1. Arms Control Damaged By War: U.S.-Russia Tensions Imperil NuclearCuts, Washington Post (05/23/99)
B. Lab-to-Lab Exchanges
1. Facing More Chinese, Russian Visitors, Labs Ended Security Checks,Associated Press (05/22/99)
2. Panel Votes to Fund Livermore Lab To Safeguard Russian Atom Secrets,S.F. Chronicle (05/20/99)
Arms Control Damaged By War: U.S.-Russia Tensions Imperil NuclearCuts
May 23, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW-The NATO strikes against Yugoslavia and resulting tensions withRussia and China have created serious new threats to nuclear armsreduction measures and other global arms control efforts, many of whichwere already faltering, according to policymakers and specialists.
Russia's anger over the assault on Yugoslavia has created complicationswith the United States that jeopardize the long-delayed Strategic ArmsReduction Treaty (START II), which aims at slashing both countries'long-range nuclear weapons. Also at risk are efforts to control thethousands of short-range, or tactical, nuclear weapons that were nevercovered by a treaty.
The worsening in U.S.-Russian relations threatens the Comprehensive TestBan Treaty, efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction,revisions on a treaty on troops and conventional arms in Europe, andplans for joint early-warning cooperation to avoid an accidental missileattack.
"What will happen in the next two years is the total collapse of arms control" unless U.S. relations with Russia are repaired, said SergeiRogov, director of the USA/Canada Institute here.
"We may be looking at the end of bilateral, negotiated arms control,"said Joseph Cirincione director of the Non-Proliferation Project at theCarnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "This is nottoo radical to contemplate. It is possible [President] Clinton willleave office without ever negotiating and signing a strategic armsreduction agreement."
The problems were aggravated by the accidental NATO bombing of theChinese Embassy in Belgrade May 6. China announced suspension of currenttop-level military and arms control contacts with the United States.China has been a key focus of U.S. efforts to prevent the proliferationor spread of missiles and nuclear materials to Iran and Pakistan, amongother places.
"All of the principal nonproliferation regimes are under siege," saidWilliam C. Potter, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studiesin Monterey, Calif. "Without a concerted effort in Washington and Moscowto revive cooperation of the past, the regimes run the risk of majordefections and collapse."
Moreover, the troubles on arms control and proliferation come at a timewhen other regions are provoking fresh worries. In South Asia, a yearafter India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, both countries haveembarked on a new missile race. In Iraq, the United Nations' effort toroot out weapons of mass destruction appears to have ended. Irancontinues to pursue a ballistic missile program, as does North Korea.
When the bombing of Yugoslavia began in March, Russia reacted with sharp criticism and suspended all military links to NATO. Russia is friendlywith Yugoslavia, a fellow Slavic and Eastern Orthodox country. Theexisting bilateral U.S.-Russian nuclear and chemical disarmamentprograms, for which Russia is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars,so far have not been seriously hampered.
Since the bombing began, Russia also has sought a role as a mediatorbetween NATO and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Although thishas put Russia in a less confrontational approach than in the earlyweeks of the crisis, specialists said, the negative reaction to the NATOairstrikes in parliament and among the Russian political and militaryelite has seriously clouded future arms control and nonproliferationefforts.
The first major casualty of the NATO strikes was the START II strategicarms treaty, signed in 1993 by Presidents Bush and Boris Yeltsin andratified by the Senate in 1996 but never ratified by the Russian StateDuma, the lower house of parliament. The treaty was close to approvalbefore the Kosovo crisis.
The treaty would slash both sides' nuclear arsenals from 6,000 warheadseach under the START I treaty, signed in 1972, to between 3,000 to 3,500each, although experts say Russia cannot financially support such anarsenal. Moreover, ratification would open the way to negotiations for afollow-on treaty, START III, which would lead to even deeper cuts, tobetween 2,000 to 2,500 warheads for each side under a preliminary 1997agreement between Clinton and Yeltsin.
The START II treaty was making headway in December, but the Duma,dominated by Communists and nationalists, recoiled after the bombings ofIraq. Strenuous lobbying by then-prime minister Yevgeny Primakov movedthe treaty back on the agenda in March, but the Duma backed off againafter the NATO strikes on Yugoslavia. The U.S. decision to move ahead onantimissile defenses also hurt Russian ratification efforts.
The negative reaction over Yugoslavia may be impossible to overcome.Analysts say START II is all but dead. The Duma will be facing anelection campaign in the fall. "It's clear the treaty cannot beratified," said Alexander Pikayev, an arms control and nonproliferationspecialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
A prominent group of arms control specialists called on the UnitedStates in February to try to leapfrog START II and secure new reductionsof warheads and take missiles off hair-trigger alert. But the Clintonadministration has refused to move ahead until START II is ratified.
If it is not, Russia may decide to prolong the life of older multiple-warhead missiles that were due for retirement.
