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

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at 45

President Lyndon Johnson looking on as Secretary of State Dean Rusk prepares to sign the NPT, 1 July 1968.(Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library.) By Daryl G. Kimball Forty-five years ago today, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and dozens of other countries signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at ceremonies in Washington, Moscow, and London. In his remarks at the July 1, 1968 signing ceremony , U.S. President Lyndon Johnson called it "... a very reassuring and hopeful moment in the relations among nations. We hope and expect that virtually all the...

Pentagon Sees China Progressing on SLBM

Marcus Taylor and Eric Tamerlani

China is moving closer to fielding a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capable of striking the United States, according to a new Defense Department report on China’s military capabilities.

Released May 6, the Pentagon report says that Beijing’s newest SLBM, the Julang-2 (JL-2), is poised “to reach initial operational capability in 2013.” Once deployed on Beijing’s Jin-class ballistic missile submarine, the JL-2 “will give the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] Navy its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” the report says.

The Defense Department is required by law to submit an annual report to Congress on China’s military capabilities and force modernization.

The 2013 report indicates China’s progress in upgrading certain elements of its nuclear forces. In the 2011 version of the report, the Defense Department described the operational status of the first-generation JL-1 SLBM as “questionable,” and it is widely believed that the Xia-class submarine on which that missile is carried has never been deployed on a strategic patrol outside Chinese regional waters. Independent analysts from China have described the JL-1 and the Xia-class submarine as a “failure,” according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

China conducted a successful test of the JL-2 on Aug. 16, 2012.

Beijing has three operational Jin-class submarines and another two under construction in different stages of completion. The Jin-class submarines are expected to carry 12 JL-2 SLBMs each, according to an April report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on Chinese naval modernization. The submarines are based on Hainan Island in the South China Sea and will be capable of conducting deterrence patrols from that base, according to the Defense Department report.

Military Role Seen in Chinese Cyberattacks

China’s military and government are directly behind some of the intrusions into many of the computer systems around the world, including the U.S. government’s, according to the most recent edition of an annual report to Congress by the Defense Department.

The May 2013 report marks the first time that the Pentagon has linked the Chinese government and military to the thousands of cyberattacks against the United States. According to the report, these attacks are focused on extracting information and giving Chinese military planners “a picture of U.S. network defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

Last year’s report concluded that many of the computer intrusions around the world “originated within China” and that “China’s persistent cyber intrusions indicates the likelihood” that Beijing is using cybernetwork operations to “collect strategic intelligence.” But it did not specifically state that the government or military were responsible.

The 2013 report says China’s cyberwarfare capabilities could help the Chinese military in several areas. The intrusions could be used to collect data to constrain or slow an adversary’s response time during conflict by targeting communications, logistics, and commercial networks and could be used in conjunction with traditional warfare.

In February, the private computer security firm Mandiant released a report that said a particular unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Unit 61398, was responsible for many of the cyber intrusions and data thefts in U.S. government agencies and private companies. The unclassified version of the 2013 Pentagon report did not go as far as naming a specific PLA unit.—TIMOTHY FARNSWORTH

    That report says that China possesses 50 to 75 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Beijing’s ICBMs are believed to be armed with a single nuclear warhead each.

    The 2013 report says China has approximately 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, but it does not estimate how many may be nuclear tipped. Independent estimates put China’s total nuclear force at about 240 warheads of all types, of which 180 are considered to be nondeployed, or in reserve.

    In the report, the Defense Department says it expects the JL-2 to have a range of 7,400 kilometers. Given the range of the JL-2, the Jin-class submarine could launch an attack reaching targets in Alaska from Chinese waters, targets in the western half of the U.S. mainland from “mid-ocean locations west of Hawaii,” and “targets in all 50 states from mid-ocean locations east of Hawaii,” the CRS report says.

    However, according to that report, the Jin-class submarines produce a great deal of noise. This makes them “relatively easy” for the U.S. Navy to detect and will make deployment away from Chinese-protected waters a risky endeavor, possibly constraining Beijing’s ability to threaten the U.S. mainland, the CRS report says.

    The Defense Department report says that once Beijing begins patrols with ballistic missile submarines, the PLA will have to “implement more sophisticated command and control systems and processes that safeguard the integrity of nuclear release authority.”

