Login/Logout

*
*  

The Arms Control Association is an "exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size." 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
Daryl G. Kimball

Don't Hold New START Hostage to Budget Battles

Sections:

Body: 

Volume 3, Issue 8, May 16, 2012

This week, the House of Representatives will debate and vote on the annual defense authorization bill, which in its current form would hold up implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless Congress increases spending on nuclear weapons activities that the Pentagon did not request and does not want.

On May 9, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee pushed through an amendment by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would block funding for New START implementation unless higher spending targets for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear weapons production facilities set in 2010 are met in future years.

In response, the Obama administration issued a warning to Congress yesterday that the President may veto the final bill if these provisions survive, stating that sections 1053-1059 would "impinge on the President's ability to implement the New START Treaty and to set U.S. nuclear weapons policy."

Rep. Turner's partisan "hostage taking" ignores the fact that there is bi-partisan support for New START and bi-partisan agreement among congressional appropriators that additional nuclear weapon budget increases are unaffordable and unnecessary.

Rep. Turner also ignores the fact that twenty years after the Cold War the United States does not need as many nuclear weapons as we plan to maintain. Even after New START is implemented, the U.S. will have 1,550 nuclear warheads deployed on long-range missiles, bombers and submarines.

New START is Too Important for Partisan Games

If the House NDAA provisions to tie up New START were to become law, Russia would likely halt its nuclear reductions as well, risking the treaty's collapse. This would allow Moscow to rebuild its nuclear forces above the treaty ceiling of 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and increase the number of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States.

Moreover, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse, depriving the U.S. of crucial data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces, undermining transparency and strategic stability.

Rep. Turner and his allies complain that the administration's $7.6 billion request for NNSA weapons activities for  FY2013 is 4 percent lower than projected in 2010, during the New START debate in the Senate.

But they ignore the reality that the FY2013 request is actually 5 percent higher than the 2012 enacted budget. Rather than a breach of faith, this year's NNSA request represents a healthy increase in the face of fiscal pressures imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

No Need to Rush New Plutonium Lab

The main issue of contention is a plutonium laboratory, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, which the administration deferred for at least five years.

However, far from being upset that the administration was not seeking CMRR funds this year, the House Appropriations Committee complained that the facility should have been shelved sooner.

"By not fully considering all available options, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent for work which will not be needed until a much later date," the Republican-led appropriations committee wrote about CMRR on April 24.

Even so, Rep. Turner and company warn that without CMRR, the U.S. does not have the capability to make 50 to 80 newly produced plutonium cores or "pits" annually for refurbished warheads.

Their bill would authorize $100 million more for the facility next year, call on DoD to cover future costs and stipulate that it is built no later than 2024 (sections 2804-2805).

The reality, however, is that there is no identified need to produce that many plutonium pits. NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino testified to Congress on April 17 that the U.S. does not need CMRR to maintain an effective stockpile. "That's great news for the country, because we're not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area," D'Agostino said.

With cost estimates for CMRR skyrocketing from $600 million to $6 billion, the delay is a reasonable response to tight budgets given that other NNSA facilities have "inherent capacity" to support ongoing and future plutonium activities, according to NNSA. CMRR deferral will not compromise NNSA's ability to maintain the nuclear stockpile.

East Coast Missile Interceptor Site is Premature

The House bill also includes a $460 million increase for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, including $100 million to study a strategic ballistic missile interceptor site on the East Coast (section 223). This would be in addition to the two sites already built in California and Alaska at a combined cost of $30 billion. The Congressional Budget Office said this new project would cost $3.6 billion over five years, which is likely a conservative estimate.

The Pentagon did not request funding for an East Coast site and does not want it. "In my military judgment, the program of record for ballistic missile defense for the homeland, as we've submitted it, is adequate and sufficient to the task," Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news briefing last Thursday. "So I don't see a need beyond what we've submitted in the last budget."

The White House said the proposal is "premature because the Administration has not identified a requirement for a third U.S.-based missile defense site, nor assessed the feasibility or cost in a cost-constrained environment."

Moreover, the Obama administration is already building an interceptor system in Europe, known as the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), to handle potential attacks from Iran, which has yet to deploy long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The performance of the West Coast GMD system should give pause before deploying a similar one on the East Coast. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test against since 2008, with two failures in 2010.

According to a recent National Research Council report, which has been misleadingly referenced in support of a near-term East Coast site, the GMD system "has serious shortcomings, and provides at best a limited, initial defense against a relatively primitive threat." Moreover, the GMD system has not been proven effective against a realistic target including decoys.

Building a costly third site for a GMD system that is ineffective and designed to counter a long-range missile threat that may not materialize for many years is not in the best interests of U.S. national security.

Time to Stop Playing Games

It is time to stop playing political games with U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Continued, verified reductions of excessive U.S. and Russian arsenals will enhance U.S. security by reducing the nuclear threat.

As the Pentagon said in January, "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory, as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy."

Today, Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commander of U.S. nuclear forces in the George W. Bush administration, said that U.S. deterrence requirements could be achieved with a total arsenal of 900 strategic nuclear warheads, with only half of them deployed.

A smaller nuclear force would also save money.

The major threats the U.S. faces today, such as proliferation, terrorism or cyber attacks, cannot be addressed by nuclear arms. Rather than demanding American taxpayers cough up yet more money for a new nuclear facility that we don't need, Congress needs to focus on more cost-effective solutions that address the nation's future defense needs.--Daryl G. Kimball and Tom Z. Collina

Note: An earlier version of essay appeared in the May 12, 012 issue of Defense News.

###

The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today

Description: 

Volume 3, Issue 8, May 16, 2012

This week, the House of Representatives will debate and vote on the annual defense authorization bill, which in its current form would hold up implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless Congress increases spending on nuclear weapons activities that the Pentagon did not request and does not want.

Country Resources:

Updating Nonproliferation Criteria for U.S. Nuclear Trade

Sections:

Body: 

By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director Arms Control Association

Prepared Comments for Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the Foreign Policy Initiative Forum on
“Tightening Nuclear Nonproliferation Rules: What Congress’ Role Should Be”
May 16, 2012

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, efforts to exploit nuclear technology for energy and for profit have complicated the task of reducing the nuclear weapons threat.

