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

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
Daryl G. Kimball

Trimming Nuclear Excess

Daryl G. Kimball

In the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, successive U.S. and Russian presidents have gradually reduced the size and salience of their enormous nuclear stockpiles. Nevertheless, the size of each country’s arsenal far exceeds what might be considered necessary to deter nuclear attack. Both sides can and should go lower.

Even under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), each country is allowed to deploy 1,550 strategic nuclear weapons on 700 missiles and bombers. Thousands of additional warheads are held in reserve. Unless they adjust their thinking, both countries will spend scarce resources to modernize and maintain similar nuclear force levels for 20 to 30 years to come.

This year, as the Obama administration reviews decade-old presidential guidance on nuclear force structure and nuclear employment policy, the president has an unprecedented opportunity to discard outdated targeting assumptions, open the way for deeper reductions of all warhead types, and redirect defense dollars to more pressing needs.

The 2010 “Nuclear Posture Review Report” outlines the national security rationale for reducing the role and number of U.S. nuclear weapons and eliminating outdated Cold War policies. The document asserts that “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear forces is to deter nuclear attacks against the U.S. and our allies and partners.”

At the same time, the report acknowledges that the United States and Russia "each still retain more nuclear weapons than necessary for stable deterrence." Given that no other country deploys more than 300 strategic warheads and given that China possesses 40 to 50 warheads on intercontinental-range missiles, the United States and Russia could reduce their overall nuclear stockpiles substantially—to 1,000 warheads—while retaining sufficient firepower to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.

As the 2007 Arms Control Association report “What Are Nuclear Weapons For?” suggests, the United States could move to a smaller force of 500 deployed and 500 nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad within the next few years. A 2010 study by three Air Force analysts in Strategic Studies Quarterly concludes that the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." They argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.

Maintaining and modernizing U.S. strategic forces at current, higher levels is not only unnecessary, but prohibitively expensive. If Congress and the White House are serious about reducing defense expenditures by $400 billion by 2023 to reduce the ballooning federal deficit, they should start by deferring or curtailing the Pentagon’s ambitious plan to upgrade and replace the strategic triad, which is projected to exceed $100 billion over the same period.

The Navy is seeking to begin construction of 12 new ballistic missile submarines—each with 16 to 20 launch tubes—beginning in 2019 to replace the existing 14 Trident boats that currently carry 336 ballistic missiles armed with more than 1,100 thermonuclear bombs. Research and development costs are estimated at $29.4 billion between 2011 and 2020; each new sub would cost an average of $8 billion to build.

Under New START, the Air Force will retain up to 420 single-warhead Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Pentagon plans to spend $6-7 billion to extend the missiles’ service through 2030 and is seeking funding for research on a follow-on ICBM. The Air Force also will retain 60 nuclear-capable, long-range bombers, including B-2s and B-52s. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants funding for research on a new nuclear-capable heavy bomber, which would carry a new air-launched, nuclear-capable cruise missile. These items would cost billions more.

For its part, Russia will be hard pressed to deploy 1,550 strategic warheads unless it undertakes an expensive ballistic missile modernization effort. Rather than induce Russia to build up, it is in the security and financial interests of both countries to pursue further, parallel reductions in their strategic nuclear forces and to cut the size of their nondeployed reserve stockpiles.

The upcoming nuclear policy review also gives President Barack Obama the chance to eliminate the Cold War practice of keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch within minutes. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said the practice is “outdated” and “increases the risk of catastrophic accident or miscalculation.” Indeed, a reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent does not require the ability to retaliate immediately if U.S. nuclear forces and command and control systems can survive an attack.

Obama can and should make it clear that the United States no longer will develop or exercise plans for rapid launches and will replace such plans with new ones that would allow the president to delay a response to a nuclear attack for days. He should invite Russia to make reciprocal changes to its nuclear posture.

Now is the time for U.S. and Russian leaders to further reduce their costly nuclear arsenals and purge their military strategies of obsolete Cold War thinking.

In the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, successive U.S. and Russian presidents have gradually reduced the size and salience of their enormous nuclear stockpiles. Nevertheless, the size of each country’s arsenal far exceeds what might be considered necessary to deter nuclear attack. Both sides can and should go lower.

Reconsider the Nuclear Test Ban

Daryl G. Kimball

Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton asked Gen. John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to review issues surrounding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the aftermath of the Senate’s 1999 rejection of the treaty. His 2001 report concluded that “the advantages of the Test Ban Treaty outweigh any disadvantages, and thus that ratification would increase national security. For the sake of future generations, it would be unforgivable to neglect any reasonable action that can help prevent nuclear proliferation, as the Test Ban Treaty clearly would.”

Today, a growing, bipartisan list of national security leaders agrees that it is past time to heed the general’s advice and reconsider the value of the CTBT. After 1,030 U.S. nuclear test explosions, there is simply no technical or military rationale for
the United States to resume nuclear explosive testing. At the same time, U.S. ratification of the treaty would reduce the risk that other countries might conduct nuclear tests that could improve their nuclear capabilities.

In China’s case, a new round of test explosions would allow it to miniaturize warhead designs and put multiple warheads on its relatively small arsenal of strategic ballistic missiles—a move that could allow a rapid increase in its nuclear strike capability. Without nuclear weapons test explosions, potential nuclear-armed countries such as Iran would not be able to proof-test the more advanced, smaller nuclear warhead designs needed to deliver such weapons using ballistic missiles.

Given Tehran’s advancing uranium-enrichment and missile capabilities, it is important to establish additional barriers against a sophisticated Iranian nuclear weapons capability in the years ahead.

U.S. action on the CTBT would prompt a chain reaction of ratifications by the eight other holdout states, including China and India, and advance the prospects for entry into force.

Yet, in order to explode the myths and misperceptions that have blocked progress toward U.S. ratification in the past, President Barack Obama must step up his efforts and engage the Senate in an in-depth dialogue on the treaty. For their part, all senators must take their national security responsibility seriously and thoroughly review the new evidence that has accumulated in favor of approving the CTBT.

For instance, in 1992 then-Rep. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) claimed, “[A]s long as we have a nuclear deterrent, we have got to test it in order to ensure that it is safe and it is reliable.” Now it is abundantly clear that this assertion is wrong.

The nuclear weapons laboratory directors report they now have a deeper understanding of the arsenal than ever before. Since 1994, each warhead type in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal has been determined to be safe and reliable; life extension programs have refurbished and modernized major warhead types. A 2009 study by JASON, the independent technical review panel, concluded that the “lifetimes of today’s nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence.” Age-related defects in non-nuclear components can be expected, but nuclear explosive testing is not needed to discover these problems or address them.

The Obama administration’s unprecedented $85 billion, 10-year plan for upgrading the nuclear weapons complex should give senators greater confidence that there is a long-term strategy and more than enough funding to continue to maintain the U.S. arsenal effectively. The administration’s $7.6 billion request for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons activities for fiscal year 2012 is almost 19 percent higher than the $6.4 billion appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2010. As NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino recently told Arms Control Today, “[I]n my opinion, we have a safe and secure and reliable stockpile. There’s no need to conduct underground [nuclear] testing.”

Despite a decade of advances in national and international nuclear monitoring capabilities, Sen. Kyl and a few other critics repeat the age-old charge that the absence of clandestine tests cannot be verified with absolute certainty. This argument misses the point on verification and implies that low-yield tests are worth the high risk of getting caught. No would-be cheater could be confident that a nuclear explosion of sufficient yield to possibly threaten U.S. security would escape detection.

