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"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."
– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Russia

Russia Finishes Weapons Reductions in Moldova

On November 14, Russia completed the destruction or withdrawal of all its tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and heavy artillery from Moldova, fulfilling a pledge it made in conjunction with the November 1999 overhaul of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

Beating its end-of-2001 deadline by more than a month, Russia destroyed or withdrew from Moldova 364 weapons, including 108 battle tanks, 131 ACVs, and 125 pieces of heavy artillery. Of this total, Moscow destroyed all the tanks, 83 ACVs, and 48 pieces of heavy artillery.

Although completing its obligations regarding CFE-limited weapons in Moldova, Moscow still has an additional 42,000 tons of weapons and ammunition that must be withdrawn or destroyed as part of another November 1999 pledge to have no weapons or forces in Moldova by the end of 2002. In a November 22 statement to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Ambassador David Johnson noted that “preparations are well underway” for Russia to withdraw and destroy the ammunition.

Russia also declared in early November that it had completed its withdrawal from a military base in Gudauta, Georgia, which would belatedly fulfill a separate November 1999 commitment to disband two Russian military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001. But Georgia disputed the Russian declaration, claiming that several hundred Russian soldiers are still at the base. Moscow maintains the troops are peacekeepers.

U.S., India Discussing Arms Deals, Military Ties

Wade Boese

Top U.S. officials visited India in November seeking closer military ties and possible arms deals with New Delhi after a more than three-year period during which such relations were prohibited.

On November 5, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met with Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes in New Delhi and agreed to begin discussions on possible arms deals soon. In September, President George W. Bush waived sanctions, enacted after India’s May 1998 nuclear tests, that had prohibited the United States from selling U.S. arms to or maintaining close military contacts with New Delhi. (See ACT, October 2001.)

Admiral Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of U.S. Pacific Command, traveled to India November 28 to meet with India’s top defense officials. The two sides reportedly discussed conducting joint military exercises, cooperating on combating terrorism, increasing military contacts, and reviving the U.S.-Indian Defense Policy Group, the forum through which Washington and New Delhi will hold talks on resuming military ties. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who will serve as the senior U.S. official in the group, is expected to visit India in early December.

U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill told reporters November 21 that the two countries have been discussing “exercises and education, arms sales and so forth” and that the United States anticipates a “robust U.S.-India defense relationship of a kind that is unprecedented in our bilateral relationship.”

A Pentagon spokesperson said that there have been no decisions on potential arms sales, including what types of weapons the United States may make available to India. An Indian diplomatic source speculated that New Delhi might be interested in electronic, avionic, and radar technologies, and added that India has a “keen desire” to boost military-to-military relations between the two countries.

India and Russia

From November 4 to 7, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee traveled to Russia, where he was expected to sign deals to lease four long-range, low-level penetration Backfire bombers and to buy advanced air-defense missiles, rocket systems, and an aircraft carrier. However, Vajpayee left Russia without any signed arms contracts.

Neither government offered explanations for why no deals were completed, although it is not unusual for Russian-Indian arms negotiations to be protracted. The two countries have been discussing the deals for some time, including during an October 2000 visit to India by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Whether the possibility of buying U.S. arms influenced India’s deals with Russia remains unclear. India did not suggest the two were related, but it is possible that New Delhi could try to use U.S. and Russian interest in selling it arms as bargaining leverage to gain more advanced weaponry, greater technology sharing, or lower prices.

Fuzzy Nuclear Math

Daryl G. Kimball

At November’s Washington-Crawford summit, President George W. Bush announced his intention to reduce U.S. strategic nuclear forces from today’s 6,000 deployed warheads to 1,700-2,200 deployed warheads within 10 years. The proposal, along with the Texas-style hospitality extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was intended to signify Bush’s desire to move beyond the Cold War. By the administration’s strategic calculation, the United States and Russia are now “friends,” who should size and orient their respective strategic offensive and defensive arsenals to meet the threats of the future, not one another.

Unfortunately, the president’s numbers do not add up to his commendable rhetoric. The size of the deployed U.S. arsenal 10 years from now would be only 300 fewer than the 2,000-2,500 START III framework ceiling approved by the U.S. Strategic Command in 1997. The vast majority of these weapons would still be assigned to striking Russia’s nuclear arsenal and industrial infrastructure. In other words, under Bush’s plan, friends would target friends with nuclear weapons.

The administration’s proposal fails to factor in other key variables, including the presence of the already large and growing stockpile of nondeployed “hedge” warheads. This reserve of some 4,500-5,000 strategic and tactical warheads was once mostly intended to provide the United States with the capability to quickly reverse reductions of its deployed arsenal to guard against a Russian buildup. Now, the presence of the hedge creates a strong disincentive for Russia to implement cost-saving nuclear reductions.

In addition, Bush has apparently rejected ideas contained in the START III framework that would make reductions irreversible through the verifiable dismantlement and destruction of delivery systems and warheads. As a result, Bush’s formula would simply lead to the reassignment of warheads from the deployed to the nondeployed side of the ledger. Bush’s handshake-brand of unilateral, voluntary arms restraint would not only make nuclear stockpiles more opaque, it would also do little to decrease their overall size.

President Putin welcomed Bush’s proposal and reiterated Russia’s offer to cut both sides’ strategic deployed forces to 1,500 warheads through a verifiable treaty. But the Bush administration has—so far—turned down the opportunity to codify U.S. and Russian reductions, arguing that negotiations and treaties are tedious, time-consuming, and unnecessary. Citing his father’s 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives with Mikhail Gorbachev, Bush suggests that meaningful reductions can be achieved more quickly through unilateral reciprocal action.

The unilateral withdrawal and consolidation of tactical nuclear forces was a bold and clearly necessary tactic, especially in the midst of the Soviet Union’s collapse. If Bush sought to jump-START the arms control process through an immediate stand-down of a substantial number of U.S. strategic deployed nuclear forces, an informal rather than a formal approach might make sense. Instead, Bush proposes a drawn-out 10-year implementation period for U.S. reductions—time enough for negotiation and ratification of a firm agreement to make the cuts irreversible and verifiable.

