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Nuclear News - 06/15/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 15 June 2000


A. Plutonium Disposition

    1. Russia, U.S. Need 20 Years To Realise Arms Plutonium Agreement,Itar-Tass (6/14/00)
B. Nuclear Testing
    1. Senate Bill Requires Study Of New Nuclear Weapon, WalterPincus, Washington Post (6/12/00)
C. Department of Energy (DOE)
    1. Political Turmoil, FBI Probe of Missing Nuclear Secrets,Associated Press (6/14/00)
D. Arms Control - General
    1. The Demise of Arms Control?, James Schlesinger, WashingtonQuarterly (Spring, 2000)
 

A. Plutonium Disposition

1.
Russia, U.S. Need 20 Years To Realise Arms Plutonium Agreement
        Itar-Tass
        June 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russia and the United States need 20 years and billions of dollars toimplement the co-operation agreement on utilization of weapons-grade plutoniumwhich is to be signed next month, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardsonsaid on Tuesday.

The next summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialised countrieswhich is to take place at Okinawa on June 21-23 is expected to discussprovision of financial aid for recovering Russia's 34 tons of plutonium,Richardson confirmed.

Under the agreement, the United States will also have to recover 34tons of plutonium. It is to be transformed into forms unfit for use innuclear weapons. The document is based on the principles approved by theG-8 nuclear security summit in Moscow in 1996.
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B. Nuclear Testing

1.
Senate Bill Requires Study Of New Nuclear Weapon
        Walter Pincus
        Washington Post
        June 12, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The Senate has paved the way for the Energy Department's nuclear weaponslaboratories to aid Pentagon research into a new low-yield nuclear weaponthat could destroy hardened and deeply buried targets by penetrating farinto the ground before exploding.

The purpose of the study is to develop "a deep penetrator that couldhold at risk a rogue state's deeply buried weapons or Saddam Hussein'sbunker without torching Baghdad," said one former senior Pentagon officialwho is still involved in government military and intelligence research.

The most recent modernization of a U.S. strategic nuclear weapon, theB-61 thermonuclear bomb, took place in the early 1990s. At that time thebomb, which has a variety of yields above 50 kilotons (or 50,000 tons ofTNT, more than three times the power of the Hiroshima bomb), was givenan earth-penetrating capability great enough to destroy "a garden varietyunderground bunker, 100 meters into solid rock," the former official said.

"What's needed now is something that can threaten a bunker tunneledunder 300 meters of  granite without killing the surrounding civilianpopulation," he said.

Last year, a Pentagon effort to get assistance from Energy's weaponslabs in researching the options for such a weapon was blocked when Energylawyers said a 1994 provision in the law prohibited the government's nuclearlaboratories from "all research and development which could lead to a precision,low-yield nuclear weapon," according to a senior Energy official who askednot to be identified.

To overcome that roadblock, Senate Republicans this year put a provisionin the fiscal 2001 defense authorization bill that specifically requiresthe secretaries of Defense and Energy to undertake such a study and permitsthe nuclear labs to "conduct any limited research and development thatmay be necessary" to complete it, according to  a Senate Armed ServicesCommittee report.

The measure is expected to pass the Senate this week and eventuallybe approved by a House-Senate conference, according to its supporters.

Supporters of this new low-yield nuclear weapon include a small groupof senior Republican senators and some top officials within the nuclearweapons community who, in the wake of Senate defeat of the ComprehensiveTest Ban Treaty last October, believe the United States may soon need toresume underground testing to design  new warheads and maintain oldones.

"The United States will eventually need a new, low-yield nuclear weapon"because the explosive power of silo-busting thermonuclear warheads designedfor the Cold War "are too high" to deter small nations in today's multipolarworld, said Paul Robinson, the head of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories,one of the nation's leading weapons labs.

Without building such a new weapon, "we would end up being self-deterred,"Robinson said at a forum in New Mexico last March.

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services strategicsubcommittee, sponsored the defense bill amendment because, as he saidat a May 23 committee meeting, the legislative language from 1994 prohibitedEnergy's nuclear laboratories "from conducting any research related tothe design of a new low-yield nuclear warhead."

"I understand the attorneys have blocked the Energy weapons labs fromconducting any studies or research to support the Defense Department inassessing options for addressing current or future threats because of this1994 provision," Allard said.

Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) said at theMay 23 hearing: "I do not believe that, in the foreseeable future, we'regoing to see the abolishment totally of nuclear weaponry. . . . And, therefore,we've got to maintain a capability in the United States for a future presidentor presidents to initiate a  program, to build a new warhead."

In a recent telephone interview, Warner said, "The next president hasgot to put this on top of his agenda." He added, "We should do researchand analysis" that could lead to new weapons because "there is a dwindlingindustrial base and dwindling category of capable people to build weapons."

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate,who opposed approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, has supporteda moratorium on testing because it gives more flexibility," said CondoleezzaRice, Bush's foreign policy adviser and a member of the National SecurityCouncil staff during his father's administration.

Bush foresees any resumption of testing in the near future as beingbased on "questions of reliability and safety" of current weapons, Ricesaid in a telephone interview. As for developing new weapons, Bush is "reservingjudgment. . . . It has not come up, but it is not inconceivable," she said.

Bush, in a May 23 speech, said that "America should rethink the requirements. . . for nuclear deterrence and a new security environment." He said thatif elected president, he would get his defense secretary "to conduct anassessment of our nuclear force posture."

The last full Pentagon nuclear posture review was in 1994, with an updatein 1997 before the Helsinki summit between President Clinton and Russia'sBoris Yeltsin. The current Senate version of the fiscal 2001 defense authorizationbill not only permits research on the new low-yield weapons but also callsfor the secretary of defense, "in consultation with the Secretary of Energy,to prepare a plan for the long-term sustainment and modernization of U.S.strategic forces."

That nuclear posture study, the panel said, "would look beyond currentefforts to modernize existing systems and lay out a comprehensive visionfor the maintenance of deterrent forces."
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C. Department of Energy (DOE)

1.
Political Turmoil, FBI Probe of Missing Nuclear Secrets
        Associated Press
        June 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The disappearance of nuclear secrets from a vault at the Los Alamosweapons lab has prompted a criminal investigation and unleashed anothertorrent of criticism about security at the Energy Department, leaving theClinton administration scrambling to contain the political fallout.

The FBI, which was brought into the case when the Energy Departmentlearned on June 1 of the disappearance of the nuclear secrets from theNew Mexico facility, was conducting a criminal probe. The investigationwas expected to focus on some two-dozen individuals who had free accessto the highly secured vault where two computer hard drives that containedthe nuclear files were kept.

Polygraph tests were expected to begin to be administered to some ofthe Los Alamos scientists within days, Energy Department officials said.

Senate Republican leaders, meanwhile, said they planned to act todayon the nomination of John A. Gordon, the deputy CIA director, to head anew semi-independent nuclear weapons agency. Gordon's nomination, heldup for months over a disagreement on how much power the agency should havewithin the Energy Department, is now expected to get swift approval.

But the new disclosure that two computer hard drives were missing atLos Alamos was likely to give Republicans plenty of ammunition to criticizethe Clinton administration's national security record. And while EnergySecretary Bill Richardson emerged largely unscathed last from the Wen HoLee case, which also involved missing nuclear secrets, this time Richardsonis expected to be a prime target.

"This incident occurred on his watch. He'll have to be made accountable,"said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"What the secretary needs to do is get his house in order," Sen. RichardShelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesdayon NBC's "Today" show.

A summer of investigations into another Los Alamos security flap isnot what Richardson, the most prominent Hispanic in the administration,had expected as he hopes to remain in contention as a potential vice presidentialrunning mate to Al Gore.

Richardson moved swiftly to try to regain the offensive in what is anembarrassing disclosure of security bungling even if the two computer harddrives -- which contain sophisticated data used to dismantle an array ofU.S. and even Russian nuclear devices -- are eventually recovered.

In these developments Tuesday:

-- Richardson announced that two highly respected elder statesmen _former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, R-Tenn., and former Rep. LeeHamilton, D-Ind. -- would investigate the disappearance of the hard drivesand make recommendations on security improvements to President Clinton.

-- Retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger, the Energy Department's topsecurity official, said the FBI was conducting a criminal investigationof the matter. Twenty-six people had unescorted access to the vault, officialssaid.

-- Six lab managers, including the chief of nuclear weapons programs,were placed on leave with pay because of the incident. A lab spokesman,John Gustafson, said the action was taken "to ensure the independence andcomplete appearance of independence" of an investigation by the Universityof California, which manages the lab.

Republicans lost no time in attacking the administration on the latestsecurity bungle. And both House and Senate intelligence committees andarmed services committees announced hearings for today and Thursday onthe missing computer drives.

