What was new on START Web site?


May, 2000

May 29, 2000
"...Continuing strategic arms reductions is in Russian interests...Such reductions may be carried out only on parity basis with the United States. A loss of a numerical balance with the United States will inevitably create a situation, when Russia is unable to influence actively on nuclear disarmament process in future. Besides that, strategic reductions should not deprive Russia of its assured retaliatory capability and impose those restrictions on the structure of Russian strategic forces, which would undermine its flexibility to react to political situation changes...," (What START III Does Russia Need?, - in Russian, by Anatoli Diakov and Pavel Podvig, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, N 18, May 26, 2000)

The White House dampened expectations Thursday for President Clinton's first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it was not the occasion to resolve major differences over nuclear arsenals or U.S. plans to build a national missile defense system. However, the United States raised the prospect of a summit agreement to destroy 34 tons of military grade plutonium on each side. "That's enough plutonium literally to make tens of thousands of nuclear weapons," National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said.

Moscow Carnegie Center hosted a seminar Wednesday, May 23 on ABM and START III problems. Panelists included established Russian arms control experts Alexei Arbatov, Yuri Nazarkin and Sergei Oznobischev.

Concerned the White House will agree to a Russian proposal that would cut the number of U.S. nuclear warheads to levels too low to protect the country, House members met in closed session last week with U.S. Strategic Command Chief Adm. Richard Mies to discuss the status of the U.S. arsenal and consequences of potential cuts.

Two weeks before a U.S.-Russia arms summit, presidential candidate George W. Bush said he would slash America's nuclear arsenal to its "lowest possible number consistent with our national security," regardless of whether Moscow went along. Vice President Al Gore pointed that George W. Bush's "wildly optimistic" plan to pursue a missile defense system and slash the U.S. nuclear arsenal while opposing a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons testing amounts to "a formula ... for a reignited arms race."

As President Clinton nears a decision on whether to build a limited national missile defense, American intelligence officials are warning that such a system could set off a cold-war-style arms race between China, India and Pakistan, administration officials say: Risk of Arms Race Seen in U.S. Design of Missile Defense, (by Michael R. Gordon and Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, May 28, 2000)

The Pentagon defended its antimissile plan against Prof. Theodore A. Postol, an arms expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who made his accusations in a May 11 letter to the White House. In a brief statement, the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization said, "The information on which he based his claims is incomplete and his conclusions are wrong." No detailed counter arguments were provided by the BMDO to Postol's letter thus far (U.S. Defends Antimissile Plan,, by William J. Broad, The New York Times, May 26, 2000). See also:

"...A some fault seems to exist in estimates of a threat created by a hypothetical U.S. NMD system. A threat from a strategic ballistic missile defense is frequently associated with undermining a traditional approach toward strategic stability. As to non-strategic missile defense, it is often considered as a factor with no impact at all on strategic balance, since it is oriented on mostly on tactical missiles...," (Antimissile Threat Is Overestimated, - in Russian, by Sergei Kreydin, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, N 18, May 26, 2000)

An international group of doctors who oppose nuclear weapons said on Monday it was worried by U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense shield and by Russia's stance on nuclear weapons in its new military doctrine (Doctors Urge Russia, U.S. to cut Nuclear Arms, Russia Today, May 23, 2000)

Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, the Head of Military International Cooperation Directorate of the Ministry of Defense speaks on global problems and external threats for Russia: Russia, Peace, War (Global Challenges, New Realities and Old Threats), - in Russian, (by Leonid Ivashov, Zavtra, May 16, 2000)

May 23, 2000
The Pentagon has classified as secret an antimissile critic's letter to the White House. As we mentioned recently, Theodore A. Postol, professor of science and national security studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, first wrote the White House on May 11 to report what he described as a major flaw in the Pentagon's antimissile plan and efforts to cover it up. (Pentagon Classifies a Letter Critical of Antimissile Plan, by William J. Broad, The New York Times, May 20, 2000). The "classified" letter and attachments are still available at the START Web site (in PDF format). See also: Physicist Calls For Antimissile Inquiry, (by Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2000)

