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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
Russia

Russia, Iran Discuss Arms Deal

During an October 1-5 visit to Russia, Iranian Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani signed a military cooperation agreement that will reportedly result in hundreds of millions of dollars of new arms deals between the two countries.

Shamkhani, who had postponed an earlier visit in order not to overlap his stay with one by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, visited Russian arms manufacturing plants, met with top Kremlin officials, and signed a framework agreement for future cooperation on military-technical issues.

Neither Russian nor Iranian government officials gave details of the October 2 framework document, but press reports and analysts from both countries said it paved the way for future Russian sales of fighter jets, tanks, missiles, and naval ships to Iran that could be worth $300 million annually.

Russia made an agreement with the United States in June 1995 not to sign new weapons deals with Iran and to complete delivery of all previously sold arms by the end of 1999, but Moscow told Washington in November 2000 that it no longer planned to abide by the agreement. The United States objected, but Russia began serious discussions about reviving arms sales to Tehran during a visit to Russia by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in March.

Although Russia claims it is ready and has a right to sell “defensive” arms to Iran, it has also hinted that future deals might not be guaranteed. During a September 19 interview with a German television station, Russian President Vladimir Putin volunteered, “If our Western partners can offer to compensate us for the possible losses if we stopped our activities in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, we can think about it.”

State Department officials had no comment on Putin’s remarks, and it is unclear whether the Russian president was floating a proposal or simply trying to deflect criticism of Russian policy.

If Russia follows through with arms shipments to Iran, it could face U.S. sanctions. U.S. law calls for sanctions on countries that provide “lethal military equipment” to states sponsoring terrorism and for countries that sell “destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons” to either Iran or Iraq. The United States considers Iran a sponsor of terrorism.

What If the New Strategic Framework Goes Bad?

Joseph Cirincione and Jon B. Wolfsthal

Events since the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington could fundamentally change the U.S.-Russian relationship. A sustained military and diplomatic campaign against terrorism will necessitate a broad international coalition and the close cooperation of nations bordering terrorist operational bases. Russian support and intelligence could prove vital to the success of allied air and ground operations against camps in Afghanistan. In return for such aid, Russia appears to expect that the United States will reciprocate in some fashion, perhaps by compromising on security issues that have recently stressed the relationship.

However, Russian expectations for this new relationship may outpace the willingness of the Bush administration to adapt its positions on key issues. For example, although Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Mamedov continues to maintain that Moscow’s strategic partnership with Washington “must be based on strengthening the architecture of treaties,” it is unclear whether President George W. Bush agrees.1 Bush argued during a October 11 press conference that deployment of missile defenses is an urgent issue but said, “We’re restricted from doing that because of an ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty that was signed during a totally different era.... The case is more strong today than it was on September 10th that the ABM is outmoded, outdated, reflects a different time.”

How the United States and Russia work out these delicate issues may well determine if the new warmth in U.S.-Russian relations is truly a sea change or merely a brief lull in ongoing tensions. If the relationship returns to a mixture of cooperation on some issues but antagonism on others, Russia might respond to U.S. deployment of missile defenses—or other provocative actions, such as NATO expansion—more confrontationally than it might have without the current increase in expectations. Even if an adverse reaction is not seen right away, it is important to recognize that Putin has already moved out ahead of Russian military and security thinking by aligning so closely with the anti-terrorism coalition. If his high expectations of the benefits of his new pro-Western policies are not met, there could be a backlash in Moscow over the next few years. For the United States to understand fully the risks of its policies, it is important to detail Russia’s options.

In the run-up to the Washington-Crawford summit meeting in November, the Bush administration will make tough decisions on a host of issues that will affect the future of the U.S.-Russian relationship, including the future of offensive arms reductions and missile defenses. It appears that top officials, including the president, are basing their decisions and their approach to the summit on a series of best-case assumptions on how Russia will react to ABM Treaty withdrawal and unilateral offensive reductions. However, the president would be well served to consider also some worst-case scenarios that, among other things, might result in Russia maintaining larger nuclear forces than would otherwise exist, keeping or expanding the use of multiple warheads on its missiles, operating these forces at a dangerous high-alert status, and perhaps curtailing cooperation in vital non-proliferation matters.

A New Strategic Framework?

Administration officials believe that U.S. nuclear security can be enhanced by adopting a new framework for U.S.-Russian relations that would replace formal, tedious arms control agreements with informal or political understandings. Negotiations would be replaced by consultations and buttressed by economic incentives. Obsolete treaties would be discarded and only vital treaties would remain intact. Not only would such steps enhance U.S. security in the near to midterm, they would also allow ties between Washington and Moscow to grow unfettered by Cold War-type interaction.

Condoleezza Rice, the president’s national security adviser, argues, “The arms control treaties of the 1970s and 1980s came out of a peculiar, abnormal relationship between the United States and Russia…. [Today] Russia is not a strategic adversary of the United States. We are not enemies. So the process can look different.”2 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explains, “You negotiate a treaty to try to control hostility between two parties…. We don’t have negotiations like that for treaties to not be hostile with Mexico or Canada or France or England”3 Or, more succinctly, “Arms control treaties are not for friends.”4

Pursuit of this less formal strategy, it is argued, would enable the administration to take steps on offenses and defenses that would bolster U.S. security in ways not allowed by the current web of agreements.

First, the administration could withdraw from the ABM Treaty and deploy missile defenses—ostensibly without provoking Russia. Not only would this permit the United States to develop a defense against rogue-state ballistic missiles, it would also cleanse the “balance of terror” from the U.S.-Russian relationship. The administration maintains that, by codifying a relationship of mutual assured destruction between the United States and Russia, the ABM Treaty perpetuates an enmity that hinders the improvement of relations.

Second, the administration believes that it no longer needs to size its offensive nuclear forces against Russia’s and that the formal START negotiation process is simply impeding further strategic reductions. The Bush administration would prefer to reduce dramatically the number of U.S. nuclear weapons to levels based on its own strategic assessments. Although no targets for these reductions have been announced, forces could be reduced below the START III level of 2,500 deployed warheads, depending on the new strategic guidance developed by President Bush for the Strategic Command. The scale of the reductions and the process to be followed could be announced as early as the Bush-Putin meeting in Crawford.

