1. Cautious Invitations Should Be Treated Cautiously Continued debate on prospects for Russia joining NATO
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
The debate on the subject of Russia joining NATO has flared up again following the German Chancellor's statement that he would welcome Moscow's accession to the North Atlantic Alliance. Gerhard Schroeder said in an interview in Stern magazine "the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council can't be the last word in the relationship between NATO and Russia. Thinking in long-term historical dimensions, Russia's NATO membership can't be ruled out," the Chancellor said.
Schroeder's statement is the latest in a series of statements by Western leaders who have spoken about the possibility of Russia being invited to the military-political bloc even if only theoretically. The bloc was created for the express purpose of containing Russia although this country had a different name and was within somewhat different borders at the time. But that really makes no difference. However you look at it, NATO is still a cold War relic. It was founded to offset "the Soviet threat." An organization created with the aim of rolling the Soviet back is still in existence although the threat has disappeared and so has the Warsaw Pact and even the Soviet Union is no more.
NATO leaders have been dropping thick hints that they might include Moscow in their club. On certain conditions, needless to say, but so far nothing is known about them. As a matter of fact, even those who make statements of this sort are not aware of them. While NATO is apparently trying to create the impression that its treatment of Russia is one of goodwill, the West is keeping Russia at a distance, and a considerable distance too.
George W. Bush became the first Western leader to hold out a serious prospect of Russia acquiring membership of NATO but he spoke in very cautious and carefully selected phrases without saying outright that Moscow might be incorporated into the alliance.
Bush was speaking at a Ljubljana press conference after a meeting with Vladimir Putin. Significantly the Russian president recalled what he said in an interview with a Western journalist in the spring of 2000. When the journalist asked him whether Russia could ever join NATO, Putin said, "Why not?" No less, no more. He did not ask for membership, nor did he even attempt to hint that Moscow might be interested.
Nevertheless, reaction was not long in coming. The then State Secretary Madeleine Albright hastened to say, albeit not in public, that NATO was not looking forward to Russia joining it. It is noteworthy that nobody had expected her to give a reply.
While in Ljubljana Putin also recalled another historical fact: a note issued by the Soviet government in 1954, which indicated that the Soviet Union might want to join NATO. The reply from Brussels then differed little from what Albright said on the subject: NATO leaders said they were flatly opposed to the Soviet Union joining NATO.
Interestingly, the objections that were put forward as an excuse for denying membership to the Soviet Union in 1954 have long since sunk into the Lethe. At the time Moscow was reproached for its human rights record and its military presence in Austria. Although those factors have long since ceased to exist, for some reason Western countries are still reluctant to share a military-political alliance with Russia.
Even Bush's overly guarded statement was in effect disavowed by State Secretary Colin Powell only a couple of days after the end of the Ljubljana summit when he said in a televised interview that Bush was certainly not talking about the prospect of Russian membership of NATO.
Now the Bundeskanzler has spoken on the same subject. He may have been guided by more sincere motives but that makes no difference in substance. The statement itself is probably the first and direct statement of its kind. In a way it is an emblematic event. The question, however, is what will come after this signal.
Russia's short-term and possibly long-term position on its membership of the North-Atlantic Alliance may depend on the answer to that question. It can only say "yes" or "no" if it knows the real intentions of its partners or at least what proposals they have in mind.
Nothing of the kind is in evidence so far. What we see is transparent hints or at best political declarations. But the real fact is that Western politicians take a negative view of the idea of Russian membership of NATO. On many occasions in the past they sought to explain in detail why a merger of the Russian Federation and the North-Atlantic alliance - two military and political forces - was impossible. True, that was relatively a long time ago but one is more inclined to believe something that was said a long time ago but clearly than more recent statements couched in semi-hints.
Javier Solana, the man who led NATO at the height of sharp debates over NATO expansion and events in Yugoslavia, has repeatedly albeit privately insisted that Russia cannot join NATO under any circumstances, each time supporting his tenet with substantive arguments.
One of those arguments was the following: NATO was not founded with a view to incorporating Russia into it in the first place. Another popular argument shared by the Secretary General's subordinates was that Russia was too vast a country to be incorporated into anything, and for that reason if it joined NATO, this would undermine the organization from within.
That premise needs to be carefully considered, especially at a time when the West does not fully trust Russia.