    In a May 13 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said it is unlikely that control of the nuclear warheads will be handed over to the PLA Navy during peacetime, meaning that the Jin-class submarines would be fitted with nuclear warheads only during a crisis, not during routine patrols. The mating of the JL-2 missile and warhead during peacetime would be a “significant change in Chinese nuclear policy” and remains unlikely, Kristensen said.

    According to the Pentagon report, China is expected to begin development of a third generation of ballistic missile submarines over the next decade.

    The report also says that China is developing a “new generation of mobile missiles, with warheads consisting of MIRVs [multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles] and penetration aids.” Penetration aids are designed to increase the likelihood that a ballistic missile can penetrate defense systems by obscuring the identity of the real nuclear warhead. The MIRVs and penetration aids are intended to counter U.S. and, to a certain extent, Russian precision strike capabilities and improvements in ballistic missile defense technology, according to the report.

    Beijing is performing research on advanced penetration aids such as maneuverable re-entry vehicles, decoys, thermal shielding, and radar jammers, according to the Pentagon report. The report says these efforts, combined with recent combat simulation exercises focusing on ICBM maneuverability and concealment, show an increased focus on the survivability of Chinese nuclear forces. According to the report, “[T]hese technologies and training enhancements strengthen China’s nuclear force and enhance its strategic strike capabilities.”

    China has taken several steps to develop an indigenous ballistic missile defense system, including the flight test of a land-based missile interceptor Jan. 28. (See ACT, March 2013.) According to the report, Beijing is researching and developing a “missile defense umbrella” to intercept ballistic missiles during the midcourse phase—a technique used by the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense—utilizing a so-called kill vehicle and a kinetic “hit-to-kill” warhead.

    A recent Defense Department report says that China is nearing completion of its latest submarine-launched ballistic missile, which may soon provide Beijing with a functional sea-based nuclear deterrent

    China Conducts Missile Defense Test

    Timothy Farnsworth

    China successfully launched a land-based missile interceptor Jan. 28, according to Xinhua, the country’s official news agency.

    In a statement released after the test, a Chinese Defense Ministry official said it had accomplished “the pre-set goal,” but did not say what the goal was. The test was “defensive in nature and target[ed] no other country,” he said.

    It was not clear from the Chinese statement whether the test involved a target for the interceptor to hit. China’s only previous missile interceptor test, on Jan. 11, 2010, did involve a target.

    In 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) test, destroying one of its own satellites instead of a test warhead. (See ACT, March 2007.) That test prompted objections from numerous countries, in part because of the debris it created. The two later tests took place at a lower altitude and created no debris.

    In a Feb. 12 interview, Li Bin, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the latter two tests were focused on developing and understanding missile-intercept technology rather than assessing the performance of a deployable missile defense system.

    According to Li, the Chinese versions of the statements released after each of those tests were identical. Li said, however, that the official English translation of the Jan. 28 statement omitted the word “technology” from the phrase “land-based mid-course missile interception technology test,” the term that China used in 2010. He said the use of the word “technology” indicates that China was trying to better understand missile defense capabilities and was not testing in order to deploy a national missile defense system.

    Li said Beijing has three options: keeping the technology in reserve, deploying a regional missile defense system around major cities, and deploying a national system. Li said the first two options are more likely because it would be too costly to create a national system that could defend against an adversary that has a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Experts disagree on whether the main goal of the Chinese program is to develop a national missile defense system or an ASAT system. In a Feb. 20 e-mail to Arms Control Today, David Shlapak, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, said that there are differences in the development paths for the two systems. The numbers of interceptors and the “engagement dynamics”—the way the interceptors strike the target object—associated with targeting an enemy’s satellites “are much easier to manage than those associated with large-scale missile defense,” he said.

    “I don’t think that the testing we’ve seen to date reveals much about China’s intentions. China could be experimenting with technology, seeking to develop a real capability, or sending a message,” he said. “Unless and until we see more activity, it’s going to be hard to make a conclusive determination.”

    Previous Tests

    In 2007, China destroyed an aging weather satellite with a hit-to-kill interceptor approximately 850 kilometers above the earth. According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, the tally of space debris created by the test had reached 3,037 pieces as of September 2010, of which 97 percent remained in orbit. Much of the international community, including the United States, condemned the test, which U.S. officials often cite as an example of how space has become more “congested, contested, and competitive.”

