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Nuclear News 12/10/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 10 December 1999

A.  U.S.-Russia General

    1. Cold Still Felt Between U.S.-Russia -- An AP News Analysis,Robert Burns, Associated Press (12/09/99)
    2. Yeltsin Offers U.S. Nuclear Reminder, Associated Press(12/10/99)
    3. Russian Press Back Yeltsin's Nuclear Reminder, Reuters(12/10/99)
B.  CTR 
    1. U.S. Told to Spend More to Neutralize Soviet Germ Scientists,Judith Miller, New York Times (12/10/99)
    1. Uranium Institute News Briefing  [HEU], The UraniumInstitute Online (12/07/99)
D.  Plutonium Disposition
    1. Plutonium Shipment Blocked, Lisa Singhania, AssociatedPress (12/08/99)
    1. Russian Duma May Vote on Start-2 Nuclear Pact, Reuters(12/08/99)
F.  Y2K
    1. IN BRIEF: Y2K With a General, Reuters (12/10/99)
G.  ABM, Missile Defense
    1. Moscow Waiting For U.S. Response To Joint ABM Commission,RFE/RL (12/09/99)
    2. Russia Can Develop Technology To Counter U.S. Missile Shield,Says Sergeyev, Agence France Presse (12/10/99)
H.  Arms Control - General
    1. U.S. Arms Control Adviser John Holum gives 1999 ProgressReport, Susan Ellis USIA (12/09/99)
I.  De-Alerting
    1. Panel Urges Removing Nuclear Arms From Alert, New YorkTimes (12/10/99)

A. U.S. – Russia General

Cold Still Felt Between U.S.-Russia -- An AP News Analysis
        Robert Burns
        Associated Press
        December 9, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON –– Spats over spies. Harsh words over wars. Predictions ofan arms race. The Cold War is long over, but in both style and substancerelations between Washington and Moscow are growing chillier.

The administration's announcement Thursday that a Russian diplomat hadbeen caught eavesdropping at the State Department is the latest in a stringof episodes that recall the dark days of Cold War confrontation.

Few expect a return to the frightful prospect of nuclear threats, butthe rhetoric is moving in that direction.

President Boris Yeltsin on Thursday chastised President Clinton forcriticizing Russian military moves in Chechnya

"It seems Mr. Clinton has forgotten Russia is a great power that possessesa nuclear arsenal," Yeltsin told reporters during a visit to Beijing. "Wearen't afraid at all of Clinton's anti-Russian position."

Clinton says he is not against Russia. But in an increasing number ofcases his policies conflict with Russia's – not just on Chechnya but alsothe war over Kosovo, the building of anti-missile defenses, the expansionof NATO and the U.S. role in developing energy resources in the CaspianSea near Russia's doorstep.

With the collapse of their economy and erosion of their once-fearedmilitary power, the Russians are concerned by what they see as a growingAmerican dominance on the world stage, both militarily and politically.As a counterweight, Moscow is trying to remind Washington that it stillmust be reckoned with.

In recent weeks, for example, the Russians have sent a submarine tolurk off the U.S. West Coast, including in the waters off San Diego andWashington state, where U.S. Trident nuclear submarines are based. Earlierthis year they took the unusual step of staging bomber exercises near Alaskaand NATO member Iceland.

Clinton has gone out of his way to praise Russia's contribution topeacekeepingin both Bosnia and Kosovo. But one of his top military commanders had sometough words Thursday for Russian actions in Chechnya.

"They're doing in Chechnya what Milosevic tried to do in Kosovo," ArmyGen. Wesley Clark, the top NATO commander, told reporters at the Pentagon.Asked if he was referring to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's campaignagainst ethnic Albanians, Clark said he was alluding to the Russians'"unrestricteduse of firepower and the apparent actions against civilian targets."

