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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
Russia

Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (as passed by the Senate)

RESOLUTION OF RATIFICATION

Resolved, (two thirds of the Senators present concurring therein),

SECTION 1. SENATE ADVICE AND CONSENT SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS AND DECLARATIONS.

The Senate advises and consents to the ratification of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions (T. Doc. 107-8, in this resolution referred to as the “Moscow Treaty” or “Treaty”), subject to the conditions in section 2 and declarations in section 3.

SEC. 2. CONDITIONS.

The advice and consent of the Senate to the ratification of the Moscow Treaty is subject to the following conditions, which shall be binding on the President:

(1) report on the role of cooperative threat reduction and nonproliferation assistance.—Recognizing that implementation of the Moscow Treaty is the sole responsibility of each party, not later than 60 days after the exchange of instruments of ratification of the Treaty, and annually thereafter on February 15, the President shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate a report and recommendations on how United States Cooperative Threat Reduction assistance to the Russian Federation can best contribute to enabling the Russian Federation to implement the Treaty efficiently and maintain the security and accurate accounting of its nuclear weapons and weapons-usable components and material in the current year. The report shall be submitted in both unclassified and, as necessary, classified form.

(2) annual implementation report.—Not later than 60 days after exchange of instruments of ratification of the Treaty, and annually thereafter on April 15, the President shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate a report on implementation of
the Treaty by the United States and the Russian Federation. This report shall be submitted in both unclassified and, as necessary, classified form and shall include—

(A) a listing of strategic nuclear weapons force levels of the United States, and a best estimate of the strategic nuclear weapons force levels of the Russian Federation, as of December 31 of the preceding calendar year;

(B) a detailed description, to the extent possible, of strategic offensive reductions planned by each party for the current calendar year;

(C) to the extent possible, the plans of each party for achieving by December 31, 2012, the strategic offensive reductions required by Article I of the Treaty;

(D) measures, including any verification or transparency measures, that have been taken or have been proposed by a party to assure each party of the other party’s continued intent and ability to achieve by December 31, 2012, the strategic offensive reductions required by Article I of the Treaty;

(E) information relevant to implementation of this Treaty that has been learned as a result of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) verification measures, and the status of consideration of extending the START verification regime beyond December 2009;

(F) any information, insufficiency of information, or other situation that may call into question the intent or the ability of either party to achieve by December 31, 2012, the strategic offensive reductions required by Article I of the Treaty; and

(G) any actions that have been taken or have been proposed by a party to address concerns listed pursuant to subparagraph (F) or to improve the implementation and effectiveness of the Treaty.

SEC. 3. DECLARATIONS.

The advice and consent of the Senate to the ratification of the Moscow Treaty is subject to the following declarations, which express the intent of the Senate:

(1) treaty interpretation.—The Senate reaffirms condition (8) of the resolution of ratification of the Document Agreed Among the States Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) of November 19, 1990 (adopted at Vienna on May 31, 1996), approved by the Senate on May 14, 1997, relating to condition (1) of the resolution of ratification of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, approved by the Senate on May 27, 1988.

(2) Further strategic arms reductions.—The Senate encourages the President to continue strategic offensive reductions to the lowest possible levels consistent with national security requirements and alliance obligations of the United States.

(3) Bilateral implementation issues.—The Senate expects the executive branch of the Government to offer regular briefings, including consultations before meetings of the Bilateral Implementation Commission, to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate on any implementation issues related to the Moscow Treaty. Such briefings shall include a description of all efforts by the United States in bilateral forums and through diplomatic channels with the Russian Federation to resolve any such issues and shall include a description of—

(A) the issues raised at the Bilateral Implementation Commission, within 30 days after such meetings;

(B) any issues related to implementation of this Treaty that the United States is pursuing in other channels, including the Consultative Group for Strategic Security established pursuant to the Joint Declaration of May 24, 2002, by the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation; and

(C) any Presidential determination with respect to issues described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).

(4) nonstrategic nuclear weapons.—Recognizing the difficulty the United States has faced in ascertaining with confidence the number of nonstrategic nuclear weapons maintained by the Russian Federation and the security of those weapons, the Senate urges the President to engage the Russian Federation with the objectives of—

(A) establishing cooperative measures to give each party to the Treaty improved confidence regarding the accurate accounting and security of nonstrategic nuclear weapons maintained by the other party; and

(B) providing United States or other international assistance to help the Russian Federation ensure the accurate accounting and security of its nonstrategic nuclear weapons.

(5) achieving reductions.—Recognizing the transformed relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation and the significantly decreased threat posed to the United States by the Russian Federation’s strategic nuclear arsenal, the Senate encourages the President to accelerate United States strategic force reductions, to the extent feasible and consistent with United States national security requirements and alliance obligations, in order that the reductions required by Article I of the Treaty may be achieved prior to December 31, 2012.

(6) consultations.—Given the Senate’s continuing interest in this Treaty and in continuing strategic offensive reductions to the lowest possible levels consistent with national security requirements and alliance obligations of the United States, the Senate urges the President to consult with the Senate prior to taking actions relevant to paragraphs 2 or 3 of Article IV of the Treaty.


Senate Endorses Nuclear Reductions Treaty; Duma Delays

Christine Kucia

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved ratification of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) March 6, paving the way for U.S. participation in the pact with Russia to slash nuclear arsenals by roughly two-thirds over the next decade. Meanwhile, citing disagreement with the U.S. decision to enter into war with Iraq, the Russian Duma postponed consideration of the treaty March 18.

Under the treaty, signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in May 2002, each side will reduce its deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 2012—cutting the present deployment of 6,000 warheads in each country.

Several Democratic senators strongly criticized the treaty’s provisions during the floor debate, alleging that the pact contained serious flaws. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called SORT “as flimsy a treaty as the Senate has ever considered.” Senators also highlighted recent Bush administration nuclear policy changes that, according to Richard Durbin (D-IL), “threaten to make nuclear weapons appear to be useful, legitimate, offensive first-strike weapons.” Even the opponents, however, concurred with Senator Joseph Biden’s (D-DE) assessment: “The arms reductions in [SORT] do not go far enough…but they are better than nothing.” The Senate voted 95-0 to recommend the treaty’s ratification.

