- West Tries To Keep Russian Scientists From Selling Skills, DetroitNews (01/20/99)
- Season of Discontent: Piqued 'Elite' Wastes Chance In Iran Clash,Moscow Times (01/21/99)
- Russian Official: Amending ABM Treaty Threat to Russia, AssociatedPress (01/21/99)
- White House Seeks to Calm Russian Fears on U.S. Missile Plan,Associated Press (01/21/99)
- To Engage Russia, Washington Post (01/21/99)
West Tries To Keep Russian Scientists From Selling Skills
January 20, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- In the early 1990s, many Soviet weapons scientists saw theirworld disintegrate. But some seized a lifeline thrown by the West. SergeiShumsky grew up in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-70 in the Ural Mountains, one ofthe Soviet Union's two nuclear weapons laboratories, known today as Snezhinsk. Hisfather was a weapons engineer. Shumsky studied nuclear physics in Moscow, butwhen the Soviet Union collapsed, his research dried up.
Shumsky, a physicist at the Lebedev Physics Institute, recalled thatmany colleagues were set adrift. Some went abroad, others went into business. Vagueoffers came from strange Middle Eastern companies. "Indeed, we had contacts withsome Eastern companies, which tried to have informal collaboration for notvery much money," he said. "When you haven't been paid a salary for several months, there is a highpossibility ofsuch kinds of cooperation."
Victor Vyshinsky is a department head at the Central AerohydrodynamicInstitute,which was a prestigious flight-research center in the Soviet era. In theSoviet years, heresearched the aerodynamics of cruise missiles.
"You know scientists work like miners in a mine," he recalled. "We feltthat the airstopped coming into our hole, into our mine." Vyshinsky said he tried to adapt, looking for commercial applicationsfor his expertise,but nothing worked out.
"It was a desperate time," he said, as many scientists felt abandoned bythe state thathad so long coddled them. He recalled there was little to stop a weapons scientist from leavingRussia, despiteofficial restrictions.
"The only thing that stops you is scruples," he said. "But if someonetakes it into theirhead to sell something, then I don't think there will be a problem." Neither Shumsky, 40, nor Vyshinsky, 47, sold their skills, but insteadthey turned to aninternational effort trying to stanch the flow of weapons technology outof Russia.
The International Science and Technology Center, a joint program of theUnited States,European Union, Japan, South Korea, Norway and private firms, as well asRussia, hasspent nearly $190 million for grants to persuade Russian weaponsscientists to take upcivilian work.
Shumsky won a three-year grant and Vyshinsky found aid, too. But the Western effort has not plugged all the holes. The core of theRussiannuclear-weapons scientists is about 2,500 specialists, many at the twonuclear weaponslaboratories. Beyond that, there are 5,000 more specialists and a third level of12,000 to 15,000,possibly more, involved in uranium and plutonium production, deliverysystems, and otheraspects of weapons of mass destruction.
According to several estimates, the Western effort may have reached 60percent of thecore scientists. But where the rest have gone is simply not known. Noris it known howmuch technology and know-how slipped out of Russia.
Season of Discontent: Piqued 'Elite' Wastes Chance In Iran Clash
January 21, 1999
(for personal use only)
Finally, it seems, our political class has found that elusive unifyingRussian idea it has been so anxiously seeking - anti-Americanism. "They want to punish us for having our own independent foreign policy,for the creative sorties of Russian political thought, for the boldnotionof a strategic triangle of Russia, India and China," runs the currentmotifof articles in the country's leading liberal publications.
But Russia has already seen to its own punishment for what can at bestbedescribed as ill-conceived idea of a strategic triangle, receiving anicyrebuff from the Chinese government the same day the idea was voiced.Moreover, as is the case in any normal state, U.S. policy is driven notbysome urge to punish or encourage, but above all by its nationalinterests.And if Russia is to effectively protect its own national interests, itwould do well to have a realistic rather than mythological idea of theinterests of the other players on the world stage.
Denying radical regimes and movements hostile to the United Statesaccessto nuclear and missile technology is increasingly emerging as theleadingpriority of U.S. foreign policy. It is debatable just how much the realthreat has been exaggerated by the Americans, and whether this concernisnot just some kind of national phobia, but that's not important. Thepointis that this concern exists and is an area of great sensitivity for theUnited States.
For this reason the United States has negotiated long and hard withMoscow with the goal of ensuring that Russia's technical cooperationwithIran at a state level is discontinued, and that tougher control isimposedon private Russian companies and institutes working in this field.
Formally speaking, Moscow's legal position is watertight. Theconstruction by Russia of Iran's first atomic power plant in Bushehr isbeing supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and theeducation and training of Iranian students and post-graduates doesn'tviolate any international agreements. But everyone knows that theintervalbetween the completion of the first working Iranian reactor tocompletionof the first Iranian nuclear bomb will be no longer than the time ittookto progress from the reactor Enrico Fermi finished building in ChicagoinDecember 1942 to the first nuclear detonation in Alamogordo in July1945.