Tensions between the United States and Russia flared on numerous frontsin 1999, including:

– NATO expansion. Moscow argued that adding Poland, Hungary and theCzech Republic to the U.S.-led alliance in March posed a potential securitythreat to Russia. In the end Moscow found it had no leverage to stop NATO.

– Just days after the NATO expansion, the alliance launched its airwar over Kosovo. Moscow heatedly objected.

– The minute the war in Kosovo was over, Russia pre-empted a NATO-ledpeacekeeping force by sending combat troops to the Pristina airport inthe Kosovo capital and disrupting NATO's postwar plans. Clark reportedlyfavored confronting the Russians at the airport but in the end the standoffwas worked out diplomatically. A Russian contingent now serves in the30,000ongpeacekeeping team in Kosovo.

– Throughout the year the Russians have resisted U.S. arguments forchanging the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to enable the Pentagonto build a missile defense of the United States. Moscow says that if thePentagon goes ahead, it will provoke an arms race and lead to less, notmore, U.S. security.

– In November, Yeltsin delivered a tough statement at a European securityconference in Istanbul, Turkey, where he declared, "You have no right tocriticize Russia for Chechnya." Just moments later, speaking in the sameroom, Clinton warned Yeltsin against feeding an "endless cycle of violence"in Chechnya.

– At that same Istanbul gathering, the leaders of Turkey, Azerbaijanand Georgia signed a historic agreement to build a U.S.-backed pipelinethat would send the oil riches of the Caspian Sea to international marketswithout going through Russia. Russia sees the plan as Washington encroachingon a Russian sphere of influence.

Thursday's announcement that a Russian diplomat had been caught eavesdroppingon the State Department marked the third espionage incident in recent weeks.Russia expelled a U.S. diplomat last week after accusing her of spyingin Moscow. Also last week, the Navy disclosed that it had charged a pettyofficer with espionage for allegedly providing Russia with highly classifiedinformation about U.S. eavesdropping.

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Yeltsin Offers U.S. Nuclear Reminder
        Associated Press
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

BEIJING --  Having won Chinese support for Russia's military campaignin Chechnya, Russian President Boris Yeltsin lashed out yesterday at U.S.President Bill Clinton, reminding Washington that Moscow still has a nucleararsenal.

At a meeting with Li Peng, China's legislative chairman and the communistgovernment's most hardline leader, Yeltsin said he wanted to send a messageto Clinton, who this week criticized Russia for civilian casualties inChechnya.

"It seems Mr. Clinton has forgotten Russia is a great power that possessesa nuclear arsenal. We aren't afraid at all of Clinton's anti-Russian position,"Yeltsin said. "I want to tell President Clinton that he alone cannot dictatehow the world should live, work and play.

"It is us who will dictate."

Yeltsin, who left a hospital Monday after a week battling pneumonia,appeared animated in contrast with the frail or stiff displays he presentedearlier in the day before meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

In the first of three scheduled meetings during a 30-hour Beijing visit,Yeltsin and Jiang discussed the Russian campaign to rid Chechnya of whatMoscow claims are terrorists and separatists. Both criticized U.S. globaldominance.

"Jiang Zemin completely understands and fully supports Russia's actionsin combatting terrorism and extremism in Chechnya," Russian Foreign MinisterIgor Ivanov told reporters.

Declining to say whether the leaders discussed Chechnya, Chinese ForeignMinistry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said China "understands and supports theefforts made by Russia in safeguarding national unity and territorialintegrity."

The expression of Chinese support was a crucial goal of Yeltsin's trip, just three days after the Russian leader ended a week-long hospitalstay for pneumonia. The campaign against Chechnya has drawn heavy criticismfrom the United States and European countries for causing civilian casualties.

The Russian and Chinese governments are expected to issue a joint statementcommitting both governments to the fight against separatism and terrorismbefore Yeltsin's return to Moscow today.

