Among the most cost-effective defense dollars America spends are those that pay for reducing Russia's arsenal of leftover cold-war weapons. The Bush administration began a review of these "threat reduction" programs this week, saying it wanted to make them more efficient. But there are troubling signs that Mr. Bush is planning to reconsider his campaign promise to increase overall funding for these valuable programs and cut them instead. That would be a serious mistake.
During the cold war Washington spent trillions of dollars defending against Russian nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Over the past decade, for a little less than $6 billion, America has financed, among other things, the deactivation of more than 5,000 Soviet-era nuclear warheads, conversion of more than 110 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium into commercial reactor fuel and safe storage of plutonium removed from Russian weapons. It has also helped underwrite new jobs for Russian nuclear scientists who might otherwise sell their talents to Iraq, Iran or Libya.
Last year Congress appropriated nearly $900 million for threat reduction programs in Russia and other former Soviet republics. In the presidential campaign, Mr. Bush expressed strong support for these efforts and promised a substantial increase in their funding. Earlier this year a bipartisan task force headed by former Senator Howard Baker called for spending up to $30 billion on them over the next decade. But yesterday The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration's budget makers were instead preparing to impose substantial cuts.
Not all the programs in Russia have been equally effective. Finding commercial projects to keep nuclear scientists employed has been difficult, and efforts to dispose of Russian and American bomb-grade plutonium have been slow in getting started. But one of the programs now in line for big reductions is the highly successful effort to keep track of and secure nuclear material at Russian bomb sites before it is removed and rendered harmless.
The administration should conduct a careful review, identifying those programs that need to be strengthened or have their funding shifted to more effective efforts. But overall spending in this area should be increased, not decreased. It would be a dangerously false economy to slow the dismantling of Russian weapons. return to menu
2. Cutting Nuclear Aid
The Associated Press
April 2, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russian on Friday expressed support for further cooperation with the United States in reducing nuclear proliferation, but said it was up to Washington to decide whether to cut aid programs helping Russia secure its nuclear arsenal.
U.S. President George W. Bush announced Thursday that his administration is reviewing the programs, prompting fears among U.S. lawmakers of cuts. The Russian Foreign Ministry's chief spokesman, Alexander Yakovenko, said Friday that the U.S. reassessment was prompted by concern over the effectiveness of the programs, which he said was up to Washington to evaluate.
"The Russian side is ready for such cooperation, which should form the basis for all further deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons," he said. Bush said it is in U.S. interests to work with Russia to dismantle its nuclear arsenal but that Washington must ensure that the money is being spent properly. The United States spends more than $1 billion a year on the programs. return to menu
3. House Rules Panel Rejects Effort to Boost Nonproliferation Funding
March 31, 2001
(for personal use only)
A move in the House to increase spending on DOE's nuclear nonproliferation programs by $500 million a year for 10 years failed last week, just as a similar move on behalf of the programs became apparent in the Senate.
The House Rules Committee on Tuesday rejected an attempt by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., to add a provision to the FY-02 budget resolution that would have increased funding for the programs rather than cut it, as the California Democrat believes President Bush is prepared to do. A day later, the House passed the $1.9-trillion resolution, which generally follows a blueprint released in February by the administration.
Tauscher, whose district includes Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will again seek more funding for the DOE programs when the House considers authorization and appropriations bills covering them, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Tauscher is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees defense programs at DOE. "For now, we'll wait until the president submits his budget on April 9 and see how much he cuts them," the spokeswoman said.
Tauscher testified before the Rules Committee Tuesday that she wanted Congress to provide as much money for the programs as the department had sought last fall under the Clinton administration. Those activities, including the Material Protection, Control and Accounting Program and the Nuclear Cities Program, are aimed at securing material in Russia that can be used in nuclear weapons and at preventing the export of Russian nuclear expertise to other countries.
"These programs are integral to our national security, since they allow us to cooperate with the Russians in order to dismantle their nuclear weapons, secure loose nuclear material, and help unemployed Russian nuclear scientists find work in non-defense-related industries," Tauscher said.
Tauscher warned recently that the Bush administration might cut the nonproliferation programs by about $100 million next fiscal year (IE/FL, 19 March, 9). They received $874.4 million this year. Other advocates of the programs say they expect the White House to propose a cut of about $74 million.
Tauscher said the programs have had "major, concrete accomplishments." "Since their inception in 1991, more nuclear weapons have been removed from the weapons stockpile of the former Soviet Union than currently reside in the weapons stockpiles of China, France and the United Kingdom combined," she said. "This is a matter of national security, not foreign aid, and it certainly deserves the modest increase I have put before you today," she added.
Meanwhile, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici on Wednesday indicated that the budget resolution he sends to the Senate for consideration this week will include more money for the DOE programs than the administration is planning. "While the resolution will keep President Bush's recommendation to provide a 4% increase in federal spending, Congress may set different priorities for federal investment, including those related to DOE nonproliferation activities," a statement from the New Mexico Republican's office said.
Domenici also noted his support for increasing funding for DOE's nonproliferation programs in a letter to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Domenici endorsed a report that recommends that the United States, Russia and its allies spend $30 billion over 10 years to secure or neutralize nuclear weapons-grade materials in Russia and prevent the export of Russia's nuclear expertise to other nations.
"We have a very simple choice. We can either spend money to reduce the threat or spend more money in the future to defend ourselves," Domenici, R-N.M., wrote. "Inaction will only drive up costs to defend ourselves. I am a strong believer that threat reduction is the first and best approach in this case."
Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, R-Tenn., who along with former Democratic White House counsel Lloyd Cutler led a DOE task force that prepared the report, reiterated at the hearing its findings that the nonproliferation programs are urgent to U.S. national security. "If I was arguing this on the floor of the Senate, for appropriations, I'd say there aren't any issues of national defense more important, in my view, other than the survival of the nation," Baker said.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, a congressional leader on nuclear nonproliferation, said he was "hopeful" that the Bush administration "will be guided by the Baker-Cutler report's conclusion" that the potential for the proliferation of nuclear weapons is "the most urgent unmet threat facing the United States today." "We must respond to this threat, and these programs play a critical role in that response," the Indiana Republican added.
In his testimony, Baker expressed concern that Russia may be discouraging support for the initiatives his report proposes by its trade with Iran in dual-use nuclear technology and missile technology. "Despite the fact that these issues have been raised with Russia at the highest levels of both governments, the problem has not yet been resolved," he said. "The task force views the failure to resolve these issues as very serious and believes the lack of satisfactory resolution will increase the difficulties inherent in continued cooperation with Russia and in carrying out the task force's recommendations."
In a related development, The New York Times reported Thursday that the White House plans to review programs at DOE and other agencies designed to prevent the spread of nuclear and biological weapons. That news was greeted by former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., who said the programs "can be better coordinated and made more effective." "I am optimistic about this review because President Bush expressed his support for threat reduction during the campaign, and showed that he knows that new thinking is required," Nunn, co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, said at a National Press Club luncheon Thursday.
At the same time, Nunn, who combined with Lugar in establishing nuclear nonproliferation programs, said he was "puzzled" over reports that budgets for those activities may be cut. "If true, this would be heading backward," he said. "No one knows how long the present window of opportunity will remain open." return to menu
B. Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI)
1. New York Engineering Software Firm Signs Contract With Computer Center in Russian Closed Nuclear City
March 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, March 30 (AScribe News) -- Analysis & Design Application Company, Ltd. (adapco), a for-profit U.S. corporation in Melville, New York announced the signing today of an $84,000 contract with the Sarov Open Computing Center (SOCC) located in Sarov, a Russian closed nuclear city formerly known as Arzamas-16.
The contract will employ Russian former nuclear weapons scientists - six engineers and one manager - for a period of one year to perform commercial engineering work in computer modeling and software development for adapco. The collaboration is the direct result of a travel grant provided by the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) and the activities of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's Nuclear Cities Initiative Program (NCI).
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's nuclear weapons and research facilities have witnessed drastic funding cutbacks, leading to fears in the West that unemployed or underpaid former Soviet defense researchers would be tempted by offers from rogue nations seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction. The CRDF's programs seek to engage such scientists and engineers in civilian activities.
The NCI Program established the Sarov Open Computing Center in 1999. The Centers serve as a mechanism to allow Western businesses to engage former weapons scientists in computing and modeling complex systems. NCI has established contracts with several U.S. software companies. Successful projects such as this benefit U.S. industry and provide civilian opportunities for former weapons researchers, and represent a significant victory for the CRDF, NCI and other U.S. nonproliferation efforts.
adapco learned of the Sarov Open Computing Center through Argonne National Laboratory, an NCI partner, with whom adapco had collaborated for many years on various projects. Through Argonne, adapco approached the Sarov Open Computing Center by initiating a pilot project for the Sarov scientists to work on.
With initial positive results from the collaborative effort, adapco and the team of Russian scientists applied for and received a grant from CRDF to meet in person and discuss possible further collaboration. The visit led to an $84,000 contract between adapco and the Russian scientists, which was signed on April 1, 2001.
The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union, founded in 1995, is a private, non-profit charitable organization created by the United States Government as an American response to the declining state of science and engineering in the former Soviet Union (FSU). The CRDF seeks to address this issue by fostering opportunities for collaborative projects between FSU and U.S. researchers.
Analysis and Design Application Company, Ltd. (adapco) was founded in 1980 as a mechanical engineering consulting firm to provide very high quality design and analysis support to major mechanical equipment manufacturers. adapco is now a leading provider of engineering software and consulting services to manufacturers of mechanical equipment as well as the process industry worldwide.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's Nuclear Cities Initiative Program (NCI), focuses on downsizing Russia's nuclear weapons complex by diversifying the economies of the 10 closed "nuclear cities" and assisting the transition of nuclear scientists to the commercial sector by introducing a variety of relevant business, training, and community development projects. A Government-to-Government Agreement between the U.S. and the Russian Federation established the program in 1998.
The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies, federal agencies and other organizations to help advance America's scientific leadership. The University of Chicago operates Argonne as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's national laboratory system. return to menu
C. Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom)
1. Undoing Adamov
The Moscow Times
April 2, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Apr 2, 2001 -- (The Moscow Times) President Vladimir Putin's decision to fire Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov is a significant event and an encouraging sign for those who are concerned about fostering an appropriate international climate to ensure the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and dual-use technologies.
Russia has always observed its obligations as an officially recognized nuclear-weapons state and as the successor of the Soviet Union. Moreover, a nonproliferation policy clearly corresponds with Russia's national interests. It avoids the problems that would be caused by unpredictable neighbors armed with weapons of mass destruction and facilitates Russia's efforts to preserve its elite status on the world stage.
Adamov, however, ignored these obvious truths. Although he mouthed platitudes about the "importance" of nonproliferation, in practice he expedited a number of nuclear deals that ran counter to Russia's national interests and its international commitments.
For instance, during Putin's visit to India last October, Adamov lobbied a proposal to supply New Delhi with 58 tons of uranium dioxide for a nuclear-power plant in Tarapur. This deal had only limited commercial appeal, but it undermined Russia's political positions and was a transparent violation of Moscow's obligations as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. All NSG member states except Belarus denounced the plan at the NSG meeting last December, and the Clinton administration declared the Tarapur deal "a serious threat" to the nonproliferation regime. In short, Adamov dealt a serious blow to Moscow's international prestige.
