1. Opinion: There Is No Strategic Offence - Strategic Defense Problem
Valery E. Yarynich
The Center for Arms Control: STAR
November 25, 2001
(for personal use only)
Not much time has passed since May of 2002, when President Bush and President Putin signed a framework agreement on the long-term perspective of reducing strategic nuclear weapons in the two countries. Evaluations of Moscow's surprisingly calm official reaction to the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 varied within Russia and abroad. Along with support for, and rational argumentation of President Putin's decision, there is still criticism -- from doubts to direct or veiled accusations of political and militaryategic erring or the infringement of Russia's national interests.
An analysis of publications on the topic shows that often the evaluations and conclusions are developed only in the political plan. And in cases where militaryategic arguments are used for supporting political conclusions, these arguments are of a conjectural nature. This is not surprising, since, on either side of the Atlantic, the contents of plans for global warfare and calculations of adequate nuclear potentials have been kept in utmost secrecy until the present time. Military strategies seek to maintain the right to have a monopoly over answering the question: "What does a nation need to securely protect its interests?" Of course, it is difficult to fully trust deductions and recommendations made in the open press under these conditions, and to use them for the formation of a position toward the policy of the top leadership on a question as critical as the threat of nuclear war. And yet it would be nice to have this opportunity.
It is pointless to hope for a revolution in the attitude towards the secrecy of nuclear war plans and a sudden decision of the governments to open the calculations of adequate nuclear potentials kept in the Pentagon and the General Staff. But, it looks as if this is not necessary. It seems that it could be possible to use simple logic to determine whether Bush and Putin are right in their coordinated decision, or whether one or both of them have made a serious mistake. In general, many simple people have an intuitive sense that they are right and are very calm about their decision and the developments in this sphere. Yet we are not talking about this majority of people with common sense, but about those who don't tire of yelling "help!" and obstructing further movement in the right direction.
Because this really is the correct joint political decision under present conditions, a decision that does not contradict the national security interests of Russia, the US, or anyone else. Let's try to prove this. At the same time we will leave aside the current political calculations as well as the existing economic "basis" of Russia's decision: that, supposedly, it would like to maintain a threatening nuclear arsenal, but cannot. Let's take only the purely militaryategic aspect of the security problem, which should be the primary criterion for the accuracy of political decisions.
President Putin went against the standard official calculations of the military and ignored its fears regarding a future National Missile Defense (NMD) system and its influence on the effectiveness of Russian nuclear retaliation. It is not known for certain whether this was his personal decision, based on common sense, or he listened to the arguments of those experts who managed to escape the habitual framework of evaluating the sufficiency of nuclear deterrence that was established over the years of the Cold War.
In Russian and foreign open sources, the scheme for such traditional calculations is occasionally presented. It is brilliant in its simplicity: Let's say Russia has 5,000 nuclear warheads (blocks) in combat alert. After an initial powerful US attack (not necessarily nuclear) only 200 will remain (also hypothetically). Let's say the US has an NMD with 90% effectiveness. Then, "calculations show" that 20 blocks from the Russian retaliatory attack will reach their targets on US territory. If this result is not considered adequate for deterring the US, then Russia's security cannot be guaranteed. Wonderful!
The numbers used in this example are conditional, and they are not important. The important thing is that this method itself is incorrect: one cannot use fixed (averaged) evaluations of the extent of the attacks (the first attack of the aggressor as well as the retaliation) and the effectiveness of the NMD system. All of these processes work on chance, and in the multiple modeling of every concrete scenario of the war, one gets a large range of various results of retaliation. The correct method is to evaluate all of the results instead of using only the most likely (the most frequent) outcomes for the conflict.
For example, the right approach to analyzing results of the modeling can present us with the following scenario. In 1000 cases played out by this scenario, there would be 970 "weak" retaliations with no more than 5-6 blocks. But in 30 cases, the retaliation would be no less than 200 blocks. Is this range of possible retaliation results sufficient for keeping the Americans from attacking first?