Senate critics noted that SORT forgoes several important provisions contained in prior nuclear arms control agreements. The treaty contains no additional means of verifying the reductions that each side promises to make and does not include a schedule for achieving the reductions by the December 31, 2012, end date. SORT also does not require dismantlement or elimination of warheads or delivery systems, whereas prior treaties mandated delivery vehicle destruction. The Bush administration has indicated that it will take weapons off operational deployment temporarily or put them in storage in order to meet the treaty’s conditions.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, praised SORT, saying it is “simple, straight-forward, and gives each party maximum flexibility.” The agreement demonstrates the improved relations between Washington and Moscow after the Cold War, Lugar said, adding, “This treaty utilizes confidence-building measures based on trust and friendship…. It is a signal that the hostility of the Cold War has been buried and forgotten.”

Several Democratic senators introduced amendments to help remedy some of SORT’s perceived shortcomings. An amendment by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) required presidential consultation with the Senate prior to withdrawing from or making a substantive change to the treaty. In December 2001, Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty without requesting the Senate’s approval, and critics charged the Senate should be consulted not only on ratification but also on treaty withdrawal. The amendment lost by a 50-44 vote.

An amendment from Kerry stipulated verification measures and required the United States to declare its confidence in monitoring Russian nuclear weapons deployments. Citing recent concerns over protecting nuclear weapons and materials from transfer to terrorists and adversaries, Kerry argued that “it is critical we have an understanding, in order to protect the security interests of our own country, of our own ability to monitor Russian compliance.” Lugar maintained that the measures suggested by Kerry are already included as part of the U.S.-Russian Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, which provides U.S. assistance for securing and dismantling Russian weapons of mass destruction. The proposal was voted down 50-45.

These amendments were defeated after Biden, ranking minority member of the Foreign Relations Committee, joined Lugar in supporting the resolution of ratification without further amendments. Biden justified his votes by saying that he had agreed to oppose changes in return for White House agreement to back two conditions and eight declarations the Foreign Relations Committee had added earlier to the resolution of ratification. As approved, the resolution calls on the president to report annually on U.S. treaty implementation efforts and provide an accounting of U.S. assistance to Russia to help secure its nuclear arsenal in order to meet treaty obligations. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Despite indications in early March that U.S.-Iraqi tensions would have no bearing on the treaty’s passage, the Russian Duma deferred consideration of the ratification bill until after it reconvenes April 1. Putin submitted an amended ratification bill to the Duma March 13 for approval after the lower house returned the first Russian resolution to the president with substantial amendments. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said March 26 that Russia should ratify SORT but not until “the situation around Iraq is solved through the UN Security Council,” according to the Interfax news agency.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved ratification of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) March 6, paving the way for U.S. participation in the pact with Russia...

The Russian Nuclear Arms Control Agenda After SORT

Nikolai Sokov

When the Russian Duma finally ratifies the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), will it mark the beginning of a new era of bilateral cooperation between Washington and Moscow or the closing chapter in arms control negotiations between Russia and the United States that sought to regulate the Cold War?

Russian officials have dubbed SORT the “last in the series of traditional arms control treaties,”1 stating that the new era of U.S.-Russian cooperation requires a new approach to arms control. They implicitly endorsed some—albeit not all—of the principles advocated by the Bush administration, namely, that the United States and Russia no longer need complicated, restrictive, and expensive arms control treaties.

Indeed, one can say that coupled with the end of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and START II, SORT marks the end of traditional arms control. Further reductions are unlikely in the near future because, after SORT is implemented, the United States and Russia will have reached what they feel is the optimal (or close to the optimal) level of strategic arsenals that they need: 2,200 deployed warheads for the United States and 1,500 for Russia. One possible additional step is codification of the ongoing reduction of Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons, but its chances are remote. More importantly, managing first-strike capability, which was the key motive of traditional arms control, is no longer urgent following the end of the Cold War.

Yet, there is now an opportunity and an objective need to usher in a new stage of arms control. During the SORT talks, negotiators broached, even if they were unable to fully implement, some guiding principles of an entirely new approach to arms control that would take advantage of improved Russian-American ties to move transparency and verification measures to a new level: taking such scrutiny beyond the level of missiles and other delivery systems to encompass the nuclear warheads themselves.

Given the closer ties between the two countries, the United States and Russia should be willing to subject themselves to more intrusive measures that encompass the full nuclear weapons infrastructure, including warhead storage sites and production and dismantlement facilities. SORT provides a framework for such an approach by instituting a regular series of bilateral meetings between the two countries. But turning this opportunity into reality will require strong political will.

The Bush administration’s skepticism about arms control agreements has been well documented, and commentators are right to point out that, in their eagerness to curb the U.S. military advantage and preserve scarce budget dollars, Russian officials are generally more supportive of further nuclear arms control efforts. Russian arms control preferences, however, are also driven by a mix of complex, often contradictory domestic economic, political, and military impulses that could stymie progress.

Transparency of Warhead Arsenals

The need to fill in SORT’s many blanks constitutes the core of the Russian arms control agenda for the coming years. The Kremlin’s highest priority is finding a way to close what it sees as the treaty’s biggest loophole—the ability of the United States to maintain thousands of spare nuclear warheads and not have them count against the treaty’s limit of 1,700-2,200 operationally deployed warheads—those mounted on planes, missiles, and submarines. Russian officials fear that, in a crisis or downturn in relations, the United States will be able to return as many as 2,400 of these stored warheads to missiles and heavy bombers, bringing the total to 4,600. SORT allows such “uploading” without prior notification and, theoretically, even in secret.

Russia is not likely to have such an option. The Kremlin plans to reduce its arsenal primarily by eliminating delivery systems (old types of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles), because it lacks resources to modernize the existing missiles or produce new ones in sufficient numbers. Consequently, no matter how many spare warheads Russia will have lying around and regardless of its warhead production capability,2 Moscow will be strictly limited in the number of weapons it can deploy. And this number, furthermore, is likely to be below the 1,700-2,200 missiles allowed by SORT: Russia’s announced plan (and its initial SORT negotiating proposal) is 1,500 warheads. That means that, if it comes to a showdown in the future, Russia could face a U.S. nuclear force that is more than three times its size.

While many Russian nongovernmental experts remain concerned about this imbalance, the Kremlin downplays its significance, and rightly so, given the improving relations between the two countries. Should relations worsen, however, massive U.S. nuclear superiority could theoretically make Russia vulnerable to political pressure and even to limited use of NATO’s conventional forces—the nightmare of the Russian military after a string of Balkan wars in the 1990s, especially after the conflict in Kosovo.