Adamov, however, went further and last December he publicly declared that Moscow might withdraw from the NSG and other international export-control regimes "if current restrictions concerning cooperation in peaceful nuclear energy uses are not modified." Such ultimatums run counter to Russia's official policy with respect to the NSG.
Adamov's proximity to Putin and to certain influential business communities helped him convince the president to include the so-called "initiative on nonproliferation" in his Millennium Summit speech at the United Nations in New York last September. This initiative stated some noble political goals, but in practice, it called for a number of dubious measures. According to Nikolai Ponomaryov-Stepnoi, a leading expert of the Kurchatov Institute, the ideas contained in the technical part of Putin's statement were "unclear to the public, have caused equivocal interpretations and have not been accepted by many experts." He argued that "such innovations have not yet been proved with scientific and technological work and are not indisputable as far as major principles are concerned."
Adamov also launched a large-scale campaign in favor of amendments to existing legislation governing the import of spent nuclear fuel. In principle, such imports do not threaten the nonproliferation regime and could even result in some commercial benefits for Russia. However, it is certain that the $20 billion figure constantly cited by Adamov was a conscious deception of the public and the country's leadership. Although a number of skeptical officials argued that the proposal requires thorough scrutiny in order to avoid undermining Russia's national security, Adamov preferred to ram his initiative through the State Duma regardless of any obstacles. Fortunately, though the Duma passed the bill in its first reading, it wisely postponed voting on the second reading.
Adamov's replacement as nuclear power minister, Alexander Rumyantsev comes from the Kurchatov Institute and immediately faces a number of difficult tasks. Experts highly esteem Rumyantsev's professional skills and the promise he seems to bring to his new post. In order to build on this esteem, Rumyantsev should state unequivocally and immediately that the Nuclear Power Ministry will abandon any attempts to substitute its corporate policy for state policy in the area of nuclear nonproliferation. He must pledge that the ministry's leadership will remain committed to Russia's international nonproliferation obligations, its national legislation and the provisions of the 2000 National Security Concept.
Strict compliance with the nonproliferation regime, however, does not preclude the ministry's commercial activities in the area of nuclear export. On the contrary, it has vast opportunities in this sphere. There is no reason why Russia should not proceed with the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. However, Moscow will have to rethink the fate of some other deals.
We can only hope that the changes within the Nuclear Power Ministry will enable the Foreign Ministry to speak about Russia's commitment to nonproliferation without any reservations or hesitations. In the field of nonproliferation, transparency is of the utmost importance. The logical next step at this point would be to form an arms control and nonproliferation agency directly subordinate to the president that would develop and monitor a coherent, coordinated policy in these areas. Such an agency could also monitor international threat-reduction assistance to Russia and should be headed by a diplomat with an impeccable international reputation.
Such an agency would defend Russia's national interests not least from those within the Nuclear Power Ministry who, like Adamov, confuse their corporate interest with national policy and thereby undermine the president on the international stage. return to menu
D. Plutonium Disposition
1. EU, Some G-7 Nations May Give Russia $2 Billion to Build Conversion Plants
The Wall Street Journal
April 2, 2001
(for personal use only)
The European Union and some governments from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are considering giving Moscow $2 billion (2.28 billion euros) so Russia can build two plants in Siberia that would convert weapons-grade plutonium into civil-grade uranium, according to people familiar with the matter.
Officials from the EU and G-7 countries will meet in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss the proposal, these people said, although it will be up to G-7 heads of state to decide whether the money should be committed to the project.
"It will be a serious drawback to the disarmament process if this doesn't get approved," said a Western official familiar with the talks.
The project stems from a September 2000 memorandum initialed by then-U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. In the memorandum, Russia and the U.S. each agreed to destroy 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium over 25 years.
The U.S. government said it would immobilize 8.5 tons, and convert 25.5 tons into nuclear fuel. Russia agreed to convert all its 34 tons into civil-grade uranium, which can be used as fuel in nuclear power plants.
But the Russians told the Americans at the time that Moscow didn't have factories capable of converting so much plutonium in such a short period of time. They also said the government couldn't afford to build such facilities and wouldn't be willing to borrow money to do so, according to people close to the negotiations.
In response, disarmament agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere began cobbling together a special aid package to finance the conversion plants, to which the Russians would contribute personnel and buildings, according to these people.
So far, these people say, the U.S., the U.K., France and Japan have tentatively pledged a total of $600 million: It would take around $1 billion to make the project fully operational and another $1 billion to operate the plants once they are built.
To help defray the costs of running the plants, the people familiar with the discussions said the Russians might export some of the converted fuel to Europe, where it could be leased to Western companies for use in Europe-based nuclear power stations.
Environmentalists don't like the idea of Russia converting weapons-grade plutonium. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have called on Moscow to put Russian plutonium out of action by storing it in specially made glass cases, arguing that it's risky to burn converted plutonium fuel, which is known as mixed oxide plutonium or MOX fuel, in power plants because it wasn't specifically made for power-plant usage.
Russia's building the conversion plants would do "nothing for disarmament," said Tobias Muenchmeyer, a Greenpeace spokesman in Berlin. "It's a subsidy that only benefits the nuclear industry. We are very concerned about this."
But many nuclear experts have argued that the environmentalists' approach would be dangerous because it would keep the weapons-grade plutonium intact. They say the best way to ensure that the weapons material won't be retrieved and used again is to burn it. return to menu
E. Loose Nukes
1. International agency concerned by Russian traffic in nuclear materials
April 2, 2001
(for personal use only)
St Petersburg, 2 April: The International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] has expressed concern over illegal transit transportation of nuclear and other radioactive materials, which is developing into a global threat, IAEA spokesman William Mikhan told a conference of the Baltic and CIS states which opened in St Petersburg on Monday [2 April]. The conference is being attended by representatives of the European Commission who are in charge of preventing illegal transportation of nuclear materials across state borders. The IAEA spokesman urged to consolidate efforts of the world community to put an end to illegal transportations.
