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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Russia

Russia Declares Itself No Longer Bound by START II

July/August 2002

By Wade Boese

Responding to the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty the previous day, Russia declared June 14 that it would no longer be bound by the START II nuclear arms reduction agreement.

Moscow’s announcement was more symbolic than substantive because START II had never taken effect and was unlikely to do so after Russia tied its fate to that of the ABM Treaty two years ago. In addition, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed a new strategic reductions treaty May 24 that effectively superseded START II.

International law requires countries not to undermine the object of treaties they have signed, even if those treaties have not entered into force. However, in its June 14 statement Russia declared it no longer considered itself legally obligated to refrain from actions forbidden by START II because it believed the treaty was dead.

Russia’s action did not surprise the Bush administration. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters June 17, “We knew they were going to do this, and they’ve now done so.”

If it had entered into force, START II would have required the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear forces to no more than 3,500 warheads apiece. START II also banned multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) on ICBMs. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush described MIRVs as “the most destabilizing strategic weapons.”

According to a U.S. official, the collapse of START II has not upset the Bush administration because the United States and Russia have already “moved beyond” the accord with the May 24 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. The new treaty, if it enters into force, will commit each country to limit its deployed strategic nuclear forces to fewer than 2,200 warheads by the end of 2012. (See ACT, June 2002.)
Previously viewed as a major accomplishment of START II, the MIRV ban is not part of the new agreement, but the Bush administration appears indifferent. Boucher described the president as “not terribly concerned” about how Russia deploys its warheads.

Russia is now free to extend the service life of some of its aging MIRVed missiles, such as the SS-18, which would make it easier and less costly for Russia to maintain the force level permitted by the new treaty. Moscow has talked about putting multiple warheads on its newest ICBM, the Topol-M (SS-27). But Russia would need to slightly modify the Topol-M and declare it as a new type of missile for the action to be legal under START, which is in force until December 2009. Russia began fielding small numbers of single-warhead Topol-Ms in 1998.

Russia had long complained that START II was unfair because Moscow deploys a greater proportion of its strategic warheads on MIRVed ICBMs than the United States. To maintain parity with U.S. forces under START II, Moscow would have needed to build a substantial number of expensive, new single-warhead ICBMs after eliminating its MIRVs.

Although many Russian politicians disliked START II, they eventually saw it as possible leverage to preserve the ABM Treaty, which Moscow perceived as increasingly threatened by U.S. missile defense plans.

When Russia finally ratified START II in May 2000—seven years after the treaty was signed and four years after the Senate approved the accord—it conditioned the treaty’s entry into force on U.S. approval of a 1997 package of several arms control agreements, including measures to clarify the terms of the ABM Treaty. Moscow also stated that U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty would be grounds for Russia to pull out of START II.

The U.S. official said June 18 that these past Russian linkages “made it impossible for START II to enter into force.”

 

Responding to the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty the previous day, Russia declared it would no longer be bound by START II.

U.S., Russia, IAEA Initiate Plan To Secure Radioactive Material

July/August 2002

By Alex Wagner

In a major effort to prevent terrorist acquisition of radioactive material, the United States, Russia, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed June 12 on a new initiative to locate and secure dangerous, unaccounted-for material in former Soviet states.

In a press release, the IAEA touted the agreement as “the first concerted international response to the threat posed by vulnerable radioactive sources” in former Soviet states.

These sources are a “widespread phenomenon” in these countries, the agency said, and could present an attractive target for terrorists seeking to build radiological weapons.

Colloquially known as “dirty bombs,” such weapons utilize conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material, causing contamination and widespread disruption. In mid-June, the FBI announced the apprehension of a U.S. citizen who allegedly conspired with the al Qaeda terrorist organization to explode such a device on U.S. soil. (U.S. Announces It Uncovered ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plot.)

The new initiative will establish a working group to “develop a coordinated and proactive strategy to locate, recover, secure, and recycle” sources of radioactive material in the former Soviet Union that remain outside official regulatory control, according to the IAEA. The agreement does not cover radioactive sources in Russia, which will be addressed by a separate U.S.-Russian bilateral agreement.

The working group’s plan envisions extensive Russian participation, which will involve developing an initial inventory of radiological sources and assessing their likely locations, according to IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming. After an inventory is finalized, the agency, cooperating with other former Soviet states, will dispatch teams to find and recover the radioactive sources, Fleming said. After they are secure, Russia has indicated it might be willing to either store or dispose of them.

The IAEA has identified “radioactive sources used in industrial radiography, radiotherapy, industrial irradiators and thermo-electric generators as those that are the most significant from a safety and security standpoint” because of the large amounts of radioactive material they contain, the agency’s release said.
Fleming said that tracking down some of these sources is like “searching for a needle in a haystack.” But she emphasized that the agreement is an “absolutely vital, organized, and proactive” effort that is distinct from the agency’s past endeavors, which have been purely “reactionary.”

The working group has yet to convene, and no date has been set for its first meeting.

Washington and Moscow are also cooperating bilaterally to locate and secure radioactive sources in Russia. At a May 9 press conference in Washington with Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyanstev, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced that the two sides are establishing a joint taskforce to assess the threat of radioactive materials in Russia and to recommend appropriate responses. The U.S.-Russian taskforce is set to meet in mid-July.

An informed source speculated that a separate but parallel initiative had been set up for Russia because Moscow is reluctant to allow the IAEA to perform search and recovery operations on its territory.
But Jack Caravelli, assistant deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. representative to the July bilateral talks, noted that given the past successes of U.S.-Russian efforts to secure nuclear materials, there is “not any requirement for the IAEA’s presence.” He added that the two initiatives were mainly motivated by the events of September 11.