Bush’s plan should nevertheless provide some renewed momentum for the arms reduction process. It will likely force congressional Republicans to allow the removal of a 1998 law prohibiting U.S. reductions prior to START II’s entry into force. However, Bush and Putin’s failure to reach an understanding on strategic missile defenses leaves open the possibility of unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Absent reasonable constraints on national missile defense, Russia will be tempted to maintain higher levels of strategic nuclear weapons to overcome a future U.S. missile shield. Although its nuclear forces are headed for lower levels, Russia is capable of maintaining a sizable deployed arsenal—as many as 3,800 warheads—including destabilizing multiple-warhead missiles, many on hair-trigger alert.

Some anti-treaty ideologues at the Pentagon have tried—and will try again—to convince President Bush that he must withdraw from the treaty to allow more robust missile defense testing. This argument simply does not stand up, given the fact that several more years of treaty-compliant developmental testing is necessary before beginning the operational tests required to demonstrate real-world effectiveness. In seeking an agreement with Putin on future U.S. missile defense testing and strategic offensive reductions, Bush would be wise to maintain the basic framework of the ABM Treaty.

Given the long history of adversarial relations and persistence of Cold War-era strategic thinking, it is unlikely that a gentleman’s agreement between two leaders can last beyond their terms in office. As a result, President Bush’s unwillingness to lock in reductions on all strategic weapons through a formal, verifiable agreement unnecessarily perpetuates vestigial Cold War-era nuclear dangers. Those who believe nuclear arms control has no place in the post-Cold War context should think again.

At November’s Washington-Crawford summit, President George W. Bush announced his intention to reduce U.S. strategic nuclear forces from today’s 6,000 deployed warheads to 1,700-2,200 deployed warheads within 10 years. The proposal, along with the Texas-style hospitality extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was intended to signify Bush’s desire to move beyond the Cold War. By the administration’s strategic calculation, the United States and Russia are now “friends,” who should size and orient their respective strategic offensive and defensive arsenals to meet the threats of the future, not one another. (Continue)

The Unruly Hedge: Cold War Thinking at the Crawford Summit

Hans M. Kristensen

President George W. Bush’s announcement on November 13 that the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal will be reduced to 1,700-2,200 deployed warheads over the next 10 years raises important questions about the need for transparency of nuclear arsenals in the 21st century. No sooner had Bush said that the cuts involved “reducing and destroying the number of warheads to get down to specific levels” than national security adviser Condoleezza Rice corrected the record: “I believe that what the president was referring to is [that] we will not have these warheads near the places at which they could be deployed. In other words, they will truly not be deployable warheads. In that sense, their capability will not be accessible to the United States.”1

This glitch in the Bush administration’s first attempt to outline its new nuclear policy is no insignificant matter. It comes only a few weeks before Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to announce the results of a review of nuclear forces and policy, and it indicates that the Bush administration will continue what is known as the “hedge,” a reserve of thousands of nuclear warheads permitted by arms control treaties that mandated the destruction of launchers but not warheads. The hedge is not included in the future “operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads” referred to by Bush, but it nonetheless makes up an increasing portion of the total stockpile.

This article presents new information about the hedge that has recently been declassified and released under the Freedom of Information Act. Newly available documents demonstrate that the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which is responsible for U.S. nuclear forces, repeatedly warned during the 1990s that increased transparency of the nuclear arms reduction process was more important after START II than new cuts, suggesting that Bush’s inclusion of only operationally deployed strategic warheads in the new round of cuts is unwise because it will contribute to the hedge and therefore the opacity of U.S. forces.

Although the details of Bush’s cuts will not become known until Rumsfeld completes the Nuclear Posture Review in December, the size of the remaining force also suggests that the reductions largely follow already established force structure analysis conducted by STRATCOM back in the early to mid-1990s. This means that President Bush’s “new strategic framework” is based on the old strategic assumptions about the triad, credible deterrence, and counterforce targeting that guided Cold War nuclear policy.

Origins of the Hedge

The hedge of thousands of active and inactive nuclear weapons that the United States maintains outside arms control agreements and public scrutiny was conceived in the late 1980s and formally approved by the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review. All of the warheads in the hedge, which are maintained at various levels of readiness, are retired warheads from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty and the 1991 START I accord, which required destruction of delivery vehicles (bombers and missiles) but not warheads.

The hedge—composed of an “active reserve” and an “inactive reserve”—has grown substantially as START I has been implemented, and it continues to grow as the United States makes other changes to its nuclear force posture. For example, the United States currently deploys 18 Trident nuclear submarines, each of which carries 24 Trident I or Trident II missiles with eight warheads per missile, for a total of 3,456 warheads. The Navy has finally begun to implement the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review by reducing the number of submarines to 14, and it plans to decrease the number of warheads per missile to five to stay below the START II limit of 1,700 SLBM warheads. Most of the surplus warheads will not be destroyed but rather will be moved to the hedge.

The warheads in the hedge are designed to serve several purposes. Some are designated as replacements for warheads destroyed each year in routine reliability and safety tests. More are intended to safeguard against catastrophic failure of operationally deployed weapons. For example, one force structure study published by Strategic Air Command in September 1991 described three ways that a leg of the U.S. nuclear triad could fail: a communications failure could force U.S. ICBMs to “ride out” a full attack; a breakthrough could make the ocean transparent to satellites, thus rendering submarines and their missiles vulnerable; or a design flaw in the Minuteman III or Trident II missiles or their associated warheads could render the systems inoperable.2 In any of these cases, reserve warheads from the hedge would be used to replace defective warheads or to compensate for the loss of a delivery system by increasing loadings on other launch platforms.

Most warheads in the hedge, however, are intended to provide the capability to increase the size of the operational arsenal quickly by “reconstituting” or “uploading” retired warheads onto nuclear missiles and bombers in case Russia returns to a hostile regime or some other threatening nuclear power appears on the horizon. Central to this concern has been the “breakout” potential that U.S. nuclear planners say Russia has because of its large warhead production capacity, which probably exceeds 1,000 warheads per year.3 The United States halted warhead production in 1992 (although small-scale reproduction was started in 1999) and has since determined that the service life of its modern warheads can be safely extended to maintain a reliable and enduring arsenal. Russian warheads, in contrast, were designed for a shorter life with less capability for extension, requiring a larger ongoing production capacity. Therefore, as Russia evolved from “the Evil Empire” to a partner and as arms control treaties dramatically reduced the size of deployed strategic nuclear forces, the United States saw the hedge as a prudent precaution against a dangerous and uncertain future.