Chief of the Russian State Customs Committee Nikolay Kravchenko told the conference that more than 500 incidents of illegal transportation of nuclear and radioactive materials across the Russian state border were registered by the customs last year. Kravchenko expects the situation to remain unchanged this year as well.
Exodus of nuclear materials from Russia accounts for 20 per cent of all transit nuclear transportations, while 80 per cent of radioactive cargoes are either brought into Russia or transported across its territory in transit, Kravchenko said. China takes more radioactive cargoes into Russia than any other country, he noted. Besides, uranium materials brought into Russia from Kazakhstan include a conspicuous amount not properly handled while transportation, Kravchenko said. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. American NMD will compel Russia to reconsider its attitude towards reducing railroad-mobile ICBM systems
April 2, 2001
(for personal use only)
The deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) system by the United States will compel Russia to reconsider its attitude towards reducing its combat railroad-mobile ICBM systems, declared Major-General Vladimir Belous, a professor with the Academy of Military Sciences, in an ITAR-TASS interview on April 2.
Such a step, in his opinion, will make it possible for Russia to retain its retaliatory nuclear-missile potential in the event of a nuclear-missile strike and the proper level of responsibility when passing important decisions.
The RT-23 ICBM is solid-fueled, three-staged missile with ten MIRVs. It is also fitted out with an NMD-piercing system. Its maximum range is 10,100 kilometers. In accordance with START-II, the RT-23 ICBMs are to be scrapped.
According to ITAR-TASS, 36 railroad-mobile ICBM systems were on patrol duty in 1999 in missile divisions in Eastern Siberia and the European part of Russia. return to menu
G. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Deal
1. USEC Privatization Blasted
The Washington Post
April 2, 2001
(for personal use only)
A U.S. District judge unleashed a withering critique of the privatization process that led to the initial public offering of the previously government-owned USEC Inc.
Judge Gladys Kessler called the $1.9 billion privatization of USEC a model of what not to do when considering various options for privatizing a federal entity." The opinion, issued last month, came in a ruling awarding lawyers' fees and expenses to attorneys for a union that represented nuclear-weapons workers at USEC.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers Union successfully sought transcripts and records of the proceedings that led to the privatization of the company. The stock, sold to the public at $14.25 a share, has since faltered and closed Friday at $8.60. In its three years as a private company, USEC has sought federal bailouts, bought back its stock and ditched a technology that company executives described as the key to its future during the privatization proceedings.
Kessler wrote that the transcripts of the closed board meetings, "especially when viewed in conjunction with the extraordinarily favorable terms of the contracts between USEC and its lawyers and advisors -- reveal the ways in which bias, self-interest and self-dealing can influence the decision-making process, especially when that process is kept entirely secretive." return to menu
H. Statements and Speeches
1. Sen. Sam Nunn: Moving Away from Doomsday and Other Dangers
Speech at the National Press Club
March 29, 2001
(for personal use only)
My greatest privilege as a Senator was to focus on the security interests of our nation and to work closely with our men and women in uniform to strengthen our defenses. Increasingly, in my years as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that meant working to respond to the emerging dangers of the post-Cold War period.
Today, I am pleased to have the chance to share my thoughts with members of the Press Club and guests, as I renew my personal commitment to the cause of threat reduction through my work with the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
Supported by the generosity of Ted Turner, and guided by a distinguished board that Ted and I co-chair, the Nuclear Threat Initiative is a new foundation dedicated to reducing the global threat from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Our job is to increase public awareness, encourage dialogue, catalyze action, and promote new thinking about these dangers in this country and abroad. It is this last point - the need to think anew - that I want to emphasize today.
Ten years ago, just after President Gorbachev was released from house arrest following the failed coup, a U.S. Senator on an official visit to Moscow met with him in his Kremlin office, and asked him directly if he had retained command and control of the Soviet nuclear forces during the coup attempt. President Gorbachev did not answer, and that was answer enough. I was that Senator.
The Soviet empire was coming apart. I was optimistic that this break up would expand freedom and reduce the risk of global war, but I left Moscow in the early fall of 1991 convinced that it would also present a whole new set of dangers. Over the next two months, I formed a partnership with Senator Dick Lugar, Senator Pete Domenici, Senator Carl Levin, Senator John Warner, Senator Jeff Bingaman and others to address these new threats to our security. In the ten years since, much has been done, but the dangers persist and in some cases have increased. Let's take a look at a few events.
In 1994 in Prague, authorities confiscated 2.7 kilograms of extremely potent nuclear bomb-making material.
In 1995, Russian early warning systems initially misinterpreted a peaceful U.S. research rocket launch from Norway, which activated President Yeltsin's nuclear briefcase, and set in motion Russian procedures for a nuclear response.
In the spring of 1995, members of the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo launched a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Before their organization was broken up, they were actively recruiting Russian scientists and also were working to develop biological weapons and to obtain the Ebola virus.
In the spring of 1998, India and Pakistan, two countries that have fought three recent wars, exploded nuclear tests within days of each other. Both nations now have nuclear weapons; neither has sophisticated warning or safety systems, and there is a continuing insurgency along their shared border.
In 1998, an employee at a Russian nuclear weapons laboratory was arrested trying to sell nuclear weapons designs to agents of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Throughout the 1990s, thousands of Russian weapons scientists saw their jobs cut or wages slashed, and thousands responsible for the security of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials went months without pay.
During this period, Iranian intelligence officers began making recruiting trips to Russia, offering biological weapons scientists many times their pay to move to Iran.
