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

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005

Russian Duma Approves Open Skies Treaty

The Russian Duma approved the Open Skies Treaty on April 18 by a vote of 281-103, moving it closer to entry into force. The treaty still must be approved by the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, and by President Vladimir Putin. But passage by the Duma, the lower and more powerful Russian legislative body, stood as the major test for Russian ratification. Belarus, which has said it would act once Russia did, must also ratify the treaty before it can enter into force.

Signed in March 1992 between the members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, the Open Skies Treaty permits states-parties to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over the entire territory of other states-parties to collect data on their military activities and weaponry. Open Skies aircraft may be equipped with cameras, infrared sensors, and other equipment that could allow observing parties to distinguish between tanks and trucks. Parties conducting overflights must provide at least 72-hours notice and supply a mission plan 24 hours in advance.

Based roughly on the size of each country's territory, every state-party is assigned a passive quota, the maximum number of flights it must allow annually over its own territory, and an active quota, the maximum number of total flights per year it may conduct over other states-parties. The United States, which ratified the treaty in December 1993, and Russia have passive quotas of 42, the highest of all states-parties.

All countries with a passive quota of eight or greater must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force. Thus, Belarus, which shares Russia's passive quota, must also ratify the treaty to trigger its entry into force. Except for Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan, all of the other 27 treaty signatories have completed ratification.

Russia's delay in ratification has been attributed to several factors, including cost, which Moscow has increased by insisting that overflights of its territory be conducted in Russian planes rather than observing countries' aircraft.

While awaiting entry into force, treaty signatories, including Russia, have conducted joint trial flights. Since 1993, the United States has participated in 76 such flights.

White House Budget Seeks Threat Reduction Cuts

Reports of impending cuts to U.S.-funded non-proliferation programs in the former Soviet Union were confirmed April 9, when the administration released its fiscal year 2002 budget proposal. The White House is advocating sharp cuts to Energy Department programs but is apparently not seeking a change in overall funding for State Department threat reduction efforts. Information on funding for the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction program is not yet available, pending ongoing defense reviews.

The administration released a detailed Energy Department budget proposal that would cut cooperative nuclear security efforts by about a third, from fiscal year 2001 levels of $311 million to $211 million in 2002. These cuts include moderate to sharp funding reductions for a range of programs and a limited increase in one.

For example, proposed funding for material protection, control, and accounting efforts, which work to upgrade security at a range of vulnerable fissile-material and weapon-storage sites, was reduced from just under $170 million for 2001 to $138.8 million in 2002. The Nuclear Cities Initiative, which works to create alternate employment opportunities for scientists in Russia's nuclear complex, would be cut from $27 million in 2001 to $6.6 million in 2002. On the other side of the ledger, funding for the Second Line of Defense program—a fledgling effort initiated in 1998 to boost the Russian customs service's capability to detect illicit nuclear transfers across Russia's borders—is proposed at $4 million, a substantial increase over 2001 funding of $2.4 million.

Program-level budget hearings in congressional committees began in the final week of April, and there are signs of strong bipartisan support among lawmakers for reinstating at least some of the administration's proposed threat reduction cuts. In early May, final votes are expected on a House-Senate budget resolution containing overall spending limits but little programmatic detail. The appropriations process, in which funds are designated to specific programs, will intensify over the summer and could extend into the new fiscal year in the beginning of October, as has been the trend in recent years.

Russia Begins 'Category 2' CW Destruction

Russia recently took a step toward meeting its Chemical Weapons Convention commitments, beginning destruction of its "Category 2" chemical weapons, according to an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) official.

Moscow had previously informed the OPCW, which oversees the convention's implementation, that it would begin destroying its "Category 2" weapons on April 18. These weapons are considered to pose a "significant" risk to the convention. The OPCW official confirmed that the destruction activities, conducted at the Shchuch'ye site, had begun in mid-April.

The official added that Russia also resumed the destruction of "Category 3" weapons—comprised of unfilled munitions, devices, and other equipment—at the Maradykovsky and Leonidovka sites. Moscow had destroyed 40,000 items at these sites last year, but it did so without the OPCW verifying their destruction. The organization has now begun to monitor these destruction activities.

Under the convention, Russia must destroy its entire stockpile of about 40,000 tons of chemical weapons by 2007, although the OPCW could extend this deadline by as much as five years. Russia was supposed to have started destroying its Category 2 and 3 weapons by December 1998 and is required to complete their destruction by April 29, 2002. It has not yet begun the destruction of its "Category 1" weapons, those that pose a "high" risk to the convention.

Toward a New Nuclear Posture: Challenges for the Bush Administration

Robert Kerrey and William D. Hartung

After almost a decade of gridlock on U.S. strategic policy, President George W. Bush's mid-February decision to undertake an immediate review of the U.S. arsenal with an eye toward making deep cuts in nuclear weapons was a welcome step in the right direction. More than five decades into the atomic age, a radical downsizing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is long overdue.

But overhauling the U.S. nuclear posture presents considerable challenges. To ensure that the current review does not simply end up ratifying a "Cold War lite" nuclear stance, as occurred when the Clinton administration undertook a similar review, Bush and his top national security advisers need to take charge of the review process by setting clear goals and challenging the shopworn, status quo assumptions of the nuclear bureaucracies at the Pentagon and the Department of Energy. Strong presidential leadership is a basic precondition for achieving substantial reductions in U.S. nuclear forces.

Furthermore, if President Bush is serious about his pledge to "discard Cold War relics and reduce our own nuclear forces to reflect today's needs," it will also be essential to incorporate the views of members of Congress, non-governmental analysts, and experts who have been involved in the development of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear policy in past administrations. Without a well-informed national debate about what purpose, if any, nuclear weapons should serve in a revised U.S. national security strategy, the political consensus needed to support real changes in U.S. policy will not be achieved.