During the SORT talks, Russia first failed to win U.S. agreement to eliminate delivery vehicles, as had been provided for under previous arms control agreements. Moscow then offered a proposal to eliminate warheads removed from operational deployment but refrained from specific proposals on how such a measure could be verified.3 The United States rejected the proposal at that point. But it should now be resurrected. It is clearly in Russia’s interest to prevent secret, large-scale uploading and to make U.S. deployment actions more transparent and verifiable. Development of a verification system for SORT should be the centerpiece of Russia’s arms control policy in the coming years. There are several ways to achieve this goal:

  • The creation of a comprehensive data exchange and verification regime capable of tracking every warhead through its life cycle in real time or close to real time.
  • A requirement that each side notify the other when warheads are transported to storage facilities near missile and heavy-bomber bases, making deployment possible.
  • A requirement that notifications be complemented by inspections of these storage facilities in rare cases when questions and concerns need to be clarified.

At first glance, circumstances seem conducive for such an endeavor. Both the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma called for annual reports from their respective governments about the implementation of SORT and the reductions projected for the next year.4 The two countries could easily codify these mandates by agreeing on an amendment to SORT or on an executive agreement negotiated by the Bilateral Implementation Commission. U.S. officials have indicated that they support exchanging data on nuclear arsenals, although they have all but ruled out verification mechanisms.5 Russian officials have emphasized that they treated SORT as just “the first step” in longer negotiations and planned to discuss the transparency of warhead stockpiles within the Bilateral Implementation Commission.6

Relations between the United States and Russia are reasonably stable, despite unavoidable ups and downs, and the two countries can afford negotiating specific transparency and verification provisions after SORT enters into force. In the past, details of verification and data exchange had to be in place prior to the signing of treaties, and negotiations on them complicated and delayed implementation of weapons reductions.

Still, the success of these discussions is not preordained. In fact, it is not even clear if Russia will decide to commence in-depth discussion of these issues. The Russian government seems to be torn between two diametrically opposed impulses. On the one hand, the Kremlin could benefit from a verification regime that will ensure predictability and effectively remove the threat that the United States will secretly redeploy scores of warheads. Such an agreement would also eliminate what many in Moscow see as an unfair advantage that the United States enjoys because of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program.

Under that decade-old program, the United States aids Russia’s effort to reduce its Cold War nuclear arsenal and in the process gains a deep understanding of the status of Russia’s nuclear force. Indeed, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN), one of the architects of the CTR program, cited the transparency benefits of CTR as one reason for blocking Democratic efforts to add verification measures to SORT. (See ACT, April 2003.) Yet, CTR, for obvious reasons, does not grant Russia similar access to the U.S. arsenal, and Russia’s military has long chafed at this asymmetry. Bilateral measures governing warhead transparency would not only represent genuine progress on arms control issues but also redress this long-standing grievance.

On the other hand, progress toward making Russian facilities more transparent has been halting, and any further steps are likely to prove even more difficult. The Russian military and the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) have long resisted opening warhead production and storage facilities to inspections and even to information exchange.7 For example, a February 2000 U.S. proposal for a comprehensive exchange of data within the context of START III consultations was flatly rejected by Russia, contributing in no small measure to the failure of START III. Even the more modest plans of the Bush administration for data exchange are likely to encounter opposition in Moscow.

All told, the current trends seem to favor the opponents of warhead verification. Support for new agreements on verification and transparency could rise, however, if both governments become convinced of the value of openness or if U.S.-Russian relations worsen sufficiently to transform the theoretical threat of U.S. redeployment into something more tangible.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Tactical nuclear weapons8 are likely to figure prominently on the Russian-American arms control agenda, if only because it is virtually impossible to create a data exchange and verification regime for strategic warheads alone. A partial regime will always give rise to misunderstandings and suspicions that strategic warheads are misrepresented as tactical.

The need for transparency for such battlefield weapons was dramatically underscored by a crisis in early 2001, when Russia was suspected of moving nuclear warheads for tactical missiles to Kaliningrad oblast.9 An extension of strategic weapons transparency to tactical nuclear weapons would ease U.S. suspicions about Russia, and it would also address Russian concerns about U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, including the possibility that they might be redeployed closer to Russia as NATO expands further East.

Tactical nuclear weapons are currently subject only to the 1991-1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs)—unilateral, parallel statements of George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev (the latter subsequently confirmed and expanded by Boris Yeltsin). In these statements, both sides declared their intention to store or eliminate warheads for nonstrategic delivery vehicles except for a share of air-based weapons. These PNIs amount to an informal arms control regime but one which is not legally binding and does not include verification or transparency measures; even the aggregate numbers of tactical nuclear weapons are unknown.

In recent years, the United States has repeatedly raised concerns about Russia’s tactical weapons stockpile. U.S. lawmakers, such as Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Lugar and ranking member Joseph Biden Jr. (D-DE), have been particularly vocal in warning that these weapons pose a significant proliferation risk. The above-mentioned data exchange proposals, which the United States tabled in February 2000, included tactical nuclear weapons along with the strategic stockpile.

Yet, Russians are even more resistant to disclosing information about their tactical nuclear warheads than their strategic weapons. This resistance springs first and foremost from uncertainty over the future role of tactical nuclear weapons. At one level, there is a broad consensus in Russia that they are vital for national security; and the armed services are reluctant to part with them. But the military and political establishments have yet to develop a coherent doctrine outlining specific missions and scenarios of use.

The most commonly cited mission is deterrence of a limited conventional attack by NATO. This mission was first described in the late 1990s as a “de-escalation” of a possible limited conventional attack by NATO and will remain “on the books” until NATO-Russian relations qualitatively improve. The mission, however, has not been fully operationalized in terms of specific requirements for types and numbers of weapons; during several exercises in recent years, the Russian military apparently preferred to use strategic weapons (air-launched cruise missiles on heavy bombers) for theater-level missions.

The Russian military remains suspicious of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Although U.S. officials point out that these number only in the hundreds, they are widely seen in Moscow as intended to be used against Russia, if only because no other credible mission has been attributed to them. The Kremlin fears that they could easily be redeployed to the territory of new members of NATO, closer to Russia’s borders. NATO’s unilateral pledge in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act that it had no intention to redeploy the weapons does not fully satisfy the Russian military since the pledge is not legally binding and not verifiable. The demand that these weapons be withdrawn from Europe represents a sine qua non of any progress in tactical nuclear weapon arms control. The relocation of U.S. troops from current bases in Europe closer to Russian borders in the territories of new NATO members could preserve and possibly increase the perceived relevance of tactical nuclear weapons.

In the mid-1990s, some Russian experts also discussed using tactical nuclear weapons to deter potential threats from the “South”—a broadly defined region that includes Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and South Asia—but recently this mission has not been publicly discussed. Still, the sheer power and size of Middle Eastern states, the instability of the region, and the likelihood of proliferation of nuclear weapons beyond Pakistan remain a cause of concern. Operationalization of these missions is even less developed than that for the European theater.