"The Energy Department has not heeded warnings about the dire need forsecurity reforms," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., calling the latest incident"an unacceptable security breach." He maintained there is some evidencethe devices may have been stolen, but provided no details.

Investigators remained at a loss about what happened to the hard drives,which are the size of a deck of cards. Habiger said the employees who hadaccess to the vault where the drives were stored were "dedicated, loyalAmericans." He expressed doubt that the devices were stolen and said itwas more likely they were misplaced or accidentally destroyed.

The devices were found missing on May 7 as scientists sought to securethem from a massive wildfire threatening the lab complex. A lab investigationdid not begin until May 24, and Energy Department officials did not learnof the disappearance until June 1, according to Habiger.

The two drives, which can be used in laptop computers, contained technicalnuclear weapons data used by the Nuclear Emergency Search Team to dismantlenuclear devices in case of an accident or terrorist act.
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D. Arms Control - General

1.
The Demise of Arms Control?
        James Schlesinger
        The Washington Quarterly
        The Center for Strategicand International Studies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
        Spring, 2000
        (for personal use only)

James Schlesinger, a counselor and trustee at CSIS. He is also senioradviser to Lehman Brothers and chairman of the MITRE corporation. He wassecretary of defense from 1973 to 1975 and secretary of energy from 1977to 1979.

Is arms control dead? -- certainly not if its proponents recognize andadapt to the altered world in which we now live. Alternatively, if we failto adapt and instead pursue arms control objectives derived from a bipolarworld or reflecting naive, Universalist assumptions, arms control willbe useless and, at times, counterproductive.

The proper objective for arms control is to increase international stabilityand, more directly, the security of the United States and its allies. Itshould not be, as its most eager supporters advocate, simply to reducearmaments.

The central feature of classic arms control agreements was that theUnited States and the Soviet Union could enhance mutual stability and thustheir own security by agreeing to limit certain categories of (destabilizing)armaments, providing such agreements could be verified. Thus, overall internationalstability would be enhanced. The risk, of course, was that achieving orpreserving the agreement might become an end in itself and that such painfulquestions as compliance or whether the agreement actually enhanced stabilitywould be overlooked.

Even during the Cold War, the presupposition of bipolarity was pressedby some further than it should have been, as if the United States and theSoviet Union were alone in the world. Some advocates, for example, tendedto forget the simple fact that U.S. forces provided extended deterrencefor U.S. allies in Europe -- and, in a somewhat more benign context, innortheast Asia. Thus, the generally bipolar world was complicated by theneed to take third parties into account. In that bipolar world, many armscontrol issues could be viewed in terms of duopoly -- in that only theUnited States and the Soviet Union had significant capabilities, and thusthe task was one of negotiating with, and scrutinizing the behavior of,one's principal adversary.

But the Cold War is now over; the Soviet Union is gone. Advanced weaponscapabilities have spread and will further spread to other parties. Thus,the analogy for arms control has now shifted from duopoly to cartel --in which the behavior of numerous other parties must be watched and preferablycontrolled. This is a far more demanding task. History teaches us thatsmaller participants in cartel agreements frequently enter those agreementswith no intention to comply in the long run (and frequently not even inthe short run). They enter into the cartel agreement to restrict the behaviorof others, to draw advantages for themselves, and with every intention,to put it bluntly, to cheat early. In the history of cartels, incidentally,it has normally been the leader that has born the principal burden of complyingwith the agreement. For that reason, it is particularly incumbent uponthe leader to be wary at the outset regarding the details of the agreement.

Consider the goal of nonproliferation. What we have seen in the lasthalf-century is that proliferation cannot be prevented -- but it can successfullybe slowed. Indeed, compared with the fears expressed in the 1950s and 1960s,the spread of nuclear weapons has been remarkably slow. (It might havebeen even slower if the United States, priding itself on its openness andits eagerness for declassification, had not so generously spread aroundinformation on how to design and produce nuclear weapons).