However, no sooner had the Nuclear Posture Review endorsed the hedge than its contradiction with other U.S. policy goals became apparent. Following talks in 1994, President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin agreed in May 1995 to negotiate agreements aimed at increasing the “transparency and irreversibility” of nuclear arms reductions, a step that likely would entail subjecting each side’s nondeployed arsenals to international scrutiny and mandating that nondeployed warheads be destroyed so that a rapid reconstitution of nuclear forces would no longer be possible.4

This decision was made for several reasons. Partly it was due to concerns over the safety of Russian nuclear weapons and fissile material. The United States was anxious to learn what happened to the thousands of nuclear warheads Russia removed from operational status and to prevent dismantled nuclear weapons or fissile materials from being stolen or bought by “rogue” states, such as Iran, or terrorist organizations. The commitment to transparency and irreversibility was also prompted by increasing international pressure on the two superpowers to do more to fulfill their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Clinton and Yeltsin issued their statement only two days before the end of the critical NPT review and extension conference in New York, where the nuclear powers were eager to assemble enough support for the indefinite extension of the treaty.

However, at the same time as he was working to open Russia’s nuclear infrastructure to greater scrutiny, President Clinton had also issued Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 37, a secret document that established four “first principles” to guide arms control efforts for nuclear reductions beyond START II: deterrence, stability, equivalence, and the hedge.5 Thus, despite the public pledge to pursue “transparency and irreversibility” in nuclear arms reductions, PDD-37 also endorsed a reserve of unaccountable nuclear warheads that could preserve the U.S. ability to reverse its nuclear arms reductions quickly.

This contradiction in U.S. policy was magnified when PDD-37 reached STRATCOM, where commander-in-chief Admiral Henry D. Chiles directed the Policy and Doctrine Branch to prepare a paper that outlined STRATCOM’s position on post-START II arms control. The resulting white paper was approved by the Strategy and Policy Division on September 16, 1996, and used the four “first principles” in PDD-37 to formulate five objectives for U.S. arms control efforts after START II:

• Protect U.S. strategic nuclear delivery vehicle force structure. There are currently no new platforms planned, so it’s important to retain as many of the existing ones as possible. Hedge
• Retain U.S. warheads at a level consistent with war-fighting needs. Deterrence
• Minimize the impact of those Russian systems, [deleted], that pose the greatest threat to U.S. interests. Deterrence, Stability
• Reduce and eliminate U.S. and Russian non-deployed warheads and fissile materials. Equivalence, Stability
• Address non-strategic nuclear forces as part of the overall effort to stem the proliferation threat. [deleted]. Equivalence, Stability6

The STRATCOM white paper assumed that “warhead elimination must be the centerpiece of post-START II arms control, and should come before further force structure reductions occur,” and the fourth objective called for reducing and eliminating nondeployed warheads. At the same time, however, the first objective emphasized the importance of retaining as many of the existing “delivery platforms” as possible to “ensure adequate hedge capability.” The reason for this inconsistency was that, as a nuclear war-fighting command, STRATCOM not surprisingly viewed the arms control process as a means of achieving strategic advantages. Cold War or not, STRATCOM’s foremost concern was to ensure that the United States would triumph in a nuclear clash. To that end, the hedge served to safeguard U.S. nuclear superiority, while transparency and warhead elimination helped bring Russian weapons under greater control.

Thus, throughout the early and mid-1990s, the U.S. government and military faced a conflict between the desire to lower the overall number of nuclear weapons and improve relations with Russia while maintaining some sort of insurance against potential future challenges.

Today, the role of the hedge in protecting U.S. security by insuring against a vast Russian nuclear rearmament is less important, both because of a warming in U.S.-Russian relations and because of a contraction of Russia’s arsenal. Although Russia’s current inventory of unaccountable warheads is even larger than that of the United States, its arsenal is likely to shrink dramatically over the next decade. Of an estimated 20,000-25,000 nuclear warheads,7 some 9,000 are considered operational (5,600 strategic and 3,500 tactical),8 with approximately 13,500 warheads awaiting dismantlement. Unless significant numbers of Russian warheads are refurbished, remanufactured, and returned to operational forces, the stockpile may shrink to as few as 1,000 strategic and several hundred tactical warheads9 within the next 10 years.

With a Russian “breakout” becoming less likely, and concern that rogue states or terrorists could acquire warheads or fissile material increasing, a large reserve of unaccountable U.S. warheads is a growing liability to national security. If a large proportion of the U.S. arsenal remains opaque, it will be extraordinarily difficult to convince Russia to open its stockpile to inspection, especially in the absence of a more formal arms reduction agreement. U.S. interests would then be threatened as thousands of Russian warheads are removed from service to storage facilities whose security may have been weakened over the last decade by Russia’s poor economy. The result could be a failure to bring Russian unaccountable nuclear warheads and fissile material under control.

President Bush’s initiative to reduce only operational strategic nuclear forces will move thousands of U.S. warheads into the unaccountable hedge categories, and it completely ignores the proportionally increasing number of nonstrategic nuclear warheads. This perpetuates a dangerous transformation of the U.S. stockpile. Before START I, about 5 percent of the total stockpile was in the inactive category, but the current trend is that deployed (accountable) strategic warheads are a shrinking fraction of the stockpile. Present plans for the START II stockpile could increase that ratio to a 1:1 ratio, with the reserve constituting as large a stockpile as the deployed stockpile.10 Over the next 10 years, this trend could transform the composition of the U.S. nuclear stockpile to a predominantly clandestine posture, in which less than a quarter of all warheads are accountable.

Rather than bringing greater transparency to the nuclear arms reduction process when it is most needed, President Bush’s apparent continued endorsement of the hedge decreases transparency, undercutting incentives that Russia would have for disclosing the status of its thousands of non-operational tactical nuclear warheads.