Until doctrinal questions are settled, an arms control strategy for tactical weapons is unlikely to emerge—Russia simply will not know how many and which types of nonstrategic nuclear weapons it might need in the future. The existing Russian tactical nuclear weapons arsenal is quite large, although hardly as large as some suggest. It probably amounts to nearly 8,000 warheads (compared to almost 22,000 a decade ago) with about 3,000 deployed on aircraft.10 It is clear that it will be reduced further, but the pace of elimination is limited by funding shortages and insufficient warhead dismantlement capability. The size of the arsenal, however, is the least important characteristic; the central questions are the basing modes, ranges, and other properties of weapons and delivery systems.

In line with the PNIs, Russia’s nonstrategic nuclear arsenal is exclusively concentrated in its air force, which has gradually de-emphasized strategic missions in favor of a theater-level capability. If present trends continue, Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal will continue shrinking and consist primarily of cruise missiles equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads. Gravity bombs will probably be reduced to a very small number.

There is also a slight possibility that the Kremlin might be tempted to revise its view of the PNIs. The impetus would most likely come from the navy, which has long lobbied for the return of nonstrategic nuclear weapons to surface ships. Without such weapons, they contend, the navy will remain powerless vis-à-vis the U.S. and the majority of other navies. Since much of the navy’s tactical nuclear arsenal was stored rather than eliminated, redeployment would be fast and cheap. But so far, the navy’s lobbying has had little, if any, effect on the Putin government.

The return of land-based tactical nuclear weapons is also possible but even less likely. Russia has two types of nuclear-capable missiles: Tochka, or SS-21, and the new Iskander, which has never been tested with a nuclear warhead but in theory could carry one. Still, all warheads for land-based tactical missiles have been eliminated under the PNIs, and renuclearization would be both time consuming and costly.

Russian plans for nonstrategic nuclear weapons will also be affected by pending U.S. decisions on the development of new tactical nuclear warheads and the associated resumption of nuclear testing. If the United States were to restart nuclear testing, Russia would do so as well, even though Russia (unlike the United States) has ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Kremlin would do so first to maintain its current stockpile, then to develop new warheads similar to those that are being proposed in the United States.

For the time being, though, the Kremlin appears most interested in keeping all of its options open and therefore has refrained from committing itself to any arms control talks on tactical nuclear weapons with the United States. Russian officials also contend that the deterrent value of their tactical weapons is enhanced by the uncertainty surrounding their numbers and potential uses; some Russian officials have suggested that, if the United States were ever to learn the real story about its tactical nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon would no longer fear these weapons. Finally, Russian military officials have warned that disclosing the exact locations of various storage sites, as well as the number and the types of warheads in them, might make these sites vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike—whether nuclear or conventional.

The Future of START I

In the SORT text, the United States and Russia reaffirmed START I, and the United States reportedly intends to raise with Russia the issue of extending the accord before START’s December 2009 expiration date. But before they agree to such an extension, Russian officials might be tempted to propose some changes to the treaty.

The additional cuts in both countries nuclear arsenals that are called for in SORT have in some ways superceded the significance of START I limitations on strategic delivery systems and indirectly on the number of deployed strategic warheads. Some elements of START I, however, will continue to impose constraints on the possible development of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. The most visible among them are the provisions that would make it very expensive and cumbersome to use a new Russian ICBM, the Topol-M, as a delivery vehicle for multiple warheads.11

Equipping Topol-Ms with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) seemed a foregone decision only a few years ago. But under President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s nuclear posture planning has shifted in favor of the naval leg of the strategic triad, and many plans of the land-based Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) were shelved. More recently, however, indications have appeared that the SRF has regained at least part of its standing. MIRVing apparently has been postponed rather than cancelled and might resurface by the end of the decade—at the time the expiration of START I draws nearer.

Equipping the Topol-M with three warheads might become necessary if older types of ICBMs cannot survive as long as currently planned. Russian defense officials assume that a number of SS-18 heavy ICBMs can be retained until the middle of the next decade12—perhaps about 50, each bearing as many as 10 warheads.13 The Duma’s draft law ratifying SORT mandates that the shelf life of existing delivery vehicles be maintained as long as possible. The calculation is tenuous, however, and it is far from obvious that a sufficient number of old-type missiles will last long enough. The navy is in even worse shape; it does not have a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and thus had to put on hold plans to build a new submarine.14 The air force, as noted above, is gradually shifting toward higher-priority theater-level missions.

Consequently, a faster-than-expected retirement of old ICBMs might leave Russia with fewer than 1,000 warheads in its deployed arsenal. There might simply not be enough time to deploy hundreds of Topol-Ms by the beginning of the next decade, especially since the annual rate of their deployment has declined in the last three years from 10 to six instead of increasing to 20. MIRVing therefore could help keep the arsenal at a “decent” level.

MIRVed ICBMs are also thought to be particularly well suited for the penetration of missile defenses. If the United States achieves significant progress in that area, this would constitute one more reason to allow the Topol-M to carry multiple warheads.

If START I is opened for revision, it would also be reasonable to expect that Russia will attempt to implement another change, which it had sought in the 1990s: simplification of the verification regime. Reportedly, the Kremlin intended to reduce the number of short-notice inspections (the most expensive and organizationally difficult element of verification), shifting the emphasis to data exchange and visits.

Strategic Defense

Concern about the impact of the projected U.S. missile defense system on Russia’s deterrent capability prominently figured in all past arms control talks, including on SORT. The proposed Duma law on the SORT ratification identifies deployment of a potent missile defense system by the United States as one of the triggers for Russia’s withdrawal from that treaty. (The same provision was contained in the law on ratification of START II, which was adopted in the spring of 2000.)

The Kremlin no longer appears to share these concerns. The official position is that in the foreseeable future any missile defense the United States could realistically create will not affect Russian deterrence. The vast majority of military experts simply do not believe that the endeavor can succeed at all, and certainly not in the short time frame advertised by the current U.S. administration.

Consequently, it seems unlikely that U.S. missile defense programs will become an insurmountable stumbling block to further nuclear arms control negotiations. Rather, Russian officials might be tempted to use the existence of these programs as a justification for the lack of progress caused by other reasons. This situation is likely to persist until the end of this decade, when Russia should be able to make a more realistic assessment of the impact of missile defense (if any) and space-based weapons upon the global and bilateral nuclear weapons balances.