The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) grants states the “right” to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, so long as states forswear nuclear weapons and comply with safeguards against the diversion of nuclear technology and materials for weapons purposes. The NPT also obliges the nuclear weapon states not to assist—directly or indirectly—other states’ with the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The United States has long sought to improve international safeguards standards and prevent the spread of the most sensitive dual-use nuclear technologies—particularly enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

The U.S. Atomic Energy Act (AEA) and the 1978 amendments have set an important global benchmarks for the terms under the United States and others should enter into peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements. And as matter of policy, the United States has sought to prevent the transfer of enrichment or reprocessing technology, which can be used to make nuclear bomb material.

With renewed interest in nuclear energy and the possibility that still more states may wish to pursue enrichment or reprocessing capabilities, it is time to:

  • update the U.S. standards for civil nuclear trade to raise the barriers against proliferation, and
  • ensure that those standards apply to all states with whom we negotiate or renegotiate so-called 123 agreements.

The current policies of the Barack Obama administration to pursue nuclear cooperation agreement on a case-by-case basis creates an uneven set of standards and a mixed-message that undermines the administration’s own efforts to establish tougher nonproliferation rules that apply to all states.

The administration is currently engaged in discussions with several states on possible bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements, seeking somewhat different nonproliferation standards and guarantees with each. That is a mistake.

With the ill-conceived U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation deal, we have already seen how the exemption created for India from the global nonproliferation rules has given others a cynical excuse to break the rules and lobby for their own exemptions. And we have seen no new action by India to improve its nonproliferation and disarmament record as a result.

It is time to reconsider and pursue a better way for future nuclear cooperation deals.

H.R. 1280, authored by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Howard Berman, Brad Sherman and others, offers a very useful way forward.

It is not perfect, but it is something the administration should support and work with Congress to improve.

The bill would add several new requirements to the nine key requirements already in Section 123 of the AEA.[i] Among the most important new requirements that would be added are:

  • the application of the IAEA additional protocol. Dozens of states have not yet approved an additional protocol, including Algeria, Egypt, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, whose ambassador to Washington recently threatened that his country would build nuclear weapons if Iran does; and
  • a pledge not to acquire enrichment or reprocessing capabilities/facilities.

I would also suggest that the bill should be strengthened by:

  • clarifying that the recipient state must allow for the application of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) under the terms of the most up-to-date IAEA revisions, which today are known as code 3.1. Why is this important? Some states, including Iran, have a CSA in place but don’t allow IAEA to operate under the updated code 3.1 revisions;
  • requiring termination of U.S. nuclear cooperation in the event the recipient state conducts a nuclear test explosion, is found to be in violation of its IAEA safeguards obligations, or acquires enrichment or reprocessing equipment from sources other than the United States.

H.R. 1280 would not require that states renounce their option to pursue enrichment or reprocessing—which some refuse to do because they claim it is their right under the NPT to do so—but would incentivize those that do by “fast tracking” the Congressional review and approval process for civil nuclear cooperation agreements with countries that meet the new and higher set of standards, including a no enrichment or reprocessing pledge, as the United Arab Emirates has done.

Agreements with states that cannot meet the higher set of standards would be subject to a more rigorous process requiring affirmative Congressional approval.

Article IV of the NPT may, in the view of some states, give them a “right” to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, but the United States also has a right, an NPT responsibility, and an interest not to engage in civil nuclear trade that don’t meet a higher set of standards than those spelled out in the 1968 NPT.

Some nuclear energy industry lobbyists suggest that because states will not want to give up their option to pursue enrichment or reprocessing in the future, H.R. 1280, if enacted, would drive these countries seek nuclear commerce from other nuclear suppliers and put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage.

That’s farfetched and it suggests that we should lower the bar against proliferation in order to simply give them a perceived competitive edge.

H.R. 1280 is a very reasonable and common sense approach that would simply put into U.S. law the standards that all nuclear supplier states have already agreed are essential to preventing future proliferation.

In addition, the new and important NSG rule adopted in June 2011—that bars enrichment and reporcessing technology transfers to states without CSAs, have not joined the NPT, do not have an additional protocol in force, or to states in proliferation sensitive regions—makes it highly unlikely that other nuclear suppliers can even offer to transfer enrichment or reprocessing technology or equipment to these states.

For instance even in the case of India, which is actively seeking more advanced enrichment and reprocessing technology and which could use it for its nuclear weapons program, cannot obtain such technology from the U.S., France or Russia under the new NSG rule.

If we are to succeed in limiting the number of states capable of producing nuclear bomb material, all states must be willing to provide responsible leadership and restraint. In the near future, there is no economic rationale for new states to enter the civil uranium-enrichment or plutonium-separation arena.

It is time for the Congress to act and for the Obama administration to provide pragmatic input rather than stiff resistance to this bill, which is fully consistent with the President’s broader nonproliferation strategy and goals.

 


 

ENDNOTE

[i] Section 123(a) lists nine criteria that an agreement must meet unless the President determines an exemption is necessary. These include guarantees that:

  • Safeguards on transferred nuclear material and equipment continue in perpetuity;
  • Full-scope IAEA safeguards are applied in non-nuclear weapon states;
  • Nothing transferred is used for any nuclear explosive device or for any other military purpose, except in the case of cooperation agreements with nuclear weapon states, in which the United States has the right to demand the return of transferred nuclear materials and equipment, as well as any special nuclear material produced through their use, if the cooperating state detonates a nuclear explosive device, or terminates or abrogates its IAEA safeguards agreement;
  • There is no retransfer of material or classified data without U.S. consent;
  • Physical security on nuclear material is maintained;
  • There is no enrichment or reprocessing by the recipient state of transferred nuclear material or nuclear material produced with materials or facilities transferred pursuant to the agreement without prior approval;
  • Storage for transferred plutonium and highly enriched uranium is approved in advance by the United States; and
  • Any material or facility produced or constructed through use of special nuclear technology transferred under the cooperation agreement is subject to all of the above requirements.
Description: 

Prepared Comments by Daryl G. Kimball for Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the Foreign Policy Initiative Forum on “Tightening Nuclear Nonproliferation Rules: What Congress’ Role Should Be”
May 16, 2012

Country Resources:

More Money for Yesterday's Weapons?

Sections:

Body: 

Volume 3, Issue 7, May 8, 2012

 

 

Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to approve its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense authorization bill. Committee chair Buck McKeon (R-Cal.) and strategic forces chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio) are expected to add $3.7 billion more than the Defense Department requested. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the military does not want and the nation cannot afford.

Meanwhile, in response to the bipartisan Budget Control Act, the Pentagon is trying to reduce spending growth by $487 billion over the next decade and faces an additional cut of $500 billion unless the sequestration time bomb can be defused by the end of the year.