The Bush administration’s aversion to a new formal nuclear-reductions agreement and its focus on operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads is also inconsistent with STRATCOM advice. In the past few years, STRATCOM—a strong proponent of a hedge force and of maintaining a nuclear war-fighting advantage over Russia, as indicated above—has repeatedly and publicly emphasized the importance of greater transparency and irreversibility of nuclear arms reductions. In connection with his nomination as commander-in-chief of STRATCOM, Vice Admiral Richard W. Mies stated in a written response to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 1998:

Further reductions in strategic delivery systems beyond START III should be complimented by more comprehensive considerations of increased stockpile transparency, greater accountability and transparency of non-strategic/tactical nuclear warheads, limitations on production infrastructures, third party nuclear weapon stockpiles, the impact on our allies, and the implications of deploying strategic defensive systems. [With fewer weapons, these issues] become more complex and sensitive. Whereas at existing START I/II levels our deterrent forces are relatively less sensitive to “cheating.”

Even after President Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 4 in early 2001,11 which ordered a review of U.S. nuclear offensive and defensive postures, STRATCOM continued to stress the need for transparency. Admiral James Ellis, the current head of STRATCOM, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in September that, as reductions to low levels are implemented, “issues such as disparity in non-strategic nuclear forces, transparency, irreversibility, production capacity, aggregate warhead inventories, and verifiability become more complex and more sensitive.”

Whether the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review reflects STRATCOM’s appeal will be apparent when the results are announced before the end of the year. So far, however, Bush’s cuts appear to favor protection of the hedge over greater transparency and irreversibility of nuclear arms reductions.

Conclusions

The Crawford summit promised a new era in U.S.-Russian relations, but with respect to nuclear policy issues it fell far short of expectations. Rather than moving toward a true “new strategic framework” that takes arms control beyond the Cold War paradigm, President Bush seems to be regressing to an early 1990s mentality that requires the United States to prepare for possible Russian rearmament, even as the president proclaims America’s new and growing friendship with Russia.

Indeed, even the size of the president’s proposed reductions ring of Cold War conflict. In the early 1990s, STRATCOM analysis established a “preferred force structure” that protected a triad of modern and flexible nuclear forces in a “stable nucleus,” while gradually reducing excess operational weapons. The analysis was the basis for START II, the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review, and the START III framework, which called for a 2,000-2,500 warhead level. This same thinking seems to be underlying Bush’s policy. Bush says that the goal continues to be to maintain a credible deterrent, but a continued deployment of about 2,000 warheads indicates that STRATCOM will adhere to the same concepts of triad, counterforce targeting, and flexible response as it did a decade ago. “I can guarantee you,” former STRATCOM commander-in-chief General Eugene Habiger said during an interview in 1998, that “our analysis and assessment will be based on an analysis of the threat, if you will, potential for threat, and not just on ‘well, 1,500 or 2,000 looks about right.’”12

Bush’s cut of operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 is not deep enough or different enough to indicate a shift in nuclear policy of the magnitude that he alluded to in his May 2001 speech at the National Defense University. His announcement provoked a tepid response from President Vladimir Putin, who issued only a vague promise that Russia would “try to respond in kind.” The summit simply reaffirmed how deeply rooted in Cold War nuclear planning the United States continues to be.

Bush’s pledge indicates that, despite its frequent criticism of arms control, the Bush administration has not moved beyond the most significant shortcoming of treaties: the fact that they have counted only operational strategic warheads while ignoring reserve warheads and non-strategic weapons. This means that thousands of non-operational nuclear warheads placed in reserve and thousands of tactical nuclear weapons continue to be unaccounted for by the arms reduction process. If Bush wants to move nuclear arms control out of the Cold War, he must end the distinction between operational and non-operational warheads and seek ceilings on total warheads.

The hedge is a dangerous signal of intent that connotes deceit in our relations with Russia. There seems to be no better way to undermine the very trust that President Bush has said should be the basis for a new U.S.-Russian strategic relationship than to keep thousands of nuclear warheads hidden in secret bunkers in case it turns out that Russia needs to be destroyed after all. If Bush wants to transform our strategic relations with Russia, he must make the entire stockpile accountable.

President Bush could have used the November summit with Putin to increase the transparency and irreversibility of the nuclear arms reduction process. Instead he seems to have taken a step back from the START III framework and complicated efforts to reduce the currency of nuclear weapons in the U.S.-Russian relationship. There now rests a great responsibility with the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review to create clarity and transparency on the nuclear posture.

The B-1 Bomber: Not ‘Conventional-Only’

The B-1 bomber is one of the most dramatic examples of how weapons in the hedge can be quickly reactivated to increase the U.S. nuclear punch, demonstrating the ease of reversing arms reductions and the difficulty of preserving predictability and stability.

The aircraft is widely reported to have been converted from a nuclear-strike bomber to one delivering conventional weapons. STRATCOM officially removed the B-1 from nuclear-strike missions in support of the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) and Limited Nuclear Options on October 1, 1997. As a result, the Air Force’s white paper on long-range bombers states, “B-1s are no longer tasked to perform nuclear missions.”1 The aircraft is now, according to a 1998 fact sheet signed by the secretary of the Air Force’s legislative liaison director, “a conventional-only platform.”2

Not so. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the Air Force maintains the B-1 bomber in a Nuclear Rerole Plan intended to return the aircraft to nuclear-strike missions within only six months if necessary. Under the B-1 Nuclear Rerole Plan, which was approved in October 1998—exactly one year after the B-1 was removed from SIOP—“spare” B61 and B83 nuclear bombs are maintained outside arms control treaties in STRATCOM’s secret active reserve stockpile, which is part of the hedge.

