To the surprise of many, NATO foreign and defense ministers agreed on a draft text of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) report during their April 18-19 Brussels meetings . The agreement on the 3½-page draft was possible because Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States presented other allies with a compromise proposal, which was adopted with only minor revisions. Even though the document still has to be approved by heads of state and government...

The NATO Summit: Recasting the Debate Over U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe

By Oliver Meier and Paul Ingram

During their April 18-19 meeting, NATO foreign and defense ministers agreed on the draft text of the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review report. According to diplomatic sources, the draft contains several elements to enable continued discussion toward a new consensus on the role of nuclear weapons within the alliance.

For example, the allies are prepared to offer Russia a substantive dialogue to increase transparency with regard to tactical nuclear weapons. NATO also is likely to revise its nuclear doctrine to make it more consistent with the postures of the United Kingdom and the United States. The report—provided that the heads of state and government at the May 20-21 Chicago summit approve it—could therefore establish important guidance for future debate over NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements and for a stronger role for the alliance in nuclear arms control and disarmament.

Yet, some still maintain that the forward deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe should not be reconsidered, citing worsening relations with Moscow, the ongoing Iranian nuclear crisis, and the constraints on defense budgets as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. In reality these developments only highlight the need for a long-overdue revision of NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements and for further reductions in the role of nuclear weapons.

In October 2009, the German government triggered an unprecedented debate within the alliance on the value of nuclear sharing arrangements by expressing a desire for withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany. For political, technical, and financial reasons, maintenance of the nuclear status quo is not feasible. Yet, consensus solutions to this problem were elusive at NATO’s Lisbon summit in November 2010 when a new Strategic Concept was adopted. The allies therefore agreed to conduct the posture review. The underlying debate continues, clearly exposing the problems and contradictions associated with NATO’s current nuclear weapons policy. The report that is to be adopted at the summit covers “the range of NATO’s strategic capabilities required, including NATO’s nuclear posture, and missile defence and other means of strategic deterrence and defence.”[1]

As observers have pointed out, the review for some time had been “proceeding with little real political engagement from national capitals and with almost no reference to the wider conditions of economic crisis and reduced defence resources.”[2] If the review were simply to reconfirm the formulaic compromise agreed at Lisbon, NATO would appear inflexible and stagnant, and the alliance would have fallen short of its self-proclaimed goal of encouraging the “creat[ion of] the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.”[3] Certainly, one recent paper argued, NATO could consider options to evolve its nuclear policy in the interests of NATO cohesion and contribution to global disarmament.[4] The leaders in Chicago need to demonstrate their leadership by moving in that direction.

NATO would be well advised not to skirt a debate over its nuclear posture. Below are some proposed elements for an agreement in Chicago to frame a meaningful discussion of nuclear issues within the alliance beyond the summit.

A Good Time to Talk

Some observers argue that “[t]he time has now come to reaffirm and for the time being [leave] alone” the conclusions reached in the Strategic Concept.[5] Yet, none of the arguments that “[t]his is not the right time to let down the nuclear guard”[6] stands up to scrutiny.

Deepening conflicts with Russia. Under NATO’s new Strategic Concept, changes in the alliance’s nuclear policy must be reciprocated by Russia. Reflecting particularly the concerns of central and eastern European countries, the document states that “[a]ny further steps” on NATO tactical nuclear weapons “must take into account the disparity with the greater Russian stockpiles of short-range nuclear weapons.”[7]

Since the Lisbon summit, NATO-Russian relations have deteriorated. One year later, in November 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed exasperation at the lack of progress by NATO and Russia in exploring cooperation on missile defense. Seeing NATO’s developing strategic missile defense plans as an emerging threat to Russia’s nuclear strategic deterrent, he said that Russia would have to respond, possibly by deploying “offensive weapons systems” such as the Iskander short-range missile in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.[8] He again voiced his displeasure just prior to meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2012.[9] Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian presidency may reinforce this uncooperative approach.

Some believe that, in such an environment, cuts in arsenals would show weakness. From this perspective, nuclear sharing shows forthright unity of purpose and continuing faith in nuclear deterrence, thus reassuring NATO members. Removing U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe therefore would be a “concession” to Russia “that would put U.S. and allied interests in Europe and around the world at risk.”[10]

Yet, even without the 180 or so tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, NATO will keep its vast military, political, and economic supremacy vis-à-vis Moscow. The military disparity will widen despite Russian intentions to increase defense spending and the implications of the financial crisis for NATO defense budgets. In 2010 the combined military spending of NATO countries was 20 times higher than Russia’s. Roughly the same ratio exists for procurement of military equipment and military research and development.[11] Russia’s declared intention to close the gaps with the West will remain an illusion.