The United States’ ability to detect and deter possible clandestine nuclear testing will only increase with the CTBT’s global monitoring network and the option of short-notice on-site inspections. Many of the 337 monitoring stations are inside Russia, China, and other sensitive locations—places where the United States simply cannot gain access on its own.

Failure to ratify the CTBT diminishes the United States’ ability to detect, deter, and confront proliferators. The United States stands to lose nothing while gaining an important constraint on the nuclear weapons capabilities of others that could pose a threat to U.S. security. The time to reconsider the CTBT is now.

Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton asked Gen. John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to review issues surrounding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the aftermath of the Senate’s 1999 rejection of the treaty. His 2001 report concluded that “the advantages of the Test Ban Treaty outweigh any disadvantages, and thus that ratification would increase national security. For the sake of future generations, it would be unforgivable to neglect any reasonable action that can help prevent nuclear proliferation, as the Test Ban Treaty clearly would.”

U.S. Seeks Funds for Test Ban Monitoring

Daryl G. Kimball

The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget request includes $33 million for the U.S. contribution for the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) ongoing work to build, operate, and maintain the International Monitoring System. To date, 264 of the system’s total 337 monitoring stations have been built and are certified. Previous U.S. government reports have noted that several of the stations provide monitoring capabilities in sensitive regions not fully covered by U.S. national technical means of intelligence. The annual budget for the CTBTO is approximately $110 million, and the current annual U.S. assessment is approximately $25 million. The $33 million request for fiscal year 2012 matches the administration’s fiscal year 2011 request. However, in the continuing resolution for federal funding, which covers the first five months of the current fiscal year, Congress approved funding for the CTBTO at an annual rate of $30 million. By March 4, Congress must pass a bill funding the remaining seven months of the fiscal year or approve another stopgap funding measure.

The administration’s latest budget request for the U.S. contribution to the CTBTO exceeds the current-year assessment in order to address shortfalls in past years in Washington’s contributions to the monitoring system. According to the Department of State, the United States is nearly $13 million in arrears because of outstanding amounts due for 2010. An administration source said the United States “is committed to fully paying its share of Preparatory Commission activities in full and on time.” The administration also is seeking an additional $7.5 million for fiscal year 2012 to fund specific projects “to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the [Comprehensive Test Ban] Treaty’s verification regime.”

 

The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget request includes $33 million for the U.S. contribution for the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) ongoing work to build, operate, and maintain the International Monitoring System. To date, 264 of the system’s total 337 monitoring stations have been built and are certified. Previous U.S. government reports have noted that several of the stations provide monitoring capabilities in sensitive regions not fully covered by U.S. national technical means of intelligence. The annual budget for the CTBTO is approximately $110 million, and the current annual U.S. assessment is approximately $25 million. The $33 million request for fiscal year 2012 matches the administration’s fiscal year 2011 request. However, in the continuing resolution for federal funding, which covers the first five months of the current fiscal year, Congress approved funding for the CTBTO at an annual rate of $30 million. By March 4, Congress must pass a bill funding the remaining seven months of the fiscal year or approve another stopgap funding measure.

Ending Pakistan's Nuclear Addiction

Daryl G. Kimball

The people of Pakistan face multiple hardships: catastrophic flooding, a Taliban-affiliated insurgency, political assassinations, and chronic poverty. Yet, the country’s powerful military establishment has directed much of the nation’s wealth and perhaps even international nuclear technical assistance to building a nuclear arsenal that does nothing to address these urgent threats.

Pakistan already has enough nuclear material to build at least 100 bombs—more than enough nuclear firepower to deter an attack from its neighbor and rival, India, which itself possesses enough separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) for about 140 bombs.

Nevertheless, Pakistan’s leaders insist they must produce even more fissile material—HEU and plutonium—to keep pace with India. Fresh reports indicate Pakistan now is building a fourth unsafeguarded production reactor at Khushab.

The continued and uncontrolled expansion of these nuclear arsenals raises the risk that a border skirmish between Islamabad and New Delhi could go nuclear. Also, Pakistan’s weapons and nuclear material stockpiles are a prime target for terrorists. Its nuclear technology could once again be sold on the black market by insiders, just as A.Q. Khan did for years.

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan is now focused on turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda, but the United States no longer can afford to postpone serious efforts to break Pakistan’s nuclear addiction and encourage Pakistan, India, and China to exercise greater nuclear restraint.

To do so, stopping the production of fissile material for weapons and pursuing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) once again must be top U.S. priorities. In 1998 the United States supported a UN Security Council resolution condemning India’s and Pakistan’s tit-for-tat nuclear explosions and calling on the two countries to sign the CTBT and halt fissile production for weapons.

At the time, the two states might have agreed to a production cutoff and signed the CTBT. But other commercial and strategic priorities, including the 2008 civil nuclear trade exemption for India and the U.S.-led offensive against the Taliban, have pushed nonproliferation opportunities to the margins.

In 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD). Given that France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all declared a halt to fissile material production for weapons, and China is believed to have halted production, a global fissile production halt would have its greatest impact on India, Pakistan, and possibly China.

Unfortunately, Pakistan continues to block the start of the negotiation, citing India’s greater fissile production potential from the plutonium in the spent fuel of its unsafeguarded power reactors, which could provide enough material for several hundred more bombs.

On Feb. 28, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made another strong pitch at the CD directed at Pakistan to allow work finally to begin on the FMCT. Until it does, U.S. and other diplomats are urging informal technical talks. Such efforts are laudable but insufficient. India and the major nuclear suppliers—France, Russia, and the United States—must do more to help break the cycle. India can and should declare that it will not increase its rate of fissile production and will put additional nonmilitary reactors under safeguards. Such a move could increase Indian security by pressuring Pakistan and China to make similar pledges.

Even if FMCT talks begin soon, it will be many years before a treaty is completed and it enters into force. By that time, India and Pakistan will have accumulated still more bomb material.

Bolder action is in order. In particular, the five original nuclear-weapon states should seek an agreement by all states with facilities not subject to safeguards voluntarily to suspend fissile material production and place stocks in excess of military requirements under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection.

Encouraging China and Israel to participate would be key. For Israel, which does not need more fissile material and has an aging reactor at Dimona, the moratorium would make a virtue out of necessity and improve its nonproliferation record. China should support the initiative because it could lead India to slow the growth of its military fissile material stockpile.

To increase leverage further, the Obama administration and Congress should press for an investigation of the IAEA technical support programs in Pakistan, which undoubtedly have aided its bomb production program. For two decades, Pakistan has received million of dollars of IAEA help for operational upgrades and control systems for its safeguarded reactors at the same time it was building and operating reactors of the same design outside safeguards for its military program.

Taken together, these steps could persuade Pakistan to drop its opposition to negotiations to halt the further production of nuclear bomb material and help slow the expensive and dangerous South Asian arms race.

The people of Pakistan face multiple hardships: catastrophic flooding, a Taliban-affiliated insurgency, political assassinations, and chronic poverty. Yet, the country’s powerful military establishment has directed much of the nation’s wealth and perhaps even international nuclear technical assistance to building a nuclear arsenal that does nothing to address these urgent threats.

After New START, What’s Next? Remarks at 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit”

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Prepared Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball at the 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit,” Crystal City, VA

It’s a pleasure and honor to appear once again at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit. Once again Ed Helminski and his Exchange Monitor Publications team have assembled an impressive lineup of speakers and we’re glad to be able to be part of this importance dialogue.

The organizers have asked me to address what can and should be done to reduce nuclear dangers now that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) has been approved.

First, it is important to recall what the Obama administration has said it would do and recall what it has done so far.

