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August 27, 2018

Russia Approves New Chemical Weapons Destruction Plan

Seth Brugger

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov approved a resolution July 5 to overhaul Moscow’s existing 1996 plan to destroy its chemical weapons. The new scheme would require an extension of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) deadlines but could reduce demilitarization costs by 30-50 percent. (See text of new plan.)

Kasyanov approved the resolution after it was initially reviewed by several government agencies in mid-June and subsequently modified by the Russian Munitions Agency (RMA), the civilian body heading chemical weapons destruction. According to an RMA official, the Russian government does not need to take further action for the plan to come into force.

Under its new plan, Russia would finish destroying its chemical weapons stockpile by 2012, missing the final convention deadline in 2007, by which member states must have completely eliminated their chemical weapons arsenals. This schedule would force Moscow to seek approval from CWC’s oversight body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to take advantage of a CWC provision that allows extension of the deadline by up to five years. Moscow will “most likely” submit its new plan this fall to the OPCW, the RMA official said.

The plan’s destruction schedule also misses all intermediate convention deadlines for destroying certain percentages of Russia’s “Category 1” (the highest “risk” category) chemical weapons. Russia missed the first intermediate CWC deadline in April 2000 for destroying these weapons, which the OPCW extended by two years.

Russia had previously planned to build seven facilities to eliminate its chemical weapons, one at each of its chemical weapons storage locations. To save money, the new plan will scale back the number of destruction facilities to three, which will be located at Gorny, Shchuch’ye, and Kambarka, the official said.

Moscow plans to operate the Gorny facility from 2002 to 2005 and the Shchuch’ye and Kambarka sites from 2005 to 2011. Rather than construct a demilitarization facility at the Kizner storage site, under the new resolution Russia will transport weapons stored at Kizner to Shchuch’ye for destruction before 2012.

According to the RMA official, this last provision is in response to demands placed on Russia by the U.S. Congress. Led by the House, Congress has blocked new U.S. funding for the Shchuch’ye facility for the past two fiscal years. Last year, even though it did not resume funding, Congress said future appropriations should be conditional upon Russia meeting five requirements, including a demand that Moscow use only one site to destroy its entire nerve-agent stockpile, which is stored at several locations, including Kizner.

In a significant step toward renewing U.S. funding for Shchuch’ye, on August 1 the House Armed Services Committee matched the Bush administration’s $35 million request for the project for the upcoming fiscal year, also conditional upon the same five requirements.

In addition to constructing demilitarization facilities, Russia’s new plan also allows Moscow to construct facilities at the Pochep, Leonidovka, and Maradykovsky sites to neutralize chemical agents stored at these locations. But the official said that a final decision on building these facilities will depend on “the outcome of the operation” of the destruction facilities. Whether agents would be transported to Shchuch’ye for destruction after neutralization also remains undetermined.

The resolution also calls for Russia to destroy its chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) that are not converted for civilian use by April 29, 2007, as required by the convention. Of its 24 declared CWPFs, six have been destroyed, and seven have been converted.

The revised plan is the latest in a series of steps to improve Russia’s struggling chemical demilitarization effort. On May 4, President Vladimir Putin approved the creation of a new commission, headed by former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, to “ensure cooperation” between federal and regional bodies dealing with chemical weapons destruction and to help oversee the demilitarization process. Additionally, last December, Russia boosted demilitarization funding six fold to approximately $105 million for the current fiscal year, according to the RMA official.

Last Minuteman III Missile Silo Destroyed

On August 24, the United States destroyed its last Minuteman III missile silo slated for dismantlement under START I. Demolition of the silo, located at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, takes Washington one step closer to meeting an upcoming treaty implementation deadline.

The START I accord requires the United States and Russia to deploy no more than 6,000 nuclear warheads on 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles by December 5. To help meet this deadline, the United States began destroying 150 Minuteman III silos in October 1999. It plans to retain 501 of these missiles, according to an administration official.

Washington intends to make other significant nuclear force reductions over the next few months to meet its START commitments, the official said. These include destroying one decommissioned Poseidon submarine and 15 B-52 bombers configured to carry air-launched cruise missiles. Washington will also reduce the number of warheads on each of its 192 Trident I missiles from eight to six and the number of warheads on 150 of its remaining Minuteman III missiles from three to one.

These reductions will put the United States “well below START limits,” with 1,238 delivery vehicles and 5,903 warheads, the official stated.

The official added that “it certainly appears the Russians are on track to finish on time.” Ukraine also has START-accountable delivery vehicles on its territory and is expected to meet the December deadline too, the official said.

START I entered into force in December 1994 and remains in effect until 2009, unless it is extended or superseded by a new nuclear reduction agreement. At a March 1997 summit in Helsinki, Moscow and Washington agreed to work to make the START I and II accords unlimited in duration but have not followed through on that commitment. START II, which would require both sides to reduce their arsenals to 3,500 deployed strategic warheads, has not yet entered into force.

The Rogue Elephant

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

To much of the world, the United States is emerging as an irrational rogue state that is increasingly out of step with the rest of the international community. The starkest example of a growing U.S. unilateralism and undisguised contempt for the views of others is the administration’s approach to national missile defense (NMD) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. In order to facilitate its pursuit of an NMD, the United States has by now made it clear that it intends to eliminate the ABM Treaty, whatever the consequences. Promised discussions with Russia, China, and U.S. allies have turned out to be simply briefings on U.S. testing plans, which the administration claims will conflict with the ABM Treaty “in months.”

The administration’s actions following the apparently successful personal interaction between President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June and July underscore that the administration’s pursuit of national missile defense has become an irrational obsession and not simply a misguided policy. A steady stream of senior U.S. officials has descended on Moscow and reciprocal visits have been encouraged. Great care has been taken, however, to emphasize that these are not negotiations or even discussions, but simply “exchanges of information” intended to persuade Russia that it has nothing to fear from U.S. NMD plans.

The administration is brashly proposing that Russia should join in repudiating the ABM Treaty, which Moscow strongly supports as the foundation of strategic stability. Putin and other senior Russian officials complain that they have received no information on the extent of the U.S. NMD program or future strategic offensive force levels, which U.S. officials say must await the current nuclear policy review. In addition, U.S. representatives have not made clear what, if any, formal agreement might replace the ABM Treaty. Russian officials, including Putin, have stated they are not interested in signing a “blank check” and see no possibility of resolving such a complex issue in time to celebrate agreement at the November summit at Bush’s Texas ranch. Whether the U.S. approach represents the irrational expectations of true believers or is simply a ploy to create an excuse for unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty remains to be seen. But unilateral U.S. withdrawal has garnered no international support, including from close U.S. NATO allies, who have been treated to similar condescending briefings.