NATO hedging against a resurgent Russia reinforces a confrontational NATO-Russian relationship and is self-fulfilling. At the most basic level, “tactical nuclear arms at military combat bases on both sides create uncertainty and concern about possible intentional use under unforeseen circumstances.”[12] This will be intensified by the planned modernization of NATO forces in the coming years. The new B61-12 smart bombs delivered by stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters represent a significant improvement in the alliance’s nuclear war-fighting capabilities that could be seen by the Russians as intentional or used as an excuse to modernize its own tactical nuclear weapons.[13]

The presence of Russian nuclear weapons near NATO borders makes it easier for central and eastern European states to veto a more cooperative NATO approach toward Russia. Conversely, the continued presence in Europe of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on foreign soil—a unique situation today—hands Russia a diplomatic advantage when it demands U.S. nuclear withdrawal as a precondition for including tactical nuclear weapons in talks for a follow-on agreement to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The two sides are trapped in a deterrence relationship characterized by implicit threat.

Dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Some observers question the wisdom of withdrawing tactical nuclear weapons from Europe when Iran appears to be pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.[14] U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe could deter a nuclear-armed Iran, according to this line of thinking. In addition, it is argued that Turkey’s involvement in nuclear sharing reduces the temptation for Ankara to develop its own nuclear weapons capability. Yet, Ankara has already retired its own dual-capable aircraft, indicating a lack of commitment to nuclear sharing. In any case, Turkey “would have enormous political problems in being seen as going along with” a NATO decision to employ nuclear weapons against Iran or Syria.[15] Turkish objections at the Lisbon summit in November 2010 even to referencing the Iranian missile threat as a justification for NATO’s missile defense plans suggest a preference for engaging its neighbor Iran rather than dropping into a deterrence posture.

The Turkish elite and public appear to be split on the security value of nuclear sharing arrangements. Turkish analysts and officials themselves argue that unless there is a breakdown in Turkey’s security relationship with the United States, “[n]ot even the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is likely to push Ankara to develop its own nuclear weapons.”[16] A recent opinion poll, however, suggests that around half of the Turkish public believes that Turkey should consider developing its own nuclear weapons if Iran does, rather than relying on NATO for protection.[17]

Moreover, U.S. nuclear weapons based in Turkey under NATO nuclear-sharing arrangements could become an issue at the international conference to be held in December on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. States in the region might be less willing to sign on to legally binding prohibitions of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons if potential competitors on their borders continue to host U.S. nuclear bombs.

The new Strategic Concept correctly finds that NATO “is affected by, and can affect, political and security developments beyond its borders” and states that the alliance wants to contribute “actively to arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament.”[18] It is precisely because of this impact beyond the alliance’s borders that NATO’s continuing commitment to nuclear deterrence undermines its nonproliferation objectives. Justice arguments play strongly in the debate about the legitimacy and effectiveness of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Iranians challenge what they see as double standards practiced by the nuclear-weapon states and within NATO, in particular, in seeking the benefits of nuclear deterrence while denying that presumed comfort to others. Even proponents of nuclear deterrence concede that as long as Iran has not developed nuclear weapons, “visibly putting Iran on the NATO agenda might reinforce [Iranian] hard-liners’ rhetoric that ‘the West is after us.’”[19]

Nuclear sharing and the financial crisis. The U.S. military footprint in Europe will shrink, both to rebalance the U.S. “global posture and presence, emphasizing the Pacific and the Middle East,”[20] and as a result of budgetary pressures. At the same time, European allies are contemplating their own reductions in defense spending. Worrying about Russia’s intentions, central and eastern European leaders are made uneasy by these two factors. Some observers argue that U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe offer good value for money because they are already deployed and “[t]he cost for the U.S. Air Force of the European nuclear mission, and of a nuclear capability for the successors to the fighter-bombers currently in service in European air forces will be limited.”[21]

