"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
U.S. Nuclear Weapons

Patriot Scorecard Mixed; PAC-3 Use Limited

Wade Boese

Pentagon reports indicate that Patriot missile defense systems destroyed all the Iraqi tactical ballistic missiles they were fired at, but the system also shot down two coalition aircraft and targeted a third during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Contrary to initial reports, most of the intercepts were done by older model Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) missiles rather than the more heralded, newer Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors, which saw limited action.

Patriot interceptors destroyed nine Iraqi tactical ballistic missiles, while another six Iraqi missiles were “not fired at, based on the predicted impact area,” Lieutenant Yvonne Lukson, a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), told Arms Control Today April 21. CENTCOM has not announced how many total Patriot missiles were fired.

Lukson identified Iraqi munitions launched at coalition forces and Kuwait as Ababil-100 and al Samoud missiles, FROG rockets, and one cruise missile. Iraq did not fire any Scud missiles, which vexed an early version of the Patriot in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

U.S.-led coalition and Kuwaiti forces deployed PAC-3s and upgraded versions of the PAC-2 to defend against Iraqi missile attacks. PAC-2 missiles employ a warhead that explodes near the target to destroy it, while the PAC-3 interceptor is designed to smash its target in a high-speed collision.

Upgraded PAC-2s were more numerous, used more extensively, and recorded most of the Iraqi missile intercepts. All told, Lukson reported that two Iraqi ballistic missiles had been destroyed by PAC-3s. A total of four PAC-3s had been fired at the two targets.

Early on in the military campaign, U.S. officials suggested they were using the newer PAC-3 to protect coalition forces and Kuwait. A spokesperson at the Coalition Press Information Center said March 24 that up to that point six Iraqi ballistic missiles had been destroyed and that all Patriots fired had been PAC-3s. Initial CENTCOM press releases regarding Patriot intercepts also implied that the military was only using the PAC-3, stating “The PATRIOT system deployed on the battlefield today is the latest version, referred to as a PAC-3.”

Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, testified April 9 that PAC-3 use was limited due to a short supply of the interceptors. By the end of last year, just more than 50 PAC-3s had been delivered to the U.S. Army for possible deployment.

While cautioning that intercept data still needed to be evaluated, Kadish described the Patriot’s most recent battlefield record as “very, very good.”

Questions abound about why Patriots mistakenly attacked coalition aircraft. A number of factors could be responsible, including human error or procedural, mechanical, or software failures.

Kadish offered no explanation, saying that the incidents are under investigation.

Philip Coyle, who served as the director of the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation for most of the Clinton administration and conducted reviews of the Patriot, stated April 22 that the system’s radar is “excellent…and should be able to tell the difference” between an airplane and a missile. “What’s not so clear is whether the Patriot software has been written properly to use the information from the radar to discriminate an aircraft from a missile,” Coyle said.

Coyle also speculated that “friend or foe” identification systems, which help tell enemy and allied equipment apart, could have failed.

The Patriot system did engage the wrong targets in at least two previous Pentagon exercises. In a March 2000 joint forces field evaluation, the Patriot system targeted friendly aircraft “on two occasions,” a Joint Forces Command spokesperson said April 22. More recently, there were “simulated, unintended engagements of friendly forces” by the Patriot system in an April 2002 exercise, the same spokesperson reported April 24.

The Patriot was initially designed to counter aircraft, but the U.S. military pressed it into service in the 1991 conflict to protect against Iraqi missiles. Initial reports asserted Patriot operated almost perfectly, but the Pentagon scaled back its claims in the face of mounting contradictory evidence. The General Accounting Office, which conducts investigations for Congress, assessed in 1992 that the “strongest evidence” supported about nine percent of the reported intercepts, but other analyses set the figure lower.




Patriot Scorecard Mixed; PAC-3 Use Limited

New Nuclear Weapons vs. Nonproliferation: The Choice Before Congress









Tuesday, APRIL 29, 2003
Hall of States


Transcript by:
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.


The Arms Control Association held a press briefing on the dangers posed by the Bush administration's initiatives to research new nuclear weapons. Congress is expected to begin debate on these proposals in upcoming weeks. This is a rushed transcript of the event.

The Panelists:

DARYL KIMBALL: Good morning, everyone. I'm Daryl Kimball - and we are having a few sound problems this morning and I apologize for that. Welcome to this morning's Arms Control Association briefing on "Nuclear weapons versus non-proliferation: The choice before Congress." The Arms Control Association is a private, non-partisan organization devoted to supporting effective arms control and nonproliferation strategies to reduce and eliminate the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. We're pleased to have this morning with us three very distinguished speakers to help us understand the choices facing Congress in the next few weeks on the Bush administration's proposals for research on new bunker busting nuclear weapons capabilities and its proposal to appeal the existing prohibition on research and development leading to production of low-yield nuclear weapons. That is five kilotons or below. We hope to address not only the political dynamics of these proposals but also the technical realities and the proliferation implications.

We have a couple of handouts on the table that elaborate on these issues, an Arms Control Association briefing paper. We have Dr. Sidney Drell's recent article from our journal, Arms Control Today, "New Bunker Busters Versus Nonproliferation," and I believe there's a draft report from NRDC that will soon be available on this subject that we'll let you know about.

Now, all of us here agree that these proposals are but the latest in a series of imprudent steps by the administration to develop a more flexible and aggressive nuclear force posture that threatens to undermine U.S. and global nonproliferation objectives. This includes the National Security Presidential Directive 17 that clarifies that nuclear weapons may be used in response to chemical or biological threats, and the Nuclear Posture Review that asserts that nuclear weapon capabilities are needed to defeat deeply buried and hardened targets. And the administration has taken steps to lower the barriers to resume nuclear testing which might be necessary to field these types of weapons.

Now, Congress is going to decide soon about whether to continue funding for the research on bunker busters and to repeal the ban on low-yield weapons research. The House and Senate Armed Services Committee will soon evaluate these issues, and our next speaker, Senator Edward Kennedy, is going to be in the middle of that discussion on Capitol Hill.

We're very honored to have Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts with us here today to share his perspectives on the Bush administration's more aggressive nuclear weapons policies in the upcoming debate. Senator Kennedy hardly needs an introduction but I'd just like to say that he certainly is, in the view of the Arms Control Association, one of our nation's foremost and stalwart advocates of sane nuclear policies from arms reduction agreements with Russia, to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty over the years, to vigorous inspections in Iraq. After he speaks I hope he'll have a few minutes to take some questions.

Thank you very much for being here, Senator Kennedy. The floor is yours.

SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA): Good morning. I'm grateful for the invitation to be here today and I thank Daryl Kimball for that generous introduction. I have great respect for the Arms Control Association and the wise leadership it continues to provide on key issues of arms control, especially nuclear arms control.

Of all the challenges we've faced over the past half-century, the prevention of nuclear war may be the most difficult and the most important. Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to other nations and to terrorists is the most urgent aspect of that challenge today. We all hope that the Bush administration will be successful in the current negotiations with North Korea and that the progress made in recent weeks will continue. Many of us are concerned, however, that certain steps taken by the administration in recent months are raising doubts about our own long-standing policy on nuclear weapons.

"More has changed on proliferation than on any other issue." CIA Director George Tenet made that statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee last February. Nowhere is this clearer than in the modifications that the Bush administration is making in nuclear weapons policy. Because of their unique and massive destructive power, nuclear weapons have always been kept separate from other weapons as part of our strong commitment to do all we can to see that they are never used again.

The reason the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968 has been so successful is the presumption that nuclear weapons will not be used except in the most extreme circumstances. For 25 years, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have emphasized our commitment not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations. The assurance to other nations that nuclear weapons will not be used against them has been a major factor in avoiding nuclear war and reducing the nuclear arms race and preventing the proliferation of these weapons to other countries and to terrorists.

Control of current stockpiles is more critical than ever and the danger is very real that terrorists may be able to acquire nuclear material or nuclear warheads. Even before 9/11, Congress and the administration had recognized this threat. We enacted the Nunn-Lugar threat reduction program in 1991 to safeguard and reduce the arsenals of Russia and other former Soviet states, and it's been effective in deactivating or destroying literally thousands of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and hundreds of tons of fissionable material.

Nevertheless, shortly before President Bush's inauguration, the taskforce reported that the most urgent national security threat to the United States today is the dangers that weapons of mass destruction, or weapons-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home. On September 11th, terrorists clearly demonstrated their willingness and their ability to cause catastrophic damage to America, yet the Bush administration continues to spend less on the Nunn-Lugar program than we did before 2001. In January, the administration released a Nuclear Posture Review that could take us in a new and far more dangerous direction than before.

The review blurs the line between conventional and nuclear weapons. It suggests that certain events might compel the United States to use nuclear weapons first, even against non-nuclear nations. It also relies much more strongly on a nuclear threat by America in dealing with the difficult challenges we face in the world. The administration has even indicated that it might use nuclear weapons in response to a chemical or biological attack.

There is no justification for that kind of escalation. Our conventional weapons are more than adequate to deal with that threat. We gain no greater deterrent by threatening to go nuclear. It makes no sense to break down the firewall that we have always maintained between nuclear weapons and other weapons, and that has succeeded for over half a century in preventing nuclear war. Other nations have complied with this basic principle, too. A nuclear weapon is not just another item in our arsenal and it's wrong to treat it like it is.

The Review specifically discusses circumstances in which the United States might engage in the first use of nuclear weapons, such as a North Korean attack on South Korea or a military confrontation over the status of Taiwan. We also appear to be considering the use of nuclear weapons against Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. We reap what we sow, and if we brandish our nuclear weapons, we only encourage other nations to develop their own.

It's ominous as well that the administration is asking the weapons laboratories to consider the possibility of resuming nuclear testing to protect our current stockpile and to meet new requirements in the future. They've budgeted $700 million for fiscal year 2004 budget, including funds that could be used for new tests, and cut in half the time needed to conduct them. It makes no sense to abandon our moratorium on nuclear testing. That moratorium has stood for over a decade and it has served us well.

Last year the administration also requested $15 million, and it wants another $15 million this year, to study the feasibility of modifying existing warheads to create what they call "a robust nuclear earth-penetrator," a bunker buster with 10 times the size of the Hiroshima blast to be used to destroy hardened enemy targets buried deeply underground. The scientific community has raised serious questions about the need for this type of nuclear weapon and the danger it presents. A nuclear explosion in a bunker could spew tons of radioactive waste into the atmosphere, with a devastating plume that could poison huge areas in its path. Obviously developing such weapons would distract us from strengthening conventional weapons to fulfill this purpose.

Finally, the administration wants to lift the current statutory ban on low-yield nuclear weapons which now prevents the development of weapons with yields under five kilotons, about half the size of the Hiroshima blast. The precision guided munitions and standoff weapons we have today make these many nukes unnecessary. They would be no more effective than conventional munitions and would be far more dangerous to our troops. Some say that the long-standing firewall between nuclear and conventional weapons is making us more vulnerable to nuclear blackmail, and that lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons will make our own nuclear threat a stronger and more credible deterrent. That's the last thing we need. The obvious danger of change in policy is that they will encourage other nations to develop nuclear deterrents of their own. The entire world will be at greater risk that these weapons will be used, and used against us.

The real debate on these all-important issues of nuclear policy is only just beginning. Clearly these issues demand far more attention from Congress and the country. They have been eclipsed for too long by the war on terrorism and the war against Iraq. We can ignore them no longer. We have an obligation to our nation and our people and to all nations and all peoples to see that nuclear weapons are never used again.

I'll be glad to answer questions.

KIMBALL: Thank you, Senator Kennedy. Questions from the audience, please.

SEN. KENNEDY: If it doesn't make any difference I'll take them sitting down.


Q: -- from the Guardian. Do you feel this administration is serious about considering breaking the U.S. test moratorium? Do you see that on the horizon?

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, what I'm outlining today, the statements and actions that they have made to date and also their request of the defense authorization legislation which is before our Armed Services Committee, I think what we ought to do is just take those actions and interpret them reasonably as to what their intention is. And I think that's going to be a matter that will be considered by the Armed Services Committee, the authorization, and I also think that there will be floor action as well. And I expect that debate to be some time probably before the Fourth of July.

I think we ought to follow the money request. The best way to follow - to get the indication of the seriousness of the administration is to follow the request of the money, defense authorization in the various categories, and it is as I've outlined here today, and that's, I think, the clearest indication of where they're going besides the statements that they've made.

KIMBALL: Thank you. Other questions? Pat Towell.

Q: Pat Towell, Congressional Quarterly. Senator, on the Spratt-Furse amendment that they want to repeal, last year they said - and they said again this year their intention is not, in fact, to begin developing a warhead but rather to pass - this legislation is drafted so broadly that it inhibits research intended for other purposes that could theoretically be seen. And so, in the House they were willing last year to work out a deal that would narrow the scope. I mean, does that final approach appeal to you at all?

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, I think Congressman Spratt has addressed that and is the author of that amendment for very good and sound purposes and still strongly committed to it. We would certainly consider any proposal, but the underlying principle I think still remains sound and is one that should be defended. Obviously, if the administration has some other points in mind they can be considered, but the basic concept, the basic principle, is still as compelling today as it was at the time that it was adopted and is a principle that I would strongly support and urge my colleagues to.