Reps. Turner and McKeon's proposals to spend more on unneeded projects will eventually take limited resources away from defense programs the nation needs to address real 21st century security threats.

We Don't Need to Rush to Build an Expensive New Plutonium Lab

 

Rep. McKeon's draft defense authorization bill released on Monday includes $100 million for a new plutonium laboratory, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico.

There is already bipartisan agreement to delay CMRR. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) did not request any funds for CMRR and deferred construction for at least five years. The Pentagon does not support the facility, nor does the GOP-led House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee.

In fact, the Appropriations Subcommittee complained that the facility should have been shelved sooner. "By not fully considering all available options, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent for work which will not be needed until a much later date," the subcommittee wrote about CMRR on April 24.

NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino testified in April that the United States does not currently need CMRR to maintain an effective stockpile. "That's great news for the country because we're not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area," he said.

With cost estimates for CMRR skyrocketing from $600 million to $6 billion, the delay is a reasonable response to tight budgets given that other NNSA facilities have "inherent capacity" to support ongoing and future plutonium activities, according to NNSA.

The FY2013 NNSA budget request represents a healthy 5% increase despite fiscal pressures imposed by the Budget Control Act and the House Appropriations Committee's decision last year to cut the program. This year, the committee did not add additional funds above the administration's $7.6 billion request.

Further increases in the NNSA budget for the CMRR lab are out of step and are not necessary to maintain the existing U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

But We Do Need New START

 

Compounding the misguided effort to restore CMRR funding, Rep. Turner is expected to try to block implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless the funding is provided.

Blocking U.S. implementation of New START, as Rep. Turner's bill  H.R. 4178 threatens to do, would likely result in Russia doing the same. The treaty would unravel, allowing Moscow to rebuild its forces above treaty ceilings and increase the number of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States. Moreover, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse, depriving the United States of crucial data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces that the U.S. intelligence community depends on for its assessments.

Such outcomes are clearly not in the U.S. national security interest. Yet Rep. Turner would put New START at risk--ignoring the will of the 71 senators who voted for it--to extort additional spending on nuclear weapons that is unsustainable and unnecessary, and that the Pentagon and key members of his own party do not support.

New START remains in the U.S. national interest because the treaty reduces the threat to the United States from Russian nuclear forces, and the administration has managed to save money in FY2013 while still achieving its goal of modernizing the nuclear arsenal and production complex.

East Coast Strategic Missile Interceptor Site?

 

Rep. McKeon's bill includes a $460 million increase for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, including $100 million to study a missile defense site on the East Coast. This would be in addition to the two sites already built in California and Alaska at a combined cost of $30 billion.

The Pentagon did not request this funding and does not want it. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace and Defense Command, testified during a Senate hearing in March that, "today's threats do not require an East Coast missile field, and we do not have plans to do so."

Moreover, the Obama administration is already building an interceptor system in Europe, known as the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA), to handle attacks from Iran, which has yet to deploy long-range missiles that could reach the United States.

The performance of the West Coast GMD system should give us pause before deploying a similar one on the East Coast. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test against a cooperative target since 2008, with two failures in 2010. According to a recent National Research Council report, the GMD system "has serious shortcomings, and provides at best a limited, initial defense against a relatively primitive threat." Moreover, the GMD system has not been tested against a realistic target including decoys.

Building a costly third site for a GMD system that is ineffective and designed to counter a long-range missile threat that may not materialize for many years is not in the best interests of U.S. national or economic security.

We Don't Need 12 New Strategic Nuclear Subs

 

Rep. McKeon's bill also includes an increase of up to $347 million for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program, known as the SSBNX. The Navy did not request this money, and instead wants to delay the program by two years.

By accelerating the SSBNX program, Rep. McKeon hopes to prevent the U.S. strategic submarine fleet from dropping from 12 to 10 operational subs around 2030, and the Seapower subcommittee would require the Navy to maintain a minimum of 12 subs. But in reality the United States has no need for 12 subs and could safely make do with eight--and would save at least $18 billion over ten years by doing so.

Just one U.S. Ohio-class submarine, currently armed with 96 nuclear warheads, could kill millions.

From a national security perspective, a shift to eight strategic submarines would provide a more than adequate nuclear deterrent. Under New START, the Pentagon plans to deploy approximately 1,000 nuclear warheads on strategic submarines. Eight fully armed Ohio-class or SSBNX submarines can meet this target. Therefore, a shift to eight operational submarines would not affect the Pentagon's planned warhead deployment levels.

This budget-saving approach takes advantage of the excess capacity that currently exists on each D-5 missile (which is designed to hold eight warheads but is currently loaded with four or five). Although each missile and submarine would carry more warheads under this plan, the submarines-unlike land-based missiles-would still be invulnerable to attack when deployed at sea.

An Office of Management and Budget (OMB) analysis in November 2011 reportedly recommended that the Navy should purchase only 10 submarines and increase the number of missile tubes from 16 to 20 on each boat. Congress has directed the Navy to prepare a report on more economical options for the new fleet, to be completed by mid-2012.

Time to Stop Playing Games

 

While the Defense Department is seeking reasonable ways to trim spending, Reps. McKeon and Turner are telling the military to spend millions on nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the Pentagon does not want. This makes no sense, particularly when the Pentagon is trying to reduce spending by $487 billion over the next decade and sequestration looms. The days of ever-increasing defense budgets are over.

In particular, future nuclear force reductions cannot be held hostage to annual congressional debates about the defense budget. It remains in the U.S. national security interest to verifiably reduce excess Cold War U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.

As the Pentagon's January 2012 strategy document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense says: "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy."

The major threats the United States faces today, such as proliferation, terrorism or cyber attacks, cannot be addressed by nuclear arms. Rather than asking American taxpayers to cough up yet more money for yesterday's weapons, Congress needs to focus on more cost-effective solutions that address the nation's future defense needs.--Tom Z. Collina and Daryl G. Kimball

###

The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today

Description: 

Volume 3, Issue 7, May 8, 2012

 

 

Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to approve its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense authorization bill. Committee chair Buck McKeon (R-Cal.) and strategic forces chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio) are expected to add $3.7 billion more than the Defense Department requested. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that the military does not want and the nation cannot afford.

Country Resources:

In Memoriam: Stanley R. Resor (1917–2012)

Daryl G. Kimball

Stanley Rogers Resor, who served as a soldier, lawyer, secretary of the Army, arms control negotiator, and chairman of the Arms Control Association (ACA) Board of Directors, died April 17 at his home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 94. Stan touched the lives of many over the course of his long and illustrious career.