It would be best, of course, to ask the Americans themselves. Maybe one day we will reach that level of partnership and cooperate in creating models for ensuring the safety of mutual deterrence. But in the meanwhile we can take a look from the Russian point of view. Apparently, even a unilateral evaluation of the aforementioned results should be rational, and it seems that 200 blocks with a probability of 0.03 are a sufficient factor of deterrence for a "potential aggressor." At the same time, 5-6 blocks with a probability of 0.97 are neither a gift, nor a cause for hesitating in making a decision "to attack first or not?" A careful reader might ask: what does probability have to do with anything? A nuclear war (God forbid!) can only happen once!
As the saying is, thanks for good question. This is the essence of the right approach. With a single "real case" there can be any retaliation. Including one that is unacceptable in all aspects. The awareness of the existence of such a catastrophe is the real factor of deterrence -- even with the small probability of this outcome.
Of course, one can't say that military analysts have not or do not use the probability approach in evaluating nuclear deterrence. They have been and are doing so, and statistical modeling is no news to them. But for some reason they do not take into account the "least likely but most horrible" possibilities of retaliation. These are rejected as extraneous and uncharacteristic, as is the practice in regular multiple modeling. But here we are talking about a phenomenon as unique as nuclear war, even if a hypothetical one. And the method of analyzing possible outcomes must be unique as well.
It's possible that the given correct method is already being used for official evaluations. In that case, why not speak openly about it -- there is nothing secret in the method itself. And the benefit from such reciprocated information is immeasurable. If the Russians know that the Americans are using the same approach, that they are thinking the same way, then they should stop being afraid of the impending US NMD, no matter how effective it would be. And at the same time, they should calmly continue decreasing their nuclear arsenals within the framework proscribed by the gentlemen's agreement of May of 2002.
Apparently Vladimir Putin understood this when he signed the aforementioned Russian-American agreement. And it's possible that he and George Bush discussed their opinions of this simple truth at the Texas ranch.
The reflections on the nature of mutual nuclear deterrence can be used by the American side as a foundation for the argument that Russia has nothing to fear from the impending US NMD. China as well. It's possible that the exchange of opinions on the given approach between official experts of the nuclear nations is underway, but there is no open information on such contacts.
When looking through the given prism at the American position on the development of a National Missile Defense system, the question arises: how is the situation with the assurance of the protection of US territory from one-time launches of missiles from rogue states? Most of the media currently uses the following formula: The US NMD cannot stand up to a nuclear attack of adequate scale (read: Russia); but it will be able to protect the nation from one-time launches.
Neither statement is true.
It is clear from what was said above that the correct forecast for the NMD of any level is: "anything can happen." In other words, it can be even that no single Russian nuclear block will reach US territory in a retaliation attack -- i.e., the NMD will work with 100% effectiveness. However, most likely "some" will make it. Nor is everything so certain concerning missiles from the rogue states. One cannot give a 100% guarantee that one or two nuclear (or biological or chemical) blocks will not fall on some American city. Of course, the more powerful the NMD, the less is the probability of this -- down to insignificant. And yet this probability remains, and this condition can give international terrorists a cause for blackmail. The only way to avoid this, is to get rid of the object of the blackmail -- the missiles.
But then -- why the NMD? The question seems silly, and it seems that the circle has closed.
It appears that there is an explanation. One can't forbid a nation to try to protect itself. One can't deprive a concrete person from the hope that -- at the critical moment -- the NMD will save his house from a treacherous attack or from an accidentally launched missile. And if the Americans are finding money for the creation of this hope -- even if it's not 100% certain -- well, that's their business. At the same time the US will make a new technological leap forward, drawing further ahead of other countries. The US has a right to do that as well.
Any speculation about Strategic Offensive Weapons (SOW) and NMD can be refuted by a simple argument. One cannot be condemned for trying to protect oneself from an attack from without -- no one is arguing about the Ballistic Missile Defense system around Moscow. But never will a rational leader of a great nation think about attacking a nuclear country first, from underneath the NMD (BMD) shield -- because no system can guarantee absolute impunity.