KIMBALL: Yes, sir.

Q: (Off mike.) You mentioned the Bush report about the possible use of weapons in a North Korea/South Korea situation, Taiwan, China. Can you give us your sense of what the situation is now with North Korea, and if these weapons - if there's any connection between bunker busters and developing them and asking for money for them and the administration's policy toward North Korea?

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, I think their position is independent, maybe. In terms of the particular negotiations that are taking place now, I think - there may be others that want to draw other conclusions - but I think that their position in terms of the development of bunker-busters has been there for a longer period of time than these more recent negotiations with North Korea.

I think what is happening in the North Korean situation - the nature of these discussions is basically positive. I think both sides have been stating their positions. As negotiators we understand that the North Korean position as stated is not going to be wholly acceptable to us, and either is our position to them. That's the nature of the negotiations. And I think that that is certainly hopeful; I think it would be. And it's quite clear from the statements and comments that the actions that have been taken by the administration in opening up these discussions have been supported by the Chinese, by the South Koreans, and by the Japanese as well. And I think that we should certainly pursue them, and very hopefully we will.

I think it's understandable that you have a variety of different issues that are involved: the nuclear weapons grade plutonium and the nuclear weapon that the North Koreans have, the danger that that poses as well as their missiles; their desire, if they are going to give those up, about the dangers of aggression to them, their own security; and they've obviously got economic challenges as well. And these are matters that I think are pretty increasingly well understood by all the sides of this and I would certainly hope that the continued discussions would take place. Don't call them discussions, call them negotiations, but whichever word you want to use, it's very important, I think, in terms of trying to work through a safer and more secure region.

KIMBALL: Yes, ma'am.

Q: (Off mike) Can you discuss the report on the [robust nuclear earth penetrator] that the Pentagon released last month to the Armed Services Committee, and are you or anyone else on the committee fishing for an unclassified version to be released?

KIMBALL: The robust nuclear earth-penetrator report that was filed earlier.

Q: Last month, was it?

SEN. KENNEDY: Yeah, well, I can - rather than just on the particular details, I think that, quite clearly, as I mentioned, I have very serious reservations about it. I think that whatever can be achieved in terms of any projections that I've seen in the Armed Services Committee about nuclear [use] are well within the range in terms of conventional, and that obviously has very important and significant advantages, for the reasons I've outlined: the dangers of using the nuclear weapons and the risks that are out there in terms of our own personnel.

And I think that that's also true with regards to the statement that the administration has at least left open for countries that are going to use weapons of mass destruction, for example, whether they use bioterrorism or chemical warfare. We can deal with those situations with a conventional force. Again, the use -- we can clean up a chemical and biological attacks but cleaning up a nuclear is far more dangerous and more difficult and poses much greater threats in terms of American troops.

Finally, I think, going down that road in terms of threatening use against countries, the fact is that the terrorists today are going to be - if they're going to use any of these they're going to use them from countries that may very well be countries which are not harboring or supporting these terrorist activities and which the surrounding populations are completely innocent from these kinds of situations. I think we're much better off not threatening [nuclear use in] these situations and I think we ought to continue what steps have been taken, and they're very robust steps in the development of conventional forces, and maintain what is the most basic and fundamental issue, and that is the firewall that has existed between the use of nuclear weapons of all forms and shapes and conventional forces. That is a firewall. You have to understand, it's a firewall.

Many of us have serious questions about the administration's statements and comments that seem to blur this, the whole series of comments. Even [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair in the Iraq situation indicated very clearly that he could not foresee any circumstances whatsoever where nuclear weapons would have been used. That kind of clarification was not as clear in terms of our own homeland.

KIMBALL: Thank you. Yes, sir.

Q: David Kassomel (ph), National Public Radio. Do you worry at all about the loss of expertise in the weapons (inaudible)?

SEN. KENNEDY: I think others who are more competent to really speak to that. I think it's better that those that can answer that more completely, knowledgably and competently, speak to that.

DR. SIDNEY DRELL: Just look at their budgets recently.


Q: Senator Kennedy, I was hoping that you could just comment on your concerns vis-à-vis developments with the Nuclear Posture Review and the reduction of tactical nuclear weapons and Russia.

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, we still have, obviously, a very important ways to go, with regards to tactical nukes, with [Russia]. I mean, we welcome the fact of this last treaty with [Russia], but the fact remains that the tactical nukes are still out there, and this remains a very important factor and force and more has to be done in that area. There was a criticism in the last treaty. It was that we did not take more - well, there's several, but this is certainly one of them - that strategic weapons weren't being disposed - destructed - but the fact that we were not taking steps in the tactical area, and that remains an area of enormous potential and importance and it ought to be an objective of national policy to address that in a more comprehensive way.

And I imagine -- as I see heads nodding here -- there will probably be some important recommendations on it, but clearly that's an area that I think ought to be a prime area of interest and initiation, hopefully, in terms of [reducing] the dangers and the proliferation not only in tactical weapons but also there ought to be additional kinds of support in terms of Nunn-Lugar, and there also ought to be an extension in terms of Nunn-Lugar to deal with bioterrorism. That's an area where the security issues are in terms of the protections of the materials in the Soviet Union, particularly of greatest concern.

Here this morning you can hear a great deal of information about the nature of the protections of materials and the dangers of proliferation of the nuclear, but in the area of bio it is much more significant and much - I mean, in terms of security, the protection of it, it needs a lot more attention, and many of us are hopeful that the extension and expansion of Nunn-Lugar would include those scientists and researchers and also those security interests as well. Very little is being done, but I know Senator Lugar has been interested in that as well.

KIMBALL: I think it would be fair to say that the further U.S. pursuit of new types of nuclear weapons or modifications, whether they're high-yield or low-yield, would complicate efforts to try to deal with the tactical weapons in the former Soviet Union.

If there are no further questions we'll go on to our next speaker. I want to thank Senator Kennedy very much for his remarks and leadership, and we wish him -

SEN. KENNEDY: I'm going to stay here a little while and listen.

KIMBALL: Because you want to see the presentation. Excellent, thank you. So, thanks again.

SEN. KENNEDY: Thank you very much.

KIMBALL: So, Dr. Drell.


DRELL: Senator Kennedy has touched just about every important point and I'm going to make some comments upon technical issues, but I have to make a few comments based upon his statement, which was excellent, because the firewall between nuclear weapons and any other weapon is an extraordinarily important wall to protect. Nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction. There are weapons of terror, like biological and chemical; nuclear weapons are unique.

I want to read a very brief statement made 15 years ago at a conference out at Stanford by Father Bryan Hehir, a priest and also for a while headed the Divinity School at Harvard, who played such a major role in the Catholic bishops' letter in the '80s, pastoral letter on nuclear weapons. It just puts what we're talking about in context before we get down to technical details. This is what he wrote:

"For millennia, people believed that if anyone had the right to call the ultimate moment of truth, one must name that person God. Since the dawn of the nuclear age, we have progressively acquired the capacity to call the moment of truth, and we are not gods but we must live with what we have created."

And I think one should keep that in mind, this terrible idea that nuclear weapons are an answer to chemical or biological weapons, or that they might be usable in tactical situations against a bunker or for this purpose. I think that's the most dangerous idea in the world that we face. For 58 years, since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have built the norm of nonuse of nuclear weapons, even though we've been involved in unwinnable wars, and so has the rest of the world, the Russians in Afghanistan for example. We have built a norm of non-possession. The nonproliferation regime has been a tremendous success. Only eight nations are known to have nuclear weapons today, out of 189. That's a far smaller number than was thought to be the case as one looked at prospects 40, 30 years ago.

We have found, with even an inadequate verification system, that Iraq and North Korea and Iran were on their way to nuclear weapons long before they got them. Let's make the nonproliferation regime stronger. Let's give the United Nations or the International Atomic Energy Agency broader power to inspect suspect sites that it does not have now. But we must preserve the nonproliferation regime. Look at the alternatives if more countries or terrorists get their hands on this material. And as Senator Kennedy said, the report by former Senator Howard Baker and White House counsel, Lloyd Cutler, said there's hundreds of tons of material in the former Soviet Union. Those are the greatest threats we face, and here we're spending one-third - less than one-third of 1 percent of our defense budget on that problem. That's terribly out of whack. So there are major problems, and I want you - please remember every major point the senator made because there was a wonderful summary. I'm going to talk about a few technical details, and they're important.

So you have to look at bunker busters and say, you know, what are they good for? What are they going to do? Well, why are we interested in them? It is true that there are now some 70 or so nations in the world that have become adept at digging deep bunkers, deep for storage. There are estimated by the intelligence community to be about 1,000 such sites for command and control, for storage of weapons. We have to do something about them. But what have nuclear weapons got to do with that? What have nuclear weapons got to do with that?

In fact, if you take those bunkers of serious concern that we talk about, they are things that have been hardened, like with concrete or granite or in hard rock, to stand 1,000 atmospheres of overpressure, and they're as deep as 1,000 feet. Let me tell you, you can look at all the small nuclear weapons you want, but if you're going to do any damage to some hard target at 1,000 feet, that's going to be more than 100 kilotons. I mean, this is physics; this has nothing to do with policy.

You're not talking about small, usable, low-collateral-damage weapons. If I just detonate one kiloton, one-thirteenth of Hiroshima, at a depth that I can reach physically without destroying the material that the bomb is encased in, which means at depths of less than 50 feet, there is no material that will take us lower that that, even if we slam them in at supersonic speeds. That one-kiloton is going to create a crater larger than the World Trade Center, larger than a football field. It's going to put a million cubic feet of radioactively contaminated dust into the atmosphere. That's much more collateral damage. And what's more, one kiloton isn't even going to get close to a deep, hardened, buried target. You have to get up to 100 kilotons. To contain 100 kilotons or so, you would have to detonate the weapon more than 1,000 feet below ground.

So what are we talking about when we talk about bunker-busters? We're not talking about low collateral damage, low-yield weapons. That's a physical myth - that's a myth. And so what we can do, as the senator said, what we can do is improve our conventional forces. It's important to be able to make our bombs, our conventional weapons, penetrate before they detonate. If you can penetrate an explosion on the order of 10 to 20 feet below the surface before it detonates -- you know, it's hardened enough so it doesn't destroy itself and it digs down on the order of 20 feet or so before it detonates, you can increase the shock delivered to a target by order of magnitude by a factor of 10 to 20. That is something very important to do.

Also, you have to know where the target is. Is it a tunnel of miles length? Where do you want to hit it, except finding an entrance and blocking it off? But you have to have accuracy. You have to know, where are the underground targets, what's their character, where, if there are serious materials in there that you want to destroy like biological agents or chemical weapons, where are they? You can't just - the need for good intelligence to increase the effectiveness on conventional forces, identifying targets, characterizing them, locating them, that's far more important than any marginal gain you're going to get out of a nuclear weapon.

Also the ability to deliver the munitions accurately. We've shown a great improvement in that capacity, especially most recently in Iraq. The effectiveness with which conventional weapons can increase their - the ability to increase their effectiveness goes up radically with good accuracy of delivery. In fact, over the years the laboratories, particularly Sandia, has had programs where they make, for conventional weapons, pilot holes. It takes one detonation to create a hole, and now, using GPS, the global position satellites, to follow beacons into the hole and have successive explosions, you can increase the depth to which you penetrate.

There have been some experiments that I'm aware of, done by people like Patterson and Young (sp). People have been working this problem for 30 years, which show that in hard granite-type targets, you can increase your penetration depth if you have a pilot hole from the previous explosion by as much as 30 percent. Against ordinary soil you can get 10 percent - 10-foot increases in depth.

So these are real things to do with conventional weapons, but the lure of nuclear weapons and trying to weaken that firewall that has, for 58 years, been so important to our survival in this world, that is a terrible thought, that's a dangerous thought. I want us to work hard to preserve what we have done so well at so far.

One final comment. When we talk about the nonproliferation regime, in getting the extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty at it's fifth and final schedule of review in 1995--that took place at the United Nations - in getting 185 nations of the world out of 189 to sign onto the nonproliferation treaty, the nuclear powers had to agree--it's not in writing on a treaty but they understood that the condition to get these countries to sign on was the assumption, the commitment that we would not test. That was explicit in getting the signature of many of these countries. If we were to, for some minor advantage, illusionary in part, of improving our ability to get buried targets by violating the Comprehensive Test Ban and resuming testing, we would lose enormous support for the nonproliferation regime.

As I said, all but four countries have signed on to that: India, Pakistan, Israel and now North Korea, which pulled out. So the Comprehensive Test Ban, or at least continuing the moratorium on testing, is a very important part of our facing the threat of nuclear weapons. And the Comprehensive Test Ban has been signed by 166 countries, been ratified by 97, and 31 of the 44 nuclear-capable powers that have to sign it before it comes into effect. There is the challenge to not only preserve the moratorium but to strengthen it, because once the Comprehensive Test Ban comes into effect there will be further strengthening of our ability to verify compliance.

So that, I think, is the challenge we face. And I think the senator has put out every important reason why.