Resor was raised in New York and Connecticut by his parents, Stanley B. and Helen L. Resor, who were both prominent advertising executives. Stan, however, chose to become a lawyer.

His law career was put on hold, however, while he served as an officer in the Army’s 10th Armored Division, which saw action in Europe and was engaged in the Battle of the Bulge and siege of Bastogne, where Resor was wounded. Among other honors, Resor was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

After the war, Resor rejoined Jane Pillsbury, whom he had married in 1942. They raised seven sons in New Canaan, Connecticut, and Washington. Jane died in 1994.

After receiving his law degree from Yale in 1946, Resor joined the New York law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton. In March 1965, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Resor undersecretary of the Army; later that year, he was named secretary of the Army. He remained in that post under President Richard Nixon, until June 1971.

As Army secretary, Resor was primarily responsible for the soldiers’ welfare and the challenges of the growing force during the escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam. He helped develop a plan for replacing draftees with an all-volunteer Army by 1973, although he expressed concern that it could lead the United States into more wars. In 1970, Resor was the first service chief to promote female officers to the general officer rank. In 1971 he moved to end discrimination against African-American soldiers in off-base housing.

Resor did not always see eye-to-eye with his superiors on the conduct of the war in Vietnam. Following the massacre of nearly 500 unarmed civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968, Resor ordered an investigation and pursued the prosecution of dozens of U.S. soldiers involved. Over Resor’s protests, Nixon succeeded in persuading the CIA to refuse to allow its agents to testify as witnesses, and key congressional leaders denied the prosecution access to the testimony of other key witnesses by putting it under security classification. This forced the Army to drop the charges for all but Lt. William Calley, who was found guilty but was pardoned in 1974.

A few weeks before his resignation on May 23, 1971, Resor expressed doubts about the war in Vietnam in an interview with reporters. He said, “I think it is clear now in hindsight that the cost[s] of Vietnam…were not anticipated, or at least were underestimated. We have learned as we’ve gone. We came to a much more mature recognition that…not just military power but a strategy involving economic and political measures was necessary.”

In 1971, Resor resumed his law practice, but was soon called upon to lead negotiations with the Soviets on conventional arms reductions in Europe. From 1973 to 1978, he served with the rank of ambassador to the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) talks in Vienna.

NATO’s initial proposals called for phased removal of soldiers with a limit of 700,000 ground forces and 200,000 air forces combined. The Warsaw Pact countered that the two sides should reduce troop levels proportionally rather than to an equal level and that military equipment, including nuclear-capable aircraft, should also be reduced. Progress stalled over estimates of Warsaw Pact forces and the decision in 1979 to deploy U.S. intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

Although concrete limitations on forces were not achieved through the MBFR talks, which continued through the 1980s, the process deepened the East-West security dialogue and laid the groundwork for the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. Following his work on the MBFR talks, Resor served briefly as undersecretary of defense for policy under Harold Brown from 1978 to 1979.

In 1979, Resor rejoined Debevoise and Plimpton and became concerned about the worsening trajectory of U.S.-Soviet relations and the nuclear arms race. He joined the ACA board in 1983. Following his retirement from law practice, he served as ACA board chairman from 1992 to 2000 and was an outspoken advocate of verifiable, mutual nuclear arms reductions.

During his time on the board, Resor mentored dozens of ACA staff and oversaw the significant expansion of ACA’s program and policy work. In 1997 he enlisted the support of 50 military and diplomatic experts for a joint letter to President Bill Clinton opposing the expansion of NATO as needlessly provocative to Russia. Over the past decade, he continued his lifelong interest in international security. He remained a steadfast friend of ACA and holds the unofficial record for best attendance at ACA events.

Resor is survived by his second wife, Louise Mead Walker—an arms control advocate in her own right—his sister Helen Hauge, his seven sons and seven daughters-in-law, 20 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Stanley Rogers Resor, who served as a soldier, lawyer, secretary of the Army, arms control negotiator, and chairman of the Arms Control Association (ACA) Board of Directors, died April 17 at his home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 94. Stan touched the lives of many over the course of his long and illustrious career.

Iran Nuclear Diplomacy: Still the Best Option

Daryl G. Kimball

After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Although no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbul established a good foundation for progress.

At the close of the talks, which involved senior officials from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the so-called P5+1—EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the two sides will hold expert-level talks and then will meet at the senior political level in Baghdad on May 23. Future political and technical talks, she said, will be guided by the “principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity.”

Now the task is to reach agreement on specific, concrete proposals that can help prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, beginning with the most urgent proliferation problems. The top priority must be to halt Iran’s accumulation of 20 percent-enriched uranium, which is above normal reactor grade and closer to weapons grade, in exchange for fuel assemblies for its Tehran Research Reactor, which Iran uses to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment.

Further uranium enrichment at this level has the potential for significantly shortening the time Tehran would require to build nuclear weapons if it decided to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. A deal to halt enrichment above normal fuel grade would provide negotiators with more time and space to address other key issues.

If Iran received a fuel reload for the Tehran reactor, its needs for medical isotope production would be met for the next decade. Such an arrangement would also establish a principle that Iran would not enrich beyond normal power-reactor grade of about 4 percent as a first step toward restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful uses. The principle that Iran would enrich only according to its power reactor fuel needs could serve as a basis for a deal to limit the size and scope of its enrichment program as a whole.

In the next phase of talks, Washington and its allies also must press Iran to improve cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by fully implementing its safeguards agreement, intended to verify that its program is peaceful. In addition, Tehran finally must answer long-standing questions about suspected nuclear weapons-related research prior to 2004.

Further transparency measures would reduce the risk of clandestine nuclear work outside of Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, which include its uranium-enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, as well as a heavy-water reactor now being built near Arak that could be used to produce plutonium for bombs. In recent weeks, the agency and Iran have been haggling over the IAEA’s proposed work plan to address these issues, with Iran seeking limits on the IAEA’s access.

It is past time for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his team to provide the transparency necessary to ensure that his fatwa “forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons” is genuine.

If these and other confidence-building steps are taken, the P5+1 could offer to delay the imposition of a European oil embargo, which is due to be fully in place by July 1.

Iran’s approach to the recent talks, which was more serious than at the previous talks 15 months ago, is a result of the international sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran, which are now at an all-time high. As a result, both sides appear to be better prepared to discuss pragmatic proposals to resolve the crisis.

The new momentum for diplomacy should quell loose talk about the “military option,” which would be ineffective and counterproductive. Air strikes on Iranian facilities would set back Iran’s program for no more than a couple of years, convince its leaders to pursue nuclear weapons openly, and lead to adverse economic and security consequences.

