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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
U.S. Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Command and Control Review Initiated

Adding to the Bush administration's multitude of policy reviews, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has formally initiated a comprehensive analysis of U.S. nuclear command and control policy, which governs the procedures and technical systems that authorize nuclear weapons use.

The establishment of a committee to conduct the "End-to-End Review of the U.S. Nuclear Command and Control System" was first made public in the Federal Register March 6. A Defense official indicated March 19 that the committee will examine nuclear command and control "from national command authority to individual weapons" and will attempt to ascertain the "appropriate balance between facilitating authorized use and preventing unauthorized use." The review will also consider the role of "emerging technologies and threats," according to the official.

The review will cover the responsibilities of the nine departments and agencies involved in nuclear command and control: the National Security Council; the departments of State, Justice, Energy, and Defense; the Office of Management and Budget; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the White House Military Office; and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The six-person committee, which is expected to meet for the first time April 5, will be chaired by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and includes three other former government officials and two current senior officials.

While Defense officials were unsure of when a review examining interagency command and control policy was last conducted, they said that the Defense Department last examined its own responsibilities in 1992. Last year, then-Defense Secretary William Cohen apparently began the process required to undertake the interagency review, and Rumsfeld decided to move ahead with it following a briefing on the issue he received shortly after taking office.

Toward a New Nuclear Posture: Challenges for the Bush Administration

Robert Kerrey and William D. Hartung

After almost a decade of gridlock on U.S. strategic policy, President George W. Bush's mid-February decision to undertake an immediate review of the U.S. arsenal with an eye toward making deep cuts in nuclear weapons was a welcome step in the right direction. More than five decades into the atomic age, a radical downsizing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is long overdue.

But overhauling the U.S. nuclear posture presents considerable challenges. To ensure that the current review does not simply end up ratifying a "Cold War lite" nuclear stance, as occurred when the Clinton administration undertook a similar review, Bush and his top national security advisers need to take charge of the review process by setting clear goals and challenging the shopworn, status quo assumptions of the nuclear bureaucracies at the Pentagon and the Department of Energy. Strong presidential leadership is a basic precondition for achieving substantial reductions in U.S. nuclear forces.

Furthermore, if President Bush is serious about his pledge to "discard Cold War relics and reduce our own nuclear forces to reflect today's needs," it will also be essential to incorporate the views of members of Congress, non-governmental analysts, and experts who have been involved in the development of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear policy in past administrations. Without a well-informed national debate about what purpose, if any, nuclear weapons should serve in a revised U.S. national security strategy, the political consensus needed to support real changes in U.S. policy will not be achieved.

Perhaps the most basic challenge of all for the Bush administration will be deciding whether it wants to take a unilateralist approach to U.S. nuclear policy that relies on an ambitious missile defense program and the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, or a more cooperative stance in which the United States takes the lead in promoting reductions in global nuclear stockpiles by updating and expanding upon existing arms control agreements. As part of the posture review, the Bush administration will have to think hard about the value of pursuing a complex, costly, and unproven missile program that could become an obstacle to U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reductions and a catalyst for a major buildup of Chinese nuclear forces.

 

A Decade of Delay

Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the risk of a nuclear attack is still the single greatest threat to our national survival. Yet since 1993, when President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed START II, further reductions in Washington's and Moscow's arsenals of nuclear overkill have been held hostage to political posturing, bureaucratic inertia, and short-term thinking.

On the U.S. side of the nuclear divide, both major political parties bear a share of the responsibility for what is now nearly a decade of missed opportunities for nuclear arms reductions. The Clinton administration was far too timid in its own reassessment of U.S. nuclear deterrence needs, and its "go slow" approach to nuclear reductions was exacerbated by the actions of Republicans on Capitol Hill, who joined together with a number of their Democratic colleagues to pass annual legislation that prevents the president from reducing U.S. strategic forces below START I levels of 6,000 warheads or from taking U.S. forces off high-alert status.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, harsh political battles between President Boris Yeltsin and opposition parties in the Duma repeatedly delayed Russian ratification of START II, which would reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 3,000-3,500. It was not until Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president that the arms control logjam in Moscow was pried loose. In March 2000, the Duma ratified both START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) just in time for the review conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The presentations at that conference served as a good illustration of the nuclear inertia that plagued the 1990s, especially on the U.S. side. While Russian representatives came to the NPT review conference with two freshly ratified arms control treaties in hand, the senior U.S. representative to the conference, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, had nothing to show in the way of new U.S. commitments to nuclear reductions since the previous review meeting in 1995. To make matters even worse, the negative international repercussions of the U.S. Senate's October 1999 vote against ratification of the CTBT still lingered.

In an effort to put the best possible face on this embarrassing situation, the State Department put up an impressive exhibit at UN headquarters in New York detailing the thousands of nuclear weapons that the United States had withdrawn from service and dismantled during the 1990s. But the well-crafted presentation left out one important point: all of the reductions implemented during the Clinton administration were carried out pursuant to arms reduction agreements that had been negotiated prior to its tenure, during the Reagan and Bush administrations. On the critical issue of achieving further reductions in the size of the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles, the Clinton administration had basically been treading water.

An important reason for the "decade of delay" in nuclear arms reductions was the Clinton administration's mishandling of the 1994 nuclear posture review. According to analyst Janne Nolan, what started out as a fundamental review of the U.S. nuclear posture in the first year of the new administration degenerated under the weight of "bureaucratic inertia and a lack of presidential leadership" into an extremely cautious set of recommendations suggesting "no significant changes in the nuclear posture of Clinton's predecessors."1

Clinton's first secretary of defense, Les Aspin, and the assistant secretary in charge of overseeing the review, Ashton Carter, initially conceived of it as an effort to seek a wide range of options for restructuring U.S. nuclear forces, including the possibility of making major changes, such as the complete elimination of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. When push came to shove, however, these new ideas were forcefully opposed by mid-level Pentagon officials, and Carter was not given sufficient support from senior levels of the administration—up to and including the president—to overcome this intense bureaucratic resistance.2

By contrast, when George Bush's administration conducted a similar review, the president, then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell were all closely involved in the process. That high-level focus allowed for significant changes in the size of the U.S. nuclear target list. As a result of its lack of firm leadership from the top, the Clinton administration missed an historic opportunity to promote deep cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and to parlay those cuts into political leverage over other nuclear-armed nations and aspiring nuclear powers.

This is not to suggest that the Clinton record on nuclear arms control was without accomplishment. Vice President Al Gore did important work in helping to broker the denuclearization of the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and the administration's consistent support for cooperative threat reduction programs provided important resources for the destruction of Soviet delivery vehicles and the control of bomb-grade fissile materials. Through the Agreed Framework, the administration was able to stop Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and in subsequent negotiations it made significant progress toward an agreement to cap North Korea's ballistic missile programs. But much more could have been accomplished if the president and his top advisers had made nuclear arms reductions a political priority.

 

A Fresh Perspective

On May 23, 2000, in the face of ongoing questions about whether he had sufficient foreign policy expertise to serve as president, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush made an appearance at the National Press Club to present his vision of a new U.S. nuclear policy. In an attempt to add gravitas to the proceedings, Bush was joined by a group of distinguished Republican foreign policy experts, but the event proved to be more than just another campaign photo opportunity. Bush used the speech to challenge the existing orthodoxy on U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

While a significant portion of the speech was devoted to reiterating Bush's controversial proposal for the deployment of an extensive national missile defense system, the most forward-looking elements of his statement were his endorsement of reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles to "the lowest possible number consistent with our national security" and his call for removing "as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status." In direct contradiction to the stance adopted by his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, who had been obstructing efforts to reduce deployed U.S. forces below START I levels of 6,000 warheads, Bush suggested that "it should be possible to reduce the number of American nuclear weapons significantly further than has already been agreed to under START II without compromising our security in any way." Early on in the speech, Bush struck a conciliatory tone toward Moscow, observing that since "Russia is no longer our enemy…[o]ur mutual security need no longer depend on a nuclear balance of terror." In perhaps the most memorable phrase of the speech, Bush argued that unnecessary weapons based on outmoded targeting scenarios are nothing more than "the expensive relics of dead conflicts."

His decision shortly after taking office to order a serious review of the U.S. nuclear posture suggests that Bush's speech was more than just an exercise in campaign rhetoric designed to demonstrate that he was "up to the job" of serving as commander-in-chief. The question is whether the elements of the president's nuclear policy can be fashioned into a coherent, constructive whole. As currently envisioned, the Bush policy has a fundamental contradiction: his administration's enthusiastic embrace of missile defenses, combined with its denigration of long-standing arms control arrangements, could spark a new arms race that would undercut the rationale for his commitment to constructive measures such as deep cuts and de-alerting.

It remains to be seen whether President Bush can find a way to harmonize the contradictory strands in his emerging nuclear doctrine. His choice of long-time missile defense advocate Donald Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense indicates a strong commitment to this element of his proposed nuclear policy. Since taking office, Rumsfeld has attempted to create an air of inevitability about U.S. deployment of long-range missile defenses by suggesting that the issue is no longer whether the United States will deploy such a system but when. He has alternated between harsh anti-arms control rhetoric—such as his comment during his confirmation hearings that the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is "ancient history"—and more conciliatory statements, such as his reference in those same hearings to the need to "refashion the balance between defenses and deterrence."

If Rumsfeld truly seeks a balance, rather than pursuing missile defenses regardless of the economic, diplomatic, and security costs, then the Bush agenda of security-enhancing nuclear reductions may be achievable. But a unilateral decision to deploy missile defenses regardless of the concerns expressed by Russian officials would almost inevitably provoke Moscow to modernize its nuclear missile forces and keep a significant proportion of them on high-alert status. Furthermore, a National Intelligence Estimate assessing the potential security impact of U.S. deployment of a missile defense system conducted last year reportedly indicated that an abrupt U.S. decision to deploy missile defenses would probably spark an increase in the nuclear and missile forces of China, Pakistan, and India.3

Under this turbulent scenario of nuclear arms buildups and the hawkish domestic political climate that would likely follow, it is hard to see how a policy of deep reductions in U.S. nuclear forces would be sustainable. And even if the Bush administration could make some cuts in our own arsenal in the face of Russian and Chinese nuclear expansion, the net result would hardly be a safer world. Pursuing missile defenses as a fallback against rearmament in an environment of deep cuts or elimination of current arsenals would be one thing, but pursuing them without serious regard for the likely response of other nuclear powers can only serve as an obstacle to what should be the overriding goal of U.S. policy: to safely eliminate as many nuclear weapons as possible, not only in the United States, but in all states with nuclear weapons.

Despite these contradictions, Bush seems serious about pursuing deep nuclear reductions, but there is a danger that the administration may pursue changes to the nuclear arsenal that are destabilizing and dangerous, rather than security enhancing. The administration's nuclear review will reportedly lean heavily on the findings of a January 2001 report by the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP).4 The NIPP report was directed by Keith Payne, who was the co-author of an infamous 1980 essay on U.S. nuclear policy that ran in Foreign Policy magazine under the ominous title "Victory Is Possible." Among the participants in the study panel were Stephen Hadley and Robert Joseph, both of whom are now responsible for nuclear policy issues at the National Security Council.

The NIPP report sheds important light on the "unilateralist" strain in the thinking of key Bush advisers. The report's basic thrust is in an era of strategic uncertainty, when the United States is not even sure who its adversaries may be, it needs the flexibility to reduce or reconstitute its nuclear forces as circumstances require, ideally without the limits imposed by negotiated arms control agreements. Part of this new "flexibility," the report suggests, includes developing "future deterrent and wartime roles" for U.S. nuclear weapons that would include the following: using U.S. nuclear weapons to deter other nations from undertaking an attack on the United States using chemical or biological weapons; employing U.S. nuclear weapons to limit U.S. casualties in a major conventional conflict; and using U.S. nuclear weapons for "special targeting requirements," such as attacking hardened underground military and command facilities.5

If the thinking reflected in the NIPP report were to become the basis for the Bush nuclear policy, the security benefits derived from reducing U.S. nuclear forces could be canceled out by the new dangers inherent in a policy which legitimizes the use or even the threat of use of nuclear weapons in certain regional conflict scenarios. This would be a disastrous doctrine. It would likely spur nuclear proliferation and it would contradict the U.S. commitment under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear arsenal, a commitment that was reaffirmed at the 2000 NPT review conference.