KIMBALL: Thank you, Dr. Drell, for those excellent remarks. Let me just remind the audience that Dr. Drell is one of the nation's most trusted advisors on nuclear weapons issues--nuclear policy issues for decades. He's a member of the advisory committee for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a member of the JASON group at the MITRE Corporation, which has advised the Defense Department and the Department of Energy for many years on these issues.

Next we'll hear from Dr. Matthew McKinzie, who is with the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who is a physicist who has worked as a post-doctoral associate at the Cornell University Peace Studies program before joining NRDC in 1997. Dr. McKinzie is going to provide us with a visual demonstration of many of the facts that Senator Kennedy and Dr. Drell have laid out, demonstrating the potential effects of the collateral damage of an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon on possible targets.

Matt, are we almost there?

MATTHEW MCKINZIE: Almost there. One second.

KIMBALL: Okay. Let me also note, for those of you who may have come in late, that one of the reasons why we're putting together this press briefing today is because the Senate Armed Services Committee will, in the next few days, be considering the proposal put forward by the administration in it's defense authorization request for fiscal 2004. The committees are scheduled to look at this issue over the next two to three weeks. A bill will then move to the floor by probably the July Fourth recess, or thereabouts. These issues are very much on the agenda of the Congress and these watershed decisions will be happening very soon.

Matt, are we -

MCKINZIE: I think we're ready. All right, well, sorry for the change in venue here. It's an honor to be on this panel, I have to say, as the junior member. The topic of my presentation, I wanted to provide some sort of graphical examples of both the properties of these weapons and their employment. And what I'll first discuss, at NRDC, as of yesterday, our understanding is that in fact there may be two contexts in which these weapons could be developed and employment options that could be considered.

One context should be called - really thought of as strategic. Earth-penetrating weapons were originally developed in a strategic context in which targets were in Russia and, to a much lesser extent, China, countries with which the U.S. has a deterrent relationship. These weapons were thought of as part of the SIOP, or Single Integrated Operational Plan, the nuclear war plan of the U.S., and targeted destruction for earth-penetrating weapons is really the primary criteria when considered in a strategic mode. So this is the region of higher nuclear explosive yields.

The other context is regional or tactical use, and that has already been discussed in this panel, but here we're talking about targets in countries with regional or emergent weapons of mass destruction capabilities, such as Iran, Syria or North Korea. In this case, target destruction criteria for weapons design is really balanced against minimizing what's called collateral effects, or death and injury due to the radioactive fallout. So those are really the two contexts in which earth-penetrating weapons will be designed - may be designed and employment considered.

Now, I wanted to address two technical issues which Dr. Drell has already addressed. One is the coupling of the energy from the nuclear explosion to the earth to destroy underground structures. What do you buy with an earth-penetrating weapon as opposed to one that explodes on the surface? And the second is the fallout from a nuclear explosion. How does that fallout change if you bury the nuclear burst before it goes off?

Now, about a week ago we got an unclassified paper by a weapons designer named Gerald Marsh. It was tremendously informative. On paper at least, it looks like you can replace, in terms of target destruction capabilities, a megaton-class thermonuclear weapon, which is a weapon with a nuclear explosive yield in the range of tens of kilotons. And that's what this graph right here would show you, which is a combination of data points and a fit to those data points.

Basically this--it's a logarithmic graph; on this side the fraction of nuclear explosive energy that goes into destroying an underground target. And on this axis you have what's called the scaled depth of burst. So for contact burst, or a proximity burst of a nuclear explosion, you're looking at basically a factor of 10 or more compared to penetrating even several meters into the ground. So this is the amount of energy available - a small fraction of the energy is available down here to go into the ground and destroy things. Much larger fractions, 50-60 percent, of the energy is available when you bury the weapon even a short distance, several meters. So on paper at least, this is the quote, unquote "appeal" of an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon.

Now, the issue of fallout. I'm going to show you some fallout calculations that we put together for this briefing at NRDC. When you calculate the fallout of a nuclear explosion, there are basically several important variables. One is the explosive yield of the nuclear weapon, obviously higher yield, more fallout. The second factor is what's called the height of burst, or how high above the ground the weapon goes off, or the depth of burial, how deeply it's buried. Above a certain height of burst, above a certain altitude, no local fallout is predicted, and that's what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the weapons went off about half a kilometer above the surface of the earth.

The type of nuclear weapon really matters a lot for fallout, whether it's a simpler fission design or a thermonuclear weapon, which would produce yet less fallout per kiloton of yield. The winds are tremendously important. The mushroom cloud basically is blown by winds, not just the winds acting at the surface of the earth but tens of miles up if the explosion is large enough. And finally, weather: if it's raining out, whether there are mountains in the vicinity, all these things enter into assessment of fallout.

Now, if the weapon is buried below a certain depth in the medium, then no fallout would be predicted. You would have what's called a contained burst. In the fallout code we use in the Department of Defense there's a simple formula for calculating how deep the weapon needs to go not to produce fallout, and it's actually quite deep, even for fairly low-yield weapons. This is half a kiloton. The code would estimate that there would be no fallout if it was buried more than about 55 meters or so, 150 feet. At the Nevada test site they have a slightly more conservative formula for predicting no fallout, based on preventing exposure to test personnel.

Now, I used our code, and I'll show you more explicit calculations in a bit, but I wanted to explore how the extent of fallout varies as you vary a weapon. And I was very surprised to see this result, that as you penetrate the earth and the weapon goes off, you actually produce more fallout for fairly shallow dept of burst, and then the fallout diminishes. And that's because the fireball is more efficiently scooping out material from the earth; that material is mixing with the radioactive debris and falling out within tens of kilometers or more around the ground zero.

Now, what computer code did we use to calculate fallout for this presentation? It's really an amazing piece of software called HPAC. It's produced by SAIC, a Department of Defense contractor to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. It is unclassified. It's not generally available, but an NRDC officially obtained a copy, with the intervention of a member of Congress, and the code is incredibly capable. It calculates a variety of things, not just nuclear weapons but also radiological weapons, so-called dirty bombs, chemical or biological weapon use, or accidents at nuclear facilities. It has data in the code for all nuclear facilities worldwide.

Now, HPAC itself is very close to the U.S. nuclear war-planning process. Despite the fact that it's unclassified, what you're seeing here are fallout patterns - lt;em>(audio break) - and what we've done at NRDC in years past, we've used a code called KD53 (ph), developed at Livermore, to understand in greater detail the U.S. nuclear war plan, or SIOP. So this is the fallout pattern we calculated using a Livermore code from attacking Russian - alert Russian ICBM silos at a place called Kozalsk (ph), and this is the equivalent calculation using HPAC. So I feel fairly confident that at least as far as fallout goes, we do have a handle on the phenomenology and on the many inputs to the code.

There's a lot in there and I - in this code, and probably the subject of a report, but one piece of information that I just found utterly fascinating was buried in the help file for the code. It was a tutorial on how you use nuclear weapons to target biological facilities. There was a training objective--there was a test afterwards for the individual who went through this exercise, and basically this training manual was about how you choose proper yield and height of burst to target a biological weapons facility so as to minimize the amount of agent released and the amount of fallout produced.

Now the last topic of my presentation: earth-penetrating nuclear weapon employment. I thought here what I would do is sort of step through the different phases of employment and then choose hypothetical targets for such an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon in North Korea. And in doing so I came to believe that no rational decision-maker would choose to use the existing earth-penetrating nuclear warhead that we have on our arsenal, the B61 Mod 11, of which we have about 50 in our arsenal.

This map here shows sort of the backend of deployment. It's a map of the United States, obviously, and what I've labeled on this map are three sites in the United States: the White House, the Office of the President -- the president of the United States has the ultimate authority to authorize the use of nuclear weapons -- Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, which is the location of all nuclear weapons planning, targeting, acquisition and planning for the use of nuclear weapons; and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, where the B-2 bombers are deployed.

Thanks to the Internet revolution we can actually see what a U.S. nuclear bomber base looks like simply by downloading an aerial photo from an Internet site. So the U.S. conducts aerial photo surveys and then typically state governments post these aerial photo surveys on their Internet sites. And, in fact, this was an aerial photo survey of Missouri, and this is the B2 bomber base, and if one zooms in one can actually see a B2 parked in the parking area. And more disturbingly, one can also see the nuclear weapons storage bunker. That bunker is associated with this base, so it's a facility within the Air Force base quite close to the B2 parking area. And it's a little hard to make out, but these are drive-in bunkers where nuclear weapons would be stored, and presumably the B61 Mod 11s are there awaiting use.

Now, actual calculations. I looked at really two scenarios, two simple scenarios. One looked at how an earth-penetrating warhead and the nine-megaton bomb that the B61 Mod 11 was intended to replace and what the fallout patterns would look like if those weapons were targeted against a bunker outside Pyongyang or the mountainous area just across the border near Seoul. So let's zoom into the Pyongyang area. Now, again, quite incredibly, the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which is an agency within the Department of Defense, actually publishes 10-meter resolution imagery of all of the Korean Peninsula, so this is - and it's painstaking to sort of download it all and get it into focus, but I've done so for this and for other presentations.

And you can learn a lot about North Korea, about the demilitarized zone, from this 10-meter imagery that, again, is freely available for those who have the time to download from NIMA's website. And if you look just west of Pyongyang there is an interesting--there is a mountain here, or hill, and what I postulated in this calculation was that this hill, which is adjacent to both military airfields and heliports, might have a leadership or command and control function in a bunker inside it.

The second target--potential scenario I looked at--again, I tried to be plausible here without knowing an awful lot, frankly, about the deployment of - without knowing a lot about North Korean leadership sites, but it's been widely reported that in the mountains just across the border from South Korea are many tunnels in which there are artillery guns on rail cars, and these can be rolled out, and because they are sort of between 40 and 60 kilometers from Seoul, they could represent a threat to the--an immediate, quickly deployed threat to the South Korean capital. So, again, here's the 10-meter image that shows this sort of mountainous area and you do see sort of hints of facilities in this sort of one mountainous area and then another one here even closer to Seoul.

So, just to show you the calculations quickly--it never ceases to sort of stun me how comprehensive the fallout patterns can be from a large-yield nuclear explosion, but here is the fallout patterns from the weapon that the B61 Mod 11 was intended to replace. So it's a nine-megaton weapon--nine-megaton gravity bomb that was replaced by a weapon that probably has a yield around 100 kilotons, so it's--but with its earth-penetrating capabilities it has presumably equivalent, or nearly equivalent capabilities to damage underground facilities.

So this is the fallout pattern that would be produced, using historical weather data from the month of April. The fallout from a nine-megaton weapon is just immense, and you can see why it - the innermost fallout pattern is for a lethal dose to an individual who was in this zone and had no sheltering for the first 48 hours after the attack. And one caveat too, this fallout pattern was calculated irrespective of mountainous terrain that might be in the path of the fallout pattern. And then, similarly, this is the same fallout pattern from a nine-megaton nuclear weapon targeted at that mountainous area here, so in fact covered with substantial fallout. So, again, it's just impossible to imagine that a rational leader would choose to employ such a weapon in such a context.

The code calculates casualties. The casualties from such a calculation are based on a worldwide gridded population density that was developed by the U.S. National Laboratories specifically for nuclear weapons modeling. And the casualties from the nine-megaton explosions are from six to 14 million people. By comparison, here is the weapon that's in the U.S. arsenal today. These are the smaller fallout patterns, less extensive fallout patterns produced by 100-kiloton earth-penetrating weapon. But again, the casualties from the intense fallout patterns--and this was not for--these calculations were not sort of a worst-case scenario where the fallout would blow directly over in an urban area, this was just typical weather in April, but the casualties there number in the hundreds of thousands.

So with that I'll conclude this presentation. What I wanted to do was to provide an overview of some technical issues associated with earth-penetrating weapons and then to make this issue more concrete by showing an exclusive targeting of a country of concern with these nuclear weapons and the fallout patterns produced.

Thank you.

KIMBALL: Thank you. Thank you very much, Matthew. I think that gives us a very disturbing look at what we're talking about here beyond the words and the intellectual theories. We'd be happy to take questions, further questions from the audience about these presentations for the next few minutes for Dr. McKinzie or Dr. Drell.

Senator Kennedy.

SEN. KENNEY: Dr. Drell talked earlier in his presentation about the limitations that you had in terms of the penetration, except in those charts that you showed it showed a very extensive penetration with very extensive kilotons.

MCKINZIE: In the bar graphs?

SEN. KENNEDY: In the bar graphs. So, can you relate those together? I mean, how realistic, given what Dr. Drell said--your other, going up to 160 meters underground. I have to--probably some misunderstanding. What is the current technology in terms of being able to reach that other depth?

MCKINZIE: I'll just clarify. The bar graph was meant to illustrate, irrespective of what the capabilities are to penetrate to a certain depth, how far you had to penetrate to preclude fallout. And then if you actually put a line on that graph as to where we are, it was almost all the way to the left. The B61 Mod 11 penetrates maybe several meters in frozen tundra.

KIMBALL: Dr. Drell?