Over its first two years, the Obama administration has been extraordinarily busy pushing a number of concrete steps to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, end nuclear testing, secure fissile material, and strengthen compliance and implementation with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In April 2010 the administration completed a new Nuclear Posture Review that somewhat narrows the role of U.S. nuclear weapons and rules out the need for new types of warheads.

Later that month, Obama hosted the historic international Nuclear Security Summit that produced an action plan securing the most vulnerable materials within four years.

In May, the U.S. led the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a successful conclusion with a 64-point action plan, negotiated, and hosted the historic nuclear security summit.

At the UN, the administration pushed through a tougher set of targeted sanctions on Iran and North Korea in response to the NPT safeguards violations, which have improved U.S. and P-5 leverage vis-à-vis Iran, somewhat hindered Iran’s enrichment capabilities and bought some time for the pursuit of a deal to establish some reasonable and more verifiable limits on the Iranian program to ensure it is not used to produce weapons.

Among the biggest, if not the biggest achievements is New START. The President and his team negotiated the treaty with the Russians within a year, and then with the support of key Republican leaders successfully turned back treaty-killing amendments that would have required renegotiation with Russia and won bipartisan Senate support for the treaty and

New START won 71-26 because it increases U.S. security. Put simply it sets new, modestly lower limits on Russian and U.S. deployed warheads and delivery systems and re-establishes a robust, up-to-date monitoring system to verify compliance.

In fact, New START will increase predictability and transparency through enhanced on-site inspections that will provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was available under the original START accord.

New START has already helped reset U.S.-Russian relations and boosted U.S.-Russian cooperation to contain Iran’s nuclear program and secure vulnerable nuclear material, and of course it opens the way for further Russian and U.S. nuclear arms reductions.

New START is Just a START

By any measure, there has been considerable progress toward the goal of the United States’ longstanding goal—as reiterated by the President in Prague in 2009—of peace and security of a “world without nuclear weapons.”

But New START and these other initiatives are just that—a start. There is much more that needs to be done to reduce the nuclear weapons danger.

So, what comes next?

Deeper nuclear reductions: New START is vital, but it will leave the United States and Russia with far more strategic warheads and strategic missiles and bombers than is needed to deter nuclear attack. In fact, even after New START, there will still be roughly 19,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, most of which are held by the United States and Russia.

I think President Obama and his team have it right when they say the United States and Russia can and should pursue further verifiable reductions of all types of nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical, deployed and non-deployed.

Informal, early discussions are now underway. We believe the two sides can and should initiate formal talks before the end of this year.

The goal should be to establish a single, verifiable limit on the total number of nuclear weapons for each nation. This overall limit would be in addition to a sublimit on the number of deployed strategic weapons. Establishing such an approach is important given that as strategic deployed arsenals shrink, nondeployed and nonstrategic warheads and their delivery systems have to be addressed. It is also important that the nuclear arms control process establishes a simple unit of measure that can be applied to future efforts for transparency, accounting, and ultimately controls and reductions involving all nuclear-armed states.

How low can U.S. and Russian negotiators go in the next round? From a geostrategic standpoint, neither Russia nor the United States need a total stockpile of any more than 500 to 1,000 nuclear warheads (including both strategic and tactical and deployed and non-deployed) to deter nuclear attack by any current or potential adversary.  1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons far outstrips any realistic deterrence requirements.

ACA published a study in 2005, “What Are Nuclear Weapons For?,” that outlines the rationale for such a smaller “500+500” U.S. nuclear force of deployed strategic and nondeployed strategic warheads on a smaller, mainly submarine-based triad. In an article in the Sept.-Oct. issue of Foreign Affairs others have also argued that it is possible to get down to 1,000 warheads without weakening security on either side.

Of course there is the intriguing article in Strategic Studies Quarterly that concludes that the United States could "draw down its nuclear arsenal to a relatively small number of survivable, reliable weapons dispersed among missile silos, submarines, and airplanes." Those authors argue that such a force might number only 311 nuclear weapons.

Other than Russia, no other nuclear-armed adversary possesses more than 40 nuclear weapons on strategic missiles. Clearly we can go lower.

For Russia such a negotiation would help address its concerns about the relatively larger U.S. upload potential that exists due to our larger number of delivery systems and reserve strategic warheads.

For the United States, such a negotiation would finally lead to an accounting and reduction of Russia’s relatively larger and possibly insecure stockpile of stored and deployed tactical nuclear bombs.

Such reductions should, ideally, be secured through a follow-on treaty with robust verification methods.

However, given that the next round of talks will likely be more complex and time consuming, there are other nuclear risk reduction steps that should be pursued at the same time. For example:

  • The United States and Russia can achieve the reductions mandated by New START ahead of the 2018 implementation deadline; and
  • President Obama needs to make good on promises to phase-out obsolete Cold War nuclear targeting plans and prompt launch requirements, which help perpetuate excessive deployments and raise the risk of catastrophic nuclear miscalculation. In a September 2009 Q & A published in Arms Control Today, then-candidate Obama said: “Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War.”

The NPR recommends calls for taking measures to maximize the time the Commander-In-Chief has to make a decision to use nuclear weapons. A reliable and credible U.S. nuclear deterrent does not require the ability to retaliate immediately but only the assurance that U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems would survive an attack. Now is the time to implement these steps.

The Obama administration and along with NATO must also work through two other issues that could complicate further, deeper U.S.-Russian nuclear force reductions.

First, Russia is and will likely remain resistant to meaningful limits on tactical nuclear weapons so long as the U.S. continues to deploy even a small number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. As the new NATO Strategic Concept and U.S. military commanders acknowledge, these weapons have no military role in the defense of NATO. Some may believe these weapons have a function as a bargaining chip or are symbols of the United States commitment to NATO.  Whether they are or are not, they are clearly obsolete relics of the Cold War.

To clear the way for a potential agreement with Russia on reciprocal measures to account for and reduce tactical nuclear weapons, the United States should, in the context of the ongoing NATO deterrence review, agree with our NATO partners to eliminate any formal alliance requirement for U.S. tactical nuclear warheads to be stationed in Europe.

Second, Washington and NATO must work with Moscow to achieve meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense. Otherwise, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. interceptors with nominal strategic capabilities could undermine the prospects for future nuclear reductions and exacerbate East-West tensions.

New START sidesteps long-standing U.S. and Russian tension over strategic missile defense, but the next agreement cannot avoid the realities of the offense-defense relationship.

Contrary to the view that Obama has abandoned strategic missile interceptors in Europe to placate Russia, the administration shelved the untested and unproven Bush-era Ground-based Mid-Course system mainly because its effectiveness was extremely limited and because Iran is still years away from fielding long-range missiles.

Clearly the new U.S. “phased, adaptive approach” for missile SM-3 interceptors over the next decade provides a better, though still limited, capability to address Iran’s short- and medium-range missile threats as they emerge. For now, it does not threaten Russia’s strategic nuclear retaliatory potential. The approach creates the potential for cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia.

However, unless there is meaningful U.S.-Russian cooperation on strategic ballistic missile defense, future deployment of large numbers of U.S. interceptors will provide only nominal strategic capabilities against Iranian missiles while increasing Russia’s determination to deploy larger numbers of more capable ICBMs.

CTBT and FMCT: Not only must the United States and Russia further reduce their arsenals, they must work harder to prevent other states from building up and improving their nuclear arsenals. To succeed, the United States needs to revive efforts for a global ban on fissile material production for weapons and solidify the global moratorium on nuclear test explosions by ratifying the CTBT.

In April 2009, President Obama called for reconsideration and ratification of the CTBT and put into motion technical studies to update the case for the treaty, one of which—from the National Academies of Science—will soon be published. It is time to take another, sober, fact-based look at the CTBT and it is time that the Obama administration seriously engage the Senate on the subject so that the Senate can reconsider and vote on the treaty at the appropriate time—something they have not yet done.