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Russian Press Back Yeltsin's Nuclear Reminder
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Russian newspapers on Friday broadly supportedPresident Boris Yeltsin for reminding the U.S. of Russia's nuclear mightand suggested the outburst was staged.

Speaking in Beijing on Thursday, Yeltsin told the U.S. not to lectureRussia on its assault in Chechnya and said President Bill Clinton seemedto have forgotten "for a minute, for a second, for half a minute" thatRussia had nuclear weapons.

All newspapers gave front page coverage to the comments, with photographsof Yeltsin hugging or conferring with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Theysaid Yeltsin wanted to remind the West that anti-Russian rhetoric wouldincrease the influence of hardliners in the ex-Soviet state and cementties with Beijing.

"Of course, there was nothing unexpected in the choice of place or timeof the pronouncement of these words. It was all planned," said Vremya,dismissing the idea that the West now expected a rain of nuclear warheadsto fall on it.

"Namely -- the more the West pressures Russia the more it pushes herinto the embrace of its domestic militarists, mindless generals and...economistswho champion the military orientation of Russia's economy," it added.

Izvestiya, in a section called quote of the day, reproduced the wordsof former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during a time of friction withthe U.S.: "We will show you what's what."

Although the tone of some of the commentaries was sardonic, severaldecided Yeltsin's rhetoric was justified.

"The president was right when he reminded the world that Russia is anuclear country. It is a pity of course that he has to remind them," saidNezavisimaya Gazeta.

"Two comrades made friends," said Moskovsky Komsomolets in approvingtones of the talks between Jiang and Yeltsin.

China is one of the few countries to back Russia's Chechnya offensive.

European Union leaders meeting in Helsinki on Friday were expected tosanction Russia over its military action in the Caucasian republic.

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U.S. Told to Spend More to Neutralize Soviet Germ Scientists
        Judith Miller
        New York Times
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

The Clinton administration has made "impressive strides" in preventingformer Soviet scientists from working for rogue states and terrorists seekingunconventional weapons, but it should spend much more to achieve that aim,a Washington research group said Thursday.

"Given the consequences of the chemical and biological brain drain,"says a report issued by the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, "soundargument can be made for at least doubling the amount of money going annuallyinto collaborative research grants for biological weaponeers, and at aminimum tripling the grant funds for chemical weapons scientists."

The Pentagon alone has allocated $3.172 billion since 1992 to help theformer Soviet states secure and dismantle their weapons of mass destructionand keep their scientists peacefully employed. But Amy E. Smithson, a chemicaland germ warfare expert who wrote the report, argues that much of thismoney has been skewed toward the nuclear sector and too little of it towardkeeping germ and chemical scientists gainfully employed.

Since 1994, the administration has invested about $250 million in thefour programs aimed at engaging former Soviet weapons scientists incollaborativeresearch. Of that amount, Dr. Smithson says, only $7.5 million has gonetoward supporting chemists, and only $19.5 million for support of formerbiological weapons scientists.

As a result, she writes, the major American grant program got moneyin 1998 to only 1,000 of the 7,000 biological scientists with expertisein deadly germs. And of those who received grants and stipends, the averagesupport was "inadequate to keep 10,500 key chemical and biological weaponsexperts above the poverty line."

Noting that the cost of a six-year effort to vaccinate American forcesagainst anthrax, a Soviet germ weapon, is $130 million, the report says"it is more cost-effective to stop proliferation at the source."

Dr. Smithson says the exhaustive review process of prospective grantsresults in substantial delays in getting money to scientists in desperateneed.

"Scientists who need to feed their families will find it difficult towithstand the prosperity that proliferators offer if the proposal approvalprocess drags on for more than two years," notes the report, which is scheduledto be published today.

Moreover, the four different pots of money to contain the problem "invitecomplication" and competition among the agencies.

The report also criticizes the Russian government for keeping "hold-overapparatchiks" intent on blocking scientific cooperation in positions ofpower.