While tied to its obsessive NMD craving, the administration’s desire to eliminate the ABM Treaty also reflects its fundamental opposition to all formal arms control treaties. The administration sees such agreements as constraining U.S. flexibility to use its superior technology and economic resources to achieve unchallenged military superiority. Confident of substantial U.S. advantage, it has no interest in constraining the forces of potential adversaries. In this spirit, the administration has dismissed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and is not concerned by Putin’s assertion that U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty would force Russia to withdraw from START II and even START I. This would eliminate the basis for verifying strategic reductions and allow Russia to retain its land-based MIRVs, including the 10-warhead SS-18 and SS-24 missiles, as well as future replacement MIRVed missiles. This rejection of formal treaties in general and particular disdain for the ABM Treaty because it is a “30-year-old Cold War relic” seems odd for an administration that wants to expand the Cold War NATO alliance to the borders of its new friend.

The administration now plans to unleash the same officials to persuade China that the U.S. NMD would not be a threat. If these briefings are anything like those given to Congress, U.S. allies, and Russia, setting forth a technological buffet from which the United States will construct a multi-layer defense, China will hardly be persuaded that such an undertaking, costing a few hundred billion dollars, is really directed at North Korea. To sweeten this bitter pill, the administration leaked that China would be informed that the United States was prepared to accept modernization of Chinese nuclear forces and would not object if China resumed nuclear testing, which the United States might also find necessary. When this proposal was widely greeted with shocked incredulity, it was denied by another senior official—in the cacophony of contradictory statements that have characterized exposition of U.S. foreign policy.

Having predictably failed to intimidate Russia to join in a crash program to dismantle the ABM Treaty and having found absolutely no international support, President Bush should re-evaluate the wisdom of this approach. Recalling the metamorphoses of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan to support arms control during their presidencies, influential Republican leaders should come to the aid of the Grand Old Party and persuade President Bush to adopt a less confrontational posture and avoid branding his presidency and his party as a Rogue Elephant.

To much of the world, the United States is emerging as an irrational rogue state that is increasingly out of step with the rest of the international community. The starkest example of a growing U.S. unilateralism and undisguised contempt for the views of others is the administration’s approach to national missile defense (NMD) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. In order to facilitate its pursuit of an NMD, the United States has by now made it clear that it intends to eliminate the ABM Treaty, whatever the consequences. Promised discussions with Russia, China, and U.S. allies have turned out to be simply briefings on U.S. testing plans, which the administration claims will conflict with the ABM Treaty “in months.” (Continue)

Moscow Seeks Five-Way ‘Strategic Stability’ Talks

During a July 1-3 summit in Russia with French President Jacques Chirac, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested holding multilateral “strategic stability” talks, at which further U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warhead cuts could be discussed.

A Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman clarified July 6 that Putin was calling for “a permanently operating consulting process on the problems of strategic stability” in which the five legally recognized nuclear-weapon states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and France—would participate.

The spokesman also said that Russia hoped the five countries would discuss “drastic reductions” in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals, going down to or below 1,500 deployed strategic warheads. The reductions would be implemented by 2008 “under the strict control provided by the agreements START I and START II.” Russia hopes the other three countries “also will continue to show restraint in the nuclear field,” the spokesman added.

By December, the United States and Russia each will have reduced their deployed arsenals to 6,000 strategic warheads under START I, but the diplomatic process for pursuing further cuts has stalled. Both states have ratified START II, requiring them to cap their arsenals at 3,500 deployed warheads, but a Russian legislative requirement linking the accord to disputed missile defense issues has prevented the treaty from entering into force. Also, START III negotiations, which the two sides agreed in 1997 would cap warhead limits at 2,500 deployed warheads, have failed to start, and the Bush administration appears reluctant to conclude a formal treaty on nuclear cuts.

With this proposal, it appears that Putin is trying to marshal international support for both deep, negotiated reductions—which could conceivably involve other countries once the United States and Russia had reached extremely low levels—and maintenance of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

When asked about the proposal during a July 13 press briefing, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said that President George W. Bush is already considering unilaterally reducing U.S. nuclear weapons and that the administration is not interested in seeking a “one-to-one match with the Russians.” Moscow and Washington subsequently agreed to and have held bilateral consultations on offensive reductions and defensive systems. (See U.S.-Russian Differences Remain On Missile Defenses, ABM Treaty.)

During a July 1-3 summit in Russia with French President Jacques Chirac, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested holding multilateral “strategic stability” talks, at which further U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warhead cuts could be discussed. (Continue)

Offense, Defense, and Unilateralism in Strategic Arms Control

Rose Gottemoeller

U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have both spoken out in the last year on the idea of unilateral reductions in strategic nuclear forces. During his election campaign, Bush let it be known that he preferred to move quickly to reduce nuclear weapons, not waiting, as he put it, for “years and years of detailed arms control negotiations.”1 Bush reaffirmed this view in his May 1, 2001 speech on strategic issues, when he said, “My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces. The United States will lead by example to achieve our interests and the interests for peace in the world.” Putin, for his part, announced in November 2000 that he was ready to pursue strategic nuclear arms reductions “together or in parallel”—this, even before it was clear that Bush would be entering the White House.2 Putin stressed that Russia was ready to reduce its arsenal to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads or even lower, going below the 2,000-2,500 warheads that Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin had agreed to at Helsinki as targets for START III.

In short, the United States and Russia apparently share an interest in accelerated reductions in strategic offensive nuclear forces. Moreover, they both seem willing to conduct those reductions in a unilateral manner, due in part to a deadlock in the START process over the past few years. The approach, although undertaken independently, is essentially cooperative. It could include coordinated announcements of strategic nuclear reductions in a summit context, transparency measures during the process of implementation, or bilateral consent to use some existing regime measures—such as the verification provisions of START I—to facilitate and build confidence in the reductions. Although it may seem paradoxical, this strategy could be called “cooperative unilateralism.”