The Bush administration further maintains that negotiated reductions are no longer needed because in the coming decades Russia will rapidly decrease its number of strategic offensive weapons for its own strategic and financial reasons. Current projections estimate that the Russian deployed strategic arsenal will consist of fewer than 1,100 warheads by 2010. (See Table 2.) U.S. officials have even signaled that they would not object to Russia maintaining (and expanding the future deployment of) multiple warheads on its land-based intercontinental missiles as assurance that the Russian force could overwhelm any U.S. defensive systems.

The U.S. announcement of deep reductions, it is believed, should demonstrate to Russia and the world the U.S. commitment to decreasing its reliance on nuclear weapons and should help advance non-proliferation goals. Free of treaty constraints, the United States will be able to adjust its nuclear forces upward, should the need arise, without accusations of breaking treaties.5 Moreover, this flexibility to go up as well as down should deter others, particularly China, from challenging U.S. dominance or seeking strategic parity.

Thus, by reaching agreement with Russia on the elimination of the ABM Treaty and the unilaterally implemented (but bilaterally arranged) reduction of offensive nuclear forces, the United States and Russia would actually accelerate the arms reduction process beyond that envisioned by the START agreements. Although both sides would retain robust nuclear capabilities—Russia’s would be sufficient to overwhelm envisioned U.S. defenses—the nature of the relationship would prevent any concerns about nuclear build-ups, breakout, or strategic instability.

Going beyond purely bilateral aspects, other benefits could accrue from this approach. By the administration’s rationale, beginning deployment of defensive systems, however imperfect at first, will also deter potential rogue state challengers by reducing the attractiveness of ballistic missiles and increasing the perceived likelihood of U.S. response to regional crises, even if the regional powers have weapons of mass destruction. Thus, defense will strengthen, not replace, nuclear deterrence. Within this new, assertive security policy, U.S. allies should, so the argument goes, be reassured that the United States will remain engaged and will not be deterred from its regional security commitments. Far from being an isolationist policy, these measures will ensure continued U.S. military strength and global engagement for decades to come.

In short, the best case is that, by clearing the underbrush of extraneous and counter-productive treaties and negotiations, the United States will be better positioned to construct a new strategic paradigm over the coming years that will preserve its security and allow U.S.-Russian relations to truly move beyond the Cold War.

A Worst-Case Analysis

Of course, things rarely work out as planned. Unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and deployment of missile defenses by the United States could lead to a deterioration of the U.S.-Russian relationship and could lead Russia to take unilateral steps of its own to ensure its ability to overwhelm any such system or future systems.

Obvious steps include deploying countermeasures and maintaining as many warheads on active platforms as possible. Moreover, Russia could withdraw from those arms control treaties that place constraints on its deployed nuclear arsenal, including START I and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Although Russia could not rebuild its forces to Cold War levels, it could greatly increase the number of weapons it otherwise would likely deploy at the end of the decade. Russia could also slow or end its cooperation with U.S. threat reduction programs and hinder U.S. non-proliferation efforts.

Expanding the Arsenal

Current projections show Russia’s deployed strategic arsenal declining to just over 1,000 weapons by the end of the decade. However, through a variety of means, Russia could maintain a deployed arsenal almost four times larger than actually planned, with a variety of associated concerns for security and strategic stability. Russia could accomplish this by accelerating production of new MIRVed missiles, slowing the pace of dismantlement of current systems, and implementing extraordinary measures to extend the operational life of these systems.

By the end of 2010, given current conditions, Russia’s ICBM force would likely consist of about 230 SS-27s if production immediately increased to 20 missiles per year from 2001 through 2010 (fewer if production stayed at the current 10 per year). Under current conditions, Russia would not field any SS-18s in 2007 and only 72 SS-19s, with only one warhead on each.

However, ABM Treaty withdrawal by the United States would end any chance that START II, which bans the deployment of ICBMs with multiple warheads, would come into force. Without the constraints of START II, Russia could MIRV its growing number of SS-27 missiles, expand production to 50 per year (the limits of current facilities), and—in the extreme—take extraordinary measures to extend the service life of the SS-18 (with 10 warheads each) and the SS-19 (with 6 warheads each). It is therefore possible that, by the end of 2010, Russia could field 440 SS-27s with 1,320 warheads;6 72 SS-19s with 432 warheads; and perhaps as many as 90 SS-18s with 900 warheads (this would require cannibalizing parts from other SS-18s slated for destruction). This is not a prediction of the future force, merely a description of the physically possible force, given sufficient finances.

The obvious question is, so what? Why should the United States care how many warheads Russia deploys, or vice versa? Does it matter if somehow Russia manages to deploy 3,850 rather than 1,000 warheads? The Bush administration argues that the nuclear arsenals of each state have little if any bearing on the deployments of the other and that, because the United States and Russia are not enemies, the United States should deploy those nuclear forces it deems necessary without consideration of the Russian arsenal.

In reality, however, the nuclear arsenals of both countries do affect one another. The reluctance of the U.S. Strategic Command to agree to a deployed nuclear arsenal much below the proposed START III level of 2,500 deployed strategic warheads is based primarily on its nuclear exchange calculations vis-à-vis Russia’s nuclear arsenal and its requirement to hold Russia’s nuclear and military targets at risk.7 Likewise, Russia, even in a cooperative environment with the United States, will continue to view U.S. deployments (offensive and defensive) as the primary factor in sizing its future force.

There are real dangers associated with large, deployed forces. Missiles with multiple warheads are considered high-value targets. In order to protect these assets, military commands in both countries keep such missiles on high alert, ready to launch within minutes. Given the poor and degrading state of the Russian early-warning system, the continued deployment of MIRVed ICBMs poses a major risk of accidental launch or launch-in-error, even during periods of strategic stability. Such risk could rise exponentially if U.S.-Russian relations deteriorate.

The United States has offered to assist Russia with enhancing its early-warning capabilities—and may offer again. But progress to date in this area has been poor, and security, bureaucratic, and political obstacles to major progress remain. It is unlikely that Russia’s early-warning network is likely to improve in the near to midterm. Reductions in the number of Russian missiles, maintaining the START II ban on MIRVed land-based missiles, and encouraging the de-alerting of the majority of the forces would substantially decrease serious, existing nuclear threats to the United States.