Similarly, Russia will continue to press, along with China, for negotiations on prevention of an arms race in open space within the UN Conference on Disarmament. Its support for that proposal is genuine, but the continuing stalemate will most likely not spill over into other areas.

Meanwhile, the Russian aerospace industry will continue to be interested in joint missile defense programs with the United States and NATO. For a variety of reasons, primarily political, these plans will emphasize nonstrategic defense systems. But if the United States decided to engage in genuinely large-scale joint research and development programs—with commensurate profits for Russian companies—common work on strategic defenses might also become possible.

Multilateral Arms Control

High-level Russian military officials have declared that any reduction of nuclear weapons below the SORT levels will require the participation of other nuclear states. Projected reductions will bring Russia to a level at which it can no longer be indifferent to the arsenals of the United Kingdom, France, and especially China, whose arsenal is widely expected to grow in the coming years.

Yet, multilateral nuclear arms control negotiations will continue to be difficult. Russia clearly insists on keeping many more nuclear weapons than any of the three “second-tier” nuclear powers, probably as many as all of them combined; this might be unacceptable to some or all of them.

Therefore, we can expect a repetition of the 1980s standoff, when the Soviet Union insisted on counting French and British nuclear weapons at the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) talks. The situation will hardly be as tense, but still one can confidently expect serious resistance on part of both the United Kingdom and France.

Finally, the advanced level of arms control that the United States and Russia might reach by the end of this decade, with an emphasis on controlling warheads instead of delivery vehicles, is unlikely to be acceptable to the second-tier nuclear states, especially China, because of the unprecedented level of intrusiveness. China might be prepared to entertain a START I-type agreement, whose accounting and verification system concentrates on delivery vehicles, but opening the nuclear weapons complex is far less feasible.

In the absence of cuts by second-tier countries in their nuclear forces, Russia is unlikely to entertain legally binding reductions below the officially projected level of 1,500 warheads and might even prefer to preserve the option of going higher in the future, to the level of 2,200 warheads.

Conclusion

Given the political and economic constraints and preferences of both the United States and Russia in the coming years, the two sides will likely be limited to a least-common-denominator approach that could yield little or no progress. Neither side is prepared to press for, much less make sacrifices in the name of, new safety and security tasks neglected by the SORT process. Both governments view the political, organizational, and financial costs of robust arms control treaties as excessive given the absence of an immediate threat of a large-scale military conflict. In addition, the Pentagon’s interest in maintaining strategic nuclear flexibility and its aversion to limits on its future military options will be difficult for other elements in the Bush administration to overcome.

In the end, the post-SORT period is likely to become the time of missed opportunity. Hopefully, however, it is only a prelude to a much more robust arms control process, perhaps when a new generation of Russian and U.S. leaders enters the scene or comes under pressure from non-nuclear states in the context of Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, under which the nuclear states agreed to work toward eventual nuclear disarmament. The agenda in front of the United States and Russia is both challenging and promising: a focus on nuclear weapons instead of the means of their delivery and, through control of nuclear warheads, achievement of genuine transparency, predictability, and trust between the United States and Russia.


NOTES

1. Yuri Baluevski, “Potentsial Doveriya,” Izvestiya, September 17, 2002.
2. “Russia: Warhead Assembly and Dismantlement Facilities,” CNS databases at http://www.nti.org/db/nisprofs/russia/weafacl/warheada/overview.htm.
3. See interviews with Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Russia Yuri Baluevski to Kommersant-Daily (published on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site, May 29, 2002, document No. 2002-05-27) and to Mayak radio station May 16, 2002 (available at http://www.radiomayak.ru).
4. The U.S. Senate approved the resolution of advice and consent to the Moscow Treaty March 6, 2003. The Russian Duma delayed voting on a proposed law of ratification on March 18, citing its opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq.
5. Testimony of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 17, 2002.
6. See statements by Defense and Foreign Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Igor Ivanov at the last stage of SORT talks, as well as unnamed high-level diplomats, to Strana.ru news service May 13, May 21, and May 15, 2002, respectively.
7. In the above-mentioned interview to Mayak (fn. 3), Baluevski specifically noted that the Russian side did not raise the issue of verification at SORT talks, because it would have entailed access to highly sensitive facilities. Russia only proposed that warheads removed from delivery vehicles be subject to elimination.
8. The term “tactical nuclear weapons” is imprecise and is used here only because it has become widespread. Unlike during the Cold War, when it denoted short-range, primarily battlefield weapons, today it often covers an array of weapons, including sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs), which Russia considers strategic weapons, as well as nuclear weapons of medium bombers (such as FB-111 or Tu-22M3), i.e., all nuclear weapons that are not subject to START I. A more appropriate term should be “nonstrategic nuclear weapons.”
9. Nikolai Sokov, “The Tactical Nuclear Weapons Controversy,” Jane’s Defense Weekly, January 31, 2001.
10. Ibid.; Harald Muller and Annette Schaper, “Definitions, Types, Missions, Risks and Options for Control: A European Perspective,” Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Options for Control (UNIDIR, 2000, publication no. UNIDIR/2000/20), especially appendices (pp. 51-78).
11. Alexander Kuranov, “Vygody Upushchennye I Obretennye,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 23, 2002, p. 1 (interview with Alexei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Duma Defense Committee).
12. “’Satana’ Ostanetsya na Dezhurstve do 2016 goda,” Vremya Novostei, no. 230, December 16, 2002, (interview with the SRF Chief Nikolai Solovtsov).
13. Deployment of the latest version of the SS-18 began in the late 1980s, but a number of these missiles were kept in so-called dry storage, such as stored without being fueled. Thus, not only could Russia extend the service life of deployed SS-18s, it can also fuel and deploy missiles taken from dry storage, which still have many years of deployed life ahead.
14. It is possible to equip Boreys with 10-warhead liquid-fuel Sineva SLBMs. Such a decision is unlikely to be made for several years, as long as it is still hoped that the new solid-fuel Bulava ballistic missile (intended for both land and sea basing) will be successful.

 


Nikolai Sokov is a senior research associate for nonproliferation studies at the Monterey Institute. He participated in START I and START II negotiations while at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union and Russia.

 

Conference Pledges to Curb Dirty Bomb Danger

Christine Kucia

International leaders, meeting in Vienna March 10-13, called for “cradle-to-grave control” for materials that could be used to create a radioactive dispersal device, otherwise known as a “dirty bomb.” In particular, the conference urged stepped-up measures to protect the potentially lethal materials, particularly “orphan” sources that remain unprotected in countries without the means to monitor or secure the material.