DRELL: Yes, the fact is - he just showed that you'd have to penetrate much deeper than we are able to, or we will ever be able to, given the limits of material because you're not going to, without the material, the metals liquefying, ever get below 50 feet unless you develop a tactic for successive pilot holes and drilling your way in, in which case then you can be dealing with conventional weapons just as well.

SEN. KENNEDY: So it's basically theoretical.

DRELL: Absolutely.

SEN. KENNEDY: Everything to the right of that is all just theoretical in terms of physics, but in practical terms, where the technology is as reflected in that presentation, that showed the plume effect, that's where we are today.

DRELL: Just make sure the numbers are right. A five-kiloton weapon, the kind that is limited by the Spratt legislation, you have to dig down about 350 feet deep in order to get no fallout, but in fact we don't know how to go below 50. So that gives you the perspective.


Q: How bad is the fallout from a five-kiloton weapon if it's not 350 feet but it's 50 feet?

MCKINZIE: If it's 50 feet?

Q: So that's sort of the limit of what we can do, right? We can go down 50 feet, and say it's the lower-yield weapon.

MCKINZIE: Well, I can calculate that for you in a second, but -

Q: I mean, those are all big - those are all 500 - what was it, 100 kilotons, right?

DRELL: A reference number that's useful is that, again, your one-kiloton will give you a million cubic feet of dirt with radioactive contamination, and from there on it depends upon the weather patterns, the terrain and whatnot. But it's a huge crater--it's a huge crater. That's from one kiloton down at a level of 20 to 50 feet. It doesn't matter where you put it.

KIMBALL: In the back please.

Q: (Off mike.)

MCKINZIE: Well, I wouldn't expect such a weapon to be appropriate for missile sites because of the long time it takes to deliver a bomb to a target, and a missile site is a high--in terms of nuclear war planning, it's a high-priority target. The intent would be to destroy it as soon as possible so the missiles couldn't be launched.

Perhaps Dr. Drell has a -

DRELL: What was the question?

KIMBALL: The question was about the potential fallout effects of nuclear use in the Taiwan Straits situation. So I don't know if you can answer that because there are a lot of variables there.

DRELL: There are many variables, and it depends upon the weather and whatnot. I can't give you a number. The fact is you'll get radioactive surge coming from these craters, which is quite extensive. I would not give a number without saying - this assumption of weather and whatnot, it's considerable.

KIMBALL: Other questions? Yes, Tim?

Q: Matthew, can you explain a little bit more the two diagrams you did. Are those weapons that we have now?

MCKINZIE: The two diagrams -

Q: If you could just be more - explain more carefully, you know, the two diagrams, the two estimates you made. Are they weapons that we now have and that could be used, or are you talking about something not developed?

MCKINZIE: You mean the larger and the smaller fallout patterns.

Q: Yes.

MCKINZIE: The larger was from the nine-megaton gravity bomb. That is a weapon no longer in our arsenal that the B61 Mod 11 replaced with a lower yield because it had earth-penetrating capabilities. The B61 Mod 11, we have about 50 in our arsenal right now. So I was contrasting an old retired weapon and a currently deployed weapon.

Q: Okay, so what I'm trying to get at is what is the current capability then, the threat of dropping or using a nuclear - a weapon like that in those mountains north of the DMZ or in the area near Pyongyang? What is your estimate of what the ramifications of such a use of a weapon - what you said, probably no one sane would do but -

MCKINZIE: Well, it was the second set of estimates. That was for the B61 Mot 11.

DRELL: This is one of the problems that we face, which can have various people giving different views. We had a nine-megaton, the old B53. It was an unsafe, huge bomb. That was the first set of calculations. By taking an existing bomb, the B61, one of its many versions, B61-7, and putting it in a hardened reentry vehicle, we made it possible for that to dig into the earth some few meters. I can't give a number; it depends on the soil very much, and that gave the second set that he gave.

That raises the question - and this is what one has to answer seriously--well, maybe if we were to work on taking a smaller-yield bomb and putting it in a hard reentry vehicle so it could penetrate to the full 50 feet, or at least more than a few meters down to 30 or 40 feet, you could reduce casualties further. Therefore, isn't that a good thing to do? You've made it a more credible part of your deterrent but you've also opened the question, are you making nuclear weapons more usable for tactical situations?

And so you have to join the problem: what are nuclear weapons for? Are they for defensive last resort or are they part of the tactical battlefield? If we, the [world's] most powerful country, stand up in front of the world and say, they're for our deterrent; we have to make better and more usable nuclear weapons, how can we encourage the rest of the world to think that they shouldn't do that too?

KIMBALL: Exactly.

DRELL: So, to go back to what Senator Kennedy said, we have to work to improve our conventional forces to meet our national security needs and not brandish the notion that we're going to use these terrible weapons, except for defense, as a last resort.

KIMBALL: I would just add also that the Nuclear Posture Review, which was the document that came out about a year and half ago that kind of undergirds a lot of this thinking, it was contradictory. On the one hand it suggested that the United States should minimize the role of nuclear weapons in its military and foreign policies, but it, at the same time, recommended the development of new capabilities. So the Bush administration is Jekyll and Hyde on this subject, and what is key right now is for the Congress to make it clear that we should not extend the role of nuclear weapons into this new realm, for all the reasons that Dr. Drell and the others have said.

Other questions? Yes, sir.

Q: Dr. Drell, one of the more seminal articles came out in the Federation of American Scientists by Dr. Nelson when he went through the reasons why we're looking at earth-penetrating weapons. He looks at the labs and he points out the fact that the labs are looking for munitions, that sort of thing, that they're looking for more exciting work. (Inaudible.) I'm wondering, if it's physically impossible, given the technology we have now, to accomplish the mission we've set out, why then are the labs so willing to lobby for this effort?

DRELL: Again, the labs, like the administration, you talk to different people you get different answers. First of all, the need to do this to attract good scientists or whatnot -- I think Senator Kennedy commented, you know, the labs have a very healthy budget for the Stockpile Stewardship Program, and the leaders of the laboratories have all made statements now which say that the Stockpile Stewardship Program is maintaining the current arsenal.

You know, in the beginning there were a lot of statements, when the Stockpile Stewardship program first started and we had the moratorium on testing, that we couldn't maintain a deterrent. That article, I believe, has been put to bed and it has now been replaced by another one by people who want to test, which says, well, we may need new weapons for new missions. And again, as Daryl said, you have Jekyll and Hyde statements. Read the testimony on April 8th by Admiral Linton Brooks, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. He says, we don't want to lower the threshold; we don't want to build more usable bombs. If you read his statement, there's nothing unexceptional in it, it's a good statement, but then you read the Nuclear Posture Review and they say, well, maybe we have to develop new ones.

Now, where do the labs come in on this? Obviously the laboratories are trying to maintain something I support, a good technical credibility to monitor and maintain our deterrent. We have a deterrent. In my mind we want to know that that deterrent we have is reliable and is safe, and that takes a very strong program with good people. So I believe the laboratories have to stay first rate because the argument that we can maintain a deterrent without testing depends upon confidence in our laboratories being able to assure us that our deterrent is safe and reliable, as long as we have one.

So the laboratories want to be able to challenge scientists with new work. Obviously it rankles them to say, I can't have somebody think about something, which in one interpretation of the Spratt amendment says, you know, I can't think about things less than five kilotons. There's something funny about that argument because first of all, as the papers Daryl has put together show, what the Spratt amendment limits is weaponizing for deployment, not thinking about it. And one shouldn't confuse that. I mean, how do you stop somebody from thinking about something?

You should also know--and the point I didn't make--the fact is that if you look at our arsenal--not our deployed arsenal, now, but weapons we have developed over a thousand tests during 50 years we have tested and developed every conceivable type of weapon, from a primitive one to a fancy one, from very low yield, even battlefield--like old Davy Crockett rockets and artillery shells, to very high-yield ones. The issue is not testing or developing new designs, it's deciding if you want to package one so it can penetrate deeper without destroying itself before detonating.

So there is understandably a tension, which I can appreciate, from the labs, saying, don't tell us we can't think about something. But in fact, I don't believe the Spratt amendment says you can't think about something. I think the proper answer on that question was given by the senator before he left. So they can think about many things. The only limit is, do you really want to go weaponize something for deployment? And their big question is, first of all, if you believe the danger of using low-yield nuclear weapons, but to my mind even more worrisome immediately is you tell the rest of the world, we're going to continue developing and deploying new weapons because we need them for our security but we're going to tell 188 other nations, you know, don't do it; you don't need them.

And so it's the impact on the nonproliferation regime that I consider far more important than being in the minutia of whether a lower-yield weapon that goes a little deeper will do a little bit more for a deterrent or not. And that's why I say the emphasis is on intelligence and accuracy in our conventional forces.

KIMBALL: I think we've got time for a couple more questions. Yes, sir?

Q: Jason Forrester, the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign. Matthew, on the North Korea side of things, back in the early '90s it's been widely reported that the Clinton administration considered the possibility of preemptive strikes against North Korea in the months before the agreed framework. I mean, with the great investigative skills that you all have, have you been able to ferret out exactly what were the strike packages they were considering at that point, in '93, '94, that Bill Perry and others were considering, whether it included nuclear weapons considerations, what Pyongyang - (inaudible) - the business of trying to get those hardened artillery positions in the mountainous region, it numbers in the hundreds, or something like that - something like 250 or something like that, artillery pieces.

So I was just wondering if you all have -

MCKINZIE: No, the closest thing we've got are nuclear - discussions about the use of nuclear weapons at the RAND Corporation in the Korean War context, which are most interesting, but that's it. And our capabilities were very different at that time.

Q: But I guess - and maybe Dr. Drell and maybe Daryl as well - have you all had any indications that the Clinton administration at that time had considered nuclear weapons to try to - (inaudible)?

DRELL: I know nothing about it.

KIMBALL: I don't think we were privy to those discussions, and I would be very surprised if nuclear weapons were the lead component in that discussion.

Q: Matthew, could you discuss again - I think maybe you touched on it in your presentation, but why does the fallout increase in these weapons?

MCKINZIE: The radioactive to reproduce a nuclear explosion--and, Dr. Drell, you may want to comment on this, too--they're very fine, very light particles, and unless they adhere to material from the ground in the vicinity of the explosion, they are lofted into the upper atmosphere, circulate around the hemisphere in which the explosion takes place, and fall down weeks later, much diluted, much less radioactive. But if the nuclear explosion--if the fireball comes into contact with the earth, then it scoops up material which mixes with the radioactive debris. And for a depth of burial, a shallow depth of burial, that's happening in a more efficient way.

DRELL: That's right. I mean, you're just digging up more dirt.

MCKINZIE: Yeah, another way to put it.

KIMBALL: Okay. Any other questions? Thank you very much.

DRELL: Daryl, I just want to comment on a previously - it occurs to me to say when you look back at the problem of 1993, 1994 when the Clinton administration was almost ready to go, remember what saved us. It was President Carter going over there and talking to someone. It shows you that what we really have to be dealing with in this era of non-usable nuclear weapons: diplomacy. We're not going to make progress in reducing nuclear danger by threats and coercion or whatnot; it's diplomacy. That's even more important when especially dealing with unusable weapons, and there is a very important lesson in that, I believe; the fact that President Carter went over there and headed off the confrontation before it got out of control.

KIMBALL: Yes, exactly. Preventing the threats before they emerge is our best and first line of defense, and at this stage in the Korean crisis we certainly can't give up on that. There is a lot further to go, but that's the key approach there, perhaps the only approach.

I want to thank everyone for being here, for paying attention to this issue. Just to sum up, there are key issues before Congress. We think it's clear that the costs of pursuing a path of new nuclear weapons development is extremely high. The benefits are, at best, marginal, and realistically, they're unrealistic.

There are four key things that can be done by the administration and Congress, I think, to set us on a better course. First of all, maintaining the prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapon research leading to production, the Spratt-Furse prohibition. Second, shifting the funding, the $15 million in the fiscal '04 defense authorization bill request from robust nuclear earth-penetrator research to conventional alternatives. [Third], reaffirming the United States' commitment to the nuclear test moratorium and making sure that the Stockpile Stewardship resources are focused on the surveillance and maintenance activities that most directly address the reliability issues of the existing arsenal. And finally, it's important for the president to clarify that the role of nuclear weapons in the post-9/11 age, so long as they exist, should be focused on deterring the use of nuclear weapons by others and not to cross the firewall that has existed for 58 years of nonuse.

So thank you very much for being here. I appreciate it. And we are adjourned.

ACA Press Conference

U.S. Scientists Studied, Rejected Nukes in Vietnam

Christine Kucia

The U.S. government studied the feasibility of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) use during the Vietnam War and concluded that it “would offer the U.S. no military advantage commensurate with its political cost,” according to a recently declassified 1966 report that was released March 9.

JASON, a group of scientists that provides guidance to the U.S. government on military and arms control issues, conducted the study to assess the military and political consequences of unilateral U.S. TNW use in Southeast Asia, as well as the possible use of nuclear weapons against U.S. forces in the Vietnam conflict.