    According to a January 2010 State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks, the target of the 2010 test was a CSS-X011 medium-range ballistic missile rather than a satellite and took place at an altitude of 250 kilometers, much lower than the 2007 test. But the two tests used the same interceptor vehicle, the SC-19, the cable said. The cable also said that U.S. missile-warning satellites detected the launch of the interceptor and the target missile, as well as the actual interception.

    International Reaction

    The United States and other countries have expressed concerns about China’s ASAT and missile defense tests. In a Jan. 29 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a State Department official said, in regard to the 2007 ASAT test, “the United States has consistently urged Beijing through diplomatic, military-to-military, and scientific channels not to conduct further anti-satellite weapons testing in space.”

    India, another country that has nuclear weapons and a growing space program, recently increased its own missile defense testing and closely watches China’s ASAT and missile defense tests. (See ACT, January/February 2013.)

    According to Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, the 2007 Chinese ASAT test sparked a debate within and outside India’s government, “forcing a re-evaluation of India’s policy against militarization of space.” In a Feb. 20 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Rajagopalan, a former assistant director of India’s National Security Council Secretariat, said that since the 2007 test, “there has been fresh pressure brought about for an Indian ASAT system” and “a need for India to have demonstrated ASAT capability.” Although the Indian government has not made a total shift in its policy, “[t]he growing Chinese capabilities (be it ASAT or missile defense capabilities) have clearly upped the ante in the region,” Rajagopalan said.

    She questioned the effectiveness of the “space security regime” and the ability “of the major global powers to respond [to] and affect” China’s behavior. “India has continued to argue for [a] legally binding mechanism to deal with the myriad challenges [of the] space domain,” Rajagopalan said.

    China successfully launched a land-based missile interceptor Jan. 28, according to Xinhua, the country’s official news agency.

    Nuclear North Korea: the View from Seoul

    Robert Gallucci, former U.S. negotiator with North Korea at the 2013 Asan Nuclear Forum. By Kelsey Davenport ( Seoul, Republic of Korea )—North Korea's third nuclear test on Feb. 12 sparked concern in the international community about possible qualitative and quantitative improvements to Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal. But concerns about an increasing number of nuclear weapons on the Peninsula should not solely be limited to the North. Recent polling data collected by the Asan Institute indicates that the majority of South Korean favor acquiring their own nuclear arsenal. A public opinion poll...

    Op-Ed: Opponents of Nuclear Cuts Misread Trends



    By Greg Thielmann

    The following piece was originally published in Roll Call on April 18, 2012.

    The press recently reported that the Pentagon is preparing options for President Barack Obama as part of the Nuclear Posture Review implementation study. The mere notion of restructuring U.S. nuclear forces unleashed panicked reactions from Capitol Hill’s most ardent nuclear weapons enthusiasts.

    With the president reaffirming in his visit to South Korea that he will seek to negotiate further reductions, the pro-nuclear camp will be up in arms. It shouldn’t be.

    U.S. security will only be improved by further reductions. For the most part, opponents of nuclear cuts focus their concerns on Russia, but they have difficulty figuring out how to characterize the Russian threat more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War. In one moment, they cite Moscow’s surly rhetoric and stated intention of reinvesting in Russia’s strategic defense budget. In the next breath, they dismiss arms control efforts as unnecessary in light of Russia’s decline and as irrelevant for addressing more urgent threats from China, North Korea and Iran.

    Policymakers need to engage in a serious discussion about what the U.S. nuclear arsenal can and should deter, but smart planning should be grounded in the reality that the U.S.-Russia relationship, while contentious, is no longer the zero-sum game of a prior era.

    A prerequisite for that overdue debate is a sober and realistic accounting of the existing balance of forces — a process fiercely resisted by devotees of nuclear weaponry. Thirty-four Members of the House wrote to Obama, warning of “the growth in quantity and quality of nuclear weapons capabilities in Russia, the People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and, perhaps soon the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    They declined to provide a time frame for this alleged “growth,” no doubt because the reduction in Russian forces during recent years has actually led to an overall reduction in the number of nuclear weapons possessed by America’s potential enemies.

    In an attempt at resuscitating a debate he lost in 2010, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) declared in February that “Not a country in the world has reduced warheads since the signing of the New [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] except the United States,” but the latest data exchanged under the treaty shows a March 1 Russian warhead number lower than the initial count one year earlier — already below the New START limit. The U.S. remained 187 warheads above the limit.

