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"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Kingston Reif

U.S. Withdrawal from the INF Treaty: What You Need to Know

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Media Contacts: Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104; Thomas Countryman, board chair, 301-312-3445

The landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty led to the elimination of 2,692 U.S. and Soviet Union nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. On February 2, 2019, the Trump administration announced its decision to suspend U.S. obligations under the treaty and its intention to withdraw from agreement in six months. The U.S. withdrawal from the treaty will take effect on Friday, August 2.

The Defense Department has requested nearly $100 million in fiscal year 2020 to develop three new missile systems that would exceed the range limits of the treaty, but the Democratic-led House of Representatives has expressed concern about the rationale for the missiles. The House versions of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and defense appropriations bill zeroed out the Pentagon’s funding request for the missiles.

On June 18, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov reiterated Russia’s position that it will not deploy INF Treaty-range missiles until the United States does. The United States alleges that Russia has already deployed the treaty-noncompliant 9M729 missile, also known as the SSC-8.

NATO defense ministers met in Brussels on June 26 to discuss defense and deterrence measures “to ensure the security of the alliance” if Russia fails to resolve U.S. allegations of treaty noncompliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is considering several military options, including additional exercises, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, air and missile defenses, and conventional capabilities.

QUICK QUOTES:

  • “Earlier this year, the administration recklessly announced its intent to withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty without a viable diplomatic, economic, or military strategy to prevent Russia from deploying additional and new types of prohibited missiles in the absence of the treaty. Rushing to build our own INF-range missiles in the absence of such a strategy and without a place to put them doesn't make sense.” —Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy
  • “Without the INF treaty, there needs to be a more serious U.S. and NATO arms control plan to avoid a new Euromissile race. NATO could declare as a bloc that no alliance members will field any INF Treaty-prohibited missiles or any equivalent new nuclear capabilities in Europe so long as Russia does not deploy treaty-prohibited systems where they could hit NATO territory.” —Daryl Kimball, executive director
  • “Without the INF Treaty, as well as the soon expiring New START, there would be no legally binding, verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time in nearly half a century.” —Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, and chair of the ACA board of directors

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FACT SHEETS:

EXPERTS AVAILABLE IN WASHINGTON:

  • Kingston Reif, ​Director for ​D​​​​isarmamen​​t and ​T​h​​reat ​R​e​​d​​uction​ ​Policy​,​[email protected], 202 463 8270 ext. 104, @KingstonAReif
  • Thomas Countryman, former​ ​Acting​ ​U​nder ​S​ecret​​ary of ​​S​tate for​ ​Arms​ ​Control and ​International ​S​ecur​​ity, and ​​Chair of the Board for the Arm​​s Control Association, [email protected], 301 312 3445, @TMCountryman
  • Daryl G. Kimball, E​x​​​​ec​​utive ​​​​D​i​​​rector, [email protected], 202 463 8270 ext. 107, @DarylGKimball

or contact Tony Fleming, director for communications, 202 463 8270 ext. 110 / 202 213 6856 (mobile) to schedule an interview.

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Experts and resources available on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

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Arms Control Association Urges Passage of the House Version of the FY 2020 NDAA

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For Immediate Release: July 12, 2019

Media Contacts: Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104

(Washington, DC)—The Arms Control Association strongly supports the House version of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, which the House will vote on Friday, would place a much-needed check on the Trump administration’s unnecessary, unsustainable, and unsafe plans to augment the role of and increase spending on nuclear weapons and undermine critical arms control and nonproliferation agreements.

We applaud in particular the leadership of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) for his efforts to reorient U.S. nuclear policy and shepherd the strongest and most sensible NDAA in recent memory on the issue to the brink of final passage.

The House NDAA would prohibit deployment of a new and more usable low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles as proposed in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, express support for extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and require reports on the implications of allowing the treaty to expire in 2021 with nothing to replace it, prohibit funding to develop land-based, intermediate-range missiles banned by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and reduce funding to build a new fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles and expand the production of plutonium pits.

In addition, the bill would prohibit funding for any use of military force in or against Iran unless Congress has declared war or in the event of a national emergency created by an Iranian attack upon the United States.

By passing the legislation, the House would greatly increase its leverage to retain these and many other important provisions in upcoming conference negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill rubber stamps the Trump administration’s redundant and reckless effort to expand U.S. nuclear capabilities.

Description: 

The Arms Control Association strongly supports the House version of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would place a much-needed check on the Trump administration's nuclear weapons policies.

National Missile Defense Set Back


July/August 2019
By Kingston Reif

The problem-plagued system designed to defend the U.S. homeland against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack has suffered another setback, throwing into doubt the Pentagon’s plans to improve the capability and expand the size of the system.

The United States tests a Ground-based Interceptor (GBI) on March 25 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Missile Defense Agency has stopped all work on the Redesigned Kill Vehicle that was once to be launched toward targets by GBIs.  (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)On May 24, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) directed Boeing Co., the lead contractor for the $67 billion Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, to stop all work on a new kill vehicle for the system after spending about $700 million on the effort.

A Defense Department spokeswoman told Inside Defense on May 24 that the department “has determined that the current plan is not viable and has initiated an analysis of alternative courses of action.”

The department’s decision follows years of warnings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about the feasibility of MDA plans for the new kill vehicle, known as the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV).

The RKV joins several other high-profile missile defense efforts over the past decade that have been canceled while under development and after several billion dollars was spent on them. These include the precision tracking space system, the airborne laser, and the kinetic energy interceptor.