The inference from the above is simple and obvious: It's time for Russian and American experts to sit down at one computer and jointly prove the absence of a SOW - NMD problem. It's possible to do this without imposing on each other's "holiest of holies," but by simply relying on conventional initial data.
2. Russian TV Shows Missile-Carrying Trains Saved By Putin (excperted)
Ren TV, Moscow, in Russian
0955 gmt November 17, 2002
(for personal use only)
Presenter: There are disagreements among the military as to which part of the military machine we have inherited from the Soviet Union needs to be destroyed and which part of it Russia cannot do without.
Correspondent: Although it looks clumsy and slow, this missile system is a highly mobile and mighty weapon. Only six months ago, under a directive from the defence minister and the chief of the General Staff, these missile-carrying trains were supposed to be scrapped. However, at the Russian president's personal instruction, the destruction of nuclear missile trains was suspended.
Nikolay Solovtsov, Strategic Missile Troops Commander: The president of the Russian Federation, or the supreme commander, has ruled that the missile division armed with a combat railways missile system should remain within the force composition of the Missile Troops and continue to be on alert duty as a missile division till 2006.
Correspondent: The decision was taken by the president and by the Security Council after it became absolutely clear what Russia's response to the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty should be. Clearly, this is the most real and reasonable decision for our country to take, because Russia is not creating its own global anti-missile defence system and therefore reserves the right not to destroy heavy nuclear missiles with multiple warheads. Besides, the decision to scrap these systems was taken prior to the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.
MORE than 90 countries, including the United States, Russia and Libya, have adopted a groundbreaking code of conduct aimed at preventing the proliferation of ballistic missiles.
However, several nations known to be developing such weapons were absent from the conference in The Hague.
"Today, a new non-proliferation instrument saw the light of day: The International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC)," Dutch foreign minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.
"It is the first global non-proliferation instrument that specifically deals with systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction."
All 92 nations represented at the Hague conference signed the code of conduct, including all 15 EU members and nuclear powers Russia and the United States.
Iraq, Pakistan and India were noticeably absent.
Those countries have either been accused of building up advanced ballistic weapons programs or have developed their own missile systems.
The code of conduct is designed to ensure greater transparency on the development and testing of the powerful weapons and requires signatory states to prepare an annual report on their programs and to signal any upcoming weapons tests.
But the code has ben dismissed by some as a paper tiger.
It does not have the formal status of a treaty, includes no sanctions for countries that flaunt its rules and lacks the backing of several states armed with ballistic weapons.
"It is a first step and an important step, 92 countries is quite substantial but we miss several important countries of concern like China, India, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran," De Hoop Scheffer admitted.
He denied the code was weak because it did not lay down sanctions for non-compliance and stressed the element of peer pressure.
"I am in favour of peer pressure and I believe that in the end it will be more effective (than sanctions)," the minister said.
Other notable exceptions in signatory states included North Korea, Syria and Israel.
"At the moment they think there is not much to gain from transparency," De Hoop Scheffer explained.
Pakistan, which today denied media reports it was providing military technology to North Korea in return for ballistic weapons parts, refused to sign the ICOC document, although it took part in preparatory conferences.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Pakistan had exchanged uranium-enrichment equipment for North Korean missile parts.
Iraq, where UN weapons inspectors launched their disarmament mission today, was not invited to The Hague. It was the only country to be excluded outright by the organisers of the initiative.
The United Nations has ordered Baghdad to report its entire chemical, biological and nuclear arsenal to UN weapons inspectors and intends to stage a comprehensive search through the country to verify its compliance.
Capable of crossing thousands of kilometers at phenomenal speeds and carrying chemical weapons or nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles are being adopted by a growing number of countries in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent as a powerful deterrent to attacks.
