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Russia Says Missiles May Revive Cold War
May 3, 2000
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WASHINGTON -- Delivering a blunt warning cloaked in bear hugs and backslaps,Russian lawmakers came to Washington on Tuesday to lobby against constructionof a U.S. national missile defense, saying it could reverse a decade ofprogress on arms control and rekindle tension between the old Cold Warrivals.
"The American side needs to weigh the consequences" of going forwardwith missile defense, Vladimir Ryzhkov, a member of Russia's State Duma,or parliament, told Republican House and Senate members at a daylong conferenceon Capitol Hill.
"Think about not starting a new kind of Cold War with very strangeconsequences,"said Alexander Shabanov, deputy chairman of the Duma's foreign relationscommittee.
Precisely how Russia would respond if President Clinton decides to proceedwith a national missile defense system remains a matter of speculation.
But the Russian lawmakers, all senior Duma members, insisted that ifClinton goes forward, Russia would abandon the entire raft of strategicarms-reduction agreements dating to the Reagan administration. Some U.S.officials are concerned that Russia would join forces with China—the twocountries already are enjoying closer relations on security issues thanthey have in decades—and share technology that could be useful in defeatingwhatever missile defense system the United States fields.
More broadly, a rift over missile defense could derail efforts to developcloser ties with Russia, efforts that have hit other snags during the pastdecade over issues such as the enlargement of NATO and the U.S.-led bombingof Yugoslavia.
As an alternative, the Russian lawmakers emphasized their government'sproposal that a U.S. decision against going forward with missile defensecould lead to even deeper cuts in nuclear weapons stockpiles. The lawmakersalso raised the possibility that Moscow and the U.S. could share missiledefense technology.
The conference, held in a large hearing room in the Senate's Hart OfficeBuilding, was organized by the conservative Free Congress Foundation, headedby Paul Weyrich. The foundation is interested in exploring the possibilityof assuaging Russia's concerns by sharing missile defense technology, amove the Clinton administration has, as yet, not been willing to make.
"Played correctly, Russia can become a strategic ally of the West. Rightnow, she is anything but that," Weyrich said.
The session was marked by cordiality, even warmth, as U.S. and Russianlawmakers who have met many times during various trips and exchanges renewedold acquaintances.
But it also was marked by bluntness.
When the Russian lawmakers asked whether the Senate would ratify theversion of a strategic arms-reduction treaty that includes provisions attachedby the Duma limiting missile defenses, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was unambiguous.
"The answer to that question is no. That's very, very unlikely any timein the foreseeable future with the makeup of the Congress as it is," Kylsaid.
And although Clinton has yet to make a decision to deploy a nationalmissile defense, Kyl echoed the Republican view that Congress already hasspoken on the matter by passing a law establishing a national missile defensesystem as a fundamental national security aim.
"There will be a deployment of a national missile defense system," Kylsaid.
The visit of several Duma members to Washington came a week after Sen.Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,said in a Senate floor speech that he would block any arms-control pactbrought to the floor by Clinton as the president's second term nears itsend.
The START 2 pact has been ratified by the Senate and the Russian legislature.It would cut U.S. and Russian arsenals roughly by half, down to between3,000 and 3,500 long-range strategic nuclear weapons.
But the Russian legislature attached conditions relating to the relativecapabilities of theater and national missile defenses, conditions thatU.S. lawmakers say could limit the capability of both. The Senate mustnow accept START 2 with the Russian changes before the pact can take effect.
Economically strapped Russia can ill afford to continue to maintainits huge arsenal of nuclear weapons and favors sharp reductions, a pointthat leads some in Washington to view the threats from Moscow as bluster.
The Clinton administration insists the missile defense plan is not aimedat Russia but intends to stop potential attacks from smaller states suchas North Korea or Iran. In a Pentagon briefing last week for Russian ForeignMinister Igor Ivanov, U.S. officials went to lengths to describe the limitsand vulnerabilities of the missile defense system.
Tuesday's meeting of legislators put on display the wide gap betweenRussia's arms-reduction goals and the Republican-backed plans in Washingtonto build a national missile defense. The meeting also underscored thatwhile the Russian legislature closely follows the lead of newly electedPresident Vladimir Putin, the U.S. Congress could hardly be more hostiletoward Clinton.
