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Nuclear News - 04/14/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 14 April, 1999

A. Russia and Kosovo
1. Retargeting Russian Missiles Would Be Symbolic Act, Reuters(04/09/99)
2. Albright Seeks ''Common Ground'' with Russia on Kosovo, Reuters(04/12/99)

B. Israel on Russia-Iran
1. Israel and Russia Discuss Nuclear Trade to Iran, Reuters (04/12/99)

C. Russia's Nuclear Forces
1. Russian Security Council to Discuss Nuclear Weapons Complex, ItarTass (04/13/99)
2. Cold War's End Leaves Danger of Nuclear War, LA Times (04/13/99)

A. Russia and Kosovo
Retargeting Russian Missiles Would Be Symbolic Act
April 9, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Even if Russia did decide to re-target its nuclear missilesat NATO countries, it would be a symbolic gesture that would not boost Russia's nuclear readiness, a Russian missile expert said Friday.

The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Gennady Seleznyov, saidafter a meeting with President Boris Yeltsin that Russia would reprogramits missiles to aim them at NATO states taking part in the militaryoperation against Yugoslavia.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said later there had been no orders tore-target missiles, and Seleznyov afterward backtracked and said he wasspeaking of a hypothetical order.

In any case, nuclear arms expert Pavel Podvig told Reuters, "The wholere-targeting operation may save probably a bit of data in the militarycomputers and a second of time when it comes to a real nuclear strike."

"Just like the de-targeting, it is just a political declaration thattechnically does not change anything," Podvig said.

In 1994, Russia and its Cold War foes, the United States and Britain,agreed to de-target their nuclear missiles from each other'sterritories.

In May 1997, Yeltsin said Russian missiles would no longer be aimed atany NATO countries, and later that year Russia stopped aiming missilesat Japan and China.

Although Russia has frozen its relations with NATO since air strikesagainst Yugoslavia began, the Kremlin has insisted it does not want toparticipate in the conflict.

Podvig said most missiles could be re-targeted in less than a minute.With the de-aiming, missiles were given zero targets or neutral targetsas default, but other flight tasks remained in their computer memory.

"It is a matter of seconds to change the target default from zero toprecise coordinates," he said.

Podvig said he was not sure that actual targets and strike plans existedfor Western Europe, as opposed to the United States.

"To target missiles there must be a flight task written in the nuclearstrike plan. I doubt there has ever been a strategic nuclear strike planfor any of the European countries.

"Such a plan has to have information on all targets, has to include allpossible options, set numbers of warheads per target -- it cannot bedone overnight, not in a month," he said.

Albright Seeks ''Common Ground'' with Russia on Kosovo
April 12, 1999
(for personal use only)

BRUSSELS -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Monday shewould seek "common ground" on the Kosovo crisis when she meets RussianForeign Minister Igor Ivanov in Oslo Tuesday.

Despite hot words from Moscow against the air war, she said NATO wantedRussia, the only non-NATO member of the major powers' Contact Group onformer Yugoslavia, "to be part of the solution in Kosovo."

"After all, the Russians were very much a part of how we dealt withBosnia and how we've dealt with Kosovo for the last year and a half andtheir role in the Contact Group was very useful," Albright told a newsconference after NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels.

She said Moscow's "general support for dealing with the (Kosovo) problemin a political way ... has been useful."

NATO, listing conditions Monday for an end to the Kosovo crisis,pointedly left out any explicit reference to NATO.

Albright insisted "we are in no way trying to hide NATO." But the subtlelanguage shift suggested a cost-free way to help Russia find endorsingthe alliance prescription more palatable.

In comments Sunday night, however, she said she was "realistic" aboutjust how much of a role Russia might be able to play.

Russian leaders, marginalized by NATO's 20 days of air strikes againstYugoslavia, have had a mixed reaction to the allied military operation.

NATO says its aim is to degrade the ability of Belgrade's armed forcesto do violence against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, hundreds of thousandsof whom have been forced out of the province.