    Of course, any consideration of U.S. nuclear policy should start with an evaluation of Russian trends because the nuclear forces controlled by Moscow dwarf those of all other nuclear weapons states, except our own. Such consideration reveals a continuing decline from the enormous arsenal Moscow inherited from the Soviet Union.

    While both parties are obligated to reduce operational warhead levels further before the New START’s 1,550 ceiling goes into effect in 2018, many U.S. and Russian experts predict that Russia’s actual warhead count may fall significantly below that. This is a trend we should encourage.

    Rather than giving Russia an incentive to rebuild its nuclear forces after their numerical decline, it is in America’s security interest to safely follow a similar path, seizing the opportunity to eliminate unnecessary U.S. nuclear forces and using the savings to provide a boon to America’s fragile economic recovery.

    The anxious Representatives’ letter also warned of China’s “ambitious” nuclear program. But China fields about 50 warheads on intercontinental systems, compared with the 1,737 deployed by the United States — a roughly 35-to-1 ratio. And China has no intercontinental bombers, no adequate strategic warning and no multiple warheads on its ballistic missiles.

    An objective look at the nuclear balance and the narrowed function of nuclear weapons should lead to a number of important changes, including eliminating categories of targets only appropriate for nuclear war-fighting rather than deterrence and easing requirements for rapid launch capabilities, thus removing pressure on national command authorities to make hasty decisions.

    Empowered with updated and modernized guidance, American planners can significantly reduce the number of weapons in the nuclear arsenal, both enhancing U.S. national security and saving billions of tax dollars in the bargain.


    The press recently reported that the Pentagon is preparing options for President Barack Obama as part of the Nuclear Posture Review implementation study. The mere notion of restructuring U.S. nuclear forces unleashed panicked reactions from Capitol Hill’s most ardent nuclear weapons enthusiasts.

    Subject Resources:

    China’s Cyber Ability Seen As Risk to U.S.

    Timothy Farnsworth

    China’s cyber capabilities have advanced enough to pose a “genuine risk” to U.S. military operations in the event of a future conflict between the two countries, according to a recent report released by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

    The report found that the Chinese military has conducted “joint information offensive and defensive operations” that are geared toward disabling communications and logistics command and control systems and that Chinese “information warfare weapons are increasingly being coordinated with conventional weapons units.” They would likely be deployed pre-emptively, that is, prior to any direct U.S.-Chinese conflict, the report said.

    The report also found that the United States lacks a policy to determine “appropriate response options” to a large-scale cyberattack in which “definitive attribution is lacking.” China could use this vulnerability in order “to create delays in U.S. command decision making,” the report said.

    The report, “Occupying the Information High Ground: Chinese Capabilities for Computer Network Operations and Cyber Espionage,” is a follow-up to the commission’s 2009 report. It includes updates on developments in China’s cyberwarfare strategy and examines new issues related to cybersecurity. Northrop Grumman Corp. prepared both reports on behalf of the commission, which was created by Congress in October 2000 to monitor, investigate, and report to Congress on the national security implications of the relationship between China and the United States.

    Several U.S. officials have said the United States needs to improve its cyberwarfare capacity. Last month, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during a speech in Arlington, Va., that the Pentagon needs to do more to increase its cyberwarfare capabilities and that the United States has fallen behind some other countries.

    China’s cyber capabilities have advanced enough to pose a “genuine risk” to U.S. military operations in the event of a future conflict between the two countries, according to a recent report released by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

    ACA Senior Fellow speaks about Territorial Missile Defense at Paris Conference



    Territorial Missile Defense and
    Reassurance of Flank States

    Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association

    IFSH/IRIS/BASIC/ACA Conference
    “NATO’s Future Deterrence Posture: What Can Nuclear Weapons Contribute?”
    Paris, France
    March 6, 2012

    The Lisbon Summit Declaration of November 2010 included a decision “to develop a NATO missile defence capability to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces…”  And it invited Russian cooperation in this task.  The stated target of these systems was “the increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.”

    Evolution of U.S. Missile Defense Objectives

    I am going to begin with some blunt talk about the achievability of territorial defense against ballistic missile attack, based on the American experience.  The United States has, at various points, vigorously pursued such defenses.

    Missile defense was first directed against Soviet attack; then it was reoriented as a defense against a much smaller Chinese attack; then population defense was dropped, in favor of defending ICBM fields.  The U.S.-Soviet ABM Treaty, signed in 1972, limited the number and location of such defenses and specifically prohibited deployments designed to provide defense of the national territory.   Although the U.S. “Safeguard” strategic missile defense system was compliant with that treaty, it was scrapped for cost-effectiveness reasons only nine months after becoming operational.