In addition, there are serious concerns about the physical security of Russia’s nuclear weapons. Currently, deployed weapons are guarded by elite troops and considered highly secure, but the same cannot be said of nuclear materials in storage, despite U.S. cooperative threat reduction efforts. A larger deployed Russian arsenal requires Moscow to maintain larger numbers of reserve warheads and nuclear materials, with security concerns growing in direct proportion to the size of those assets. The storage of warheads, assembled plutonium “pits” for warheads, and supplies of nuclear materials outside of weapons continue to pose a major security risk. Only dismantling the weapons and permanently disposing of the materials will eliminate this threat.

The End of Threat Reduction?

This threat from a large, inadequately secured Russian arsenal would be significantly compounded if the deterioration in strategic U.S.-Russian relations led Moscow to slow or even stop its participation in cooperative threat reduction programs.

The dramatic reductions in the Russian arsenal under the START I agreement have been carried out, in large part, through the successful implementation of U.S. cooperative threat reduction programs, which provide financing and equipment for Russia and other former Soviet states to fulfill their arms reduction obligations and dismantle unwanted weapons. As of mid-2001, these programs had resulted in the elimination of 423 ballistic missiles, 383 ballistic missile launchers, 85 bombers, 483 long-range nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, 352 submarine missile launchers, 209 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and 19 strategic missile submarines. (See Table 3.)

But a significant amount of work remains, and a slide in the relationship might lead Russia to rethink its participation in these programs—particularly those that directly reduce the size and flexibility of the Russian nuclear arsenal, such as ICBM, SLBM, and bomber elimination. Although Russia could extend the service lives of some systems, such as the SS-18, to some extent now, they could extend them further by cannibalizing parts from some missiles to sustain others. However, this could not be done if missile systems were eliminated, as is now planned under cooperative threat reduction. The same is true of the schedules to decommission strategic submarine launchers, which could remain active—in port if needed.

Even if Russia wanted to continue cooperation with the threat reduction programs, continued U.S. funding would be highly questionable because Russia would be expending resources deploying up to 50 new missiles per year. Political support within the United States for these programs would likely dry up if such a confrontational and uncooperative relationship were to develop. Already skeptical of U.S. funds for cooperative threat reduction programs, key members of Congress would have an effective new argument to constrain cooperative efforts.

Beyond assistance to eliminate specific weapons systems, this loss of support would hamper other nuclear security matters covered by cooperative threat reduction. Besides the warheads and delivery systems themselves, hundreds of tons of Russian nuclear weapons-usable materials are at risk of being stolen or diverted. The immense task of disposing of excess nuclear materials has been a mixed success. More than 100 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) have been diluted and sold to the United States as part of the “HEU Purchase Agreement,” but an agreement between the United States and Russia to dispose of 34 tons each of weapons-grade plutonium is in great peril due to lack of funds and waning political support in Washington. Another potential threat lies with the tens of thousands of Russian workers who have knowledge in the production of, or potential access to, nuclear weapons and who are demoralized, underemployed, and underpaid.

International Implications

Beyond the immediate U.S.-Russian context, the maintenance of larger nuclear arsenals has other implications. The size of the Russian and U.S. arsenals directly and indirectly affect the size of nuclear arsenals in China, India, Pakistan, and potential nuclear weapons states, as well as nuclear weapons research and development programs and pressures to resume nuclear testing. Hard-liners in China will argue that the combined reality of U.S. missile defense deployments and still large U.S. and Russian deployed forces requires a dramatic expansion of China’s nuclear modernization programs. This will then have serious implications for India, which in turn will affect Pakistan, as well as Japan, the Koreas, and Iran.9

This cascading effect would undoubtedly weaken the already strained international non-proliferation regime. Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires all states to “negotiate in good faith” efforts toward nuclear disarmament. It can (and probably will) be argued that the United States’ refusal to negotiate with Russia on further arms reductions is a material breech of the NPT, a treaty the Bush administration supports. Some already believe the United States has reneged on its obligations under the NPT and the agreements reached at the 1995 and 2000 review conferences—for example, through the Senate’s rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1999. U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, followed by Russian withdrawal from the START and INF agreements, could seriously undermine confidence in and compliance with international arms control and restraints.

Proliferating Countermeasures

Russia also has the ability to complicate the potential effect of U.S. missile defense deployment in other ways. As an advanced nuclear-weapon state, Russia has developed significant expertise in the area of missile defense countermeasures. From systems as simple as wire “chaff” or reflective balloons to more complex designs, such as maneuverable or simulated warheads, Russia could deploy a wide variety of effective countermeasures to any U.S. system currently contemplated.

More serious for U.S. planners, Russia could decide to sell such systems to other missile-possessing states. It could also provide technical expertise to advise such nations on likely U.S. defensive systems and techniques for overcoming these defenses. Such a development could further complicate relations between the United States and Russia and have a direct negative effect on the utility of any U.S. missile defense system. Thus, in the worst case, Russia could thwart the effectiveness of a U.S. missile defense system not just against its own warheads but also against missiles fielded by other countries.

More Missile Sales

The United States has long been concerned that Russia has not adequately prevented its missile technology from benefiting states developing missile capabilities. The Russian government does not officially condone the transfer of ballistic missile technology and material to states such as Iran or North Korea, but the United States has imposed sanctions against Russian institutes and companies for allegedly engaging in just these sort of activities with Iran.

It is possible that Russia, in seeking to further complicate U.S. efforts to deploy an effective missile defense against such systems, might be even less inclined to enforce effective export controls on missile technology. Although unlikely, Russia might even adopt a more aggressive policy of expanding its direct involvement in missile programs in India, Iran, and other countries, possibly using the guise of aiding their development of space-launch vehicles.

U.S. appeals to Russian officials to constrain this sort of activity, now only marginally effective, could become even less so. Moreover, the United States is less likely to gain allied support for its overall export-control efforts in the ballistic missile field if it has unilaterally pursued a missile defense system at the expense of its relationship with Russia.

Increased Nuclear Reliance

By increasing Russia’s general sense of strategic unease, the U.S. decision to pursue missile defenses unilaterally could also further convince Russia of the need to increase its reliance on nuclear weapons for its current and future security. In part, this process may be inevitable in the near future. The decline of Russia’s conventional forces, as demonstrated in Chechnya, has led to an increased rhetorical reliance on the role of tactical nuclear weapons. This official position also reflects Russian concern over the eastward expansion of NATO, another round of which now appears likely.