The Pentagon announced that a decisive test of a national missile-defense system has again been delayed, increasing pressure on the project's managers to meet the Clinton administration's timetable for deciding whether to deploy the system. Previously Ballistic Missile Defense Organization had planned to conduct the test on June 26, 2000 (New Delay for Test of U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System, by Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, May 19, 2000)

On the eve of Clinton - Putin summit meeting in June, press reporters try to predict possible outcomes. Recent visit of U.S. National Security Adviser Samuel Berger to Moscow did not make the situation clear:

According to Dmitri Rogozin, the Chair of the International Relations Committee of the State Duma, "...unfortunately, Americans continue just talking to us instead of negotiating... The Americans put themselves in a time trouble, and they consider us a pliable girl who says "no", because she means in fact "not yet"...":

The Institute of Political Research conducted a roundtable on BMD with Academician Piontkovski, the Director of Political Research; Prof. Vitali Tsygichko, Director of the Center for national Security, Pavel Podvig, an expert with the Center for Arms Control at MIPT and S. Kreydin, Deputy Head of the 27-th Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Defense. "...It became clear to all, that Americans have already made up their mind on deployment of ballistic missile defenses. Our diplomats, however, took a "forward-looking" attitude: "Perhaps, we'll manage to delay our answer, and Clinton will not have a time to make a decision"...But....This situation makes even more harm, because the period of uncertainty grows. It is naive to assume that Americans will ever accept someone's point...", Pavel Podvig said at the meeting (Trying Not To Loose, - in Russian, by Andrei Tsunskii, Russkii Zhurnal, May 19, 2000) See also our special section ABM Treaty Modification: Should Russia Agree?

U.S. proponents and critics of NMD continue arguing:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Turbjorn Yagland met with his Russian partner Igor Ivanov in Moscow. He attempted to repair relations between the two countries severely damaged by U.S. radar deployment in Vardo: See also a comment by Pavel Podvig: Does The Radar in Norway Violates ABM Treaty Provisions?, - in Russian.

U.S. inspectors are satisfied with the results of verification of the Russian ICBM base in accordance with the START I Treaty: Americans Were Pleased by Our Rocketeers, - in Russian, (by Viktor Baranets, Komsomol'skaya Pravda, May 23, 2000)

The Republican-dominated Senate Armed Services Committee has approved more than $1 billion for next year to help Russia and other former Soviet republics destroy their strategic weapons, secure nuclear materials and pay weapons scientists to keep busy at nonmilitary ventures, (Hill Seems Eager to Pay Russia to Cut Atomic Arms, by Walter Pincus, The Washington Post, Friday, May 19, 2000; Page A26).

It took decades of international pressure and weeks of intense negotiations, but when a mont long conference of more than 185 nations ended at the United Nations this weekend, the five original atomic powers had agreed for the first time to the "unequivocal" elimination of nuclear arms.

See also the report of Acronym Institute on the NPT Review conference.

Vice Admiral Valentin Kuznezov, Head of the International Treaties Branch of the Ministry of Defense International Relations Department, on Russian arms control policy: Toward A Peace Free Of Nuclear Threats, (by Valentin Kuznezov, Krasnaya Zvezda, May 18, 2000)

A new study by the Congressional Budget Office describes the dramatic savings that can be obtained by reducing U.S. nuclear forces to START II levels while making further cuts in delivery vehicles: $670 million in fiscal 2001 and $11.6 billion over ten years.

Russia changes its nuclear export policy. The recent presidential decree allows Russia to export nuclear material to countries that have not agreed to accept full international safeguards (Nuclear All-Sufficiency, by Dmitri Frolov, Novyye Izvestia, May 23, 2000, p. 2)

Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, ratified a global nuclear test ban treaty, giving an expected final seal of approval to a pact rejected by the U.S. Senate.