Twenty years after the Cold War, these arguments are likely to gain little traction in those parliaments debating the necessary funds, in part because NATO itself has avoided public debate on the wisdom of further investment in nuclear sharing. Development of the F-35, assigned to replace most of the aging nuclear-capable aircraft in Europe, has run into serious delays and cost overruns, also affecting the nuclear version of the aircraft. The total cost estimate for the life extension program (LEP) of the 500 or so remaining B61 bombs has also recently grown from $4 billion to $5.2 billion, a considerable portion to be spent on the B61s deployed in Europe. Even the U.S. Congress is conducting a review of whether the scope of the B61 LEP is appropriate.[22]

The Obama administration has repeatedly stated its desire to increase reliance on non-nuclear means to accomplish regional deterrence. Consequently, some European governments in NATO also believe that advanced conventional capabilities and missile defenses “imply a reduced salience of nuclear weapons in the overall range of NATO capabilities.”[23] European NATO allies who share this view would expect their contribution to NATO’s emerging strategic missile defenses to be “balanced” by reduced spending on the nuclear elements in NATO’s defense posture. A curtailed debate on how spending for conventional weapons, missile defense, and nuclear elements of NATO’s defense posture should be balanced is likely to result in unnecessary investments in nuclear sharing arrangements that might be phased out in a few years anyway.

Implications for the Review

NATO leaders meeting in Chicago will be preoccupied with discussions on how to contain the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan before, during, and after the pullout of NATO forces and with managing NATO-Russian relations against the background of Putin’s decision to stay away from Chicago. Yet, it would be a mistake to sweep the nuclear issues under the carpet. The posture review presents an important opportunity to put NATO’s nuclear policies on a sound footing by revising those aspects of NATO’s nuclear posture that are particularly divisive and chart the way into the future. Three principles should serve as a yardstick for a continuing review of NATO’s nuclear posture beyond Chicago.

Do no harm. A reaffirmation of the continued value of nuclear sharing for alliance cohesion and defense is not only unnecessary but also potentially harmful to alliance cohesion and to the current diplomatic round of the NPT. As former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) recently argued, “[M]aintaining the nuclear status quo in Europe…runs a high cost and unacceptable risk.”[24] A repetition of the pledge contained in the Strategic Concept to “ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies in collective defense planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control and consultation arrangements” would ignore the broad opposition to current nuclear practices in a number of NATO states, including the ones in which some of the weapons are deployed, and is bound to provoke future conflicts over the modernization of nuclear hardware. Instead, to defuse such conflicts, NATO leaders at the Chicago summit should declare a moratorium on the modernization of the B61 bombs deployed in Europe and the procurement of new dual-capable aircraft.

Be coherent. NATO should declare that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. NATO’s current declaratory policy resembles that of France, which does not restrict the possibility of nuclear retaliation against any state. Yet, Paris is the only NATO nuclear-weapon state that does not contribute any nuclear forces to the alliance’s integrated nuclear posture. By contrast, the two states that do assign nuclear forces to NATO—the United Kingdom and the United States—announced in 2010 that they would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that comply with their nonproliferation obligations. “For most member states,” this situation “makes a new NATO declaratory policy necessary, so that the policies of the Alliance reflect those already adopted by these two states.”[25]

Because France is increasingly isolating itself within the alliance by opposing any changes to NATO nuclear policy, some in Paris have suggested that only those NATO members that participate in the alliance’s Nuclear Planning Group (NPG), that is, the 27 members other than France, should declare “at 27” a more restrictive nuclear posture. This would only highlight French isolation, undermine cohesion, and weaken the nonproliferation benefits of strengthened negative security assurances while failing to satisfy proponents of change, such as Germany. Berlin openly supports “the transfer of the principles contained in the [British and U.S.] negative security assurance to the Alliance context and will continue to do so, including in the context of the current NATO Deterrence and Defence Posture Review” and views the U.S. assurances as “an important step towards strengthening non-proliferation.”[26]