Under pressure from nationalists at home, Russian leaders threatenedlast week that nuclear weapons might be targeted on NATO membercountries and warned that sending ground troops into Kosovo couldprecipitate a world war.

Russia, whose support for the Serbs as fellow Slavs and OrthodoxChristians led to the outbreak of World War I, has also sent areconnaissance ship to the Adriatic.

But Moscow, unwilling to totally cut ties to the West and jeopardizecritical financial support from international lending institutions, hasjust as often rolled back on its more inflammatory comments.

And so far, according to U.S. officials, it has not made good on threatsto provide arms or intelligence to Serb forces.

U.S. officials consider some of the Russian comments irresponsible andthere have been some sharp private exchanges between them and theirRussian counterparts.

But the Americans consider Russia a regional, if not an internationalleader, and realize its nuclear weapons, veto at the United NationsSecurity Council and ties to Belgrade require that Russia be included inBalkan peacemaking.

"It's absolutely necessary to have the Russians involved (in resolvingthe Kosovo crisis), not just as a matter of form but of substance," saidFrench Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

Diplomats said Moscow agrees with most of the West's politicalconditions for a Kosovo settlement, including self-rule, and would havecontributed troops to an international security force in the province ifBelgrade had consented last month.

A European diplomat said if the Albright-Ivanov talks and other alliedcontacts with Moscow went well, they might seek a U.N. Security Councilresolution along the lines of peace terms put forward separately by NATOand by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as conditions for an alliedcease-fire.

NATO said Monday that Belgrade must:

- Ensure a verifiable stop to all military action and the immediateending of violence and repression

- Ensure the withdrawal from Kosovo of Serb military, police andpara-military forces

- Agree to the stationing in Kosovo of an international militarypresence

- Agree to the unconditional and safe return of all refugees anddisplaced persons and unhindered access to them by humanitarian aidorganizations

- Provide credible assurance of his willingness to work on the basis ofthe Rambouillet terms in establishing a political framework for Kosovoin conformity with international law and the U.N. charter

Under Annan's proposals, the political future of Kosovo would then besubject to resumed negotiations with Belgrade, whereas the diplomat saidWestern governments were leaning toward seeking a U.N.-mandatedinternational protectorate.

So far, however, there is no indication that Yugoslav President SlobodanMilosevic is willing to accept a disguised surrender, and Russia up tonow has failed to deliver his acquiescence.

B. Israel on Russia-Iran
Israel and Russia Discuss Nuclear Trade to Iran
April 12, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday pressedopposition to Moscow's nuclear cooperation with Iran in discussions withhis Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov.

Sharon said Moscow and Israel had agreed to set up a committee todiscuss any problems caused by Russia's trade of nuclear technology toIran.

"I drew attention to the big danger posed by the transportation ofmilitary technology to Iran and other states in the Middle East," Sharontold a news conference.

"It has been confirmed that a two-sided committee will be created tofollow these problems and take measures to reduce any dangers."

Israel has repeatedly urged Russia to withhold nuclear cooperation withIran.

Russia has signed an $800 million deal to complete an Iranian nuclearreactor in the southern port of Bushehr despite Western fears Tehranmight use the technology to develop atomic weapons.

Sharon's trip to Moscow came after the former general was quoted assaying Israel had reason not to back NATO's strike against Yugoslavia.

He touched off further controversy last week when he told a radiostation the West should be concerned about the possible creation of anIslamic "Greater Albania" that could lead to unrest in Europe for yearsto come.

C. Russia's Nuclear Forces
Russian Security Council to Discuss Nuclear Weapons Complex.
April 13, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The Russian Security Council will meet on April 27 to discussthe development of the Russian nuclear weapons complex, Security CouncilSecretary and Director of the Federal Security Service Vladimir Putinstated here on Tuesday after his meeting with President Boris Yeltsin.

Putin noted that the upcoming meeting "is a planned function." He saidthat it was not directly linked with the situation on the Balkans. Putinstressed that it is to discuss "other questions and the problem ofdeveloping the Armed Forces". He promised that the mass media would beinformed in detail after the meeting about the questions that werediscussed.