Development of the plan began shortly before START II was signed in early 1993, but it was kept secret. When the Nuclear Posture Review was announced in September 1994, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that “we would have no nuclear capability maintained for the B-1 bomber.” In truth, however, the NPR decided that “reorientation [of the B-1 to a conventional aircraft] will not preclude the return of the B-1 fleet to a strategic nuclear role.” The plan was formally enshrined into the FY 1999-2002 Defense Planning Guidance by then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen in 1998.3

Portraying the B-1 as conventional-only served several purposes for the Pentagon. First, it relieved the aircraft of its image as a nuclear relic of the Cold War. The expensive B-2 program had already been cut back to only 21 aircraft, and shifting the B-1 to conventional missions increased its utility in real-world operations. Soon, B-1s began flying around the globe and conducting conventional bombing training in Egypt and South Korea. Behind the scene, however, Air Combat Command (ACC) and STRATCOM were tasked by the Air Force to ensure that the conventional upgrades “would neither preclude future nuclear capabilities (if necessary) nor demand the high cost to maintain an immediate nuclear capability.” So when the B-1 was officially relieved of its SIOP commitment in 1997, the aircraft maintenance procedures did not change, and the nuclear hardness and surety was maintained alongside the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program.

“Hiding” the B-1’s nuclear capability was also important for treaty reasons. START I credited each B-1 with one bomb (a total of 91 bombs for the entire fleet), but the counting rules changed under START II so that each aircraft was credited with 16 bombs. This meant that the B-1 fleet would “cost” almost 1,500 bombs and compete with other more important weapons under the total treaty limit, such as the B-2s and B-52s, which serve as backup to strategic submarines and ICBMs. A one-time nuclear rerole permission was worked into the START II language, and the B-1 was excluded from the treaty. Six months later, ACC and STRATCOM reached formal agreement on how to retain a secret nuclear capability for the B-1.

Maintaining the B-1 in a rerole plan—as opposed to keeping it in nuclear service full-time—also saved money. Achieving full nuclear capability is an inherently expensive and cumbersome process that places a significant additional burden on crew and equipment otherwise needed for conventional missions. ACC’s operational resources were so strained in the 1990s that the command occasionally was forced to ask STRATCOM to be relieved from participating in nuclear exercises. The B-1 Nuclear Rerole Plan removed the B-1s from nuclear exercises and relieved crew from the nuclear weapons certification inspections.

The B-1 Nuclear Rerole Plan is legal under START II, but it makes a mockery of the nuclear arms reduction process, undermining the trust and transparency necessary for advancing a new U.S.-Russian strategic framework.
—H.M.K.

NOTES
1. Department of the Air Force, “U.S. Air Force White Paper on Long Range Bombers,” March 1, 1999, p. 18.
2. Secretary of the Air Force, Legislative Liaison, “1998 Air Force Congressional Issue Paper,” n.d. [1998], p. 5.
3. “HQ Air Combat Command B-1 Nuclear Rerole Plan (U),” October 30, 1998, p. 1. This document is available at http://www.nautilus.org/nukestrat/USA/bombers/b1rerole.html.

NOTES
Support for research used in this article was provided by the Ploughshares Fund and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Editor’s note: Many of the documents referenced in this article can be found on the Nautilus Institute’s Web site, www.nautilus.org. Direct links can be found in the Web version of this article at www. armscontrol.org.
1. Bush quote: The White House, “President Bush and President Putin Talk to Crawford Students,” November 15, 2001. Rice quote: “Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice on Visit of President Putin,” U.S. Newswire, November 15, 2001.
2. U.S. Strategic Air Command/XP, n.t. [“The Phoenix Study”], September 11, 1991, p. 32. Available on the Internet at http://www.nautilus.org/nukestrat/USA/Force/phoenix.html
3. Department of Defense, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, “Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Nuclear Deterrence,” October 1998, p. 48. Available on the Internet at http://www.nautilus.org/nukestrat/USA/advisory/dsb98.pdf
4. The White House, “Joint Statement on the Transparency and Irreversibility of the Process of Reducing Nuclear Weapons,” May 10, 1995.
5. U.S. Strategic Command, “White Paper: Post-START II Arms Control,” September 18, 1996, pp. 1, 2.
6. Bulleted points are a direct quotation from the “White Paper: Post-START II Arms Control,” pp. 1, 2. Underlining in original.
7. U.S. Strategic Command, “Statement of General Eugene, United States Air Force, Commander in Chief, United States Strategic Command, Before the Senate Armed Services Committee,” March 13, 1997, p. 3. The Defense Department reported in January 2001 that the Russian nuclear stockpile “was estimated [in December 2000] to be well under 25,000 warheads, a reduction of over 11,000 warheads since eliminations began in 1992.” Office of the Secretary of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response, January 2001, p. 55.
8. Hans M. Kristensen and Joshua Handler, “Appendix 6A: Tables of Nuclear Forces, 2001,” in SIPRI Yearbook 2001: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 466. Available on the Internet at http://projects.sipri.se/nuclear/06A.pdf
9. William M. Arkin, Robert Norris, and Joshua Handler, “Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998,” Natural Resources Defense Council, March 1998, pp. 2, 13, 27.
10. “Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Nuclear Deterrence,” p. 48.
11. Federation of American Scientists, “National Security Presidential Directives [NSPD] George W. Bush Administration,” http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/index.html
12. General Eugene E. Habiger, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command, interview with Defense Writer’s Group, Washington, D.C., March 31, 1998.


Hans M. Kristensen is a senior program officer with the Nautilus Institute in Berkeley, California. He is a contributor to the SIPRI Yearbook and co-author of the “NRDC Nuclear Notebook” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

 

 

Bush, Putin Pledge Nuclear Cuts; Implementation Unclear

Philipp C. Bleek

On November 13, President George W. Bush pledged to reduce the deployed U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads over the next 10 years, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to say that Russia would try to “respond in kind.”

The cuts, announced at the beginning of a three-day U.S.-Russian summit held in Washington, D.C., and Crawford, Texas, would represent a substantial reduction in the deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals, which currently consist of about 6,000 warheads each, as agreed under the START I accord.

Deploying only 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads would bring the U.S. arsenal below the proposed START III limit of 2,000-2,500 warheads, agreed to by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in 1997, and well below the 3,000-3,500 ceiling formalized in START II, which has not entered into force. Bush’s proposed level of strategic warheads also falls beneath the 2,000-2,500 range that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had previously suggested was the lowest level they could support.