The strategic defense case, however, is much more troubled. From the outset, the Bush administration has stressed a preference to pursue unilateral measures to deploy missile defenses, while emphasizing that they would not be designed to counter the Russian offensive arsenal, but rather a more limited “rogue state” threat. The Russians, for their part, have tended to disbelieve these arguments. They stress that the wide-ranging research and development program that the Bush administration is pursuing conveys the impression that a much more ambitious national missile defense system is in the cards, one that would decisively threaten Russian strategic offensive capabilities in future years.

The rhetoric on this matter heated up in the summer of 2001, when a briefing that had been provided to U.S. allies became public. It emphasized that the U.S. missile defense testing program would be “bumping up” against the constraints of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in “months not years.” On that basis, the briefing implied, the United States would withdraw from the ABM Treaty within a year, with the required six months’ notification perhaps being given before the end of 2001.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton seemed to expand on this theme when he visited Moscow in August. He hinted publicly that November was the United States’ informal deadline for convincing the Russians to join in abrogating the ABM Treaty and proceeding to a new arrangement on missile defenses.3 Although Washington backed away from talk of a deadline after Bolton’s comments, President Bush clearly continued to support unilateral action should the discussions with the Russians fail to bear fruit. The United States will withdraw from the ABM Treaty, the president said, “at time convenient to America.”4

Thus, discussions on strategic defenses have been flavored by a sense of U.S. ultimatum that has hampered chances for progress—this despite considerable U.S.-Russian consonance of views on strategic offenses. In essence, a situation has emerged in which both the United States and Russia appear to recognize the benefits of unilateral action to further reduce strategic offensive arms, but hold widely different views on applying unilateralism to the strategic defense case. Cooperative unilateralism may be possible in speeding offensive reductions, but not, it seems, in easing differences on defenses.

This article examines the essential differences between these two cases. It considers the rationales that the two countries have developed for unilateral measures, both currently and in the past, and the successes and failures that they have encountered. Based on these lessons, it explores how unilateralism might be used to better advantage in the current U.S.-Russian environment, in particular suggesting ways forward for the difficult strategic defense case.

The Arguments for Unilateralism

In recent years, the most important argument that has emerged on the U.S. side in support of unilateral measures is that they permit more flexibility than legally binding arms control treaties that have been ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Duma, the Russian parliament. The United States, in this view, may need to adjust or increase its nuclear force posture in response to future threats, taking advantage of technological changes that would not be permitted by an arms control treaty. Unilateral measures are seen as inherently less constraining on future U.S. strategic force planning.5 Unilateral measures are equally less constraining on the Russian force posture, of course, but U.S. proponents of unilateralism argue that Russian economic problems will preclude a rapid and unpredictable buildup of Russian nuclear weapons.

This argument emphasizes the notion that technology is of greater service to U.S. national security than international law. Newt Gingrich put it succinctly when he said, “It’s the difference between those who would rely on lawyers to defend America and those who would rely on engineers and scientists.”6

In earlier days, the emphasis was less on flexibility for U.S. forces than on establishing intent at the negotiating table. An early example of U.S. unilateralism was President Eisenhower’s announcement of a moratorium on nuclear testing at the beginning of the 1958 negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)—a move that was opposed at the time by the U.S. military. Eisenhower’s move led to a parallel declaration by the Soviet Communist Party general secretary, Nikita Khrushchev. Although the negotiations did not end in agreement, the parallel moratoria established the serious intent of the negotiators and started a four-decade-long process that advanced through a series of more ambitious test ban treaties, beginning with the atmospheric test ban and moving to the threshold test ban. Eventually, this process led to completion of a CTBT.

Thus, in the past an important rationale for unilateralism has been that it establishes the intent of the parties at the beginning of a diplomatic process and therefore spurs eventual success. This approach has been especially valuable when no regime existed to provide a foundation for negotiations and the parties were developing new concepts from scratch. The unilateral action essentially launched the negotiations and shaped the environment in which they went forward. As confidence in the process grew, negotiated arrangements were completed, but sometimes these too did not become legally binding (i.e., ratified treaties) for many years. Instead, they may have been implemented on an agreed basis, either partially or completely, for some period of time. This was the case with the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, which was signed in 1974 but did not enter into force until 1990. In short, unilateral measures have historically been the rootstock from which new arms control agreements have grown and developed in a kind of evolutionary process.

The current U.S. administration, however, has tended to discount the symbiotic relationship that can exist between unilateral measures and negotiated regimes, insisting instead that unilateral measures should replace negotiated efforts. In this view, the rationale for unilateral measures is that they produce results faster than lengthy, complex negotiations in some international watering hole. Bolton expressed the idea clearly in congressional testimony: “…these are not going to be traditional arms control negotiations with small armies of negotiators inhabiting the best hotels in Geneva for months and years at a time…while we hope, expect, are optimistic for cooperation with the Russians, the president is determined to have an effective missile defense system. If we can do it together, that would be great. But if we can’t, we will do it ourselves.”7

For the Russians’ part, unilateralism in arms control has a long history. Some Soviet leaders embraced it for ulterior motives. In the 1950s, for example, the Soviet political leadership tried to use unilateralism as a way to escape serious verification of arms reductions. As Khrushchev told Harold Stassen in his characteristically colorful way, “Perhaps there is no need to reach formal agreement and sign documents. Supposing we take unilateral decision and disarm a million men, would there be no response from your side to such a gesture? We want to do it, but we are not ready to have controllers in our bedrooms.”8

The Soviet military, in contrast, looked suspiciously on unilateral arms control measures, not least because of the pain that Khrushchev’s unilateral troop cuts had imposed on the armed forces in the late 1950s and early 1960s. General Dmitry Volkogonov, then deputy chief of the main political administration in the Ministry of Defense, expressed it well in 1987 when he wrote, “Just as it is impossible to applaud with one hand, so it is impossible to create a nuclear free world with only unilateral efforts.”9 He went on to say in a later article, “An adequate way to survival lies through compromises, negotiations and mutual concessions, but only provided these are based on equal security.”10 “Equal security” was a code phrase for the military’s insistence that Soviet defense requirements still depended strongly on the posture and capabilities of likely Soviet adversaries, especially the United States and its NATO allies. According to this argument, even when there was a low probability of conflict—such as at the end of the Cold War—the Soviet Union could not afford to unilaterally disarm.