Pressure from such hard-line elements has kept four key biological labsrun by the military and a network of anti-plague institutes closed to outsidescrutiny, the report says. In turn, that fosters suspicion about whetherRussia is still conducting illegal germ and chemical weapons research anddevelopment.

"Unlike these cold warriors, the overwhelming majority of the scientistswant out of the weapons business," she concludes, based on visits to formerSoviet unconventional weapons institutes and interviews with administrationofficials.

Dr. Smithson, whose views particularly on chemical weapons are wellrespected by conservative and liberal defense analysts in Washington, disagreeswith those who argue that cutting money for Russian science will forceMoscow to open its military institutes and become more open about its pastweapons programs.

Offering incentives, she says, is more likely to entice military scientistswho are trying to find their way in Russia's turbulent economy and half-heartedpolitical reform.

On balance, she gives high marks to the concept of stopping the spreadof dangerous nuclear, chemical and biological expertise by engaging thevery scientists who built the unconventional weapons that were once aimedat America.

"In order to milk a rattlesnake," she writes, quoting an American officialinvolved in the programs, "one has to grab it by the head."

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Uranium Institute News Briefing  [HEU]
        The Uranium Institute Online
        December 7, 1999
        (for personal use only)

[NB99.49-6] USEC Inc will continue to serve as the US government's executiveagent under the Russian HEU agreement, despite earlier threats to resignif the company did not receive US$200 million in government aid over thenext two years. USEC officials conceded that it was in the company's long-terminterest to continue its role as executive agent. Industry observers werenot surprised by USEC's decision. However, they question USEC's viabilityas a commercial concern over the long-term and wonder to what extent USEC'sfailed bid to gain financial aid has damaged the company politically andfinancially. USEC claims that no damage has been done. (FreshFUEL, 6 December,p1; see also News Briefing 99.47-10)


[NB99.49-7] Several US uranium producers have expressed their concernsabout the depressed state of the domestic mining industry and falling uraniumprices. Rio Algom Mining Corp, International Uranium Corp, Uranium ResourcesInc, Cotter Corp and ConverDyn - in a letter to the Department of Energy(DOE) - suggested that the DOE buys USEC's uncommitted uranium inventory(estimated by the producers at 50 million pounds U3O8 (19 232 tU)) andwithhold it from the market until at least 2003. (Nuclear Market Review,30 November, p3; see also News Briefing 99.35-1)

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D. Plutonium Disposition

Plutonium Shipment Blocked
        Lisa Singhania
        Associated Press
        December 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Move through state held until Dec. 17

KALAMAZOO -- A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the shipmentof plutonium through Michigan, saying there are questions about whetherthe Department of Energy did enough study of potential environmental effects.

In a ruling from the bench, U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Enslenissued a temporary restraining order prohibiting any shipments from theUnited States to Canada until Dec. 17. He will hear arguments for a preliminaryinjunction next Tuesday.

The shipment is part of a test to determine whether commercial nuclearreactors in Canada can use material from decommissioned Russian nuclearweapons as fuel.

U.S. Department of Energy lawyers had no comment after the hearing.But in court, they told the judge that delaying the shipment until Dec.17 would not jeopardize the project.

Alice Hirt, one of six individuals who filed the lawsuit along withthe group Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, welcomedthe decision.

"This is what we wanted. We have stopped them from proceeding, and nowthey've got to prove that they don't need to have an environmental impactstatement," she said.

Specifically, the judge ruled that there may be merit to the plaintiffs'claim that the agency violated federal law by only looking at the environmentaleffects of one shipment from Los Alamos, N.M., to Canada via Michigan.

The lawsuit contends the shipment is part of a much larger plan to processU.S. and Russian weapons-grade plutonium at nuclear power plants worldwide.

The judge's ruling was not based on the plaintiffs' argument that theshipment was unsafe. Enslen said he does not believe that would hold upin court.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed the request for a temporary restrainingorder Monday, alleging the federal government has not done enough to ensurethe safety of its plan.