“Tactical Nuclear Weapons in South Asia” explored a variety of circumstances in which the weapons could be used against enemy forces, weighing the number of targets, the movement of enemy troops, and the impact of possible enemy support from China or the Soviet Union. It also assessed U.S. force vulnerability in the event of an enemy strike, concluding that U.S. military deployments would be severely compromised due to force density, troop location, and a lack of measures to protect bases.

The JASON study also warned of the possible proliferation consequences of TNW use in Southeast Asia, concluding, “Insurgent groups everywhere in the world would take note and would try by all available means to acquire TNWs for themselves.”

Touching on the political consequences of first use of TNWs in Vietnam, the study suggested that the United States would face a severe backlash of public opinion worldwide. The scientists acknowledged, “In sum, the political effects of U.S. first use of TNW in Vietnam would be uniformly bad and could be catastrophic.”

The report emerged publicly as the Bush administration contemplates new nuclear weapons development. In November 2002, Congress authorized the administration’s request to conduct a three-year research project on a robust nuclear earth penetrating nuclear weapon, which could defeat hardened and deeply buried targets. (See ACT, December 2002.) Most recently, the Pentagon requested the repeal of 1993 legislation prohibiting research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons. (See ACT, April 2003.)

The U.S. government studied the feasibility of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) use during the Vietnam War and concluded that it “would offer the U.S. no military advantage...

Nuclear Weapons Activity Surges in Energy Department Budget

Christine Kucia

Amid speculation about the Bush administration’s plans for the development and use of nuclear weapons, the Department of Energy (DOE) requested $6.38 billion for its nuclear weapons-related activities in fiscal year 2004—an increase of $532.2 million from 2003’s request, according to budget documents released February 3. DOE’s anticipated nuclear weapons work includes an increase in nuclear test readiness and research into earth-penetrating nuclear weapons.

While continuing to observe the moratorium on nuclear testing, DOE will begin to prepare the Nevada Test Site to conduct a nuclear test within 18 months of a presidential order, as recommended in a fiscal year 2002 Enhanced Test Readiness Cost Study. For fiscal year 2004, the agency’s test readiness budget will jump 39 percent to $24.9 million as DOE transitions from the current testing readiness window of 24-36 months. The final decision to move to an 18-month readiness posture, however, is contingent upon the outcome of a DOE report on the optimal time period for U.S. test site readiness. The report was mandated by Congress in the 2003 Defense Authorization Act and is expected to be completed within the next year. (See ACT, December 2002.)

In addition, the Energy Department’s budget request proposes further research on a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). In November 2002, Congress authorized $15 million a year for three years to conduct RNEP research, which will examine modifying existing B-61 and B-83 nuclear warheads to penetrate hardened and deeply buried facilities that might house weapons of mass destruction. The RNEP research will fall under the purview of the department’s Advanced Concepts Initiative. Under the budget request, that program would receive an additional $6 million “to conduct preconceptual and feasibility studies,” Energy Department spokesman Bryan Wilkes said February 26.

Manufacturing and certification of plutonium “pits,” the triggers of thermonuclear weapons, could also receive a significant increase in fiscal year 2004. DOE’s budget request includes spending $320.2 million—almost 36 percent more than in 2003—to manufacture and certify pits for W-88 warheads, which are mounted on U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Over the past several years, DOE has worked to establish a limited pit-production capability at Los Alamos National Laboratory to manufacture W-88 pits to meet stockpile maintenance requirements.

The fiscal year 2004 DOE budget request also includes money to construct a new facility to restart full-scale production of the plutonium pits for use in new or refurbished weapons. According to DOE, the Modern Pit Facility “will ensure a capacity of no less than 125 pits per year, with the ability to expand production to meet national security needs.”

Critics of DOE’s pit-manufacturing program and the new facility contend that plutonium pits are readily available from existing nuclear warheads that are not operationally deployed. DOE is also expected to have additional plutonium pits after warheads are removed from deployment under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty negotiated between the United States and Russia in May 2002. The department argues that the increased pit-production capacity is necessary to sustain stockpile safety and credibility.

Amid speculation about the Bush administration’s plans for the development and use of nuclear weapons, the Department of Energy (DOE) requested $6.38 billion for its nuclear weapons-related activities in fiscal year...

A Strategic Choice: New Bunker Busters Versus Nonproliferation

Sidney Drell, James Goodby, Raymond Jeanloz, and Robert Peurifoy

The United States has repeatedly emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the effort to slow down and, as possible, counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In particular, it has specified that strengthening the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is vital to this effort.

Secretary of State Colin Powell stressed the U.S. commitment to bolster the treaty and its efforts to counter the spread of nuclear technology to other nations in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last July: “The committee members know that the NPT is the centerpiece of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. It plays a critical role in efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons including to terrorists and states that support them. The NPT’s value depends upon all parties honoring their obligations. The United States places great importance on fulfilling its NPT undertakings.”

The joint declaration that Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin issued in Moscow on May 24 of last year affirmed that “the United States and Russia will also seek broad international support for a strategy of proactive non-proliferation, including by implementing and bolstering the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the conventions on the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons.” President Bush reiterated the importance of international cooperation in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in his letter issuing the new National Security Strategy on September 17, 2002, as well as in the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction that was published three months later.

There is good reason for the United States to support the NPT and promote its objectives. Today, 57 years after atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just eight nations—many fewer than predicted originally—are believed to possess deployed nuclear weapons. All but four countries in the world (India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea, which has recently withdrawn) are formally committed to the NPT, which first entered into force in 1970. A number of nations that had started down the road to nuclear weapons have abandoned them. These include Argentina and Brazil, which mutually shut down their advancing programs; South Africa, which destroyed its initial force; and Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, which returned all of their nuclear weapons to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. There is now a norm of nonpossession to which most nations adhere.

But the nonproliferation regime is fragile, and it currently faces severe challenges from Iran, Iraq, and particularly North Korea. Unfortunately, in recent months it has also been challenged by the United States. Statements by the administration, including the portions of the Nuclear Posture Review leaked in March 2002, suggest that the United States needs new, low-yield—and presumably “more useable”—nuclear weapons to destroy hardened and deeply buried targets. The world’s only superpower would send a negative signal to the non-nuclear states if it felt the need to develop new types of nuclear weapons.

Such an initiative would further undermine the NPT if it led to a resumption of nuclear explosive testing in order to deploy new weapons designs. In 1995, many of the world’s non-nuclear nations made it clear that their continued adherence to the NPT was contingent on the cessation of all nuclear-yield testing. Although it has adhered to a self-imposed moratorium on such tests for more than a decade, the United States has refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), thereby forgoing the opportunity to strengthen the NPT regime. A decision to resume testing to build low-yield nuclear weapons could deal the regime a fatal blow while providing the United States with a capability of questionable military value.

Utility of Bunker Busters

The Bush administration has said it may need to build a new class of low-yield, earth-penetrating nuclear weapons—sometimes called “bunker busters”—because of its concern about whether the U.S. military can destroy the growing number of hard and deeply buried facilities being built in a number of countries. Citing recent government studies, the Nuclear Posture Review states that more than 70 countries now have such underground facilities for military purposes. These include more than 1,000 known or suspected strategic targets, which are used for storing weapons of mass destruction, protecting senior leaders, and executing top-echelon command and control functions. Among the underground targets of most concern are very hardened structures built at depths of 1,000 feet or so with reinforced concrete capable of withstanding up to 1,000 atmospheres overpressure.

Destroying such targets requires knowing exactly where they are and then precisely delivering a warhead that can penetrate into the earth without damage before detonating. The warhead must also have a sufficiently large explosive yield to transmit a strong shock. These challenges are recognized in the NPR as follows: “New capabilities must be developed to defeat emerging threats such as hard and deeply buried targets (HDBT), and to define and attack mobile and relocatable targets, to defeat chemical and biological agents and to improve accuracy and limit collateral damage.” The NPR emphasizes further that “need may arise to modify, upgrade, or replace portions of the extant nuclear force or develop concepts for follow-on nuclear weapons better suited to the nation’s needs. It is unlikely that a reduced version of the Cold War nuclear arsenal will be precisely the nuclear force that the United States will require in 2012 and beyond.”

The United States has already designed and tested a variety of low-yield nuclear devices that could be adapted for delivery in structurally strengthened warheads for destroying underground targets at shallow depths. Recently it adapted a high-yield weapon—the B61-11 bomb, with yields that exceed a hundred kilotons—in this manner. A key technical challenge is to develop the means to deliver such a bomb intact to depths of 10-20 feet before detonation. Detonation at such depths increases, by a factor of 10 to 20 relative to a surface burst, the energy of the explosion that is delivered into the ground instead of into the atmosphere. The warhead therefore hits the target—a hardened, buried bunker or tunnel—with a much stronger shock than an identical warhead that is detonated on or above the surface.

Taking into account realistic limits on material strengths, about 50 feet is the maximum depth to which a warhead dropped from the air into dry rock soil could maintain its integrity until detonated. This is true even with impact at supersonic speeds. For the shock to reach down to 1,000 feet with enough strength to destroy a hard target in dry rock, the warhead would require a yield significantly larger than 100 kilotons. Accuracy is also crucial. A major challenge for destroying hardened underground targets is the need to improve significantly our ability to locate, identify, and characterize such targets. The payoff of accuracy in target location and delivery of a weapon is significant. It is also important to find any vulnerable points such as tunnel entrances or air ducts.

Given these technical facts, how can the United States hold HDBTs at risk? The most important steps are gaining better intelligence for accurate target characterization and location; improving precision of delivery of warheads; further hardening warheads so they can penetrate the earth to a depth of at least 20-30 feet, instead of just a few feet, as is possible now; and establishing control of the area around localized underground targets using conventional forces and tactics.

But the Nuclear Posture Review, and a number of members of the defense establishment, have suggested that the United States develop a new class of hardened, low-yield nuclear weapons. The implication is that, if their resulting collateral damage can be substantially reduced by lowering the explosive power of the warhead, nuclear weapons would be more politically palatable and therefore more “useable” for attacking deeply buried targets in tactical missions—even in or near urban settings, which can be the preferred locales for such targets.

Consider, however, the radioactive contamination from a one-kiloton warhead, detonated at a depth of 20-50 feet. This is, approximately, just 1/13 the yield that destroyed Hiroshima, yet it would eject more than 1 million cubic feet of radioactive debris from a crater about the size of ground zero at the World Trade Center—bigger than a football field. Indeed, the Hiroshima bomb was detonated at an altitude of close to 1,900 feet in order to minimize radioactive fallout by not digging any crater. A weapon intended to destroy hard, buried targets is therefore going to produce a lot of dangerous radioactive fallout. Of course, a nuclear weapon with a yield capable of destroying a target 1,000 feet underground—a yield well over 100 kilotons—would dig a much larger crater and create a substantially larger amount of radioactive debris.

We emphasize this point because recent reports, columns, and quotes in the media call for the United States to develop new, low-yield nuclear weapons for use against hard, deeply buried targets because they would produce less collateral damage. But even a one-kiloton earth penetrator would be quite devastating in a city, and against really deep targets, yields in the hundreds of kilotons would be required. In the past, the United States has developed, tested, and deployed nuclear warheads with a full range of yields, from small fractions of kilotons up to many megatons. We can make further improvements in their delivery—both in accuracy and earth penetration—that would be significant. But as we have seen, even at the low-yield end of the repertoire, there will be major collateral damage because the blast will eject radioactive debris. Burrowing a few tens of feet into the earth will increase the damaging effects of the shock, but a large proportion of the fallout will still enter the atmosphere and be spread by wind.

Ratifying the CTBT

A further problem would arise if the need to develop “new capabilities…to defeat emerging threats,” as is called for in the Nuclear Posture Review, led the United States to resume underground nuclear explosive tests. As explained earlier, the United States has already designed and tested nuclear devices with a broad range of yields. Building better earth-penetrating nuclear weapons does not require resumed nuclear testing, as has been suggested by bunker-buster advocates who oppose the CTBT. It requires precise delivery with deeper penetration on accurately located targets. A resumption of underground nuclear explosive testing would have minimal technical benefits, but a major, harmful impact on the nonproliferation regime.

Many nations signed on to the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 on the explicit condition that the nuclear powers would cease all nuclear-yield testing. This situation presented the United States and the other nuclear powers with a strong political and strategic incentive to formalize the moratorium on testing by ratifying and working to bring into force the CTBT. It is obviously one of the critical cornerstones of the NPT, which, as Secretary Powell said in his Senate testimony, “is the centerpiece of the global nonproliferation regime.”

A U.S. decision to resume testing to produce new nuclear weapons would therefore dramatically undermine the NPT. Conversely, a U.S. decision to ratify the already signed CTBT and lead the effort to bring the treaty into force would be an effective way of strengthening the NPT and, through it, worldwide nonproliferation and counterproliferation efforts. Bringing the treaty into force would have the added technical advantage of allowing for the full implementation of the international monitoring system intended to verify compliance with the CTBT. Implementation would add challenge inspection protocols that would further strengthen the verification regime and increase its transparency.