"President Clinton does not enjoy the trust of the United States Senatewhen it comes to treaties that affect arms-control matters," said Sen.Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).
Konstantin Kosachev, deputy chairman of the Duma's foreign relationscommittee, said the Russian legislature and executive branch are "basicallyunanimous" in opposition to a U.S. missile defense system.
Kosachev said U.S. negotiators were, in effect, threatening Moscow bysuggesting that if Washington cannot win a change in the 1972 Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty to allow a national missile defense, the United States willscrap the entire treaty.
"Imagine two sides who made a contract. One side keeps its obligations,but the other side says, 'We'll pay you half price. Either you agree toit or we don't pay you anything at all,'" Kosachev said. "This is basicallythe U.S. position."
The three members of the Russian parliament who participated—otherswere in town meeting privately with U.S. lawmakers—said the United Statesand Russia should be strategic partners, not nuclear rivals. They saidRussia's views on arms control were expressed by recent Duma votes to ratifythe Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the START 2 nuclear arms reductions.
In one area of agreement between Russia and U.S. lawmakers, the Dumamembers urged the Clinton administration to postpone a decision scheduledfor this summer on deploying a national missile defense.
This viewpoint has drawn unlikely supporters. Arms-control advocateswant postponement because they fear a rushed decision would almost certainlymean a decision to deploy the missile defense. Republicans want postponementin hopes that Texas Gov. George W. Bush will be president and will be ina position to approve a much larger defensive shield than the one envisionedby Clinton.
Russia's decision to link the issue of missile defense to further armsreductions is merely an arbitrary grab for leverage, according to JamesCollins, the U.S. ambassador to Russia. Speaking to the Defense Writers'Group last week, Collins said Russia accepts U.S. explanations that theplanned missile defense system is not aimed at neutralizing Russia's nucleardeterrent.
The concern in Moscow, according to Collins, who has participated inhigh-level arms-reduction talks, is that once the United States buildsthe basic infrastructure of missile defense—the bases in Alaska and NorthDakota, the missile interceptors and radar—it will be easy enough to enlargethe system to the point where it could undermine Russia's arsenal.
If Russia is reducing the size of its nuclear force while the UnitedStates expands its missile defenses, the two could eventually meet in themiddle, leaving Russia vulnerable to a theoretical first strike to whichit would have no viable response.
Collins said U.S. negotiators are emphasizing that, practically speaking,the planned missile defense system could not be expanded in size andsophisticationto the point that it could ever cope with the kind of massive strike Russiacould launch.
"There isn't any way the system we are talking about is going to providea defense against that force," Collins said. "We don't intend to expandit to the point where it would be a threat."
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Russian General Cool on U.S. ABM Proposals
May 5, 2000
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MOSCOW, May 5, 2000 -- (Reuters) A leading Russian Defense Ministryofficial was quoted on Friday as saying that U.S. proposals on amendinga key Cold War nuclear arms pact were not constructive.
Russia is against U.S. plans to modify the ABM pact, a treaty on limitingnuclear missile arsenals which was signed in 1972 and viewed in Moscowas the base for strategic stability.
Washington wants to amend the pact so it can build a national defensemissile shield against what it calls rogue states such as Iran and Libya.
"The U.S. side has indeed tried to pull us into a negotiating processon the problem of ABM by sending its proposals to us," Interfax news agencyquoted Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the head of the Defense Ministry'sinternational cooperation department, as saying.
"These proposals are not constructive and cannot be seen as the basisfor future consultations on this problem," said Ivashov, on the hawkishwing of Russian diplomacy.
Moscow says Washington's real intention is to give the U.S. strategicsuperiority.
A U.S. magazine, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, last week publishedwhat it said were the papers U.S. negotiators had submitted to Moscow.
The main proposal was to change the ABM treaty to allow Russia and theUnited States to deploy a national missile defense system for the purposeof defense of their national territory against limited long-range strikes.
The ABM treaty allows each side to have a defense shield around specificsites. Russia has one around Moscow while the United States had one arounda missile base, now closed.