Today, the national security case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate considered it in 1999. Nearly two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing and further testing by other states—including China, India, Pakistan, or someday, Iran—could help improve their nuclear capabilities.

We are essentially abiding by the requirements of the CTBT without accruing the nonproliferation and security benefits.

Reasonable Senators should be able to understand that logic and bea able to understand that the old arguments against the CTBT no longer hold water.

As former Secretary of State George Shultz said in 2009, “Republican Senators might have been right voting against the CTBT some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

For instance, on June 4, 1992, Rep. Jon Kyl, spoke in opposition to the proposal to establish a 9-month U.S. test moratorium to match the Soviet moratorium. He argued: “… as long as we have a nuclear deterrent, we have got to test it in order to ensure that it is safe and it is reliable.” The same argument was used against the CTBT in 1999.

Now we know that argument is just not correct.

Over the past decade, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) life extension programs have successfully refurbished existing types of nuclear warheads and can continue to do so indefinitely.

On December 1, the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote that they are "very pleased" with the $85 billion, 10-year plan to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile and modernize the weapons complex. The said the funding plan provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The lab directors' endorsement should put to rest any lingering doubts about the adequacy of U.S. plans to ensure a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTBT.

Senators of both parties should also recognize that delaying reconsideration of the Test Ban Treaty will create uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy and jeopardize the fragile political consensus to increase funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the years ahead.

By any common-sense definition, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex already has the necessary resources to maintain the shrinking U.S. nuclear arsenal. Even if the new Congress reduces some of the requested additional funding for the NNSA weapons complex there is more than enough funding for the NNSA and the nuclear weapons labs sustain core programs necessary to maintain and refurbish the existing warhead types.

And I would also caution those who might seek even greater funding for new projects and facilities—such as “scaled experiments,” which is the subject of a forthcoming JASON study--that projects not in the Obama administration “Section 1251” report on upgrading the weapons complex will be hard to justify, particularly in today’s tight budget environment.

In 2009, Obama also pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable FMCT, but talks at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) remain blocked due to opposition from Pakistan, which is locked in an arms race with India.

If talks at the CD do not begin soon, the Obama administration should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile material production facilities that are not legally required to be under international safeguards. Even if talks do begin, they will likely drag on for years.

To hasten progress, the Obama administration should be prepared to act more boldly by proposing that all states with facilities not subject to safeguards should agree voluntarily to suspend fissile material production pending the conclusion of the FMCT.

Conclusion

These next steps will not be easy but nothing in this business ever is.

The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat. Doing nothing or delaying action on pragmatic nuclear risk-reduction steps is not an option.

Thank you.

Description: 

Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball spoke at the 3rd Annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit,” on what's next after New START.

After New START, What Next?

Daryl G. Kimball

After just two years in office, the administration of President Barack Obama has put the United States back in the role of global nuclear risk-reduction leader. In April 2009, Obama recommitted the United States to the goal of a “world without nuclear weapons,” beginning with overdue reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles, steps to strengthen the beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), reconsideration of the long-delayed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and action toward a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).

By last summer, Obama and his team had guided the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a successful conclusion, negotiated and signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and hosted a historic nuclear security summit.

The nuclear risk reduction effort got another big boost last month when 13 Republicans joined 58 Democrats and independents to approve ratification of New START, which will verifiably cut deployed arsenals to 1,550 warheads each. The strong vote for the treaty is remarkable in this time of hyper-partisanship in Washington. As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry (D-Mass.) noted, “[I]n today’s Senate, 70 votes is yesterday’s 95.”

Kerry and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), along with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, pursued a smart, patient plan to consult with Republican senators and take their concerns into account. They turned back treaty-killing amendments from a small group of obstinate treaty critics led by Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that would have required renegotiation with Russia.

In the end, New START won the Senate’s support because it makes sense and had strong support from the U.S. military and national security establishment. Passage of New START will boost U.S.-Russian cooperation to contain Iran’s nuclear program and secure vulnerable nuclear material, and open the way for further Russian and U.S. nuclear arms reductions.

The next steps will not be easy, but they must be pursued. Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, it is in the best interests of Russia and the United States to reduce their huge strategic nuclear stockpiles further, phase out their Cold War-style targeting plans, restrict the role of nuclear weapons solely to deterring nuclear attack by others, account for and reduce tactical nuclear bombs, and, as Obama has promised, engage the other nuclear-armed states in a dialogue on nuclear disarmament.

Further U.S.-Russian reductions should cover all types of nuclear weapons and, ideally, be secured through a follow-on treaty. In the interim, the two governments should consider unilateral reciprocal actions that accelerate the reductions mandated by New START and go further—by cutting their deployed strategic stockpiles to 1,000 or fewer warheads before the 2017 New START implementation deadline.

Not only must the United States and Russia further reduce their arsenals, they must work harder to prevent other states from building up and improving their nuclear arsenals. To succeed, the United States needs to revive efforts for a global ban on fissile material production for weapons and solidify the global moratorium on nuclear test explosions by ratifying the CTBT.

In 2009, Obama pledged to “lead a global effort” to negotiate a verifiable FMCT, but talks at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD) remain blocked due to opposition from Pakistan, which is locked in an arms race with India.

If talks at the CD do not begin soon, the Obama administration should pursue parallel, open-ended talks involving the eight states with fissile material production facilities that are not legally required to be under international safeguards. Even if talks do begin, they will likely drag on for years. To hasten progress, all states with facilities not subject to safeguards should agree voluntarily to suspend fissile material production.

The New START vote suggests it is possible for the Senate to reconsider and come together around the CTBT, which cannot enter into force without U.S. ratification. The case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate considered it in 1999. Nearly two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing and further testing by other states could help improve their nuclear capabilities.

The Obama administration’s robust, $85 billion, 10-year plan for upgrading the nuclear weapons complex should give skeptical senators greater confidence that nuclear testing is no longer needed to maintain the effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal.

The New START vote shows that controversial treaties can be approved without the support of top Republicans when the White House, backed by the military and the national laboratory directors, pursues a sustained, high-profile campaign. It is time for Obama to launch such a campaign to explain how the CTBT strengthens U.S. security.

The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat. Doing nothing or delaying action on pragmatic nuclear risk-reduction steps is not an option.

After just two years in office, the administration of President Barack Obama has put the United States back in the role of global nuclear risk-reduction leader. In April 2009, Obama recommitted the United States to the goal of a “world without nuclear weapons,” beginning with overdue reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles, steps to strengthen the beleaguered nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), reconsideration of the long-delayed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and action toward a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).

New START Approval a Victory for Commonsense, Pragmatic Approaches to Reducing Nuclear Weapons Dangers

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Statement of Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director,

Arms Control Association, December 22, 2010

Today's Senate vote to approve ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is a victory for common sense arms control solutions to reduce the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

With the 71-26 vote, a bipartisan coalition of senators recognized that U.S. and international security is stronger when the United States takes the lead to reduce the size of world's two largest nuclear arsenals and to limit the ability of other states to improve their nuclear capabilities.

The strong vote for New START is remarkable in this time of hyper-partisanship. As Senator John Kerry noted about this Senate: "70 is the new 95." Senators Kerry and Lugar, along with President Obama and Vice-president Biden pursued a smart, patient plan to consult with and take Republican concerns about the treaty into account and, as a result, New START is truly a success for the nation.