Today, similar arguments are heard in Moscow about the need for caution in unilateral arms reductions. Many older analysts, perhaps bearing the scars of the earlier debates, mention the problem of equal security and argue for continued emphasis on the negotiating table. At the same time, the strand of enthusiasm for unilateral action continues among the political leadership, but with a different twist. Instead of trying to avoid verification, the current Russian leadership emphasizes that unilateral measures should stress verification, monitoring, and transparency in order to be able to understand the degree to which each side has accomplished changes in its force structures. Thus, despite the continuing undercurrent of debate in the Russian arms control community, Putin has seemed genuinely interested in pursuing an agenda of reductions in strategic offensive nuclear forces, either together or in parallel.

Today’s Debate: The Offense Case

The benefits of proceeding with offenses unilaterally but cooperatively are strong. In particular, unilateral action could accelerate the U.S.-Russian strategic arms reduction process that has been stymied in recent years by difficulties at bringing arms control treaties into force. START II, for example, although it was signed in 1993 and has been ratified in both capitals, has been hung up on a legislative requirement put in place by the Russian Duma. The legislation requires that a set of agreements signed in New York in 1997 be ratified by both parties before START II can be brought into force. Since some of the so-called New York protocols deal with ABM Treaty issues that have been unpalatable to many in the U.S. Congress, START II entry into force has effectively been on hold.

Indeed, it seems unlikely that START II will enter into force in the foreseeable future. The Bush administration has indicated no interest in seeking Senate approval of the New York protocols, and the Putin administration has indicated no interest in amending the Russian legislation. Moreover, START III, the follow-on agreement to reduce strategic offensive weapons to 2,000-2,500 deployed warheads on each side, fell victim to similar linkage. Mapped out by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin at Helsinki in May 1997, the START III proposal had been the subject of intense discussions between Moscow and Washington over the last three years. However, progress on these offensive arms reductions became linked to bilateral accommodation on ABM issues. The Clinton administration wished to amend the ABM Treaty to permit limited defense deployments in Alaska, but Yeltsin, and later Putin, resisted these efforts, stalling progress on both offense and defense.

A cooperative unilateral approach to strategic offensive force reductions would effectively “blast through” these constraints and enable the United States and Russia to make rapid progress where none has seemed possible. Differences would still have to be resolved before the two countries could proceed in this manner. For example, the two sides currently have different notions of how low the reductions might go. President Putin has stressed since November 2000 that he is not only reiterating the Russian offer to reduce strategic nuclear forces to 1,500 deployed weapons on each side but that he is also offering to go lower. Some have speculated that he may be willing to propose a number as low as 1,000 weapons. Meanwhile, President Bush has made it clear that he would like to sharply reduce U.S. nuclear forces, but he has been awaiting the outcome of the U.S. nuclear posture review, due to be completed by the end of the year. It became clear in July 2001, however, that some senior figures in the U.S. military establishment are not keen to go lower than the level of 2,000-2,500 warheads already agreed to with the Russians as the target for START III.11

Another difference is that while the Russians have expressed a clear preference for a “catch-up agreement” to follow and reinforce any unilateral strategic force reductions, the Bush administration continues to express a preference to avoid the negotiating table. For their part, the Russians argue strongly that unless there is a legally binding document to underpin implementation of the reductions, particularly monitoring and verification measures, each side will lose confidence in its understanding of the other’s strategic nuclear force posture.

This problem exists not only for Russia, but also for the United States. Threat assessment and force planning in both countries benefit from predictability in the relationship. The more the United States knows about what is going on with Russia’s nuclear force posture, the easier it is to determine how to counter it. The extension of arms control monitoring in START I beyond national technical means of verification, such as satellites, to on-site inspections and other cooperative measures has done much to ease threat assessment and force planning for both Russia and the United States. Reverting to dependence on national technical means alone would be a step backward.

Another argument that the Russians make is that legally binding agreements are the only mechanisms that actually spur legal, regulatory, and procedural change in the Russian system. This argument has arisen in the context of the so-called Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) agreed to by Bush and Gorbachev, and later Yeltsin, in 1991 and 1992. The PNIs called for the removal of most U.S. and Soviet non-strategic nuclear weapons from operational deployment by certain dates for storage and eventual destruction.12 They were announced in summit joint statements, but did not include any agreed measures to monitor or verify that the steps were being implemented.

As a result, the United States and Russia implemented the PNIs differently. Whereas budget pressures in the wake of the PNIs led the United States to essentially denuclearize the non-strategic elements of its navy, the Russians retained nuclear training and operational practice. They argued that they could not make changes in Russian military procedures for training nuclear-certified troops and handling and maintaining weapons except in response to a legally binding treaty. Russian naval captains, for example, are required by regulation to continue training their troops to handle nuclear weapons, even though (the Russians claim) no nuclear weapons are carried aboard non-strategic naval platforms on a day-to-day basis. They acknowledge that this continuation of nuclear practice makes it difficult to discern from the outside that nuclear deployments have ended. They argue, however, that without a legally binding agreement, they are prevented by Russian law from making changes in that practice. As one naval officer commented, “Presidents come and go, presidential summit statements come and go. In our navy, unless there is a legal government-to-government agreement, the procedures and requirements stay the same.”13

Having had their own difficulties with lengthy, expensive negotiations in Geneva, the Russians have not insisted on a major new strategic arms reduction treaty. Putin said as much in his November 13, 2000 statement: “We share the opinion which is also expressed in the U.S. that in order to reach such an accord protracted negotiations or starting from scratch will not be necessary. We have significant experience, there are legal mechanisms within START I and START II.” In other words, even in advance of Bush’s arrival in the White House, Putin spoke favorably of adapting or building on the foundation of existing regimes to effect implementation of further reductions.

The Bush administration has not yet openly expressed a view on the idea of adapting or building on existing START measures to ensure smooth monitoring of further reductions. Clearly it would prefer to see those reductions conducted “in parallel” rather than as part of a negotiated regime, but its view of maintaining existing START verification measures to implement unilateral reductions is uncertain.