Nevertheless, some cynics and critics of the diplomatic option already are complaining that further negotiations only allow Iran to “buy time” for its nuclear pursuits. Such thinking is illogical and dangerous.

Iran’s position is not any better than it was before the talks. International and national sanctions will remain in place until Tehran takes the steps necessary to give other countries confidence it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. If Washington and its P5+1 partners do not seize the potential diplomatic opportunities, the international support necessary to maintain pressure on Iran will erode, and Iran no longer will be seen as the roadblock to a peaceful resolution.

Resolving the nuclear issue will require sufficient pressure and inducements to convince Iran’s current and future leaders they stand to gain more from forgoing nuclear weapons than from any decision to build them. Much more needs to be done, but serious, sustained diplomacy remains the best option on the table. ACT

After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Although no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbul established a good foundation for progress.

Op-Ed: Iran nuclear talks: To keep global support, US must seize diplomatic opportunities

Sections:

Body: 

By Daryl G. Kimball

The following piece was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor on April 23, 2012.

Talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Istanbul April 14 show that negotiations aimed at addressing Tehran's nuclear ambitions appear to be on track. Diplomatic momentum should quell loose talk about the 'military option.' The top priority now must be to halt Iran's uranium enrichment.

After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Though no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbul established a good foundation for progress.

    At the close of the talks involving senior officials from the United StatesBritainChinaFranceGermany, and Russia, the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the two sides will hold expert-level talks and then will meet again at the senior political level in Baghdad on May 23. Future political and technical talks, she said, will be guided by the “principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity.”

    Now the task is to reach agreement on specific, concrete proposals that can help prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, beginning with the most urgent proliferation problems. The top priority must be to halt Iran’s accumulation of 20 percent-enriched uranium – which is above normal fuel-grade and closer to weapons grade – in exchange for fuel assemblies for its Tehran Research Reactor, which Iran uses to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatment.

    Further uranium enrichment at these levels has the potential to significantly shorten the time Tehran would require to build nuclear weapons if it decided to break out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. A deal to halt enrichment above normal fuel grade would provide negotiators with more time and space to address other key issues.

    If Iran received fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, its needs for medical-isotope production would be met for the next decade. Such an arrangement would also establish a principle that Iran would not enrich beyond normal-reactor grade of about 4 percent as a first step toward restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful uses.

    The principle that Iran would only enrich according to its fuel needs could serve as a basis for a deal to limit the size and scope of its enrichment program as a whole.

    In the next phase of talks, Washington and its allies must press Iran to improve cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran must fully implement its safeguards agreement intended to verify that its program is peaceful. It must finally answer longstanding questions about suspected nuclear weapons-related research prior to 2003.

    Further transparency measures would reduce the risk of clandestine nuclear work outside of Iran’s declared nuclear facilities. Those facilities include its uranium enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, as well as a heavy water reactor now being built near Arak that could be used to produce plutonium for bombs.

      The IAEA and Iran have been haggling over the IAEA’s plan to address these issues in recent weeks, with Iran seeking limits on access. It is past time for Iran’s supreme leader and his team to provide the transparency necessary to ensure that his religious fatwa against nuclear weapons is genuine.

      If these and other confidence building steps are taken, the international negotiators could offer to delay the imposition of a European oil embargo, due to begin in July.

      In contrast to the last round of talks held 15 months ago, the more serious Iranian approach at the recent talks is a result of the international sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran, which is now at an all-time high. As a result, both sides are coming forward with more pragmatic proposals.

      The new momentum for diplomacy should quell loose talk about the so-called military option, which would be ineffective and counterproductive. Air strikes on Iran’s facilities would set back Iran’s program for no more than a couple of years, convince its leaders to pursue nuclear weapons openly, and lead to adverse economic and security consequences.

      Nevertheless, some cynics and critics of the diplomatic option will undoubtedly complain that further negotiations with Iran only allow Iran to ‘buy time’ for nefarious nuclear pursuits. Such thinking is illogical and dangerous.

      The reality is that international and national sanctions will remain in place until Iran takes the steps necessary to provide confidence it is not pursuing nuclear weapons. And if Washington and its negotiation partners do not seize the potential diplomatic opportunities, the international support necessary to maintain pressure on Iran will erode.

      Resolving the nuclear issue will require sufficient pressure and inducements to convince Iran’s current and future leaders they stand to gain more from forgoing nuclear weapons than from any decision to build them. Much more needs to be done, but serious, sustained diplomacy remains the best option on the table.

      Description: 

      After a long delay, serious negotiations to resolve concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its growing capacity to enrich uranium appear to be back on track. Though no breakthrough was achieved, the April 14 round of talks with Iran in Istanbulestablished a good foundation for progress.

      Country Resources:

      Subject Resources:

      Holding New START Hostage

      Sections:

      Body: 

      Volume 3, Issue 6, April 20, 2012

      In the next few weeks, the Republican leadership on the House Armed Services Committee is expected to try to block implementation of the New START Treaty unless the Obama administration agrees to further increase spending on the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. This type of partisan "hostage taking" threatens to undermine U.S. national security, ignores budget reality, and defies common sense.

      Blocking U.S. implementation of New START, as Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio)'s bill H.R. 4178 threatens to do, would likely result in Russia doing the same. The treaty would unravel, allowing Moscow to rebuild its forces above treaty levels and increase the number of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States. Moreover, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse, depriving the United States of crucial data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces.

      Such outcomes are clearly not in the U.S. national security interest. Yet Rep. Turner would put New START at risk--ignoring the will of the 71 senators who voted for it--to extort additional spending on nuclear weapons that is unsustainable and unnecessary, and that key members of his own party do not support.

      Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) added his voice to the debate with an April 17 letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee stating that "if modernization efforts to ensure the safety, security and reliability of a smaller stockpile are not sustained, then further reductions to the stockpile should not be considered" until New START expires in 2021. However, modernization efforts are being sustained, with increased spending in FY2013.

      Both Sen. Lieberman's and Rep. Turner's proposals to hold New START and future arms reductions hostage are all pain, no gain.

      Nuclear Weapons Funding is Sufficient

      Critics often point out that the administration's FY2013 $7.6 billion request for National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons activities is 4% lower than projected in 2010, during the New START debate in the Senate. What they tend to ignore is that the FY2013 request is actually 5% higher than the 2012 enacted budget.