New START won the Senate's support because it makes sense: it is effectively verifiable, and it will build international cooperation to help secure vulnerable nuclear material and to turn Iran and North Korea away from nuclear weapons. The treaty has the overwhelming support of the American people, the U.S. military, and Republican and Democratic national security experts alike.

New START is a strong start: the United States and Russia must continue to work to reduce their huge strategic nuclear stockpiles, phase out their Cold War-style targeting plans, tackle the problem of accounting for and reducing tactical nuclear weapons and, as President Obama has said, engage the other nuclear-armed states in a dialogue on nuclear disarmament.

Further reductions should be secured through a follow-on treaty, or, in the interim, through unilateral reciprocal reductions. Whatever the formula, it is clear that there is still more to be done. In the 21st Century, nuclear weapons are a greater liability than an asset. They are useless in deterring or responding to nuclear terrorism. In the coming months, the United States and Russia should discuss reducing their arsenals to 1,000 or fewer nuclear weapons of all types, and restrict their role solely to deterring nuclear attack by others.

Not only must the United States and Russia further reduce their arsenals, but they must work to prevent other states from building up and improving their nuclear arsenals. In particular, the United States needs to work harder to head off arms buildups elsewhere. To do so, the U.S. needs to lead a renewed effort for a global ban on fissile material production for weapons and we need to solidify the global ban on nuclear testing by ratifying the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The New START vote suggests it is possible for the Senate to reconsider and come together around the CTBT. The case for the test ban treaty is even stronger than it was when the Senate last reviewed the treaty a decade ago. It is clear that the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear testing and that further nuclear testing could help others improve their nuclear capabilities.

The robust, $85 billion, 10-year plan for upgrading the nuclear weapons complex should give Senators greater confidence that nuclear testing is no longer needed to maintain the effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal. Senators of both parties should recognize that delaying reconsideration of the Test Ban Treaty will create uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy and jeopardize the fragile political consensus to increase funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the years ahead.

Senate approval of New START demonstrates that the American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the nuclear weapons threat. New START has had the active support of a very large, diverse, bipartisan array of national security, arms control, religious, scientific, and environmental organizations.

New START advocates include a range of supporters from the Air Force Association to the Arms Control Association, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Assn. of Evangelicals, from retired generals to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, plus a long list of former Secretaries of State, former Secretaries of Defense, former national security advisers, former presidents, and all major U.S. allies urging approval of the treaty this year. Newspapers in red, blue, and purple states have editorialized overwhelmingly in favor of prompt Senate ratification New START.

The clear message is that doing nothing, or delaying action on pragmatic nuclear risk reduction steps, is not a prudent option.

We welcome the Senate's strong vote of support for New START and look forward to further progress in reducing the nuclear threat and increasing U.S. security in the months and years ahead.

For more background and analysis on further steps to reduce the nuclear threat, see:

"After New START: What Next?" by Stephen Pifer, Brooking Institution in Arms Control Today, December 2010. See: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_12/Pifer

"NATO's Nuclear Decision," by Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Today, September, 2010. See: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_09/Focus

The Case for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, An Arms Control Association Report by Tom Z. Collina and Daryl G. Kimball, February 2010. See: http://projectforthectbt.org/resources/CTBTBriefingBook

"Time for Leadership on the Fissile Cutoff," Arms Control Today, by Daryl G. Kimball, October 2010. See: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_10/Focus

"Presidential Q & A: President-Elect Barack Obama," Arms Control Today, December 2008. See: http://www.armscontrol.org/2008election

 

 

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Today's Senate vote to approve ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is a victory for common sense arms control solutions to reduce the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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Case for New START Builds; Skeptics Miss the Mark

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Volume 1, Number 45, December 16, 2010

This week, the Senate finally began debate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Hours into the ongoing floor debate, it is clearer than ever that the treaty is essential for U.S. and international security.

The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright said today, "we need START and we need it badly."

In the bipartisan tradition of earlier agreements negotiated by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, New START would keep Washington and Moscow on track to reduce their arsenals by about 30 percent below current limits.

Signed April 8, 2010, New START would strengthen U.S. security by limiting Russia to no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 700 delivery vehicles (missiles and bombers) and re-establishing a robust, up-to-date monitoring system to verify compliance. The United States would retain a modern nuclear force more than sufficient in size to deter nuclear attack by Russia or any other potential adversary.

The original START treaty expired Dec. 5, 2009, and with it went START's arsenal limits and on-site inspections. Prompt ratification of New START is the only way to close this "verification gap." The new treaty would establish an updated system of information exchanges and enhanced on-site inspections that would provide more information on the status of Russian strategic forces than was available under the original START accord.

General Kevin Chilton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testified in June, "If we don't get the treaty, [the Russians] are not constrained in their development of force structure and ... we have no insight into what they're doing. So it's the worst of both possible worlds."

For these and other reasons, a long list of U.S. military leaders, including seven former U.S. strategic commanders and national security leaders from past Republican and Democratic administrations support New START, as do Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Over the last eight months, more than 20 Senate hearings and briefings have been held on the pact, and the Obama administration has answered 1,000 questions from senators. On Sept. 16 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) passed the New START resolution of advice and consent by a bipartisan vote of 14 to 4. The resolution address all major and minor issues raised by treaty skeptics over the past few weeks and several hours of debate.

The top reasons for prompt ratification of New START--and answers to skeptics' questions--are detailed below:

1. New START would make real cuts in Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal.


Today, Russia deploys approximately 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads, not counting bomber weapons in storage, according to the Congressional Research Service.  Contrary to assertions by critics that New START would not reduce Russian forces, the treaty would in fact reduce Russia's force of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 or less, meaning that hundreds of Russian nuclear warheads would no longer be deployed on ballistic missiles that could be aimed at the United States. Moreover, New START would lock-in these limits for the next decade or longer.

At the same time, New START would allow the United States to maintain a devastatingly powerful nuclear arsenal deployed on a "triad" of nuclear delivery systems: intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Nov. 11 that New START would leave the United States with nuclear forces that are "more than enough for us to handle our military responsibilities."  Besides Russia, the United States' only potential nuclear adversary is China, which has fewer than 50 nuclear-armed long-range missiles.

2. New START would resume inspections of Russian strategic forces.

It has been a year since the United States lost the ability to conduct intrusive, on-site inspections of Russia's nuclear arsenal mandated by the 1991 START accord. The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), still in force, contains no verification provisions.  The longer New START remains in limbo, the longer this strategic blackout will continue.

New START would reestablish on-the-ground information gathering about Russian strategic forces that the United States could not get any other way.  For example, satellites and other intelligence assets cannot look inside Russian missiles to see how many warheads they carry, but New START's on-site inspection provisions would do just that.  The treaty would provide predictability about Russian strategic forces, allowing the United States to make better-informed decisions about investments in nuclear forces and other military capabilities.

Without New START in force, the U.S. intelligence community would not be able to predict with high confidence the status of Russia's nuclear forces, and both sides would be tempted to engage in more-costly force modernization and hedging strategies.

3. New START is effectively verifiable.

New START would establish an updated system of information exchanges and enhanced on-site inspections that would provide high confidence that Russia is complying with the new, lower limits on deployed strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

  • On-Site Inspections. New START allows up to 18 on-site inspections per year, including direct monitoring of Russian nuclear warheads, something no treaty has allowed before.  Some senators have raised concerns that New START allows fewer annual inspections than did the original START.

    However, for all practical purposes, the number of inspections in New START is the same as START.  New START's "Type One" inspections, which occur at bases for deployed missiles and bombers, can achieve two goals (confirm data on delivery vehicles and warheads) at the same time, and thus ten of these inspections provide the same amount of information as 20 START inspections.  Together with the eight "Type Two" inspections of non-deployed systems, the 18 New START inspections are essentially equivalent to the 28 inspections under START.