Perhaps the most basic challenge of all for the Bush administration will be deciding whether it wants to take a unilateralist approach to U.S. nuclear policy that relies on an ambitious missile defense program and the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, or a more cooperative stance in which the United States takes the lead in promoting reductions in global nuclear stockpiles by updating and expanding upon existing arms control agreements. As part of the posture review, the Bush administration will have to think hard about the value of pursuing a complex, costly, and unproven missile program that could become an obstacle to U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions and a catalyst for a major buildup of Chinese nuclear forces.


A Decade of Delay

Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the risk of a nuclear attack is still the single greatest threat to our national survival. Yet since 1993, when President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed START II, further reductions in Washington's and Moscow's arsenals of nuclear overkill have been held hostage to political posturing, bureaucratic inertia, and short-term thinking.

On the U.S. side of the nuclear divide, both major political parties bear a share of the responsibility for what is now nearly a decade of missed opportunities for nuclear arms reductions. The Clinton administration was far too timid in its own reassessment of U.S. nuclear deterrence needs, and its "go slow" approach to nuclear reductions was exacerbated by the actions of Republicans on Capitol Hill, who joined together with a number of their Democratic colleagues to pass annual legislation that prevents the president from reducing U.S. strategic forces below START I levels of 6,000 warheads or from taking U.S. forces off high-alert status.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, harsh political battles between President Boris Yeltsin and opposition parties in the Duma repeatedly delayed Russian ratification of START II, which would reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 3,000-3,500. It was not until Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president that the arms control logjam in Moscow was pried loose. In March 2000, the Duma ratified both START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) just in time for the review conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The presentations at that conference served as a good illustration of the nuclear inertia that plagued the 1990s, especially on the U.S. side. While Russian representatives came to the NPT review conference with two freshly ratified arms control treaties in hand, the senior U.S. representative to the conference, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, had nothing to show in the way of new U.S. commitments to nuclear reductions since the previous review meeting in 1995. To make matters even worse, the negative international repercussions of the U.S. Senate's October 1999 vote against ratification of the CTBT still lingered.

In an effort to put the best possible face on this embarrassing situation, the State Department put up an impressive exhibit at UN headquarters in New York detailing the thousands of nuclear weapons that the United States had withdrawn from service and dismantled during the 1990s. But the well-crafted presentation left out one important point: all of the reductions implemented during the Clinton administration were carried out pursuant to arms reduction agreements that had been negotiated prior to its tenure, during the Reagan and Bush administrations. On the critical issue of achieving further reductions in the size of the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles, the Clinton administration had basically been treading water.

An important reason for the "decade of delay" in nuclear arms reductions was the Clinton administration's mishandling of the 1994 nuclear posture review. According to analyst Janne Nolan, what started out as a fundamental review of the U.S. nuclear posture in the first year of the new administration degenerated under the weight of "bureaucratic inertia and a lack of presidential leadership" into an extremely cautious set of recommendations suggesting "no significant changes in the nuclear posture of Clinton's predecessors."1

Clinton's first secretary of defense, Les Aspin, and the assistant secretary in charge of overseeing the review, Ashton Carter, initially conceived of it as an effort to seek a wide range of options for restructuring U.S. nuclear forces, including the possibility of making major changes, such as the complete elimination of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. When push came to shove, however, these new ideas were forcefully opposed by mid-level Pentagon officials, and Carter was not given sufficient support from senior levels of the administration—up to and including the president—to overcome this intense bureaucratic resistance.2

By contrast, when George Bush's administration conducted a similar review, the president, then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell were all closely involved in the process. That high-level focus allowed for significant changes in the size of the U.S. nuclear target list. As a result of its lack of firm leadership from the top, the Clinton administration missed an historic opportunity to promote deep cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and to parlay those cuts into political leverage over other nuclear-armed nations and aspiring nuclear powers.

This is not to suggest that the Clinton record on nuclear arms control was without accomplishment. Vice President Al Gore did important work in helping to broker the denuclearization of the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and the administration's consistent support for cooperative threat reduction programs provided important resources for the destruction of Soviet delivery vehicles and the control of bomb-grade fissile materials. Through the Agreed Framework, the administration was able to stop Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and in subsequent negotiations it made significant progress toward an agreement to cap North Korea's ballistic missile programs. But much more could have been accomplished if the president and his top advisers had made nuclear arms reductions a political priority.


A Fresh Perspective

On May 23, 2000, in the face of ongoing questions about whether he had sufficient foreign policy expertise to serve as president, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush made an appearance at the National Press Club to present his vision of a new U.S. nuclear policy. In an attempt to add gravitas to the proceedings, Bush was joined by a group of distinguished Republican foreign policy experts, but the event proved to be more than just another campaign photo opportunity. Bush used the speech to challenge the existing orthodoxy on U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

While a significant portion of the speech was devoted to reiterating Bush's controversial proposal for the deployment of an extensive national missile defense system, the most forward-looking elements of his statement were his endorsement of reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles to "the lowest possible number consistent with our national security" and his call for removing "as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status." In direct contradiction to the stance adopted by his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, who had been obstructing efforts to reduce deployed U.S. forces below START I levels of 6,000 warheads, Bush suggested that "it should be possible to reduce the number of American nuclear weapons significantly further than has already been agreed to under START II without compromising our security in any way." Early on in the speech, Bush struck a conciliatory tone toward Moscow, observing that since "Russia is no longer our enemy…[o]ur mutual security need no longer depend on a nuclear balance of terror." In perhaps the most memorable phrase of the speech, Bush argued that unnecessary weapons based on outmoded targeting scenarios are nothing more than "the expensive relics of dead conflicts."