    During his two terms as president, Ronald Reagan revived America’s interest in missile defense with his dream of “rendering ballistic missiles impotent and obsolete.”   Reagan launched his “Strategic Defense Initiative” in 1983 and promised the exploitation of new technologies, including the use of exotic space-based weapons.

    His administration buttressed its case for the weapons by pointing to Soviet violations of the ABM Treaty and by portraying Soviet missile defense research and development efforts as evidence that the Soviets were themselves preparing to break out of the treaty.

    Soviet Missile Defenses

    For their part, the Soviets had long sought to defend their capital and national leadership against U.S. air attack – targeting first bombers, and later ballistic missiles.  In the 1960s, they began deploying a ring of strategic missile interceptors with nuclear warheads around Moscow.  Yet they never succeeded in creating a reliable and effective missile defense; U.S. warheads and the options for countermeasures were too numerous and the radars on which the Moscow system relied too vulnerable.  The Reagan administration’s depiction of Soviet R&D development efforts on energy weapons turned out to be greatly exaggerated.  Moreover, when the Soviets were caught building the Krasnoyarsk radar – a major, albeit technical, treaty violation – they were ultimately forced to dismantle it.

    A vestige of Moscow’s ABM system remains to this day, but the Russian Federation is now far behind in strategic missile defense technology and harbors few illusions about the feasibility of territorial defense against ballistic missile attack.

    America Keeping the Faith

    Not so the United States.  America retains its faith-based approach to strategic missile defense.  Having invested well over $100 billion since Reagan launched what critics dubbed “Star Wars,” total expenditures for missile defenses over the last decade have been running roughly $10 billion per year, even though the stated mission objective is now confined to dealing with “simple” ballistic threats from newly emerging, nuclear weapons states.  The Reagan era program was downgraded under the presidencies of the elder George (H.W.) Bush, and Bill Clinton, who limited yearly expenditures to around $1 billion.

    But an alarmist report by the Rumsfeld Commission on ballistic missile threats in 1998 and an attempted satellite launch by North Korea using a three-staged rocket a few months later had a huge impact on public and congressional perceptions.  By March 1999, the U.S. Congress had passed a bill by large margins in both houses, declaring it to be the policy of the United States “to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack.”  Three consecutive U.S. presidents have now embraced this policy.

    In the year 2000, President Clinton judged the technology not sufficiently ripe for deployment, but that turned out to be merely a bump in the road toward implementation of a territorial missile defense policy.  Ready or not, the new administration of George W. Bush wasted no time in withdrawing from the ABM Treaty and deploying the first strategic missile defense interceptors in Alaska and California by the fall of 2004.

    It is important to note that the threat against which these strategic missile defenses were developed has not materialized.  The Rumsfeld Commission predicted that Iraq, North Korea, and Iran could each have ICBMs by 2003, but nine years later, none of them do.

    Where are the ICBMs? -- In Russia and China, of course!

    Not in Iraq.  Saddam’s ballistic missile threat had already been cut short by the First Gulf War.  Even before the March 2003 invasion, Saddam was being forced to destroy the most capable ballistic missiles left in his inventory – the short-range  al-Samouds.

    Not in North Korea.  The DPRK has conducted two flight tests of the Taepo Dong 2 ICBM class system.  The first flight in 2006 failed shortly after launch.  An attempt to launch a satellite with the same booster rockets failed in 2009.  Last week, North Korea announced agreement to a moratorium on further long-range missile launches.

    Not in Iran. The Islamic Republic has not yet conducted any flight tests of an ICBM.  Senior U.S. military officials have indicated Iran is currently concentrating on development and deployment of medium-range ballistic missiles with ranges of roughly 2,000 km.  Iran’s last MRBM test occurred more than one year ago.

    Current ballistic missile threats from hostile proliferants come not from long-range systems, but from those with ranges below 3,000 km.  Theater ballistic missile defenses are potentially useful against such shorter-range missiles topped with high explosives – to mitigate losses to civilian populations, military forces, and infrastructure – but they do not affect the strategic balance.