Many U.S. allies in NATO, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, have signed and ratified the CTBT, as have Japan and Russia. Others, including China, have indicated they will work to bring the treaty into force once the United States has ratified it. As of March 2003, 166 nations have signed the CTBT and 97 have ratified it, including 31 of the 44 “nuclear-capable states” that must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force. But the U.S. Senate refused to consent to ratification of the treaty when it came up for a vote in 1999, and the Bush administration has refused to reopen the question. The administration continues for the time being, however, to honor a moratorium on all testing that President George H. W. Bush established in 1992.

Why is the United States reluctant? In addition to the dubious need to develop “concepts for follow-on nuclear weapons better suited to the nation’s needs,” including nuclear earth penetrators against HDBTs, opponents of the CTBT have asked, “How can we be sure that many years ahead, we will not need to resume yield testing in order to rebuild the stockpile?” The answer is that total certainty never can be achieved. But it is possible to ensure that there is a strong program in place with the necessary support of competent engineers and scientists, who would sound a warning bell should a serious, unforeseen problem arise.

With the enhanced, multifaceted, science-based program of stockpile stewardship established during the past seven years, the United States can have confidence in its ability to understand the character of the stockpile and the way in which special bomb materials age. As a result of the stockpile surveillance program, a number of flaws have been reported and dealt with appropriately. The flaws thus far uncovered within the nuclear devices themselves are related to design oversights. That is, the flaws, or their precursors, were present when the weapons were put into the stockpile. In comparison, unexpected flaws due to the unknown effects of aging thus far appear to be minimal.

The United States can be assured that the CTBT is consistent with the ability to retain high confidence in the reliability of its existing nuclear force for decades. This conclusion has been demonstrated convincingly since 1995. Specifically, a number of detailed technical analyses by independent scientists working with colleagues from the weapons community, including leaders involved in creating our current nuclear arsenal, reached this finding. It was that determination that led the United States to negotiate the CTBT and sign it in 1996.

Most recently, in August 2002 the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive study on technical issues related to the CTBT. The study group, which included retired directors of weapons labs, bomb designers, and technical and scientific experts, concluded that the United States can maintain confidence in its enduring stockpile under a ban on all nuclear-yield testing, provided it has a well-supported, science-based stewardship and maintenance program, together with a capability to remanufacture warheads as needed. The study group also verified that the United States could monitor compliance by other CTBT signatories to standards consistent with its national security.

Two years earlier, a similar detailed analysis led by General John M. Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was conducted with government cooperation and authorization. It reached the same conclusion and affirmed that the CTBT “is a very important part of global non-proliferation efforts and is compatible with keeping a safe, reliable U.S. nuclear deterrent.” General Shalikashvili further added, “I believe that an objective and thorough net assessment shows convincingly that U.S. interests, as well as those of friends and allies, will be served by the Treaty’s entry into force.”

Strengthening the NPT

Although it raises the question of the need for new nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Posture Review does not discuss nonproliferation efforts, nor does it discuss the potential impact of its initiatives on the strategic policy and weapon-acquisition decisions of other nations. This is curious because their nuclear weapons decisions are apt to have greater impact on the United States than ours will have on them. Rather than developing nuclear devices for new tactical missions, the focus of the U.S. nuclear weapons program should continue to be maintaining a credible strategic deterrent and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to more countries. A weakening or collapse of the worldwide cooperative effort to counter nuclear proliferation would hurt U.S. interests more than any gains from testing and building new low-yield nuclear weapons would help.

The nonproliferation regime is clearly under stress, and a significant weakness is the apparent failure of its verification provisions. Events since the end of the Cold War have made clear the urgent need for nations to join forces in an effort to strengthen the nonproliferation regime. In 1991, after Desert Storm, the international community was surprised to find that Iraq, a signatory of the NPT, was well on the way to a nuclear capability. Similarly, in the 1990s the United States learned of the North Korean program to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon, and it recently confronted Pyongyang over its attempts to enrich natural uranium.

Recognizing the limitation of its verification abilities under current arrangements, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has been engaged in ongoing negotiations to strengthen the NPT’s compliance provisions. Until the early 1990s, the IAEA was not used to discover and frustrate secret nuclear weapons programs because its member states had not agreed to that goal. Rather, the IAEA was used to see that agreed safeguards were applied to installations declared to be engaged in peaceful uses of nuclear materials. Thus, the agency did not go beyond the inspections of installations declared as nuclear by the inspected states, such as Iraq. This deficiency can be fixed by giving the IAEA the power to inspect suspect sites that are not reported by member nations as nuclear installations. A protocol proposed by the IAEA—and supported by the Bush administration and others—would correct this situation. A diplomatic campaign should be mounted to secure its ratification.

Greater care also needs to be taken with export controls. Under the NPT, nuclear-weapon states were encouraged to provide the non-nuclear states all that they needed to reap the peaceful benefits and uses of nuclear energy. That was the basic deal that caused non-nuclear weapons states to accept the limitations of the NPT. The sovereign rights of buyers or sellers of exports relevant to nuclear facilities were limited by an understanding among supplier countries that, in effect, prohibited the transfer of technology useful for fabricating a nuclear weapon. But dual-use technology always presented a problem. It is now up to the nuclear suppliers to agree to and police even stronger restrictions on the sale or transfer of items that could be used for weapons production by non-nuclear countries. Unless these types of transactions can be stopped, the whole nonproliferation effort will be seriously undermined.

These are tough problems and require more international cooperation than has been mustered to date. Rather than moving to develop new nuclear weapons, the United States should push to strengthen the nonproliferation regime through example and through stronger compliance measures directed at those who flout its basic purposes.

Sidney Drell is professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. James Goodby was an adviser to President Clinton on the CTBT and is diplomat-in-residence at Stanford University. Raymond Jeanloz is a professor of Earth and planetary science at the University of California at Berkeley. Robert Peurifoy was a vice president of Sandia National Laboratories.


Pentagon Memo Raises Possibility of Nuclear Testing

December 2002

By Christine Kucia

A memorandum from a high-level Pentagon official recommending that the United States consider a low-yield nuclear testing program to help maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile surfaced November 15, just two days after Congress delayed an attempt to reduce the time required to prepare a nuclear test.

Edward Aldridge, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, sent the memorandum October 21 to members of the Nuclear Weapons Council, a consultative body he chairs that is made up of officials from the Departments of Defense and Energy. In the letter, which was obtained by the Arms Control Association and made public in mid-November, he expressed concern about the ability of the Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure a high level of safety and performance of the current nuclear arsenal. “New findings suggest that we may previously have been overconfident,” Aldridge wrote. The Stockpile Stewardship Program combines subcritical testing with computer modeling based on data from previous nuclear weapons tests to verify the safety and reliability of the nuclear arsenal.

Among the suggestions offered by Aldridge for assessing the arsenal’s safety and reliability is “for the laboratories to readdress the value of a low yield testing program.” Aldridge pointed out the difficulty of fully understanding the stockpile’s safety without testing and asked, “How might such a program [of low-yield nuclear testing] increase confidence now?”

Deliberations over the resumption of nuclear testing to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile have bubbled beneath the surface of Bush administration policy since January 2001, when the White House indicated that it would not ask the Senate to reconsider ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The administration also hinted at nuclear testing resumption in its January 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, a leaked version of which stated, “While the United States is making every effort to maintain the stockpile without additional testing, this may not be possible for the indefinite future.” Among other things, the review, as well as a later study by the National Nuclear Security Administration, expressed concern that the United States is losing important expertise as the number of laboratory personnel with nuclear testing experience dwindles.

Other experts within the U.S. government deny the need for resumed testing. Bruce Goodwin, associate director for defense and nuclear technologies at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said, “I don’t know of any reason why we can’t” maintain the stockpile without testing, according to a November 15 San Jose Mercury News article. Energy Department spokesman Bryan Wilkes said November 22 that there are “no new movements or talk” in the agency about resuming testing, adding, “We see no need to deviate from the Stockpile Stewardship Program right now.” In addition, a July 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences noted, “Even in the absence of constraints on nuclear testing, no need was ever identified for a program that would periodically subject the stockpile weapons to nuclear tests.”

Aldridge’s memorandum was made public just two days after Congress finished the fiscal year 2003 Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House of Representatives November 12 and the Senate a day later. In the bill, Congress requests a report that will outline plans and costs calculations for nuclear testing readiness periods of 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. The bill also calls for a recommendation from the secretaries of energy and defense on the “optimal readiness posture.”

The United States conducted its last nuclear test in 1992, and since 1993 the Energy Department has been required to be able to resume testing within 24-36 months. Whereas in previous years Congress simply authorized funds to maintain readiness without discussion, this year House Republicans unsuccessfully pushed for the adoption of a one-year readiness requirement. The Senate refused to reopen the issue of test readiness to deliberation. Conference committee members compromised by requesting the study, which will postpone congressional debate on whether to shorten the test readiness period.

Calling the House proposal for a one-year readiness posture “unnecessarily aggressive,” Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) described the result as an important compromise November 18. Asking the Energy Department to evaluate all of the possible options and propose a posture recommendation was an important achievement, according to Tauscher, who said, “I don’t believe Congress should arbitrarily mandate a testing posture that would have significant national security consequences.”

Pentagon Memo Raises Possibility of Nuclear Testing

Congress Approves Nuclear 'Bunker Buster' Research

December 2002

By Christine Kucia

Congress has authorized research into the feasibility and cost of developing a robust nuclear earth penetrator (RNEP), with up to $15 million slated to go to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories in fiscal year 2003 to work on modifying existing nuclear warheads. Permission was contained in the 2003 Defense Authorization Act, which the House of Representatives passed November 12 and the Senate passed the following day.

The research will examine “what the potential is for the modification of weapons in our system” to strike hardened and deeply buried targets, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March. Portions of the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review leaked in March had indicated that the Bush administration wanted an improved ability to strike underground military facilities, including those containing biological or chemical weapons and related equipment, thus spurring the Energy Department to examine options for nuclear “bunker busters,” the informal term used for RNEPs.

Studies into RNEP development, which are expected to last up to three years, will not commence immediately. Congress added a “report and wait” condition to the bill, which requires the secretaries of defense and energy to report on the RNEP’s anticipated use policy, military requirement, and potential targets as well as the ability of conventional weapons to destroy hardened and buried targets. Funds to begin research will be available 30 days after the report is submitted to the congressional armed services committees. As a result of the reporting requirement, research will not start until summer 2003 at the earliest, according to sources familiar with the legislation.

The Defense Authorization Act also calls for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study assessing the short- and long-term effects on civilian populations of RNEP use versus use of conventional weapons or nuclear weapons that explode above the ground. The study will, among other things, examine whether biological or chemical weapons materials could be released if an RNEP struck a target housing such agents.

Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) noted November 18 that, although the legislation gave a green light to research, the reporting requirement prior to the release of funds “restores Congress’ vital oversight role over what could eventually be the development of a new nuclear weapon.” She indicated that, “since this is only the first funding installment for a three-year study, Congress will have ample opportunity to revisit this issue.”

After the money is released, the nuclear weapons laboratories are expected to study modifications to strengthen the casings on the existing nuclear B-61 and B-83 warheads, according to Energy Department official Everet Beckner, who testified before a Senate committee in March. Beckner noted that both weapons have yields “substantially higher than five kilotons,” so the study will not violate a 1994 U.S. law prohibiting research on “low-yield” nuclear weapons. (See ACT, April 2002.) A version of the B-61, modified to strike hardened and deeply buried targets, was added to the U.S. stockpile without nuclear testing in 1997.

The House-Senate conference committee that finalized the Defense Authorization Act quashed language offered by Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA) that would have changed the 1994 law outlawing research on new nuclear warheads with a yield of five kilotons or less.

Congress Approves Nuclear 'Bunker Buster' Research

The Next Steps in U.S. Nonproliferation Policy

Richard G. Lugar

In 1991, Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) and I pushed a bill through Congress that began a sustained American effort to assist the states of the former Soviet Union in safeguarding and destroying their enormous stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Our argument was straightforward: with the Russian economy crumbling, the huge Soviet arsenal had to be secured, or weapons and materials of mass destruction inevitably would be stolen, sold, or diverted with disastrous consequences to U.S. national security.

As terrifying as the U.S.-Soviet nuclear competition had been, it had one advantage: both nations had an interest in preventing proliferation and keeping a tight lid on their own weapons systems. We lived in a world where nuclear annihilation was disturbingly possible, but smaller nuclear incidents involving terrorists or third countries were highly unlikely. The collapse of the Soviet Union blew the lid off the controls over the Soviet arsenal. Meanwhile, the failure of the Russian economy provided huge incentives to sell these weapons or the scientific knowledge of how to make them. This opened the possibility that rogue states and terrorist groups could buy or steal what they previously could not produce on their own.

Despite these realities, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program was highly controversial. The Cold War had only recently subsided, and a great deal of mistrust existed in both the United States and Russia. Many U.S. politicians argued that the United States should not aid our former enemy when we had plenty of pressing domestic needs. Prospects for the program were further complicated by the perception that devoting resources to foreign concerns was politically risky. Candidates for congressional seats and the presidency in 1992 sought to avoid association with foreign issues and foreign expenditures.

The Nunn-Lugar concept, however, overcame skepticism in both the United States and Russia. Working through private contractors, the program proved that U.S. resources could be efficiently applied to disarmament projects in the former Soviet Union with outstanding results. Our experiences also showed that in most cases Russian leaders, military officials, and local representatives were eager for help in safeguarding hazardous weapons systems and stockpiles.