However, from its earliest days, the administration has been confronted with some of the difficulties that emerge from reliance on unilateral measures alone. In January 2001, just as President Bush was preparing to take office, the U.S. press reported that Russia was reversing PNI reductions by re-deploying tactical nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad enclave. U.S. public concern was followed shortly by outcry in countries neighboring Kaliningrad, especially Poland. The Polish government called for international inspections of the Kaliningrad sites, only to hear from the U.S. State Department, “We do not inspect nuclear storage facilities except as agreed to under relevant arms-control agreements.”14 Thus, while the PNIs are an excellent example of the speed with which unilateral action can have an impact, questions about their long-term efficacy may be one reason the administration would consider retaining verification and monitoring measures from previous agreements.

A new “agreement” to proceed with cooperative unilateral reductions in strategic offensive forces might be a short, straightforward, presidential summit statement. It would state the intended level of force reductions for each country, and it would reference the monitoring and verification measures of the START I Verification Protocol as the way in which each side would implement the reductions. In essence, the existing “legally binding” umbrella of the START I Verification Protocol would be extended to new, cooperative, but essentially unilateral, reductions.

Trouble Over Defense

While the cooperative unilateral approach seems possible in the case of strategic offensive forces, proceeding cooperatively on strategic defense is problematic. The United States and Russia have thus far disagreed decisively on the future of the ABM Treaty. The Russians have publicly insisted on maintaining the ABM Treaty, although they have implied that some amendments might be possible to accommodate the U.S. testing program. For its part, Bush’s team has insisted that the ABM Treaty is a Cold War treaty that cannot be adapted to new circumstances and instead has suggested a new type of document. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We need an understanding, an agreement, a treaty, something that allows us to move forward with our missile defense programs….”15 This document would also underpin a new framework for strategic cooperation, as President Bush urged in his May 2001 speech. However, up to this point the Russians have remained cautious about this notion.

If neither amendment of the ABM Treaty nor a new agreement is possible at the moment, then a third option might be for the two sides to agree to a process for building confidence concerning ongoing missile defense developments. A perfect parallel to the approach on the offensive side would be for each side to proceed unilaterally with development, testing, and deployment of missile defenses, but in a cooperative and open manner. However, a true cooperative unilateral approach, with similar elements present in each country, is currently not possible. For one thing, the Russians have shown no interest thus far in reinvigorating missile defense as an element of their national strategy. For another, they are unlikely to spend their scarce budget resources on a new missile defense program.

Thus, instead of a cooperative unilateral approach on the defense side, the most feasible option would be a unilateral U.S. effort in which the Russians would acquire over time sufficient transparency to develop confidence in what the United States was doing. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld seemed to be describing just such an arrangement during his August 2001 trip to Moscow. He argued that it may take five or 10 years for the United States and Russia to begin to trust each other fully in a new post-Cold War environment, but said, “What we have to do is find ways through interchanges, consultations, transparency, verification, monitoring—whatever it takes to demystify what we’re doing. To the extent suspicion, even misplaced, persists, then we ought to be able to find ways to demystify that and to reduce those suspicions.”16

Rumsfeld’s words convey some interesting possibilities. Assuming that a limited U.S. ballistic missile defense system is in the cards, the high level of interaction that Rumsfeld is suggesting could give the Russians a greater understanding of U.S. developments than the ABM Treaty alone would provide. For example, Russian involvement in cooperative projects to develop defense technologies would potentially give them transparency into the U.S. program and early warning of any effort to develop a capability against Russian strategic offensive forces. As their confidence develops, the Russians might, over time, be willing to move from cooperation on defense technologies into a new agreement or arrangement on missile defense deployment—a follow-on to the ABM Treaty. This would be the final, logical step in the “demystification” of U.S. strategic defense policy.

A key question, of course, is whether the ABM Treaty would remain in place while this process unfolds. Although the Bush administration would clearly like to move quickly to replace it with a new arrangement, a kind of “gentlemen’s agreement,” the Putin administration would prefer that the treaty remain in place as a transitional mechanism for the process.

Two Cases, Two Models

For both the strategic offense and defense cases, the conclusion can be drawn that unilateralism makes best sense if it is connected—at least eventually—to a cooperative regime that is already in place and being implemented by the parties. The existence of a successful START I regime, for example, is one reason why the United States and Russia might agree to carry out unilateral reductions in strategic offensive forces on an accelerated basis. Thanks to START I, each party understands well what goes on in the other’s strategic offensive arsenal. What is more, they both are likely to want to continue with that level of understanding and so might be willing to extend the provisions of START I verification and monitoring to a unilateral reduction process. This would be a clear example of cooperative unilateralism.

Of course, the willingness of the United States and Russia to cooperate in this regard will depend on a positive outcome to their current disagreement about missile defenses and the ABM Treaty. Although this article has separated the offense and defense cases for the purposes of analysis, the two are closely related—a reality reflected in the recent presidential summit statement at Genoa. If Washington and Moscow are unable to reach agreement on defensive issues, the result in the offensive realm and elsewhere will likely be highly confrontational. If the United States unilaterally withdraws from the ABM Treaty, for example, Russia may decide to make good on its threats to withdraw from START, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and other international arms control agreements. Unilateralism in this case would take on a destructive edge, far removed from the concept of cooperative action conducted in parallel.

In fact, such cooperation is more difficult if the unilateral process is kept at arm’s length from existing bilateral regimes that may provide a foundation for it, but that is evidently the Bush administration’s preference with regard to missile defense. The White House would like to engage Russia in a new process of building understanding about unilateral U.S. aspirations and developments concerning missile defense, but it would like to do so without making use of the ABM Treaty.

In effect, the Bush team seems to be embarking on a process akin to the one that the Eisenhower administration began in the 1950s, when it launched a unilateral moratorium in advance of test ban negotiations. The Eisenhower administration was attempting to establish its intent and build confidence on the Soviet side that it was operating in good faith in a new policy arena. Its action, in turn, drew forth a unilateral moratorium declaration from Khrushchev, and the two sides were embarked on a process that led eventually to a series of nuclear test ban treaties.

In a similar manner, Secretary Rumsfeld has described an extensive effort to establish U.S. intent and build confidence with the Russians that U.S. missile defenses will not pose a threat to the Russian strategic offensive deterrent. A new process is clearly what the Bush administration is aiming for in the missile defense case. While the United States would continue with unilateral actions to develop its limited missile defense system, it would also conduct vigorous efforts to build transparency with Russia and demystify the U.S. program. Eventually, these efforts would lead to a new agreed arrangement: ideally, in the administration’s view, a gentlemen’s agreement that would also serve as a basis for the new framework for strategic cooperation that President Bush has proposed.