      Rather than a breach of faith, as Rep. Turner sees it, the FY2013 NNSA request represents a healthy increase despite fiscal pressures imposed by the bipartisan 2011 Budget Control Act and the GOP-led House Appropriations Committee's failure to fully fund the program last year. In fact, the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee marked up its FY2013 budget this week and did not add additional funds above the administration's $7.6 billion request.

      Given the new fiscal environment, congress cannot expect two-year-old budget projections to remain valid. As Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) put it in March, the New START debate took place "nine months before the Budget Control Act became law," and thus "falling 4 percent short of the [2010-derived] target is reasonable given the fiscal reality facing us today."

      Bipartisan Agreement: We Don't Need CMRR Now

      The administration's FY2013 NNSA weapons activities budget request contains no funding for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built for plutonium research at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, and deferred work for at least five years.

      For FY2012, the House Appropriations Committee cut CMRR by $100 million, or 33 percent, indicating bipartisan concern about the need for CMRR.

      As House Energy and Water Subcommittee Chair Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said last June:"Yes, 'Weapons Activities' is below the President's request, but this request included hundreds of millions of dollars for construction projects that are not ready to move forward, capabilities that are secondary to the primary mission of keeping our stockpile ready, and, yes, slush funds that the administration has historically used to address its needs...The recommendation before you eliminates these weaknesses and it is responsible."

      For FY2013, the House Energy and Water Subcommittee has so far not provided any money for CMRR.

      With total cost estimates for CMRR skyrocketing to $6 billion, the delay is a reasonable response to tight budgets given that other NNSA facilities have "inherent capacity" to support ongoing and future plutonium activities, according to NNSA. As a result, the CMRR deferral will not compromise NNSA's ability to maintain the nuclear stockpile.

      When asked at a February hearing if the FY2013 budget request fully meets the requirements to maintain the nuclear stockpile, NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino said: "...it absolutely does, fully meets the requirements, and we'll be able to take care of the stockpile... So the stockpile is safe, secure, and reliable."

      Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, testified before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee April 17, that "I wouldn't want to suggest that the [nuclear] force that's deployed today is not safe, secure and effective. It is. I believe it can achieve its deterrence responsibilities as we sit there today. In fact, I'm extremely confident in that."

      Charles McMillan, director of Los Alamos lab where CMRR would be built, told congress April 18 that the decision to defer CMRR "leaves the United States with no known capability to make 50 to 80 newly-produced pits on the timescales planned for stockpile modernization."

      The reality, however, is that there is no identified need to produce that many plutonium pits and the nation has time to evaluate its options.

      D'Agostino testified April 17 that "We're not hampered by saying the nation has to have a capability right now to make 50 or 80 pits per year in order to take care of the stockpile. That's great news for the country because we're not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area."

      Assistant Defense Secretary for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon testified April 17 that CMRR's planned production capacity would be revisited. She said, "what is the future pit requirement, how big CMRR has to be, how much plutonium it has to hold -- those are all decisions that may in fact change...when we once again resume consideration of the funding and the design of the CMRR."

      New START Resolution of Approval Provides the Path Forward

      In addition to being misguided, Rep. Turner's bill is unnecessary because the December 2010 New START Resolution of Advice and Consent already provides recourse. The resolution's condition 9 declared a "sense of the Senate" that the United States is committed to providing the resources needed to maintain nuclear weapons at the levels "set forth in the President's 10-year plan provided to the Congress pursuant to section 1251 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84)," otherwise know as the 1251 report.

      Just in case Congress did not provide sufficient resources in the future, condition 9 of the resolution of ratification states that the President shall submit a report detailing how the administration would address the resource shortfall; the proposed level of funding required; the impact of the shortfall on the safety, reliability, and performance of U.S. nuclear forces; and whether "it remains in the national interest of the United States to remain a Party to the New START Treaty."

      It is the responsibility of Congress to fund programs, and Congress did not fully fund the administration's request for 1251 report activities in FY2012, nor is it likely to add money in FY2013. The Pentagon said in March that it intends to submit the condition 9 report soon on how to deal with the shortfall and on the value of remaining a party to New START.

      New START Still In U.S. Interests

      New START remains in the U.S. national interest because the treaty reduces the threat to the United States from Russian nuclear forces, and the administration has managed to save money in FY2013 while still achieving its goal of modernizing the nuclear arsenal and production complex.

      Future nuclear force reductions cannot be held hostage to annual congressional debates about the particulars of each and every component of the NNSA budget, which is higher than it was before negotiations on New START began. It remains in the U.S. national security interest to verifiably reduce excess Cold War U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.

      As the Pentagon's January 2012 strategy document Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense says: "It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy." It would also save money.

      The major threats the United States faces today, such as proliferation, terrorism or cyber attacks, cannot be addressed by nuclear arms. Rather than asking American taxpayers to cough up yet more money for yesterday's weapons, Congress needs to focus on more cost-effective solutions that address the nation's future defense needs.--Tom Z. Collina and Daryl G. Kimball

      ###

      The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. ACA publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

      Description: 

      Volume 3, Issue 6, April 20, 2012

      In the next few weeks, the Republican leadership on the House Armed Services Committee is expected to try to block implementation of the New START Treaty unless the Obama administration agrees to further increase spending on the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. This type of partisan "hostage taking" threatens to undermine U.S. national security, ignores budget reality, and defies common sense.

      Country Resources:

      Technical Study on Test Ban Cites Progress

      Daryl G. Kimball

      A U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee report reviewing technical issues related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has concluded that the U.S. nuclear weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program “has been more successful than was anticipated in 1999,” when the Senate last considered and voted on the CTBT.

      The report, which was released March 30, also said that “the status of U.S. national monitoring and the International Monitoring System [IMS] has improved to levels better than predicted in 1999.”

      The study was requested by the Obama administration in 2009 following President Barack Obama’s call for “immediately” pursuing reconsideration and ratification of the treaty, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in September 1996 but has not yet been approved by the Senate. Although the report was completed in early 2011, its release was delayed by an extensive declassification review.

      “[P]rovided that sufficient resources and a national commitment to stockpile stewardship are in place…the United States has the technical ability to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable stockpile of nuclear weapons into the foreseeable future without nuclear explosion testing,” says the report, which is by the National Research Council, the operating arm of the NAS.

      Stockpile stewardship is the responsibility of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semiautonomous unit of the Department of Energy. Since 2009, funding for the NNSA nuclear weapons complex has increased by 13 percent. The Obama administration’s $7.6 billion budget request for fiscal year 2013 would boost the funding even more, by 5 percent over the fiscal year 2012 appropriation of $7.2 billion.