Thankfully, it appears that the Bush administration is not of one mind on the issue of making "usable," low-yield nuclear weapons the centerpiece of a new U.S. nuclear doctrine. Secretary of State Colin Powell, for example, decided against using or threatening to use nuclear weapons in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In his best-selling memoir, Powell traces his own reservations about the wisdom of using nuclear weapons in a wartime role to a discussion he had during a 1986 war-gaming exercise that involved using battlefield nuclear weapons to blunt a Soviet conventional attack on West Germany: "No matter how small these nuclear payloads were, we would be crossing a threshold. Using nukes at this point would mark one of the most significant political and military decisions since Hiroshima…. At that point, I began rethinking the practicality of these small nuclear weapons."6

Hopefully, Powell's practical views on issues ranging from the CTBT, which he has supported in the past, to the need to continue the dialogue with North Korea about capping its ballistic missile programs, which has been put on hold by the president despite Powell's advice to the contrary, will ultimately prevail within the Bush administration. If the nuclear unilateralists prevail, President Bush's pledge to cut U.S. nuclear arsenals and reduce global nuclear dangers may never come to fruition.

 

Outlines of a New Policy

The most important contributing factor to the success of the Bush administration's proposal to reduce nuclear dangers will be its diplomatic approach. The president will have to demonstrate that the United States is serious about using its current position of unparalleled strength to exert genuine international leadership. The United States must be perceived as willing to use its unprecedented power for the common good of the international community, not just for its own self-interest, narrowly defined. The provocative, unilateralist tone that has colored recent remarks by Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, is liable to provoke a political and military backlash from allies and adversaries alike. The more moderate, cooperative stance struck by Powell is far more likely to yield positive results in reducing global nuclear dangers. The question is, which approach will President Bush adopt?

The key area in which the issue of unilateralism versus cooperative leadership will come into play is the question of national missile defense (NMD). If the goal of NMD is to reduce the threat of a ballistic missile attack on the United States, it makes eminent sense to vigorously pursue diplomatic preventive measures now, before nations of concern have developed the capability to reach U.S. soil with a nuclear-armed ballistic missile. If President Bush wants to supplement his program of nuclear reductions by developing a national missile defense system, he must do so in a realistic fashion that takes into account the limits of existing technologies, the costs of the proposed system, and the impacts on arms control and the behavior of potential adversaries.

Most experts agree that it will take at least five to 10 years to develop even a modest capability to knock down a handful of incoming warheads. In the time it will take to see if such a system is worth deploying, we can and should be making great strides toward reducing the nuclear threat using all the other tools we have at our disposal—diplomatic, legal, and economic. If we do our work well, in five years time the need to construct a missile defense system to overcome the nascent threats from North Korea, Iran, or Iraq may be rendered moot by changes in the local, regional, and international political landscapes. Whatever difficulties or obstacles may arise, it would be irresponsible not to pursue all reasonable channels for stemming the proliferation of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in tandem with any missile defense development effort.

Reducing nuclear weapons will also require enlightened leadership on the domestic front. As an integral part of the nuclear posture review, President Bush should immediately direct the secretary of defense to brief every member of Congress on the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), the Pentagon's top secret nuclear target list. Unless members of Congress understand the enormity of our current arsenal and the awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons at a gut level, they will not understand the urgent need for action, nor will they be willing to provide the resources required for safe reductions of global arsenals. When the principal author of this article served as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he repeatedly sought a briefing from the Pentagon on the SIOP but was never granted one. As of this writing, it is not clear whether any current member of Congress has had such a briefing. At a minimum, members of the intelligence, armed services, and defense appropriations committees of the House and Senate should receive such a briefing as a first step toward piercing the veil of secrecy and bureaucratic privilege that has contributed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal at dangerously high levels.

As a major step toward reducing and eventually eliminating our own nuclear arsenal (as we have committed to doing under the NPT), the Bush review should consider moving toward a minimum deterrent posture involving hundreds, not thousands, of nuclear warheads. Just one of our Trident submarines can launch up to 192 independently targetable warheads, each with a yield approximately 30 times as powerful as the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Two or three of these submarines should provide more than enough destructive power to deter any nation from contemplating a nuclear attack on the United States, its allies, or its forces. A minimum deterrent posture would also entail changing the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons so that U.S. nuclear weapons would only be used to deter or retaliate against the use of nuclear weapons against U.S. territory or allies. U.S. conventional forces are sufficiently powerful and resilient to provide a deterrent or retaliatory capability against a state wielding chemical or biological weapons and perhaps even against a nation with a small nuclear arsenal.7

As for the question of reducing U.S. forces unilaterally, President Bush should consider the approach taken during his father's administration, in which reciprocal unilateral steps by Washington and Moscow were utilized as a way to speed the process of nuclear reductions, not as an alternative to arms control agreements. The firestorm of criticism from allies and potential adversaries alike over the Bush administration's suggestion that it might break out of the ABM Treaty gives a preliminary indication of how dangerous and unpredictable a world without nuclear arms control arrangements could be. Provoking an environment of nuclear anarchy is not in the interests of the United States or any other nation. As the world's pre-eminent military power, the United States actually has more to lose under an "every nation for itself" approach to nuclear weapons development and deployment than virtually any other state.

Along with any reductions it pursues in the U.S. arsenal, the Bush administration should also ease Russian nuclear cuts through a major expansion of the Nunn-Lugar threat reduction program, which has been providing several billion dollars per year to assist Russia in dismantling nuclear weapons and safely disposing of bomb-grade fissile materials. President Bush expressed support for the Nunn-Lugar concept during the campaign. It is now time to back up that commitment. Hopefully, the recent revelations regarding a review of U.S.-Russian programs in this area represent a good faith effort to fine tune the Nunn-Lugar program in ways that make it more effective, not the beginning of an attempt to reduce resources devoted to these activities, which have contributed to the deactivation of more than 5,200 Russian nuclear warheads and 400 long-range missiles.

Unfortunately, reports emerged at the end of March that the White House Budget Office is contemplating steep cuts in key cooperative threat reduction initiatives, including a sharp decrease in the program designed to help Moscow control and account for its bomb-grade nuclear materials. If implemented, these cuts would directly contradict the recommendations of a recent bipartisan panel co-chaired by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN), which recommended a $30 billion increase in Nunn-Lugar-style programs over the next decade to head off a situation in which Russia could become "a virtual 'Home Depot' for would-be proliferators."

Finally, as part of the nuclear posture review, the president should move swiftly to implement his campaign pledge to take as many U.S. nuclear weapons as possible off high-alert status. As long as the United States and Russia maintain such large nuclear arsenals, the prospect of an accidental launch is real, as we learned a few years back when President Yeltsin reportedly came close to ordering an attack on the United States after Russian radars mistook a Norwegian satellite launch for a U.S. missile attack. General Lee Butler, the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, has spoken of the "mind-numbing compression of decision-making under threat of a nuclear attack," in which the decision to launch a nuclear-armed missile must be made within a matter of minutes. It is in no one's interest—not in Washington, not in Moscow, not in Beijing, not anywhere—for the decisions on whether to use these devastating weapons to continue to be made on such short notice.

We should seize the occasion of the nuclear posture review to reinforce the most positive elements of President Bush's proposal: his calls for immediate, substantial reductions in the U.S. arsenal and de-alerting of as many U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons as possible. But to accomplish this worthwhile goal and break the nuclear gridlock that has paralyzed nuclear reduction efforts for nearly a decade, the president will need to curb the unilateralist impulses of a number of his key advisers and build upon this nation's bipartisan record of arms control and arms reduction initiatives.

In doing so, President Bush will have ample precedent in the record of Ronald Reagan, who began his time in office pursuing an across-the-board modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and an expansive missile defense shield but ended up putting missile defense on the back burner and agreeing to the elimination of theater nuclear forces in Europe and, in principle, to substantial reductions in long-range Soviet and U.S. nuclear forces. We can only hope that President Bush will be as creative in adapting to the circumstances and opportunities of our era as President Reagan was in the 1980s. If so, his vision of a safer world with far fewer nuclear weapons can and will be realized.

 

NOTES

1. Janne E. Nolan, "Preparing for the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review," Arms Control Today, November 2000, p. 13.

2. For a thorough analysis of the 1993-1994 nuclear posture review, see Janne E. Nolan, An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security after the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1999), p. 35-62.

3. See, for example, Bob Drogin and Tyler Marshall, "Missile Shield Analysis Warns of Arms Buildup," The Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2000, p. A1.

4. Steven Lee Myers, "Bush Takes First Step to Shrink Arsenal of Nuclear Warheads," The New York Times, February 9, 2001, p. A1.

5. National Institute for Public Policy, Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, Volume I, Executive Report, January 2001.

6. Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995), p. 313.

7. For more on this latter point, see the interview with General Lee Butler in Jonathan Schell, The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Now (New York: Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 1998), p. 203-205.

 


Robert Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, is president of New School University. William D. Hartung is president's fellow and director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at New School University's World Policy Institute.

'Foster Panel' Critiques Nuclear Weapons Complex

Philipp C. Bleek

A congressionally established panel has said that there are potentially serious shortfalls in the nuclear weapons complex and in the stockpile stewardship effort, which is intended to preserve U.S. nuclear weapons in the absence of underground testing.

The Panel to Assess the Reliability, Safety, and Security of the United States Nuclear Stockpile, known as the "Foster panel" after chairman and former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director John Foster, was established by the fiscal year 1999 National Defense Authorization Act to prepare three annual reports assessing the stockpile stewardship effort.

The group's February 1 report, the second of three, cites "funding shortfalls" and the lack of a "coherent strategy" as the most significant causes of "growing deficiencies in the nuclear weapons production complex," continued "slippage" in reaching program milestones, and "unacceptably high risks to the completion of needed weapon refurbishments." The group also says that recent security breaches have caused "deep morale and personnel problems" throughout the nuclear complex.

The panel makes a series of targeted recommendations to remedy what it terms a "disturbing gap" between the declared policy that maintaining the stockpile is a "supreme national interest" and actions that have been taken in support of that policy. In its primary recommendation, the panel calls for enhancing the United States' capability to produce fissile material cores for nuclear weapons, which would be required if serious defects were found in current weapons' cores.

The report also calls for the refurbishment of the nuclear weapons complex infrastructure, which it deemed would require an additional $300-500 million per year in funding. Fiscal Year 2001 infrastructure activities, including construction, repair, and maintenance, totaled about $1.6 billion. In addition, the panel states that a backlog of maintenance work amounting to $700-800 million must be dealt with.

The panel concludes that there is an "urgent need for a coherent vision, comprehensive plan, and programmatic commitment" and warns, "Failure to meet these needs would virtually guarantee that, in the decades ahead, the nation would face a crisis in the weapons program."

Testifying at a March 13 Senate subcommittee hearing, National Nuclear Security Administration head General John Gordon emphasized that "we don't need any more studies" and highlighted the fact that "every report, every study" has indicated that additional funding "approaching $500 million a year for at least the next ten years" is required to refurbish the nuclear weapons complex.

Pledging 'No First Strike': A Step Toward Real WMD Cooperation

Jan Lodal

The strategic arms control process that for decades has regulated nuclear stability is gridlocked. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union negotiated arms control agreements that led to the prohibition of national missile defenses (NMD), a ceiling on deployed strategic weapons, and the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear forces. At the end of the Cold War, strategic arms control yielded START I, which cut U.S. and Soviet forces in half, and START II, which would essentially cut those forces in half again.

But the significant political and military changes that have taken place in the past decade now challenge the paradigm that allowed for these important agreements. Both sides clearly want to reduce their deployed strategic forces further, but the stalled START process has become an impediment rather than a help, and START's detailed numeric controls have become largely irrelevant to addressing current threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Similarly, deterrence should remain the foundation of U.S. nuclear doctrine and force structure, but the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which codified deterrence as the basis of strategic stability throughout the Cold War, has become a barrier to the limited national defenses that can help meet new threats without upsetting strategic stability.

Challenges to the Cold War arms control paradigm have been crystallized by U.S. plans to deploy an NMD system. As Russia's nuclear arsenal continues to shrink with age, a significant NMD could give the United States, for the first time in the nuclear age, a true "first-strike" capability—the ability to launch a pre-emptive attack destroying enough of Russia's nuclear force to permit the NMD to intercept any residual retaliation. A nuclear first-strike capability would be the ultimate military advantage, giving the United States enough force to threaten the survival of any rival.

Launching a pre-emptive nuclear attack for any reason short of stopping an inevitable WMD attack against the United States would be contrary to all American traditions and values. But just as the United States has always insisted on evaluating any potential adversary's capabilities rather than only its intentions, other nations will evaluate U.S. capabilities in deciding how to respond to the United States. Even if other nations accept the near certainty that the United States would not launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack, they will worry about the diplomatic, economic, and even cultural power such a capability could afford. It is thus not surprising that Russia has held progress in arms control, and therefore greater cooperation in stopping emerging WMD threats, hostage to obtaining America's commitment to the continued prohibition of national missile defenses as codified by the ABM Treaty.