No one of fifty research nuclear reactors located in Moscow complies with safety rules, according to Novaya Gazeta: A Terror With the Name IYaU, - in Russian, (by Stepan Krechetov, Novaya Gazeta, N 19, May 18, 2000)

May 18, 2000
Theodore A. Postol, professor of science and national security studies at M.I.T. has found a major flaw in the Pentagon's antimissile plan and is calling on the White House to appoint a high-level scientific panel to investigate Pentagon's analysis of the June 1997 sensor test. In the letter to John D. Podesta, the White House chief of staff, Prof. Postol said Pentagon sensor data he had obtained from the first antimissile test flight in June 1997 showed that the ground-based interceptor was inherently unable to make the distinction and that the Pentagon and its contractors had tried to hide this failure. If the critic is correct, the flaw may cripple or even kill the proposed weapon system, the cost of which is estimated at up to $60 billion (Antimissile System's Flaw Was Covered Up, Critic Says, by William J. Broad, The New York Times, May 18, 2000). See also the original documents:

May 16, 2000
Is there a possibility of START III conclusion? If so, what are the conditions? What kind of START III can be reached and when? If concluded, what impact might a new U.S. - Russian arms control agreement have on further nuclear cuts? Eugene Miasnikov is addressing these questions in a paper START III: Opportunities and Consequences for Nuclear Disarmament, presented at the Panel "Achieving a Nuclear Weapons Convention. Legal, Political, and Technical Strategies for Nuclear Disarmament", (May 9, 2000, United Nations, New York). Similar issues are discussed in Paul Podvig's paper START and the ABM Treaty: Is a Compromise Possible?, published in Program on New Approaches to Russian Security Policy Memo Series, (Memo No. 132, April 2000). See also:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are opposing a Russian plan favored by the White House to cut the number of U.S. nuclear warheads by 1,000 in time for President Clinton's summit meeting in Moscow later this month: Vyacheslav Shport, Deputy Chair Of the Duma Industry Committee on START II treaty: START II: Security On The Parity Basis, - in Russian, (by Anatoli Antipov, Krasnaya Zvezda, May 16, 2000, p. 3)

New national public opinion surveys indicate that the Clinton Administration would have the strong backing of the public for deeper nuclear arms reductions and a decision not to deploy the proposed, "limited" national missile defense (New Survey Shows Americans Back Deeper Nuclear Cuts, Oppose Deployment of National Missile Defense, Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, Issue Brief, vol. 4, N. 5 , May 9, 2000).

China's chief arms negotiator said that the American proposal to build an antimissile defensive shield posed an unacceptable threat to China's security and could force Beijing to significantly expand its own nuclear forces in response. U.S. allies criticize NMD plans as well:

"...A decision on whether or not to deploy the NMD is scheduled for the next few months. The tests that have been conducted or are planned for the period fall far short of those required to provide confidence in the "technical feasibility" called for in last year's NMD deployment legislation...", (Statement On National Missile Defense System Technical Feasibility and Deployment, American Physical Society, April 29, 2000). See also: and a report "Countermeasures: A Technical Evaluation of the Operational Effectiveness of the Planned US National Missile Defense System", written under the auspices of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program.

Breezy days on Shemya Island bring steady 40 mph winds, with howling gusts to 80 mph that can lay a man flat. It takes a 3,000-mile barge trip from Seattle to carry construction materials to the inhospitable chunk of rock in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. And the closest inhabited point, an Eskimo village, is 100 miles away. Yet this is where the Pentagon proposes to build an essential component of the United States' National Missile Defense system, a so-called X-band radar that would be the most powerful tracking and detection radar in the world (Key Missile Defense Radar Planned For Remote Island, by Roberto Suro, The Washington Post, Sunday, May 7, 2000; Page A06).

Vladimir Degtyar', General Designer of the State Missile Center "KB Imeny Academica Makeyeva" (Makeyev's Design Bureau), shares his views on prospects of Russian sea based strategic forces: "Blue" Raises Over The Sea, - in Russian, (by Dmitri Litovkin, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, N 16, May 12-18, 2000). See also the article Future of Russia's Strategic Sea Based Forces - in Russian, by Eugene Miasnikov.

An analysis of the Russian military doctrine adopted in April in an article entitled Russia's New Military Doctrine, (by Ivan Safranchuk, PIR-Center Arms Control Letters, Letter of May 2000, May 15, 2000)

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing Russia to export nuclear material to countries that have not agreed to accept full international safeguards, a move spurred by Russia's plan to build two nuclear reactors in India.