As for Schroeder's statement, it largely fits into the context of Putin's "Why not?" It is noteworthy, however, that good manners should prompt the host to be more explicit in his invitation, especially considering that the formula used by Schroeder is binding on no one (incidentally, he quoted U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice) and considering that the statement might reflect quite specific interests of a number of NATO members, interests which are not necessarily linked to Russian membership of the alliance.
After all, Moscow could be given to understand that it is welcome in the North-Atlantic bloc and edged toward making an application for membership, thereby depriving it of an argument against the bid of Baltic countries to enter NATO - if you have nothing against your own membership, NATO might argue, why are opposed to others joining the alliance? After that NATO might accept all applications - except Russia's.
And so, any proposals, or to be more exact, any propositions and suggestions of the kind made by Schroeder, Bush and Rice, should be treated with caution. Moscow needs to wait and see what exactly NATO capitals mean. return to menu
2. Russia Does Not Aim to Join NATO Yet
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- Russia wants to promote cooperation with NATO, but has no intention of joining it, Russian diplomatic sources told Interfax on Thursday.
The speculations of highly placed Western statesmen on the possibility of Russia acceding to NATO are theoretical exercises, they said. "At the moment, only cooperation on the basis of the Founding Act signed by the two sided is possible," the sources said. Asked whether Russia could in principle ever join NATO, the sources replied that the Soviet Union announced back in 1954 that it was prepared to join NATO.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday that today's Russian-NATO Cooperation Council cannot be the last word in the alliance's relations with Moscow. No matter what people think or say, in the long term, Russian membership in NATO cannot be ruled out, he said in an interview with Stern magazine.
Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. National Security Adviser, in recent remarks also did not rule out the possibility that Russia may one day become a NATO member nation. return to menu
B. U.S. - Russia Relations
1. U.S., Russia End Round of Talks on Missiles, Prepare for Another
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
U.S. and Russian defense officials yesterday wrapped up two full days of talks at the Pentagon on ballistic missile defenses and possible cuts in both nations' nuclear arsenals, setting the stage for consultations next week in Moscow between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.
One senior defense official described the talks as "an exchange of information, more than an exchange of views." The official, who asked not to be named, said delegations of about 10 members apiece discussed "offensive and defensive systems and the broader framework for cooperation that President Bush and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin have envisioned."
The U.S. delegation was led by Douglas J. Feith, a lawyer recently confirmed as undersecretary of defense for policy. Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, first deputy chief of Russia's general staff, led the other delegation.
Bush and Putin announced last month in Genoa, Italy, that they had agreed to link discussions on ballistic missile defenses with large cuts in the massive arsenals of offensive nuclear warheads that both countries have maintained since the end of the Cold War. Meeting on the last day of a summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations, the two leaders issued a statement calling for "intensive consultations on the interrelated subjects of offensive and defensive systems."
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice met with Putin and other top Russian officials four days later in Moscow and laid out a schedule for continuing talks. They included this week's meetings at the Pentagon and Rumsfeld's trip next week to Moscow.
The discussions in both capitals are designed to set the stage for talks between Bush and Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Shanghai in October, followed by a meeting in November at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex.
Rumsfeld has said the Bush administration has no immediate intention of violating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in pursuing its ambitious missile defense plan, expressing a hope that a new security framework can be negotiated in talks with the Russians. The treaty prohibits the construction of national missile defenses.
Putin has said Russia remains deeply committed to maintaining the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone in the nations' security and arms control relationship.
Putin has challenged the Bush administration to engage in arms control talks aimed at reducing each side's nuclear arsenal to 1,500 warheads. U.S. officials have yet to indicate how deeply they are willing to cut the U.S. nuclear force, which numbers about 6,500 warheads. return to menu
2. United States, Russia End 'Positive' Security Talks
August 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- U.S. and Russian defense teams completed on Wednesday two days of detailed and "very positive'' talks on U.S. missile defense plans and bilateral security cooperation, a senior Pentagon official said.
The official, who asked not to be identified, spoke with Reuters about the meetings ahead of a visit to Moscow by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for talks next week with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov.
"The atmosphere has been very good and very positive,'' the official said, adding the United States had provided briefings on the Bush administration's controversial anti-missile plans to a visiting 10-member team headed by Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, first deputy chief of the Russian military staff.
"They (the Russians) are clearly committed to making this work,'' the Pentagon official said, commenting on an agreement by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin to press forward toward a new security framework between Moscow and Washington.
Russia has bitterly opposed plans by the United States to develop a limited missile defense against potential attack from ''rogue states'' such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
But Moscow opened the door to a possible shift in that stand when Bush and Putin agreed last month in Genoa, Italy, to link U.S. missile defense with large cuts that the Kremlin wants in both nations' massive nuclear arsenals.