To achieve its goals in stopping new WMD threats, the United States should begin with a reassessment of its own nuclear doctrine and force structure. Both remain locked in the Cold War paradigm. The nuclear doctrines of damage limitation and extended deterrence in Europe were responses to a Soviet threat that no longer exists. Yet these doctrines continue to require nuclear forces and war plans that would give the United States a first-strike capability if an NMD were deployed. A U.S. pledge of "no first strike" is a necessary first step in establishing a new nuclear offense-defense relationship that maintains deterrence while motivating the cooperation necessary to stop the growing threats of WMD from terrorists and rogue states.

 

Nuclear Doctrine and Force Structure

Nuclear holocaust during the Cold War was averted by the painstaking creation of a regime of nuclear deterrence. Rather than use nuclear weapons as offensive weapons of war, it has been the bedrock principle of nuclear strategy to maintain them to deter an adversary's use of its nuclear weapons by maintaining the capability to absorb a nuclear attack, retaliate, and cause unacceptable damage to the attacker. Ensuring this capability has been the focus of U.S. nuclear weapons programs since the Soviet Union developed the capability to threaten the U.S. homeland directly.

While the U.S. deterrent rested on its capability to "ride out" a first strike and still be able to inflict massive harm on its attacker, the United States also maintained several first-use missions for its arsenal. Starting in the late 1950s, the United States deployed thousands of tactical nuclear weapons to permit a so-called flexible response to a Soviet invasion of Europe. Given that many of the tactical weapons deployed were more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a tactical nuclear war would have killed millions. But the United States and other NATO members saw tactical nuclear weapons as the best way to offset Soviet conventional superiority in Europe and deter a Soviet invasion. America's threat to use nuclear weapons first to respond to non-nuclear threats against U.S. forces or allies has been a key element in providing "extended deterrence."

But the largest and most significant first-use mission for U.S. nuclear forces was a "counterforce" attack designed to limit damage to the United States should deterrence fail and nuclear war occur. The idea of damage limitation is to attack and destroy enemy forces before they can be used. Since many enemy forces are dispersed or hardened, to destroy them with any degree of certainty requires that multiple nuclear weapons be used against each target. If there is any chance that a target might contain an unused weapon or accommodate a reload, the war planners will target multiple warheads against it. The result is to generate a "requirement" for thousands of weapons.

The main damage-limiting attack in the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) is designed as a "prompt retaliatory" attack, not as an attack that would be undertaken hours or days after a nuclear war began. Prompt retaliation is considered important to destroy as many enemy weapons as possible before they can be used and to use as many U.S. weapons as possible before they are destroyed on the ground. As a result, such an attack would have to be launched in the 15-20 minutes available after an incoming attack was unambiguously detected or launched pre-emptively. Although launch under attack is a theoretical possibility, it is not a practical reality because the command-and-control challenges involved in having the president decide to undertake such an action are substantial. U.S. forces are designed to withstand a surprise attack precisely to avoid the necessity of hasty decisions. In practice, then, if a "prompt retaliatory" attack were used at all, it would be used pre-emptively.

Russia still maintains more than 5,000 deployed strategic nuclear weapons and plans to maintain at least 1,500 even if its preferred arms control outcome is achieved. While the Cold War has meant the end of hostility between Russia and the United States, with a Russian force of this size, it would be highly imprudent to rely on political goodwill alone as protection against the possibility of nuclear attack. Deterring a Russian attack, therefore, should remain the primary mission of U.S. nuclear forces.

But the United States can and should drop its damage-limiting and extended deterrence missions. With the end of the Cold War, Russia has lost its capability to invade Western Europe with conventional forces. These forces are in shambles, unable to deal with the Chechnya challenge, and there are no longer Warsaw Pact allies to absorb initial NATO attacks or to provide a substantial portion of an attack force. Even if the Russians were to mount a massive effort to rebuild a conventional threat to Europe, which is an almost inconceivable political step, it would take them decades to do so, during which time the United State and its NATO allies could enhance their conventional forces.

President George Bush realized this when he unilaterally deactivated and began to dismantle almost all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in September 1991. Only a few hundred aircraft-delivered nuclear bombs remain in Europe to support flexible response, along with a comparable number of British and French warheads. Nevertheless, flexible response remains the official policy of NATO, the United States, Britain, and France. Nuclear forces are still maintained with a mission to repel a land invasion of Europe. But the threat that once justified nuclear forces designed to strike first against the Russian army is simply no longer present.

The other first-use mission against Russia is the damage-limiting mission. Russia continues to maintain a large nuclear force, and, in principle, the damage-limitation mission remains valid. But since the mid-1960s, the reality has been that Soviet (now Russian) forces are so large and survivable that effective damage limitation is impossible. An all-out war would essentially destroy all major U.S. cities and military facilities, no matter how many offensive weapons were devoted to the damage-limitation task.

The first-use missions of extended deterrence and damage limitation have done more to determine U.S. nuclear policy and force structure than has the mission of deterring attack by maintaining an assured second-strike capability. Most of the nuclear force structure has been dedicated to first-use missions in the SIOP and theater nuclear war plans; only a few hundred survivable second-strike weapons have been thought necessary to deter a sudden nuclear attack on the United States. Since these first-use missions no longer have any rationale, there is no longer any justification to maintain the war plans and the forces to support them.

Dropping the damaging-limiting and extended deterrence missions would allow the United States to dramatically change its force structure. In 1997 the Clinton administration conducted a nuclear review, which determined that the United States could reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 2,500 if Russia did the same. The result was the agreement, reached that year between Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in Helsinki, that called for a START III agreement to reduce the number of warheads to 2,000-2,500. Some have argued that the present U.S. criteria for planning nuclear strikes do not permit further reductions below 2,500 because that is the minimum number necessary to develop war plans consistent with present policy (and even then only if the Russians also reduce to 2,500). But the weakness of this argument is that the scenario driving the number of weapons needed for nuclear war plans—a pre-emptive or prompt retaliatory, damage-limiting strike—no longer makes sense, not only because there is no longer a Soviet threat, but also because Russian forces are survivable.

If the prompt retaliatory option and its associated first-strike capabilities against Russia were eliminated from U.S. strategic war plans, the remaining mission of deterrence through assured retaliation could be carried out with fewer than 1,000 survivable weapons. The planned START III force structure of 2,500 weapons actually incorporates only about 1,000 survivable weapons in total because significant portions of U.S. nuclear weapons (e.g., submarine forces in port and B-2 bombers on the ground) could be destroyed in a Russian surprise attack. Retaliatory attacks of that size would destroy Russia's economy, major cities, and leadership. Since military and civilian defense planners have pronounced 2,500 total weapons adequate to deter a Russian attack, they have implicitly agreed that a surviving retaliatory force of 1,000 is adequate.

The United States can restructure its forces so that a total force of 1,000 weapons is nearly completely survivable. One such approach would be to deploy most weapons at sea, where they are essentially completely invulnerable. A few weapons should be deployed on B-2 aircraft to provide a flexible response nuclear force that can be used in extremis to destroy targets not easily covered by submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and to carry out certain very limited first-use missions. A reasonable split of forces would be 840 warheads on SLBMs and 160 carried on 20 B-2s.

To be 100 percent survivable, all 840 sea-based weapons should be kept permanently at sea. This can be achieved by transferring missiles from submarines as they return to port for necessary rotations. The present force of 14 active submarines could then accommodate 840 at sea, loading 5 warheads on each of the 24 D-5 missiles carried on each at-sea boat. The result would be 7 submarines at sea (following current rotation policies of being in port 50 percent of the time) equipped with 120 warheads each, for a total of 840 invulnerable warheads at sea. The B-2s would be kept on a high level of alert to assure their survivability.

The United States also maintains the capability to deploy up to 500 nuclear bombs in Europe to carry out NATO's flexible response strategy, which was intended to deter and stop a Soviet conventional attack. This strategy no longer has any meaning since Russia has no capability to mount the attack that this tactical nuclear force is meant to deter. But these weapons also serve the additional purpose of coupling the U.S. nuclear arsenal with NATO and the defense of Europe, adding substance to the assertions that the U.S. nuclear umbrella continues to cover Europe. A force of about 200 weapons should be adequate to preserve this and to dissuade any European countries, like Germany, from developing their own nuclear weapons. These forces would support the flexible response mission of the 160 weapons carried on the B-2 bombers.

There are advantages to obtaining Russian agreement to join the United States in reducing forces to 1,200 weapons each, but even if an agreed limit is not possible, the United States should reduce its forces to these levels. Explicitly eliminating prompt retaliatory war plans and the de facto first-strike capability they engender would make it easier to achieve the international consensus necessary to deploy a limited national missile defense and would strengthen U.S. diplomatic leverage in nuclear non-proliferation.

These changes to U.S. nuclear doctrine and force structure do not mean, however, that the United States should adopt a no-first-use pledge. Removing prompt retaliatory attack options from war plans and announcing that no such plans will be maintained as a matter of policy would be another step toward a no-first-use policy. But taking the final step of making an explicit no-first-use pledge would be a mistake. Four limited but valid first-use missions remain for nuclear forces:

 

  • To destroy deep underground WMD facilities, several of which have been constructed by rogue states. Only nuclear weapons are capable of destroying many such facilities.
  • To pre-empt a WMD attack by a rogue state or terrorist group.
  • To retaliate against a non-nuclear WMD attack on the United States, its forces, or its allies when conventional retaliation cannot bring the WMD attacks to an immediate halt.
  • If a major war were to break out, a nuclear attack seemed imminent, and the destruction of enemy nuclear forces with conventional forces was not feasible, to pre-empt the ability of nuclear powers other than Russia or China to launch nuclear attacks against the United States or its allies.
  • These missions are purely military in the sense that they could be accomplished by conventional military forces if the technology were available. Even today, no American president would authorize the use of nuclear weapons in even these extreme circumstances until all non-nuclear military options had been exhausted. But until conventional forces are capable of carrying out these missions, it would be wrong to deny that the possibility of using nuclear weapons to accomplish them confers a significant military advantage. A no-first-use pledge could motivate a hostile and irrational government to conclude that war threatening its vital interests could be fought without risk of a U.S. nuclear response.

     

    Ballistic Missile Defenses

    The necessity for a change in the way the United States approaches nuclear security and arms control is due in part to the evolving threat from the proliferation of long-range ballistic missiles. The United States needs a new strategic concept for dealing with ballistic missile defenses, not just a quick fix to deal with possible threats from states like North Korea. This policy must deal with the technological, strategic, and diplomatic challenges that missile defenses pose, while acknowledging their potential contribution to the security of the United States and its allies.

    This new strategy should begin with the understanding that a Strategic Defense Initiative-like shield is impossible. It is probably impossible to perfect the technology necessary to stop today's generation of ballistic missiles anytime in the foreseeable future. Even if it were possible, the program would motivate a response from adversaries that would inevitably offset the defense. More sophisticated penetration aids, larger numbers of MIRVs, attacks on the defense itself, cruise missiles, more bombers, and anti-satellite weapons are all technologies that could offset a nationwide defense against a sophisticated enemy.

    But the impossibility of a shield against all attacks does not mean that ballistic missile defense should be abandoned. There are five important missions for limited defenses:

     

  • Theater missile defense (TMD) is needed to protect U.S. troops in the field and the cities of U.S. friends and allies against both conventional and WMD attack.
  • While the chance of accidental launch is low, a direct defense would provide insurance against such an occurrence.
  • If deterrence fails against a state such as North Korea or Iran, a direct defense can protect the United States.
  • A defense might help deter the development by rogue states of an ICBM capability by making clear the limited utility of a small attack.
  • Finally, a limited national defense, even if it can intercept only a few warheads, can enhance deterrence in a crisis by making it necessary for an adversary to launch a relatively large nuclear attack to overcome the defense. Intimidation by threatening one or two nuclear missiles is eliminated, making it less likely that a crisis would escalate to war in the first place.
  • This last strategic mission is perhaps the most important. An attack that grows out of a diplomatic crisis is the most likely threat to the U.S. homeland—greater than the risk of an accidental or surprise attack. In the midst of such a crisis, when each step the United States takes runs the risk of leading to a WMD attack, a national missile defense would have the significant benefit of increasing the U.S. freedom of action. Because any attack large enough to get through the defense would ensure massive retaliation, an NMD system raises the stakes for a potential attacker, thereby enhancing deterrence and giving the United States greater leeway.