"(Ballistic missiles') rapid geographical spread, increasing range and inherent connection to weapons of mass destruction threaten regional stability and international peace and security at large," De Hoop Scheffer said. return to menu
C. National Missile Defense
1. Missiles R Us Takes On The World: The US Is Going Global With Its 'Son Of Star Wars' Programme
November 21, 2002
Obscured by the Iraq crisis, Bush administration plans to deploy a full range of advanced defensive missile systems around the globe are rapidly gathering pace. Speaking in London this week, John Bolton, George Bush's point man on international security, said "son of star wars" programmes - initially conceived as national missile defence (NMD) for the US mainland alone - would go ahead "as soon as possible" to "protect the US, our deployed forces, as well as friends and allies against the growing missile threat".
Britain's likely involvement was highlighted yesterday by a visit to the early-warning station at Fylingdales, North Yorkshire, by US general Ronald Kadish, the man in charge of testing and development. The US has yet to request British facilities. But last week the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, effectively said "yes" in advance.
After initial mishaps, prototype development is moving ahead. The US Missile Defence Agency's latest "mid-course interceptor flight test" is due next month, now entirely free of the constraints of the US-abrogated anti-ballistic missile treaty. Today's Nato summit in Prague is expected to order feasibility studies for "protecting alliance territory and population centres against a full range of missile threats".
In short, having initially proposed a "home alone" anti-missile system, the US is now trying, with apparent success, to sell the idea (and spread the cost) of a wide variety of interlinked theatre and longer-range missile defences for all. Washington's "Missiles R Us" pitch, enthusiastically backed by its defence manufacturers, will include non-Nato states such as Russia and Israel and maybe the likes of India and Taiwan, with all the security implications that entails.
All the questions raised by the initial NMD proposal apply with greater force now. It is still unclear whether strategic interceptor missiles will work. Countries such as China, despite what Bolton says, will try to develop new counter-weaponry. Missile defence is useless against the most prevalent forms of terrorism. The cost to participating states such as Britain may run into billions - but nobody yet has a clear idea what they may be signing up for.
Most important by far are questions about the potency of the threat the systems are designed to obviate. The US has a list of "rogue" states it says might attack. But US threat assessments are not universally shared. Iraq is hardly in a position to attack anybody at present. Iran, which denies developing nuclear weapons, is as frightened of the US as everybody else. North Korea's recent nuclear mea culpa was more cry for help than battle cry.
Bearing in mind stated US willingness to attack, or otherwise intimidate and isolate, countries it links to terrorism and WMD activity, it is entirely possible that the US will soon run out of "rogue states". Where will its missiles point then? At Cuba perhaps? There's deja vu for you.
But there is a more fundamental objection to this unhealthy US missile obsession. It undermines non-military initiatives to curb the overall problem of WMD-terrorism threats. While Bolton says that the US will spend up to $1bn this year on counter-proliferation, $7.4bn will go to missile defence. And that is just the beginning.
Like Britain, the US backed last summer's G8 10-year "global partnership" plan for cooperative threat reduction. But as Sam Nunn, the former US senator and proliferation expert, points out, more urgent action is needed to win the current "race between cooperation and catastrophe".
With senator Richard Lugar, Nunn launched a successful initiative 10 years ago to fund and oversee safe disposal of Russia's redundant strategic nuclear arsenal and prevent terrorists obtaining its weapons. He now proposes that this approach be expanded to cover all WMD-related capability and extended worldwide.
A global watchdog system should be created, Nunn says. He focuses specifically on securing fissile material and tactical nuclear weapons, safe disposal or storage of biological and chemical weapons materials, higher international standards, increased funding and a robust global inspection system under the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. Every government, Nunn urges, should appoint a "very senior official" responsible for these top priority programmes to combat "catastrophic terrorism".
It is a bold, ambitious project. But as Nunn and Lugar say, it is desperately needed and, with determination and goodwill, is entirely doable. It is also an infinitely better use of money and resources than the reckless proliferation of missile defences.