      The NAS panel, which was chaired by Ellen Williams, a physicist and now chief scientist at BP, was charged with reviewing technical changes related to the U.S. nuclear stockpile and to nuclear explosion test monitoring that have occurred in the 10 years since the NAS’s 2002 report on the subject. The panel’s eight other members include former NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks; Richard Garwin, a veteran weapons designer and adviser to U.S. national laboratories; Adm. Richard Mies, the former head of U.S. Strategic Command; and former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Bruce Tarter. A subcommittee of seismological experts supported the panel’s investigation.

      The panel’s 200-page report concludes that “[c]onstraints placed on nuclear-explosion testing by the monitoring capabilities of the IMS and…U.S. NTM [national technical means of intelligence] will reduce the likelihood of successful clandestine nuclear-explosion testing, and inhibit the development of new types of strategic nuclear weapons.”

      The report finds that “[o]ther states intent on acquiring and deploying modern, two-stage thermonuclear weapons would not be able to have confidence in their performance without multi-kiloton testing. Such tests would likely be detectable (even with evasion measures) by appropriately resourced U.S. national technical means and a completed IMS network.”

      The study concluded that an on-site inspection as permitted under the CTBT once it enters into force “would have a high likelihood of detecting evidence of a nuclear explosion with a yield greater than 0.1 kilotons, provided that the event could be located with sufficient precision…and conducted without hindrance.” The panel said on-site inspection “constitutes a deterrent to treaty violation whether or not an inspection actually takes place.”

      The report found that “the development of weapons with lower capabilities…is possible with or without the CTBT for countries of different levels of nuclear sophistication, but such development would not require the United States to return to nuclear testing in order to respond because it already has—or could produce—weapons of equal or greater capability based on its own nuclear-explosion test history.” The United States has conducted 1,030 nuclear test explosions, the last of which was in September 1992 when Congress approved legislation mandating a halt to U.S. nuclear explosive testing.

      Brooks said last November that “as a practical matter, it is almost certain that the United States will not test again. The political bar against testing is extremely high.”

      “I have been in and out of government for a long time,” Brooks said, “and in recent years, I never met anybody who advocated that we seek authorization to return to testing.”

      A U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee report reviewing technical issues related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has concluded that the U.S. nuclear weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program “has been more successful than was anticipated in 1999,” when the Senate last considered and voted on the CTBT.

      Case for the CTBT Is Stronger Than Ever

      Daryl G. Kimball

      Preventing the spread and buildup of nuclear weapons remains one of the highest priority international security challenges. Success depends on a multipronged global strategy, including a verifiable ban on nuclear explosive testing to prevent the emergence of new and more deadly nuclear weapons. U.S. leadership is critical.

      With its two-decade-long moratorium on testing and its 1996 signature on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the United States already has assumed most CTBT-related responsibilities. The full security benefits of the treaty, however, depend on U.S. ratification, which would trigger ratification by other holdout states, including China, India, and Pakistan.

      A new report by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on technical issues related to the CTBT reaffirms that the United States no longer needs and would not benefit from further nuclear testing. The study explains why the treaty would significantly improve U.S. capabilities to detect and deter nuclear test explosions by others.

      The detailed report by the NAS panel of senior scientific and military experts documents the significant technical advances over the past decade that should resolve earlier concerns about the treaty. In the weeks and months ahead, senators and their staff need to take a serious look at the merits of the CTBT in light of the new NAS findings and not rush to judgment on the basis of old myths and misconceptions.

      The study finds that maintaining an effective nuclear stockpile will require continued diligence, but it does not require nuclear test explosions. The panel finds that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program “has been more successful than was anticipated in 1999,” when the Senate last considered the CTBT.

      Just as the 2002 NAS report on the CTBT concluded, the new study finds that if sufficient resources are dedicated to the task, the United States has the technical ability to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable stockpile of nuclear weapons into the foreseeable future without nuclear explosive tests.

      Today, the nuclear weapons laboratories have more resources and better tools than ever before. Since 2009, funding for the NNSA nuclear weapons complex has increased 13 percent, and the Obama administration’s $7.6 billion request for fiscal year 2013 would boost funding by another 5 percent.

      As Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted at a recent Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, “Regarding nuclear weapons activities, I believe the fiscal year 2013 budget request provides more than sufficient funding to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile.”

      Another key conclusion of the NAS panel is that “the status of U.S. national monitoring and the International Monitoring System [IMS] has improved to levels better than predicted in 1999.” The new study documents advances in the capabilities of U.S. national technical means (NTM) and the IMS in all areas: seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, radionuclide, and satellite monitoring.

      The new report also confirms that, with the combined capabilities of the nearly completed IMS and even more capable NTM, as well as tens of thousands of civilian seismic monitoring stations, no potential CTBT violator could be confident that a nuclear explosion of military utility would escape detection.

      The panel’s report finds that “[c]onstraints placed on nuclear-explosion testing by the monitoring capabilities of the IMS and…U.S. NTM will reduce the likelihood of successful clandestine nuclear-explosion testing, and inhibit the development of new types of strategic nuclear weapons.” For example, the global test ban would make it far more difficult for China, India, and Pakistan to perfect the more-compact warhead designs that would allow them to field missiles armed with multiple warheads.

      The report concludes that “[o]ther states intent on acquiring and deploying modern, two-stage thermonuclear weapons would not be able to have confidence in their performance without multi-kiloton testing. Such tests would likely be detectable (even with evasion measures).” In other words, without nuclear explosive testing, states such as Iran could not perfect sophisticated two-stage thermonuclear warheads that can be delivered on long-range ballistic missiles.

      The panel notes that once the treaty enters into force, the possibility of short-notice, on-site challenge inspections “constitutes a deterrent to treaty violation whether or not an inspection actually takes place.” It finds that “the development of weapons with lower capabilities…is possible with or without the CTBT…but such developments would not require the United States to return to nuclear testing in order to respond.”

      President Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed his support for U.S. ratification and prompt entry into force of the CTBT. But to realize the promise of the test ban, he must provide stronger leadership to create the necessary support for a successful Senate vote sometime in 2013.

      With the CTBT, the United States stands to lose nothing and would gain an important constraint on nuclear weapons proliferation that could pose a threat to its security. It is past time to reconsider and ratify the treaty.

      Preventing the spread and buildup of nuclear weapons remains one of the highest priority international security challenges. Success depends on a multipronged global strategy, including a verifiable ban on nuclear explosive testing to prevent the emergence of new and more deadly nuclear weapons. U.S. leadership is critical.