It all boils down to the United States asking a big favor of Russia inasphere that means a great deal to it. Accordingly this gives Russia anopportunity to initiate a serious dialogue about mutual strategicinterestslike, for example, the broad application of Russian missile defensesystemsand technology in projects under way for the defense of Europe and otherregions from possible terrorist missile strikes.
However, a large and growing section of our "political elite" getsgreatsatisfaction just from making things difficult for the United States,thereby softening the blow of Russia's defeat in the Cold War - a defeatsustained by the members of that same "elite" - and compensatingslightlyfor Russia's unenviable position today, for which those same people areresponsible.
These are understandable and maybe even justified feelings, but thepriceof this pique could be truly enormous. Who, after all, can guaranteethatdeadly weaponry might only fall into the hands of people like Osama binLaden, seething with hatred for the United States, and not the warlordKhattab, who is no more kindly disposed toward Russia?
Russian Official: Amending ABM Treaty Threat to Russia
January 21, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- U.S. plans to develop a national system for defense againstattack by long-range missiles threaten Russia's security, a top DefenseMinistryofficial said Thursday.
The United States, fearing a possible attack by a hostile nation likeNorth Koreaor Iraq, wants to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty so it canstartbuilding a missile-defense system.
White House officials said Thursday that Defense Secretary William Cohenwasmisunderstood when he mentioned to reporters on Wednesday thepossibility ofabandoning the treaty, which prohibits a national defense againstmissiles.
"The secretary did not threaten to withdraw from the treaty," saidRobert Bell,director of defense programs on the National Security Council. He saidtheadministration has not decided whether to amend the ABM treaty, or if sowhatchanges may be needed.
Russia's Defense Ministry dismissed Cohen's explanation of U.S. fears ofattackby a rogue state.
"Any military expert understands that these states have not, and, in thenearfuture, will not have guaranteed means of delivering weapons to U.S.territory,"said Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, chief of international cooperation at theministry.
Any changes to the ABM treaty would be regarded "as a threat to Russiansecurity interests," Ivashov was quoted as saying by the Interfax newsagency.
In a related development, former security chief Alexander Lebed alsospoke outagainst Washington, saying that Moscow must not ratify the long-delayedSTART II treaty for the reduction of nuclear arms because it wouldirreparablyweaken Russia, according to an article published Thursday.
Lebed, a provincial governor and a top presidential aspirant, arguedthatparliament's ratification of the 1993 treaty would deprive Russia of itsmostpowerful missiles and force it to build expensive new weapons to keep upwiththe United States.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin was still considering the Americanamendmentsto the ABM treaty.
A U.S. missile defense would not be deployed until 2005 -- assuming thatPresident Clinton determines that such a system is technically feasible,Cohensaid.
Russia, and before it the Soviet Union, has long opposed a U.S. nationalmissiledefense. The Cold War-era ABM treaty was meant to leave both superpowersvulnerable to attack and thus limit the chance that either would attempta decisivefirst strike.
Ivashov said "attempts to bypass the ABM treaty would upset strategicstability"in the world and may jeopardize long-delayed ratification of the STARTII armsreduction treaty by the Russian parliament.
Lebed, for his part, directly condemned START II, saying itsimplementationwould be "an irreparable blow" to Russia's security.
"Its ratification must be put off the agenda," said Lebed, governor ofthe vastKrasnoyarsk province in Central Siberia, in an article in the dailyNezavisimayaGazeta.
As governor, Lebed also has a seat in the Russian parliament's upperhouse,which would have to approve the START II treaty for it to go intoeffect.
The U.S. Senate approved START II in 1996, but the Russian parliamenthasdelayed ratification, citing arguments similar to Lebed's.
Russia's cashapped government has lately supported ratification,saying thatby 2007 -- the START II deadline for halving Russian and Americanarsenals to3,000-3,500 warheads each _ Russia will have to scrap its aging nuclearmissilesanyway.
Lebed countered that it would be cheaper to modernize the old missilesthan tocontinue producing more modern strategic bombers and nuclear submarines.
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev rejected Lebed's call andreiterated hissupport for START II on Thursday.
"Russia needs this treaty and will benefit from it," Sergeyev said,according to theInterfax news agency. "It's in line with our national interests."
White House Seeks to Calm Russian Fears on U.S. Missile Plan
January 21, 1999
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration is seeking to reassureRussia that the decision to invest $6.6 billion in a national system todefendagainst missile attack is not intended to undermine the credibility ofRussia's largenuclear force.
White House officials said Secretary of Defense William Cohen wasmisunderstood when he mentioned to reporters on Wednesday thepossibility ofabandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty which prohibits a nationaldefenseagainst missiles.
"The secretary did not threaten to withdraw from the treaty," RobertBell,director of defense programs on the National Security Council, saidThursday.Bell said the administration has not decided whether to amend the ABMtreaty,or if so what changes may be needed.
Bell also stressed that a decision on whether to deploy missile defenseswill notbe made before June 2000.
On Wednesday, however, Air Force Lt. Gen. Lester Lyles, who heads thePentagon's missile defense programs, told reporters that if PresidentClintondecides to deploy a missile defense system now on the drawing board, thetreatywould have to be amended.