The Energy Department and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy will largely fund both programs’ implementation. The United States plans to allocate $20 million to the projects this year and anticipates spending an equal amount of money next year. The amount of Russian funding remains unclear.

U.S., Russia, IAEA Initiate Plan To Secure Radioactive Material

Letter of Transmittal and Article-by-Article Analysis of the Treaty

On June 20, President George W. Bush sent to the Senate for its advice and consent the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which the United States and Russia signed May 24. Also known as the “Moscow Treaty,” the accord would require the United States and Russia to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to less than 2,200 warheads each by the end of 2012.

Following traditional practice, Bush provided the Senate with an article-by-article analysis of the treaty, which was accompanied by a letter of transmittal.

The letter and the treaty analysis both highlight the accord’s “flexibility.” In his letter, Bush stressed that improving relations with Russia allow Washington and Moscow to no longer “narrowly regulate every step” they take. The treaty analysis underscores this point, indicating that the accord does not set an interim schedule for reductions or dictate how the two countries should implement their reductions. In addition, the analysis points out that the treaty has a more lenient withdrawal option than past arms control agreements in order to permit each side “greater flexibility…to respond to unforeseen circumstances.”

The Senate is expected to begin treaty hearings July 9 and to hold a vote sometime this fall. The full text of the letter of transmittal and the treaty analysis appears below.

 

Letter of Transmittal

TO THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES:

I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions, signed at Moscow on May 24, 2002 (the “Moscow Treaty”).

The Moscow Treaty represents an important element of the new strategic relationship between the United States and Russia. It will take our two nations along a stable, predictable path to substantial reductions in our deployed strategic nuclear warhead arsenals by December 31, 2012. When these reductions are completed, each country will be at the lowest level of deployed strategic nuclear warheads in decades. This will benefit the peoples of both the United States and Russia and contribute to a more secure world.

The Moscow Treaty codifies my determination to break through the long impasse in further nuclear weapons reductions caused by the inability to finalize agreements through traditional arms control efforts. In the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union, both countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals remained far larger than needed, even as the United States and Russia moved toward a more cooperative relationship. On May 1, 2001, I called for a new framework for our strategic relationship with Russia, including further cuts in nuclear weapons to reflect the reality that the Cold War is over. On November 13, 2001, I announced the United States plan for such cuts — to reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to a level of between 1700 and 2200 over the next decade. I announced these planned reductions following a careful study within the Department of Defense. That study, the Nuclear Posture Review, concluded that these force levels were sufficient to maintain the security of the United States. In reaching this decision, I recognized that it would be preferable for the United States to make such reductions on a reciprocal basis with Russia, but that the United States would be prepared to proceed unilaterally.

My Russian counterpart, President Putin, responded immediately and made clear that he shared these goals. President Putin and I agreed that our nations’ respective reductions should be recorded in a legally binding document that would outlast both of our presidencies and provide predictability over the longer term. The result is a Treaty that was agreed without protracted negotiations. This Treaty fully meets the goals I set out for these reductions.

It is important for there to be sufficient openness so that the United States and Russia can each be confident that the other is fulfilling its reductions commitment. The Parties will use the comprehensive verification regime of the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the “START Treaty”) to provide the foundation for confidence, transparency, and predictability in further strategic offensive reductions. In our Joint Declaration on the New Strategic Relationship between the United States and Russia, President Putin and I also decided to establish a Consultative Group for Strategic Security to be chaired by Foreign and Defense Ministers. This body will be the principal mechanism through which the United States and Russia strengthen mutual confidence, expand transparency, share information and plans, and discuss strategic issues of mutual interest.

The Moscow Treaty is emblematic of our new, cooperative relationship with Russia, but it is neither the primary basis for this relationship nor its main component. The United States and Russia are partners in dealing with the threat of terrorism and resolving regional conflicts. There is growing economic interaction between the business communities of our two countries and ever-increasing people-to-people and cultural contacts and exchanges. The U.S. military has put Cold War practices behind it, and now plans, sizes, and sustains its forces in recognition that Russia is not an enemy, Russia is a friend. Military-to-military and intelligence exchanges are well established and growing.

The Moscow Treaty reflects this new relationship with Russia. Under it, each Party retains the flexibility to determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms, and how reductions are made. This flexibility allows each Party to determine how best to respond to future security challenges.

There is no longer the need to narrowly regulate every step we each take, as did Cold War treaties founded on mutual suspicion and an adversarial relationship.

In sum, the Moscow Treaty is clearly in the best interests of the United States and represents an important contribution to U.S. national security and strategic stability. I therefore urge the Senate to give prompt and favorable consideration to the Treaty, and to advise and consent to its ratification.

George W. Bush
The White House
June 20, 2002.

Source: White House


Article-by-Article Analysis

The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions, signed at Moscow on May 24, 2002 (the Moscow Treaty) consists of a Preamble and five Articles.
 
Title and Preamble

 The title of the Moscow Treaty is “Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions.” This title was deliberately chosen to reflect the fact that this Treaty focuses on reductions in strategic nuclear warheads, rather than on “strategic offensive arms,” which traditionally have been considered to be delivery vehicles and launchers. For linguistic reasons, the title of the Russian language version of the Treaty is “… on Reductions in Strategic Offensive Potential.” The English language text of the Treaty was agreed first, but the phrase “strategic offensive reductions” could not be literally translated into Russian. The substantive meanings of the titles are the same.