What is not yet determined is how far this reliance on nuclear weapons will go. There are elements in Russia (as there are in the United States) that are pushing for the development, testing, and deployment of smaller nuclear weapons, often referred to as “mini-nukes.” There is nothing new about low-yield nuclear weapons; they have been developed and were even deployed widely in the 1950s and 1960s by both the United States and Russia. The possible return to such systems (now mated to precision-guided munitions) raises numerous concerns including the implications of resuming nuclear tests in Russia, the wider deployment of nuclear weapons and associated command and control issues, and possible threats to use—or the actual use of—nuclear weapons in battlefield situations.

Let’s Make a Deal

One cannot deny that it may be possible for the United States to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and contain the damage. It is possible that, as a Russian official recently said, the U.S.-Russian relationship could continue to improve and grow while both hold strongly differing positions on the value of the treaty or even in the treaty’s absence. It is also possible that after withdrawal missile defenses might remain constrained by technological challenges, serious operational difficulties, weak public and military demand, low threat, and high costs. Defenses may be deployed in very low numbers; deployed and then retired (as in the 1970s); or deployed only in specific theaters, not globally.

But there is no need to run the risks that withdrawal and related policies would bring. The worst-case scenario is completely avoidable. The United States and Russia could, while preserving the ABM Treaty, agree at Crawford to permit extensive testing of missile defense systems, leaving the question of large deployments a decade or more in the future. Russian officials and experts have indicated over the past few months that Russia could accept substantial modifications to the ABM Treaty along these lines.9

The outlines of a possible deal are simple. First, Russia and the United States could quickly negotiate a binding agreement for deep reductions to between 1,500 and 2,000 deployed weapons, relying on a modified set of START verification procedures. This likely could be accomplished in weeks, not years. There should be no need for long, drawn-out negotiations, given the history and knowledge both states have of verification measures. A new agreement would, in essence, replace the existing START I limit of 6,000 deployed strategic warheads with a new, lower target. Transparency and verification procedures (possibly streamlined) established by the treaty would continue, including exchange of nuclear force data and mutual inspections. A variety of associated issues could be quickly resolved.

Second, the ABM Treaty constraints on testing could be just as easily settled. The two sides could quickly agree to modify the ABM Treaty to permit expanded testing of land- and sea-based systems (such as the proposed tests of Aegis radars) needed to validate the feasibility of future missile defenses. Future decisions on the deployment of such systems can be safely deferred. With such an agreement, there is little that the Bush administration would like to do over the next five years that it cannot do within the ABM treaty.

Before September 11, President Bush had one major foreign policy priority: withdraw from the ABM Treaty and deploy missile defenses. After the attacks, the war on terrorism and the need to maintain an international anti-terrorism coalition are now at the top of the agenda. By pursuing an agreement with Russia that allows testing but preserves the ABM Treaty’s ban on wide-scale deployment of defenses, President Bush can pursue both priorities. Both nations can rightfully declare a diplomatic success. This course of action will also allow U.S.-Russian strategic reductions to proceed cooperatively and enhance prospects for further threat reduction initiatives

 


Table 1

Deployed Russian Strategic Weapons, 2001
ICBMs
Launchers
Warheads

SS-18

166
1,660
SS-19
150
900
SS-24 (silo)
6
60
SS-24 (rail)
36
360
SS-25
360
360
SS-27 (silo)
24
24
SLBMs
Launchers
Warheads
SS-N-8
36
36
SS-N-18
128
384
SS-N-20
100
1,000
SS-N-23
112
448
Bombers
Launchers
Warheads
Tu-96 (ALCM)
63
504
Tu-95 (Non-ALCM)
2
2
Tu-160
15
120
Totals
1,198
5,858

As 2001 draws to a close, Russia remains a major nuclear power, deploying some 5,800 strategic nuclear warheads on almost 1,200 delivery vehicles. The arsenal is well below its Cold War peak of more than 12,000 deployed strategic warheads and has been in decline since 1989. Further substantial reductions in the size of the arsenal are to be expected, given the life expectancy of those systems now deployed and financial and other constraints. The pace and severity of this decline, however, will depend on a number of factors—not the least of which is the overall strategic and political relationship with the United States.

Russia’s nuclear arsenal is deployed in a triad of weapons systems: land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and long-range bombers. All but one of the currently deployed systems (the land based SS-27), however, are older systems that are slowly being retired. Given current projections and adequate funding for weapons dismantlement, Russia’s arsenal could drop to less than 1,100 deployed strategic warheads by the end of the decade. However, although the number of delivery systems will decline, a large number of the warheads themselves (and the nuclear materials within them) will remain in storage. In addition, Russia is currently thought to possess more than 8,000 tactical warheads, and it is not clear how many such warheads Russia plans to maintain in the near future.


Table 2

Projection of Russian Nuclear Forces, 2010
Systems
Current Projections for 2010 Deployed Warheads
Upper Limits for 2010 Deployed Warheads
ICBMs
230
2,652
SLBMs
616
616
Bombers
240
582
Totals
1,086
3,850

Table 3

Cooperative Threat Reductions:
2001 and Planned
Systems
2001
Planned Total
Warheads Deactivated
5,366
9,881
ICBMs Destroyed
423
1,037
ICBM Silos Eliminated
383
565
Mobile ICBM Launchers Destroyed
0
250
Bombers Eliminated
85
93
Nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missiles Destroyed
483
487
SLBM Launchers Eliminated
352
612
SLBMs Eliminated
209
661
SSBNs Eliminated
19
41
Nuclear Test Tunnels Sealed
194
194

Source: Defense Threat Reduction Agency


NOTES
1. Andrew Higgins, “Russia Watchers Ponder Whether Shift Toward West Is for Long Haul,” The Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2001.
2. Interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, July 29, 2001.
3. Interview on PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, August 16, 2001.
4. Interview on Fox News’ Fox Special Report with Brit Hume, August 10, 2001.
5. For further discussion of this freedom of action, see “Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control,” National Institute for Public Policy, January 2001.
6. Assumes the current force is 30 missiles and that the production rate increases to 20 per year in 2002, 40 in 2003, and reaches its maximum of 50 annually from 2004 through 2010.
7. See testimony of Admiral Richard W. Meis, commander-in-chief of U.S. Strategic Command, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, July 11, 2001.
8. For a more detailed discussion, see Joseph Cirincione, “The Asian Nuclear Reaction Chain,” Foreign Policy, Winter 1999.
9. Interviews with the authors.


Joseph Cirincione is senior associate and director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Jon B. Wolfsthal is an associate at the Non-Proliferation Project.