The promised nuclear cuts would fulfill a key campaign pledge by the president. As a candidate, Bush promised to move beyond “Cold War nuclear targeting,” saying he would pursue “the lowest possible number [of warheads] consistent with our national security,” which he characterized as “significantly” below START II levels. (See ACT, September 2000.)

It is not yet clear what the United States will do with the thousands of warheads to be removed from service. In Crawford on November 15, Bush told a group of high school students, “We are talking about reducing and destroying the number of warheads to get down to specific levels.”

But national security adviser Condoleezza Rice subsequently indicated that the warheads might not actually be destroyed. “We will not have these warheads near the places at which they could be deployed,” she said, adding that specific disposition plans remain to be “worked out.” If they were not dismantled, the warheads could be placed in the United States’ “active reserve” stockpile, which currently contains about 2,500 warheads.

Also at issue is whether the reductions will be formalized in a treaty. Announcing the cuts from the White House, Bush indicated that the “endless hours of arms control discussions” that led to the START agreements were no longer needed because the United States and Russia have “a new relationship based on trust.”

But speaking at the Russian embassy later that day, Putin aired a different view, saying, “The world is far from having international relations that are built solely on trust, unfortunately. That’s why it is so important today to rely on the existing foundation of treaties and agreements in the arms control and disarmament areas.”

Some observers had predicted that Washington might agree to formal strategic reductions with Russia in exchange for concessions to allow more robust missile defense testing under the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which bans nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses. Putin has recently signaled a willingness to amend the ABM Treaty and has long called for a formal agreement on bilateral reductions to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads, but Bush administration officials continue to reiterate their desire to “move beyond” the treaty and have resisted negotiations on offensive reductions.

Nonetheless, Bush did show some willingness to formalize the cuts. “If we need to write it down on a piece of paper, I’ll be glad to do that,” he said. Rice expanded on this point during a November 15 briefing, indicating that codifying the reductions in a less drawn-out manner than previous strategic arms agreements remained under discussion. She also suggested that “verification procedures out of former treaties” could “perhaps” be utilized.

On the Senate floor November 15, leading Democrats sharply criticized the administration’s reluctance to negotiate a treaty to formalize the nuclear cuts. Citing former President Ronald Reagan’s dictum, “Trust but verify,” Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, pointed out that “a simple handshake leaves many questions unanswered.” Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that “a new START III treaty would not be difficult to draft [and] would ensure not only rigorous verification but also proper respect for the constitutional role of the Senate regarding international agreements.”

Before the reductions can be implemented, Congress must overturn a law prohibiting the president from reducing U.S. nuclear forces below START I levels until START II enters into force. The language, first inserted in the 1998 defense authorization act by Republican lawmakers, prohibits spending funds on “retiring or dismantling” designated strategic delivery systems, which correspond to a START I-compliant force.

The Senate version of the fiscal year 2002 defense authorization bill would repeal this language, but the House version essentially maintains it. The bill is currently under discussion in a House-Senate conference committee, which is expected to adopt the Senate language.

No Bush-Putin Agreement on ABM Fate and Missile Defenses

Wade Boese

During three days of mid-November talks held in Washington and Crawford, Texas, President George W. Bush failed to secure an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin that would let the United States move forward with its missile defense plans without potentially violating the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Despite what seems to be a growing rapport between Bush and Putin and separate pledges by both presidents to cut their deployed offensive strategic nuclear forces by roughly two-thirds, the two did not appear to narrow their differences over how to reconcile U.S. pursuit of nationwide strategic ballistic missile defenses with the 1972 ABM Treaty, which prohibits such defenses. The Bush administration has made clear that it prefers unilateral or joint withdrawal from the treaty in order to pursue missile defenses unfettered, whereas the Kremlin wants to preserve the accord or at least keep in place some limits on future strategic missile defenses.

Speaking on November 13, the first day of Putin's visit, Bush acknowledged, "We have different points of view about the ABM Treaty."

Two days later, little had changed. When asked by Bush to respond to a student's question about missile defense, Putin told a school audience, "We differ in the ways and means" of addressing future threats.
Yet, the U.S. side downplayed the differences, contending that the U.S.-Russian relationship cannot be undermined by a dispute over a single issue. Bush said, "Our disagreements will not divide us." Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told reporters November 15 that the missile defense issue "is a smaller element of the U.S.-Russia relationship than it was several months ago" and that "it's not going to have an effect on the relationship as a whole."

Although speculation existed before the summit that Russia might agree to a deal to modify or suspend the ABM Treaty's prohibitions on testing sea- and air-based components of strategic defenses to forestall a possible U.S. withdrawal from the accord, no such agreement was concluded. The presidents, however, pledged to continue their discussions, and Putin sounded confident about the possibility of reaching an agreement, saying, "One can rest assured that whatever final solution is found, it will not threaten…the interests of both our countries and of the world."

Before traveling to the United States, Putin told U.S. journalists at a November 10 press conference that Moscow is ready to compromise and that a deal can be struck, but he said Russia needs specific U.S. proposals first. For example, with regard to the ABM Treaty, Putin asked, "What exactly [does the United States] want changed? What exactly hinders the implementation of the [missile defense] project devised by the U.S. administration?" Putin explained that Russia needs this type of information "in the practical proposals of our American partners."

While commenting that he "partially" agreed with U.S. officials that the ABM Treaty is a Cold War relic, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said November 3 that "before scrapping one agreement or another…we believe that this should be better done only after something has been created in the ways of replacement."

Ivanov's comment underscored a key hurdle impeding the two countries from finding common ground on missile defense. Russia wants to fashion the new U.S.-Russian relationship through treaties in which obligations and responsibilities are clearly spelled out and legally binding, whereas the Bush administration asserts that such treaties are unnecessary between countries that are no longer enemies.

No Change in U.S. Missile Defense Plans

U.S. officials indicated that, despite the lack of a summit agreement, the administration plans to push ahead with its missile defense testing program.

While reiterating in her November 15 post-summit briefing that the United States would not violate the treaty, Rice stated, "The testing program is going to eventually have to commence in a way that we believe is inconsistent with the treaty."