His decision shortly after taking office to order a serious review of the U.S. nuclear posture suggests that Bush's speech was more than just an exercise in campaign rhetoric designed to demonstrate that he was "up to the job" of serving as commander-in-chief. The question is whether the elements of the president's nuclear policy can be fashioned into a coherent, constructive whole. As currently envisioned, the Bush policy has a fundamental contradiction: his administration's enthusiastic embrace of missile defenses, combined with its denigration of long-standing arms control arrangements, could spark a new arms race that would undercut the rationale for his commitment to constructive measures such as deep cuts and de-alerting.

It remains to be seen whether President Bush can find a way to harmonize the contradictory strands in his emerging nuclear doctrine. His choice of long-time missile defense advocate Donald Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense indicates a strong commitment to this element of his proposed nuclear policy. Since taking office, Rumsfeld has attempted to create an air of inevitability about U.S. deployment of long-range missile defenses by suggesting that the issue is no longer whether the United States will deploy such a system but when. He has alternated between harsh anti-arms control rhetoric—such as his comment during his confirmation hearings that the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is "ancient history"—and more conciliatory statements, such as his reference in those same hearings to the need to "refashion the balance between defenses and deterrence."

If Rumsfeld truly seeks a balance, rather than pursuing missile defenses regardless of the economic, diplomatic, and security costs, then the Bush agenda of security-enhancing nuclear reductions may be achievable. But a unilateral decision to deploy missile defenses regardless of the concerns expressed by Russian officials would almost inevitably provoke Moscow to modernize its nuclear missile forces and keep a significant proportion of them on high-alert status. Furthermore, a National Intelligence Estimate assessing the potential security impact of U.S. deployment of a missile defense system conducted last year reportedly indicated that an abrupt U.S. decision to deploy missile defenses would probably spark an increase in the nuclear and missile forces of China, Pakistan, and India.3

Under this turbulent scenario of nuclear arms buildups and the hawkish domestic political climate that would likely follow, it is hard to see how a policy of deep reductions in U.S. nuclear forces would be sustainable. And even if the Bush administration could make some cuts in our own arsenal in the face of Russian and Chinese nuclear expansion, the net result would hardly be a safer world. Pursuing missile defenses as a fallback against rearmament in an environment of deep cuts or elimination of current arsenals would be one thing, but pursuing them without serious regard for the likely response of other nuclear powers can only serve as an obstacle to what should be the overriding goal of U.S. policy: to safely eliminate as many nuclear weapons as possible, not only in the United States, but in all states with nuclear weapons.

Despite these contradictions, Bush seems serious about pursuing deep nuclear reductions, but there is a danger that the administration may pursue changes to the nuclear arsenal that are destabilizing and dangerous, rather than security enhancing. The administration's nuclear review will reportedly lean heavily on the findings of a January 2001 report by the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP).4 The NIPP report was directed by Keith Payne, who was the co-author of an infamous 1980 essay on U.S. nuclear policy that ran in Foreign Policy magazine under the ominous title "Victory Is Possible." Among the participants in the study panel were Stephen Hadley and Robert Joseph, both of whom are now responsible for nuclear policy issues at the National Security Council.

The NIPP report sheds important light on the "unilateralist" strain in the thinking of key Bush advisers. The report's basic thrust is in an era of strategic uncertainty, when the United States is not even sure who its adversaries may be, it needs the flexibility to reduce or reconstitute its nuclear forces as circumstances require, ideally without the limits imposed by negotiated arms control agreements. Part of this new "flexibility," the report suggests, includes developing "future deterrent and wartime roles" for U.S. nuclear weapons that would include the following: using U.S. nuclear weapons to deter other nations from undertaking an attack on the United States using chemical or biological weapons; employing U.S. nuclear weapons to limit U.S. casualties in a major conventional conflict; and using U.S. nuclear weapons for "special targeting requirements," such as attacking hardened underground military and command facilities.5

If the thinking reflected in the NIPP report were to become the basis for the Bush nuclear policy, the security benefits derived from reducing U.S. nuclear forces could be canceled out by the new dangers inherent in a policy which legitimizes the use or even the threat of use of nuclear weapons in certain regional conflict scenarios. This would be a disastrous doctrine. It would likely spur nuclear proliferation and it would contradict the U.S. commitment under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear arsenal, a commitment that was reaffirmed at the 2000 NPT review conference.

Thankfully, it appears that the Bush administration is not of one mind on the issue of making "usable," low-yield nuclear weapons the centerpiece of a new U.S. nuclear doctrine. Secretary of State Colin Powell, for example, decided against using or threatening to use nuclear weapons in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In his best-selling memoir, Powell traces his own reservations about the wisdom of using nuclear weapons in a wartime role to a discussion he had during a 1986 war-gaming exercise that involved using battlefield nuclear weapons to blunt a Soviet conventional attack on West Germany: "No matter how small these nuclear payloads were, we would be crossing a threshold. Using nukes at this point would mark one of the most significant political and military decisions since Hiroshima…. At that point, I began rethinking the practicality of these small nuclear weapons."6

Hopefully, Powell's practical views on issues ranging from the CTBT, which he has supported in the past, to the need to continue the dialogue with North Korea about capping its ballistic missile programs, which has been put on hold by the president despite Powell's advice to the contrary, will ultimately prevail within the Bush administration. If the nuclear unilateralists prevail, President Bush's pledge to cut U.S. nuclear arsenals and reduce global nuclear dangers may never come to fruition.