 

Events since the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington could fundamentally change the U.S.-Russian relationship. A sustained military and diplomatic campaign against terrorism will necessitate a broad international coalition and the close cooperation of nations bordering terrorist operational bases. Russian support and intelligence could prove vital to the success of allied air and ground operations against camps in Afghanistan. In return for such aid, Russia appears to expect that the United States will reciprocate in some fashion, perhaps by compromising on security issues that have recently stressed the relationship. (Continue)

Ukraine Meets START I Obligations

Ukraine destroyed its last SS-24 ICBM silo on October 30, making it the third START I party to complete its obligations under the accord.

Belarus and Kazakhstan both met their obligations under the agreement in late 1996. The United States and Russia are not yet in full compliance, according to the most recent information available, but they must become so by December 5. At that time, Washington and Moscow must each deploy no more than 6,000 treaty-accountable nuclear warheads on 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles.

The United States and the Soviet Union signed the START I agreement in July 1991, but the Soviet Union dissolved five months later, leaving four successor states in possession of nuclear weapons: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

In May 1992, these four countries, along with the United States, signed the Lisbon Protocol, which designating them as successors to the Soviet Union under START I. The protocol also obligated Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to transfer their nuclear warheads to Russia and to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states.

But Ukraine proved reluctant to give up its nuclear weapons and ultimately required additional inducement. Under a January 1994 agreement with the United States and Russia, Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security assurances, compensation for the fissile material contained in its nuclear weapons, and financial assistance.

Ukraine announced in 1996 that it had finished transferring all its nuclear warheads to Russia, but it retained treaty-accountable strategic delivery vehicles, including bombers and ICBMs. The United States has assisted Ukraine with dismantling those delivery vehicles under the Defense Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program.

Will Prudence Prevail?

Daryl G. Kimball

This month, American and Russian leaders will try to resolve the decade-long impasse over further strategic nuclear reductions and the United States’ national missile defense ambitions. The opportunity for an agreement is close at hand, but success will require prudent adjustments in the White House strategy on missile defense and on the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, as well as fundamental changes in U.S. nuclear weapons requirements.

Ten years ago, Presidents George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the START I agreement. By December 2001, this treaty will have reduced each country’s 1990 levels of deployed strategic forces by more than 40 percent, to 6,000 warheads. Although both sides agreed to two more rounds of strategic reductions and to new guidelines on anti-missile testing, festering disagreements over missile defenses have blocked implementation of deeper arms cuts. As a result, the START process is in limbo, and the two sides maintain excessive Cold War-era nuclear arsenals, large portions of which remain poised for a quick and massive attack.

There now appears to be a genuine desire on both sides to reach an agreement on strategic offenses and defenses. President George W. Bush has adopted the language of arms control and disarmament proponents, calling U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons “expensive relics of dead conflicts.” Because the premises of Cold War nuclear targeting should no longer dictate the size and posture of the U.S. arsenal, he favors unilateral reductions of U.S. forces and removal of as many weapons as possible from hair-trigger alert. For his part, President Vladimir Putin supports reductions of deployed strategic forces to 1,500 warheads, using existing START verification provisions.

But after nine months of consultations, neither side has detailed negotiable proposals on strategic nuclear offenses and missile defenses. Until his October 21 meeting with Putin in Shanghai, Bush and his advisers insisted that the ABM Treaty must be discarded “within months” because it stands in the way of a robust national missile defense program. Administration officials gave the Russians the choice of joint withdrawal or unilateral U.S. withdrawal. To create additional pressure, the Defense Department has formulated missile defense program activities, including construction of a “test bed” in Alaska, designed to “bump up against” the ABM Treaty.

In Shanghai, Putin reiterated the importance of the ABM Treaty to strategic stability, though the Kremlin appears ready to allow more robust missile defense testing. To guard against worst-case scenarios, Russian leaders would prefer agreed legal constraints on strategic defenses commensurate with further cuts in strategic offenses. However, U.S. officials have thus far refused to offer or even discuss adjustments to the ABM Treaty and have not detailed planned U.S. nuclear reductions.

In reality, demonstrating the operational effectiveness of a nationwide anti-missile system will require many more years of tests, which can be pursued for a considerable time before final deployment and without violating the ABM Treaty. Rather than unilaterally withdrawing from the treaty in the near future, Bush could propose modifications of the ABM Treaty to permit a wider range of national missile defense work. Last month, the Pentagon announced its decision not to employ ABM Treaty-prohibited radars in the next round of missile defense tests. But if he is to reach a historic breakthrough this month or soon after, Bush must rein in hard-liners within his administration who are impatient to withdraw from the treaty.

President Bush also faces resistance from within his own administration to the fundamental changes in U.S. nuclear force doctrine that he has promised. Without U.S. nuclear reductions below 2,500 warheads, Bush will lose an important inducement to Russian flexibility on missile defense. A modest trimming of the nuclear target list, as some Pentagon planners might propose, or reassigning nuclear warheads from the active to inactive reserve stockpile, will do little to assuage Russian concerns or change Cold War nuclear postures. As a fundamental step toward his own goal of moving beyond the concept of mutual assured destruction and eliminating the mutual suspicion generated by large nuclear arsenals, Bush should direct the Pentagon to drop mass-attack nuclear war options and disarming first-strike capabilities. With this shift in presidential guidance, Bush could quickly secure a firm agreement with Putin, leading to phased reductions of each country’s strategic nuclear warheads—deployed and reserve—to 1,500 or less.

A historic agreement on deep nuclear reductions and missile defense research and development within the framework of the ABM Treaty is long overdue and would come at a crucial juncture in the U.S.-Russian relationship. If he makes the right choices, Bush can solidify the foundation for future cooperation, rather than confrontation, with Moscow.

U.S. and Russian/Soviet Strategic Nuclear Forces

Since START I entered into force December 5, 1994, the treaty parties have substantially reduced their deployed strategic nuclear forces to comply with treaty limits that they must reach by December 2001. START I will limit the United States and Russia to 1,600 deployed strategic delivery vehicles (bombers and land- and submarine-based missiles) carrying 6,000 nuclear warheads, to be counted according to rules delineated in the treaty text.

START I was signed July 31, 1991, by the United States and the Soviet Union. Five months later, the Soviet Union dissolved, leaving four independent states in possession of strategic nuclear weapons: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. On May 23, 1992, the United States and the four nuclear-capable successor states to the Soviet Union signed the “Lisbon Protocol,” which makes all five nations party to the START I agreement. (Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan also agreed to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states.)