Hawking such systems around the planet may serve US geopolitical and commercial interests but will not banish the 21st century's Brechtian nightmare - the resistible, Arturo Ui-style rise of the spectre of mass annihilation. return to menu
D. Radiological Terrorism
1. 'Dirty Bomb' Fears Over Nuclear Trains: Detailed Timetables Freely Available Online
Sunday Herald (Scotland)
November 24, 2002
(for personal use only)
Detailed timetables of nuclear waste trains that could be made into dirty bombs capable of contaminating central Scotland are freely available to terrorists, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
It is astonishingly easy to obtain the precise times and days on which freight trains carry radioactive spent fuel from nuclear power stations at Torness in East Lothian and Hunterston in Ayrshire. Every week, the fuel is taken through Edinburgh and Ayrshire to Carlisle en route to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant on the Cumbrian coast.
Spent fuel is a mass of toxic and highly radioactive isotopes, including plutonium, left over from the burning of uranium in a nuclear reactor. If released into the air it could cause an environmental catastrophe similar to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear station in Ukraine in 1986.
A week ago Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda were looking for 'ever more dramatic and devastating outrages to inflict'. Trains could be targeted, as well as boats and planes, he suggested.
But in a matter of hours last week the Sunday Herald was able to unearth a comprehensive timetable of nuclear train movements as well as a map of the routes and photographs of the cargo. The times and days on which empty flasks arrive and full flasks depart from Torness and Hunterston are contained in a publication available for £12 from bookshops.
Observations by train spotters, faithfully recorded in laborious detail on websites, confirm that the waste trains run as scheduled. In August, for example, amid sightings of numerous trains carrying passengers, cement, steel and cars were three carrying nuclear flasks from Torness and two moving them from Hunterston.
Pictures showed the trains standing in stations in urban areas. Shipments from Torness travel through Morningside and Slateford in Edinburgh, while the trains from Hunterston go through heavily populated parts of Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.
The revelations have shocked environ mentalists, who are demanding the nuclear cargoes be halted. 'Our worst fear is that these trains could be targeted by terrorists who could create the effect of a dirty bomb by blowing up the flasks with explosives sending radioactive material into the atmosphere,' said Green MSP Robin Harper. 'There could be a radioactive plutonium and uranium cloud over central Scotland. A similar effect to the cloud that came from Chernobyl, exposing thousands to radioactive fall-out.'
The Green Party have compiled a dossier of information on the times, routes and pictures of nuclear trains which it plans to hand to the Scottish Executive and the British Transport Police for them to investigate.
'I have personally seen timetables for nuclear trains, maps of the routes taken and pictures of the trains. Any terrorist could get this information very easily and then they would know when, where and what to attack,' said Harper.
'It's unbelievable that after September 11, and given recent, very specific warnings of a terrorist attack, trains carrying plutonium appear to be following timetables and routes like clockwork making them easy targets for terrorists.
'I am passing our infor mation to the authorities and will be raising the matter in the Scottish parliament. The government must order the immediate suspension of these nuclear transports and there must be an urgent review of security.'
Harper's call was backed by Kevin Dunion, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who argued that the nuclear shipments were in any case unnecessary. Spent fuel was only being taken to Sellafield for reprocessing, which had become an uneconomic and pointless business, he said.
'The risk of an accident with one of these flasks is worrying enough,' Dunion stated. 'But a terrorist group simply threatening to target one could cause widespread disruption.'
The trains are operated by Direct Rail Services (DRS), a transport arm of state-owned British Nuclear Fuels, which runs Sellafield. 'DRS operates within an extremely stringent safety and security regime which minimises the risk,' a spokesman said.
'The Office for Civil Nuclear Security audits and approves the security procedures undertaken by DRS and is in constant communication regarding threat levels and DRS employees have been briefed, explaining the need for increased vigilance during these periods.'
BNFL also pointed out that the nuclear flasks were heavily shielded, 50-tonne containers constructed from forged steel more than 30cm thick.
'For security reasons it is not sensible to comment on opportunities for terrorists to attack flasks,' the spokesman said.
'However, the design and operational arrangements, agreed with the appropriate government departments, take into account perceived terrorist threats.'
1. Russia's Space Force Tracks Chinese Ballistic Missile
November 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - The Russian space force has tracked the Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile Dong Feng- 31 (East Wind), launched this past Saturday from the Wuzhai Space and Mission Center, 250 miles north of Beijing.