Outlines of a New Policy

The most important contributing factor to the success of the Bush administration's proposal to reduce nuclear dangers will be its diplomatic approach. The president will have to demonstrate that the United States is serious about using its current position of unparalleled strength to exert genuine international leadership. The United States must be perceived as willing to use its unprecedented power for the common good of the international community, not just for its own self-interest, narrowly defined. The provocative, unilateralist tone that has colored recent remarks by Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, is liable to provoke a political and military backlash from allies and adversaries alike. The more moderate, cooperative stance struck by Powell is far more likely to yield positive results in reducing global nuclear dangers. The question is, which approach will President Bush adopt?

The key area in which the issue of unilateralism versus cooperative leadership will come into play is the question of national missile defense (NMD). If the goal of NMD is to reduce the threat of a ballistic missile attack on the United States, it makes eminent sense to vigorously pursue diplomatic preventive measures now, before nations of concern have developed the capability to reach U.S. soil with a nuclear-armed ballistic missile. If President Bush wants to supplement his program of nuclear reductions by developing a national missile defense system, he must do so in a realistic fashion that takes into account the limits of existing technologies, the costs of the proposed system, and the impacts on arms control and the behavior of potential adversaries.

Most experts agree that it will take at least five to 10 years to develop even a modest capability to knock down a handful of incoming warheads. In the time it will take to see if such a system is worth deploying, we can and should be making great strides toward reducing the nuclear threat using all the other tools we have at our disposal—diplomatic, legal, and economic. If we do our work well, in five years time the need to construct a missile defense system to overcome the nascent threats from North Korea, Iran, or Iraq may be rendered moot by changes in the local, regional, and international political landscapes. Whatever difficulties or obstacles may arise, it would be irresponsible not to pursue all reasonable channels for stemming the proliferation of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in tandem with any missile defense development effort.

Reducing nuclear weapons will also require enlightened leadership on the domestic front. As an integral part of the nuclear posture review, President Bush should immediately direct the secretary of defense to brief every member of Congress on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), the Pentagon's top secret nuclear target list. Unless members of Congress understand the enormity of our current arsenal and the awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons at a gut level, they will not understand the urgent need for action, nor will they be willing to provide the resources required for safe reductions of global arsenals. When the principal author of this article served as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he repeatedly sought a briefing from the Pentagon on the SIOP but was never granted one. As of this writing, it is not clear whether any current member of Congress has had such a briefing. At a minimum, members of the intelligence, armed services, and defense appropriations committees of the House and Senate should receive such a briefing as a first step toward piercing the veil of secrecy and bureaucratic privilege that has contributed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal at dangerously high levels.

As a major step toward reducing and eventually eliminating our own nuclear arsenal (as we have committed to doing under the NPT), the Bush review should consider moving toward a minimum deterrent posture involving hundreds, not thousands, of nuclear warheads. Just one of our Trident submarines can launch up to 192 independently targetable warheads, each with a yield approximately 30 times as powerful as the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Two or three of these submarines should provide more than enough destructive power to deter any nation from contemplating a nuclear attack on the United States, its allies, or its forces. A minimum deterrent posture would also entail changing the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons so that U.S. nuclear weapons would only be used to deter or retaliate against the use of nuclear weapons against U.S. territory or allies. U.S. conventional forces are sufficiently powerful and resilient to provide a deterrent or retaliatory capability against a state wielding chemical or biological weapons and perhaps even against a nation with a small nuclear arsenal.7

As for the question of reducing U.S. forces unilaterally, President Bush should consider the approach taken during his father's administration, in which reciprocal unilateral steps by Washington and Moscow were utilized as a way to speed the process of nuclear reductions, not as an alternative to arms control agreements. The firestorm of criticism from allies and potential adversaries alike over the Bush administration's suggestion that it might break out of the ABM Treaty gives a preliminary indication of how dangerous and unpredictable a world without nuclear arms control arrangements could be. Provoking an environment of nuclear anarchy is not in the interests of the United States or any other nation. As the world's pre-eminent military power, the United States actually has more to lose under an "every nation for itself" approach to nuclear weapons development and deployment than virtually any other state.

Along with any reductions it pursues in the U.S. arsenal, the Bush administration should also ease Russian nuclear cuts through a major expansion of the Nunn-Lugar threat reduction program, which has been providing several billion dollars per year to assist Russia in dismantling nuclear weapons and safely disposing of bomb-grade fissile materials. President Bush expressed support for the Nunn-Lugar concept during the campaign. It is now time to back up that commitment. Hopefully, the recent revelations regarding a review of U.S.-Russian programs in this area represent a good faith effort to fine tune the Nunn-Lugar program in ways that make it more effective, not the beginning of an attempt to reduce resources devoted to these activities, which have contributed to the deactivation of more than 5,200 Russian nuclear warheads and 400 long-range missiles.

Unfortunately, reports emerged at the end of March that the White House Budget Office is contemplating steep cuts in key cooperative threat reduction initiatives, including a sharp decrease in the program designed to help Moscow control and account for its bomb-grade nuclear materials. If implemented, these cuts would directly contradict the recommendations of a recent bipartisan panel co-chaired by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN), which recommended a $30 billion increase in Nunn-Lugar-style programs over the next decade to head off a situation in which Russia could become "a virtual 'Home Depot' for would-be proliferators."

Finally, as part of the nuclear posture review, the president should move swiftly to implement his campaign pledge to take as many U.S. nuclear weapons as possible off high-alert status. As long as the United States and Russia maintain such large nuclear arsenals, the prospect of an accidental launch is real, as we learned a few years back when President Yeltsin reportedly came close to ordering an attack on the United States after Russian radars mistook a Norwegian satellite launch for a U.S. missile attack. General Lee Butler, the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, has spoken of the "mind-numbing compression of decision-making under threat of a nuclear attack," in which the decision to launch a nuclear-armed missile must be made within a matter of minutes. It is in no one's interest—not in Washington, not in Moscow, not in Beijing, not anywhere—for the decisions on whether to use these devastating weapons to continue to be made on such short notice.