 The Preamble to the Moscow Treaty sets forth the intentions of the Parties in broad terms. The first preambular paragraph designates the United States and Russia as “the Parties” to obviate the use of their full names throughout the Treaty. The second, third and fourth preambular paragraphs set forth the Parties’ shared commitment to conducting their relations in the new century on a fundamentally different and more cooperative basis than had characterized their relations in the past. The reference to “mutual security” in the fourth paragraph refers to the non-threatening nature of the Parties’ new strategic relationship; it does not imply a specific relationship between the Parties’ forces. The fifth paragraph reaffirms the Parties’ general, longstanding commitment to implementing significant reductions in strategic offensive arms. This paragraph introduces references to specific prior commitments and obligations by the Parties in the sixth, seventh and eighth paragraphs that immediately follow, including those in the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms of July 31, 1991 (the START Treaty) and the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of July 1, 1968 (the NPT). The sixth paragraph recognizes Joint Statements made by Presidents Bush and Putin in Genoa on July 22, 2001 and in Washington, DC on November 13, 2001 that detail the new basis for relations between the United States and Russia. This preambular language does not imply any restrictions or obligations relating to defensive programs. The seventh and eighth paragraphs make reference to two existing agreements of the Parties with regard to nuclear weapons, the START Treaty and Article VI of the NPT. The final paragraph sets forth the Parties’ conviction that this Treaty will establish more favorable conditions for actively promoting security and cooperation and enhancing international security.
 
Article I
 
Article I contains the central obligation of the Moscow Treaty. The first sentence of this paragraph obligates the Parties to reduce and limit their strategic nuclear warheads, as stated by the President of the United States of America on November 13, 2001 and as stated by the President of the Russian Federation on November 13 and December 13, 2001 respectively, so that by December 31, 2012 the aggregate number of such warheads does not exceed 1700-2200 for each Party. The Moscow Treaty’s limits relate solely to the number of each Party’s strategic nuclear warheads. The Moscow Treaty does not limit the number of U.S. or Russian inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) or their associated launchers, or heavy bombers. Article I, by referencing the statements of both Presidents, makes clear that the Parties need not implement their reductions in an identical manner.

The United States will implement Article I as stated by President Bush on November 13, 2001: “… the United States will reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to a level between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next decade, a level fully consistent with American security.”1 U.S. negotiators noted to their Russian counterparts that, in carrying out the reductions provided for in this Treaty, in using the term “operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads” the United States means reentry vehicles on ICBMs in their launchers, reentry vehicles on SLBMs in their launchers onboard submarines, and nuclear armaments loaded on heavy bombers or stored in weapons storage areas of heavy bomber bases. The United States also made clear that a small number of spare strategic nuclear warheads (including spare ICBM warheads) would be located at heavy bomber bases and that the United States would not consider these warheads to be operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads. The United States intends to reduce its operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads in a manner consistent with these statements. In the context of this Treaty, it is clear that only “nuclear” reentry vehicles, as well as nuclear armaments, are subject to the 1700-2200 limit.

 The method by which U.S. warhead numbers will be determined under the Moscow Treaty differs from the START Treaty methodology. The START Treaty contains counting rules that attribute specific numbers of warheads to each type of ICBM, SLBM or heavy bomber regardless of the actual number of warheads on the missile or bomber. These numbers may be different from both the actual capacity of the specific system and the number actually carried by the system.

 Under the U.S. approach, certain strategic nuclear warheads, such as those nominally associated with submarines in overhaul or submarines modified for other purposes, those downloaded from ICBMs and SLBMs, and those nominally associated with deactivated Peacekeeper ICBMs, will continue to be subject to the START Treaty unless such ICBMs or SLBMs and their associated launchers are eliminated or converted in accordance with START Treaty procedures. At the same time, however, under the Moscow Treaty, once such warheads are no longer in operationally-deployed status, they will be included as part of the United States’ reductions. Thus, among other things, missiles from which some warheads have been removed will be considered for purposes of the START Treaty as carrying more warheads than they in fact carry. By contrast, under the Moscow Treaty, the United States will limit its strategic nuclear warheads based on the actual number of warheads on missiles in their launchers and at bomber bases (other than spare warheads).

 President Putin, for his part, stated at the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC on November 13, 2001:

… Russia is stating its readiness to proceed with significant reductions of strategic offensive arms. That is why today we are proposing a radical program of further reductions of SOA — at the least, by a factor of three — to the minimum level necessary to maintain strategic equilibrium in the world.2

and in a statement on December 13, 2001:

 … a particularly important task in these conditions is to legally formalize the agreements that have been reached on further drastic, irreversible, and verifiable reductions in strategic offensive arms, which we believe should be at the level of 1,500-2,200 nuclear warheads for each side.3

President Putin did not state explicitly how Russia intends to implement its reductions. During the negotiations the Russians suggested that they anticipated reducing warheads by eliminating or converting missiles, launchers and heavy bombers. As noted above, Russia, like the United States, may reduce its strategic nuclear warheads by any method it chooses. Russia did not state conclusively during the negotiations how it intends to carry out its reductions.

The Moscow Treaty does not provide for sublimits or interim reduction levels or require a Party to reach the final reduction level prior to December 31, 2012. Therefore, prior to December 31, 2012, each Party is free to maintain whatever level of strategic nuclear warheads it deems appropriate, consistent with its obligations under the START Treaty and its obligation to meet the specified limit by the specified date.

The second sentence of Article I states that each Party shall determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms, based on the established aggregate limit for the number of such warheads. As noted earlier, the Moscow Treaty does not limit the total number of strategic offensive arms, or contain either numerical sublimits or bans on categories of forces. Under the Moscow Treaty, each Party will thus have flexibility in structuring its forces to reach these new low levels for strategic nuclear warheads. The Treaty does not restrict a Party’s decisions regarding how it will implement the required reductions.

Article II

In Article II, the Parties recognize that the START Treaty remains in force in accordance with its terms. The purpose of this Article is to make clear that the Moscow Treaty and the START Treaty are separate. The START Treaty’s provisions do not extend to the Moscow Treaty, and the Moscow Treaty does not terminate, extend or in any other way affect the status of the START Treaty. The START Treaty will remain in force until December 5, 2009, unless it is superseded by a subsequent agreement or extended.