A key question, however, is whether such an arrangement would ever pass the threshold to treaty status in international law. From its outset in the Eisenhower years, the process to constrain nuclear testing combined unilateral measures with aspirations to negotiate increasingly more ambitious test ban treaties. The Bush administration has clearly expressed distaste for negotiations, and in several cases has rejected the efficacy of international treaties—the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty being one prominent example.

Another important question is how fast the Bush administration would try to push the new process. Secretary Rumsfeld described a “demystification” effort of five or 10 years in his August remarks in Moscow. However, that timeframe contrasts sharply with the frequent emphasis on speed and deadlines in the administration’s approach to missile defenses. There therefore seems to be a significant contradiction between the slow course that the Bush administration has described to develop new confidence and transparency with the Russians, and its policy aspirations with regard to rapid deployment of missile defenses.

The president would find this contradiction eased if he would reconsider using the foundation of an existing regime to underpin unilateral action and achieve accelerated results with Russia. This model ideally would involve working with the Russians to adapt the ABM Treaty to the needs of the U.S. missile defense testing program, combining that process with new technology cooperation and transparency and confidence-building measures, as Rumsfeld has proposed. If that course were pursued, the administration would likely find that testing and early deployment of missile defenses could occur in a relatively straightforward manner, with a minimum of political and diplomatic heavy lifting required both with the Russians and with U.S. allies.

However, the model in its purest form is probably not possible to pursue with this administration, given its thorough criticism of the ABM Treaty as a “relic of the Cold War.” This being the case, several variants to the model might be considered, one of which might be acceptable to the Bush team. One option, for example, might be a “timed transition” in which an adapted ABM Treaty would operate within a strictly defined period of time, perhaps keyed to a certain number of events in the testing schedule. By the end of the timed transition, a new agreement or arrangement would have to be in place. Another option might be to mine the ABM Treaty for the parts that are particularly relevant and amend or adapt them to form a limited development and testing protocol. This limited protocol, in turn, would provide the transitional environment in which a new, more comprehensive arrangement could be negotiated.

If the Bush administration chooses not to make some use of the existing regime but depends wholly on a new process with the Russians, then it is likely to have difficulty moving quickly to a new strategic arrangement. The process that the administration has described is attractive in some regards. If it offers extensive transparency and confidence-building, for example, it would give Russia more opportunities to understand the nature of the new U.S. missile defense system than would the ABM Treaty alone. As the process gathers momentum, it could contribute in important ways to the goal of finally moving beyond the Cold War, as President Bush has stressed. Nevertheless, the administration should consider whether its goal could be achieved more quickly by making use of the ABM Treaty rather than taking immediate steps to discard it.

1. George W. Bush, “New Leadership on National Security,” Washington, D.C., May 23, 2000.
2. “The Statement of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,” November 13, 2000.
3. Patrick E. Tyler, “U.S. Sets Deadline for Settlement of ABM Argument,” The New York Times, August 22, 2001; Peter Baker, “Envoy Gives Russia Target on ABM Pact,” The Washington Post, August 22, 2001.
4. David E. Sanger, “Bush Flatly States U.S. Will Pull Out of Missile Treaty,” The New York Times, August 24, 2001. For commentary playing down the “deadline” theme, see Peter Baker, “U.S. Fails to Sway Russia on ABM Pact,” The Washington Post, August 23, 2001; Michael Wines, “U.S. Envoy Says Russia Has Time in Missile Talks,” The New York Times, August 23, 2001.
5. The argument against “legal rigidity” is well laid out in Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, Volume I, Executive Report, National Institute for Public Policy, January 2001.
6. Quoted in Stephen Fidler, “Conservatives Determined to Carry Torch for US Missile Defense,” The Financial Times, July 12, 2001.
7. Testimony of Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Panel 1: Missile Defense and the ABM Treaty, July 24, 2001.
8. Quoted in Janet Morgan, ed., The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1981), p. 492.
9. Krasnaya zvezda, May 22, 1987.
10. Asia and Africa Today (Moscow, in English), January 1988.
11. Walter Pincus, “Nuclear Arms Chief Questions Cut in Warheads,” The Washington Post, July 15, 2001.
12. For an interesting compendium on this topic, Jeffrey A. Larsen and Kurt J. Klingenberger, eds., Controlling Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Obstacles and Opportunities, (Colorado Springs, CO: USAF Institute for National Security Studies, 2001).
13. For more on this Russian view, see Rose Gottemoeller, “Lopsided Arms Control,” The Washington Post, December 7, 2000.
14. Quoted in “Russia Places Tactical Nukes in Kaliningrad, Worries NATO,” Editorial Information Network, Week of January 8, 2001. The article that first reported the transfer is Bill Gertz, “Russia Transfers Nuclear Arms to Baltics,” The Washington Times, January 3, 2001.
15. Steve Mufson and Alan Sipress, “Powell Says U.S. Will Seek Arms Accord With Russia,” The Washington Post, July 14, 2001.
16. “Remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a Roundtable with Russian Political Scientists,” Itar-Tass, August 13, 2001, distributed by the Federal News Service.

Rose Gottemoeller, who served as assistant secretary of energy for non-proliferation and national security during the Clinton administration, is a senior associate with the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have both spoken out in the last year on the idea of unilateral reductions in strategic nuclear forces. During his election campaign, Bush let it be known that he preferred to move quickly to reduce nuclear weapons, not waiting, as he put it, for “years and years of detailed arms control negotiations.” Bush reaffirmed this view in his May 1, 2001 speech on strategic issues, when he said, “My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces. The United States will lead by example to achieve our interests and the interests for peace in the world.” Putin, for his part, announced in November 2000 that he was ready to pursue strategic nuclear arms reductions “together or in parallel”—this, even before it was clear that Bush would be entering the White House. Putin stressed that Russia was ready to reduce its arsenal to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads or even lower, going below the 2,000-2,500 warheads that Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin had agreed to at Helsinki as targets for START III. (Continue)

Putin Approves Spent-Fuel Import Legislation

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial set of laws July 11 allowing the import of spent nuclear fuel.

The most significant measure overrides an existing environmental ban on the import of foreign spent fuel for storage or disposal. (See ACT, July/August 2001.) A second law regulates spent-fuel import arrangements, and a third designates funds generated from imports for cleanup of radioactively contaminated sites. The Russian legislature approved the laws in June.