In the first years of the Nunn-Lugar program, work focused on safely deactivating strategic nuclear warheads and dismantling their delivery systems. The program eventually branched out to include security measures for chemical and biological weapons, rapid responses to sudden proliferation threats, the safeguarding of fissile material, and numerous other initiatives. One of the most important accomplishments was the use of Nunn-Lugar programs to persuade Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus (each of which had inherited nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union) to give up their nuclear weaponry. The Nunn-Lugar program provided funds and technical expertise to safely move these nuclear warheads to Russia and to dismantle the associated delivery vehicles.

To date, Nunn-Lugar has deactivated more than 6,000 nuclear warheads, along with hundreds of bombers, missiles, and submarines. It is employing tens of thousands of Russian weapons scientists so they are not tempted to sell their knowledge to the highest bidder. The program also has made progress toward protecting and safeguarding nuclear material, biological weapons laboratories, and chemical weapons stockpiles. Beyond statistics, the Nunn-Lugar program has served as a bridge of communication and cooperation between the United States and Russia, even when other aspects of the relationship were in decline. It has improved military-to-military contacts and established greater transparency in areas that used to be the object of intense secrecy and suspicion.

We have come further than many thought that we could, but much more needs to be done quickly. Eleven years ago, when the Nunn-Lugar program was conceived, the terrorist threat was real but vague. Now, we live in an era when catastrophic terrorism using weapons of mass destruction is our foremost security concern. We must not only accelerate weapons dismantlement efforts in Russia, we must broaden our capability to address proliferation risks in other countries and build a global coalition to support such efforts, we must prioritize our nonproliferation goals, and we must overcome remaining political obstacles in our own country to efficient implementation.

Globalizing Nunn-Lugar

On June 27, 2002, leaders of G-8 member states meeting in Canada agreed to participate in a “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.” The agreement pledges the United States to spend $10 billion toward dismantlement efforts over the next 10 years. Similarly, it commits the other G-8 nations, as a group, to spend $10 billion for the same purpose. As a result, the agreement has sometimes been referred to as “10 Plus 10 Over 10.” If the agreement were fully implemented, it would double the resources currently being expended on the broad range of Nunn-Lugar-style programs.

In August, I visited numerous Nunn-Lugar dismantlement sites and met with Russian leaders on nonproliferation issues. I found our Russian counterparts eager to discuss the 10-Plus-10 initiative. Shipyard directors, former biological weapons facility directors, and military commanders look forward to the opportunities that will be provided by the G-8 agreement. Likewise, interest in this initiative is keen in some European capitals. According to testimony Undersecretary of State John Bolton delivered October 9, Canada has pledged $650 million; the United Kingdom $750 million; Germany $1.5 billion; the European Commission $1 billion; and Japan, initially, $200 million. France and Italy reportedly are close to announcing their pledges.

Still, the future of the G-8 initiative is not assured. Many of our international partners will find it difficult to establish nonproliferation programs during a period of stagnating domestic economic growth. The United States must make clear that enormous opportunities exist at this moment in history to secure weapons and materials of mass destruction in Russia. Moreover, at a time when some U.S. allies and their populations are skeptical of military approaches to combating terrorism, the 10-Plus-10 formula offers a nonmilitary means through which they can have a profound impact on preventing catastrophic terrorism.

Another difficult hurdle will be ensuring Russia’s willingness to extend full audit rights and exemptions from taxes and liability to nations other than the United States. The U.S.-Russian “umbrella agreement” covering these issues has been crucial to the smooth operation of Nunn-Lugar programs. I am optimistic that the prospect of significant new resources for disarmament programs will lead to the conclusion of umbrella agreements between Russia and other contributing nations.

Although 10-Plus-10 is a G-8 initiative, it welcomes participation by countries outside the G-8. If other states were to become involved, additional resources and expertise could be devoted to disarmament and a truly global coalition devoted to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could be built. Though not a G-8 country, Norway has been a leader in working with the Russians to address the security and environmental problems posed by Russia’s decaying nuclear submarine fleet and other nuclear hazards in the Arctic region. Our own experience with Norway and Russia in the trilateral Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation program, or AMEC, may provide instruction for integrating G-8 nations into the broader Nunn-Lugar effort.

If 10-Plus-10 is to work, it will require vigorous U.S. leadership. No other country has the depth of experience in nonproliferation efforts or the ability to coordinate contributions from nations with widely divergent nonproliferation goals and interests. I plan to offer legislation in the 108th Congress that will support U.S. leadership and coordination relating to the 10-Plus-10 agreement. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which held a hearing on 10-Plus-10 on October 9, will continue very public reviews and diplomatic activity to maintain momentum toward gaining effective global participation in the Nunn-Lugar concept.

The focus of 10-Plus-10 nonproliferation efforts will be on Russia because that is where most weapons and materials of mass destruction exist. But the United States and the international community should apply Nunn-Lugar concepts and practices to nations outside the former Soviet Union as well. The agreement envisions that some projects may go beyond weapons dismantlement efforts to include counterterrorism, nuclear safety, and environmental damage containment.

Today, we lack even minimal international confidence about many proliferation risks. Some of these risks involve overt programs, such as those in India and Pakistan. But others involve ostensibly peaceful nuclear, chemical, and biological research programs; nuclear power facilities; chemical production facilities; or other legitimate civilian activities that use dangerous materials. It is critical that the United States lead in establishing a global coalition capable of exerting pressure on states to cooperate with the safeguarding, accounting, and (where possible) destruction of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Given that war is being contemplated with Iraq over the question of their weapons programs, it is reasonable to ask why more is not being done on a global scale to control other proliferation risks.

The Nunn-Lugar program provides a model for international action. A global version of Nunn-Lugar could coordinate assistance for those nations seeking help in securing or destroying weapons or dangerous materials. Such a coalition could be built and sustained with contributions of money and expertise from participating countries. Like a military coalition, a standing bureaucracy would not necessarily be required. The coalition would create international standards of accountability for protecting and handling nuclear material and deadly pathogens. It would help organize international pressure on states to comply with those standards. Coalition members would undertake missions to secure dangerous materials or weapons that were at risk of falling into the wrong hands. They could also develop cooperative procedures for coming to the aid of victims of nuclear, biological, or chemical terrorism.

Clearly, some nations would resist any accountability in the area of weapons of mass destruction. But the resistance of nations such as Iraq or North Korea is not a reason to forego wider nonproliferation efforts. A global coalition aimed at controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction would bring new assets to bear in this effort. It could also give greater substance to the improved U.S.-Russian post-Cold War relationship propounded by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin. Russia’s participation and expertise would be essential to the coalition’s success.

Top 10 Disarmament Priorities

If the 10-Plus-10 agreement is implemented, careful analysis and coordination must occur to ensure that the initiative achieves the maximum nonproliferation benefits. In June 2002, I developed the following “Top 10 List” of nonproliferation projects that could be undertaken as additional resources become available. Other proliferation threats exist beyond the 10 listed, but the intent of the list is to stimulate critical thinking about matching resources to the threats that face the international community.

1. Chemical Weapons: The United States and Russia ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. Today, more than five years later, Russia has barely begun to eliminate its estimated 40,000-metric-ton stockpile. I have visited Shchuch’ye, one of the major chemical weapons repositories in Russia where a chemical weapons destruction facility is to be built with U.S. cooperation. At that location, there are approximately 2 million shells and warheads filled with sarin, VX, and other nerve gases. The smallest of these, an 85 mm shell, can easily fit into a briefcase. Just one briefcase could carry enough chemical agent to kill thousands of people. The possibility that deadly weapons could be lost, stolen, or traded is high. Because of these factors, Shchuch’ye and the Russian chemical weapon stockpile represent one of the greatest proliferation threats in the world.

2. Biological Weapons: The United States must continue to work closely with Russia to assist in the conversion of former biological weapons facilities. The Nunn-Lugar program is working closely with the International Science and Technology Center at the State Department to upgrade security and engage Russian scientists and technicians in peaceful work. We have made great progress at facilities such as the Russian State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (also known as Vector), but there are still some facilities that have not been opened to anyone. Opening these facilities, ensuring that their scientists do not transfer their weapons knowledge, and providing necessary security upgrades must be high on any list of priorities.

3. Tactical Nuclear Weapons: U.S.-Russian cooperation must move beyond strategic nuclear systems into the tactical weapons arena. By some measures, the proliferation threat posed by tactical nuclear systems is more serious than that posed by strategic weapons. Tactical warheads are more portable; they usually are deployed closer to potential flashpoints; and many are not secured at the same level as strategic systems. We must establish mutual confidence in the quantity, status, storage, and security of tactical nuclear weapons.

4. Employment of Former Weapons Scientists: Tens of thousands of Russian weapons scientists have been employed by the United States in peaceful pursuits under the auspices of the State Department’s International Science and Technology Center and the Department of Energy’s Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention. If Russian weapons experts are placed in a position of economic desperation or bankruptcy, the possibility that at least some will sell their services elsewhere is high. I have encouraged U.S. corporations and those from G-8 states to explore the possibility of purchasing or investing in Russian laboratories. Only when these Russian weapons scientists have long-term employment in peaceful pursuits will we be able to scale back our efforts in this area.

5. Material Protection, Control, and Accounting: After eight years of close cooperation and considerable effort, 40 percent of the facilities housing nuclear materials in Russia have received security improvements through U.S. assistance. This represents great progress, but it is far short of the comprehensive protection that is required to prevent proliferation. Furthermore, only half of the facilities that have received improvements have complete security systems. Russia should continue to consolidate materials in fewer locations, but if facilities housing nuclear weapons materials are vulnerable, they must receive upgrades as quickly as possible, regardless of consolidation plans.

6. Radioactive Sources: The Soviet Union produced hundreds of small nuclear generators, known as radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs), to supply power at remote sites. These RTGs are considered very dangerous because they hold nuclear material that might be used in a radiological weapon, or “dirty bomb.” The Russian government does not have an accurate accounting of where all the generators are located. We must find these units, secure them, and remove the dangerous materials.

7. Shutdown of Plutonium-Producing Reactors: There are three nuclear reactors in Siberia producing a total of 1.5 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium per year as a byproduct of their operation. Russia will not shut down these reactors until replacement power sources are available because the reactors are the sole source of electricity and heat in their region. As we continue to safeguard and eliminate nuclear material in Russia, we must also take steps to ensure that no additional weapons-grade material is created.

8. Plutonium Disposition: The United States and Russia have agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Both sides will fabricate the material into mixed oxide fuel that will be irradiated in commercial nuclear reactors. The fabrication processes will require significant investments by both sides in new facilities. An estimated $2 billion will be needed to build and implement the Russian effort.

9. Nonstrategic Submarines: Each time I visit Russian shipyards, I am startled by the enormity of the task that lies before us in the area of submarine dismantlement. Nunn-Lugar is limited to dismantling strategic missile submarines. This restriction is a mistake. There are important nonproliferation, security, and environmental benefits to the timely dismantlement of conventional submarines. Many carry cruise missiles that could prove valuable to the missile programs of rogue nations. Other submarines, such as the Alfa attack submarine, are powered by nuclear fuel enriched to very high levels, which could pose serious proliferation risks if unsecured.

10. Reactor Safety: The United States and its allies must work together with Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere to convert reactors that currently use weapons-grade material to burn less-enriched fuel. Potential threats stemming from these kinds of reactors are not hypothetical. In 1998, Operation Auburn Endeavor, a covert mission funded by the Nunn-Lugar program, was launched to take highly enriched uranium material from a vulnerable Georgian storage facility to safekeeping.

Overcoming American Obstacles

Given international concern with nonproliferation since September 11, one would imagine that the wisdom of expanding the size and scope of cooperative nonproliferation efforts would be self-evident. Ironically, proponents of Nunn-Lugar activities have faced more American obstacles this year than in any year since Nunn-Lugar’s creation.

The Bush administration has repeatedly stated official support for Nunn-Lugar programs, and it took the initiative at the Kanaskis Summit to push the 10-Plus-10 agreement. However, despite the endorsements of the president and top administration officials, the program encountered unnecessary challenges, including the temporary suspension of new dismantlement activities. This resistance seemed to originate in the national security bureaucracy.

Opposition in Congress, however, is less ambiguous. Some of my colleagues on Capitol Hill oppose Nunn-Lugar outright or assign it a very low priority among national security programs. Members have not always provided reasons for their opposition, but the combination of lingering Cold War attitudes toward Russia and resistance to nontraditional forms of defense spending have colored the debate. This opposition has resulted in delays in Nunn-Lugar implementation and limitations on its scope. This is unfortunate and difficult but not insurmountable. The fate of the three legislative proposals described below provide a glimpse of the opposition Nunn-Lugar faces.

General Nunn-Lugar Waiver
Each year, the president is required by law to make six certifications to Congress before new Nunn-Lugar projects can be implemented. Until this year, these certifications were made routinely. However, the Bush administration chose not to issue a certification because of unresolved concerns with incomplete Russian disclosures about their chemical and biological weapons legacy. Instead, the administration requested a waiver to the certifications.