Article III
 
Article III establishes a Bilateral Implementation Commission (BIC), a diplomatic consultative forum which shall meet at least twice a year, to discuss issues related to implementation of the Moscow Treaty.
 
Article IV
 
Article IV consists of three paragraphs covering ratification, entry into force, duration and withdrawal.
Paragraph 1 of Article IV provides that the Moscow Treaty shall be subject to ratification in accordance with the constitutional procedures of each Party and shall enter into force on the date of the exchange of instruments of ratification.

Paragraph 2 of Article IV provides that the Moscow Treaty shall remain in force until December 31, 2012 and may be extended by agreement of the Parties or superseded earlier by a subsequent agreement. Extension of the Treaty is not automatic but must be done by agreement of the Parties. Since such an extension is authorized by the Treaty, it would constitute an agreement pursuant to the Treaty and would accordingly not be subject to Senate advice and consent.

Paragraph 3 of Article IV provides that each Party, in exercising its national sovereignty, may withdraw from the Treaty upon three months’ written notice to the other Party. Unlike some other arms control agreements, this withdrawal clause is not tied to a Party’s determination that extraordinary circumstances jeopardizing its supreme national interests exist. Rather, the Moscow Treaty includes a more general formulation that allows greater flexibility for each Party to respond to unforeseen circumstances.

Unlike several earlier arms control agreements, including the START Treaty, there are no specific provisions for either amending the Moscow Treaty or for making “viability and effectiveness” changes to the Treaty. Such provisions were not seen as necessary given the structure and content of this Treaty.
For international agreements submitted to the Senate that do not have specific amendment procedures, U.S. practice has been to submit amendments to the Senate for its advice and consent unless the Senate agrees that submission is not required.
 
Article V
 
Article V sets forth standard provisions for registration of the Treaty pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

NOTES
1. Press Conference by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, The East Room, on November 13, 2001.
2. Speech of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin to Representatives of the American Public and U.S. Politicians, November 13, 2001, Russian Embassy in Washington. [Official U.S. translation]
3. Statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 13, 2001, Regarding the Decision of the U.S. Administration to Withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty. [Official U.S. translation]

 

G-8 Leaders Agree to Fund Threat Reduction Programs

July/August 2002

By Wade Boese

Meeting in Canada for a two-day summit, President George W. Bush and leaders of the world’s other top economic powers announced June 27 that they will aim to spend up to $20 billion over the next 10 years to help Russia and other former Soviet states secure and destroy their nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons stockpiles and materials.

Under the initiative, known as “10 Plus 10 Over 10,” the United States plans to supply half of the funding; and Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom will attempt to raise the rest. Other countries, aside from these G-7 nations, were also invited to contribute toward meeting the $20 billion goal. A senior Bush administration official told reporters after the meeting that the Nordic countries are “quite interested” in participating.

Effectively, the initiative—formally called the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction—simply commits the United States to continue its current level of threat reduction expenditures for the next 10 years. Bush asked Congress earlier this year for roughly $1 billion in global threat reduction and nonproliferation funding for the coming fiscal year. According to the White House, the United States has allocated approximately $7 billion for threat reduction programs in the former Soviet Union since October 1991.

Specific plans by the other six countries remain largely undetermined. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice explained June 27 that because the initiative is new, “countries are going to have to go back and make commitments.”

Relative to the United States, these other countries combined have provided a modest amount of funding for threat reduction in the former Soviet Union, and it remains uncertain whether they will be able to match the U.S. commitment.

The United States and its allies identified future key priorities for the program, including assisting with the destruction of Russia’s 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons agent, dismantling Russia’s decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines, employing former Russian weapons scientists, and securing Russian fissile materials, which are estimated to total more than 1,000 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and at least 150 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

Any participating country will decide for itself what activities it wants to fund and will have to negotiate implementation details with Russia. Moscow pledged that it would grant such contributors the same rights and protections as it grants the United States, such as exemption from taxation and liability.

The G-7 countries and Russia, collectively called the G-8, pledged to annually review programs under the initiative, and they established nine general guidelines for their projects, including the need for the creation of milestones to measure implementation.

In addition to the initiative, the G-8 adopted six principles to deny terrorists and the countries that support them access to weapons of mass destruction. These principles include broad, political commitments to bolster border controls and to account for, protect, and destroy weapons-usable materials. The G-8 leaders also called on other capitals to do the same.

G-8 Leaders Agree to Fund Threat Reduction Programs

New Nuclear Accord Submitted to U.S., Russian Lawmakers

July/August 2002

By Wade Boese

In the third week of June, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin submitted their recently concluded Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty to their respective legislatures for approval. The U.S. and Russian legislatures are expected to vote on the treaty’s fate this fall.

On June 20, Bush sent the treaty and an article-by-article analysis to the Senate for its advice and consent. Two-thirds of the senators voting on the accord will need to give their approval to enable the president to ratify the treaty, which would obligate the United States and Russia to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads they deploy to 2,200 each by the end of 2012. Both countries are currently limited to about 6,000 deployed strategic nuclear warheads apiece.

After meeting with Bush on June 5, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-DE) estimated that his committee would hold six hearings on the May 24 arms reduction agreement. The first, at which Secretary of State Colin Powell will testify, is scheduled for July 9. Other committees, such as the Senate Armed Services Committee, may also hold hearings.

The Senate is expected to vote on the treaty this fall before ending its current session. “My hope is we’d act on it…before we went out,” Biden said after his White House meeting.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov has predicted that Russia will vote on treaty ratification in October. Putin submitted the treaty and an article-by-article analysis to the Russian Duma and Federation Council for approval June 21. In Russia, both houses vote on treaties.