The conference, co-sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia, and the United States, drew more than 700 people from more than 120 countries to tackle the issues surrounding the possession, monitoring, and transport of high-risk radiological material. U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham called for the meeting in November 2002, stressing a need to “develop the international framework for dealing with the specific threat posed by dirty bombs.”

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, governments have become increasingly concerned that terrorists might construct a dirty bomb, which incorporates radioactive material in a conventional explosive bomb. Security for the material “has taken on a new urgency,” IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said March 11.

On March 11, Abraham announced a $3 million U.S. contribution to the IAEA’s new Radiological Security Partnership, a program that will help developing countries secure their abandoned radiological materials. This project will provide U.S. financial and technological support to the IAEA, similar to an IAEA-Russian-U.S. initiative agreed in June 2002 to secure radiological sources in the former Soviet Union. (See ACT, July/August 2002.) According to Abraham, “It is my hope that this model, which is working so well in the former Soviet Union, will become global in scale.”

Priorities for the partnership will include assisting member states with developing national programs to monitor and secure high-risk materials, locate and dispose of orphan radiological sources, and prevent illicit trafficking of the material by targeting key shipping hubs for monitoring and control efforts. An IAEA official, however, said he was unclear on the details of the program, and the Energy Department did not return calls asking for explanation.

The IAEA has long pushed for increased funding for measures to prevent theft or acquisition of nuclear materials for terrorist acts. In November 2001, ElBaradei outlined a plan to increase its annual nuclear security spending by $30-50 million, which the Board of Governors approved in June 2002. ElBaradei said that the IAEA would need another $20 million per year—on top of the current $12 million budget—for its Nuclear Security Fund in order to respond to crises involving radioactive materials.

International leaders, meeting in Vienna March 10-13, called for “cradle-to-grave control” for materials that could be used to create a radioactive dispersal device, otherwise known as a “dirty bomb.”

U.S., Russia Spar Over Alleged Iraqi Arms Deals

Wade Boese

President George W. Bush urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a March 24 phone call to rein in private Russian companies that the United States has implicated in illegal arms deals with Iraq. Putin denied that Russian companies are guilty—an answer the Kremlin has been giving Washington for nearly a year and which has not satisfied the Bush administration.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters March 24 that the United States has “credible evidence” of Russian companies supplying Iraq with weaponry prohibited by a 1990 UN arms embargo. Night vision goggles, anti-tank missiles, and equipment to jam U.S. global positioning systems are the arms at issue.

Bush administration officials have not said exactly when the deals took place or whether some are still ongoing. Secretary of State Colin Powell, however, said in a March 24 interview with Fox News that, “in the last 48 hours, I’ve seen even more information that causes me concern.”

It also remains unclear whether the Russian government authorized the alleged transactions or has simply failed to prevent them. Speaking the same day as Fleischer, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted, “We don’t think that we have the kind of [Russian government] oversight and interdiction that we’ve been asking for.”

Powell said that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has pledged that Russia will act if provided proper and sufficient evidence. “Frankly, we believe we have given them more than enough information so that they should have been able to find out the truth of this,” Powell stated. The secretary added that he was “very confident of our facts” and described himself as “disappointed” in Russia’s response to date.

At least three Russian companies are reportedly suspected of engaging in the illegal deals, though the U.S. government has not named them. News accounts have identified two of the companies as Aviaconversiya and the Tula Design Bureau, which the United States sanctioned last August along with two other Russian companies for arms transfers to Libya, Sudan, and Syria.

The Bush administration has not decided whether to impose sanctions against the companies or on the Russian government, said State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a March 25 interview.

The U.S. allegations have been publicly aired after Russia failed to side with the United States during several weeks of intense and often bitter debate at the United Nations over Iraq’s disarmament.

Boucher gave three reasons to explain why the United States had not made its concerns public earlier. He suggested the United States has recently acquired more information on the alleged deals, that the issue became more “acute” as it became clearer U.S. forces might have to deal with the weapons on the battlefield, and there was a hope that Moscow would be helpful in exerting some control over the shipments or providing the United States with information.

Last fall, the United States blasted Ukraine for its possible transfer of an early-warning system to Iraq, though a joint investigation by U.S. and British experts was inconclusive. (See ACT, December 2002.) Washington also publicly identified Serbian arms companies in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska, part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as violating the UN arms embargo on Iraq. (See ACT, November 2002.)

President George W. Bush urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a March 24 phone call to rein in private Russian companies that the United States has implicated in illegal arms deals with Iraq.

Senate Approves Flawed Nuclear Treaty; Arms Experts Say U.S. and Russia Need to Do More to Reduce Nuclear Dangers

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For Immediate Release: March 6, 2003

Press Contacts: Christine Kucia, Research Analyst at (202) 463-8270 x103; Daryl Kimball, Executive Director at (202) 463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.): The Senate today unanimously approved the U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), also known as the Moscow Treaty, after two days of debate during which several proposals to strengthen the accord were withdrawn or rejected.

“Democratic and Republican senators have missed a vital opportunity to add practical conditions to the flawed Moscow Treaty to keep the nuclear risk reduction process on track,” said Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “As a result, the treaty is little more than a gentlemen’s agreement that will allow each country to continue deploying and storing thousands of nuclear warheads more than two decades after the end of the Cold War,” he noted.

Signed May 24, 2002 by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, SORT requires the United States and Russia to each reduce its number of deployed strategic warheads from today’s 5,000-6,000 to no more than 2,200 by the end of 2012, when the treaty will expire. The agreement requires that the warheads be removed from their delivery systems, but does not require their destruction, permitting both sides to keep as many warheads and delivery vehicles as they want for future use. For its part, Washington intends to store enough warheads that it could field up to 4,600 warheads in as little as three years after the treaty ends. Moscow’s plans for the warheads it will remove from service under the treaty are unclear.

Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged in Senate testimony last July that the accord does not limit the amount of warheads either country can possess. “The treaty will allow you to have as many warheads as you want,” Powell stated.

Moreover, the treaty provides no new verification measures to confirm that both parties are carrying out the pledged reductions. As a result, the U.S. intelligence community has determined that the United States will not be able to verify Russian compliance with high confidence.

“Under the treaty, neither country can know for certain whether the other is fulfilling its promises, nor if nuclear warheads and materials are being stored safely to prevent their illicit transfer to or theft by terrorists or unfriendly governments,” said Wade Boese, research director of the Arms Control Association.

“Given warming U.S.-Russian relations and existing concerns about Russia’s ability to properly secure its nuclear materials, the greater threat to U.S. security may well be the warheads Russia keeps in storage instead of those it deploys on its missiles, bombers, and submarines,” Boese cautioned.