    Providing this freedom of action is also important in facing threats from a rogue state, a terrorist group, or a rogue officer in a nuclear state who gains control of even a single missile. Simply making it clear that the United States retains freedom of action would deter most rogue states, terrorist groups, and individuals from attempting either blackmail or an attack. In fact, some potential proliferators might decide to abandon their WMD programs altogether in the face of a U.S. NMD.

    At present, the necessary technology is not available to carry out these missions—the United States cannot even provide effective theater missile defenses to protect U.S. troops in the field. The first true TMD, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3, which is a modification of a 30-year-old design, is not scheduled for deployment until 2002. The first new-generation system, the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is scheduled for 2007. The Navy Theater Wide system is a decade away. The Medium Extended Air Defense System and the Airborne Laser are not even programmed for deployment.

    Developing a workable set of systems to accomplish the above missions will therefore take quite a bit of time, and that time should be used in a concerted effort to pursue the best technology. Present designs for a limited NMD system are based on "traditional" ABM architecture, consisting of ground-based radars to detect and track incoming warheads and ground-based interceptor missiles to destroy the warheads by impacting them. This is still the most feasible architecture for intercepting warheads launched from Russian ICBM bases against the United States. But for emerging rogue state threats, boost-phase technology, in which a missile is destroyed during the powered portion of its ascent before it leaves the atmosphere, may offer significant technical and diplomatic advantages.

    A boost-phase system would have a larger, hotter, and slower target to hit and would be able to intercept a target before it had deployed MIRVs or decoys. It would be equally effective against theater ballistic missiles and ICBMs. Diplomatically, boost-phase systems offer the advantage of not threatening the strategic forces of Russia and China because those countries could place their missiles far inland, out of reach of U.S. air- or sea-based boost-phase systems. (Russia also has a significant SLBM force that would not be affected.)

    The main disadvantage of boost-phase systems is that the interceptors must be deployed near the enemy launch sites. Theoretically, boost-phase interceptors could be based in space. But for the foreseeable future, they must be deployed on land, in aircraft or drones, or on ships. Each of these platforms presents some challenges and vulnerabilities. Aircraft and drones are obviously vulnerable to air defense systems, and ships (Aegis-guided missile ships) presently do not have the necessary equipment, in addition to being extraordinarily expensive assets to leave on station indefinitely. Land-based deployment requires access to nearby bases from third countries that may not grant it.

    It is a considerable challenge to design and develop a workable boost-phase approach. Operational systems are probably a decade away at a minimum. But boost-phase systems could eventually add to U.S. TMD capabilities, and they could handle most rogue state ICBM deployments. Insuring against accidental launches and enhancing deterrence of Russia or China in a crisis would still require a limited direct defense of the United States. This capability could be provided using the 100 interceptors provided by the ABM Treaty. It would be important to deploy a worldwide space-based warning and tracking system to enhance the other NMD technologies included in such a system, and the interceptors would have to be deployed at multiple sites to protect the entire United States.

    Perfecting TMD systems, designing and developing workable boost-phase systems, and building a 100-interceptor limited ground-based NMD will take considerable time. If the United States announces a new strategy for ballistic missile defenses that is not a threat to non-hostile powers and makes clear that this strategy will be pursued consistently, it should be possible to develop a cooperative approach that would be accepted by Russia, China, and U.S. allies and friends.

    The first step would be dropping the prompt retaliatory strikes from the SIOP and reducing the nuclear force to 1,200 weapons so that, unless the United States deployed a very large ABM system, defenses would not give it a first-strike capability. Sharing ABM technology—for example, by giving all friendly nations the ability to use a common space-based ballistic missile detection and tracking system—would be another important aid to U.S. diplomacy. Finally, a new policy on missile defenses must be integrated with alliance relations and foreign policy objectives. The concerns of NATO, Asian friends and allies, Russia, and China must be directly addressed.

    The end of the Cold War has eliminated any chance that a reasonable ABM deployment will trigger a pre-emptive nuclear war or an offensive nuclear arms race between Russia and the United States. Yet these are the main scenarios that the ABM Treaty and its prohibition of national missile defenses were intended to deal with. It should be possible to negotiate a cooperative regime with Russia permitting the United States to adopt a new strategy that includes limited ballistic missile defenses.

    Satisfying China that the United States is not a threat will be more difficult because even a 100-interceptor system could negate its small deterrent force. Strategic modernization is now underway in China, and China will probably expand its force in any event from the 25 warheads currently capable of reaching the United States. An increase to a level of 100-200 warheads would not change the current strategic balance and would be large enough to ensure penetration of a limited U.S. NMD. The United States should tolerate such a modest increase to open the possibility of much stronger Chinese cooperation on WMD non-proliferation.

    Likewise, China might expand and improve its force of short-range ballistic missiles from today's level of about 300 to 500. Such an expansion will be unwelcome, but to make it a casus belli would be a mistake. The U.S. ability to deter a Chinese attack against Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan would not be affected by increases of this size, and a limited direct defense is worth the result of moderately expanded Chinese forces.

     

    The Role for Arms Control

    After announcing changes in its nuclear posture and force structure, the United States should enter into negotiations with Russia with the goal of replacing both START and the ABM Treaty with new arms control agreements that reflect its new strategy and force structure while maintaining the stable deterrence relationship that was the goal of the past agreements. The following principles should guide these negotiations:

     

  • While neither allies nor partners, the United States and Russia are no longer enemies, and new arms control agreements should reflect the end of the Cold War ideological confrontation.
  • The next round of nuclear arms control should focus less on mandating reduction in the number of weapons, since both sides want reduction with or without arms control, and more on strategic transparency, safety, and stability (STRANSS).
  • Transparency: The many data and test notifications and on-site inspection rights included in SALT, START, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the institutions that exercise these rights, should be consolidated and strengthened. There should be more reciprocal visits, permission to "look inside" even more systems, more thorough data declarations, and the disclosure of future force plans.

    Safety: Keeping nuclear weapons and nuclear materials out of the hands of unauthorized individuals, rogue states, and terrorist organizations is fundamental. Making this a treaty commitment will eliminate excuses for unsafe conditions, such as inadequate budgets or bureaucratic resistance. If Russia is willing to make such a commitment, the United States should respond by increasing significantly the amount of technical and financial aid it provides through cooperative nuclear security programs, like the Cooperative Threat Reduction program.

    Stability: The new agreement should ban first-strike war plans and deploying first-strike capabilities. It should encourage the deployment by each side of invulnerable weapons, so as not to tempt a first strike. It should acknowledge that a limited NMD can add to strategic stability.

     

  • A STRANSS treaty should leave each side the flexibility to structure its nuclear forces. There should be complete "freedom to mix" various weapons types. Any numeric limits should be warhead aggregates, including all deployed strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, regardless of their range or delivery mechanisms. START II's prohibition of MIRVed ICBMs was an attempt to reduce instabilities in the balance of forces—MIRVed ICBMs constitute attractive targets for a first strike—but if Russia wants to keep some in order to save money, there is little reason to trade off more valuable aspects of the agreement to save the ban.
  • A STRANSS treaty should establish a new strategic offense-defense relationship and replace the ABM Treaty as well as START. It should preserve the prohibition against large national missile defense, but permit a light national missile defense against new threats and small attacks. The current ABM Treaty limit of 100 ground-based launchers should be retained, while dropping constraints on the number of deployment sites, radars, and space-based sensors; and non-space-based boost phase systems should be permitted.
  • Conclusion

    The challenge posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction cannot be met without U.S. leadership, but recent American actions appear to other nations to presage America's withdrawal from this effort—the Senate's October 1999 refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty being the most dramatic example. When the United States does decide to take action, it often appears to be unilateral and arrogant. One explanation for what seems to many to be America's growing isolation is the dominance of conservative Republicans, particularly Senator Jesse Helms (NC), in U.S. foreign policy leadership.

    This view is vastly oversimplified. Senator Helms has fought many initiatives that would have furthered the arms control policies not only of the Clinton administration but also of the Reagan and Bush administrations. He could not have succeeded in his efforts if there were not significant support for his position in both the Senate and the country at large. This support is largely a result of the failure of recent administrations to make a compelling case for arms control policies. Similarly, growing international opposition to U.S. non-proliferation efforts is not a problem that can be solved without addressing America's failure to articulate and pursue consistent policies that can achieve widespread consensus.

    The United States asserts that its nuclear policy is entirely defensive in nature and that nuclear weapons are kept strictly for deterrence. As explained above, however, the reality is otherwise, and change is necessary if international consensus supporting U.S. non-proliferation goals is to be obtained.

    During the Cold War, U.S. nuclear policy did not motivate worries about U.S. hegemony. Combined with the forces of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union was a comparable (some would say superior) conventional military power, and the ABM Treaty outlawed national missile defenses, preventing either side from developing a first-strike capability.

    But today, Moscow's conventional and nuclear forces are considerably smaller. The United States has also eliminated weapons but proposes to maintain a deployed force of 2,500 accurate strategic nuclear warheads—1,000 to 1,500 more than Russia is likely to be able to support. At the same time, the United States is pursuing a limited national missile defense, which could be capable of intercepting the enemy warheads remaining after a U.S. first strike. Under current U.S. strategy and planning guidance, "prompt retaliatory" war plans will over time become de facto first-strike war plans.

    The principles of nuclear stability were formulated and consistently advocated by the United States throughout the Cold War. They have now been learned and accepted in Russia and, to a lesser extent, in China. According these principles, America's nuclear strategy and programs constitute a major threat to Russia and China. The threat is not that the United States will launch a "bolt out of the blue" nuclear strike. There is no conceivable motive for such a strike, and even if there were, no national missile defense could protect American cities entirely from nuclear retaliation. Rather, the threat is that a plausible first-strike capability would give the United States true military dominance over any conceivable coalition of nations.

    As they have throughout history, nations worry that such dominance can embolden a state to force its economic, cultural, and political systems on others. Threat assessments will be influenced principally by military capabilities rather than by articulated intentions. As a result, nations will oppose America's current nuclear strategy and any significant unilaterally deployed national missile defense. They will attempt to offset U.S. military power, whether they be small and weak, like North Korea and Iran, or large and strong, like China, France, and Russia. Weapons of mass destruction will often be seen as the only way to balance U.S. military power and influence.

    A U.S. strategy of strong deterrence, including limited threats of nuclear first use, can nonetheless achieve wide acceptance as non-threatening if U.S. forces and war plans are changed as recommended. A reduction in America's total nuclear arsenal to 1,200 weapons and an explicit no-first-strike pledge should eventually ameliorate concern about a limited U.S. national missile defense.

    These changes should enable the United States to gain stronger international support for its non-proliferation goals. It should be possible to greatly enhance the acceptance and enforcement of the three treaties that prohibit the proliferation of WMD—the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological Weapons Convention. The role of law enforcement, both domestic and multinational, will have to supersede that of multilateral verification organizations such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The dismal experience of UNSCOM in disarming Saddam Hussein's Iraq demonstrates that there are severe limits to the effectiveness of UN-based enforcement organizations.

    In the end, the traditional tools of diplomacy, sanctions, and military force will have to be used to enforce non-proliferation. These tools can be used effectively only if the United States is able to organize strong broad coalitions to carry out the necessary actions.

    The world will not remain static while the only remaining superpower cements its military superiority, deploys a national missile defense while maintaining a de facto first-strike force, and abandons arms control agreements once thought to be the cornerstone of strategic stability. Unless the United States adopts policies that take into account the inevitability of other nations coalescing to oppose its military dominance—no matter how benign they may see its current motives—the dangers from WMD proliferation will accelerate. The Bush administration should organize its WMD policy around a new strategic vision of strong deterrence coupled with open international cooperation. Such an approach will achieve wide support at home and abroad as the United States demonstrates its will to lead, not a will to dominate.


    Jan Lodal has served as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy and as deputy for program analysis at the National Security Council. He is currently chairman of Lodal and Company and of CoManage, Inc. This article is adapted from his recent book, The Price of Dominance: The New Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Challenge to American Leadership, published in February by the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

    DOE Authorizes Restructuring of Lab Contracts

    Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson accepted on October 17 the recommendations of General John Gordon, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, for improving security at the two nuclear weapons laboratories managed by the University of California. According to a press release from the Department of Energy (DOE), Richardson authorized Gordon to "immediately restructure" contracts with the university to address "security and management issues." Richardson also indicated that the department will begin negotiations to extend the university's contract for three years, through September 2005. A senior DOE official confirmed that "the contract will be extended."