The arms control deadlock may also extend to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a centerpiece of the Clinton administration's disarmamentefforts. Ratification was blocked by in the Senate by Jesse Helms(R-N.C.) and may fare no better in the Duma. "The plan was to submit itafter START II," said Pikayev. But, he added, "There is a generalnegative attitude in the Duma toward all arms control andnonproliferation, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is seen by someas a way of diminishing Russia's nuclear might."
One of the gravest new threats to arms control has been the prospectthat Russia may reactivate short-range, or tactical, nuclear weapons,which are not covered by any treaty. Yeltsin recently discussedmodernizing such weapons at a meeting of the Kremlin Security Council.
"It's obvious that we will have to carry out limited modernization ofour tactical nuclear capability and strategic nuclear force, andprobably not even modernization, but take a series of measures toincrease their combat readiness," Sergei Karaganov, deputy director ofthe Institute of Europe, and chairman of the Council on Foreign andDefense Policy, told reporters recently.
When the Soviet Union was falling apart, both Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev took unilateral actions to pull back tactical nuclear weapons. Bush announced on Sept. 27, 1991, that the United States would eliminate its entire worldwide inventory of ground-launched tacticalnuclear weapons and would remove all nuclear weapons from surface shipsand attack submarines. Gorbachev followed Oct. 5 with a similarpronouncement.
But the initiatives were never codified and could be reversed. Although little is known about Russia's arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, the Monterey Institute has estimated that it retains 7,740 warheads.
Potter said that the relationship between Russia and the United Stateswas the pillar of nonproliferation efforts but now is "greatly weakenedand may soon collapse altogether." Among other signs of trouble, hepointed to Russia's economic plunge, continued difficulty in securingRussia's nuclear materials and its growing reliance on nuclear weaponsfor deterrence. Other problems are the Indo-Pakistani arms races, Iraq'sdefiance of the UN arms inspections and North Korean "missilebrinkmanship."
"There are circles of impact," said Cirincione. "How does the Russian relationship change with the states on their borders, Iraq and Iran?...
You could see increased trade, exactly the kind we don't like, with Iraqand Iran." What's more, experts say Russia may instigate new arms saleswith other states to offset NATO. Already, there have been reports ofRussian plans to sell antiaircraft systems to Libya. Russia also mayfind itself increasingly looking to alliances with China and India andless responsive to U.S. pleas to halt proliferation through its huge andweakened military-industrial complex.
Russia's defense minister, Igor Sergeyev, also threatened recently to reconsider a just-concluded agreement on revisions to the ConventionalForces in Europe treaty. Signed in 1990, the treaty limits heavyconventional weaponry held by members of NATO and the former WarsawPact. The collapse of the Soviet Union and admission of Poland, Hungaryand the Czech Republic to NATO led to negotiations to revise the pact,replacing the Cold War blocs with national limits on arms. In earlyApril, a compromise was reached, which was expected to be signed laterthis year.
Yet another casualty of the Kosovo crisis may be a planned U.S.-Russia temporary joint center to share early warning information about apossible missile attack. Russia announced after the NATO strikes thatit was abandoning military-to-military contacts on the project, part ofa larger effort to cope with the Y2K millennium computer bug.
B. Lab-to-Lab Exchanges
Facing More Chinese, Russian Visitors, Labs Ended Security Checks
May 22, 1999
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WASHINGTON-- After President Clinton took office, the EnergyDepartment allowed two of its most sensitive nuclear weapons labs tohalt background checks on foreign guests to cope with soaring numbers ofvisiting Chinese and Russian scientists. Officials now concede the movewas a security blunder.
While direct evidence has not emerged of espionage by the visitors,congressional investigators found at least 13 scientists with suspectedforeign intelligence ties were allowed into the labs without proper CIAor FBI scrutiny.
Five of those scientists were allowed into the Sandia lab atAlbuquerque, N.M., while eight visited the Los Alamos lab, also in NewMexico, that U.S. officials believe has been a target of Chineseespionage for more than 20 years, congressional investigators said.
Security checks, mandatory before 1994, were reinstated last Novemberamid growing Clinton administration worries about Chinese espionage atthe government's premier weapons labs.
While U.S. officials have no evidence that nuclear secrets were lost toany of the 4,409 Russian and Chinese visitors between 1994 and late1998, when background checks were reinstated, they have no guaranteeinformation did not escape.
"As far as I am concerned, the exemptions (for background checks) shouldnever have been given," said Ed Curran, a veteran FBI official who lastyear took over counterintelligence at the Energy Department.
"You have to have the information to make a decision (on access). Thelab director has to know who is on his site," Curran said in aninterview with The Associated Press
The administration made it a priority after the Cold War to open up theonce highly secretive weapons labs and expand their non-defense researchprograms. The surge in Russian visitors stemmed from an urgent need tohelp improve Russia's safeguards on nuclear material to keep it fromterrorists or antagonistic states.