But Department of Energy officials disputed that, saying their planto transport 4.25 ounces of plutonium from New Mexico to Canada, via Michiganand several other states, is not risky.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the agency's assessment of itstransportation plan for the plutonium is inadequate and violates federallaw.

The agency conducted public meetings and an environmental assessmentbut did not do a more extensive environmental impact statement, accordingto the complaint.

"The possibility of extreme winter conditions in the Upper Great Lakes,where blizzards are a routine event, is neither mentioned nor discussed"in the environmental assessment, the filing states.

"The potential impacts on the state and local government emergency responseplans are not fully identified, analyzed or discussed ...neither the possibilityof terrorism nor local response capabilities in the event of a high-radiationaccident."

Department of Energy officials insist the shipment would be safe butwill not say when it might occur, citing security concerns. In court Tuesday,the government said the plutonium will be transported in an armoredtractor-trailerwith heavily armed guards.

But they said the high-security arrangements come at the request ofthe Michigan congressional delegation, not out of any security concernsor fears.

Several Michigan groups have protested the decision to ship the plutoniumthrough Michigan. The plutonium likely would be transported on I-94, I-69,I-75 and cross the Mackinac Bridge before continuing to Canada across anotherbridge at Sault Ste. Marie.

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Russian Duma May Vote on Start-2 Nuclear Pact
        December 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Russia's lower house of parliament may wellvote next Monday on ratifying the long-delayed START-2 nuclear arms reductionpact but it is still not clear whether a majority will back the treaty.

Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev, a strong advocate of the U.S.-Russianagreement to slash warhead arsenals, said the State Duma's managing councilwould decide on Monday whether to include a ratification debate and voteon the day's agenda.

The U.S. Senate has already ratified START-2 but Russia's Duma has sofar fought shy of voting it through. Russian ratification would be a brightspot for U.S.-Russian relations clouded by disagreements over another armsaccord and Chechnya.

Monday's session is likely to be the last before parliamentary electionson December 19, and the new chamber will convene only in January.

"The prospects for ratifying START-2 are unclear and the signal foryou will be whether the question is included on the agenda by the DumaCouncil on Monday because that will mean it will be ratified," said seniordeputy Vladimir Ryzhkov.

"If we see there are not enough votes (to ratify the treaty), the questionwill not even be put to the debate," he told reporters after Wednesday'sDuma Council meeting, at which Sergeyev made the case for including START-2on the agenda.


Initially, a deputy told reporters the vote would definitely be heldon Monday but Sergeyev later said a decision on the agenda would not betaken until the last minute, thus implying a majority was not yet guaranteed.

Ultra-nationalist party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is somethingof a maverick but has a keen sense of the mood in the lower chamber, saidestimates showed 200 deputies in the 450-seat Duma were ready to vote forand 200 against.

"It was decided to hold more consultations to win a solid majority of250 votes," he said.

Opposition Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, head of the biggest factionin the Duma, said his party still opposed the treaty because it ran counterto national interests.

"We've already discussed this question and stated that the situationin the world is such that there is no point considering this treaty now,"he told reporters.

The START-2 accord would slash the two countries' deployed nuclear warheadsby up to two-thirds to no more than 3,500 each by the year 2007.

The Duma meets on Monday with the main aim of ratifying a merger pactwith Belarus signed earlier on Wednesday.

Sergeyev advocates ratifying START-2 as the only way for Russia to affordto modernise its nuclear deterrent.

The commander of Russia's nuclear forces, Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev,said he saw no alternative to ratifying the treaty as soon as possible.

"It stands to reason that it is pointless to increase the nuclear potentialfurther. The aim should be reductions," he told a news conference. "Thereis no alternative."

Russia is at odds with the United States over Washington's plans todeploy an anti-missile shield that would violate the 1972 Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty.

Yakovlev said the U.S. plan was nowhere near as foolproof as its designerswould have Americans believe.