Unfortunately, passage of this important waiver authority was delayed for months as all appropriate legislative vehicles were held up by unrelated political and policy disputes. A temporary waiver was finally passed as an amendment to the 2002 supplemental appropriations bill. But absent waiver authority, no new Nunn-Lugar projects could be started and no new contracts could be finalized between April 16 and August 9, 2002.

This delay caused numerous disarmament projects in Russia to be put on hold, including installation of security enhancements at 10 nuclear weapons storage sites; initiation of the dismantlement of two strategic missile submarines and 30 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and initiation of the dismantlement of SS-24 rail-mobile and SS-25 road-mobile ICBMs and launchers. Clearly, these projects were in the national security interest of the United States.

A second period of delay began on October 1, 2002, with the expiration of the temporary waiver contained in the supplemental appropriations bill. Again, U.S. national security suffered with the postponement of critical dismantlement and security activities.

Even as the supplemental appropriations bill with the temporary waiver worked its way through Congress, I was attempting to pass a permanent waiver. Despite the positive testimony of the secretaries of state and defense, the strong support of the national security adviser, and Senate advocacy of a permanent waiver, the House Armed Services Committee argued for a one-year waiver or no waiver at all. In the end, a three-year waiver was included in the defense authorization bill passed by Congress in November 2002.

This represents progress, but three years from now when the waiver expires, efforts to dismantle and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction may again be suspended and left to the mercy of bureaucratic and legislative red tape. The weapons and materials of mass destruction targeted by Nunn-Lugar are too dangerous to leave to the whims of congressional holds and roadblocks.

Shchuch’ye Waiver
Specific conditions imposed by Congress—above and beyond those that apply to Nunn-Lugar in general—continue to delay construction of the chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch’ye. The United States and the international community have a vital interest in the rapid construction of this facility. Without it, little progress will be made toward eliminating Russia’s enormous stockpiles of chemical weapons, which are both highly lethal and a profound proliferation risk.

Security and living conditions at Shchuch’ye are substandard, and there is virtually no inventory control. Shchuch’ye houses nearly two million modern ground-launched chemical weapons. These artillery shells and Scud missile warheads are in excellent working condition, and many are small and easily transportable. They could be employed by terrorists, religious sects, or paramilitary units with potentially catastrophic effect. Russian sources have estimated that the weapons stored at Shchuch’ye could kill the world’s population some 20 times over. The size and lethality of the weapons at Shchuch’ye are a direct proliferation threat to the American people.

The Bush administration has been clear on its support for construction of the facility. In a letter to me, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, has requested that Congress pass a waiver to the conditions it imposed on the Shchuch’ye project. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has expressed his support for the waiver in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Secretary of State Colin Powell has repeatedly appealed to members of Congress in letters and telephone calls.

The project at Shchuch’ye was reviewed by the administration as part of its nonproliferation program review last year. In a fact sheet released December 27, 2001, the White House stated that, “The Department of Defense will seek to accelerate the Cooperative Threat Reduction project to construct a chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch’ye, to enable its earlier completion at no increased expense. We welcome the contributions that friends and allies have made to this project thus far, and will work for their enhancement.”

I offered an amendment in July 2002 to the Senate’s defense appropriations bill providing the president with permanent waiver authority to the congressionally imposed conditions on chemical weapons elimination. My amendment was adopted by unanimous consent in the Senate, but it immediately faced opposition in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, this opposition led to the downgrading of the authority to a one-year waiver. Again, this failure to provide the president with the sustained authority he needs to continue weapons dismantlement could lead to suspension of efforts to eliminate the 40,000- metric-ton Russian chemical weapon stockpile at the end of this fiscal year on September 30, 2003. Unless permanent waiver authority is granted, we risk additional delays as the Pentagon attempts to construct the facility at Shchuch’ye.

Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act
As the United States and our allies have sought to address the threats posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in the aftermath of September 11, we have come to the realization that in many cases we lack the appropriate tools to address these threats. Beyond Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union, Nunn-Lugar-style cooperative threat reduction programs aimed at weapons dismantlement and nonproliferation do not exist. The original Nunn-Lugar legislation passed in 1991 only authorized threat reduction programs in the states of the former Soviet Union. The ability to apply the Nunn-Lugar program to states outside the former Soviet Union would provide the United States with another tool to confront the threats associated with weapons of mass destruction.

The continuing experience of Nunn-Lugar has created a tremendous nonproliferation asset for the United States. We have an impressive cadre of scientists, technicians, negotiators, and managers working for the Defense Department and for associated defense contractors. These individuals understand how to implement nonproliferation programs and how to respond to proliferation emergencies.

I offered both a freestanding bill and an amendment to the defense authorization bill designed to empower the administration to respond to both emergency proliferation risks and less-urgent opportunities to further nonproliferation goals. If foreign nations request U.S. help in securing vulnerable weapons or materials of mass destruction, it is essential that our agencies not be hindered by a lack of legislative authorization. Unfortunately, this effort to improve U.S. nonproliferation capabilities met a chilly reception in the House of Representatives. Criticism was based upon two premises. First, some believed that the Pentagon already held the authority to utilize Nunn-Lugar funds and expertise outside the states of the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, this view was not held by Defense Department officials who requested the legislative authority. Second, critics of Nunn-Lugar pointed out that, by expanding the possible scope of the program the concept it employs might become a permanent fixture of defense policy. In this, they were absolutely correct. In fact, it is my hope that the tool that has served U.S. security so well in Russia might prove effective in addressing additional threats related to weapons of mass destruction elsewhere.

House opposition to the Lugar amendment led to an unsatisfactory outcome in the conference committee wherein the Pentagon was required to report to Congress on the need for authority to operate outside the states of the former Soviet Union. It is incomprehensible to me that, at a time in which our country is involved in a worldwide war against terrorism, Congress is refusing to permit the utilization of tested and proven concepts to address the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.


To appreciate what the United States and Russia are doing through the Nunn-Lugar program, one has to step back and view it from the perspective of history. After decades of tense military confrontation and ideological struggle, we are sending American firms and know-how to our former enemy to dismantle and safeguard their massive stockpile of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Our former enemy is welcoming us and, in fact, asking us for even more help. Both sides have had to set aside our past and current differences to accomplish this cooperation. Historically, no great military power has ever possessed the opportunity to work with another military power in mutual threat reduction on such an awesome agenda.

Our ultimate goal should be to build on the Nunn-Lugar success by constructing a global coalition to safeguard nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their component materials and technology. This post-Cold War campaign will be a painstaking process. But it is one that all of us must be committed to with the same stamina and resolute purpose that accompanied our victory in the Cold War. The real question is whether there exists sufficient political will, particularly in the Congress, to devote the requisite resources and attention to these programs. If we are to block terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, then bipartisan vision, statesmanship, and patience will be required over many years.

Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) will assume the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee when the 108th Congress convenes in January.

National Insecurity Strategy

Daryl G. Kimball

Two years after taking office, the Bush administration has embraced a “new” National Security Strategy that relies heavily on counterproliferation and pre-emptive action to “deter, dissuade, and defeat” adversaries armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). To a greater extent than ever, the policy sets the United States above and apart from the rules other states are expected to follow.

In the long run, this approach is unsustainable and self-defeating. The strategy minimizes the role of diplomacy and arms control and seeks to maintain and even expand U.S. nuclear capabilities. This combination threatens to erode the credibility of the laws and norms against WMD upon which our security and the security of our allies depend.

The emphasis on pre-emption rests on the belief that diplomacy and nonproliferation cannot halt the weapons programs of outlaw states. Consequently, the Bush team wants to free the United States from entangling treaties and agreements that limit new military capabilities intended to counter emerging threats. To the extent that it does rely on arms control, the Bush policy supports only those treaties that limit the capabilities of other states.

For instance, the National Security Strategy appropriately calls for enhanced compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) through additional safeguards. However, the administration boldly rejects key U.S. nonproliferation and disarmament commitments under Article VI of the treaty—most notably the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which restricts the development of new nuclear weapons.

Instead, the Bush strategy calls for improving U.S. nuclear warhead capabilities intended for pre-emptive strikes on underground facilities suspected of producing chemical or biological weapons. Congress has just approved funding for new research on a “robust nuclear earth penetrator” warhead. Using nuclear bombs for pre-emptive attacks on such targets is militarily impractical and morally wrong. The very pursuit of such weapons undermines norms against WMD and might prompt other states to follow our lead.

In defense of its NPT credentials, the administration claims that the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty helps meet U.S. disarmament commitments. But in contrast to U.S. policy goals prior to 2000, this treaty does not mandate the dismantlement of a single warhead or missile, provide for adequate verification measures, or reduce the readiness posture of U.S. weapons deployed against Russia and other states.

As a result, the United States will retain the flexibility to field at least 4,200 strategic warheads through the next decade. Some Bush officials are calling for reductions of Russia’s nonstrategic warheads, but the strategy document fails to list this or any further U.S.-Russian nuclear reductions as an objective.
The Bush plan does acknowledge the value of continued efforts to assist Russia dismantle and secure its Cold War WMD stockpiles. President Bush’s tepid support for this vital endeavor, however, leaves funding for these vital programs at the mercy of annual congressional wrangling and executive branch infighting.

The Bush strategy correctly identifies biological weapons as a growing danger and professes support for Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) compliance. Unfortunately, the administration has blocked global consensus on a comprehensive verification protocol for the treaty. Instead, the national security plan calls for expanded U.S. biodefense research. Without the investigations the protocol would have authorized, BWC noncompliant states continue to escape scrutiny.

In the case of North Korea, key U.S. objectives—a verifiable freeze of Pyongyang’s missile program and an end to its uranium and plutonium weapons work—are only possible if leaders from Washington and Pyongyang meet. But for now, the administration refuses to negotiate until North Korea verifiably eliminates all nuclear weapons activity. This may be morally satisfying but will not likely produce good results.

In South Asia, the center of an ongoing missile race, the Bush administration has been inconsistent in the application of its own WMD principles. Washington has downplayed the urgent need for further Indian and Pakistani nuclear and missile restraints. Recently, the administration has turned a blind eye toward recent reports of illicit missile transfers to Pakistan from North Korea in exchange for uranium enrichment technology.

Diplomacy and arms control measures obviously cannot address every security threat, but today’s WMD challenges cannot be successfully met without consistent U.S. support for multilateral arms control. If the White House continues to underutilize diplomacy and arms control and to claim special exemptions, it denies the United States and its allies the tools essential for preventing, reducing, and eliminating chemical, biological, and nuclear dangers.

U.S. Begins Trimming Nuclear Forces

November 2002

By Christine Kucia

The United States has begun dismantling its Peacekeeper ICBM force and converting two Trident nuclear submarines to carry conventional weapons in the first move toward reducing its deployed strategic warheads to the 1,700-2,200 limit established by the U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty.

On October 1, crews at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming began dismantling the first of 50 Peacekeeper missiles, each capable of delivering 10 independently targetable warheads at variable yields, according to Jenna McMullin, spokeswoman with Air Force Space Command. One-third of the force will be retired in each year of the three-year dismantlement program at a total estimated cost of $400-500 million. The deactivation and dismantlement of each missile will take about 17 days, McMullin noted. Warheads removed from the Peacekeepers will be stored, and some are slated to replace older warheads on Minuteman III missiles.

Meanwhile, the USS Ohio ceased its nuclear role on September 30 upon its return to Bangor Naval Submarine Base in Washington, The Seattle Times reported October 1. The Ohio will head to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a two-year conversion program slated to begin in October 2003, according to U.S. Navy spokeswoman Elissa Smith. The submarine is the first of four that will be refitted to carry as many as 154 conventional Tomahawk or Tactical Tomahawk land-attack missiles, bringing the U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet down to 14 boats. The newly fitted submarines are scheduled to become operational in 2007 at a total estimated conversion cost of $3.4 billion.

The reductions in land-based and submarine-launched nuclear forces come after the Bush administration outlined its strategic plans in the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review. By 2007, according to the review, the United States will reduce the number of operationally deployed warheads in its arsenal from around 5,900 to 3,800 by eliminating the Peacekeeper ICBM platform and converting the four Tridents, along with downloading some warheads from other ICBMs and bombers. (See ACT, January/February 2002.)

It is unclear which warheads the United States will subsequently remove from operational deployment to meet the 2,200-warhead limit by the strategic reductions treaty’s 2012 deadline, but after the modifications to the U.S. force structure currently underway, there are no plans to dismantle further delivery vehicles. According to leaked portions of the nuclear posture review, after 2007 “no additional strategic delivery platforms are scheduled to be eliminated from strategic service.”

A September 24 Congressional Budget Office report on the financial implications of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty concluded that retiring delivery platforms and warheads would save more money than removing and storing warheads and keeping many delivery platforms, as the Bush administration plans. “Removing or retiring delivery platforms…offers the potential for significant savings”—around $5.1 billion in savings by 2012, according to the report. Simply removing and storing warheads while retaining the delivery platforms, however, will cost an estimated $105 million in the next decade, the report says.

U.S. Begins Trimming Nuclear Forces


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