Russia has balked at changing the ABM treaty to let the Americans deployanational missile defense.
Bell said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will discuss the ideawith Russianofficials when she visits Moscow next week. "I imagine the Russians willhave anumber of questions of their own," Bell said, while adding that therehave beenregular contacts on these issues over the past week. Clinton wrote toPresidentBoris Yeltsin recently to outline U.S. plans for missile defense and tourgeYeltsin not to view them as a strategic threat.
Russian officials discounted Cohen's statements about a growing threatoflong-range missile attack facing the United States from North Korea andothersmall powers.
"Any military expert understands that these states have not, and, in thenearfuture, will not have guaranteed means of delivering weapons to U.S.territory,"Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, chief of the international cooperationdepartment atthe Russian Defense Ministry, said Thursday.
"Therefore, the Russian Defense Ministry regards the U.S. statements onwithdrawal from or revision of the ABM treaty as a threat to Russiansecurityinterests," Ivashov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
China joined in the criticism. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesmanSun Yuxisaid his government believes a U.S. missile defense system "would onlyundermine security and stimulate the proliferation of missiles." Chinais the onlynation other than Russia with nuclear missiles capable of reaching U.S.territory,though its arsenal is far smaller than Russia's.
Cohen said Wednesday the administration "will propose to explore withtheRussians modifications" to the treaty that would allow Washington toproceed onmissile defenses. Cohen was asked what the administration would do ifMoscowrefused to amend the treaty.
"Then," Cohen said, "we have the option ... to simply pull out of thetreaty," aspermitted with six months notice. He and other administration officialsstressedtheir preference to preserve the ABM treaty as a means of constrainingthespread of offensive missiles.
"The ABM treaty remains, in the view of this administration, acornerstone ofstrategic stability," Bell said.
Clinton's proposed 2000 budget, to be submitted to Congress early nextmonth,will include an additional $6.6 billion for national missile defense toraise theprice tag to $10.5 billion through the year 2005 for a network ofhigh-technology radars and missile interceptors.
The driving force behind the administration's increasing interest in anationalmissile defense, Bell said, is not fear of a potential Russian missileattack butconcern that smaller military powers hostile to U.S. interests aredevelopinglong-range missile capability.
"What has changed over the last six or seven months has been anacceleration inthe threat with respect to the programs that various rogue states,including NorthKorea and Iran, have in the category of long-range missiles," Bell said.They aremissiles, he said, "have the potential to reach our homeland, iflaunched."
To Engage Russia
January 21, 1999
(for personal use only)
RUSSIA FIGURED in President Clinton's State of the Union speech onlyas a headache -- a nuclear threat, a potential source of nuclearmaterialsand technology falling into "the wrong hands." Mr. Clinton's concern,andhis proposal to spend more to safeguard Russia's nuclear weaponry, arewelcome. But they also show how far the U.S.-Russia relationship hasslipped. Early in his presidency, Mr. Clinton saw Russia as a challengeandan opportunity. Now he describes it only as a problem to be managed.This is understandable, but misguided.
Certainly Russia has not developed as Mr. Clinton hoped in those earlypost-Soviet days. While the U.S. economy has grown in each year of hispresidency, Russia's has steadily declined. Its economy now accounts forlittle more than one percent of world economic activity, compared with aU.S. share of more than one-fifth. With such an imbalance, the kind ofequal partnership that Mr. Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsinonce spoke of is not conceivable.
But it is wrong to assume that Russia's troubles are bound to lastforever.The Clinton administration finds it easy to justify engagement with theone-party dictatorship that runs China, not so much because China isimportant today but because it may grow into an economic and militarypowerhouse. How much more important, then, to engage with a strugglingdemocracy such as Russia that also, over the long term, may develop intoa constructive and prosperous player on the world scene.
What does this mean in practice? Russia's most pressing internationalproblem is its external debt. It cannot possibly meet its obligationsthisyear, and creditor nations and banks are going to have to work out arescheduling. The United States could take a leading role by urging thatSoviet-era debt be written off. Without rewarding Russia's poor economicperformance, this would underline America's hope and belief thatpost-Soviet, democratic Russia is a new nation in a new era.
The administration also should not act as though all is lost in Russia.Change has come so quickly that it is easy to forget the progress ofjust thepast 10 years. Political parties, a free press, environmental lobbiesandother civic organizations, millions of Russians traveling abroad -- allof thiswas unimaginable not long ago. Now, with some newfound freedomsunder threat and Russia's economy reeling, support from the UnitedStatesfor grass-roots democracy is all the more important. Student exchanges,business education, journalism training -- these kinds of efforts matternow,and matter even more for the coming generation.
The administration faces many obstacles to a policy of engagement withRussia -- its own disappointment, the suspicion of many in Congress, thecounterproductive behavior of Russia's current rulers in many parts oftheworld. But those obstacles should not obscure the longer-term goals thatremain. America's Russia policy has to consist of more than loose nukes,and Mr. Clinton has to lead the way.