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F. Y2K

IN BRIEF: Y2K With a General
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The chief of Russia's nuclear weapons forces said Thursdaythat journalists would be welcome to join him in his command center onNew Year's Eve to be reassured there were no millennium bug problems withatomic missiles.

Strategic Rocket Forces commander Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlevreiterated that Russia's 2,000 ready-to-launch nuclear-tipped missileswould not go haywire because of a glitch that experts fear could scrambleolder computers on Jan. 1.

"We have finished upgrading all our systems and automatic supply systems.But to convince you that our missiles will not launch on Jan. 1, 2000.I invite your paper to come with me to the Central Command Center for theNew Year," he told one reporter at a news conference.

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G. ABM, Missile Defense

Moscow Waiting For U.S. Response To Joint ABM Commission
        December 9, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Commander of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces Vladimir Yakovlev toldjournalists in Moscow on 8 December that Russia has not yet received aresponse to its proposal to set up a joint commission with the U.S. toexamine the threat posed by so-called rogue states such as Iran and NorthKorea. Yakovlev first made that proposal on Russian Public Television lastmonth (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 November 1999). He indicated on 8 Decemberthat there have been no official talks on the issue but that a Russiandelegation visiting the U.S. in November suggested such an option. Alsoon 8 December, Yakovlev announced that a second batch of Topol-M missileswill go into service at the end of this week. Those missiles will be stationedalongside the first batch of 10 Topol-Ms, which went into service lastDecember at Tatishchevo in Saratov Oblast, according to ITAR-TASS on 8December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 1999).

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Russia Can Develop Technology To Counter U.S. Missile Shield, SaysSergeyev
        Agence France Presse
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 10, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia could developin a few years missile prototypes capable of piercing Washington's much-toutedmissile defense shield, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said in a newspaperThursday.

"Russia could produce deterrent missile prototypes a few years fromnow, proving amongst other things that the construction of an anti-missiledefense system in the United States would be in vain," Defense MinisterIgor Sergeyev wrote in the Russian daily Krasnaya Zvezda.

The United States wants to develop a missile defense shield to protectits territory from attacks by hostile countries like Iran and North Korea,which are developing long-range missiles.

Washington is seeking changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treatyto forge ahead with the military project but Moscow has steadfastly opposedamending the document.

Sergeyev insisted that the US project was seen by Moscow as "aimed atneutralizing Russia's strategic nuclear potential," and went on to warnthe US government that "a new arms race" should be avoided all costs.

"Despite all the upsets of the last decade, Russia still has a securitymargin that allows it to equip its forces with new arms," wrote the minister.

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H. Arms Control – General

U.S. Arms Control Adviser John Holum gives 1999 Progress Report
        Susan Ellis
        December 9, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Washington -- This year has been one of continued progress despite some"all too apparent" setbacks, John Holum, the State Department's senioradviser for arms control and international security, told reporters atthe Foreign Press Center in Washington December 9.

The most prominent setback of 1999, he said, was the failure of theSenate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), "which had profoundreverberations both here in the United States and around the world." Theadministration will continue its efforts next year, Holum added, "to engagewith the Senate to ratify CTBT" and meanwhile the United States continuesto refrain from testing nuclear weapons.

He also pointed out that, in "a profoundly important process in disarmament,"the United States has completely eliminated a total of 13,000 warheadssince 1988, and approximately "60 percent of all the nuclear weapons fromthe peak of the Cold War have gone out of existence."

As warhead numbers plummet, the United States is "also pressing to makethe resulting materials, the highly enriched uranium and plutonium, moresecure both in the United States and in the states of the former SovietUnion," Holum said.

In other successes, the arms adviser pointed to recent negotiationsin adapting the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty to bring itinto line with post-Cold War realities and allow it to continue as a strongsecurity instrument for all European countries.