Under START I, the five parties semiannually exchange memoranda of understanding (MOUs) containing numbers, types, and locations of treaty-accountable strategic nuclear weapons. The tables presented here compare information from the initial September 1990 MOU with data from the July 2001 MOU, demonstrating the progress the parties have made.

Soviet/Russian numbers for 1990 apply to the Soviet Union, while current numbers are provided separately for Russia and Ukraine. Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine have transferred all of their nuclear warheads to Russia, but Ukraine continues to dismantle associated delivery vehicles and hence has “START-accountable” weapons on its territory.

—For more information, contact Philipp C. Bleek.

U.S. Strategic Forces
 
Delivery Vehicles
Warheads
ICBMs
September 1990
July 2001
September 1990
July 2001
MX/Peacekeeper
50
50
500
500
Minuteman III
500
526
1,500
1,578
Minuteman II
450
1
450
1
Subtotal
1,000
577
2,450
2,079
SLBMs        
Poseidon (C-3)
192
16
1,920
160
Trident I (C-4)
384
192
3,072
1,536
Trident II (D-5)
96
240
768
1,920
Subtotal
672
448
5,760
3,616
Bombers        
B-52 (ALCM)
189
116
1,968
1,160
B-52 (Non-ALCM)
290
47
290
47
B-1
95
91
95
91
B-2
20
20
Subtotal
574
274
2,353
1,318
Total
2,246
1,299
10,563
7,013

 

Soviet/Russian Strategic Forces
 
Delivery Vehicles
Warheads
ICBMs
September 19901
July 20012
September 19901
July 20012
SS-11
326
0
326
0
SS-13
40
0
40
0
SS-17
47
0
188
0
SS-18
308
166
3,080
1,660
SS-19
300
150
1,800
900
SS-24 (silo)
56
6
560
60
SS-24 (rail)
33
36
330
360
SS-25
288
360
288
360
SS-273 (silo)
24
24
SS-273 (rail)
Subtotal
1,398
742
6,612
3,364
SLBMs        
SS-N-6
192
0
192
0
SS-N-8
280
36
280
36
SS-N-17
12
0
12
0
SS-N-18
224
128
672
384
SS-N-20
120
100
1,200
1,000
SS-N-23
112
112
448
448
Subtotal
940
376
2,804
1,868
Bombers        
Bear (ALCM)
84
63
672
504
Bear (Non-ALCM)
63
2
63
2
Blackjack
15
15
120
120
Subtotal
162
80
855
626
Total
2,500
1,198
10,271
5,858

 

Current Strategic Forces Ukraine
July 2001
Delivery Vehicles
Warheads 4
ICBMs    
SS-24 (silo)
13
130
Bombers    
Bear (ALCM)
0
0
Blackjack
0
0
Total
13
130

Key: ICBM: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, SLBM: Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile, ALCM: Air-Launched Cruise Missile


NOTES
1. Includes weapons in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
2. Weapons in Russia only.
3. Also known as the TOPOL-M or RS-12M Variant 2 ICBM.
4. Even though all nuclear warheads from Ukraine have been transported to Russia, they remain START accountable until their associated delivery systems have been destroyed.

Sources: START I Memorandum of Understanding, September 1, 1990; START I Memorandum of Understanding, July 31, 2001; Arms Control Association.

Russia Sends Conflicting Messages on Missile Defenses

Wade Boese

Russian officials sent mixed signals during September about the possible consequences of a unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prohibits both countries from building nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles.

Interviewed September 1 by the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated the Kremlin’s long-standing position that the ABM Treaty is not “outdated,” as the Bush administration has argued. Yet, Putin said, if the United States determines that it “doesn’t need any talks or any treaties,” Moscow “will not stir up any hysteria.” Putin explained that Russia has enough missiles to “guarantee” its security “for many decades ahead.”

However, during a September 19 interview with a German television station, Putin said that the START agreements, which cap the number of deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads, are linked to the ABM Treaty. If the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty, then the START accords, along with some 30 other agreements and treaties, would be “destroyed overnight,” Putin said.

Although a common refrain from Russian officials throughout this year, the Kremlin had notably avoided such dire predictions over the previous several weeks. Visiting Moscow September 17, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton had even observed that whereas Russian officials used to contend that a U.S. ABM Treaty withdrawal “might precipitate the withdrawal of other parties from many other arms control treaties…they’re not saying that anymore.”

Russian Colonel-General Yuriy Baluyevskiy, who has been leading a Russian delegation in talks with Pentagon officials about the treaty and missile defenses, declared September 11 that Russia would continue talks with the United States even if Washington withdrew from the ABM Treaty. After referring to the “trust and openness” in U.S.-Russian relations, Baluyevskiy said, “The withdrawal of the U.S. from the ABM Treaty will not cancel these relations.” One week earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had also told an Italian news agency that U.S.-Russian relations should not be “hostage” to one issue.

Yet Russian officials have urged the Bush administration not to act alone and with haste. In his remarks to the Italian news agency, Ivanov said unilateral actions should be avoided and that existing agreements should not be scrapped until better ones are in place. Baluyevskiy echoed Ivanov, telling reporters September 11 that a “new system of treaties and agreements” should be agreed to and “then we decide whether the ABM Treaty hinders us.”

As part of their talks, the United States and Russia are also discussing nuclear reductions. Ivanov told the UN General Assembly September 24 that Russia has reaffirmed to the United States that it wants a “coordinated” reduction down to 1,500 warheads apiece by 2008 with the possibility of subsequent cuts. Washington, according to the Kremlin, has yet to volunteer how low it is willing to go, claiming it first needs to conclude a review of its nuclear posture.

In his UN speech, Ivanov also detailed other Russian arms control proposals, including preventing any weapons from being stationed in space. Ivanov noted that the “practical implementation” of the Russian initiatives would require a “responsible and delicate handling” of the ABM Treaty.

Impact of Terrorist Attacks

While expressing sympathy for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Russian officials have also pointed out that the attacks underscore its assertion that terrorism poses a more urgent threat than ballistic missiles. However, Ivanov told CNN September 12 that Russia would not use the terrorist attacks to “exploit” the ongoing talks with the United States, and Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters after meeting with Ivanov September 19 that Russia made “no linkages” between the talks and the terrorist attacks.