In his July 2002 Senate testimony, former Senator Sam Nunn contended that the treaty by itself would not accomplish much, stating: “If it is not followed with other substantive actions it will become irrelevant at best and counterproductive at worst.”

To help remedy the treaty’s shortcomings, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added two modest conditions February 5 to the agreement. One mandates an annual report by the administration on U.S.-Russian Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, which provide U.S. assistance to help secure and destroy Russian weapons of mass destruction. The other requires a yearly update on the status of U.S. and Russian treaty implementation, including strategic force levels, planned reductions each calendar year, and verification or transparency measures that have been or might be employed. The Senate approved both conditions today.

“While the added conditions provide some increased accountability and transparency of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the treaty still falls far short of enacting permanent, meaningful reductions in a verifiable manner that can help build the trust needed to liquidate the legacy of the Cold War, as President Bush envisioned,” said Christine Kucia, the Arms Control Association’s strategic analyst.

Recognizing SORT’s flaws, several senators offered amendments to the resolution of ratification to strengthen the pact. Senator Carl Levin attempted to amend the resolution of ratification by requiring that the Senate is informed at least 60 days in advance of any decision to terminate or extend the treaty. It was defeated 50-44. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) proposed that the intelligence community annually report on its ability to verify Russia’s compliance with the treaty. It was defeated 50-45.

Moscow deploys an estimated 4,000 tactical nuclear warheads and Washington is currently estimated to have approximately 1,000 tactical nuclear warheads. In addition to their tactical and deployed strategic nuclear arsenals, the United States is believed to have more than 5,000 nuclear warheads in spare and reserve stockpiles and Russia is estimated to have another 11,000 warheads stockpiled.

“The flaws in the Moscow Treaty require that the Bush administration pursue additional measures with Russia to reduce the dangers posed by Cold War nuclear arsenals,” Kimball stated. He suggested, “In the coming months, the United States and Russia should resume discussions on additional transparency and verification measures, methods for verifying excess warhead and missile dismantlement, and begin talks on controlling the thousands of smaller, more portable, tactical nuclear weapons.”

“SORT should be seen as a beginning—not an end—for further U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions,” Kimball said.

For more information on the SORT agreement and nuclear weapons, see the Association's Web site at http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/ussp/ or http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/sr/.

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.

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U.S., Russian Legislatures Take Up SORT Ratification

Christine Kucia

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution to ratify the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) on February 5, but in January a committee of the Russian Duma rejected President Vladimir Putin’s draft of a ratification document, returning it to him with several conditions. The treaty’s flexible language and minimal accounting and verification measures remain outstanding concerns that lawmakers in both countries are trying to address.

SORT, signed by Putin and President George W. Bush in May 2002, stipulates that the United States and Russia must cut their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads over the next 10 years. Roughly 6,000 nuclear weapons are deployed at present in each country. Only three pages long, the treaty forgoes verification and accounting procedures that earlier bilateral agreements included to ensure each party’s compliance. SORT also does not outline interim deadlines for the reductions, making its expiration date—December 31, 2012—the only day on which the cuts must be in effect. (See ACT, June 2002.)

As of February 28, the full Senate was still awaiting the opportunity to vote on SORT after the Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a resolution of ratification. The resolution includes two conditions that apply only to U.S. enactment of the treaty’s provisions. It mandates an annual report outlining ways that the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which provides U.S. assistance to help secure and destroy Russian weapons of mass destruction, can assist Russia with its treaty implementation efforts. The resolution also calls for an annual update on the status of U.S. treaty implementation, including strategic force levels, planned reductions each calendar year, and verification or transparency measures that have been or might be employed.

The Senate’s resolution also outlines several declarations that are not binding on the president but which offer recommendations to strengthen the treaty and the U.S.-Russian relationship further. The declarations urge the president to complete the nuclear weapons reductions outlined in SORT prior to the treaty’s expiration; to continue to reduce U.S. strategic nuclear force levels, as national security requirements allow; to increase bilateral transparency on tactical nuclear weapons; and to consult with the Senate prior to a decision to withdraw from the treaty.

Despite these additions to the treaty, some senators expressed concern that SORT remains weak, lacking measures to destroy warheads removed from deployment, assure both countries that the reductions are being undertaken, and guarantee avenues for future arms control negotiations. Committee chair Richard Lugar (R-IN) assured his colleagues, “Our agreements need not be based on mutual suspicion or an adversarial relationship.” Senator John Kerry (D-MA), however, characterized the treaty as “lofty rhetoric and little real accomplishment,” according to a February 6 New York Times article.

Now that the Foreign Relations Committee has completed its work, Senate Republican leaders indicated that they are eager to bring the treaty to a vote on the floor soon. Ratification of SORT would require 67 votes from the 100-member Senate.

The Russian Duma also struggled with SORT’s brevity and lack of accounting measures during its deliberations on the treaty earlier this year. According to a January 17 Itar-Tass article, the Duma’s defense committee rejected a ratification document that Putin submitted on December 7, 2002. Finding that the document “fails to provide for comprehensive verification procedures of its implementation, in terms of quality and time,” the defense committee called for a working group to draft new language for the resolution.

On February 11, the Duma sent the bill back to Putin with conditions that the Russian government would have to follow. According to a February 11 Interfax report, the Duma stipulated that U.S. deployment of a missile defense system that could threaten Russia’s nuclear deterrent would prompt Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty. This condition underscores Moscow’s concern with U.S. missile defense development in the absence of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which became null after the United States withdrew from it on June 13, 2002.

In addition, the Duma called for additional funding for strategic nuclear forces to guarantee that they are maintained at levels consistent with national security requirements; a report from the president on strategic force deployments; and parliamentary participation in plans to develop, modernize, or dismantle weapons.

Putin will review the Duma’s version of the ratification document and must send it back to the legislature—either with the Duma’s changes or with Putin’s own revisions—and the Duma will decide again whether to approve the president’s document. Andrei Nikolaev, chair of the defense committee, told Interfax January 22 that the treaty could be ratified in late March or early April.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution to ratify the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) on February 5, but in January a committee of the Russian Duma...

U.S., Russian Academies Report on Nonproliferation Efforts

Christine Kucia

Recommending the appointment of a single senior official both in the United States and in Russia “to reduce the continuing impediments to the implementation of joint nonproliferation and threat reduction programs,” the U.S. National Academies and the Russian Academy of Sciences publicly reported February 5 on the early stages of a joint project aimed at reducing the risk posed by unsecured nuclear materials in Russia.