Holum also cited U.S. regional non-proliferation efforts, includingsmall arms initiatives in Latin America and Africa, attempts to deal withthe nuclear potential in India and Pakistan, and looking for opportunitiesin the new positive environment in the Middle East to advance the armscontrol cause there."

On next year's arms control agenda, he said, the United States willcontinue its efforts to make the biological weapons convention enforceableby strengthening the compliance process and providing for on-site challengeinspections.

"We need to break the logjam in the Conference on Disarmament and we'rehoping we can do that in January with a work program that will includethe cutoff on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes,"Holum said, adding that the United States will also continue discussionson START III and encourage Russian ratification of START II .

There is also the challenge of dealing with the Anti-Ballistic MissileTreaty (ABM), he said, adding that while the ABM Treaty "remains a cornerstoneof our arms control efforts, the world has changed dramatically since thetreaty was negotiated in 1972."

However, "the threat of weapons of mass destruction and missiles tocarry them from a few rogue states is growing, it's real, it's unpredictable,and it's in the near-term," he said. "And so we're considering the possibilityof deploying a National Missile Defense, which would require changes tothe ABM Treaty while still preserving its essential purpose. And we'reengaged in discussions with Russia on that front."

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I. De-Alerting

Panel Urges Removing Nuclear Arms From Alert
        New York Times
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- Arms-control experts and members of Congress urged PresidentClinton and the Pentagon on Thursday to take the American nuclear arsenaloff alert, a move that would allow additional time for government leadersto gauge possible nuclear strikes and determine responses.

At a news conference at the National Press Club, Dr. Bruce Blair, aformer Air Force missile-control officer who is a military analyst at theBrookings Institute, said the time that leaders had to launch retaliatorymissiles should be extended, from minutes to days, or even longer. Callingthe issue neglected, Blair said national security was "in considerablejeopardy in continuing to operate nuclear weapons as though the cold wardidn't end."

He added that there was a widespread misconception that nuclear weaponsin the United States had been taken off alert.

Despite a pact in 1994 by Clinton and President Boris N. Yeltsin ofRussia to stop aiming nuclear missiles at each other, nuclear warheadsremain attached to missiles, and targets can be activated in seconds. Nationalsecurity advisers have 2 to 30 minutes to respond to a missile attack.

"Today," Blair said, "Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin have only a fewminutes, at best, in which to evaluate reports of an apparent incomingmissile strike and decide the fate of the world. This is an intolerablyshort time."

He outlined proposed steps for lowering the alert status. First, allsubmarines should be placed on a "relaxed state of alert," he said. Clintonand Yeltsin should eliminate and renounce the launching of missiles incase of an incoming attack, Blair said, and all but 500 missiles shouldbe taken off alert. The United States should also encourage other nuclearpowers, including Britain, China and France, to remove their nuclear weaponsfrom active status.

The American strategic war plan includes 3,000 targets in Russia, a20 percent increase since 1995, Blair said. "The United States needs totake a leadership role on this issue," former Senator Dale Bumpers, directorof the Center for Defense Information in Washington, said at the newsconference."On that basis, we will have the moral and political basis on which toask Russia to reciprocate."

In 1991, a coup attempt in Moscow led President George Bush to takethe warheads off strategic bombers and thousands of nuclear missiles. PresidentMikhail S. Gorbachev took similar measures about a week later.

Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, introduceda resolution in Congress in August that calls on the United States andRussia, as well as other countries with nuclear arsenals, to negotiateverifiable methods for ensuring that all nuclear warheads have been removed.

The measure, which has 84 co-sponsors in the House, urges the Defenseand State Departments to increase the time needed to launch nuclear missilesand to study the effects that might have on nuclear deterrence andnonproliferation.

"These weapons should not sit like cars at a drag race with revved engineswaiting for the start light to turn green," Markey said in a statement."We need to slow down the decision-making engine to ensure that decisionmakers have time to be 100 percent certain."

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