Given the metaphor of the cartel, the necessary target for arms controlis to constrain those who desire to acquire nuclear weapons. A Luxembourgor even a Germany may have no inclination to exploit an arms control agreementas a cover for cheating, but others will have that simple objective. Ageneral agreement imposes no restraint on a North Korea or an Iraq. Theywill be constrained by direct pressure or by direct action, if they areto be constrained at all. For rather different reasons, an India or anIsrael is not going to be constrained by a general agreement. To believeotherwise is to embrace the quixotic notions of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Thus the question of enforceability becomes more difficult as it becomesmore central. Sometimes, difficult tradeoffs must be made. In 1994, theUnited States chose to ignore the clear violations of North Korea and itsobligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to the International AtomicEnergy Agency -- in the hope that it might be able to "freeze" North Korea'snuclear development. Sometimes, arms control agreements are little morethan pious hopes with little capacity (or even intent) to achieve enforcement.Today there are 10 to 15 nations aggressively seeking chemical or biologicalweapons, many of them unconstrained by their obligations under the ChemicalWeapons Convention or Biological Weapons Convention. Detection or verificationis simply too difficult. Indeed, in the case of the Biological WeaponsConvention there simply is no enforcement mechanism.

The upshot is that we fool ourselves if we believe that general agreementsimpose substantial barriers to those determined to acquire new capabilities.But arms control objectives can be obtained through direct pressure --rather than through a general agreement -- or, as the case of Israel andthe Osirak reactor may suggest, through direct action. For those who wouldargue that, in a world of sovereign equals, such action violates nationalsovereignty, one should point to the recent rhetoric regarding Serbia.If we have embraced the right to trample on sovereignty in the name ofhuman rights, surely we must be prepared to consider similar action toprevent a rogue nation from acquiring a nuclear capability (something thatis detectable).

Of course, the issue of sovereignty goes to the heart of the presumptionof universalism that forms the basis of many recent arms-control agreements.That all sovereign nations are equal is an axiom among international lawyers-- if not among practicing politicians. Nonetheless, this legal conceptshould not be allowed to obscure fundamental realities.

The fiction of equality among sovereign nations underlays the recentcontroversy over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The negotiatorsof that treaty sought to be faithful to the principle of equal treatmentof all nations, but could do so only by ignoring the basic realities. Thus,they presumed that the testing regime should be the same for both weaponstates and non-weapon states. In the quest to constrain weapons development,it is presumed that the testing regime should be the same for the UnitedStates and, for example, Luxembourg. Thus, the testing regime becomes thesame for nations that have no nuclear weapons, for those that have nuclearweapons but are most unlikely to have to envisage circumstances in whichthey must be used, and for states that must maintain the readiness of theirnuclear arsenal. Such a regime might be acceptable to the last categoryof states for an extended period, but cannot be accepted in perpetuity.n1 For a number of reasons, too lengthy to be developed here, complicateddevices like nuclear weapons, composed of thousands of parts, cannot remainuntested for extended periods -- without confidence in the reliabilityof those weapons diminishing. Thus, over time, the total cessation of testingimplies gambling with the effectiveness of the deterrent. Computer modeling-- even good computer modeling -- is no substitute for testing. (For many,the inevitability of the decline of the reliability of the nuclear stockpilewas a bonus and possibly an objective of a test ban).

When presented with the CTBT, all members of the Senate would have tojudge for themselves how much risk over time they were prepared to accept.The majority of the Senate ultimately concluded -- quite properly in myjudgment -- that gambling with the efficacy of the U.S. deterrent was notsomething that they were prepared to ratify, given the unique positionof the United States in the world today. Not knowing how the strategicscene might change over 20, 30, or 40 years, the majority were unwillingto gamble with the reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Perhaps a regime of no testing would have been acceptable if the UnitedStates were a normal country with a normal foreign policy. But the UnitedStates has drifted to, been pushed to, or seized the role of internationalsheriff and arbiter. So long as it accepts the heavy commitments that roleimplies and so long as uncertainties regarding the longer-run strategicscene exist, the United States cannot accept the same testing regime asnations prepared to forego the acquisition of nuclear weapons or nationswhose deterrents are essentially there for show.

The quixotic pursuit of universality, which ignored both the long-runnecessity of testing for serious nuclear weapon states and the distinctrole that the United States plays in the world, has meant that the opportunitywas lost to craft a testing regime that would have imposed some restrainton proliferation without imposing a long-run decline in the reliabilityof crucial nuclear weapons stockpiles.

The conclusion is simple. General arms-control agreements, if they areto be successful, must be grounded in the realities -- including the realityof different roles and requirements for different states. Otherwise, suchagreements will come apart on a Procrustean bed, which essentially deniesthat such differences exist -- and must be dealt with. Thus, the futureof arms control will depend on the willingness of our negotiators to shedobsolescent ideas -- and to find more imaginative ways for limiting thespread of arms in a greatly altered environment.
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