    On June 30, the secretary tasked Gordon with preparing recommendations to restructure the university's contract, under which it manages both Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. At that time, Gordon said he would attempt to improve security and management of the labs "without compromising the strength of their cutting-edge science and research." The labs have faced protracted criticism over security lapses, including, most recently, the disappearance of hard drives containing classified data from the X Division, Los Alamos' nuclear weapons design group. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)

    Gordon's suggested improvements include the establishment of a new University of California vice president position to oversee the labs, the hiring of security and management "subcontractor experts," and the establishment of a "Laboratory Senior Management Council" that will report directly to the university president on "key management and security issues."

    Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Madelyn Creedon, who oversees the nuclear weapons infrastructure for DOE, said in an October 17 press briefing that "the fundamental conclusion was that [the University of California] has to be responsible…for the operations of these facilities." Creedon emphasized that DOE officials intend to keep the university "on the hook," rather than relieving it of responsibility by assigning security to a separate subcontractor.

    In an October 18 statement, Representative John Dingell (D-MI), the ranking member of the House Commerce Committee and the university's most vocal critic during recent congressional hearings into alleged security lapses, criticized extension of the university's contract as "business as usual" and decried DOE's "coddling of its contractor."

    DOE Authorizes Restructuring of Lab Contracts

    DOE Audit Faults Stockpile Stewardship Program

    November 2000

    An audit by the Energy Department Inspector General's office has concluded that the "current and future goals" of the Stockpile Stewardship Program are at risk because of improper maintenance of the nuclear weapons production infrastructure. The report, released September 22, cites both management failures and insufficient funding. A senior Energy official termed the self-initiated audit "accurate and balanced."

    The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for maintaining the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal through its Stockpile Stewardship Program. In addition to preserving existing capabilities, the program is responsible for maintaining the facilities and personnel needed for a possible resumption of weapons development, testing, and production.

    The report, titled "Management of the Nuclear Weapons Production Infrastructure," emphasizes that requisite warhead production facilities have "not been adequately maintained," noting that DOE has "deferred substantial maintenance and upgrades on its production facilities" in an effort to meet "current operational needs." The report also points to delays in "weapons modification, remanufacture, and dismantlement" and in "surveillance testing of nuclear weapons components" due to infrastructure deterioration. Perhaps most critically, the report says that since the formal end of nuclear weapons production in 1993, DOE has "not reestablished the capability to produce a certified plutonium pit."

    The report says that the lack of an "overall implementation approach" and an inadequate budget have led to the deficiencies. It cites several explanations for the apparent budget shortfall, including increased environmental and security requirements and the fact that the program's $4.5 billion budget was based on an assumed strategic stockpile of 3,500 weapons under START II. (The United States currently maintains a strategic arsenal of more than 6,000 warheads.) While acknowledging that the START II implementation deadline is not until 2007 and that most stewardship activities are independent of stockpile size, a DOE spokesman said in an interview that since program operations require advanced planning and START II remains stalled, program decisions must be based on a future stockpile of 6,000 strategic weapons.

    The report recommends that National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator John Gordon establish an "overall science and production focal point" with the authority to implement six targeted recommendations that focus on budget planning. In a September 18 response to the audit, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Madelyn Creedon "generally" supported the report's conclusions and stated that DOE agreed with its recommendations.

    DOE Audit Faults Stockpile Stewardship Program

    Defense Bill Bars Unilateral Nuclear Reductions, Orders Posture Review

    November 2000

    By Philipp C. Bleek

    On October 30, President Bill Clinton signed the fiscal year 2001 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4205), which contains several provisions impacting the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The act, a 500-page document addressing a wide range of military activities, maintains a previously legislated restriction on unilateral nuclear reductions below START I levels, calls for a strategic review of U.S. nuclear weapons policy, and mandates research on how to defeat hardened targets.

    Despite efforts of several Democratic senators to the contrary, the act prohibits the United States from reducing its deployed strategic nuclear arsenal below START I levels of about 6,000 warheads until START II enters into force. First included in fiscal year 1998 legislation and originally intended to pressure Russia to ratify START II, the restriction prevents the president from unilaterally reducing U.S. strategic forces.

    Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) has unsuccessfully offered language repealing the restriction every year since it was implemented. This year, support for the senator's amendment built after Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush announced May 23 that he would unilaterally reduce U.S. nuclear forces if elected. In June, Senator John Warner (R-VA) offered an alternative amendment that would have lifted the restriction after a strategic review, effectively barring Clinton from making reductions during the remainder of his term. (See ACT, July/August 2000.) Warner's amendment defeated Kerrey's in an essentially party-line vote but was subsequently removed during House-Senate committee negotiations after Warner reportedly made it known that he would not object if his language were dropped. Warner's staff declined to comment on the report.

    As a result, the United States cannot lower its strategic nuclear arsenal below START I levels, despite the fact that both Congress and the executive branch support further reductions. The Senate ratified START II, which reduces the deployed strategic arsenal to 3,000-3,500 warheads, by an overwhelming majority in 1996, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have approved cutting nuclear forces to 2,000-2,500 warheads in the context of a START III agreement, a move the White House also supports. (See ACT, June 2000.)

    Russia ratified START II in May—removing the original justification for the restriction—but it made entry into force contingent on the Senate's passage of a group of 1997 agreements that extend START II's implementation deadline and amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The White House has refused to submit the package for consideration, effectively stalemating START II implementation, because the Senate has indicated it will reject the ABM Treaty-related protocols. Ironically, while Republican nominee George W. Bush has pledged to pursue unilateral reductions, his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, has emphasized that he would only seek treaty-based reductions.

    The act also requires that a comprehensive nuclear posture review be conducted "concurrently" with the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a thorough assessment of U.S. military policy conducted by the Pentagon. The nuclear posture review, which must be submitted to Congress with the QDR in December 2001, is tasked with examining all aspects of U.S. nuclear strategy, including the role of the arsenal, its size, and the weapons complex required to maintain it. The act also requires the review to address "the relationship among United States nuclear deterrence policy, targeting strategy, and arms control objectives." Prior to the legislation's passage, both Bush and Gore had pledged to conduct a nuclear posture review if elected. (See ACT, September 2000.) The last such review was conducted in 1994.

    While calling for a far-reaching review to re-evaluate all facets of U.S. nuclear policy, the act notes that it is the "sense of Congress" that given the potential for further strategic arms reduction agreements with Russia, maintaining a strategic triad of bombers, long-range ballistic missiles, and submarine-based ballistic missiles is "in the national interest." The bill requires the secretaries of defense and energy to submit by April 15 a long-term plan for sustaining and modernizing all legs of the nuclear triad.

    The authorization act also requires the secretary of defense, in conjunction with the secretary of energy, to complete a study by July 1 "relating to the defeat of hardened and deeply buried targets," and it authorizes "limited research and development" on the subject. Senators Warner and Wayne Allard (R-CO), who offered the language, had originally attempted to overturn a 1994 provision barring research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons, but their amendment was moderated in committee. The final version does not make explicit reference to nuclear weapons, but both senators have publicly stated that the language is intended to facilitate research on developing low-yield nuclear weapons.

    Defense Bill Bars Unilateral Nuclear Reductions, Orders Posture Review

    Preparing for the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review

    November 2000

    By Janne E. Nolan

    America's nuclear future has recently received political attention in the presidential race and among a small but vocal minority in the Congress. Though differences abound on the best way to proceed with strategic reductions, the role that missile defenses should play, and the requirements for maintaining the nuclear arsenal, one interesting point emerges: both campaigns and both sides of the aisle agree that the United States must undertake a review of its nuclear posture and must do it soon.

    When asked whether he would be willing to reduce U.S. strategic forces, Republican presidential nominee Governor George W. Bush said, "As president, I will ask the secretary of defense to conduct an assessment of our nuclear force posture and determine how best to meet our security needs." Democratic nominee Vice President Al Gore has agreed, saying, "For the United States to go to lower levels requires a thorough re-examination of the official nuclear doctrine which to this point guides our military in its planning. As president, I would initiate such a review and engage deeply in the process."1

    Even if the next president did not want to act, he would have to. An amendment to the fiscal year 2001 National Defense Authorization Act, which President Clinton signed October 30, requires the incoming administration to complete a formal nuclear posture review (NPR) by December 2001, the first such review in over six years. In addition to analyzing the role of nuclear weapons in American military strategy and identifying the requisite funding requirements for a nuclear deterrent, the bill urges the executive branch to answer fundamental questions that have not been fully answered in the five preceding decades of the nuclear age. For example: what is the relationship of nuclear deterrence policy, targeting strategy, and arms control?

    The existing bipartisan consensus on the need for a review will not make the process painless. Experiences going back to the Eisenhower administration show that neither the zeal of a new administration nor a congressional directive will suffice to solve the complex and long-standing questions of how much deterrence is needed, for what objectives, and at what cost—questions that have never been fully debated, let alone satisfactorily answered.

     

    The Inertia of Nuclear Policy

    During the Cold War, a broad anti-Soviet consensus allowed disagreements about the political and military objectives of U.S. nuclear policy to be sublimated under the rubric of deterrence, a sufficiently open-ended and abstract concept that can accommodate multiple, even contradictory, goals. But even at the height of the Cold War consensus, decision-makers never formulated clear guidelines about what should be targeted, for what reason, or with what level of destructive force in a way that reflected political as well as military judgments.

    Successive presidents have imposed changes in stated policy—from massive retaliation in the l950s, to assured destruction and flexible response in the l960s and early l970s, to countervailing strategy under President Carter, to "prevailing" in a nuclear war under Presidents Reagan and Bush, to the current doctrine under President Clinton, which is simply a modified version of the latter. These apparent innovations, however, have done little to alter the basic premises of American nuclear war plans. Since l950, nuclear weapons have preoccupied thousands of scientists, war planners, and officials with one fundamental problem: How can we make nuclear weapons accurate enough, precise enough, small enough, and flexible enough that their effects can be contained for use in combat? How can we attack our opponents' military forces so perfectly as to disarm them before they can retaliate effectively?

    Targeting opposing nuclear forces under exacting war-fighting scenarios, a policy known as "counterforce," requires very accurate, prompt, "hard-target kill" weapons that can destroy missiles and bombers even when they are mobile or in hardened shelters. A triad of land-, air-, and sea-based weapons—the product of very conservative estimates of what would be required to retaliate after a disarming Soviet first strike—is, in turn, still considered the only guarantee of a credible "nuclear fighting force," as Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) put it. Even after the demise of the Soviet Union and any credible threat of deliberate attack from Russia, prompt counterforce remains the sacrosanct principle of American nuclear strategy.

    These "scientific" challenges of war planning make up the structural reality of nuclear policy, for which the public debate about the character of deterrence, arms control, or particular weapons serves largely as a political sideshow. As the former Air Force chief of staff under President Kennedy, General Thomas D. White, summarized it,

    Such relatively reassuring terms as "mutual deterrence," "stability," "no-cities counterforce," "second-strike counterforce capability," and other quasi-military shibboleths…have created an atmosphere and mislanguage that is dangerously deceptive.

    To White, it was "defense intellectuals" living in a "weightless dreamland" who set about to create public smoke screens obscuring the realities of nuclear war.2 White was pointing to the long-standing schism between political declarations about nuclear forces and the reality of operational plans to develop and use those forces for military objectives should deterrence fail.

    Every president since Eisenhower has sought innovations in nuclear doctrine to reassure the public and to demonstrate his command of nuclear security. The message has been essentially the same: the United States maintains a nuclear arsenal to deter adversaries; our forces need only be strong enough to survive an attack and to retaliate because that is the guarantee that deterrence will never fail. During the Cold War, the public and even many officials assumed that a nuclear conflict would be one deadly spasm, a catastrophe beyond imagination.

    Political authorities also have used doctrinal change to suggest that a nuclear war could be managed and controlled, as seen in concepts like flexible response, or that one could "prevail," even in a protracted nuclear conflict, as suggested under Reagan. But publicly revealed changes in doctrine have always been superimposed, with modest effect, on an enduring and largely secret effort to design weapons and related systems to demonstrate their usability. The better the force, it is argued, the less likely it will need to be used.

    The idea that the United States would absorb an attack before launching its own weapons, current "declaratory" policy, or that a nuclear war could be conducted "flexibly" has never tracked well with operational imperatives. Uncertainties about the survival of command, control, and communications systems under attack, for example, undercut the soundness of such a policy for military planners. They need precision, promptness, and decisive destructive effects, not complex "options" or "calculated ambiguities." As former Pentagon official Leon Sloss put it, "Lots of options make planning more difficult. The military doesn't believe that limited nuclear options will ever be executed, and they fear losing forces before they launch them."3 Recent efforts to alter targeting plans for greater flexibility have changed some of what Sloss describes, but the core mission of nuclear weapons—based on centralized plans for prompt and massive attack—has endured for over 50 years.