The increase in Chinese visitors was attributed largely to the labspushing to expand nonweapons research and broaden links to scientistsnot only in the United States but abroad.
According to government officials and documents, the request to endsecurity checks originated in the fall of 1993 from the labs, which atthe time were inundated with visitors.
In 1994, the number of Chinese visitors to the Los Alamos and Sandialabs more than doubled, from 146 to 329, according to Energy Departmentfigures. The number of Russian visitors rose from 201 to 364.
"The number of foreign visitors was increasing, and in some cases it wastaking months for the checks to get done," Energy official Joan Rohlfingsaid. "It was such an inefficient system that it simply was not enablingany of the programs to move forward."
Energy officials agreed to the labs' request to end the backgroundchecks. Rohlfing said the exemption was supposed to be "only forvisitors who were going to unclassified areas of the laboratory."
The General Accounting Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, firstfound problems with the termination of background checks in a 1997report.
The GAO documented "13 instances where persons with suspected foreignintelligence connections were allowed access without background checks--eight visitors went to Los Alamos and five went to Sandia.
"Available records also indicated that eight other persons withsuspected connections to foreign intelligence services were approved foraccess to Sandia during the period; however, DOE and Sandia lackedadequate records to confirm whether the persons actually accessed thefacility," the GAO added.
GAO auditor Victor Rezendes said suspending background checks onlyinvited trouble. "The safeguards you put on windows and doors may notstop a burglar, but you don't want to sleep with your door open," hesaid.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson reinstated the background checks inNovember as a congressional committee was finishing an investigationinto reports of Chinese theft of U.S. technology, including allegedespionage at the weapons labs.
In March, a longtime Los Alamos scientist, Wen Ho Lee, was fired andremains under suspicion of providing secrets to China. The FBI isinvestigating, but Lee denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged.
The GAO repeatedly decried potential losses, even though visitors, withrare exception, are not allowed into the most secure sections of theresearch labs and are supposed to be monitored closely.
GAO investigators in 1997 found classified or sensitive material inareas frequented by visitors. In one example, six boxes, marked"sensitive material" in red letters, were found in the hallway of a labwhere foreign visitors walked. Classified information also was found ina newsletter available to visitors.
Adding to the problem was little spending for counterintelligence.
In 1996, according to GAO, Los Alamos spent $100,000, or $111 perRussian or Chinese visitor, to monitor possible espionage. That was lessthan one-fifth the amount spent by another lab, Lawrence Livermore,which had about half as many visitors.
Asked recently whether foreign visitors posed a threat, John Browne,director of the Los Alamos lab, replied, "Yes, a potential threat. Thepotential is there." Still, he defended the visitor program, saying itis important to interact with international scientists.
While reversing the decision on background checks, Richardson also hasbeen an advocate of the program.
"We've got to be careful that we don't penalize the foreign visitorsprogram that so far has not been the source of the problem," Richardsonsaid. "If we cut our foreign visitor program, it will hurt our nationalsecurity."
Panel Votes to Fund Livermore Lab To Safeguard Russian Atom Secrets
Jason B. Johnson
San Francisco Chronicle
May 20, 1999
(for personal use only)
A House committee voted yesterday to give Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory more than $400 million to fund laser research and disarmament programs designed to keep Russian nuclear secrets from falling into the hands of terrorists.
The House Armed Services Committee approved the anti-proliferation funds and other research programs as part of the Defense Authorization Bill.The full House could vote on the measure as early as next week.
Committee member Representative Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, said the lab's programs are vital to stopping the spread of dangerous Russiannuclear material and know-how.
Since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, Russia and otherpreviously communist nations have been unable to pay thousands ofscientists working in sensitive research facilities in remote cities.
Those workers, Tauscher said, could sell their knowledge and nuclearmaterial to rogue states.
"We don't want them going to Iran," she said.
"They have tons of nuclear weapons and were our major competitor for the past 45 years in terms of designing and building nuclear weapons. Theyalso have chemical and biological weapons."
The nonproliferation initiatives would provide funds for Russianscientists to work on projects unrelated to nuclear weapons systems.
The Clinton administration's original request of $296 million had untilrecently been cut to $196 million by the committee chair, South CarolinaRepublican Floyd Spence. But it was increased after lengthy negotiationsand a Tauscher amendment adding $15 million to the plan.
"They've got a million people in 10 remote cities called nuclear citiesthat are by and large unemployed," said Tauscher. "They had one missionand one mission only, and that was the design and implementation ofnuclear weapons."
The committee also approved $254 million for continued work on the lab's National Ignition Facility -- a huge laser system that can simulate anuclear blast, allowing for testing of nuclear weapons without actuallysetting them off.
The stadium-sized $1.2 billion National Ignition Facility will house anarray of 192 high-powered lasers. It's now 47 percent complete andshould be operational in 2002.