The new missile has a range of 8,000 kilometers. In the test launch, however, it covered a mere 1,700 kilometers to hit a target in the desert of Takla Makan.
Unlike Russia and the United States, China has not yet committed itself to notifying other countries about its missile launches beforehand. This is why Chinese missile launches always come unexpectedly for neighbours. However, Russia's ground control services have so far been able to track all the launches made. return to menu
F. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Plan Past 'The Day After': U.S. Must Look Beyond A Terrorist Nuclear Attack
Brett Wagner: President of the California Center for Strategic Studies, executive director of the Swords Into Plowshares Project and a professor at the U.S. Naval War College
November 21, 2002
(for personal use only)
We awoke recently to a new FBI alert telling Americans that Al Qaeda may be planning a "spectacular" terrorist attack intended to damage the U.S. economy and inflict large-scale casualties.
The unusually dire warning suggested that future Al Qaeda attacks would meet several criteria, including "high symbolic value, mass casualties, severe damage to the U.S. economy and maximum psychological trauma." It sounds eerily like a description of a nuclear weapon being detonated on U.S. soil.
Though many Americans are finally taking seriously the very real possibility that a terrorist organization could one day acquire a nuclear weapon and detonate it in the United States, few have considered all the possible long-term consequences -- nor has the Bush administration's new national security strategy.
This lack of foresight and preparedness not only leaves the country vulnerable to many horrific aftermath scenarios should the unthinkable happen, it could also have devastating effects on American foreign policy.
Most Americans now know that Russia's nuclear stockpiles are under-secured, with hundreds of tons of weapon-grade uranium and plutonium scattered across that country. A few pounds of either material could arm a nuclear device capable of leveling almost any U.S. city. Also widely known is that terrorist organizations have tried to acquire stolen or diverted nuclear materials and warheads.
Should an organization such as Al Qaeda acquire a nuclear device, there is little reason to believe that it could be kept out of this country.
Unfortunately, most of the discussion and research in this area has focused solely on "the day before" or "the day after" such a terrorist attack.
The really scary stuff, however, lies just beyond that: the day after the day after.
A terrorist group would not even actually need to possess a second device; it would merely just have to say it did. It could claim it had several more hidden in other U.S. cities, ready to be used if the U.S. military did not start withdrawing from the Arabian peninsula -- a key Al Qaeda objective -- in, say, 72 hours.
Imagine what the outbound highways would look like near any U.S. city or the overall effect on our economy, our security, our civil rights, our way of life, our ability to project military power throughout the world.
Could U.S. leaders not comply with the terrorists' demands, knowing the possible consequences in human and political terms? What would happen to all those U.S. military bases in the Middle East? What would become of Persian Gulf oil and the Western economies that are so dependent upon it?
The implications for the Navy alone are staggering. How far would the Navy's forces have to pull back from the Middle East?
President Bush's recently released National Security Strategy virtually ignores these considerations. Key concerns deserving his immediate attention include how to calm the nation in the event of nuclear blackmail or surprise attack, how to open and conduct negotiations with nuclear-armed terrorists and how to govern a nation truly under siege, preferably without sacrificing civil liberties or resorting to martial law.
Beyond that, the administration should begin developing contingency plans for "the day after the day after" to stabilize stock and financial markets, guarantee the basic functioning of the economy, relocate large numbers of potentially hysterical American citizens fleeing radioactive fallout, redeploy U.S. forces abroad rapidly should that prove necessary and, last but not least, provide medical and personal care for the wounded and dying.
The president should also work closely with the new Congress to redouble U.S. efforts to help fully secure Russia's enormous nuclear stockpiles before they begin slipping into terrorist hands. That is, after all, one of the best ways to help ensure that a nuclear 9/11 never happens.
Otherwise, should the Bush administration continue to ignore these considerations, Americans may wake up one morning to the aftermath of a terrorist nuclear attack, an FBI alert warning that more attacks may be imminent and a White House without a plan for what to do next. return to menu
G. Links of Interest
1. Lugar Legislation Package Could Spearhead Decommissioning of Nonategic Subs
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