Neither the Duma—the lower but more powerful and independent house of the Russian legislature—nor the Senate is expected to rubber-stamp the treaty. Both are expected to add some conditions and declarations, a typical practice in the ratification process.

The Duma, for example, in its April 2000 approval of the 1993 START II arms reduction agreement, tied the treaty’s entry into force to U.S. action on measures related to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Washington never acted on those provisions, thereby preventing START II from taking effect. (See p. 16.) Treaties do not formally enter into force until the countries exchange instruments of ratification.

Senator Biden has publicly expressed concerns about what he views as the treaty’s shortcomings, such as its lack of provisions for destroying weapons or for verifying that the reductions actually take place. He wrote in the May 28 issue of The Washington Post that “while the treaty as a whole is a step forward, some of its specifics risk moving us backward.”

In a letter accompanying the treaty to the Senate, Bush stated that the accord was in the “best interests” of the United States and would put the two countries on “a stable, predictable path to substantial reductions” in their deployed nuclear forces.

At the same time, Bush downplayed the accord’s overall significance to future U.S.-Russian relations, saying the treaty “is neither the primary basis for this relationship nor its main component.” The Bush administration contends that whereas past relations between the two countries were focused almost exclusively on limiting the threat posed by the other, the current relationship is much broader because neither country now needs to worry about the other’s military.

Bush highlighted that the new treaty does not specify which weapons should be taken out of service or spell out how the reductions are to be carried out. “This flexibility allows each Party to determine how best to respond to future security challenges,” Bush explained.

In the article-by-article analysis of the treaty submitted to the Senate, the Bush administration reported that Russia did not state “conclusively” during the treaty negotiations how it planned to carry out its reductions. (See p. 28 for the text of the analysis.)

But the administration predicts that Moscow will retire most of its 10-warhead SS-18 and six-warhead SS-19 ICBMs by 2012. As of January 2002, Russia deployed 150 SS-18s and 150 SS-19s. Moscow is also expected to continue deactivating its remaining 36 SS-24s, which can carry 10 warheads apiece.
The United States plans to take all 50 of its 10-warhead Peacekeeper ICBMs out of service and convert four Trident submarines, each of which can carry a maximum of 192 warheads, for use as conventional platforms. To comply fully with the treaty, the United States will need to make additional reductions, but it has not yet identified how it will do so.

The United States intends to keep at least 2,400 of the warheads it removes from ICBMs, submarines, and bombers under the treaty in a “responsive capability” that would permit their redeployment—some within weeks and months, and all within three years. The Bush administration claims that the responsive force is needed because it is uncertain what threats the United States will face in the future. Bush denies that the responsive force is geared toward any specific country.

Bush asserted in his June 20 letter, “The U.S. military has put Cold War practices behind it, and now plans, sizes, and sustains its forces in recognition that Russia is not an enemy.” Yet in its classified January nuclear posture review, excerpts of which became public, the administration noted, “Russia’s nuclear forces and programs, nevertheless, remain a concern.” The review further cautioned that if U.S.-Russian relations sour, the “U.S. may need to revise its nuclear force levels and posture.”

The Bush administration noted in its article-by-article analysis that it is easier to withdraw from this accord than from previous treaties. Rather than having to show that its supreme national interests are threatened by extraordinary circumstances, as required in other agreements, either party will simply have to give three months’ written notice of its intent to quit the treaty. The Bush administration explained that this permits “greater flexibility for each Party to respond to unforeseen circumstances.”

 

New Nuclear Accord Submitted to U.S., Russian Lawmakers

United States, Russia Approve New "HEU Deal" Contract

July/August 2002

J. Peter Scoblic

Ending years of negotiation, the United States and Russia have approved a new contract that will allow a key nonproliferation agreement to move forward, the State Department announced June 19.

The 1993 Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement requires the United States to purchase, over 20 years, 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) derived from Russian nuclear weapons. Russia blends down the HEU to low-enriched uranium and ships it to the United States for use in commercial power reactors.

The so-called HEU deal is implemented in Russia by the government-run Techsnabexport (Tenex) and in the United States by the privately owned USEC, Inc. Since 1995, Russia has converted approximately 150 metric tons of HEU from almost 6,000 nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium fuel.

Under the terms of the new contract, USEC will pay Tenex a market-based price for the blended-down uranium. The actual amount paid will be an average of international market prices over the past three years minus a discount, allowing USEC to make a profit when it resells the material to U.S. and foreign power companies. According to a senior administration official, Russia will earn less revenue than it did under the previous contract, at least in the short term.

Under the terms of the previous contract, USEC had paid Tenex a fixed price that was well below market value for enriched uranium when the five-year deal was signed in 1996. But in the late 1990s, the market price dropped sharply, reducing USEC’s profit margins when it resold the material to its customers. In the spring of 1999, anticipating the contract’s expiration at the end of 2001, USEC opened negotiations on a new contract with Tenex that would account for market fluctuations.

Tenex and USEC initialed a preliminary agreement in May 2000 that incorporated a more flexible pricing mechanism and obligated USEC to buy some commercially produced low-enriched uranium from Russia, but this deal was not approved by the U.S. or Russian governments. The latter provision was eventually dropped at the request of the U.S. government, and in February 2002 USEC and Tenex signed an agreement establishing market-based pricing as the foundation of the new contract. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Although the pricing terms had been settled between USEC and Tenex, obtaining required government approval of the deal proved difficult. The Department of Energy (DOE), under both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, had been concerned that the U.S. supply of energy was overly dependent on the HEU deal, which provides almost half of the United States’ uranium.

A year ago, USEC shut down enrichment operations at its plant in Portsmouth, Ohio, leaving the United States with only one uranium-enrichment plant, located in Paducah, Kentucky. Concerned about U.S. energy security—and the political impact of shutting down U.S. plants and laying off workers—the Department of Energy insisted that USEC commit to maintaining the ability to enrich uranium domestically as an alternative to Russian HEU.