We should seize the occasion of the nuclear posture review to reinforce the most positive elements of President Bush's proposal: his calls for immediate, substantial reductions in the U.S. arsenal and de-alerting of as many U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons as possible. But to accomplish this worthwhile goal and break the nuclear gridlock that has paralyzed nuclear reduction efforts for nearly a decade, the president will need to curb the unilateralist impulses of a number of his key advisers and build upon this nation's bipartisan record of arms control and arms reduction initiatives.

In doing so, President Bush will have ample precedent in the record of Ronald Reagan, who began his time in office pursuing an across-the-board modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and an expansive missile defense shield but ended up putting missile defense on the back burner and agreeing to the elimination of theater nuclear forces in Europe and, in principle, to substantial reductions in long-range Soviet and U.S. nuclear forces. We can only hope that President Bush will be as creative in adapting to the circumstances and opportunities of our era as President Reagan was in the 1980s. If so, his vision of a safer world with far fewer nuclear weapons can and will be realized.



1. Janne E. Nolan, "Preparing for the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review," Arms Control Today, November 2000, p. 13.

2. For a thorough analysis of the 1993-1994 nuclear posture review, see Janne E. Nolan, An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security after the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1999), p. 35-62.

3. See, for example, Bob Drogin and Tyler Marshall, "Missile Shield Analysis Warns of Arms Buildup," The Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2000, p. A1.

4. Steven Lee Myers, "Bush Takes First Step to Shrink Arsenal of Nuclear Warheads," The New York Times, February 9, 2001, p. A1.

5. National Institute for Public Policy, Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, Volume I, Executive Report, January 2001.

6. Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995), p. 313.

7. For more on this latter point, see the interview with General Lee Butler in Jonathan Schell, The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Now (New York: Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 1998), p. 203-205.


Robert Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, is president of New School University. William D. Hartung is president's fellow and director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at New School University's World Policy Institute.

Putin Reaffirms Arms Sales, Nuclear Assistance to Iran

Wade Boese

Hosting a visit by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on March 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed that Russia would pursue new arms sales to Iran and complete construction of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Long critical of Moscow's relations with Tehran, Washington immediately expressed concern and warned Russia that selling advanced weapons and technologies to Iran could jeopardize better relations with the United States.

Early last November, the Kremlin notified the United States that on December 1 Russia would withdraw from a June 1995 agreement to end arms sales to Iran. Russia had not strictly adhered to the agreement, selling an estimated $200 million in weapons to Iran between 1996 and 1999, according to the Congressional Research Service. Nevertheless, the State Department believes the agreement succeeded in limiting Russian arms deals during the period, and it opposes Russia's abrogation of its commitment.

Russia and Iran did not finalize any specific weapons contracts during Khatami's four-day visit to Russia, but deals may be signed later this spring or early summer. The two sides did sign a number of agreements, including a Treaty on the Foundations of Mutual Relations and the Principles of Cooperation, aimed at expanding bilateral relations and trade.

Putin and other senior Russian officials have said only defensive weapons will be sold to Iran, but State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted on March 12 that Moscow has not been "quite clear" on what qualifies as defensive weaponry. Russian and Iranian press reports suggest that tanks, armored combat vehicles, fighter aircraft, helicopters, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and advanced S-300 air defense systems may all be on Iran's shopping list, though it remains unclear whether Iran could afford to purchase that amount of weaponry.

Putin justified the potential deals on March 12, stating that "Iran has the right to ensure its security and defense capability" and explaining that Russia has "economic reasons" for making such sales. Since assuming the Russian presidency, Putin has pushed to increase Russian revenue from weapons sales by trying to revive sales to old Soviet clients and seeking new arms markets and by reducing competition between Russian arms companies, which had been driving Russian weapons prices down.

Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee on March 14, Secretary of State Colin Powell implied that, if it wants improved relations with the United States, Russia should rethink to whom it sells arms. "It would not be wise to invest in regimes that are not following accepted standards of international behavior," Powell declared. The U.S. government classifies Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism and believes Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons despite its legal obligation not to under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Depending on what types of arms Russia sells Iran, it could engender more than just ill will from Washington. The 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act calls on the United States to impose sanctions on countries supplying "destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons" to either Baghdad or Tehran. Other U.S. legislation prohibits U.S. foreign assistance funds from being sent to countries that deliver "lethal military equipment" to states sponsoring terrorism. A March 16 bipartisan letter to President George W. Bush from 29 U.S. representatives reminded him of this latter legislation and asserted that the results of Russia's March 12 meeting with Iran "warrants the immediate attention of the United States and requires appropriate, significant action."

Not directly related to Putin's visit with Khatami, on March 13 President Bush declared a national emergency with respect to Iran, an action necessary for keeping U.S. sanctions in place that have been mandated by executive orders. The national emergency expires every year on March 15, requiring an executive extension. Bush, according to a White House statement, extended the emergency because Iranian actions and policies "continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."

Although much of the recent U.S. criticism focused largely on Russia's almost certain future arms sales to Iran, Boucher added on March 13 that the United States did not think Russian cooperation with Iran in the nuclear sphere is "well advised." Russia has a contract to complete a nuclear reactor at Bushehr, and Putin stated that Moscow would finish the project even though work has been delayed, a holdup he attributed to "sluggishness on both the Iranian and Russian side." The reactor is scheduled to be completed in 2003.