    The current debate reveals no significant discontinuities with the past, the demise of America's central adversary notwithstanding. The United States is spending about $20 billion annually on the maintenance of nuclear forces, including several thousand weapons aimed at an estimated 2,200 Russian targets, as well as plans for strikes against China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and so-called non-state actors. Counterforce strategy, reflected in the Navy's plans to spend over $5 billion in the next decade to improve Trident missiles' hard-target kill capability against Russian missile silos, for example, is alive and well. And the fiscal year 2001 National Defense Authorization Act, the same bill that has called for a thorough review of U.S. nuclear posture, has just reaffirmed that "it is in the national interest of the United States to maintain a robust and balanced triad of strategic nuclear vehicles."

    One central reason for the absence of post-Cold War change in the nuclear force posture has been the failure of the president to challenge the assumptions driving nuclear planning, a sphere that has traditionally eluded presidential attention. Nuclear targeting and attack planning have evolved over the last 50 years into a highly specialized occupation, based on specific skills, computer models, and databases to which only very few could have access, let alone oversight. The extreme political sensitivity of nuclear operations—the guts of deterrence—required that authority for war plans be delegated to a decision-making apparatus designed specifically to avoid excessive political intrusion or publicity. The sheer complexity of the nuclear architecture, in turn, assures a certain degree of autonomy from less expert officials. And, as has been demonstrated in countless episodes, this is not a sphere in which amateurs are welcome, no matter what formal titles they hold.

    The president has ultimate authority for launching nuclear weapons and is responsible for drafting the nuclear guidance given planners to draw up war plans. Most presidents, senior White House aides, and even secretaries of defense, however, would be hard pressed to describe how various "options" would be executed in a war, with what weapons, and to what end. As summarized by an officer charged with carrying the "football"—the briefcase the president would use to get at nuclear launch codes in a crisis—"Not one President in my time [from Johnson to Carter] ever had more than one briefing on the contents of the football, and that was before each one took office, when it was one briefing among dozens" even though the material "changed constantly." No president ever had the combination: "If the guy with the football has a heart attack, they'd have to blow the whole thing open."4

    Not surprisingly, planning objectives—targets to be covered, with estimated damage expectancies—have influenced the structure and level of forces thought to be required far more than political debates about whether the United States. can ever commit to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. As was true throughout the Cold War and remains true today, the determination of what numbers of weapons are desirable, at what levels of alert, against which targets, is not only up to the president or his political advisers. This tradition of delegated authority is likely to be a significant factor in determining the outcome of any future review.

     

    Attempts at Innovation

    Two recent attempts to change operational policy—one under President Bush and one under President Clinton—help illustrate the kinds of challenges that a future nuclear posture review is likely to confront.

    The Bush Legacy

    As the Soviet Union was collapsing in l989, the number of targets in the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP)—the blueprint for a nuclear war—was about 12,500, directed against a full range of Soviet military and "war-supporting" installations.5 Recognizing that many of the SIOP targets were being rendered obsolete by changes in the Soviet bloc and by pending START reductions, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney began to ask questions about targeting plans. Realizing that his aides were not informed about such details, he appointed General Robert Herres, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to conduct a targeting review, which Herres concluded after 18 months.

    Cheney, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell, were reportedly appalled by what was revealed. They quickly surmised that the SIOP was not only out of date but also devoid of any apparent logic. According to one account,

    Cheney concluded the SIOP was not a nuclear war plan…. It seemed like a jumble of processed data…. Every time the Pentagon had bought a new nuclear weapons system to match the Soviets'…[U.S. Strategic Command] had simply found targets for the added warheads and rearranged the SIOP math formulas. This had gone on for years, as captains and majors who wrote the SIOP rotated in and out.6

    Despite efforts to develop systems and software to devise and coordinate precise attacks, officers charged with covering different target sets had developed models to direct multiple weapons to the same target, with no apparent knowledge of what other programmers were doing. Some industrial centers in Moscow, for example, had multiple weapons allocated to individual factories despite the fact that they were closely clustered. Ten-warhead MX missiles, with a damage radius of three miles, were targeted on areas less than a mile apart. And notwithstanding the admonition of Strategic Command (STRATCOM) that the United States would never target populations, nearly 40 weapons were allocated to hit Kiev alone.

    Cheney's review revealed the enduring schism between political and operational realities, the product of years of vague guidance and the remoteness of the planners from the world of policy. Cheney promptly directed the elimination of thousands of targets from the SIOP and eventually oversaw a radical restructuring of the planning apparatus. Former Soviet republics were removed entirely; many leadership, industrial, and war-supporting targets were reduced to reflect the collapse of communism; and any planned strikes against nuclear installations or transportation links were consolidated on Russian territory. Methods of "adaptive targeting" to devise flexible options for global application were devised, in anticipation of new regional threats.

    Cheney's targeting review provoked no public sign of discord from the bureaucracy or the planning community, a rare achievement which reflects the discipline and unanimity of purpose that characterized Bush's national security team. Cheney, Powell, and national security adviser General Brent Scowcroft not only brought personal stature and credibility to the challenge, but also clearly spoke for the president. All three successfully used their clout with the uniformed military to defuse hawkish opposition, both in the Pentagon and the Congress, and were astute "inside players" who knew they could count on the president and one another in the face of opposition.

    Aides to Bush are unanimous in their admiration for his leadership style. "President Bush never let an important issue drop into the bureaucracy," said one. Nor did he lose interest in directives he issued to his subordinates. He is praised for being involved in what aides call the "heavy lifting" of foreign policy, working directly and tirelessly with congressional and foreign leaders to set the stage for positive reception of U.S. initiatives. By the time Bush left office, START I had been concluded (halving each sides' deployed strategic forces to 6,000 accountable warheads) and START II (which further cut future levels to 3,000-3,500 deployed warheads) had been signed. The end of the Cold War seemed to have transformed, in a very short time, the challenge of nuclear weapons from the need to prevail in a nuclear conflict to a new set of concerns about the safety of the former adversary's arsenal—a challenge to be undertaken by deepening cooperation with Russia.

    The Clinton Legacy

    It was against this backdrop that the new Clinton administration undertook a formal review of the nuclear force posture. The climate of cooperation with Russia suggested to many that nuclear weapons were on the wane—soon, perhaps, to become relics of the Cold War. As the nuclear posture review soon revealed, however, the Soviet Union's demise did not mean that Cold War politics in Washington were over—far from it.

    The review was conceived as a White House-sanctioned Pentagon study to be carried out under the direction of civilian officials in cooperation with military officers. The NPR was to define the utility of nuclear weapons in American strategy and to articulate the criteria guiding the future size, character, safety, and potential use of nuclear forces. Spearheaded by then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, the review tasked the bureaucracy with re-examining every aspect of the nuclear posture. Did the United States need a triad? Why should we rely on counterforce targeting when the threat of Soviet surprise attack had disappeared? Why did we still rely on preplanned targeting and a policy of first use? Why were any weapons on alert? As Russia struggled to consolidate control over its nuclear arsenal, Carter was most preoccupied with promoting safety over hair-trigger alert policies—away from what he saw as a de facto doctrine of launch on warning to a policy of "nuclear reassurance."

    Until Aspin resigned in January 1994, Clinton appointees foresaw a genuine effort to create a nuclear tabula rasa, a base from which creative thinking and ambitious reform proposals were bound to emerge. But the review failed to challenge orthodoxy in any significant way; indeed, it may have inadvertently reinforced it. Opponents saw the NPR as a zealous assault on established lines of authority by l990s-version Whiz Kids who were no more popular now than they were in the l960s under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. For others, who felt that Russia's future was still uncertain and that it was premature to reduce nuclear vigilance, there were genuine policy differences. In the end, however, the NPR collapsed from bureaucratic inertia and the absence of presidential leadership. By delegating authority for a sensitive and complex undertaking to working groups largely made up of mid-level officials in the Pentagon, the outcome was practically a foregone conclusion. And at the first sign of congressional controversy, when Thurmond called hearings to demand why STRATCOM commander Admiral Henry G. Chiles was allowing Carter to discuss abandoning the triad, any serious effort to recast the force posture was essentially over.

    What had begun as an effort to subject the nuclear posture to wholesale scrutiny had evolved into a pro forma exercise that assembled findings and conclusions from the consensus views of the working groups. Senior officials turned to other pressing priorities, not least the denuclearization of the former Soviet republics and the challenges posed by deteriorating relations with Russia. A domestic climate that had seemed open to challenging Cold War orthodoxy early in the administration was in reality deeply divided over the desirability of devaluing nuclear weapons in U.S. strategy, regardless of international changes. Most importantly, this initiative had been launched before there was a chance to resolve more fundamental questions, such as how to interpret changes in Russia and China, whether partnerships with former adversaries were possible or even desirable, and how nuclear deterrence would be adapted to cope with emerging proliferation threats.

    Absent consensus even within the Pentagon, the former crusaders sought refuge in the status quo. The public version of the review consisted of 37 pages of charts and diagrams recommending that there be no significant changes in the nuclear posture of Clinton's predecessors. Forces would go no lower than START II levels, nuclear weapons would be retained in Europe at current levels, and there would be no serious alteration in U.S. operational policies, including the policy of first use. Secretary of Defense William Perry was provided with several rationales for the decision to avoid major departures from the past, including an apparent disparity in the pace of dismantling U.S. and Russian forces mandated by START (which, it was alleged, could lead to U.S. "numerical inferiority") and the danger of a potential resurgence of an adversary "still armed with 25,000 nuclear weapons."7

    The NPR ushered in the policy of "hedging," in particular a commitment to retain a reserve force at START I levels for rapid reload in the event of crisis. This policy turned into a legislative albatross for the administration when Congress voted to prohibit any cuts in U.S. strategic forces until the Duma approved START II—a policy that remains, in the National Defense Authorization Act even though Russia ratified the treaty this spring. Despite urging by the Joint Chiefs, the centrist congressionally appointed National Defense Panel, and others that unilateral reductions in U.S. forces were prudent and fiscally important, the administration remained paralyzed to change.8

     

    The Future

    Some lessons can be drawn about how to conduct a nuclear posture review, which may help the new administration avoid the controversies and setbacks of previous efforts:

    • The imperative of presidential leadership: No administration can hope to achieve an outcome other than ratification of the status quo if the president does not make it clear that he has a large stake in the outcome and remains involved.

    • Clear lines of authority: Designated representatives of the president have to be seen as having his full backing—including the right to invoke his support should it prove necessary.

    • A strategy for the bureaucracy: Efforts to reform organizations cannot be consigned to the bureaucracy, which can be guaranteed to offer lowest common denominator recommendations that typically reject innovation. The results of countless commissions and formal reviews attest to this.

    • Military cooperation: Any review that appears to be a civilian assault on military prerogative, however high-minded, is doomed to fail. The military has been asked to be the guardian of nuclear operations for decades now; its support and expertise is essential.

    • A congressional strategy: Many of the mediating institutions in the congress, like the Senate arms control observer group and several arms control-related caucuses, have been eliminated since the l994 election. Similar mechanisms, which allow for select, bipartisan discourse between the executive branch and Congress, are essential before a major initiative is launched. There is a steep learning curve for acquiring expertise and sound judgment about nuclear operations.

    • Clear, articulated goals: No fundamental reform can succeed if it is either overly ambitious or subject to constant revision and hedging in the face of political opposition. Familiar in congressional politics, a "split the difference" strategy to solve policy disagreements may be a reasonable approach to achieving consensus on, say, budget line-items for Social Security, but it can prove disastrous when applied to fundamental questions of strategy.

    • A realistic appreciation of the challenges: Past efforts to influence nuclear operations include many more failures than successes. As discussed, this has not changed with the passing of the Cold War. Any administration will have to take these challenges fully into account before initiating an ambitious review.

    The new president is likely to face many of the same challenges faced by predecessors, and some new ones as well. The current nuclear debate is fraught with partisan division and divergent opinions. Never particularly coherent, the logic of nuclear deterrence seems now to be even more difficult to articulate, let alone to serve as a basis for forging a new post-Cold War consensus about the rightful role of nuclear weapons. Is the United States prepared to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states? Do we need to design new weapons for such missions? Will strategic defenses supplant nuclear rivalry or simply intensify it in Russia, China, or among regional powers? What, in fact, is our current nuclear doctrine?