For their part, Bush administration officials have argued that the attacks do not lessen the need for missile defenses and that they intend to continue with their testing and development plans. In Moscow September 12, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said, “Threats emerging from long-range missiles…are just as serious today as they were yesterday.”

Although Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld canceled a late September meeting with his Russian counterpart, U.S.-Russian talks on the ABM Treaty and missile defenses will continue. Ivanov noted after meeting with Powell, “We have agreed to continue these consultations to be able to report the first results during the forthcoming summits of our presidents.” President George W. Bush and Putin are scheduled to meet in October and November.


Bill Aims to Lift Nuclear Reductions Restriction

The fiscal year 2002 defense authorization bill before the Senate contains language that would lift a 1998 restriction effectively barring the president from unilaterally reducing U.S. strategic nuclear forces below START I levels. The restriction would need to be lifted before President George W. Bush could follow through on his campaign pledge to reduce U.S. forces unilaterally.

The Senate was unable to complete action on the bill in the final week of September and will take up the legislation again in early October. The House approved its version of the bill, which does not lift the restrictions, September 25. Several House Democrats had offered language lifting the restriction, but their amendments were rejected. However, the House bill does contain a partial repeal exempting the Peacekeeper missile from the restriction. The administration announced earlier this summer that it intends to retire all 50 of the multiple-warhead ICBMs between 2003 and 2005. (See ACT, July/August 2001.)

Pentagon officials have repeatedly asked Congress to lift the restriction. The language, first introduced in the fiscal year 1998 defense authorization bill, was originally intended to pressure the Russian Duma to approve START II. Moscow ratified that agreement in May 2000, but the treaty has not entered into force because of related disagreements over the ABM Treaty and national missile defense. (See ACT, May 2000.)

Democratic lawmakers mounted a major effort to overturn the language last year, but Republicans led by Senator John Warner (R-VA) resisted the move. In debate on the Senate floor just months before the end of President Bill Clinton’s term, Warner said he felt it was a “wiser course of action to defer such decisions…until the next president is in office.”

Given the disparity between the approved House and expected Senate bills, the issue will likely have to be resolved in conference negotiations between the two chambers of Congress. Conference negotiations, subsequent votes in each chamber, and submission of the bill to the president for signature will extend into the 2002 fiscal year, which begins October 1.

U.S.-Russian Differences Remain On Missile Defenses, ABM Treaty

Wade Boese

Despite a flurry of summer meetings between top U.S. and Russian officials on offensive and defensive strategic forces, Moscow remains unconvinced by U.S. arguments to abandon the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against long-range ballistic missiles.

U.S. officials have tried unsuccessfully since May to sell Russia on the idea of developing a new bilateral strategic framework that would involve, among other things, scrapping the 1972 ABM Treaty, building strategic missile defenses, and lowering offensive nuclear force levels. President George W. Bush first articulated the proposal in a May 1 speech and discussed it with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their first meeting in June. But Moscow has continued to support maintaining the ABM Treaty, though over the past few months it has hinted that it would consider amending the accord.

Meeting July 22 in Genoa, Italy, on the sidelines of the G-8 summit, Bush again lobbied Putin to back his new strategic framework. Putin demurred, but the presidents issued a joint statement saying their countries would “begin intensive consultations on the interrelated subjects of offensive and defensive systems.” At a post-meeting press conference, Putin said the two matters would be discussed as a “set,” and Bush said, “The two go hand-in-hand.”

Nonetheless, there was confusion about what had been agreed. Later that day, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice insisted that the presidents had not agreed to link the issues of offense and defense formally and that Washington would go it alone if Russia refused to work with the United States.

Rice traveled to Moscow a few days later to craft a timetable for continuing the talks and to discuss the strategic framework proposal further with the Kremlin. Although she left Russia with a schedule for consultations, Rice made no headway in getting Russian leaders to accept the U.S. proposal. “We did not hear from Mrs. Rice any new arguments to cause us to review our fundamental approach to the 1972 treaty,” a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said July 27.

An August 13 visit to Moscow by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld yielded similar results. When asked whether Rumsfeld had persuaded him that the ABM Treaty had outlived its usefulness, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov answered, “I’m afraid not.” Later that day, Ivanov stated, “We feel no compunction to leave one or any other treaty or accord which we currently have signed.”

Throughout these high-level talks and after August meetings of government experts in Washington and Moscow, Russia repeatedly said that it had not received enough detailed information about U.S. plans. Putin, who also met with Rumsfeld August 13, said Moscow wants to be told of the “military and technical parameters of the [missile defense] proposals” and to know how low the United States would be willing to reduce its nuclear forces, along what timeframe, and how such reductions would be verified.

Washington says that it cannot yet answer these questions, asserting that future missile defense deployments will be based on what technologies pan out during research and testing and that the Pentagon is still conducting a review of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Rumsfeld, however, told various Moscow audiences that he should know the future size of U.S. nuclear forces within the next couple of months.

Russia and the United States are currently implementing START I, which caps each country’s arsenal at 6,000 deployed strategic warheads. START II, which has not yet entered into force, would lower this cap to 3,500 warheads. Although the two countries agreed in March 1997 to pursue an additional follow-on treaty, START III, that would reduce their arsenals to no more than 2,500 strategic warheads each, Russia has since proposed going down to 1,500 warheads. The Bush administration, however, has not yet indicated whether it would go as low as or below the proposed START III numbers.

Russia appears to favor codifying in a formal document any agreements it reaches with the United States. On August 13, Ivanov declared a need for “a system of controllable restraints” and “a series of limits.” But Washington has said it is not seeking a formal agreement on offenses or defenses. A senior defense official explained August 10 to reporters, “We are not seeking a Cold War-style arms control negotiation or treaty in these talks.”

Part of the administration’s rationale is that it does not have time for such an approach because its ballistic missile defense testing program will “bump up against” the ABM Treaty within months. Pentagon plans call for starting construction in April 2002 on a new Alaskan missile defense test site, which officials also claim will be available for operational use in an emergency. “Time is of the essence,” Bush emphasized July 23.

Claiming it does not want to violate the treaty or slow its testing program, the Bush administration states it would like to reach an agreement soon with Russia to mutually withdraw from the treaty, but failing that outcome, Washington warns it will withdraw unilaterally. Six months’ notice is required to withdraw from the ABM Treaty.