Last July, the administration outlined potential plans, which could violate the treaty, to employ ABM and air-defense radars concurrently in a February 2002 missile defense test and to start construction next spring on a new missile defense "test bed" at Fort Greely, Alaska. When The New York Times questioned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on November 14 on whether the Pentagon was still preparing for these activities, he said, "You bet."

Unless the ABM Treaty's constraints on missile defense testing are relaxed or eliminated before these events take place, it is likely they will have to be postponed because there is not enough time for the Bush administration to free itself from the treaty by unilaterally withdrawing, which requires six-month notice. The Bush administration has repeatedly said it will not violate the treaty.

Bush has warned that the United States would unilaterally withdraw from the treaty if an agreement with Russia to "move beyond" the accord could not be reached, but it is unclear if and when that might happen. Bush gave Putin no deadline for when an agreement would have to be concluded, although Rice said the Russians "understand that we're soon going to run up against certain constraints of the treaty."

Days before Putin's visit, nine Republican senators-including minority leader Trent Lott (R-MS), Jesse Helms (R-NC), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ)-wrote a letter to Bush encouraging him to withdraw from the treaty. The senators argued that it is not "plausible" to reach an agreement with Russia to permit "full" U.S. missile defense testing while keeping the treaty intact. Trying to give the treaty "flexibility" to allow U.S. testing would "only give continued life to an obsolete agreement which has become the most significant obstacle to improved relations between the United States and Russia," the senators wrote. They concluded by telling Bush that he had their "full support" to withdraw from the treaty.

Top Democrats have offered alternative counsel to Bush. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) warned in a November 15 speech that a unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the treaty would be a "tragic mistake." Biden described himself as "very happy" that Bush appears "not to be intent at this moment on withdrawing from the ABM Treaty."

Earlier, in a November 5 speech, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said that working with Russia to modify the ABM Treaty to permit missile defense testing would be "far better for [U.S.] security than acting in a unilateral manner that could be perceived by Russia as undermining its security." Levin warned that a unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the treaty could lead Russia to stop dismantling its nuclear forces, compel China to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, and strain relations with U.S. allies in Europe and Asia.

Open Skies Treaty to Enter Into Force

On November 2, Russia and Belarus deposited their instruments of ratification for the Open Skies Treaty, triggering the 60-day countdown for the accord’s entry into force on January 1, 2002.

Negotiated by NATO and former members of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact and signed in 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits countries to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over the territories of other treaty parties. Aircraft used in the flights will have to meet certain specifications and will be equipped with sensors, such as cameras and infrared devices, sensitive enough to enable the observing party to distinguish between tanks and trucks on the ground.

The treaty allocates each state-party a quota of flights that it must permit over its territory annually. For example, the United States and Russia, which shares its quota with Belarus, each have a quota of 42 flights, while smaller countries, such as Spain and Bulgaria, have to allow only four flights per year.

Under the treaty, however, states-parties only need to permit up to 75 percent of their flight quota from the date of entry into force to the end of the following year. Thus, states-parties will have until the end of 2003 to conduct the first round of reduced annual flights.

Treaty signatories have been conducting practice flights, and more than 350 trial missions have taken place since 1996, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Kyrgyzstan is the only country of the 27 treaty signatories that has not ratified the treaty, but its ratification is not required for the accord’s entry into force. For the first six months after entry into force, other OSCE members not party to the treaty may apply to join the accord, and after that any country may request to accede to the treaty. Finland and Sweden, both of which are OSCE members, announced on November 5 that they want to join the treaty.

Russia, India Conclude Nuclear Reactor Deal

Over U.S. objections that Moscow would violate its commitments under the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Russia and India concluded a deal committing Russia to construct two 1,000-megawatt, light-water, pressurized reactors at Kudankulam in southern India, according to a Russian source.

The deal was signed November 6, during Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s state visit to Moscow. India and the Soviet Union initially agreed to the deal, reportedly worth $2.6 billion, in 1988, although New Dehli had previously been unable to finance the project.

The Pioneer, an Indian newspaper, reported that the first of the two reactor units are expected to be completed by December 2007, and “site-related activities” have already commenced, according to Rajagopalan Chidambaram, chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.

The United States has long opposed the project, citing Russian obligations as a member of the NSG, a group of 39 countries that have agreed to restrict their exports of nuclear equipment and technology that could be used for weapons purposes. In 1992, NSG members agreed not to sell nuclear technology to non-nuclear-weapon states, such as India, that do not accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards at all of their nuclear facilities.

Russia has disputed Washington’s assertion, citing a clause in the 1992 agreement that exempts the arrangement from applying to “existing agreement and contracts.” But a State Department official said that no specific contracts or financial arrangements were concluded in 1988 and that the deal cannot therefore be exempted under this clause.

The official added that Washington’s concerns stem not from a belief that the reactor project would allow India to divert nuclear technology or materials to its weapons program but rather that the United States sees the deal as inconsistent with Russia’s commitments as an NSG member.

Experts Available for Analysis on Bush-Putin Summit to Discuss Missile Defense and Nuclear Cuts

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For Immediate Release: November 8, 2001

Contacts: Daryl Kimball or Wade Boese, ACA, 202-463-8270 or 202-421-0371 (cell)

(Washington, D.C.) President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin from November 13-15 to discuss missiles defenses, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and strategic nuclear cuts.

Expectations are growing that Bush and Putin will agree to permit additional U.S. missile defense testing that is currently ruled out by the ABM Treaty without a unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the accord-an action which Russia opposes. As further inducement for Russia to accept U.S. missile defense testing plans, Bush is expected to follow through on planned unilateral reductions in the deployed U.S. strategic arsenal. Putin has long-called for U.S. and Russian reductions down to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads apiece, but Bush has not yet revealed U.S. plans. Just months ago, the popular assumption was that the Bush administration would unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty, but now it appears that Bush may be seeking a deal rather than acting unilaterally in order to keep Russia as a partner in the international coalition against terrorism.

Yet a deal is not certain. Russian officials have recently downplayed expectations for an agreement, contending too many issues remain unresolved. On the U.S. side, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice cautioned reporters November 1 against "expecting any particular deal at any particular time."