    There are organizational as well as substantive obstacles. Despite efforts to reorganize the planning community over the last decade, current arrangements still inhibit active linkages between policy-makers and defense planners, to the detriment of both. Notwithstanding innovations to make nuclear planning more "flexible," centralized plans for prompt and massive attack against Russia are still the centerpiece of American deterrence. At a time when the Russian nuclear infrastructure, including its command and control system, is deteriorating rapidly, maintaining such a posture implies more nuclear risk than nuclear security. Even with lower numbers of weapons being considered for START III, however, "maximum target coverage" of Russia is still the dominant consideration. The attention paid to maintaining this behemoth competes with other priorities, not least the kind of conventional force modernization which the Joint Chiefs agree is urgently needed.

    Perhaps the greatest challenge to the new president, however, underscored by the congressional timetable, will be managing competing policy priorities—especially considering the complexity, high risk and limited political payoff of nuclear policy innovation. The likelihood that other initiatives will impinge on this undertaking is very high, particularly in the first months of a new administration.

    There are other reasons to be concerned about the review's relatively short timeframe. The learning curve for managing nuclear operations is steep, and few new appointees can be expected to have sufficient expertise. Devising a congressional strategy takes time. Defusing opposition in the bureaucracy takes time. Even before that, the president must have a good idea of the outcome he seeks if he is to issue clear directives. Absent agreement in the Congress or the bureaucracy about the direction of nuclear policy, defining the scope and terms of the review in a way that can feasibly be implemented may prove the most daunting task of all.

    The appointment of a special group of senior and respected advisers to draft a charter for a presidential review may be the best option. Such a group could provide the legitimacy and political cover needed to defuse opposition or to protect the president from controversy. This too, however, would require the president's attention, time, and clear commitment, as well as the ability of the group to mediate the competing voices in Congress, the executive branch, and the "expert" community. Widely respected and much admired, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs General John Shalikashvili is currently assessing prospects for future Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Perhaps he might be ready for a new challenge?

     

    NOTES

    1. See Arms Control Today, September 2000.

    2. Cited in Janne E. Nolan, Guardians of the Arsenal (New York: Basic Books, l989) p. 30.

    3. Cited in Guardians, p. 258.

    4. Two military participants involved in Cheney's review, interviews by author, August 1997. See also, Janne Nolan, An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security After the Cold War (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1999).

    5. For further discussion, see Hans Kristensen, "Targets of Opportunity: How Nuclear Planners Found New Targets for Old Weapons," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 1997, p. 22-28.

    6. David B. Ottaway and Steve Coll, "Trying to Unplug the War Machine," The Washington Post, April 12, 1995, p. A1.

    7. Cited in Bill Gertz, "The New Nuclear Policy: Lead But Hedge," Air Force Magazine, January l995, p. 36.

    8. For more information, see National Defense Panel, "Transforming Defense: National Security in the 21st Century," Department of Defense, December l997.

     


    Janne E. Nolan is director of international programs at the Century Foundation.

    Preparing for the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review

    Presidential Election Forum: The Candidates on Arms Control

    Since 1976, Arms Control Today has offered presidential candidates an opportunity to articulate their views on arms control and security issues by responding to an Arms Control Association questionnaire. In this issue, ACT presents its seventh candidates forum, featuring the Republican nominee, Texas Governor George W. Bush, and the Democratic nominee, Vice President Al Gore.

    Arms control has emerged as a front-page issue in this year's campaign, and with President Bill Clinton's September 1 announcement that he would defer a deployment decision on missile defense to the next administration, the 2000 election has taken on even greater significance.

    The next president will face crucial security choices, not only on national missile defense, but also about the future of arms control itself.

    The following are the candidates' responses to the 12 questions posed by ACT.

    ACT: Should the United States deploy a national missile defense (NMD), and what factors should influence the decision? If the United States does need an NMD, would you proceed with the proposed limited system, or would you change the program's architecture?

    Bush: America must build effective missile defenses, based on the best available options, at the earliest possible date. Our missile defense must be designed to protect all 50 states—and our friends and allies and deployed forces overseas—from missile attacks by rogue nations, or accidental launches.

    The Clinton-Gore administration at first denied the need for a national missile defense system. Then it delayed. Now the approach it proposes is flawed—a system initially based on a single site, when experts say that more is needed. A missile defense system should not only defend our country, it should defend our allies, with whom I will consult as we develop our plans.

    Gore: I agree with the president's decision to defer the decision to deploy a national missile defense for the next administration. The United States faces the real possibility that countries such as North Korea or Iran will succeed in acquiring weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and ballistic missiles able to deliver these weapons at intercontinental range.

    The limited national missile defense system which the Clinton-Gore administration has under development is meant to be deployed in a timely way and is explicitly designed to handle the type of threat that we could expect if our estimates are realized and we have to face a small number of deployed ICBMs with WMD warheads.

    The president's decision allows time for additional testing of our NMD system. I welcome the opportunity to be more certain that these technologies actually work together properly. As the president said, there are 16 additional intercept tests already scheduled. One could decide to proceed with deployment at any point along that process, once fully convinced that the technologies are ready.

    ACT: Are you prepared to go ahead with an NMD that violates the ABM Treaty without Russian agreement on amendments? Should the United States consider Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal for cooperation on a limited missile defense to counter the threat from so-called rogue states?

    Bush: If elected president, I will offer Russia the necessary amendments to the ABM Treaty so as to make our deployment of effective missile defenses consistent with the treaty. Both sides know that we live in a different world from 1972, when that treaty was signed. If Russia refuses the changes we propose, I will give prompt notice, under the provisions of the treaty, that the United States can no longer be a party to it.

    President Putin's suggestion regarding U.S.-Russian cooperation in the area of missile defense was encouraging because it was an acknowledgment of the need for missile defenses. We should give President Putin the benefit of the doubt, and his proposal may be an opening for discussion. Under the mutual threat of rogue nations, there is a real possibility the Russians could join with us and our friends and allies to cooperate on missile defense systems. But there is a condition. Russia must break its dangerous habit of proliferation.

    Gore: I would be prepared to work hard to persuade the government of the Russian Federation to modify the ABM Treaty. And I would also look for very creative approaches for joint U.S.-Russian responses to a threat that can be aimed at either one or both of us.

    But, at the end of the day, I would not be prepared to let Russian opposition to this system stand in the way of its deployment if I should conclude that the technologies are mature enough to deploy and are both affordable and needed. I would also work to persuade the Chinese that a U.S. NMD system is not intended to threaten them and to allay the concerns of our allies.

    ACT: Do developments in North Korea (e.g., the North-South Korean summit, North Korea's reaffirmation of its moratorium on the testing of longer-range missiles, and its apparent willingness to give up its missile program altogether in exchange for financial and technological assistance) open the door for a diplomatic resolution to the North Korean missile threat; and, if successful, how would such a resolution affect U.S. missile defense plans?

    Bush: Developments at the summit between the leaders of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were encouraging. The summit did not resolve critical security issues—such as Pyongyang's massive conventional threat to the Republic of Korea and American troops stationed there, or North Korea's nuclear program and its development and export of ballistic missiles. But the apparent moves toward greater openness by the communist leadership in Pyongyang represent a major success for [South Korean President] Kim Dae Jung and the people of South Korea. It will be important to watch closely whether North Korea follows through on its promises.

    Gore: I am hopeful that the recent summit between the North and South Koreans is the beginning of a process of reconciliation that will bring freedom, economic prosperity, and eventually a reunification on terms that spread economic and political and religious freedom throughout the peninsula. If that happens, it will have a profound impact on the role that North Korea now plays in the debate over nuclear weaponry.

    It is possible that North Korea will at some point change their intentions and remove this threat. We should be alert to such possibilities, but they are not in our grasp at this moment.

    ACT: What arms control policy should the United States have toward China? Should a U.S. national missile defense be designed to counter China's strategic missiles in addition to those of the rogue states, and if not, how would you convince China of this so as to avoid an arms buildup by Beijing and loss of its cooperation on other arms control matters, including non-proliferation?

    Bush: Russia, our allies, and other nations of the world—including China—need to understand our intentions. America's development of missile defenses is a search for security, not a search for advantage. The Cold War era is history. Our nation must recognize new threats, not fixate on old ones. On the issue of nuclear weapons, the United States has an opportunity to lead to a safer world—both to defend against nuclear threats and reduce nuclear tensions. It is possible to build a missile defense and defuse confrontation. America should do both.

    Gore: The limited NMD architecture we are developing is not intended to threaten China. We need to continue to build a strategic dialogue with China to address their concerns. Over the last eight years, the Clinton-Gore administration has worked with China to address proliferation concerns. The administration won an agreement from China in May 1996 to stop all assistance to non-safeguarded nuclear programs and strengthen China's nuclear export control system. In September 1997, China agreed to halt its nuclear cooperation with Iran. In 1998, the administration secured China's pledge to further strengthen its export regime for dual-use chemicals and related production equipment. The administration also worked successfully to secure China's signature of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. If elected president, I will build upon these efforts and work with China where possible to advance our non-proliferation and arms control goals.

    ACT: Do you agree with the intelligence community's assessment that the United States is "more likely to be attacked with weapons of mass destruction from non-missile delivery means (most likely from non-state entities) than by missiles"? If so, how do you propose to defend against these threats?

    Bush: The protection of America itself will assume a high priority in a new century. Once a strategic afterthought, homeland defense has become an urgent duty. For most of our history, America felt safe behind two great oceans. But with the spread of technology, distance no longer means security. North Korea is proving that even a poor and backward country, in the hands of a tyrant, can reach across oceans to threaten us. Iran has made rapid strides in its missile program, and Iraq persists in a race to do the same. Add to this the threat of biological, chemical, and nuclear terrorism—barbarism emboldened by technology. These weapons can be delivered, not just by ballistic missiles, but by everything from airplanes to cruise missiles, from shipping containers to suitcases. There is also the prospect of information warfare, in which hacker terrorists may try to disrupt finance, communication, transportation, and public health.

    Our first line of defense is a simple message: Every group or nation must know, if they sponsor such attacks, our response will be devastating. But we must do more. At the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy anti-ballistic missile systems, both theater and national, to guard against attack and blackmail.

    We will defend the American homeland by strengthening our intelligence community—focusing on human intelligence and the early detection of terrorist operations both here and abroad. And when direct threats to America are discovered, I know that the best defense can be a strong and swift offense—including the use of Special Operations Forces and long-range strike capabilities.

    And there is more to be done preparing here at home. I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil. The federal government must take this threat seriously—working closely with researchers and industry to increase surveillance and develop treatments for chemical and biological agents.

    Gore: As a matter of policy, we should continue our efforts to develop a national missile defense to protect the United States from a small-scale ballistic missile attack. We should also work to block all of the avenues of attack involving weapons of mass destruction. That certainly applies to terrorism. Under the Clinton-Gore administration, annual funding for the FBI's counterterrorism program has grown significantly from $78.5 million in 1993 to $301.2 million in 1999. Last year, the administration unveiled a comprehensive plan to safeguard Americans from the threat of terrorism. We must combine strengthened law enforcement efforts, intelligence efforts, and vigorous diplomacy with a willingness to use military force when necessary to combat terrorism.

    Countering WMD terrorism requires disrupting terrorist networks before they are ready to attack. It also means tightening and upgrading airport and border security. We must also improve coordination internationally and domestically to share intelligence and develop operational plans. We must follow a comprehensive national strategy that will involve all arms and levels of our government working together. We should continue to target the sources of terrorist financing and dismantle their support operations and infrastructure. We should also utilize diplomatic pressure to isolate nations harboring terrorists.

    ACT: Should the United States pursue further strategic reductions in its arsenal and those of the other nuclear-weapon states through negotiated agreements or unilateral reductions? What level of strategic nuclear warheads do you believe the United States should seek by the end of the decade?

    Bush: America should rethink the requirements for nuclear deterrence in a new security environment. The premises of Cold War nuclear targeting should no longer dictate the size of our arsenal. As president, I will ask the secretary of defense to conduct an assessment of our nuclear force posture and determine how best to meet our security needs. While the exact number of weapons can come only from such an assessment, I will pursue the lowest possible number consistent with our national security. It should be possible to reduce the number of American nuclear weapons significantly further than what has already been agreed to under START II, without compromising our security in any way. We should not keep weapons that our military planners do not need. These unneeded weapons are the expensive relics of dead conflicts. And they do nothing to make us more secure.