Putin stressed that Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran is conducted "in accordance with the rules of [the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] and under its control." The IAEA is responsible for verifying that nuclear facilities and materials under its supervision are not used or diverted for weapons purposes.

Iran also reportedly again raised its interest in a second reactor for the same site after Russia finishes work on the current one. Putin may have alluded to Iran's plans during his March 12 remarks when he noted Tehran "has plans for expanding its nuclear power industry, and the Russian Federation, in accordance with international rules, is interested and willing to take part in the appropriate tenders for participation in this work."

Bush Administration Blunts International Opposition to NMD

Wade Boese

Two months into its term, the Bush administration's continued efforts to build foreign acceptance of, if not support for, U.S. deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) appear to be paying some small dividends. In mid-March, a top Chinese official, while still vehemently objecting to U.S. plans, welcomed talks with Washington on the issue. Meanwhile, Germany has edged away from its past opposition to NMD, and France has publicly quieted its criticism, although neither country has embraced the idea.

Unlike the Clinton administration, which largely neglected Asia on U.S. NMD plans and upset U.S. allies by focusing first on winning Russian acquiescence while taking their support for granted, the Bush administration from the outset has promised to consult fully with all interested countries. At the same time, Bush officials have emphasized they will not be dissuaded from their objective and have expressed confidence in their ability to persuade others to eventually accept a U.S. defense.

Starting a March 14 speech by noting, "It is no news that China is opposed to the U.S. NMD program," Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang declared that he wanted to "make it clear that…we are ready to have a dialogue and discussion with Americans [on NMD]." The head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control and disarmament department, Sha pointed out that only through consultations could the two sides "enhance mutual understanding and narrow down the differences." Sha, who in his speech equated NMD with "drinking poison to quench thirst," said Washington and Beijing need to talk "no matter how serious [the] issue."

While declaring that China does not want a confrontation with the United States over missile defenses, the ambassador warned that China will "not allow its legitimate means of self-defense to be weakened" and that Beijing wants to preserve "existing mutual deterrence" between China and the United States. Currently, China, which possesses roughly 20 ICBMs capable of reaching the United States, fears a U.S. national missile defense, no matter how limited, could negate its small arsenal, making China vulnerable to a U.S. first strike or eliminating its ability to deter the United States from intervening militarily in Asia, particularly with regard to Taiwan.

Like the Clinton administration did, Bush officials have declared that the system will not be directed at China, but at other states, such as North Korea and Iran, that are pursuing long-range ballistic missiles. Sha rejected this assurance, saying the United States has "over-exaggerated" such threats. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that only those who would threaten the United States or its friends and allies should be concerned about a U.S. defense.

Sha repeated long-standing Chinese charges that a U.S. missile defense could start another arms race, including one extending into outer space, and could possibly spur increased missile proliferation. Sha said that for those reasons China, which is already known to be modernizing its strategic forces, hoped Washington would abandon its plans. He added that China "should have reason to be confident that we can deal with it" if there is a U.S. deployment.

The ambassador further said that China does not oppose theater ballistic missile defenses (TMD) "utilized to protect a country's troops and for air defense purpose[s]," and he applauded the Russian proposal for a European TMD. But Sha warned against any U.S. transfer of TMD to Taiwan and against any system that could play a role in or serve as a "front" for a wider missile defense.

A week after Sha's speech, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen raised the missile defense issue with both President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington. A senior administration official told reporters March 22 that at the meeting Bush reiterated that a defense would not be a threat to China. When asked whether there was now a better understanding between the two countries on the issue, the official replied "I wouldn't go that far…you'd have to ask his side if they felt that."

Visiting Washington a week later on March 29, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed interest in Germany playing a future part in U.S. missile defenses if they were deployed. "Certainly, when it comes to the involvement and also participation in terms of industrial policy, certainly we'll be interested," Schroeder answered when asked by a reporter whether Germany would be willing to participate in a system.

However, Schroeder noted there were many issues that needed to be looked into, such as whether a missile defense will work, who will be covered, and how it will impact global disarmament and relations with Russia and China. Bush described himself as "grateful" that Schroeder was interested in the U.S. point of view, and the chancellor, who has been a leading European voice expressing reservations about U.S. missile defense plans, said he was "very pleased" that the president was open to discussion about the questions he had posed.

Quite vocal about its missile defense concerns last year, France has quieted its public protests following the Bush administration's promise to hold consultations with allies. A French official explained that France still has the same concerns it expressed in the past about the "potential negative effects" of missile defense but that it will raise those issues in private. Like Berlin, Paris seems to be reserving judgment on U.S. plans until it has had an opportunity to discuss them with Washington.

Russia has continued to voice its opposition to U.S. plans, and on March 6, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, a critic of missile defenses, noted after a meeting with Powell that she had not changed her position. Lindh also said that the European Union presidency, which Sweden currently occupies, does not want to see the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty threatened.

South Korea Clarifies Position on NMD

After South Korean President Kim Dae Jung signed a February 27 joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin that called for the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to be "preserved and strengthened," Seoul rushed to explain that it is not opposed to a U.S. national missile defense (NMD).

Kim's signature of the statement was widely reported as evidence that South Korea was siding with Russia against U.S. missile defense plans, but Seoul announced the next day that it was "engaged in a serious review of the NMD issue" and that reports characterizing South Korea as opposing or indirectly criticizing missile defenses "have no factual ground." Seoul further pointed out that the controversial statement was a direct quotation of other statements that Washington has signed over the past year, including one that was issued by the nuclear-weapon states at the 2000 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

After meeting President George W. Bush at their March 7 summit in Washington, Kim reiterated to reporters that the joint South Korean-Russian statement "in no way reflects our position on NMD issues" and added that he "regretted the misunderstanding." In a joint U.S.-South Korean statement issued that day, the two leaders recognized that there were new threats in the world and that countering them would require a "variety of measures, including active non-proliferation diplomacy, defensive systems, and other pertinent measures."