John Holdren and Nikolai Laverov, the U.S. and Russian co-chairs of the Joint Committee on U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, created by the two quasi-governmental academies, issued the proposal in a December 4, 2002 letter. Tasked with reviewing cooperative efforts between the two countries to protect nuclear weapons and materials, especially in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the committee has completed the first phase of its work, identifying the key issues that Russia faces in securing its resources and disposing of excess materials in a safe, timely manner.

Citing obstacles in both countries to addressing the problem, the report recommends a “nonproliferation czar” in each country “who has the full-time responsibility for leading and coordinating each government’s efforts to prevent nuclear weapons, nuclear-explosive materials, and the technologies and expertise for making these from falling into the hands of terrorists or countries of proliferation concern.” These officials would have access to the leadership in their respective countries and would regularly report to the presidents on progress and difficulties in assuring the safety of nuclear materials.

“Creating this position would mean fewer unnoticed opportunities, more coordination, and more cooperation,” Holdren said in a February 25 interview. Yet, “this is the hardest recommendation for both countries to take forward” because of complications in reorganizing government agencies and shifting authority among existing positions, he explained.

The proposal for a nonproliferation czar is not a new one. A task force chaired by Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler recommended in January 2001 that a “high-level position in the White House is needed to coordinate policy and budget for threat reduction and nonproliferation programs across the U.S. Government.” According to Holdren, however, this and similar recommendations over the past several years have fallen on deaf ears in both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Streamlining the agencies and decision-making process involved in the implementation of Russia’s nonproliferation programs would likely be welcomed by the governments supplying assistance to Moscow. For example, progress in securing agreements to fund programs under the Group of Eight partnership, which will provide Russia with $20 billion of funding for threat reduction programs for weapons of mass destruction over the next 10 years, has been stymied by difficulties dealing with Russian government agencies. (See ACT, November 2002.)

The joint report also recommends increased priority for safeguarding stocks of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium by consolidating storage sites; promoting greater international cooperation to expedite Russian nuclear submarine decommissioning; and improving understanding on nonproliferation efforts, including public education and training for workers in the nuclear weapons industry.

“It’s remarkable and positive that a senior and experienced group of Americans and Russians could have so readily reached an agreement on what more needs to be done on nonproliferation,” Holdren said. “It’s a message for political leaderships: we’ve come a long way in cooperating, but we still have a long way to go.”

Proposals for further work by the committee will be taken up in the next phase of the project. The committee will begin work in the next few months on a detailed study of impediments to U.S.-Russian cooperation and a study of best practices and how to propagate them globally. The studies are slated for completion in the next two years.

Recommending the appointment of a single senior official both in the United States and in Russia “to reduce the continuing impediments to the implementation of joint nonproliferation...

Russia Considers Missile Defense

Wade Boese

Long opposed to U.S. missile defense plans, top Russian officials voiced interest throughout January in exploring missile defenses on their own or in cooperation with the United States. But Russia has little money to spend on such a project, and discussions of joint U.S.-Russian missile defense work have been tentative and yielded little.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov all said separately in January that Russia is interested in building missile defenses and would not rule out developing systems in conjunction with the United States. Sergei Ivanov, however, was quoted by various news agencies January 15 cautioning that Russian efforts would be governed by “common sense, technical possibilities, and the state of our economy.”

Russian total annual defense expenditures in recent years have been estimated at roughly $40 billion. The United States is proposing to spend more than $9 billion on missile defenses alone in fiscal year 2004. (See ACT, March 2003.)

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said at a January 9 speech in Washington, D.C., that not much progress has been made between the United States and Russia in moving toward greater cooperation on missile defenses. “Dialogue on missile defense cooperation, which has been launched, still remains handicapped by Russian military suspicions that we are just trying to steal some of their technology,” Vershbow reported.

Russia, however, is not singularly at fault. “Both sides need to overcome inhibitions to more substantial cooperation on missile defense which could encompass joint early warning and even joint development of the architecture and the systems,” Vershbow noted.

Past U.S.-Russian efforts at joint cooperation on missile defenses have fared poorly. A joint project to design two satellites for observing global missile launches, the Russian-American Observation Satellite, has floundered since being initiated in 1992; and Russian offers to explore theater missile defenses with NATO made little headway because of difficulties in moving from general concepts to specific details.

Russia deploys nuclear-armed missile interceptors around Moscow, but the defense is not considered to be operationally sound. Russia began deploying the system in the 1960s and kept it as the one legal exception granted by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had forbidden the United States and Soviet Union from deploying nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses.

Long opposed to U.S. missile defense plans, top Russian officials voiced interest throughout January in exploring missile defenses on their own or in cooperation with the United States...

China Buying Russian Combat Jets

China will acquire a third batch of advanced Su-30MKK fighter jets from Russia in a deal initially reported in January. The precise details of the buy remain secret, but China is expected to receive roughly two to three dozen of the combat aircraft, which will be armed with anti-ship missiles.

U.S. government officials would not confirm the new deal, which was reported by the Russian press and a trade journal, Jane’s Defense Weekly. The reported buy adds to China’s two previous purchases of the aircraft, totaling 76 Su-30MKKs, in 1999 and 2001. Since 1991, China has received between 48 and 72 Russian Su-27 combat aircraft, and it reached a 1996 deal to co-produce another 200 Su-27s in China, which the Pentagon said in July 2002 is “proceeding, albeit very slowly.” The uncertainty surrounding the exact number of aircraft delivered reflects the secrecy with which Russia and China attempt to conduct their arms trade.

China is a leading buyer of Russian arms, signing deals not only for combat aircraft but also for four Sovremennyy-class destroyers, armed with potent supersonic, sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, and four Kilo-class submarines in recent years. In its annual submissions to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, Moscow has reported exporting 104 combat aircraft, five attack helicopters, six warships, and 431 missiles and missile launchers to China between 1992 and 2001.

In a July 2002 report on Chinese military power, the Pentagon noted that Beijing is edging closer to Taiwan in terms of advanced, “fourth-generation” combat aircraft through China’s purchase of Russian fighters. Taiwan is estimated to have more than 300 fourth-generation fighters, including approximately 150 U.S. F-16A/B fighters, whereas China currently possesses around 100 modern combat aircraft.

Shirley Kan, a national security policy specialist at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, said in a February 21 interview that she could not verify that the reported deal had been finalized, but she added that China has accelerated its military modernization effort, raising serious questions about continued stability in the Taiwan Strait and Beijing’s interest in reducing tensions with Taiwan.

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