    In addition, the United States should remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status—another unnecessary vestige of Cold War confrontation. Preparation for quick launch—within minutes after warning of an attack—was the rule during the era of superpower rivalry. But today, for two nations at peace, keeping so many weapons on high alert may create unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorized launch. So, as president, I will ask for an assessment of what we can safely do to lower the alert status of our forces.

    These changes to our forces should not require years and years of detailed arms control negotiations. There is a precedent that proves the power of leadership. In 1991, the United States invited the Soviet Union to join it in removing tactical nuclear weapons from the arsenal. Huge reductions were achieved in a matter of months, making the world much safer, more quickly.

    Similarly, in the area of strategic nuclear weapons, we should invite the Russian government to accept the new vision I have outlined, and act on it. But the United States should be prepared to lead by example, because it is in our best interest and the best interest of the world. This would be an act of principled leadership—a chance to seize the moment and begin a new era of nuclear security, a new era of cooperation on proliferation and nuclear safety.

    Gore: As president, I would aim for another round of deep negotiated reductions to levels agreed between the United States and Russia at the Helsinki summit. If the Russians wish to reduce unilaterally below that level for economic reasons, they certainly can and should. But for the United States to go lower requires a thorough re-examination of the official nuclear doctrine which to this point guides our military in its planning. As president, I would initiate such a review and engage deeply in the process.

    ACT: What is your position on the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)? If the treaty is not ratified, should the United States continue the current testing moratorium?

    Bush: Our nation should continue its moratorium on testing. But in the hard work of halting proliferation, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is not the answer. The CTBT does not stop proliferation, especially to renegade regimes. It is not verifiable. It is not enforceable. And it would stop us from ensuring the safety and reliability of our nation's deterrent, should the need arise. On these crucial matters, it offers only words and false hopes and high intentions—with no guarantees whatever. We can fight the spread of nuclear weapons, but we cannot wish them away with unwise treaties.

    Gore: I believe the Senate's rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty last year was an act of massive irresponsibility damaging to the security interests of the United States, and if elected president, I will immediately revive the ratification process and seek to rally the full force of American public opinion behind it.

    ACT: Does the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remain important to U.S. national security, and if so, what priority should be given to sustaining it? What new steps would you take to reduce the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles?

    Bush: If elected president, one of my highest foreign policy priorities will be to check the contagious spread of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. We must work to constrict the supply of nuclear materials and the means to deliver them by making this a priority with Russia and China. Our nation must cut off the demand for nuclear weapons by addressing the security concerns of those who renounce these weapons. And our nation must diminish the evil attraction of these weapons for rogue states by rendering them useless with missile defense.

    With regard to Russia, both our nations face a changed world. Instead of confronting each other, we confront the legacy of a dead ideological rivalry—thousands of nuclear weapons, which, in the case of Russia, may not be secure. And together we also face an emerging threat—from rogue nations, nuclear theft, and accidental launch. All this requires nothing short of a new strategic relationship to protect the peace of the world.

    In an act of foresight and statesmanship, Senator Richard Lugar and Senator Sam Nunn realized that existing Russian nuclear facilities were in danger of being compromised. Under the Nunn-Lugar program, security at many Russian nuclear facilities has been improved and warheads have been destroyed. Even so, the Energy Department warns us that our estimates of Russian nuclear stockpiles could be off by as much as 30 percent. In other words, a great deal of Russian nuclear material cannot be accounted for. The next president must press for an accurate inventory of all this material. And we must do more. I'll ask the Congress to increase substantially our assistance to dismantle as many of Russia's weapons as possible, as quickly as possible.

    Gore: The NPT is a pillar of our global arms control and non-proliferation efforts. Recognizing its importance, in 1995, I worked to forge an international consensus for a permanent extension of the treaty. Although commitment to the NPT regime is nearly universal, there are steps we can take to strengthen the NPT and to contribute to our non-proliferation goals. We can work toward universal adherence to the NPT and convince states who have not yet acceded to the treaty to do so. We should strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards system. Another priority must be to ratify the CTBT and see that it enters into force. We should also enhance compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and begin negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty. This administration has pursued an aggressive arms control and non-proliferation agenda. In the former Soviet Union, the U.S. has helped deactivate 5,000 nuclear weapons through the Cooperative Threat Reduction program and other initiatives. I am committed to continuing this work and to diminishing the threat of weapons of mass destruction by cutting stockpiles and ensuring that weapons and weapons-grade material do not fall into the wrong hands.

    ACT: How should the United States deal with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and missile programs?

    Bush: It is important for the United States and our allies to keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein. We must insist that Iraq comply with the cease-fire arrangement agreed to at the end of the Persian Gulf War. I am very concerned that Saddam Hussein has not been held to the terms of the arrangement. If elected president, I would not ease the current sanctions on Iraq and would continue to insist that inspectors be allowed into the country. I would be helping Iraqi opposition groups. And if I found that Saddam Hussein was in any way, shape, or form building weapons of mass destruction, I would take them out.

    Gore: By maintaining United Nations sanctions on Iraq for eight years, the Clinton-Gore administration has worked to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. A Gore-Lieberman administration will work for the resumption of arms inspections in Iraq and to ensure that they are credible and effective. We should maintain comprehensive international pressure on Saddam Hussein until Iraq complies with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

    ACT: Should the United States try to roll back India's and Pakistan's nuclear capabilities, or should it simply seek to stabilize the nuclear balance in South Asia? How would you implement your policy?

    Bush: I've said that our nation should continue its moratorium on testing. America must make it clear that we expect India and Pakistan to refrain from testing as well. It will take leadership by the United States and its friends and allies to help reduce tensions between India and Pakistan and pursue steps to prevent nuclear conflict between the two nations. This coming century will see democratic India's arrival as a force in the world. India is now debating its future and its strategic path, and the United States must pay it more attention. We should work with the Indian government, ensuring it is a force for stability and security in Asia. This should not undermine our longstanding relationship with Pakistan, which remains crucial to the peace of the region.

    Gore: India's and Pakistan's 1998 tests were a great source of international concern and a reminder that nuclear non-proliferation in South Asia poses a continuing challenge. Cognizant of regional dynamics and insecurities, we should work with India and Pakistan to guard against a nuclear arms race on the subcontinent. We must persuade them to join the NPT regime and sign the CTBT. A Gore administration will seek to convince India and Pakistan to refrain from weaponization or deployment of nuclear weapons, testing or deploying missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes.

    ACT: With the "globalization" of the defense industry, how would your administration ensure that U.S. national security interests take priority over commercial interests in the export of weapons systems?

    Bush: First and foremost, we must strengthen America's intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities to staunch the theft of sensitive military technology at home and identify threats abroad before they arise. The United States must also lead its allies in establishing new, binding rules to prevent the export of sensitive military technology. America must no longer be alone in keeping dangerous technologies and products away from those who do not wish us well.

    Gore: Exports of weapons technology or systems should be governed by considerations related to proliferation concerns and a review of threats to our security. We have and will continue to promote responsible arms and technology transfers.

    ACT: In general, what is the role of arms control as the world enters the new millennium? What would be the arms control priorities of your administration?

    Bush: When it comes to nuclear weapons, the world has changed faster than U.S. policy. The emerging security threats to the United States, to its friends and allies, and even to Russia now come from rogue states, terrorist groups, and other adversaries seeking weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. Threats also come from insecure nuclear stockpiles and the proliferation of dangerous technologies. Russia itself is no longer our enemy. The Cold War logic that led to the creation of massive stockpiles on both sides is now outdated. Our mutual security need no longer depend on a nuclear balance of terror.

    While deterrence remains the first line of defense against nuclear attack, the standoff of the Cold War was born of a different time. That was a time when our arsenal also served to check the conventional superiority of the Warsaw Pact. Then, the Soviet Union's power reached deep into the heart of Europe—to Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest, and Prague. Today, these are the capitals of NATO countries. Yet almost a decade after the end of the Cold War, our nuclear policy still resides in that already distant past. The Clinton-Gore administration has had over seven years to bring the U.S. force posture into the post-Cold War world. Instead, they remain locked in a Cold War mentality. It is time to leave the Cold War behind and defend against the new threats of the 21st century.

    Gore: Arms control is critical to our national security and will continue to be into the future. The most important arms control priority will be to seek further deep reductions in nuclear weapons with the Russian Federation. My administration will work to secure ratification and entry into force of the CTBT. We will implement an international regime to strengthen compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. We will also seek to negotiate a fissile material cutoff treaty.

     

    DOE Simulates Nuclear Explosion; GAO Faults Ignition Facility

    Philipp C. Bleek

    IN A MAJOR accomplishment for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Stockpile Stewardship Program, scientists at the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories announced in July that they had succeeded for the first time in modeling the explosion of a thermonuclear weapon in three dimensions. Soon after, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report in mid-August strongly criticizing both the department and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for oversight and management failures of the controversial National Ignition Facility (NIF).

    Stockpile Stewardship is a $4.5 billion per year program intended to safeguard the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal in the absence of nuclear tests. The program includes many elements, among them an advanced effort at the computer modeling of nuclear explosions, termed the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative. Also included is the over-budget and behind-schedule National Ignition Facility, intended to use lasers to recreate the pressures and temperatures present in a nuclear explosion. DOE has termed the NIF an "essential component" of the stewardship effort, but critics have strongly questioned its relevance to the central goals of the program.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory reported in late July that nuclear scientists working under the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative had successfully modeled a thermonuclear secondary detonation in three dimensions during a 42-day simulation. The simulation, completed April 30, ran on Los Alamos' Blue Mountain supercomputer, the third-fastest in the world, with assistance from Sandia National Laboratory's Red supercomputer, currently the fastest in the world.

    Last December, Livermore scientists utilized their lab's Blue Pacific supercomputer to model the behavior of a thermonuclear primary, the boosted plutonium fission bomb that provides the energy necessary to trigger a combined fission-fusion reaction in the secondary, which is responsible for most of the destructive yield of a thermonuclear weapon.

    Three-dimensional modeling allows scientists to perform more realistic simulations than they could with the two-dimensional simulations previously feasible. Laboratory scientists expect to receive a new generation of more powerful supercomputers within the next five years, significantly shortening the required processing time and making successive analyses possible within a shorter time frame. Scientists require repeated analyses to effectively model the consequences of changes in the various components of a stockpiled weapon, such as ageing of the fissile material or chemical high explosive. More computing power will also facilitate higher resolution modeling.

    Despite rather optimistic media coverage in the wake of the successful simulation, "virtual nuclear tests" remain a distant prospect. According to Los Alamos spokesman Jim Danneskiold, scientists "hope within a few years to be able to accurately simulate some of the physics involved in nuclear explosions."

     

    GAO Criticizes NIF

    The General Accounting Office issued a report August 17 that sharply criticizes DOE for "inadequate oversight" and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for "poor management" of the National Ignition Facility. Perhaps most damaging, officials associated with the program apparently told GAO that they knowingly submitted unrealistically low budget estimates to Congress in order to secure approval for the project, believing that "the value of NIF to the future of the Laboratory overshadowed potential cost concerns."

    The National Ignition Facility has been plagued with a slew of problems since its inception. The most significant technical challenge has been an inability to construct optics that can withstand the lasers' anticipated intensity. Financially, the program, initially proposed at $400 million and funded by Congress at $1.1 billion in 1995, is now estimated by the Energy Department to cost about $3.3 billion, although GAO argues in its report that total costs could exceed $3.9 billion. (The latter figure includes NIF-related research that DOE chooses not to tally in the program's budget.) The GAO report also notes that the department expects completion of the necessary facilities, originally scheduled for 2002, to be delayed until 2008. And the report warns that project costs could grow even higher and completion could be delayed further, given unresolved technical issues.

    DOE's fiscal year 2001 budget request includes more than $300 million for National Ignition Facility-related work, but Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson has indicated that the department will not seek additional appropriations to cover the NIF cost overruns; instead it will shift funds within the existing stockpile stewardship budget.

    Given the potential for further dramatic cost overruns, Richardson's plan has fueled fears that the NIF could drain funding from other more central projects, hampering the stewardship effort. The GAO report recommends that funds not be reallocated to the NIF from the nuclear weapons program until DOE certifies that the selected cost and schedule plan "will not negatively affect the balance of the Stockpile Stewardship Program." The report also calls on Richardson to arrange for an independent review of remaining technical challenges that could "affect the project's cost and schedule risks."

    In her July 28 response to the report, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Madelyn Creedon largely agreed with GAO's findings, but stated concern that the report "gives the impression" that DOE has "not taken appropriate action." According to the letter, the department is already meeting the review requirement with various independent analyses, most notably one from a task force chaired by John McTague, former science adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

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