Be forward-looking. Most importantly, the nuclear posture arising from the review has to be sustainable and has to support NATO’s goal of “reinforcing arms control and…promoting disarmament.”[27] At a minimum, NATO should give its explicit blessing to U.S. negotiators as they propose reductions or elimination of tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe in their talks with Russia, but NATO can do more. The alliance’s new arms control body, the WMD Control and Disarmament Committee, has developed a set of potential transparency measures on tactical nuclear weapons, and the Obama administration would like “to use these ideas as the basis for detailed discussions with Russia on concrete steps we can take in this area.”[28] As a concrete transparency measure, NATO could unilaterally declare its total arsenal of nuclear weapons deployed in Europe and in which countries they are deployed. Going one step further, releasing information on all weapons assigned to NATO, including British and U.S. strategic warheads on submarines, could help “to convince those NATO members looking for nuclear reassurance that NATO has a credible, flexible and survivable nuclear posture beyond the heavily disputed B-61 arsenal.”[29] NATO also should be more ambitious with regard to withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe. Nunn has recently proposed “[t]o proceed with further reductions of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, with the announced target of completing the consolidation of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the United States within five years, with the final timing and pace to be determined by broad political and security developments between NATO and Russia, including but not limited to their tactical nuclear posture.”[30]

Finally, institutional issues matter. As Acting U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller recently pointed out, “the process of adapting the Alliance to a changing world will be on-going,”[31] and the political review of nuclear policy therefore should not be terminated in Chicago on the basis that agreement is elusive. If the issue is simply sent back to the NPG and its senior advisory body, the High Level Group (HLG), for implementation, officials will let the issue drift. The guardians of the arsenal at NATO headquarters in Brussels certainly cannot be expected to be a force for change. A continual review of NATO nuclear policies beyond Chicago must take place at the political level and include clear milestones for decision-making. The Chicago summit could decide that the North Atlantic Council, meeting at the level of foreign and defense ministers, should annually receive a report based, for example, on contributions from the new WMD committee and the NPG/HLG on possible changes to NATO’s nuclear posture. The meeting could take place in conjunction with a public seminar on NATO nuclear policy to which major stakeholders are invited and where findings of the reports are debated.

The indications are that NATO leaders in Chicago will be agreeing on a text that frames a continued debate on the role and posture of nuclear weapons within the alliance, based on the principles outlined by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2010, and opens up the opportunity to discuss these issues with the Russians. The leaders would do well to recognize that it is not discussion of nuclear issues that causes rifts and strains but resistance to change and evolution. Even if the posture review does not live up to the hopes many have had for it, it can create the framework for a constructive process that takes into account opinion from across the spectrum and helps the alliance break free from the Cold War legacy holding it back.


Oliver Meier is a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg and international representative of the Arms Control Association.

Paul Ingram is executive director of the British American Security Information Council. The authors would like to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for its support, which made research for this article possible.


ENDNOTES


1. NATO, “Lisbon Summit Declaration,” November 20, 2010, para. 30 (adopted November 19, 2010).

2. Simon Lunn and Ian Kearns, “NATO’s Deterrence and Defence Posture Review: A Status Report,” ELN NATO Policy Brief, No. 1 (February 2012), p. 22.

3. NATO, “Active Engagement, Modern Defence,” 2010 (hereinafter 2010 Strategic Concept).

4. George Perkovich et al., “Looking Beyond the Chicago Summit: Nuclear Weapons in Europe and the Future of NATO,” The Carnegie Papers, April 2012.

5. George Robertson, “The Chicago Summit Has More Urgent Priorities Than Nuclear Theology,” ELN Chicago Forum Papers, March 21, 2012.

6.  Bruno Tertrais, “Defining the Right Mix of Capabilities: The Irreplaceable Role of NATO Nuclear Arrangements,” in Managing Change: NATO’s Partnerships and Deterrence in a Globalized World (2011), p. 9.

7. NATO, 2010 Strategic Concept, para. 26.

8. Dmitry Medvedev, “Statement in Connection With the Situation Concerning the NATO Countries’ Missile Defence System in Europe,” November 23, 2012, http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/3115.

9. Dmitry Medvedev, “Speech at a Conference Organised by the Russian Council for International Affairs, Euro-Atlantic Security Community: Myth or Reality?” March 23, 2012.

10. Baker Spring and Michaela Bendikova, “The United States Must Not Concede the Russian Position on Tactical Nuclear Weapons,” Heritage Foundation WebMemo, No. 3491 (February 8, 2012).

11. Michael Brzoska et al., “Prospects for Arms Control in Europe,” Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, November 2011, p. 6, http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08718.pdf.

12. Global Zero NATO-Russia Commission, “Removing U.S. and Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons From European Combat Bases,” February 2012, p. 3.

13. The B61-12’s accuracy is secret, but its tail kit is similar in design to that of the Joint Direct Attack Munition, which has an internal navigation system that is aided by a global positioning system. See www.fas.org/blog/ssp/2011/06/b61-12.php.