In 1999, terrorist Usama Bin Laden, said: "To seek to possess the weapons that could counter those of the infidels is a religious duty."
In our new century, this increased interest in acquiring nuclear weapons is matched by increased access to information. Today anyone with a computer and a modem can find rudimentary instructions for building a nuclear weapon on the internet.
These are known events. The larger danger lies in what we don't know.
As we enter the second decade of the post-Cold War world, let me repeat a statement often made, but too often not heard. The most significant, clear and present danger to the national security of the United States is the threat posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Nothing else comes close. The public perception of the threat is low; the reality of the threat is high. There is a dangerous gap between the threat and our response. To close this gap, we must make a fundamental shift in the way we think about nuclear weapons, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and our national security.
A story by my humorous friend former Senator Alan Simpson helps make the point: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they crawled into their tent and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his friend: Watson, look up and tell me what you see. Watson replied: I see millions and millions of stars. What does that tell you Watson, asked Holmes. Watson pondered a minute and replied -- astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. What does it tell you, Holmes? Holmes was silent for a moment, then spoke. Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent!
Those of us whose thinking was shaped during the Cold War are, like Watson, in danger of missing the obvious. We can become so attached to what we know that we miss what's new. As the whole world has changed, threats have changed. When threats change, our strategy and our tactics must change. It is time to think anew.
Two months ago, a new President took office. One of the first rites of initiation for any new President is to receive a briefing on the nuclear war plan. If you will permit me a moment of poetic license, I would like to suggest what a military briefer could have said in such a briefing to the President:
Our primary mission, Mr. President, is to deter a nuclear attack against the U.S. and our allies. This mission has remained essentially unchanged for the last 50 years.
Our deterrence strategy depends on the unquestioned ability of our nuclear weapons to survive a massive Russian nuclear strike, and still to be able to retaliate with enough force to destroy Russia, literally and absolutely.
To support this strategy, the United States maintains more than 2,000 nuclear weapons on high alert, ready to launch within minutes. So does Russia.
Once launched, we have no capacity to divert missiles or destroy them in flight. Neither does Russia.
Mr. President, Russia can no longer afford to keep most of its submarines at sea or its land-based missiles mobile and invulnerable.
This reduces Russia's confidence that its nuclear weapons can survive a first strike and makes it more likely Russia will launch its weapons not after an attack, but after the mere warning of an attack.
Russia's early warning system has eroded dangerously, and this increases the chance that a warning could be false.
We worry that Russia's command and control of its nuclear weapons will also erode.
This briefing is imaginary, and it would not likely have been given to the President in exactly this form. I believe, however, that the facts are accurate.
As President Reagan's former Undersecretary of Defense Fred Ikle has recently observed, a man from Mars comparing the U.S. nuclear posture today with that at the height of the Cold War would find them essentially indistinguishable.
Today our nuclear posture is based on a strategy designed for a far different era - when the Soviet Union threatened a catastrophic nuclear attack, had the conventional forces to overrun Europe, and championed a communist crusade against the freedoms that define our nation. Today Russia is not promoting a competing economic or political system, it is struggling to make its way in a new global economy.
The old threats we faced during the Cold War -- a Soviet nuclear strike or an invasion of Europe -- were threats made dangerous by Soviet strength. The new threats we face today -- eroded early warning and increased reliance on early launch, and increased reliance on tactical nuclear weapons -- are threats made dangerous by Russia's weakness. And these threats go far beyond deployed nuclear forces. Much of Russia's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and materials are poorly secured; its weapons scientists and security personnel poorly paid. This, too, is a consequence of Russia's economic weakness, and it multiplies the chance that weapons of mass destruction will come into the hands of rogue states or terrorists.
Not only are the threats today different; the means to meet them are different. We addressed the Cold War's threats by confrontation with Moscow, and over the long term, we cannot rule out a possible return to this confrontation. But most of today's greatest threats we can address only in cooperation with Russia. This is the overarching present day reality of our relationship.
This is not to say that we must embrace Russia as a friend or an ally. That will depend on Russia's behavior, and we will certainly continue to have frictions, frustrations, and disagreements. This is to acknowledge, however, that in spite of and because of its economic weakness, Russia will be a major factor, for better or for worse, across most of the spectrum of actual and potential threats we face.
We have a vital national security interest not only in assuring strategic stability between our two countries, we also have a vital national security interest in working with Russia to make sure that weapons of mass destruction do not end up in the hands of those who would not hesitate to use them against America and our allies or against Russia.
To some extent, this is something both countries have recognized. In the past ten years, we worked with Russia to persuade Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to give up the nuclear weapons they inherited from the Soviet Union. This eliminated more nuclear weapons than those contained in the entire nuclear arsenals of China, France, and the United Kingdom combined, and kept these newly independent states from adding their fingers to the nuclear trigger. Our cooperative program has destroyed hundreds of missiles and hardened silos, more than 80 bombers, 18 nuclear submarines and hundreds of submarine launchers, and deactivated thousands of warheads.
We have also helped the Russians secure their nuclear weapons and materials to prevent theft and accidents; helped them convert nuclear weapons facilities to civilian purposes; and helped them employ their weapons scientists in peaceful purposes. There is a long way to go to complete this mission. We have just started to work with Russia to make improvements in joint early warning communications, to reduce the chance of catastrophic error. These are important steps, but we need giant strides.
I am puzzled by recent rumors which indicate that budgets for these essential threat reduction programs may be seriously reduced. If true, this would be heading backward. No one knows how long the present window of opportunity will remain open.
More than 1,000 tons of highly enriched uranium, and at least 150 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, exist in the Russian weapons complex, enough to build at least 60,000 nuclear weapons. Many storage sites are poorly secured. Thousands of weapons scientists are still without a steady paycheck, and terrorist groups and rogue states are trying to exploit the situation.