Responding August 22 to news stories that the United States had set out a November deadline for concluding the talks—six months before the April construction date—at the Moscow meeting of experts, a State Department spokesperson stated, “There is no deadline.” The next day, Bush also denied any deadlines had been set but left no doubt about U.S. plans, declaring, “We will withdraw from the ABM Treaty on our timetable at a time convenient to America.” He added that Putin is “aware of [U.S.] desires to move beyond the ABM Treaty and we will.”

Russian officials are skeptical of Washington’s abbreviated timeframe. “I don’t see any possible way that we can take something that complicated and do it only in a couple of months,” Ivanov said after meeting with Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell are expected to meet with their Russian counterparts again in September to continue the talks. The two presidents will also meet in October in Shanghai, China, and again in November at Bush’s Texas ranch. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who led the U.S. expert group in Moscow, said August 21 that he believed “the two presidents would be disappointed in us if we didn’t have something for them to consider when they get together in Texas.”


Despite a flurry of summer meetings between top U.S. and Russian officials on offensive and defensive strategic forces, Moscow remains unconvinced by U.S. arguments to abandon the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. (Continue)

Russia Has Mixed Success With CFE Implementation

Wade Boese

Russia showed mixed success in July toward meeting commitments under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and related agreements, missing a July 1 deadline to vacate a military base in Georgia but reducing the number of weapons located in Moldova.

In November 1999, Russia committed to closing two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001, and to withdraw all its CFE-limited weaponry from Moldova by the end of 2001. The CFE Treaty caps the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that its 30 states-parties can deploy and store between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

Although it officially handed over control of a Russian military base in Vaziani, Georgia, to Tbilisi on June 29, Russia failed to vacate a base at Gudauta by the July 1 deadline. Moscow claimed the local population had blocked Russian efforts to leave the base and that Georgia had failed to take necessary steps to ensure a safe withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.

Georgia dismissed Russia’s claims, contending that it had proposed alternative ways for Moscow to complete its withdrawal, including destruction of weaponry located at the base, but that Russia had rejected these suggestions. In a July 2 statement released by its Foreign Ministry, Georgia called on Russia to “take immediate and exhaustive measures for timely and complete fulfillment” of its withdrawal obligations.

The two governments are now holding talks to find a compromise, including the possibility of allowing a few hundred Russian troops to remain at the base. They are also trying to negotiate terms for Russia’s withdrawal from two other Georgian bases, which Tbilisi wants done within a three-year period, while Moscow is seeking a time frame of up to 14 years.

In Moldova, Russia is facing a more immediate deadline for complete withdrawal of all of its weapons and forces by the end of 2002. Although Moscow is generally perceived to be dragging its feet on meeting this overall commitment, it made substantial progress in July and August on its obligation to reduce its CFE-limited weaponry by the end of this year. Of the108 T-64 battle tanks and 131 ACVs Russia had in Moldova, just 25 tanks and 57 ACVs remain as of August 28, according to a spokesperson of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is monitoring Russia’s reduction activities in Moldova. Moscow is scheduled to start eliminating 125 heavy artillery pieces in October.

Within its borders, Russia is abiding by its overall CFE Treaty limits but it continues to deploy tanks and ACVs above sub-limits that cap its weapons deployments in its northern and southern regions, according to data from a recent treaty information exchange. The Kremlin claims its non-compliance is necessary to combat “terrorism” in Chechnya.

Russia’s excess is relatively small, numbering not more than 20 tanks and some 130 ACVs above the sublimits, which were outlined in a November 1999 overhaul of the treaty that has yet to enter into force. The United States and its fellow NATO members have conditioned their ratification of the agreement on all states-parties being in compliance with its provisions.

There is speculation that, even though Russia is close to compliance, it is unlikely to reduce its weapons holdings below the sublimits for some time because it may want to send additional forces into Chechnya. The Kremlin may be calculating that it would face less international condemnation and scrutiny by further exceeding the limits than by coming into compliance and then exceeding the limits again.


Russia Blocks Reform of Iraq Sanctions Regime

Alex Wagner

In a major setback for the Bush administration, a Russian veto threat in late June forced the UN Security Council to set aside a sweeping reform of the Iraq sanctions regime. Instead, on July 3, the council unanimously approved a five-month extension of the oil-for-food program, which allows Baghdad to sell, under UN supervision, unlimited amounts of oil to purchase humanitarian and infrastructure supplies.

Iraq resumed its participation in the program July 10 after terminating its involvement following a June Security Council decision to work to overhaul the sanctions regime.

The Bush team had hoped to use the program’s July 3 expiration as an opportunity to introduce a new sanctions policy that would alleviate international concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Iraq while increasing the effectiveness of efforts to prevent Baghdad from reacquiring the ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.

Since early June, the administration had worked to convince both the Security Council and Iraq’s neighbors to support a British draft resolution that would have lifted international sanctions on most trade with Iraq while strengthening controls on items that could be used for weapons development. (See ACT, June 2001 and July/August 2001.)

In the weeks preceding the July deadline, one of the most contentious issues among the permanent members of the Security Council involved the composition of a U.S.-proposed list of “dual-use” items, whose export to Iraq would have required UN authorization. On June 29, the U.S. representative to the UN, James Cunningham, announced that China and France had agreed to the U.S. list. But Russia could not be persuaded to support any elements of the British draft resolution.

Addressing the Security Council on July 3, Cunningham criticized Russia, saying that the council should have “done better” and that “we all know why that was not possible.”

Revitalizing the international sanctions against Iraq had been one of President George W. Bush’s foreign policy priorities. Explaining why the United States agreed to the five-month extension instead of substantial reform, Cunningham said that, if the resolution had been vetoed, it would have effectively prevented the issue from being raised again. “A veto would bring our work to a halt and thus would be a victory for Iraq,” he said.

The British ambassador to the UN, Jeremy Greenstock, implied that Russia was allowing its financial relationship with Iraq to interfere with overhauling the sanctions regime. Addressing the council June 26, Greenstock argued, “None of us, on this issue in particular, can allow national economic self-interest to hold up positive measures for the Iraqi people.”

At a July 11 joint press conference with his British counterpart, Jack Straw, Secretary of State Colin Powell vowed to remain vigilant in pursuit of sanctions reform. Washington will continue over the next five months to “work with the frontline states” and with Russia to find a way to accommodate both Moscow’s interests and those of the Iraqi people, Powell said.

 


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