The U.S. team, headed by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, held more than 16 hours of talks with the Russian delegation to answer Moscow's questions about the anti-missile initiative and discuss offensive and defensive weapons and increased military-to-military ties.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Pentagon's ballistic missile defense effort, briefed Baluyevsky's team on Tuesday, the Pentagon official told Reuters.
That briefing included progress on tests of a "hit-to-kill'' projectile under development to be fired from the ground and collide with approaching missile warheads in space as well as an airborne laser weapon being built by the Air Force to burn up ballistic missiles as they are fired from their launch pad.
The United States is planning to spend $8.2 billion on missile defense development and testing in the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, Kadish said in his briefing.
Last month, a missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was struck 140 miles above the central Pacific by an interceptor fire from Kwajalein Atoll, 4,800 miles away. It was the second successful test of Bush's missile defense system out of four that have been conducted.
The Russians were shown brief film clips of a Patriot PAC-3 missile hitting another missile in successful test action. The PAC-3 is an advanced version of U.S. missiles used against Iraqi Scud battlefield-range missiles in the 1991 Gulf War.
Russia has charged that building an anti-missile system, prohibited by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, could shatter cooperation on other agreements such as nuclear arms cuts.
Moscow sees the ABM treaty as the keystone of strategic stability and says its abrogation by Washington could shatter 30 other arms control accords built around the pact. To date, Russia has refused, at least publicly, to contemplate rewriting or abandoning the accord.
But Putin's agreement to link talks on missile defense to cuts in nuclear stockpiles has fueled speculation Russia is now ready to accept a U.S. missile shield in return for a mutual cut of nuclear arsenals to 1,500 warheads.
Under the planned START-2 strategic arms reduction treaty, the two sides would go down to about 3,500 warheads each. But Moscow cannot afford to maintain such an arsenal and the Pentagon is currently assessing whether it is prepared to go lower. return to menu
3. Rumsfeld Going to Moscow August 11 to Discuss Missile Defense Will meet with Russian Defense Minister Ivanov
Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
U.S. Department of State Washington File
August 7, 2001
(for personal use only)
Washington -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will leave for Moscow August 11 to conduct talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov on the proposed U.S. missile defense system and its impact on U.S.-Russian strategic relations, a Pentagon spokesman says.
Navy Rear Admiral Craig Quigley said August 7 that talks currently being held in Washington are a precursor to planned talks between Rumsfeld and Ivanov August 13-14 in Moscow. "That itself is a precursor to follow-on talks [between] President Bush and [Russian] President Putin later on in the summer," he said.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was in Moscow several weeks ago for missile defense talks.
Quigley said the current meetings between U.S. and Russian defense officials in Washington began August 7 and will conclude August 8.
"It is what we envision as the first of many such talks that would describe a totally different way of relationship between the United States and Russia," he said. "And not one based on outdated Cold War thinking, but one that reflects a very different relationship that we can and we hope we should have with Russia in the years ahead."
These talks are designed to offer the Russians more details about a U.S. planned missile defense, its impact on both nations' strategic nuclear arsenals and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Quigley said he would not discuss what details are being discussed in the U.S.-Russian missile talks.
Instead he characterized the talks as the United States trying to "share information with the Russian delegation about some of our thinking on missile defense and missile offense, for that matter," he said. "It is a different way of looking at deterrence."
Colonel General Yuri Baluyevsky heads the 10-member Russian delegation, and the nine-member U.S. delegation is led by Douglas Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, Quigley said.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov) return to menu
C. U.S. Nuclear Forces
1. Upgraded Missiles Found Less Accurate The Minuteman IIIs, which carry nuclear warheads, have a shorter range too
Los Angeles Times
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
A $4.5-billion Air Force program to upgrade aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles has come under fire following tests showing the refurbished missiles are less accurate and have a shorter range than the ones they are replacing, according to interviews and internal Pentagon documents.
The test results come as the Bush administration is proposing to disarm all Peacekeeper MX ICBMs, which would leave the 1960s-vintage Minuteman III as the mainstay of the nation's land-based nuclear arsenal.
Hoping to extend the life of the Minuteman, the Pentagon last year quietly began installing new guidance and propulsion systems on 500 missiles currently housed in hardened silos in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. But according to internal assessments obtained by The Times, the upgraded models either had "miss distances" that were "considerably larger" than their predecessors or had "reduction in range" during several tests last year.