Cold War's End Leaves Danger of Nuclear War
Robert Scheer
LA Times
April 13, 1999
(for personal use only)

Russia's disintegration threatens our security more by inadvertence thanby design

Back in the days of the Bush administration, Gen. Lee Butler,commander of the Strategic Air Command, would once a month go through apractice phone conversation with the White House concerning the end ofthe world.

"Gen. Butler, what is your recommendation?" the Bush stand-inwould ask upon receiving an alert from NORAD that the Soviets hadlaunched a nuclear strike against the United States. Butler had toanswer fast, because, in a real attack, the president would have hadonly 12 minutes to decide whether to launch thousands of nuclearmissiles in retaliation.

"Use them or lose them" would be the refrain running throughButler's brain, well-versed in elegant nuclear deterrence theories ofladders of escalation. "I had to say the words recommending the deathwarrant of tens of millions of people, of civilization--20,000 weaponson both sides exploding within 12 hours--knowing the planet can'twithstand that."

It still can't. Butler, a 33-year military veteran who rose to bedirector of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, isretired now, and the Soviet Union is but a memory. Yet what haunts him,and what occasioned his rare willingness to be interviewed, is that theCold War's end has increased, not decreased, the prospect of accidentalnuclear war.

Twenty-thousand nuclear weapons left over from the Cold War stillstand poised for launching, and the MAD doctrine that guided them isvery much in force. Neither the U.S. nor Russia has abandoned nuclearwar fighting as the cornerstone of their respective national defensepolicies. "We still target them with nuclear weapons on hair-triggeralert," Butler observed. "The world truly has been transformed, but whathas not been transformed is our thinking about it."

Russia's political and economic disintegration now threatens oursecurity more by inadvertence than by design, prompting key Cold Warmilitary establishment veterans like Butler to sound the alarm: "TheRussian command and early warning system is in a state of great decline;about two-thirds of the satellites they relied on for early warningcapability are inactive or failing. They're experiencing false alarmsnow on almost a routine basis, and I shudder to think about the moraleand discipline of their rocket forces. There are worrisome aspects toall of that. That's why people like myself are so puzzled and dismayedthat our government won't even address the problem."

Addressing the problem requires bold leadership on nucleardisarmament that's been sadly lacking in the Clinton years. Therehave been some cosmetic arrangements with the Russians as to nuclearsafety and targeting issues but no real follow-up on arms controlmeasures aggressively pursued by George Bush. Give credit where due:Bush recognized that the end of the Cold War permitted--nay, mandated--that the U.S. set an example by reducing the size and lowering thealert status of its nuclear force.

As Butler recalls, "The single most important arms controls wereGeorge Bush's unilateral measures back in 1991, which took all ofthe tactical nuclear weapons off the ships and brought many back fromEurope, took the bombers off alert and accelerated the retirement of theMinuteman II force. And Mikhail Gorbachev followed suit. It's ironicthat today we have a Republican Congress that thwarts arms controlprogress, and yet it was a Republican administration that really movedthe ball down the field."

Clinton has never been very interested in nuclear disarmament,and these days seems bent on alarming the Russian leadership byexpanding NATO's membership and military role in Eastern Europe,including a NATO-led war against Russia's neighbor, Yugoslavia. This hasstrengthened the hand of hard-line communists and nationalists whocontrol the Duma, undermining chances for nuclear arms control progress.Those elements also point to Clinton's endorsement of the harebrainedeffort to revive the "star wars" Strategic Defense Initiative as furtherevidence that the U.S. is not committed to arms control.

Boris Yeltsin has his flaws, but humiliating him and underminingmore moderate forces in Russia is the path of disaster. In 1995,Yeltsin was awakened in the middle of the night because one branch ofhis crumbling military had failed to inform another of prior knowledgeof a Norwegian rocket launch, which they confused with a U.S. Tridentmissile. Fortunately, this error was corrected before Yeltsin's 12minutes of decision-making passed. No wonder Butler is concerned.

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