The RKV was intended to be more reliable and cost effective than the current generation of kill vehicles amid an evolving threat, particularly from North Korea.

The MDA planned to deploy the RKV beginning in 2021 atop 20 additional interceptors in Alaska to augment the existing fleet of 44 interceptors there and in California. The GMD system has an intercept success rate of just more than 50 percent in controlled testing.

The demise of the RKV raises several questions about MDA plans, including if and how it will expand the number of interceptors, how long the current kill vehicles can reliably remain in service, and whether additional intercept tests of those kill vehicles will take place.

Trouble From the Start

There have been serious concerns about the GMD system since it was rushed into service by the George W. Bush administration in 2004.

The system has never been tested against complex decoys and countermeasures that North Korea could develop. In addition, 20 of the 44 currently deployed interceptors are armed with an older prototype kill vehicle design known as the CE-I, which failed to intercept the target in its last test in 2013 and has not had a successful interception since 2008.

In recent years, the GMD system appeared to be making some progress. The three most recent intercept tests have been successful, including the first against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-class target, in May 2017, and the first simulating an attack against more than one target, in March 2019. (See ACT, May 2019.)

Then came the cancellation of the RKV. The MDA announced in March 2014 that it would build and deploy by 2020 a redesigned kill vehicle that would have better performance and be more easily producible, testable, and maintainable than the current versions. (See ACT, July/August 2014.) The program soon encountered trouble.

In May 2017, the GAO raised several red flags in an annual report assessing the MDA’s progress on developing, fielding, and maintaining the U.S. ballistic missile defense system. For example, the U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Strategic Command questioned whether the seeker planned for the kill vehicle would be able “to detect and track threats in an ICBM-range environment,” according to the GAO.

The GAO recommended that the Defense Department conduct a comprehensive review of the RKV program, but the department did not perform such a review.

Despite the warnings, the MDA in late 2017 announced plans to accelerate development of the RKV while planning to increase the number of ground-based interceptors in Alaska from 40 to 60 between 2021 and 2023. The agency planned to begin deploying the new kill vehicle after a single flight intercept test.

The GAO said in May 2018 that the revised plan was “inconsistent with the acquisition best practice to ‘fly before you buy,’” as the MDA will begin production “based on the results of design reviews rather than flight testing.”

The agency’s revision of the RKV acquisition plan “is more likely to prolong the effort rather than accelerate it,” the GAO added.

Nearly two years later, the MDA announced in its fiscal year 2020 budget request plans that it would delay the fielding of the RKV, as well as the fielding of the additional 20 interceptors in Alaska, citing design issues. (See ACT, April 2019.)

Rear Adm. Jon Hill, the MDA deputy director, told reporters on March 12 that it would have been “the wrong step” to repeat the mistake the Bush administration made in 2004 in deploying the GMD system despite “reliability issues.”

The GAO noted in its June 2019 report that the RKV program “accepted too much risk and has since experienced development challenges that set the program back likely by over two years and increased the program’s cost by nearly $600 million.”

The Pentagon issued its stop work order for the RKV a few days before the GAO issued its report.

Next Steps Uncertain

The RKV was supposed to be the solution to the performance issues afflicting the existing GMD system kill vehicles and the path to expanding the system to address the advancing North Korean long-range missile threat. Instead, the MDA is back at square one.

“[T]he goal of the RKV program remains critical to ensuring that the nation’s only defense against rogue threats is reliable and effective,” a House committee staffer told Arms Control Today in a June 20 email. “As the U.S. is expanding the capacity of [ground-based interceptors] to 64, the need to deliver a reliable and effective kill vehicle becomes even more necessary,” the staffer said.

The need for a next-generation kill vehicle is especially acute for the 20 interceptors armed with the CE-I. The oldest kill vehicle in the fleet was fielded between 2004 and 2007. According to the GAO, ground-based interceptors “only have an initial service life of 20 years and [the] MDA previously decided not to make any upgrades to the CE-I because of initial plans to begin replacing them with RKVs in 2020.”

One option would be to reopen the production line for the latest configuration of the newer CE-II kill vehicle. The MDA does not appear to have any flight tests planned for this kill vehicle because it had planned to focus on testing and fielding the RKV.

The House committee staffer said that, with the RKV program delay, the Defense Department “should look for opportunities to test the existing fleet to address service life and obsolescence issues.”

Meanwhile, the future of another new kill vehicle development effort, the multiple object kill vehicle, is also uncertain. The MDA had planned to begin fielding that kill vehicle, which would allow a single GMD interceptor to destroy multiple targets, in 2025. But the fiscal year 2020 budget request would provide only $13.6 million for the program, which would significantly delay it. The request follows two years in which lawmakers provided $112 million, a reduction of $330 million below the MDA’s request.

 

The future of a major U.S. missile defense system has grown uncertain after the Pentagon canceled a long-planned upgrade.

HASC Chair on Mini-Nukes: 'We're Not Trying to Manage a Nuclear War'

News Source: 
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News Date: 
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U.S.-Russian Nuclear Arms Control Watch, June 20, 2019

Senior Russian, U.S. Diplomats Meet in Prague to Discuss Arms Control In the midst of a crumbling U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control architecture, the top arms control diplomats for each country met June 12 in Prague in an apparent effort to resume a stalled strategic stability dialogue . But it remains to be seen whether or when the dialogue will resume. According to the State Department , Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov met to “build on the discussions” held by Secretary of State Mike...
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