A March 23 South Korean press report later quoted Seoul's foreign minister, Lee Joung-binn, as saying that the United States had requested a statement of support for NMD at the summit but that South Korea had declined. Lee subsequently retracted his remark, but on March 26 he and 10 other cabinet ministers and senior presidential secretaries were replaced by Kim in a move interpreted as an attempt to better relations with Washington. —W.B.

Bush Reviews Threat Reduction Programs, Contemplates Cuts

Philipp C. Bleek

Following a strong reaction in Congress to reports of impending budget cuts to nuclear threat reduction efforts in Russia, President George W. Bush announced March 29 that his administration was conducting a "full review" of the programs. The assessment will be conducted by senior National Security Council officials and is expected to last six to eight weeks, according to an administration official.

The United States funds numerous programs, managed by several departments, to help Russia dismantle its nuclear weapons and secure its deteriorating nuclear weapons complex. Reports that the administration's budget proposal will suggest cuts for these programs first appeared in mid-March, based on government and private sources. The cuts are reportedly directed primarily at Energy Department non-proliferation efforts, with possible cuts to the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative.

Administration officials declined to provide specifics, but one official indicated that programs deemed "ineffective" by the recently launched review could be significantly scaled back or killed.

The size of the cuts under consideration remains unclear. Various sources have indicated that the Department of Energy (DOE) cutbacks will involve a relatively small reduction from this year's budget. However, any cuts would be significant because funding for key threat reduction efforts had been expected to increase considerably next year, and some programs will apparently be hit hard. Multiple reports indicate that the budget for the Nuclear Cities Initiative, which is working to create employment opportunities, will be cut from its current level of about $27 million to around $7 million, effectively crippling the program.

After being asked about the reported pending cuts at an impromptu White House press conference, Bush responded by stating that "we're reviewing all programs," citing a desire to ensure funds were being spent "in an effective way." Bush also emphasized that "we fully intend to continue to cooperate with the Russians" and that such cooperation is "in our nation's best interest."

Office of Management and Budget spokesman Chris Ullman noted in a March 29 interview that the review will not factor into the administration's initial budget proposal, due to be released April 9. But Ullman emphasized that the budget process between the executive branch and Congress allows considerable flexibility should the review conclude that either additional funding or cutbacks are necessary.

Threat reduction efforts in Russia enjoy bipartisan congressional support, and reports of impending cuts sparked significant concern on Capitol Hill. At a March 28 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called the reports "absolutely stunning," stating that he hoped "wiser heads would weigh in" to persuade the Bush administration to alter its apparent position. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) expressed concern that the administration "intends to take an axe" to "key" threat reduction programs and said he supports a ten-fold increase in Energy Department threat reduction spending. Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) also reiterated the call for substantial budget increases at the hearing.

A ten-fold increase in annual funding for DOE threat reduction efforts from about $300 million to $3 billion was advocated by a bipartisan panel report commissioned by the Energy Department and released in January. The report termed the deterioration of the Russian nuclear weapons complex "the greatest unmet national security threat to the United States." (See ACT, March 2001.)

India, Russia Finalize Battle Tank Contract

Russia and India concluded a contract for 310 T-90 battle tanks February 15 in New Delhi, finalizing an agreement initially set for signing last fall. Under the terms of the deal, India will receive 124 of Russia's top-of-the-line tanks directly from Moscow and assemble another 186 at a domestic plant. The final price tag, not publicly revealed, is estimated at between $600 million and $750 million.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to sign the contract last October during his first visit to India, but last-minute haggling over the price and initial payment delayed the deal, which India claims will offset Pakistan's 1996 purchase of 320 T-80UD tanks from Ukraine. Russia lowered its price over the past few months, enabling Russian Deputy Premier Ilya Klebanov and Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes to sign the contract. The two officials reportedly discussed further arms deals, including the possible lease of four Tu-22M Backfire bombers to India.

Completion of the tank deal removed one more item from a list of pending arms buys left outstanding from last October. On December 28 last year, the two countries signed an estimated $3 billion agreement—preliminarily approved in October—for Indian manufacture of 140 Su-30MKI fighter aircraft under licensed production from Russia. Still awaiting final resolution is India's expected acquisition of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and possibly MiG-29K fighters to outfit it.

Russia is also reportedly selling India, as well as North Korea, portable anti-aircraft missile systems. Russia and the 32 other countries of the Wassenaar Arrangement pledged last December to abide by strict, though not legally binding, guidelines for exporting such weapons. (See ACT, January/February 2001.) A U.S. government official said Washington is "engaging" Russia on the purported sales.

Russia Ships Nuclear Fuel to India

In apparent violation of its non-proliferation commitments, Russia followed through in February with a deal to ship low-enriched uranium to India's nuclear power station at Tarapur. The Tarapur site, located in the state of Maharashtra, contains two U.S.-built 160-megawatt light-water reactors that the United States supplied with fuel until 1980.

The deal, which was reportedly made in August, has raised objections from Washington. A February 16 statement by State Department spokesman Philip Reeker expressed deep "regret" over Russia's "violation" of its commitments as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The group, a 39-nation regime of nuclear supplier states, has undertaken not to transfer nuclear materials or technology to non-nuclear-weapon states without International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards at all their nuclear sites. While the Tarapur reactors have been under IAEA safeguards since 1994, other Indian nuclear sites are not safeguarded.

Under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, India is considered a non-nuclear-weapon state, despite its nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.