Putin also established a commission of government representatives to oversee spent-fuel imports and submitted a bill to the lower house of parliament that would make imports contingent on the group’s approval.

Russia hopes to generate substantial revenue by importing, storing, and eventually reprocessing up to 20,000 tons of foreign spent fuel, but critics maintain that there are significant environmental and proliferation risks in making Russia a global nuclear-waste dump.

Although demand for fuel-storage services appears high, at a July 11 press conference Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev said that “there are so far no potential clients in view.” Rumyantsev said Russia has begun raising the issue with foreign officials but emphasized that “this is a very long process” that would likely be drawn out for “several years.”

Most of the nuclear material in countries likely to be interested in costly spent-fuel storage originally came from the United States, and U.S. agreements with those countries give Washington veto power over transferring the material to third parties. The United States would therefore have to approve most spent-fuel shipments to Russia before they could proceed.

Before giving its consent to such transfers, the administration has emphasized that it would require Russia to meet proliferation, safety, and environmental standards and that it would want to reach an understanding concerning Russia’s controversial nuclear cooperation with Iran. Given the number and magnitude of disagreements between the two countries in these areas, it appears unlikely that Russia will be able to begin large-scale imports soon.

Administration May Abandon Plutonium Disposition Project

Philipp C. Bleek

The Bush administration is reportedly considering pulling out of a troubled U.S.-Russian project to make substantial quantities of military plutonium unusable for weapons purposes.

Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times reported August 21 that the National Security Council is likely to recommend abandoning the plutonium disposition program. A former Clinton administration official substantiated that account during an interview but emphasized that the issue remains undecided due, in large part, to resistance from both the Department of Energy and Congress. The Energy Department did not return calls seeking comment.

At an August 21 press briefing, State Department spokesman Phillip Reeker said that an administration review of the project had “recently” concluded and that the administration plans to “consult with Congress prior to making any decisions.”

Washington and Moscow agreed in June 2000 to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-origin plutonium. Russia plans to convert its plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel, which it will irradiate in nuclear reactors, while the United States plans to irradiate 25.5 tons of material and immobilize another 8.5 tons in ceramic and glass. (Washington also intends to immobilize about 18 additional tons of non-weapons-grade plutonium.)

The initiative’s substantial and rising cost is one key factor apparently driving the administration to reconsider the project. A March 2001 Energy Department analysis projects the total cost of implementing the U.S. half of the project at $6.6 billion, up from a previous estimate of approximately $4 billion. The more than 50 percent increase results largely from the irradiation component’s rising costs.

The Energy Department analysis projected the cost of the Russian half of the initiative at about $1.8 billion, only slightly above previous estimates. But another March 2001 analysis by a joint U.S.-Russian working group places that figure between $1.8 billion and $2.8 billion, the broad range due in large part to technical uncertainties.

Concerns about costs led the administration to suspend design work on a plutonium immobilization plant earlier this year. John Gordon, head of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, told a House Armed Services subcommittee in June that the suspension was required to spread program costs over a longer period of time. But Gordon assured lawmakers that, despite the suspension, the department “continues to pursue” both irradiation and immobilization.

The Energy Department has reassigned program staff involved in the immobilization project and is dismantling key infrastructure, signaling that the suspension is unlikely to be short term.

The situation has alarmed South Carolinian officials, who are concerned that the immobilization track’s suspension will require their state to store some of the processed material on a long-term basis. The state’s Savannah River nuclear site is due to begin processing plutonium to prepare it for both irradiation and immobilization in the coming months, but a substantial portion of the plutonium is not readily suitable for irradiation.

State officials have indicated they intend to hold the entire disposition program hostage until their concerns are addressed. South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges has repeatedly pledged to use all means at his disposal, including state police roadblocks, to prevent plutonium from entering the state without an agreement on long-term disposal plans. In an August 27 letter to the Energy Department, Hodges insisted on an agreement that is “legally binding” and includes a “definite timetable for shipping plutonium out of South Carolina after processing for disposition.”

At Hodges’ request, Representative John Spratt (D-SC) added language to the fiscal year 2002 defense authorization bill that bars shipments of plutonium to Savannah River absent an Energy Department report on plutonium disposal options. Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) has added language to the Energy appropriations bill requiring the department to consult with South Carolina and to also prepare a report.

Energy Undersecretary Robert Card responded August 27, providing written assurances to Hodges that shipments would be postponed, provided “good faith discussions” begin “rapidly.” He added that the department believes agreement can be reached “before mid-October.” It remains unclear, however, how Energy officials intend to meet the state’s concerns without a near-term resumption of work on the immobilization track.

The Russian Program

Although the U.S. program has experienced difficulties, Russia’s disposition effort has essentially failed to get off the ground. When the initiative was launched, Washington agreed to contribute $200 million to the Russian program, pledged to seek an additional $200 million at a later time, and called on other developed countries to help finance the program. However, additional international financial pledges to date—including about $100 million from the United Kingdom, approximately $60 million from France, and roughly $34 million from Japan—are far from sufficient.

Participants at last year’s Group of Eight summit pledged to agree on an international financing plan for the project by this year’s summit in Genoa, Italy. But the Genoa summit, held July 20-22, appeared to yield no substantial progress, raising questions about the initiative’s viability.

Further dimming prospects for the project’s implementation, Siemens, a German technology conglomerate, announced in late August that it will begin to dismantle a plant it had offered to Russia for the disposition effort. In an interview, Helmut Rupar, Siemens’ director for the project, said that, because the Genoa summit failed to yield enough progress on financing the plant’s move to Russia, his company felt no further obligation to maintain the facility.

Building a new plant would likely cost far more than moving the already-constructed Siemens plant, substantially raising costs for the cash-strapped initiative. However, Rupar indicated that Russia would likely buy some of the plant’s components, once the facility is dismantled.

Russia Re-Establishes Independent Space Forces

Russia has re-established its military space forces as an independent branch of the country’s armed forces. The newly established Space Forces—responsible for the operation of early-warning satellites and radars, the Moscow-area missile defense system, and other space-based capabilities such as photo-reconnaissance satellites—officially began operation June 1.

The transition appears to be related to the demotion of the Strategic Rocket Forces, which lost its independent status in April and will likely be subsumed into the air force. (See ACT, June 2001.) Russia’s military space forces had been independent until they were incorporated into the rocket forces as part of military reforms enacted in 1997.