    Moreover, the original START's 28 inspections had to cover 70 facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as the Soviet nuclear complex was spread across these four now-independent nations. Today, all former Soviet nuclear weapons and facilities have been centralized in Russia, and New START's 18 inspections need to cover only 35 Russian sites.
  • Telemetry. Telemetry, or missile flight test information, was needed under START I to determine the maximum number of warheads that might be loaded onto Russian ballistic missiles. Since New START requires data exchanges on the actual warhead loading of each deployed missile and allows direct on-site inspections to confirm this, telemetry sharing is no longer required. Even so, New START provides for telemetry sharing on up to five missile tests per year as a confidence-building measure.

    "Telemetry is not nearly as important for this treaty as it has been in the past," said Secretary Gates March 26. "In fact, we don't need telemetry to monitor compliance with this treaty," he said.
  • Votkinsk. Although the George W. Bush administration agreed in 2008 to end mobile missile production monitoring at Russia's Votkinsk plant, under the new treaty Russia must notify the United States 48 hours before a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) leaves Votkinsk and when it arrives at its destination, which will facilitate monitoring by national technical means, such as satellites.

After hearing testimony in closed session from U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) witnesses, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded in its Oct. 1 report that "the New START Treaty is effectively verifiable."  A July 30 letter from Secretary of Defense Gates to the committee reached the same conclusion:

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Chiefs, the Commander, U.S. strategic Command, and I assess that Russia will not be able to achieve militarily significant cheating or breakout under New START, due to both the New START verification regime and the inherent survivability and flexibility of the planned U.S. strategic force structure."

Speaking about New START ratification, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Nov. 16: "I think the earlier, the sooner, the better. You know, my thing is, from an intelligence perspective only, are we better off with it or without it? We're better off with it."

4. New START bolsters U.S. efforts to constrain Iran's nuclear program.


The revival of U.S.-Russian strategic dialogue has already improved cooperation in a variety of fields. For example, Russia supported the U.S.-led effort to enact U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran, and Russia has cancelled its sale of the S-300 air-defense system to Iran. New START will help strengthen U.S.-Russian joint efforts to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists, as well as keep pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear fuel cycle activities.

Without New START, Russian support will be harder to obtain. On Nov. 8, for example, Sen. Lugar said it is unlikely that Moscow would sustain cooperative threat reduction efforts indefinitely without New START coming into force. "The prospects for extending Nunn-Lugar work in Russia after [2013] would be especially complicated without New START's transparency features that assure both countries about the nuclear capabilities of the other," Lugar said.

More broadly, New START helps to demonstrate that the United States and Russia are keeping up their end of the bargain under the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). New START would increase Washington's leverage in seeking stronger non-proliferation measures, such as more effective nuclear inspections, tougher penalties for states that do not comply with nonproliferation obligations, and faster action to secure the most vulnerable nuclear weapons materials. Improving the NPT system is essential to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorists and additional nations.

5. New START protects U.S. missile defense options.

Claims that the treaty's nonbinding preambular language on the "interrelationship" between strategic offenses and defenses will limit U.S. missile defense options do not add up. As Secretary of Defense Gates bluntly said May 18, "the treaty will not constrain the United States from deploying the most effective missile defenses possible."

Any proposed amendment to the treaty-whether to the nonbinding preamble or the binding portions-are unnecessary and would effectively require the renegotiation of the treaty, effectively killing the prospects for verifiably limiting Russia's strategic nuclear forces.

Some treaty critics erroneously suggest that Article V, which prohibits both sides from converting launchers for ICBMs and SLBMs into launchers for missile defense interceptors, and vice versa, limits U.S. missile defense plans in the future.

However, the United States has no plans for any such conversions.  "It's a limit in theory, but not in reality," wrote then-U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones on April 20. "We have no plans to convert any additional ICBM silos. In fact, it would be less expensive to build a new silo rather than convert an old one. In other words, if we were to ever need more missile defense silos in California, we would simply dig new holes, which is not proscribed by the treaty."

Russia is concerned that future U.S. strategic missile interceptor deployments could undermine its nuclear retaliatory capability, and has made a unilateral statement that it could potentially withdraw from New START if the United States deploys such systems in large numbers.

The SFRC resolution of advice and consent clearly states that it is the committee's understanding that "the New START Treaty does not impose any limitations on the deployment of missile defenses" other than the treaty's ban on converting ICBM and SLBM launchers for use by interceptors--which the Pentagon has said it has no intention of doing in any case--and that any further limitations would require Senate approval.

The resolution clarifies that "the April 7, 2010, unilateral statement by the Russian Federation on missile defense does not impose a legal obligation on the United States." It also reaffirms language in the 1999 Missile Defense Act that it is the policy of the United States to deploy an effective national missile defense system "as soon as technologically possible" and that nothing in the treaty limits future planned enhancements to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system or the European Phased Adaptive Approach.

Indeed, the Obama administration is going full-bore on its plans to increase SM-3 intermediate-range interceptor deployments in Europe. Some may bemoan the decision to revise the Bush-era plan to deploy unproven strategic interceptors in Poland, but the new plan more effectively and more smartly addresses the existing Iranian short- and medium-range missile threat, and opens the way for cooperation, not confrontation with Russia on missile defense.

The Obama administration's request for missile defense funding in FY2011 is almost $10 billion, covering missile interceptor deployments in the United States and Europe.

6. New START allows for the maintenance of modern, effective nuclear forces.


The Obama administration has pledged, pursuant to section 1251 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, to spend $85 billion over the next ten years to maintain the nuclear stockpile and modernize the weapons complex. The plan calls for spending another $100 billion over the same period to upgrade strategic nuclear delivery systems.

The administration's $7 billion request for the weapons complex for FY 2011 was 10 percent higher than the previous year.  Linton Brooks, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the Bush administration, said in April, "I'd have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration." As Secretary of Defense Gates wrote in his preface to the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), "These investments, and the NPR's strategy for warhead life extension, represent a credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation's deterrent."

Despite this, some senators are concerned that the administration might not deliver on its commitments.

In response, the SFRC's resolution of advice and consent states that "the United States is committed to proceeding with a robust stockpile stewardship program, and to maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapons production capabilities and capacities."  To achieve these goals, the resolution says that the United States is committed to providing the necessary resources, "at a minimum at the levels set forth in the President's 10-year plan."

The resolution also states that "if at any time more resources are required than estimated in the President's 10-year plan," the President shall submit a report detailing: 1) how he proposes to remedy the shortfall; 2) the proposed level of funding required; 3) the impact of the shortfall on the safety, reliability, and performance of U.S. nuclear forces; and 4) "whether and why, in the changed circumstances brought about by the resource shortfall, it remains in the national interest of the United States to remain a Party to the New START Treaty."

Moreover, at the request of Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote Dec. 1 that they are "very pleased" with the recently updated $85 billion budget to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile and modernize the weapons complex.  Lawrence Livermore director Dr. George Miller, Los Alamos director Dr. Michael Anastasio, and Sandia director Dr. Paul Hommert wrote that the increased funding plan released in November provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Further efforts to hold up New START in an attempt to secure still more funding for the already well-funded nuclear weapons complex are unnecessary, fiscally unsound, and politically unsustainable.

7.  New START allows conventional global strike weapons.

Conventional warheads that the United States may in the future decide to deploy on strategic ballistic missiles would be subject to New START limits. However, there are no firm plans to deploy Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) weapons, and any future deployments are likely to be small in number. As a result, there is room within the treaty's limits for future CPGS deployments.