The following Arms Control Association experts are available before and after the summit to comment on the future of U.S.-Russian strategic relations and to analyze the ramifications of an agreement on strategic offenses and defenses:

Lee Feinstein, Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Resident Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States; former principal deputy director of the Secretary of State's policy planning staff, phone: (202) 939-2398.

Raymond Garthoff, Senior Fellow (ret.), Brookings Institution; former executive officer on the SALT I delegation, phone: (301) 249-3233 or (202) 797-6035.

Morton Halperin, Senior Fellow, Washington Program of Council on Foreign Relations; former director of the State Department policy planning staff, phone: (202) 518-3406.

Jack Mendelsohn, Vice President, Lawyers Alliance for World Security and Senior Associate, Center for Defense Information; former member of the U.S. delegations to the SALT II and START I negotiations, phone: (202) 745-2450 or (202) 965-4595.

For expert analysis and background information see the ACA resource page at http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/spec/usrussum.asp.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.

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U.S., Russia Still Seeking Common Ground on Missile Defense

Wade Boese

After meeting on October 21 in Shanghai, President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reported progress in their talks on missile defenses and nuclear-force cuts, but the two leaders reached no agreements and remained divided over the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Speaking at a joint press conference following their third face-to-face meeting, the two presidents sounded optimistic about being able to fashion a new U.S.-Russian strategic relationship. Putin said he believes that an understanding that the two countries could “reach agreements” exists, and Bush declared that both countries see progress in their “efforts to build a new strategic framework.” The presidents were attending a summit for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members’ heads of state.

Yet other remarks made by the two leaders at the press conference revealed that they remain apart on the key issue of what to do about the ABM Treaty, which prohibits the United States and Russia from building nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. Despite Russian, as well as Chinese, opposition, the Bush administration has made clear it wants to get rid of the treaty so that it can pursue a layered missile defense consisting of land-, sea-, air-, and potentially space-based elements. The treaty limits the United States to 100 ground-based missile interceptors in North Dakota and bans all sea-, air-, space-, and mobile land-based systems.

At the October 21 press conference, Bush described the treaty as “outdated” and “dangerous” and repeated his call for the two countries to work together to “move beyond” the accord. Putin, however, said the treaty is “an important element of stability,” although he again implied that Moscow is open to amending the accord. A U.S. government spokesman interviewed October 24 said that, to his knowledge, neither the United States nor Russia had proposed specific treaty amendments.

Bush further argued that the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington made the case stronger for abandoning the ABM Treaty because the treaty prevents the United States from defending against the possibility of terrorists using ballistic missiles to deliver weapons of mass destruction. Putin, who joined Chinese President Jiang Zemin a day earlier in supporting the ABM Treaty, questioned Bush’s reasoning, saying, “It would be difficult for me to agree that some terrorists will be able to capture intercontinental missiles and will be able to use them.”

Near the close of the press conference, Bush acknowledged his differences with Putin, commenting, “We’ll continue working with each other and see if we can’t find common ground on the ABM Treaty.”

No Deadline

Prior to the Shanghai meeting, press reports based on interviews with unnamed Bush administration officials suggested that, at their meeting, Bush would tell Putin of U.S. intentions to withdraw from the ABM Treaty by the end of the year. But national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters after the presidents’ joint press conference that Bush had delivered no deadline for U.S. treaty withdrawal.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, who also traveled to Shanghai, underscored October 22 that Bush had given no formal or informal notification of U.S. intention to withdraw from the treaty and said, “We are under no constraints with respect to our thinking.”

Both Powell and Rice made clear that the key issue for the Bush administration is ensuring that the ABM Treaty does not limit U.S. missile defense testing. While emphasizing that Bush does not want the U.S. missile defense program to be “constrained artificially” by the treaty, Powell also noted that the administration is “looking at” Russian suggestions that the United States could “probably do moretesting” than it thought it could under the treaty. Rice later told The New York Times that she believes Russia is starting to see near-term U.S. missile defense testing as not a threat, suggesting a possible deal could be worked out to relax the treaty’s constraints on testing without having Washington withdraw from the accord. At the same time, however, the Pentagon announced October 25 that it had delayed testing activities because they could have potentially violated the treaty, which the Bush administration said it would not do. (See Pentagon Puts Off Missile Defense Testing, Citing ABM Treaty.)

Speaking October 22 to the private Council on Foreign Relations, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-DE) said he believes that the administration’s missile defense testing program could be carried out without violating the ABM Treaty. The senator also asserted that he thinks the president “seems to be moving in the direction where he may not unilaterally walk away from the ABM Treaty.”

Nuclear Reductions

Pre-Shanghai press reports also suggested Bush would tell Putin the much-anticipated level to which the United States would be willing to reduce its offensive strategic forces as part of the envisioned strategic framework and as a way to help win Russian acquiescence to U.S. missile defense plans. The president, however, said he offered no specific number.

Bush explained October 21 that the United States is still “analyzing” its nuclear arsenal. Rice and Powell both said Washington would soon have a figure for the Kremlin, presumably before Putin’s November 13-15 visit to the United States.

 

Currently, Russia and the United States are committed to deploying no more than 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads each by the end of this year. Putin has proposed cutting both arsenals to 1,500 strategic warheads in the future, but Bush has not indicated whether he would go that low, saying only that he supports significant reductions.

Putin said October 21 that both sides reaffirmed their “mutual intention” to reduce strategic weapons. The task now, Putin commented, is to “develop parameters of such reductions and to design a reliable and verifiable method” for making the cuts. The Bush administration, however, has repeatedly insisted it has no interest in negotiated reductions, voicing a preference for unilateral mutual reductions.

Rice downplayed the lack of any formal agreement at the Shanghai meeting and appeared to be seeking to lower expectations for the upcoming November meeting as well. At her Shanghai press conference, Rice stated, “We’re not looking for any specific breakthrough at any given meeting.” She further remarked that the two sides would be working on U.S.-Russian strategic relations before, during, and after Putin’s November visit, which will be split between Washington and Bush’s Texas ranch.

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