14. Oliver Thränert, “Raketentest: Atommacht Iran? Der Preis wäre hoch” [Missile test: Nuclear power Iran? The price would be high], Tagesspiegel, January 3, 2012, http://www.tagesspiegel.de/meinung/raketentest-atommacht-iran-der-preis-waere-hoch/6013448.html.

15. Edmond Seay, “NATO‘s Incredible Nuclear Strategy: Why U.S. Weapons in Europe Deter No One,” Arms Control Today, November 2011.

16. Sinan Ülgen, “Turkey and the Bomb,” The Carnegie Papers, February 2012, p. 1.

17. “Turks Favor Nukes If Iran Have Them Too, Reveals Poll,” Al Arabiya News, March 28, 2012, http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/03/28/203822.html. In the poll, only 8 percent appeared to have faith in the NATO strategic umbrella for Turkey in relation to Iran, calling into question the commonly held assumption that the presence of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Turkey discourages Turkey from developing its own nuclear weapons program.

18. NATO, 2010 Strategic Concept, para. 4c.

19. Bruno Tertrais, “A Nuclear Iran and NATO,” Survival, Vol. 52, No. 6 (December 2010-January 2011), p. 57.

20. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense, “Statement on Defense Strategic Guidance,” January 5, 2012, www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1643.

21. Tertrais, “Defining the Right Mix of Capabilities,” p. 6.

22. Project on Government Oversight: “POGO to Panetta: U.S. Taxpayers Shouldn’t Bear the Cost of B61 Bombs Deployed in Europe,” February 1, 2012, http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/letters/nuclear-security-safety/nss-dod-20110201-pogo-panetta-taxpayers-shouldnt-bear-cost-of-b61-bombs-europe.html.

23. Rolf Nikel, “The Future of NATO’s Nuclear Weapons,” Nuclear Policy Paper, No. 9 (November 2011), p. 2, http://tacticalnuclearweapons.ifsh.de/pdf/Nuclear_Policy_Paper_No9.pdf, p. 2.

24. Helmut Schmidt and Sam Nunn, “Toward a World Without Nukes,” The New York Times, April 13, 2012.

25. Malcolm Chalmers, “Words That Matter? NATO Declaratory Policy and the DDPR,” in Reducing Nuclear Risks in Europe: A Framework for Action, ed. Steven Andreasen and Isabelle Williams (Washington, D.C.: Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2011), p. 57.

26. “Further Developing German Nuclear Disarmament Policy—Strengthening and Developing Germany’s Role in Non-proliferation,” Bundestag printed paper No. 17/7226, February 29, 2012, http://tacticalnuclearweapons.ifsh.de/pdf/BT%20120228%20Drs%20177226%20English.pdf.

27. NATO, 2010 Strategic Concept, para. 26.

28. Rose Gottemoeller, “European Security and the Next Steps in Arms Control,” February 29, 2012, www.pism.pl/files/?id_plik=9611.

29. Karl-Heinz Kamp, “NATO‘s Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Beyond ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’” NATO Defense College Research Paper, No. 61 (September 2010), p. 12.

30. Sam Nunn, “The Race Between Cooperation and Catastrophe” in Reducing Nuclear Risks in Europe: A Framework for Action, ed. Steven Andreasen and Isabelle Williams (Washington, D.C.: Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2011), pp. 21-22.

31. Gottemoeller, “European Security and the Next Steps in Arms Control.”

Oliver Meier is a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg and international representative of the Arms Control Association. Paul Ingram is executive director of the British American Security Information Council. The authors would like to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for its support, which made research for this article possible.

NATO to Declare Missile System Ready

Tom Z. Collina

NATO allies plan to announce at their May 20-21 summit in Chicago that the European missile interceptor system has reached an “interim capability,” a senior U.S. official said on March 26.

Meanwhile, Russian officials said in March that President-elect Vladimir Putin is not expected to attend the summit because a year-long effort to reach agreement on NATO-Russian missile defense cooperation has not succeeded.

Speaking at a Washington, D.C., missile defense conference, the U.S. official, Department of State Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense Ellen Tauscher, said that the Aegis-equipped ship USS Vella Gulf “is providing our at-sea Phase 1 missile defense presence” along with the AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey. “We expect NATO to announce that it has achieved an ‘interim capability,’” she said, according to a text of her remarks released by the State Department. “That basically means that Allies will start operating under the same playbook.” Although a Navy ship and the radar have been deployed for months, this would mark their integration with NATO’s existing systems. (See ACT, November 2010.)