In an answer for the SFRC record, Secretary of Defense Gates stated: "As envisaged by our military planners, the number of such conventionally armed delivery vehicles and the warheads they carry would be very small when measured against the overall levels of strategic delivery systems and strategic warheads. Should we decide to deploy them, counting this small number of conventional strategic systems and their warheads toward the treaty limits will not prevent the United States from maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded that it saw "no reason to doubt statements by the cognizant civilian and uniformed military officials that, at least over the ten-year duration of the treaty, the treaty's limits provide sufficient room to accommodate both the strategic nuclear forces and the limited number of CPGS weapons the United States is likely to deploy."

Moreover, the SFRC resolution clarifies that New START does not limit potential CPGS concepts that would not meet the definitions of ICBMs and SLBMs under the treaty, such as "boost-glide" systems that do not have a ballistic trajectory.

8. New START sets the stage for limits on tactical weapons.

Some complain that New START does not reduce Russia's tactical nuclear warhead levels, which have never been covered by a treaty. By design, New START addresses strategic nuclear weapons. It does not make sense to risk verifiable reduction in Russia's long-range nuclear weapons by insisting that the policy for short-range weapons be settled now. New START lays the diplomatic foundation necessary for a future accord on tactical nuclear weapons reductions.

On this question, the SFRC resolution calls on the President "to pursue, following consultation with allies, an agreement with the Russian Federation that would address the disparity between the tactical nuclear weapons stockpiles of the Russian Federation and of the United States and would secure and reduce tactical nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner."

President Obama has said that he intends to work with Moscow to pursue further nuclear reductions in all types of nuclear warheads--including tactical weapons--after New START is ratified. Moreover, Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates, in a joint answer for the SFRC record, said that:

"Because of their limited range and very different roles from those played by strategic nuclear forces, the vast majority of Russian tactical nuclear weapons could not directly influence the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and Russia... Because the United States will retain a robust strategic force structure under New START, Russia's tactical nuclear weapons will have little or no impact on strategic stability."

To the extent we should be concerned about Russia's tactical nuclear weapons - and we should be because they are a target for nuclear terrorism - we should want to ratify New START so we can move on to further talks with Russia on all types of nuclear weapons (strategic and nonstrategic, deployed and non-deployed) as the Obama administration has proposed. By delaying or killing New START, we will never convince the Russians to reduce their old tactical nuclear weapons.

9. New START covers rail-mobile missiles.

Some critics have argued that if Moscow were to build rail-mobile ICBMs, such as the now-retired SS-24, those missiles might not count under treaty limits because they are not specifically mentioned in the text.

As to why rail-mobile ICBMs are not defined in New START, Secretary of Defense Gates answered for the record that ''Rail-mobile ICBMs are not specifically mentioned in the New START Treaty because neither Party currently deploys ICBMs in that mode.''

Moreover, the Oct. 1 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report points out that the term ''ICBM launcher'' is defined in paragraph 28 of Part One of the Protocol as ''a device intended or used to contain, prepare for launch, and launch an ICBM.''  This would include any future rail-mobile systems.  On this basis, the Committee found that "a new rail-mobile system would clearly be captured under the Article II limits despite the exclusion of rail-mobile launchers from the definition of mobile launchers of ICBMs," and that "The committee does not believe that there is any disagreement between the United States and the Russian Federation on any of these points."

10.  Bilateral Consultative Commission is subject to Senate approval.

Treaty critics erroneously claim that the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) under New START could make substantive changes to the treaty, for example on missile defense, without Senate consent.

First, having a bilateral forum to discuss treaty issues is typical of all arms control treaties, including the original START.  Moreover, no substantive changes could be made to the treaty without Senate approval.  The SFRC resolution requires prompt presidential consultation with the Foreign Relations Committee regarding the BCC to ensure that substantive changes to the treaty are only made with the Senate's approval.

The Oct. 1 SFRC report states that the Senate will have "the opportunity to participate fully in decisions about any use of the BCC's procedures to make changes to the treaty's protocol or annexes, and to ensure that the Senate's role in the treaty making process will be respected."

11. New START has been thoroughly vetted.

Having failed to make their arguments stick, treaty opponents are now complaining that they don't want New START to be "jammed" through the Senate and that "more time" is needed to consider the treaty. Such arguments are ring hollow.

New START has been thoroughly vetted and the Senate has had more than enough time to review and debate the treaty. It can and should act this year - not next year.

The Senate has held more than 20 hearings and briefings on the treaty since May. More than 1,000 questions for the record have been asked and answered. New START has been ready for a floor vote since the SFRC voted for it Sept. 16.

By comparison, the Senate held 18 hearings and spent five days debating the original START agreement in 1992, a more complicated treaty negotiated during the Cold War. It passed 93-6. The Senate spent two days debating the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty in 2003, which passed 95-0. Two to three days of floor debate should be sufficient for New START.

12. Stalling New START undermines U.S. security.

For all of these reasons, New START deserves the Senate's prompt support. In particular, given START's expiration in December 2009, there is currently no bilateral system for monitoring Russia's nuclear forces. Failure by the Senate to approve New START would not only delay the re-establishment of an effective U.S.-Russian inspection and monitoring system, but it would undermine U.S. nonproliferation leadership and jeopardize U.S.-Russian cooperation, including joint efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program.

It is time for senators on both sides of the aisle to come together to strengthen U.S. and global security by voting in favor of New START ratification. - TOM Z. COLLINA and DARYL G. KIMBALL

***

For more information on New START, see:

ACA's comprehensive, all-in-one guide to the treaty, The Case for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
http://www.armscontrol.org/pressroom/caseforNewSTART

America to Senate: Ratify New START Now
http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/AmericaToSenate

New START By the Numbers
http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/NewSTARTbytheNumbers

Description: 

Volume 1, Issue 45

This week, the Senate finally began debate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Hours into the ongoing floor debate, it is clearer than ever that the treaty is essential for U.S. and international security.

Subject Resources:

Nuclear Weapons Budget More Than Enough to Maintain Arsenal and Modernize Complex

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Volume 1, Number 41, December 7, 2010

For months, senators such as Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have been threatening to delay consideration of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until they are assured that there is a technically sound and adequately-funded plan to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

In reality, the technical strategy for maintaining the effectiveness and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile has been in place for more than a decade. Eighteen years after the last U.S. nuclear test explosion, it is clear that the arsenal can be maintained without nuclear test explosions and without pursuing new warhead designs. Over the past decade, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) life extension programs have successfully refurbished existing types of nuclear warheads and can continue to do so indefinitely.

With the Barack Obama administration's $85 billion, 10-year plan to maintain the nuclear arsenal and modernize the nuclear weapons complex, it is now also abundantly clear that the weapons laboratories have more than enough funding to do the job.

Lab Directors "Very Pleased" With Funding Plan

At the request of Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories wrote last week that they are "very pleased" with the recently updated $85 billion budget to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile and modernize the weapons complex.

The lab directors' endorsement should put to rest any lingering doubts about the adequacy of U.S. plans to ensure a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile under New START.

On Dec. 1, Lawrence Livermore director Dr. George Miller, Los Alamos director Dr. Michael Anastasio, and Sandia director Dr. Paul Hommert wrote that the increased funding plan released in November provides "adequate support" to sustain the U.S. nuclear arsenal within the limit of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads established by New START.

Further efforts to hold up New START to secure additional funding for the already well-funded nuclear weapons complex are unnecessary, fiscally unsound, and politically unsustainable.