The assessments concluded the tests "did not decisively demonstrate that the accuracy key performance parameters had been achieved."
Defense analysts said the problems are not severe enough to jeopardize the missile's overall effectiveness. But it could mean added costs for taxpayers, as the Pentagon reports suggest the shortcomings stemmed from the Air Force's decision to try to upgrade the missiles on the cheap, without a full-bore overhaul.
Air Force officials initially chalked up the problems to development jitters that could be corrected, but two follow-up tests in the last six months raised alarms within the Pentagon, according to one source familiar with the program. The most recent test in June showed once again that an upgraded missile was not as accurate.
"The Air Force now agrees there is a problem," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because some of the information is classified.
The test assessments were written by the Pentagon's Office for Test and Evaluation, which declined to comment on the results, saying the documents were classified.
The Air Force, which is running the program, also declined interviews but issued a statement Wednesday downplaying the test assessments. It said two test flights were conducted for the new propulsion system, one of which was prematurely terminated during flight after a booster failed to separate.
The separation problem was unrelated to the upgrade program, the statement said, adding that all test objectives for the new propulsion system "were successfully met in the two test flights."
The Air Force also said it completed six flight tests of missiles with the new guidance system.
"Test results to date indicate a small accuracy bias that does not affect the overall weapon system effectiveness," the statement said. "A software update is planned over the next year to correct the bias."
The costs of that software upgrade and the actual performance record of the upgraded missiles were not addressed in the statement. It also was not clear by how much the refurbished missiles missed their mark. The current Minuteman can hit a target within a 360-foot radius.
A spokeswoman for TRW Inc., the main contractor for the upgrade, also declined to comment about the tests, saying they were classified. She did say that "we're in the early stages of a flight test program" and described the problems as "routine."
"We're extremely confident that if you ask the Air Force, this program has their full support," said spokeswoman Janis Lamar.
But the source familiar with the program said the problems are more severe, and Air Force officials have begun reviewing other options that could be costly, including a more comprehensive upgrade or scrapping the upgrades altogether.
"This has happened enough times now that the Air Force is agreeing it needs to do something," the source said.
The $4.5-billion program was designed to make the 30-year-old Minuteman functional until 2020. The Pentagon already has spent $600 million upgrading computers in the control room where missile operators launch the missiles. Upgrading the propulsion system, which entails replacing the solid propellant in the rocket, is expected to cost $2.6 billion, while modernizing the guidance system is slated to cost $1.9 billion. About three dozen missiles have been upgraded so far under a program that is scheduled to last until 2008.
Defense analysts also said problems with the upgrades could hinder Bush's plan to dismantle the Peacekeeper MX ICBM program, which the president is seeking in hopes of appeasing Russia's concerns about his push to build a more robust national missile defense system.
"With the MX missiles being retired, the reliability and accuracy of the Minuteman will be all the more important," said Philip E. Coyle, a senior advisor for the Center for Defense Information, a Washington-based think tank, and a former Pentagon chief for test and evaluation.
According to sources and Pentagon documents, the upgrades appear to have been doomed from the beginning.
Citing costs, the Air Force insisted on retaining the Minuteman's old inertial measurement unit, the brains of the guidance system developed in the 1960s, while refurbishing only the electronics around it, such as the computer, signal converters and power units.
In replacing the propulsion system, the Air Force was confronted with having to use materials that are environmentally acceptable, while disregarding those that now are prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Pentagon report said "the requirement to use environmentally acceptable materials has increased Propulsion Replacement Program stage weights and slightly reduced the total propellant volume. These factors indicate a reduced overall range performance."
A Minuteman III has a range of about 6,000 miles, according to the Federation of American Scientists. It is unclear, however, how much of its range was diminished, because the information is classified.
Defense analysts, who were told of the test results Wednesday, said they were puzzled by the accuracy problems, because the requirements weren't that onerous. In fact, the Pentagon just wanted the upgraded Minuteman to have the same capabilities as its older model.
"How they would allow it to go uncorrected, I'm at a loss to understand," said John Pike, a defense policy analyst for GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va.-based think tank. "It's particularly puzzling, since Minuteman III has been around so long and what they're trying to do doesn't involve path-breaking technology."
Moreover, the companies making the upgrades also helped develop the more modern guidance system on the Peacekeeper MX, a long-range missile capable of carrying 10 warheads in its nose. "With the fact that [the Minuteman] has been continuously modernized and maintained and overhauled, it certainly led me to believe that the latest upgrade was a low-risk undertaking and not the sort of thing that would have a shortfall in performance," Pike said.