    Opportunity Costs

    Unfortunately, U.S. determination to protect the option of deploying strategic ballistic missile defenses of the national territory, has not only diverted attention from acute threats to U.S. forces and regional allies, it has also carried heavy opportunity costs.  The United States missed two chances to negotiate significant cuts in strategic offensive arms – with the Soviet Union at Reykjavik in 1987 and, with Russia in the late 1990s during efforts to bring START II into effect.  Depending on how we handle missile defenses in the months ahead, we may be on the verge of missing a third chance.

    I’ve tried to be frank in describing the nature of the ballistic missile threat we face, taking note of the exaggerations that plague our public discussion of the issue.  I must be equally frank in acknowledging that delusional thinking about strategic missile defense is now deeply engrained in U.S. declaratory policy and public consciousness.

    Articles of Faith

    The Missile Defense Act of 1999 remains our political charter, even if its evidentiary foundations are built on sand.  Domestic political dynamics are conspiring against rational course correction.

    Opponents of New START ratification found missile defense an effective line of attack against the treaty.  Even the treaty’s recognition of “the interrelationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms,” was depicted as a shameful concession to Russian negotiators.

    Every defense policy shift or budget reduction is now judged by according to whether it implies a failure of commitment to the cause of strategic missile defense.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week accused President Obama of just such a failure.

    But would they work?

    Last October, Secretary of Defense Panetta referred to the existing strategic missile defense system as “very remarkable.”  Senior military figures have joined the official chorus attesting to its effectiveness against future Iranian or North Korean missiles.

    Yet none of the ongoing tests of these systems have occurred under operationally realistic conditions. U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged that any state capable of building an ICBM can also build simple decoys to spoof missile defenses.  But U.S. strategic missile defenses have never demonstrated the ability to discriminate decoys and other clutter.  The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation reported in January: “To date [the system] has demonstrated a limited capability against a simple threat.”  He also noted that the last two flight tests had failed.  The last successful test under carefully controlled conditions was in 2008; the next test has been postponed to allow for causes of the last failure to be addressed.

    Russian Concerns

    Moscow does not seem particularly troubled by the 30 U.S.-based strategic interceptors.  However, the advanced Aegis systems planned for the later phases of Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach have caused acute concerns.  Whether real or feigned, Russia has reacted with alarm to the prospect of seeing European-based and highly mobile strategic interceptors on its periphery by the end of the decade.

    Moscow has demanded legal assurances that U.S. missile defenses are not intended to threaten Russia’s strategic deterrent.  For the reasons to which I alluded, such formal assurances have not been forthcoming, and if they were, they would probably be rejected by the Senate.

    Presidential campaigns in the United States and Russia have not created a propitious climate for reaching political compromise.  But it may yet be possible to secure agreement on a blueprint for cooperation prior to NATO’s Chicago Summit in May.  The more cooperation that can be achieved, the less threatening U.S. missile defenses will seem to the Russians.


    NATO’s upcoming Deterrence and Defense Posture Review provides an opportunity for progress.  Several of you were involved in drafting a joint letter to NATO Secretary General Rasmussen last July.  Among other things, the letter suggested the DDPR reiterate NATO’s assurance that its current and future missile defense capabilities are not “targeted” at Russia’s strategic forces and that NATO member state missile interceptor deployments would be designed and configured to address third party missile threats as they emerge.  Such a written assurance could form the basis of a missile defense cooperation framework.

    There have been a number of creative ideas for making cooperation concrete.  A Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI) Working Group chaired by former senior officials of the United States, Russia, and Germany, have recommended pooling and sharing data and information from early-warning radars and satellites in Cooperation Centers staffed by U.S., NATO, and Russian officers working together.  The latest issue of Arms Control Today features in its cover story a proposal by Dean Wilkening to build a joint ballistic missile early warning radar in central Russia.

    Guidelines to Consider

    Let me end by listing my own conclusions on the subject of our panel.

    All NATO states have enormous stakes in the success of U.S.-Russian negotiations to further reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles.  U.S. missile defense forces are more likely to be an obstacle rather than an inducement to Russian movement in the desired direction.

    Russia’s attitude is not pathological.  Russia is doing what the United States did when the tables were reversed.  During the Cold War, U.S. fears about Soviet ABM systems helped stoke the large increase in U.S. ballistic missile warheads.  It was only after the 1972 ABM Treaty capped strategic missile defenses that the path was opened toward eventual reductions in deployed offensive warheads.