A Budget to "Kill For"

Beginning with its fiscal year fiscal year 2011 budget request, the Obama administration has shown its commitment to ensuring that an adequate budget is available to support the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. In February 2010, the administration requested $7 billion in fiscal year 2011 funding for NNSA, which oversees the U.S. nuclear stockpile and production complex. This request was about 10 percent higher than the previous year's budget. Linton Brooks, former NNSA administrator in the George W. Bush administration, said in April, "I'd have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration."

In May, the administration outlined an $80 billion, 10-year plan for NNSA nuclear weapons activities, which was almost 15% percent above current (fiscal year 2011) spending levels.

As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote in his preface to the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), "These investments, and the NPR's strategy for warhead life extension, represent a credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation's deterrent." The administration's plan calls for spending an additional $100 billion over the same period to upgrade strategic nuclear delivery systems.

On Nov. 17, at Sen. Kyl's request, the Obama administration delivered revised estimates for funding the nuclear weapons complex. The updated 10-year plan now totals $85 billion, increasing from $7 billion in fiscal year 2011 to almost $10 billion annually by fiscal year 2020 (see figure 2 below). The plan includes an additional $4.1 billion in spending for fiscal years 2012-2016, mainly to cover possible cost increases for two new facilities, and a range estimate for fiscal years 2017-2020. The $85 billion total represents a 21 percent rise above the fiscal 2011 spending level.

$85 Billion is More Than Enough

By any common-sense definition, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex will get more than enough resources to maintain the effectiveness of the enduring U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile for years to come. That stockpile has been reduced by over 80% from its peak of 30,000 active warheads in the 1960's to about 5,000 today (see figure 1 below).

Despite this long-term, high-level commitment, some senators might still be concerned that the administration and Congress will not support higher funding levels for the nuclear weapons complex in the future.

The Senate Foreign Relation Committee's Oct.1 bipartisan resolution of advice and consent anticipated this concern, stating "the United States is committed to proceeding with a robust stockpile stewardship program, and to maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapons production capabilities and capacities." To achieve these goals, the resolution says that the United States is committed to providing the necessary resources, "at a minimum at the levels set forth in the President's 10-year plan."

The resolution also states that "if at any time more resources are required than estimated in the President's 10-year plan," the President shall submit a report detailing: 1) how he proposes to remedy the shortfall; 2) the proposed level of funding required; 3) the impact of the shortfall on the safety, reliability, and performance of U.S. nuclear forces; and 4) "whether and why, in the changed circumstances brought about by the resource shortfall, it remains in the national interest of the United States to remain a Party to the New START Treaty."

Time to Get Real

Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) Sept. 30 that includes the administration's $7 billion fiscal year2011 budget request for weapons activities at NNSA. Sen. Kerry said that this funding "sends a strong signal about this administration's commitment to keeping our nuclear arsenal at a viable and suitable level" under New START.

However, if the Senate does not approve New START, the administration may not be able to protect the NNSA weapons activities program from budget cutbacks, especially as Congress seeks to reduce the federal deficit. Senators of both parties should recognize that delaying approval of New START would create uncertainty about U.S. nuclear policy and jeopardize the fragile political consensus to increase funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the years ahead.

As Sen. Lugar put it on Nov. 17, "we are at a point where we're unlikely to have either the treaty or modernization unless we get real." -- TOM Z. COLLINA and DARYL G. KIMBALL

 



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Volume 1, Number 41

For months, senators such as Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have been threatening to delay consideration of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until they are assured that there is a technically sound and adequately-funded plan to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Subject Resources:

New START Now

Daryl G. Kimball

President Barack Obama, backed by the U.S. military, bipartisan national security leaders, and America’s NATO allies, has made a strong case for approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) before the end of this year. New START would reduce Russia’s still enormous nuclear arsenal, re-establish effective bilateral inspection and monitoring, and further enhance U.S.-Russian cooperation on key issues, including containing Iran's nuclear program and further reducing all types of Russian and U.S. nuclear arms.

As Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) has argued, “Every senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty.”

There is no excuse for inaction. Since it was signed on April 8, the treaty has been thoroughly vetted. The Senate has held more than 20 hearings and briefings; more than 900 questions have been asked and answered. Pushing the treaty’s consideration into 2011 would undermine U.S. nonproliferation leadership and jeopardize relations with Russia at a critical juncture.

Yet, many Republican senators say they need more time to decide. They are led by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), who continues to stall progress on New START in an apparent attempt to secure even more funding for the already well-funded U.S. nuclear weapons production infrastructure.

The administration requested $7 billion for the weapons complex in fiscal year 2011, an amount that is about 10 percent higher than it was in the final year of the Bush administration. Linton Brooks, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) head under President George W. Bush, said in April, “I’d have killed for that budget and that much high-level attention in the administration.”

Then, in May the administration outlined its $80 billion, 10-year plan for the NNSA nuclear weapons complex, which is almost 15 percent higher than current spending levels.

On Aug. 4, Kyl told Reuters he would hold up New START unless appropriations bills passed by Congress for fiscal year 2011 and the president’s budget for fiscal year 2012 reflect the administration’s plan for modernizing the nuclear weapons complex. Acknowledging that it would be difficult to get everything done before the November election, Kyl said the Senate might need a postelection session if it wanted to vote on the treaty this year.

The administration has addressed Kyl’s demands and gone beyond them. So far, Congress has approved the administration’s fiscal year 2011 budget request for NNSA weapons activities. Then, on Nov. 17 the Obama administration delivered revised estimates for funding the nuclear weapons complex over the next decade. The plan now totals a whopping $85 billion, including an additional $4.1 billion in spending for fiscal years 2012-2016, mainly to cover possible cost increases for two new facilities. That would represent a 21 percent rise above the proposed fiscal year 2011 funding level for NNSA weapons activities.

Unfortunately, it seems that Kyl cannot take “yes” for an answer. In a Nov. 27 letter to their fellow Republicans, Kyl and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) complained that it will be several years before the United States would be able to completely remanufacture its nuclear stockpile with new and modernized facilities. They make the absurd claim that further reductions in the active U.S. stockpile are imprudent until and unless such a capability is re-established. Before New START can be considered, they say, the administration should accelerate funding for the new facilities in New Mexico and Corker’s home state of Tennessee.

That contradicts the views of U.S. military leaders and the directors of the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories. They do not believe that the modest reductions called for under New START must wait until the United States can remanufacture hundreds of new warheads as a “hedge” against a resurgent Russia or the highly unlikely possibility that some warheads in the arsenal require a fix through a more extensive life-extension program.

In reality, the current program for refurbishing existing warheads is working extremely well. Obama’s original $80 billion plan for the weapons complex provided more than enough to maintain the existing stockpile over the next decade. If future Congresses believe that funding increases are warranted, they can consider appropriating more money at the appropriate time.

Further attempts by Kyl to delay Senate consideration of New START in order to “earmark” still more funding for the weapons labs is fiscally irresponsible, politically unsustainable, and damaging to U.S. security.

“Waiting until next year would require a new set of hearings and lots more time,” Lugar told Louisville’s Courier-Journal Nov. 28. Such a course, he said, “borders on the irresponsible in terms of national security.”

As Obama noted in his Nov. 20 weekly radio address, “Some things are bigger than politics. Senator Lugar is right, and if the Senate passes this treaty, it will not be an achievement for Democrats or Republicans—it will be a win for America.”

 

President Barack Obama, backed by the U.S. military, bipartisan national security leaders, and America’s NATO allies, has made a strong case for approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) before the end of this year. New START would reduce Russia’s still enormous nuclear arsenal, re-establish effective bilateral inspection and monitoring, and further enhance U.S.-Russian cooperation on key issues, including containing Iran's nuclear program and further reducing all types of Russian and U.S. nuclear arms.

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