Ivashov reiterated Moscow's position that the rogue states' theory putforward by the U.S. was a deception.
"It is unlikely that these states will have the guaranteed means todeliver weapons to U.S. territory in the coming years," he said.
Talks on modifying the ABM treaty, held last month by Russian ForeignMinister Igor Ivanov in Washington, ended in deadlock.
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May 5, 2000
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Even prosperous American suburbs increasingly are demarcated into separatelyprotected super-rich zones. That phenomenon—which real-estate developerseuphemistically call "gated communities"--reflects a disturbing combinationof social paranoia and pretentious snobbery. Alas, the approaching U.S.decision to deploy a national missile defense system could transform Americaitself into an internationally gated community.
As of now, the decision to deploy is likely to be made either throughan agreement with Russia to partially revise the existing ABM Treaty orsimply by the United States acting alone. In either case the decision willbe premature and disruptive to America's key strategic relationships.
The Clinton administration gives evident signs of wishing to reach aspectacular accommodation with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, perhapsat the forthcoming summit, thus enabling it to proceed with the missile-defensedeployment. The decision to deploy, the White House senses, would be politicallypopular at home, trumping the Republicans who have tried to make themissile-defensesystem their own pet security project. To obtain Russia's agreement, theadministration has been notably passive regarding Putin's war against theChechens. In contrast, the United States was quite prepared to charge Chinawith human rights violations in the recent sesssion of the U.N. Human RightsCommission, and the administration prevailed on the Czechs and the Polesto do so against Cuba--while itself being willing to support only a verydiluted European criticism of Russia over Chechnya.
Yet the decision to deploy on the basis of an agreement with Russiacould prove troublesome. It would most probably involve an arrangementpermitting the United States to use Alaska as the site for a partial missiledefense deployment. That would provide protection for America against aneventual North Korean threat, though there are no intelligence estimatesregarding the pace of any North Korean efforts to deploy ICBMs armed withnuclear warheads. It would also protect America against the existing Chinesenuclear forces. But the Chinese quite naturally would view an Americandecision to deploy in the above-mentioned fashion as directed primarilyagainst them. That would intensify American-Chinese tensions (a matterhardly of regret to Moscow) and precipitate Chinese efforts to upgradetheir nuclear-armed ICBM capabilities, including the deployment of decoysto override the partial American missile defense. The American initiativeand the Chinese reaction would probably cause anxiety in Japan and SouthKorea.
Needless to add, the arrangement with Russia permitting a partial missiledefense would do nothing for Europe's security. It would, however, be likelyto stimulate European fears--admittedly often exaggerated and self-serving--thatAmerica is becoming excessively preoccupied with its own security whileEurope remains more vulnerable both to the Russians and also to some potentiallythreatening Middle Eastern states. Such European reactions, in turn, wouldmake it easier for President Putin to pursue his two-pronged strategy:to accommodate strategically with the eager Clinton while simultaneouslyencouraging growing rifts between Europe and America.
A unilateral decision would maximize such negative consequences. Itwould also give Moscow the added opportunity to posture as the defenderof stable strategic deterrence, which America would then be accused ofundermining. Such accusations would find a receptive audience not onlyin Europe but also here at home. This would precipitate a divisive andcontentious debate both with our allies and among ourselves. Given alsothe fact that the national missile defense remains a technological questionmark, the benefits of a unilateral decision are not easy to detect—exceptpolitically.
The bottom line is that at this stage there is no urgent strategic needfor a largely domestically driven decision regarding the deployment ofthe national missile defense. The issue should be left to the next president—tobe resolved after consensus is reached with our allies both in Europe andin the Far East, after more credible evidence becomes available regardingthe technical feasibility and probable costs of the national missile defense,and after compelling intelligence estimates are aired regarding the origin,scale and timing of likely new threats to the United States and its allies.
American preponderance in the world is a fact. It should not be coupledwith America's self-isolation in a gated community.
If the long-standing policy of nuclear deterrence is to be replacedwith missile defense, that strategic revolution should be pursued on acomprehensive basis, not just for America itself but also for its allies,and with its allies.
The writer was national security adviser to President Carter.
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