Space Forces chief Colonel General Anatoly Perminov has said the change indicates that Russia has recognized the increasing importance of space assets in conventional conflicts. At the same time, Perminov has emphasized in a recent series of press briefings and interviews that the increased prominence of the force should not be misinterpreted as evidence of a Russian intention to weaponize space.

Perminov takes command of a satellite network that is widely considered to be crumbling. Just last month, a control center for key early-warning satellites burned down, at least temporarily limiting Russia’s ability to detect the launch of long-range missiles from the United States. (See ACT, June 2001.)

Russia Permits Aluminum Shipment to Iran

Reports emerged in mid-June that Russia had allowed an unknown quantity of high-strength aluminum to be shipped to Iran earlier this year. The shipment is of potential concern because certain special aluminum alloys can be used in high-speed gas centrifuges to produce enriched uranium, and the United States has long been concerned that Moscow’s nuclear energy ties with Teheran may be facilitating a clandestine Iranian nuclear weapons program.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported the shipment June 15, the United States and Israel alerted the Russian government to the shipment in late January; however, Russian inspectors who boarded the vessel reported that the aluminum was to be used in “aircraft manufacture” and allowed the ship to proceed to Iran. In a June 17 interview with Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell responded with skepticism to Russia’s assertions that the aluminum was intended for aircraft. “That’s what they say,” he said. “We have slightly different view.”

President George W. Bush raised the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programs at his June 16 meeting in Slovenia with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the meeting, Putin acknowledged that he had discussed Iran with Bush, but in a June 18 interview with U.S. journalists, he maintained that there are no Russian programs to help Tehran produce nuclear weapons or missiles. Putin also defended Russia’s nuclear energy ties with Iran, comparing them to U.S. plans to build a light-water reactor in North Korea under the 1994 Agreed Framework. He also said that Moscow would do its best to stop any Russian entities trying to assist Iran’s nuclear weapons programs.

Aluminum alloys have many industrial and military uses, but the transfer of certain aluminum alloys is regulated by the Nuclear Suppliers Group—a group of 34 countries, including Russia, that have agreed to restrict the export of nuclear and dual-use equipment that could be used in connection with the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

CFE Review Conference Held; Russian Compliance Urged

Wade Boese

Meeting May 28-June 1 in Vienna for the second review conference of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the 30 states-parties touted treaty successes, though NATO members and other European countries called on Russia to fulfill its commitments to lower its weapons deployments in the North Caucasus region and to withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova.

Moscow gave assurances that it would meet all these obligations but also used the treaty review conference to register its long-standing opposition to NATO expansion, warning against the possible inclusion of any or all the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—in the next round of expansion, which is expected to take place in 2002. A June 4 Kremlin press release said NATO invitations offering alliance membership to any of the Baltic countries could have “destructive implications” for key provisions of the treaty.

Originally signed by members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact in November 1990, the CFE Treaty capped the number and location of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that the two military blocs could keep between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. A 1999 treaty adaptation agreement, which has not yet entered into force, replaces the bloc limits with specific caps on the amount of treaty-limited arms that each nation can possess in the entire treaty area and have deployed within its own borders.

At the conference, the states-parties deemed the treaty’s accomplishments “impressive.” The countries reported in their “formal conclusions” of the review conference that they had reduced their arsenals by more than 59,000 weapons and carried out more than 3,300 on-site inspections and observation visits under the accord.

In addition, the states-parties noted that Moscow had completed the destruction or conversion of 14,500 additional weapons in accordance with a 1991 pledge. That pledge was designed to ease NATO unhappiness after the Kremlin moved an estimated 57,000 arms east of the Ural Mountains before signing the CFE Treaty in order to exempt the weapons from the treaty. Under the pledge, Russia is obligated to destroy another 2,300 tanks, a commitment on which it is currently working.

Russia is also gradually drawing down the tanks, ACVs, and artillery it currently has deployed in violation of the treaty’s flank-zone limits, which cap the amount of ground weaponry located in the northern and southern regions of Europe. The exact magnitude of Russia’s noncompliance with its flank-zone limits is uncertain but will become clearer after a July 1 information exchange. In the past, Russia, whose total weapon holdings are below its overall CFE limits, has reported exceeding its flank limits for ACVs by approximately 1,000 or more and exceeding its tank and artillery limits by much smaller amounts.

Although Moscow maintains that its current noncompliance stems from the need to combat separatists in Chechnya, Russia has long objected to the flank-zone limits because it is one of only two countries (the other being Ukraine) that has limits on where it can deploy its own weaponry on its own territory. Nevertheless, NATO has insisted that Moscow meet its limits, which have been revised twice—the latest in the 1999 treaty adaptation—to allow Russia more weapons in the region.

Russia has also been slow in fulfilling its obligations under the CFE Final Act, a series of nonbinding political commitments concluded in conjunction with the adaptation agreement, in which Moscow pledged to withdraw its weapons from Georgia and Moldova. Russia successfully finished the first phase of its withdrawal from Georgia last year by reducing its number of tanks, ACVs, and artillery to agreed levels, and it appears that it will have disbanded two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1 as promised.

Moscow and Tbilisi, however, have not been able to work out the details for how long Russian forces may remain at the other two bases. The negotiations, which were suppose to be completed by the end of last year, have been held up by Russian insistence that it maintain basing privileges for 14 years (initially it wanted privileges for 25 years) whereas Georgia prefers a three-year period, though Tbilisi has recently suggested it would show some flexibility.

Russian progress in withdrawing from Moldova has been negligible. Russia is expected to withdraw its CFE-limited weapons by the end of this year, and all Russian military forces are to exit by the end of 2002, but only one trainload of Russian military equipment has been shipped out of the country over the past seven months.

Part of the delay stems from the problem of what to do with a Russian ammunition dump of approximately 42,000 tons. Moldova does not want Russia simply to leave the stockpile behind because it would likely fall under control of Moldavian separatists in the Transdnistria region, who are led by ethnic Russians.

On June 15, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) signed an agreement with Russia detailing which Russian withdrawal activities from Moldova the OSCE would be willing to facilitate and how it would do so. The United States has also offered to reimburse Russian expenses incurred in withdrawing from both Georgia and Moldova, though Moscow has yet to accept.


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