    Russia responded favorably to Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach as a substitute for Bush’s “Third Site” plan.  Future deployments were tied to actual rather than theoretical ballistic missile threats and strategic missile defenses in Europe were not anticipated before the end of the decade.

    But if phases 3 and 4 of Obama’s plan are truly “adaptive,” then they must be contingent on the actual progress and intent of Iran’s ballistic missile program.  This link must be made convincing and explicit to the Russians. Moscow must be able to see something other than immovable dates for the deployments and vague place-holders in the matrix showing the number of interceptors to be deployed.  As it is, Moscow sees the quantity of advanced SM-3 interceptors as infinitely expandable and NATO’s “territorial defense” language as pointing toward Russia’s strategic forces – not those coming from Iran during the next 6-8 years.

    If U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe are tied to the level of threats from the Middle East, then they should not be expected to address other security concerns.  European flank states should enhance their security through other measures, which do not gratuitously provoke their large eastern neighbor.

    Alternative ways to strengthen the alliance bond might include: periodic presence of U.S. and other NATO troops for training purposes; active participation in alliance institutions and activities; and greater political integration within the EU.

    Reasons for Hope

    U.S. missile defense efforts have the potential of derailing continued progress in reducing the bloated nuclear arsenals of the Cold War.  But I see two reasons to hope for a different outcome:

    -- First, fiscal pressures on the U.S. defense budget will force the Administration and the Congress to get off the Cold War autopilot.  They will create strong incentives for the U.S. military to shift resources away from political programs like strategic missile defense toward those, which can increase military capabilities that count in the real world.

    -- Second, Europe is now a player at the missile defense table.  NATO has offered political support, real estate, and financial resources for the Phased Adaptive Approach.  Europe therefore has a new ability to tame some ill-considered American instincts.   I hope it will actively seek to influence U.S. policy when that policy veers in a direction, which provides a net loss to the security of the alliance.

    I’ve seen it happen before with regard to INF in the 1980s.  The Europeans – particularly the basing countries (Germany, the UK, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands) – made it very clear to a reluctant Reagan administration that it could not have one part of the Dual-Track Decision (deploying new weapons) without the other (seeking to reduce that category of weapons through arms control).

    I think we need Europe’s help again.

    Thank you for your attention.


    Prepared Remarks by Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association, delivered March 6, 2012 at the Salle de la Commission de la Defense in Paris at a conference sponsored by the: Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg; Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques; British American Security Information Council; and Arms Control Association.

    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    China Cited by Foes of Nuclear Budget Cuts

    Kathleen E. Masterson

    Congress should reconsider proposed cuts to U.S. nuclear weapons spending in light of uncertainties about China’s nuclear weapons program, some lawmakers and security analysts are arguing.

    Other analysts, however, have said there is little evidence to support some of the more threatening scenarios.

    The modernization of China’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenals and delivery systems was the subject of a House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing on Oct. 14. The hearing took place in the context of a recent debate over proposed budget reductions to U.S. nuclear weapons modernization efforts, which the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), denounced in his opening remarks as tantamount to “unilateral disarmament.”

    The purpose of the hearing was to highlight what Turner and others have characterized as the potentially ominous long-term implications of simply maintaining the United States’ existing nuclear forces while China and Russia continue to modernize. With the U.S. government slated to cut defense spending by more than $450 billion over the next decade, proposed reductions for funding nuclear modernization have gained traction in Congress. However, opponents of these cuts increasingly have pointed to the opacity of China’s nuclear weapons program and the growing threat the program could represent.

    In his testimony at the hearing, Mark Schneider, senior analyst for the National Institute for Public Policy, shared Turner’s misgivings. “The Russians and the Chinese are modernizing every element of their strategic triad,” he told the subcommittee, referring to the three methods for delivering nuclear warheads: ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and bombers.

    However, Jeffrey Lewis, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies’ East Asia Nonproliferation Program, said that every nuclear-weapon state, including the United States, continues to upgrade its nuclear warhead delivery platforms. Lewis also told the committee that although China and Russia have focused on modernizing their means of delivering nuclear weapons, neither country has attempted to create new nuclear devices.

    “Now is not the time to be reducing American nuclear and conventional deterrent capabilities, especially in Asia,” Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center told the subcommittee. Citing China’s policy during the Vietnam and Korean wars, Fisher concluded that any “perceived weakness in the United States” will “embolden [China] to take risks.”