The U.S. government finally approved USEC’s deal with Tenex after the Department of Energy and USEC signed an agreement June 17 addressing this concern. Under the agreement, USEC has committed to building an “advanced uranium enrichment facility” either at Portsmouth by 2010 or at Paducah by 2011, and it has agreed to continue enrichment operations at the Paducah facility until the new plant is operational. DOE will provide USEC access to centrifuge enrichment technology, which is more advanced than the gaseous-diffusion process currently being used at Paducah.

The deal also requires USEC to maintain the shipping and transfer portion of the Portsmouth facility for 15 months. USEC had planned to close that facility completely and consolidate all shipping operations at Paducah by the end of June. The move would have cost several hundred jobs at Portsmouth, but under the June 17 agreement some of the employees that would have been laid off will be tasked with decontaminating uranium. In exchange, the Department of Energy has agreed to dispose of three years’ worth of depleted uranium that USEC has generated at its enrichment facilities.

The deal appears to have satisfied DOE’s concerns. According to a June 18 statement by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, the deal succeeds in “ensuring our domestic capacity to produce fuel for our commercial nuclear reactors and meeting important nuclear nonproliferation goals by accepting enriched uranium from Russia.” USEC’s president, William Timbers, likewise expressed satisfaction. “This agreement provides a strong cooperative foundation between DOE and USEC,” he said in a statement the same day.

The Russian government has publicly said little about the deal. Speaking to the news agency Interfax after the February 2002 agreement was signed, Alexander Rumyantsev, the minister of atomic energy, said simply that “Russia’s interests were not hurt.” However, according to one U.S. analyst familiar with the deal, “The Russians feel that they were forced by the U.S. government to accept unfair commercial terms in order to benefit U.S. business and political interests.”

The terms of the new pricing contract do not take effect until January 1, 2003, and are good through the completion of the HEU deal in 2013. Until then, shipments are being made at the 2001 price under a rollover provision in the previous contract, which expired last year.

Ending years of negotiation, the United States and Russia have approved a new contract that will allow a key nonproliferation agreement to move forward, the State Department announced June 19.

NATO, Russia Create New Joint Council

On May 28, NATO leaders, including President George W. Bush, joined with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Rome to create a new NATO-Russian body intended to enable greater cooperation between the 19-member alliance and Moscow.

The NATO-Russia Council will meet at least once a month at the ambassadorial level and twice per year at the level of defense and foreign ministers to discuss issues of common concern and, if possible, to take joint action. The 20 countries have agreed to conduct joint assessments of the current terrorism threat and the global spread of weapons of mass destruction. Other possible agenda items include crisis management, talks on theater missile defense cooperation, and pursuit of greater military-to-military contacts.

All decisions within the council are to be made by consensus. Yet Russia and NATO are free to act on their own, and Russia has no veto over any alliance decision or action. The White House explained May 28, “The NATO Allies retain the freedom to act, by consensus, on any issue at any time,” and they “will decide among themselves the issues” to be addressed by the council.

The NATO-Russia Council replaces the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC), which was established five years ago to mollify Russian opposition to NATO expansion by giving Russia a voice at NATO. The PJC failed by all accounts, and its breakdown was highlighted by Russia’s temporary suspension of its PJC participation to protest NATO’s 1999 military campaign against Yugoslavia.

Expectations are tempered about whether the new council will work better than its predecessor. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow cautioned in March that Russia needed to “overcome a legacy of mistrust and competition” with NATO and that the alliance needed to become “more open and more flexible in taking Russia’s views into account.”

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who will serve as chairman of the council, told the 20 leaders gathered in Rome that “the success or failure of this council will not be determined by me, but by you.”

U.S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces

June 2002

By Phillip C. Bleek

At their May 24 summit meeting in Moscow, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed a treaty under which the United States and Russia will cut their deployed strategic nuclear forces to 1,700-2,200 warheads each—approximately a two-thirds reduction from current levels.

The agreement, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, is the first strategic reductions pact signed by the two countries in almost a decade. It requires reductions in deployed forces substantially below the level of the START I agreement, and it effectively supersedes the START II accord, which never entered into force.

At a press conference following the signing ceremony, Bush said that the agreement “liquidates the Cold War legacy of nuclear hostility” between the United States and Russia. Putin was more reserved in his assessment, characterizing the accord as a “serious move ahead” but also noting that the two sides have agreed to continue their work toward resolving remaining differences.

The treaty marks the conclusion of a process begun November 13, when Bush announced that the United States would unilaterally reduce its “operationally deployed” strategic nuclear weapons to 1,700-2,200 and Putin said Russia would “try to respond in kind.” (See ACT, December 2001.) Bush initially expressed skepticism about formalizing the reductions in a binding agreement. But Moscow insisted on such a pact, and in February Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the United States had agreed to codify the reductions. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Composed of fewer than 500 words—a sharp contrast to START I’s several hundred pages—the agreement does not define which strategic warheads it covers (deployed, reserve, or both), nor does it define how warheads are to be counted. However, the document references previous statements by Bush and Putin, including the November 13 announcement in which Bush said he intended to reduce the number of “operationally deployed” strategic weapons, suggesting the treaty covers only those warheads that are mated to their delivery vehicles and ready for launch.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has explicitly rejected that interpretation, noting in a May 22 statement that the treaty does not include the term “operationally deployed warheads” and that the treaty’s implementation will be “tackled” in the Bilateral Implementation Commission called for by the treaty.