      The New NAS Report: The Case is Stronger Than Ever for the Test Ban Treaty

      Sections:

      Body: 

      Volume 3, Issue 5, March 30, 2012

      Today, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long-awaited report on technical issues related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The independent panel of senior scientific and military experts was charged in 2009 with reviewing technical developments related to the U.S. nuclear stockpile and to nuclear explosion test monitoring that have occurred since the 2002 NAS report on the CTBT and the Senate's brief debate and rejection of the treaty in 1999.

      The new NAS report, The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Technical Issues for the United States, reaffirms that the United States no longer needs--and would not benefit from--nuclear explosive testing. Renewed nuclear testing would only help improve other nations' nuclear capabilities and reduce U.S. security. And the report documents why U.S. ratification and entry into force of the CTBT would significantly improve our ability to detect and deter nuclear testing by others.

      The NAS report lays out a stronger case than ever before for supporting the CTBT:

      • The 2012 NAS report documents that significant technical advances have resolved earlier concerns about the treaty.

      The panel concluded that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)'s nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program "has been more successful than was anticipated in 1999," when the Senate last considered the CTBT. Maintaining an effective nuclear stockpile will require continued diligence, but it does not require nuclear test explosions.

      "Similarly," the panel said, "the status of U.S. national monitoring and the International Monitoring System has improved to levels better than predicted in 1999."

      The new study cites substantial advances in the U.S. national monitoring and the International Monitoring System capabilities across all of the key verification technologies deployed worldwide to detect and deter nuclear test explosions-seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, radionuclide, and satellite monitoring.

      • More is known today than ever before about the U.S. nuclear arsenal and there is no technical or military reason to resume testing.

      As former NNSA administrator and NAS panel member Linton Brooks said in Dec. 2011, "as a practical matter, it is almost certain that the United States will not test again ... in recent years I never met anybody who advocated that we seek authorization to return to testing."

      Similar to the 2002 NAS report, the new study finds that if sufficient resources are dedicated to the task the United States has the technical ability to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable stockpile of nuclear weapons into the foreseeable future without resuming nuclear test explosions.

      The nuclear weapons labs have more resources than ever before to perform core stockpile stewardship work. Since 2009, funding for the NNSA nuclear weapons complex has increased by 13%. The Obama administration's $7.6 billion budget request for fiscal year 2013 would boost NNSA weapons programs funding even more-by 5% over last year's appropriation of $7.2 billion.

      As Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted at a March 21, 2012 appropriations committee hearing, "Regarding nuclear weapons activities, I believe the fiscal year 2013 budget request provides more than sufficient funding to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile."

      • National and international test ban monitoring and verification capabilities have improved immensely.

      With the combined capabilities of the International Monitoring System (IMS), national technical means (NTM), and civilian seismic networks, no potential CTBT violator could be confident that a nuclear explosion of any military utility would escape detection.

      The panel's detailed report also concludes that "[c]onstraints placed on nuclear-explosion testing by the monitoring capabilities of the IMS and ... U.S. NTM, will reduce the likelihood of successful clandestine nuclear-explosion testing, and inhibit the development of new types of strategic nuclear weapons."

      The report found that "[o]ther states intent on acquiring and deploying modern, two-stage thermonuclear weapons would not be able to have confidence in their performance without multi-kiloton testing. Such tests would likely be detectable (even with evasion measures) by appropriately resourced U.S. national technical means and a completed IMS network."

      The study noted that on-site inspections as allowed under the treaty once it enters into force, "would have a high likelihood of detecting evidence of a nuclear explosion with a yield greater than 0.1 kilotons, provided that the event could be located with sufficient precision ... and conducted without hindrance." The panel noted that an on-site inspection "constitutes a deterrent to treaty violation whether or not an inspection actually takes place...."

      • The security value of the CTBT is greater than ever.

      U.S. ratification and entry into force of the treaty would improve our ability to detect and deter nuclear testing that could allow others to improve their arsenals.

      The NAS report documents how the CTBT constrains the ability of the established nuclear-weapon states, including Russia and China, to build new types of more sophisticated nuclear warhead designs.

      The report also documents why, without the option of nuclear explosive testing, newer testing nations, including potentially Iran, could not perfect sophisticated two-stage thermonuclear warheads that can be delivered on long-range ballistic missiles.

      The report found that "the development of weapons with lower capabilities ... is possible with or without the CTBT for countries of different levels of nuclear sophistication, but such developments would not require the United States to return to nuclear testing in order to respond because it already has-or could produce-weapons of equal or greater capability based on its own nuclear-explosion test history."

      The United States has detonated 1,030 nuclear test explosions--more than all other nations combined--the last of which was in September 1992. Russia has conducted 715 nuclear tests; China 45; North Korea 2; Iran 0.

      Time for a Thorough, Thoughtful Review

      The Senate has not seriously examined these issues in years. In the decade since the Senate last considered the CTBT, 59 Senators have left office; only 41 Senators who debated and voted on the CTBT in 1999 remain.

      Good policy depends on good information. Senators and their staff need to take a serious look at the merits of the CTBT in light of the new NAS findings and not rush to judgment on the basis of old information, misconceptions, or partisan politics.

      President Obama has repeatedly expressed his commitment to the CTBT, most recently in a March 26 speech in Seoul. But he and his team must provide stronger leadership to ensure the Senate's questions on the CTBT are fully addressed and to create the necessary climate and support for a successful vote in 2013.

      The bipartisan approval of New START in 2010 shows that a successful treaty approval process requires months of hearings, answers to thousands of questions, and a serious commitment to building understanding for the national security issues at stake.

      U.S. ratification of the CTBT is essential for entry into force and would very likely prompt other states, including China, India, and Pakistan, to follow suit.

      The American people expect their leaders to take action to reduce the threats posed by nuclear weapons and proliferation. U.S. ratification of the CTBT would advance American national security interests by helping to reduce nuclear threats and enhancing our ability to detect, deter, and confront proliferators. --DARYL G. KIMBALL

      For more information on the CTBT, see:

      Description: 

      Volume 3, Issue 5, March 30, 2012

      Today, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its long-awaited report on technical issues related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The independent panel of senior scientific and military experts was charged in 2009 with reviewing technical developments related to the U.S. nuclear stockpile and to nuclear explosion test monitoring that have occurred since the 2002 NAS report on the CTBT and the Senate's brief debate and rejection of the treaty in 1999.

      Pages

      Subscribe to RSS - Daryl G. Kimball