As a Department of Energy task force, chaired by former Senator Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, reported in January, this represents America's greatest unmet threat. No investment pays a higher dollar-for-dollar dividend in national security than investment in threat reduction. None.
I welcome The President's review of these programs, and I believe that they can be better coordinated and made more effective. I am optimistic about this review, because President Bush expressed support for threat reduction during the campaign, and showed that he knows that new thinking is required. I quote from his remarks at the Reagan Library: "Both Russia and the United States face a changed world. Instead of confronting each other, we confront the legacy of a dead ideological rivalry - thousands of nuclear weapons, which, in the case of Russia, may not be secure. And together we also face an emerging threat - from rogue nations, nuclear theft and accidental launch. All this requires nothing short of a new strategic relationship to protect the peace of the world." I agree, and I trust that the President's final budget and policies will reflect his words of wisdom.
The Bush Administration also is undertaking reviews of the U.S. nuclear posture, missile defenses, and conventional forces. As they take on this challenge, I urge them to be willing to think anew without any undue homage to inherited presumptions.
Our task is formidable, and our approach must be comprehensive. We must address the threats of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and multiple delivery systems, update our approach to deterrence, get an accounting of the numbers and deployments of tactical nuclear weapons, reduce the risk of an accidental launch, cut the risk of a terrorist attack, counter the threat of a rogue nation attack, and limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We will not be successful unless we are able to work with nations whose cooperation is essential for effective defenses against these multiple dangers.
We must recognize that our national security is not enhanced by pursuing arms control treaties at all costs; or by seeking deep reductions at all costs; or by deploying national missile defense at all costs. Each approach is a means to advance our safety, but none can make us secure on its own. The threats are interrelated; our approach must be interrelated.
To borrow a sports metaphor, we must defend against the long bomb, but we also have to guard against the end run. Any good coach will consider whether being too focused on stopping one threat could leave the team more vulnerable to another. The value of each component of our defense must be measured not by its ability to counter one threat, but by its role in our overall strategy of defense against the full range of threats.
As we struggle to think anew, we must be guided by a broader vision. As that famous strategist Yogi Berra observed: "You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going ...'cause you might not get there." In terms of direction, I believe we should seek a world where nations rely on nuclear weapons less, not more. Unfortunately, Russia today is moving in the opposite direction. So are India, Pakistan and perhaps China. We should seek a world where the United States and Russia move beyond a Doomsday posture and no longer threaten each other with nuclear annihilation or nation-ending damage. Until we do this, the U.S. and Russia cannot have what anyone would call a normal relationship. We should seek a world where our strategic posture, both offensive and defensive, does not undermine our ability to cooperate with major powers like Russia and China, and with allies like NATO and Japan, to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We should seek a world where we evaluate our policies, strategies, and programs by their ability to move toward zero the risk that nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction will ever be used anywhere, by anyone, whether by design or accident.
Some will say we will never be at zero risk. I agree, but that should not affect our direction and our purpose. I believe that we must move in this direction, not at the expense of our security, but on behalf of it. Let me be clear, I am not talking about the total elimination of all nuclear weapons, a goal that generates much skepticism and disagreement. I am talking about risk management and risk reduction, an objective on which there can and should be broad common ground. To move in this direction, however, we have to face some difficult but fundamental questions that have been deferred far too long. Let me conclude my remarks by asking a few of them.
If our objective is to move with Russia from a posture of mutual assured destruction toward mutual assured safety, we must ask: Has Russia's weakened economic and security condition, combined with continued U.S. capacity for a rapid, massive strike, increased the risk of a Russian accident or mistake with catastrophic consequences for us and for them? Do we really have strategic stability today, or are we like the frog that doesn't jump out of the pot because the water comes to a boil slowly?
If our objective is to help move Russian and U.S. fingers further from the nuclear trigger, we must ask: Are there changes that the U.S. and Russia can make in how we operate our forces that would give each President more nuclear decision-making time, expanding minutes to hours, then perhaps hours to days? Can we get our best thinkers, including our military experts, together to discuss what can be done to ease the trigger pressure on both sides?
This discussion could lead to force structure changes, deployment changes, alert changes or reductions in the number of weapons, or all of these. Difficult - yes - but these steps in the long run may be more important in reducing the risk of a catastrophe than the absolute number of weapons.
If our objective is to ensure that nuclear weapons can't be launched by accident, then we must ask:
Can we strengthen and build on the early warning system cooperation we have just started with Russia?
Can we assure that the United States and Russia can quickly and accurately identify a nuclear attack from a third party, so that a rogue state or terrorist group could not trigger a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States?
And while we are trying to prevent accidents, why not look seriously at the possibility of both the United States and Russia installing destruct packages on nuclear missiles, so that both of our countries can destroy our own missile launched by accident, before it can destroy a city or start a war. We have these destruct devices on test missiles; why not nuclear missiles?
Can we find a way to increase our security against a limited ballistic missile attack -- a national security goal I have long supported -- without undercutting the international cooperation we depend on to help defend ourselves against the full range of threats from weapons of mass destruction?
If our objective is to ensure that nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and materials don't fall into the hands of rogue nations and terrorists, we must ask: Is this a priority or an afterthought? If it's an afterthought -- after what? What comes before it? If it is a priority, is that reflected in our effort and investment? Are our allies in Asia and Europe doing their share? If not, why not?
If our objective is to find a speedier alternative path to traditional arms control by taking unilateral action:
Can we avoid the problems we now have with Russian tactical nuclear weapons, where we don't know how many they have and where they are?
Can we avoid abandoning the benefits of arms control, such as transparency and verification?
If we take unilateral steps, can we follow with a formal legal agreement that will ensure accountability, predictability and stability?