The Minuteman and Peacekeeper missiles represent the land-based leg of a nuclear triad that includes the Air Force's B-52 and B-2 bombers and the Navy's Trident nuclear submarines. Bush has proposed eliminating all 50 Peacekeeper missiles.
How the test shortfalls will play out politically is unclear, because the U.S. has been looking to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Cold War tensions.
Under a 1994 U.S.-Russian pact, the two nations no longer aim their long-range nuclear missiles at each other. The missiles are set on a trajectory that ends in the ocean, although pre-programmed wartime targets are stored in the missile's computer and can be switched on within 10 seconds.
Two Air Force officers sealed in a fortified capsule 100 feet below ground operate the control room where, with the turn of their keys in unison, they can start the sequence to launch a Minuteman III missile. The missiles each hold three nuclear warheads capable of wiping out several major cities. return to menu
D. Plutonium Disposition
1. NCI Releases DOE Plutonium Disposal Cost Study Withheld from Congress Dramatic Costs Increases Point to Demise of Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program
Nuclear Control Institute
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
Washington, DC -- The Nuclear Control Institute today released a Department of Energy (DOE) report being withheld from Congress on the escalating cost estimates for the disposition of surplus weapons plutonium. DOE continues to withhold the report from Congress despite a legal requirement to provide it by February 15, 2001 to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The report shows that the estimated cost for disposition of plutonium as nuclear fuel has increased dramatically, thus calling into question the viability of this approach.
The draft report, required in the Fiscal Year 2001 Appropriations Act, reveals that the estimated cost of U.S. plutonium disposition has risen to $6.6 billion, a 50% increase over 1999 estimates. The estimated cost of disposition of plutonium as fuel (mixed oxide, or MOX) in commercial nuclear reactors has risen about 50% since 1999 to about $3 billion, while disposition via immobilization of plutonium in high-level nuclear waste has stayed flat since 1999 at about $1.5 billion. Immobilization and MOX are the components of DOE's "dual track" plutonium disposition program, a policy to dispose of 50 tons of surplus weapons plutonium.
"We find it contrary to the will of Congress and harmful to the discussion over the fate of surplus plutonium that DOE has withheld release of this report which was required by law," said Tom Clements, Executive Director of the Nuclear Control Institute, a non-profit non-proliferation research and advocacy center. The report was withheld even while funding levels for the program for Fiscal Year 2002 were being determined in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. "The report confirms that the plutonium disposition program faces great cost increases, with the MOX program being a main driver in those increases. These startling cost increases call into question the political and economic viability of the MOX program."
The report, prepared by the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Fissile Material Disposition, is entitled Report to Congress on the Projected Life-Cycle Costs of the U.S. and Russian Fissile Material Disposition Programs. The document, labeled "Distribution Draft, Do not cite or quote," is being released by NCI in order to ensure that Congress has full access to it and to better inform the discussion about a program which is now encountering greater skepticism. The report can be found on the NCI web site at http://www.nci.org/new/pucost.pdf. The report was obtained from documents submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the MOX consortium Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS) in current proceedings on the construction authorization for the MOX plant.
The report anticipates further cost increases, stating that "a large number of uncertainties remain" concerning the cost of the plutonium disposition program and that "regulatory requirements and licensing issues also will add substantial uncertainty to the successful completion of the program." The report indicates that immobilization would be the least costly route for plutonium disposition.
In an attempt to reduce costs and make MOX look more attractive, DOE quietly cancelled the immobilization research and development program in March without informing Congress. Though DOE claims that the immobilization program has merely been "suspended," most personnel at various labs have now left the program and key equipment at the Plutonium Ceramification Test Facility (PCTF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is being dismantled this week. Ceramic pucks containing plutonium, the form slated to be immobilized in existing high-level waste at DOE's Savannah River Site, were scheduled to be produced this summer at LLNL as part of a demonstration of the maturity of the immobilization technology.
The National Security Council recently completed a staff-level review of the plutonium disposition program which cast doubt over the viability of the entire disposition program. The NSC reportedly expressed concern about the MOX program, causing increased Congressional scrutiny of the program.
"It's no mystery why DOE wouldn't want Congress to see this report as it points to the conclusion that immobilization is cheaper than MOX," said Clements. "Instead of abandoning this promising technology at a critical stage DOE should reverse course and give immobilization its full support." return to menu
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