    Recent concerns have arisen in the wake of the Pentagon’s latest report on Chinese military capabilities, which described a 5,000 kilometer-long series of underground tunnels used by China’s Second Artillery Corps to house China’s nuclear weapons. The Chinese military has used tunneling as a defensive technique for decades, however, so the existence of such an underground network is “hardly surpris[ing],” Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in a Nov. 14 interview, although he expressed skepticism about the facility’s estimated size.

    During the hearing, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said the tunnels might be a “very destabilizing factor” in the nuclear world order, citing concerns that China might use the underground network to increase the size of its nuclear stockpile without being detected. His questions appeared to reflect a position held by some U.S. security analysts that Beijing is secretly planning to race to nuclear parity with Russia and the United States as Moscow and Washington decrease the number of operationally deployed strategic warheads in accordance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

    Although it is impossible to make definitive claims about Beijing’s nuclear ambitions, such a scenario is “not very probable,” said Robert Hathaway, director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “I don’t think the Chinese believe they need a numerical parity with the U.S. or Russia,” Hathaway said. “Once you reach a certain level,…everything else is simply redundant,” he said. China now is at that level in number of warheads and “very shortly” will have the capability to deliver those warheads, he said. Pollack agreed, saying that nuclear parity with the United States is “not in [China’s] aspirational set.”

    Policymakers such as Turner also have expressed concerns that Beijing is modernizing its nuclear delivery systems, most notably its ballistic missile submarines. According to the Pentagon report, however, the Chinese navy has built and deployed up to five operational ballistic missile nuclear submarines, but the submarine-launched ballistic missiles to be loaded in them are not yet operational.

    In contrast, the United States “relies hugely” on sea-based nuclear warheads to secure its second-strike capability, Pollack said. Beijing’s decision to pursue a similar deterrent is not necessarily threatening, but would “represent a qualitative change” in China’s nuclear capabilities, he said.

    Congress should reconsider proposed cuts to U.S. nuclear weapons spending in light of uncertainties about China’s nuclear weapons program, some lawmakers and security analysts are arguing.

    China's Nuclear Modernization Efforts Cast A Long Shadow

    An image taken from inside China's 5,000-kilometer long network of tunnels (Source: The Korea Times) By Kathleen E. Masterson The modernization of China and Russia's nuclear arsenals and delivery systems were the subject of a House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing on Oct. 14. The hearing took place in the context of a recent debate over proposed budget reductions to U.S. nuclear weapons modernization, which strategic forces subcommittee chairman, Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), denounced in his opening remarks as tantamount to "unilateral disarmament." The purpose of the...

    U.S.-China Ties Weather Taiwan Arms Deal

    Benjamin Seel

    Although news of a $5.9 billion U.S. arms agreement to Taiwan initially caused China to warn that the deal could derail U.S.-Chinese relations, the relationship appears to be stable.

    Speaking in Indonesia on Oct. 23, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta commended the Chinese for handling news of the arms deal “in a professional and diplomatic way.”

    Panetta noted that he had “heard nothing that indicates that [China is] taking any steps in reaction” to the deal.

    China’s immediate response to the news of the deal was a statement by Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun to U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke on Sept. 21, warning that sales to Taiwan would “inevitably cause damage to Sino-U.S. relations,” according to a ministry press release.

    Initially, China threatened to respond by cutting off military ties and canceling diplomatic meetings.

    At an Oct. 11 meeting between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, Cui said he wanted to discuss the two countries’ differences to “prevent them from excessively interfering in the normal development of China-U.S. relations,” according to The Washington Times.

    The sale includes a package to retrofit 145 F-16 A/B fighter jets with new radar, weapons systems, and structural upgrades; an extension of a training program; and parts for three types of aircrafts.

    New F-16 C/D planes, requested by Taiwan since 2006, are not included. However, a senior administration official speaking during a Sept. 21 conference call with reporters said the sale of new planes “is still under consideration.”

    In a press release the same day, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said that not selling new F-16s was a “capitulation” to China and a “failure by the Administration to live up to its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act.”

    The Obama administration has sold more than $12 billion in arms to Taiwan in the last two years. Taiwan’s current fleet of F-16 A/Bs was purchased in 1992.

    Although news of a $5.9 billion U.S. arms agreement to Taiwan initially caused China to warn that the deal could derail U.S.-Chinese relations, the relationship appears to be stable.


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