In the weeks prior to the summit, negotiations between the two sides had appeared to bog down as they wrangled over how much flexibility the treaty should allow. Russia had sought a START I-style approach that would have counted the maximum number of warheads that deployed missiles and bombers can carry, while the United States had insisted on counting only those warheads ready for immediate use. The U.S. approach provides considerably more leeway because warheads removed from multiple-warhead missiles and bomber-based weapons removed from operational storage bunkers can be counted as reductions even though they can be quickly redeployed.

The related issue of whether each side would have to destroy warheads and delivery vehicles removed from service was also contentious, with Russia publicly calling for the verifiable destruction of both warheads and delivery systems and the United States wanting to retain the option to store warheads removed from deployment.

The treaty makes no mention of the issue, effectively supporting the U.S. position. As Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, pointed out in a May 28 op-ed, “The treaty does not require the actual destruction of a single missile or warhead,” a point other critics have also highlighted.

Although START I and START II did not call for warhead destruction, they did require the verifiable destruction of most delivery systems removed from service. And in 1997 Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed to pursue a START III pact that would include “measures relating…to the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads…to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions.”

To implement the reductions, U.S. officials have announced that they will convert four of the current 18 Trident submarines to carry only conventional cruise missiles, retire all 50 10-warhead MX missiles, and eliminate the B-1B bomber’s nuclear role. These steps will remove about 1,300 warheads from service. Warheads will also be removed from existing multiple-warhead ICBMs and SLBMs to reach the administration’s target of 3,800 deployed strategic warheads by 2007.

Decisions on how to reduce U.S. deployments further have apparently not yet been made, and U.S. officials said earlier this year that further reductions would depend on the strategic situation in 2007 as well as the country’s ability to deploy new capabilities, such as strategic missile defenses and enhanced conventional weapons. (See ACT, January/February 2002.)

U.S. officials have also made clear that although “some” warheads and delivery systems will be dismantled, substantial numbers of warheads will be put in reserve. According to administration sources, by 2012 the United States will deploy 2,200 strategic weapons and retain an additional 2,400 in an operationally maintained “responsive capability.” The United States would be able to redeploy some warheads in the responsive capability within weeks or months and to redeploy all 2,400 warheads within three years.

In addition, the United States is expected to continue to store thousands of nonoperational but fully assembled warheads as well as thousands of additional weapon components that could be reassembled into complete weapons.

When asked at the May 24 press conference why the United States needs to retain thousands of deployed weapons and thousands more reserve warheads, Bush stressed future uncertainties, saying, “Who knows what will happen 10 years from now? Who knows what future presidents will say and how they [will] react?”

Russian officials have yet to provide details on how they intend to implement the reductions, but Moscow may store rather than destroy the warheads it removes from service if that is what the United States does.

Russia currently has a nuclear stockpile estimated to contain more than 13,000 nondeployed strategic and tactical warheads, in large part because dismantling the warheads has proven prohibitively expensive. Russia also continues to manufacture limited numbers of new warheads to replace weapons that have reached the end of their service lives. Asked at the joint press conference why it was necessary to maintain this capability, Putin said that warhead production “is not our priority” but that Russia needs to consider threats posed by other nuclear-weapon states and potential proliferators.

The timetable for reductions remains uncertain because, unlike START I, the new treaty does not include interim deadlines. The treaty requires the two sides to have implemented their reductions by December 31, 2012, which is also the date the pact expires.

The fact that the agreement’s implementation and expiration deadlines are the same has led some to conclude that it is technically impossible to violate the pact. But a Bush administration official close to the negotiations said that from the U.S. perspective, it is in fact possible to violate the agreement by acting in a way that does not “make compliance possible.” The official noted that this interpretation is codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which stipulates that “[a] State is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty…it has signed.”

The official said that as the implementation and expiration date approached, the two sides could decide whether to negotiate a follow-on accord. But the official also indicated that no further agreement might be needed after that time.

The accord’s withdrawal clause also marks a departure from previous agreements, allowing either side to pull out of the pact with only three months’ notice, rather than the six months’ notice required by START I. (U.S. negotiators had also sought a provision allowing either side to exceed the agreement’s limits with 45 days’ notice, but that provision was not included in the final document, suggesting the three-month withdrawal period was a compromise with the Russians.) Also unlike START I, the agreement does not require the withdrawing party to justify its actions by citing “extraordinary events [that] have jeopardized its supreme interests.”

The agreement includes no verification or transparency provisions, although both U.S. and Russian officials have said they will continue to work to increase strategic transparency. With regard to verification, the two sides appear to have decided to rely on existing provisions in the START I agreement, but that accord expires in 2009, and it is unclear whether the sides will extend it, establish verification provisions for the new accord, or simply do without verification after that time.

Moscow and Washington have agreed to consider transparency in ongoing discussions of the treaty’s Bilateral Implementation Commission. That commission will meet at least twice annually, but details such as the seniority of the officials involved, the schedule of the meetings, and the likely agenda have yet to be worked out, according to the administration official. The official said that previous arms control agreements had spelled out such details because of the adversarial relationship between the two countries, but that under the current, more trusting relationship Washington deemed a “more structured implementation mechanism” unnecessary.

Russian officials appear to hold out hope that their differences with the United States over warhead counting and weapons dismantlement can be resolved within the commission, but it remains unclear whether the United States will be willing to continue substantive negotiations. When asked about Washington’s willingness to negotiate such issues further, the administration official said the president had been very clear about U.S. plans, implying that additional constraints on U.S. forces are not an option. But the official also said, “If the Russians have things they want to talk about, we’ll listen.”

U.S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces

U.S., Russia Issue Statement on Strategic Cooperation

June 2002

By Philipp C. Bleek

Supplementing the new Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed a joint declaration May 24 that calls for cooperation on a “new strategic relationship” between the United States and Russia. The document covers a broad range of subjects, including economic, political, and security cooperation, but provides few substantive details.