The European missile interceptor program is being deployed in phases. The first phase is now operating, with ship-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea and a tracking radar in Turkey. Subsequent phases include the stationing of land-based SM-3s of increasing capability and number in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018) and the 2020 deployment of the SM-3 IIB, which is advertised to have some capability against long-range ballistic missiles.

NATO and Russia agreed at the alliance’s Lisbon summit in November 2010 to seek ways to cooperate on a Europe-wide missile interceptor system, such as by sharing information on missile threats. Russian leaders, however, are concerned that the latter phases of the system would have the ability to intercept Moscow’s long-range missiles, possibly undermining its nuclear deterrent. Russia has asked for a legally binding agreement that would prevent the United States from aiming its interceptors at Moscow’s offensive missiles. The United States has refused, and no cooperation agreement has been reached.

Last November, Moscow openly threatened to boycott the NATO summit and take other retaliatory measures, such as deploying short-range missiles in its Kaliningrad enclave to destroy NATO interceptors and withdrawing from the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). U.S. and NATO officials said their plans to deploy a missile interceptor system in Europe under the Phased Adaptive Approach would proceed regardless of Moscow’s concerns. (See ACT, January/February 2012.)

U.S. Rejects Limits

In her remarks at the missile defense conference, Tauscher said that Russia has “raised the issue of a legal guarantee with a set of ‘military-technical criteria’ that could, in effect, create limitations on our ability to develop and deploy future missile defense systems.” She said that Moscow wants “a piece of paper they can point to when a U.S. ship enters certain waters or when an interceptor has a certain speed.”

Tauscher said the United States could not “accept limitations on where we deploy our Aegis ships,” as they are used for a variety of missions around the world in addition to missile defense. “We also will not accept limitations on the capabilities and numbers of our missile defense systems,” she said.

Tauscher said the United States would agree to a political statement that “our missile defenses are not directed at Russia.” She also said that building cooperation with Russia may require the United States to be more transparent about its missile interceptor systems. Responding to congressional criticisms that the administration might provide classified information to Moscow, Tauscher said that the United States “would not give away ‘hit to kill technology,’ telemetry, or any other types of information that would compromise our national security.”

The United States has offered Russia the opportunity to view ship-based SM-3 flight tests in international waters, giving Moscow the time of launch of the target, which is typically provided to the public. Such transparency would be a good first step with Russia, “allowing them to see for themselves, what we are saying about our system is accurate,” said Tauscher, who led a U.S. delegation to Moscow on March 13.

Putin, who currently is prime minister, is to be sworn in as president on May 7. He will travel to the United States 11 days later to attend the Group of Eight summit at Camp David, but does not plan to go to the NATO summit that takes place immediately afterward in Chicago, the Interfax news agency reported March 23.

Open Mic Slip

There had been speculation that Putin’s March victory in Russia’s presidential election might increase the odds that Moscow would agree to cooperate with the United States on the European missile interceptor system. Similarly, there is speculation that Obama might be more open to compromise after the U.S. elections in November. Obama turned speculation into controversy March 26 at the nuclear security summit in Seoul when a private conversation with outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was caught on a live microphone.

Obama said that the missile defense situation “can be solved” but that it would be important for Putin, once in office, to give him “space.” “This is my last election,” Obama said, adding, “After my election, I have more flexibility.”

After Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the incident was “an alarming and troubling development,” Obama told reporters March 27 that he meant that the current political environment is not conducive to bipartisan compromise. “The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support, and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Obama said.

NATO allies plan to announce at their May 20-21 summit in Chicago that the European missile interceptor system has reached an “interim capability,” a senior U.S. official said on March 26.

Germany pushes for changes in NATO's nuclear posture

A German Luftwaffe Tornado fighter-bomber. By Oliver Meier As NATO works to revise its nuclear and deterrence strategy in time for its May 2012 Summit in Chicago, Germany is pushing for changes in the Alliance's declaratory policy and for a stronger role of NATO in arms control and disarmament. Yet at the same time, Berlin is trying to dodge a debate about the deployment of new types of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. The recent replies by the German government to a set of more than 100 questions asked by the Social Democrats in the Bundestag on Germany's nuclear arms control, disarmament and...

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