Reeker added that at a December NSG meeting the "overwhelming majority" of members expressed their "strong concerns" about the then-pending transfer, which "they regarded as inconsistent with Russia's commitments." He said that Washington joins "other nuclear suppliers in calling on Russia to cancel this supply arrangement and live up to its non-proliferation obligations." Reeker further said that Russia's transfer of "sensitive technologies to other countries" would be an "important item" on the Bush administration's agenda.

Moscow claims that it is not violating its NSG commitments, contending it is supplying the fuel for the reactors' "safe operation." NSG guidelines do permit nuclear material transfers to non-nuclear-weapon states without all their facilities safeguarded if the shipment is essential for safety purposes.

NMD Gaining Ground in Europe; Russia Pushes Alternative

Wade Boese

European opposition to U.S. national missile defense (NMD) plans appears to have been somewhat blunted by the Bush administration's repeated pronouncements that it will deploy an NMD system and will fully consult U.S. allies, Russia, and China along the way. Moscow and Beijing, however, remain adamantly opposed to the system.

In an interview in the February 6 International Herald Tribune, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said that the question of "whether [a defense is] going to happen has been settled" and that it is time for intra-alliance discussions on how and when. Robertson's predecessor, Javier Solana, who is currently the secretary-general of the Council of the European Union, told reporters in Washington on February 5 it was in Europe's interest for Washington and Moscow to work out the issue together. But he also said that the United States has the right to deploy a defense and that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes national defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, is not "the Bible."

Nevertheless, considerable wariness about U.S. NMD plans persists. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned February 3 that a missile defense would have "far-reaching" international consequences and that it could have a "political impact long before it is implemented." He further cautioned that an increase in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or a new arms race in Asia, where China fears the U.S. defense is geared toward it, would "create less rather than more security worldwide." French President Jacques Chirac declared January 29 that he feared a missile defense could spark a renewed arms race. Britain maintains that it is not opposed to Washington's NMD plans, but that it is reserving comment until there is an actual proposal from the Bush administration.

The Clinton administration engendered ill will by not officially briefing NATO on U.S. missile defense plans until December 1999—two months after the system's first intercept test. Apparently determined to avoid the same mistake, the Bush administration, at almost every opportunity, has stressed it will consult early and often with U.S. allies about its evolving missile defense plans, while underscoring that the final decision is Washington's. Speaking on February 9, Secretary of State Colin Powell invited allies to share their views but said that the United States is "not going to get knocked off the track" of deploying a defense if the technology exists.

Unlike the Clinton system, designed solely to protect U.S. territory, Bush declared during the campaign and since taking office that his system will protect not only the United States and its deployed forces but also U.S. allies. Echoing his boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told an international conference of high-level defense officials on February 3 that the United States was "prepared to assist friends and allies threatened by missile attack to deploy [missile] defenses."

Bush, Powell, and Rumsfeld have all expressed faith that they will be able to convince the NATO allies and others to accept a U.S. defense. When asked on February 23 whether Washington would be prepared to deploy a missile defense alone, Bush responded, "I don't think I'm going to fail to persuade people."

Visiting Moscow in mid-February, press reports quoted Fischer as saying that, despite Moscow's continued tough stance against a U.S. NMD, Russia would eventually accept the system. In Washington a week later, Fisher, according to a German official, clarified that he had found an increased readiness in Russia to discuss missile defense and that he believed it possible for Washington and Moscow to work out a solution on the issue in a cooperative climate.

Russia Responds

Since Bush assumed office, Russian officials at the highest levels, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly said that Russia looks forward to "dialogue" with the new administration, while maintaining that they oppose U.S. deployment of an NMD. As an alternative to NMD, Russia has resurrected its proposal for joint cooperation on theater missile defense (TMD).

On February 20, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev presented NATO Secretary-General Robertson with a confidential proposal for a European missile defense. The newly proposed defense, according to comments by both Russian and NATO officials, would be against non-strategic ballistic missiles, keeping the system within and, therefore, preserving the ABM Treaty. The New York Times reported the proposal numbered nine pages and outlined a general, mobile land-based system.

Russia floated proposals last June that, instead of unilateral deployment of a U.S. missile defense, Russia, Europe, and the United States could work together on a TMD or boost-phase system to protect Europe if real threats existed. For the remainder of the Clinton presidency, Moscow never offered a detailed plan of what such systems would look like.

Briefing reporters February 22, a NATO official described the recent proposal as "very broad brush," and Powell, speaking on February 23, commented that "there isn't a lot there yet that we can get our teeth into." Despite the lack of details, Washington welcomed Russia's action, saying it would study the proposal. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley noted the system would do nothing to protect the United States and was therefore "lacking in that regard." But he described the United States as "heartened" by the proposal because it indicated that Moscow has recognized the existence of a threat.

But Sergeyev and Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, who heads the Russian Defense Ministry's office on international cooperation, continue to speak of the need for evaluating the threat. Ivashov, quoted at length by the Russian news agency Interfax on February 20, said the proposal consisted of three stages: first, determining "whether there is any threat;" second, forming a plan on how best to deal with the threat; and, finally, "if the need for it arises," building the system.

While pledging consultations with Moscow and Beijing, top Bush officials—more than the Clinton administration—have pointed the finger at Russia and China, the two staunchest opponents of missile defense, as bearing some responsibility for the U.S. pursuit of a missile shield. Interviewed on CBS on February 11, Powell said that one way to eliminate the threat would be if "nations that would be friends of ours" not sell dangerous technologies to countries unfriendly to the United States. Three days later on PBS, Rumsfeld called Russia an "active proliferator" and "part of the problem." Moscow forcefully responded that it abides by all of its international commitments.


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