Can we expand the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, as Senator Lugar has suggested, in order to create incentives for Russia to make reciprocal changes that we can verify?
We must think anew.
Even in the age of quantum physics, there are some Newtonian principles that are still instructive - a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted on by an outside force. This is the law of inertia, and it applies not only to celestial bodies and billiard balls, but also to bureaucracies and nuclear policymakers. They, like all of us, are inclined to continue doing things as they have always done them, unless acted on by an outside force.
First and foremost, the impetus for change must come from the President, but to bring about a fundamental, sustainable shift in nuclear weapons and non-proliferation strategy, the force for change must come also from bipartisan leadership in the Congress, with the support of the American public. That is what it will take for any strategy to survive annual budget reviews, presidential successions, and one Congress after another.
Changing our thinking to chart a new course will not be easy. But who said citizenship would be easy? When Albert Einstein was asked why we have made so many advances in physics, and so few advances in politics, he answered, "That's obvious. Politics is more difficult than physics."
But politics, even though difficult and frustrating, fuels our democratic process, and this democratic process is the best hope we have. I am confident that if we all do more to make sure the American people, and their elected representatives, have the facts and recognize the stakes, our nation will think and act anew. return to menu
2. Sen. Carl Levin: "Revive Non-Proliferation, Safeguard Treaties, Employ Caution on NMD"
March 26, 2001
(for personal use only)
When he took the oath of office as president, George W. Bush became commander in chief of a nation that finds itself at peace and, 10 years after the end of the Cold War, the world's sole remaining superpower.
But our new president and our country face a critical challenge that requires us to achieve both bipartisan policy at home and international cooperation abroad. That challenge is the threat to our security posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Since January, three distinct high-level reports have reached remarkably similar conclusions about the magnitude of this threat and the necessity of a strong American response to it:
* Former Defense Secretary William Cohen released his department's assessment of proliferation, which begins with the following statement: "In virtually every corner of the globe, the United States and its allies face a growing threat from the proliferation and possible use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their delivery systems."
* A bipartisan task force charged with examining U.S. programs to fight proliferation, led by Howard Baker, former Senate majority leader, and former White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler, concluded: "The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapon-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home."
* U.S. Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his report to the president on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), stated: "In my consultations with senators, I have found broad bipartisan support for strengthened U.S. leadership of a comprehensive international response to the dangers posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons."
For more than three decades, a bipartisan consensus on the issue of nonproliferation in our country has allowed successive administrations to forge the strong international relationships that are essential to checking the spread of nuclear weapons. And when it comes to achieving our non-proliferation goals, there is simply no alternative to united action among the nuclear powers.
That's what makes it essential that we not lose sight of those critical goals as we examine two related issues facing the new administration and the Congress: the CTBT and National Missile Defense (NMD).
The report from Shalikashvili has brought about a renewed focus on the CTBT. In his report, the general concludes that the CTBT is an "integral and inseparable part of our non-proliferation strategy," and notes that other nations agreed to extend the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty indefinitely as part of an understanding that the five major nuclear powers would negotiate and pursue entry into force of the CTBT.
The general notes, correctly, that nonproliferation requires the cooperation of many nations, including the nations that already possess nuclear weapons. There already are signs that Shalikashvili's report can help end the impasse over this critical treaty. His recommendation, released in January, for a joint Senate-presidential review of the CTBT at 10-year intervals after ratification, helped convince former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that he could support U.S. ratification of the CTBT, which he previously opposed. The CTBT is one of a number of important measures, along with the continuation of the non-proliferation programs of the Departments of Defense, Energy and State, on which Bush and the new Congress should base a bipartisan approach to fighting proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Perhaps the most challenging issue relating to proliferation facing Bush will be National Missile Defense (NMD). Some have argued that the National Missile Defense Act of 1999 simply requires the president to deploy an NMD system "as soon as technologically possible." In fact, all options remain open.
The act included two equal statements of U.S. policy: one concerning deployment of an NMD system, and the other making clear that the United States should seek continued negotiated reductions of Russian nuclear weapons. Neither policy statement prevails over the other, and the legislation does not indicate what happens if the two policies are in conflict.
U.S. deployment of an NMD system either would require reaching an agreement with Russia to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which Russia has so far opposed doing, or else withdrawing from it, which is allowed by the treaty only if a party deems withdrawal is required as a supreme national interest.
The Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty has permitted the United States and Russia (and the Soviet Union before it) to negotiate substantial reductions in their nuclear arsenals, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties I and II, which will reduce long-range nuclear weapons by two-thirds from the Cold War levels of 1990. Withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, and confronting Russia with an NMD system they fear could ultimately put them at our mercy militarily, could cause a severe and destabilizing reaction from Russia, probably ending Russia's reductions of nuclear weapons and thereby increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Bush also should take into account the likely reaction of China, which sees U.S. deployment of even a limited NMD system as potentially providing the power to threaten that country without fear of retaliation. Without the cooperation of Russia and China, U.S. efforts to combat proliferation could be severely undermined.
Any decision on deployment of an NMD system should be based on whether deployment makes our nation more or less secure. That ultimate test must take into account the possible increase in proliferation dangers. A hasty decision to deploy an NMD system may increase those dangers, make us less secure, and therefore would be the worst of the many options open to the president. A more cautious approach to NMD deployment is essential to preserving the progress we have made in reducing the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals and in fighting proliferation. return to menu
Washington -- Republican Senator Pete Domenici, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told a gathering of nuclear security experts March 26 that "Russia's nuclear stockpile is the most serious national security threat we face today."
He quoted the Bush administration's national security advisor as saying that U.S. security is threatened more by Russia's weakness and incoherence than by its military strength. "This suggests immediate attention to the safety and security of Moscow's nuclear forces and stockpile," he said.