On prospects of use of submarine reactors to overcome energy crises in the Far East and Northern regions: An Experiment Threatening With A Disaster, - in Russian, (by Vladimir Kuznezov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 11, 2000, p. 7)

The United States weighed a plan to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon as a show of military and technical strength during the feverish post-Sputnik days of the cold war, a physicist involved in the plan said:

Today at the English START Forum - forthcoming June's summit meeting, prospects for START III and ABM Treaty modification. At the Russian START Forum: START II protocol and other issues.

May 6, 2000
American proposals to change a key arms control agreement have revived some of the more important, if arcane, debates over nuclear strategy that not long ago seemed consigned to the dustbin of the cold war:

See also comments by Stephen Schwartz, Lisbeth Gronlund and David Wright, Jack Mendelsohn and Bruce Blair

Russian officials stated, that the latest U.S. proposals for amending the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty are a dead letter and cannot be negotiated further:

Disagreement on future of the ABM Treaty became the reason for a deadlock in U.S.- Russian negotiations on exchange of information about ballistic missile launches: Early warning plan hit by dispute, (by David Buchan, Financial Times, May 2, 2000).

Russian lawmakers had recently a chance to exchange their views on future of the ABM Treaty with the members of the U.S. Congress:

Russia and the United States continue the dialog on ABM Treaty. Is a "grand bargain" - START III in exchange of ABM Treaty modification - possible? European allies criticise U.S. plans to deploy NMD. U.S. experts disagree on when the decision on NMD deployment should be made: President Vladimir Putin signed the law (in Russian) on START II treaty on Thursday, affirming the Russian parliament's approval of the plan to cut U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals (Russian President Ratifies START II, by Associated Press, Thursday, May 4, 2000; 11:13 a.m. EDT).

"...The Kremlin towers offer a striking symbol of Russian authority, but the ultimate power of the president - and the one that keeps the world watching - lies within a briefcase with codes to launch nuclear missiles...", (Nuclear Briefcase - Symbol Of Russian Might, by Reuters, Russia Today, May 5, 2000)

The Russian air force took delivery this week of a new TU-160 strategic bomber, the first in 12 years:

"...I read carefully the text of the doctrine and the detailed comment, belonging to one of the main doctrine's authors Colonel-General Valerii Manilov... First thing what I saw, or rather felt - that was a scholastic...spirit, running through the whole document..." (The Military Doctrine Through the Leu tenant's Eyes - in Russian, by Alexander Bovin, Izvestiya, May 6, 2000, p. 4)

Faced with mounting criticism their nuclear arsenals are too large, the five main nuclear powers decided to pledge "unequivocal commitment "to eliminate atomic weapons but set no timetable for this goal. In a statement, concluded over the weekend for release later on Monday, the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China also call for strengthening the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and obliquely refer to Israel's refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT): Five Powers Pledge To Get Rid Of Nukes Eventually, (by Reuters, Russia Today, May 2, 2000). See also Igor Ivanov's address to the NPT conference (in Russian).

Current status and future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in U.S. Nuclear Forces 2000, (The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May - June, 2000)

Two U.S. Navy Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles were successfully flown in a test conducted April 30, from the USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) at the Eastern Test Range off the Florida coast (U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin conduct successful test of two Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles, by Jeffery Adams, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, May 2, 2000).

"...The B-2 just keeps on improving..."It's working better than I thought it ever would," said the commander of the USAF'S 509th Operations Group at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB)...", (B-2 Is Maturing Into A Fine Spirit, by Bill Sweetman, Janes International Defense Review, May 2000)

A powerful laser developed by Israel and the United States to shoot down rockets has passed its first test at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, hitting a stationary target:

"...In 1996, a truck carrying nuclear warheads skidded off an icy road in Nebraska and crashed. For half a day, no one in government, including the president and his cabinet, knew the degree of danger, or if any nuclear material had escaped into the environment, because radiation monitors on the government's fleet of weapons trucks had been removed after complaints from drivers...", (Former Adviser to Energy Dept. Cites Flaws in Nuclear Complex, by William J. Broad, The New York Times, April 30, 2000)

What the persecution on native nuclear industry resulted in? Can the activity of our "greens" be called preservation of the environment? These and other questions are raised in stories by Oleg Lar'ko in Rossiiskaya Gazeta:

At the Russian START Forum: prospects for START III and ABM Treaty modification and other themes.


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