Perhaps the most significant item among the document’s security-related elements is a decision to establish a Consultative Group for Strategic Security. Chaired by foreign and defense ministers, this body will serve as the main mechanism to “strengthen mutual confidence, expand transparency, share information and plans, and discuss strategic issues of mutual interest.” According to U.S. officials, the two sides have yet to work out specific details about the group’s composition, meeting times, and agenda.

The document highlights the new strategic reductions treaty, notes that START I will remain in force, and says that START I’s provisions “will provide the foundation for providing confidence, transparency, and predictability in further strategic offensive reductions.” According to the text, “other supplementary measures, including transparency measures, to be agreed” will complement START I. U.S. officials were unable to provide further details on measures under consideration.

The declaration states that the two sides also agreed to strengthen confidence and increase transparency on missile defense. Steps will include conducting information exchanges on missile defense programs and tests as well as reciprocal visits to observe tests. The document also says that Washington and Moscow will study areas for further missile defense cooperation. Potential measures could include exploring “joint research and development efforts” and expanding joint exercises. However, when undertaking future cooperation, the two sides will factor in “the importance of the mutual protection of classified information and the safeguarding of intellectual property rights,” a clear sign that cooperation will likely be limited.

The United States has previously provided Russia with information on missile defense tests and programs, and the two sides have conducted joint theater missile defense tests. It remains unclear from the document what steps Washington and Moscow intend to take to expand this limited cooperation, and U.S. officials were unable to provide concrete details.

The declaration further says the two sides will try to open the joint center for exchanging early-warning data, which the United States and Russia agreed to establish in June 2000. Construction of the center has been stalled over disagreements about tax and liability exemptions for U.S. contractors working in Russia.

The text also states that the two countries will “intensify” efforts to address international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The United States and Russia will “work closely together, including through cooperative programs, to ensure the security of weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies, information, expertise, and material.” The statement does not elaborate on what these efforts will entail.

According to the document, the two sides will also continue existing threat reduction programs and will “enhance efforts” to reduce the amount of weapons-usable fissile material. That work will include the establishment of joint expert groups, which will investigate increasing the amount of weapons-usable fissile material the two sides will eliminate and cooperating on “research and development efforts on advanced, proliferation-resistant nuclear reactor and fuel cycle technologies.” The United States and Russia are currently working to eliminate fissile material under the 1993 Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement and a 2000 agreement on plutonium disposition.

U.S., Russia Issue Statement on Strategic Cooperation

Bush, Putin Disagree on Russia-Iran Nuclear, Missile Cooperation

June 2002

By Alex Wagner

Although Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed a new nuclear arms reductions treaty and a joint declaration on May 24 in Moscow, the two leaders could not resolve longstanding U.S. concerns about Russian nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran. Instead, the two sides discussed the possibility of sending nuclear inspectors to Iran and agreed to establish a ministerial-level committee to examine the unresolved issues.

Speaking at the treaty signing with Putin, Bush told reporters that it is “in both our countries’ mutual interest that we solve this problem.” Bush said that he and Putin “spoke very frankly and honestly about the need to make sure that a nontransparent government run by radical clerics doesn’t get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.”

Russia’s construction of a nuclear power plant in the Iranian city of Bushehr has been a highly contentious issue since the early 1990s. Washington has been worried that Iran will covertly use the reactor to produce material for nuclear weapons. The United States has also alleged that Russia has been providing Tehran with technological assistance that could enhance Iran’s missile program.

During a May 26 interview on CNN’s Late Edition, Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that differences between the two sides remain, saying, “The Russians say that they are not providing that kind of technology or equipment to the Iranians, and we have some evidence that they are.” To continue consulting on these issues, the two leaders decided to establish a regular consultative committee consisting of U.S. and Russian foreign and defense ministers, Powell said.

The leaders said that during their meeting Bush had pressed Putin on the Bushehr project, but at the treaty signing the Russian president insisted that Russian-Iranian cooperation does not undercut nonproliferation efforts but rather “focuses on problems of economic nature.” Putin went as far as comparing his country’s involvement with Bushehr to a U.S.-led effort to construct a civilian nuclear power plant in North Korea. “I’d like to point out also that the U.S. has taken a commitment upon themselves to build a similar nuclear power plant in North Korea, similar to Russia,” Putin said.

At a press conference in Paris on May 26, Bush said he believes Putin “is convinced” that construction of the power plant “will not lead to the spread of technologies that will enable Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction.” But Bush said that Putin was “willing to allow for international inspection teams to determine whether that’s true or not.” A senior administration official later clarified that Putin’s offer to allow inspections at Bushehr is still “a work in progress.”

Russia and Iran have long agreed that the Bushehr reactor would be constructed and operated in full accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear accounting procedures and monitoring. The head of Iran’s parliamentary commission for energy, Hossein Afarideh, confirmed Iran’s intention to observe IAEA rules May 28, according to Iran’s state-run news agency. An IAEA team has already visited the Bushehr construction site, and regular inspections of the facility will occur four to six times a year after Russia supplies key nuclear materials, according to an IAEA spokesperson.

At the treaty signing ceremony, Putin also disputed U.S. charges that his country supports Iranian missile development efforts and said that he had told Bush that Iran and other countries have missile and nuclear programs largely built with Western support.

Washington considers Russian transfers of missile technology to Iran an offense violating both U.S. law and Russia’s international commitments and has sanctioned several Russian entities for providing such assistance, most recently in 1999. According to a January 2002 U.S. intelligence report, Russia provided Iran with ballistic missile-related goods and technical “know-how” throughout 2001. “Russian assistance likely supports Iranian efforts to develop new missiles and increase Tehran’s self-sufficiency in missile production,” the report said.

Bush, Putin Disagree on Russia-Iran Nuclear, Missile Cooperation

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