In a speech written for delivery to the Nuclear Security Decision-makers second annual forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the senator also discussed problems facing the U.S. Nuclear stockpile Stewardship Program -- a program that validates the soundness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear tests.
He also emphasized that the new U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) should be made part of "an integrated national approach to our entire nuclear deterrent."
Following are excerpts of Domenici's statement as prepared for delivery:
I will focus my remarks today on the three dominant challenges facing the NNSA: first, the challenge of setting up a strong new NNSA organization; second, the challenge of getting the mission and requirements of the NNSA adequately funded; and third, the challenge of protecting and strengthening the NNSA's most precious asset -- its people.
Within each of these significant challenges exist even greater opportunities.
Let me turn to the first challenge -- getting the NNSA going. At the first Forum last year, I discussed many of the concerns that led me and other Congressional leaders to work towards creation of the NNSA. While the legislative path was reasonably straight forward, the implementation has taken a rather tortured path. Last year you heard some of my frustration as the process to create and staff the NNSA seemed to be taking an eternity.
Despite the problems with the previous administration over the last year, I was delighted to welcome General John Gordon as the first Administrator of the NNSA. (U.S. Energy) Secretary Abraham has assured me of his intent to work very closely with General Gordon and to provide an appropriate degree of autonomy to the NNSA to allow it to function as Congress intended.
The challenges that led Congress to create the NNSA (http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/) in the first place have not all gone away, and General Gordon certainly has not had an opportunity yet, or the appropriate senior officials, to make substantial progress. I must admit to frustration in that we do not yet have a Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs or a Deputy Administrator for Defense Nonproliferation in place. Even General Gordon, with all his credentials, cannot run the organization alone. His success, and the success of the NNSA are dependent upon the ability to attract the best technical managers into this endeavor.
I would like to make one additional point in this area: the NNSA must become part of an integrated national approach to our entire nuclear deterrent, working more closely with the DoD. I concur with the recent report of the Foster Panel that found it essential to define, fund and execute the work needed to restore and exercise integrated design, fabrication, and certification capabilities. The Panel noted, for example, that the NNSA should be working on robust, alternative weapons that provide options to the military for the future.
The challenge of creating a strong NNSA still holds within it an even greater opportunity -- the opportunity to build a new elite agency, one built on the foundations of profound scientific and military accomplishment, and one with a new culture of accountability and performance in maintaining our strategic deterrence, reducing global threats and providing unparalled leadership in science and technology.
The second major challenge before us, and one I have championed over the years, is ensuring that the programs and requirements of the NNSA are adequately funded.
The NNSA is operating this year under a much improved budget thanks to actions in Congress. Stockpile stewardship activities are funded at $5.0 billion, $460 million above the last year. Nuclear non-proliferation within NNSA also was increased. These actions show the importance that Congress attaches to these critical national security areas.
The Bush administration has proposed $5.3 billion for Stockpile Stewardship for fiscal year 2002. However, even with this budget increase several problem areas stand out.
My Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to review the infrastructure problems in the NNSA. At this hearing, senators learned more about how our nuclear weapons facilities have degraded in recent years. It will take billions of dollars to fix the problems and modernize for the future.
For example, -- The average age of the facilities where we do nuclear weapons work is over 40 years.
-- Maintenance funding has been well below industry standards. An immediate maintenance backlog of approximately $800 million exists today.
-- Some workers at the Y-12 plant in Tennessee have to wear hard hats, not because the work is inherently dangerous, but because chunks of concrete are falling off the ceiling.
-- The head of the Pantex Plant testified that "roof leaks in the production areas now number in the hundreds and will soon be in the thousands. Weapons must be covered with plastic bags to protect them when it rains."
This situation is totally unacceptable. The infrastructure crisis is far too great to put it off for another year. The facilities are too old, far too expensive to maintain, and pose serious risks to the health and safety of our workers and to the environment.
The outcome of my hearing on infrastructure confirmed my view that we need to spend an additional $500 million annually for more than the next decade to rebuild the weapons complex for the future. Although, I expect to see no funds requested for these activities in the President's initial budget submission, I will continue to press both the Congress and the administration for additional money to begin the rebuilding.
In the non-proliferation arena, Congress has provided strong support for these programs over the last several years, and this support is consistent with the strong endorsement provided by the recent Baker-Cutler report which noted that:
Russia's nuclear stockpile is the most serious national security threat we face today.
The Report also complimented NNSA's current achievements in non-proliferation programs and called for increased funding of these efforts.
These non-proliferation programs seemed initially to have strong support from the Bush administration. For example, the new National Security Advisor recently noted that:
American security is threatened less by Russia's strength than by its weakness and incoherence. This suggests immediate attention to the safety and security of Moscow's nuclear forces and stockpile.
I remain hopeful that the President's future budget submissions will fully support this policy.
Within the challenge of ensuring adequate funding for the programs of the NNSA, the leadership within the weapons complex must take the opportunity to find a new and better way to get its work done. No matter what the budget environment, the NNSA must have results.
The third and final challenge before the NNSA is the challenge of protecting our most precious asset -- our people.
For many of our scientists and technicians, the last few years have been demoralizing. Working conditions have deteriorated. Security problems have led some to question the scientist's patriotism. Many have felt over-polygraphed and under appreciated.
I worked hard last year in Congress to help with these morale issues. For example, I worked to increase LDRD funding to the historic six percent level, and provided a substantial increase in travel funding.
The challenge of recruiting and retaining scientists and technicians, as well as top flight federal personnel for the NNSA is serious, and we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us. But the opportunities are great. NNSA has an exciting mission, and despite its current problems, will continue to offer work on some of the most challenging scientific endeavors in the world. return to menu