April 22, 1999
NATO operations in Yugoslavia show, that the air based leg of the U.S. nuclear Triad will keep its strategic role, though its "nuclear functions" are diminishing. START Web site presents an article by Sergei Sokut "Pentagon's Minor Triad" (in Russian), which was published in Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG, (N 14, April 16, 1999, p. 6).
"...Since the very beginning of NATO strikes in Kosovo Moscow has been trying to use its nuclear might as a political instrument to make NATO position more flexible and open to Russian proposals on resolution of the conflict..." (Russian Nuclear Reaction To The Cosovo Crisis, PIR Center Arms Control Letters, April 20, 1999). By the way, according to Sunday Telegraph, Britain sent a second Trident nuclear submarine to sea within hours of the Russian threat to re-target Moscow's nuclear missiles on the West (War in the Balkans: Britain put second sub to sea on Russian threat, Sunday Telegraph London, April 18, 1999).
In the first days after NATO began its air strikes, Russia asked that a planned review session of the CTR program in Moscow be postponed. But nothing else has been canceled, according to an American official close to the project (Disarming of Russia continues, By David Filipov, The Boston Globe, April 20, 1999).
The White House on Wednesday expressed its most serious concerns to date over anticipated Year 2000 computer failures overseas, particularly among Russian-designed nuclear plants in nine countries (Y2K Expert Worried About Russia, by Ted Bridis, Associated Press, Wednesday, April 21, 1999; 5:56 p.m. EDT).
"...A problem of creation of the Unified Supreme Command of Strategic Deterrence Forces became not only a problem for the Defense Ministry. This problem infringe on the interests of the whole society...I think, from the military point, creation of the Unified Supreme Command will not lead to increased readiness of the nuclear forces. Most probably, the opposite is true. From the economic point, such plans do not stand up any criticism..." (Ill-Timed Reforms of Russian Nuclear Forces, by Alexander Lebed, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 22, 1999). See also: "Deline And Fall - Uniting Russia's nuclear forces" (by Mark Galeotti, Jane's Intelligence Review, April 1, 1999), and our special section "Discussion On Creation Of Unified Supreme Command Of Russian Strategic Deterrence Forces".
SS-18 ICBM put a British research satellite on orbit yesterday (New Orbits of "Satan", by Alexander Dolinin, Krasnaya Zvezda, April 22, 1999, p. 1). Gennadi Khromov discusses problems of commercial use of missiles to be eliminated under strategic arms reduction treaty in an article entitled "Why Is Implementation Of Important Russian Space Projects Related With START I Treaty Postponed?" (Yadernoye Rasprostraneniye, December 1998, pp. 45-50).
Recently published November's and December's 1998 issues of Yadernoye Rasprostraneniye (a magazine, published by Carnegie Endowment in Moscow) include:
Russian Socio-Political Organization "Spiritual Heritage" and "RAU-Corporation" published a report "START II Treaty And Future Of Russian Strategic Forces" edited by A.I. Podberyozkin. This publication is the second and updated edition of the previous one entitled "START II Ratification", which came out in August 1996. The authors' purpose was to assess the START II objectively and show possible consequences of ratification and rejection of the START II treaty.
Ukraine choose to extend the life of Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and get $ 20 million instead of their elimination (The U.S. Will Not Get Ukrainian Blackjacks, by Ivan Safonov, Kommersant Daily, April 17 1999, p. 2)
The Canadian government has passed a decision on experimental burning of American and Russian-produced weapons-grade plutonium this year for studying its suitability as fuel for Canadian nuclear power plants. The scrapping of Russia's and the US' nuclear warheads will release some 50 tonnes of plutonium. Its burning in Canada is expected to benefit this state and supplier states:
The January/February issue of Arms Control Today is now on the Web. The issue includes:
The PIR-Center has recently published the spring 1999 issue of a digest of "Yaderny Control" in English.
April 15, 1999
President Boris Yeltsin threatened the West last week, saying if Russia is pushed into military action in the Balkans it would lead to war in Europe, "or maybe even a world war." And he suggested Russia might retarget nuclear missiles at NATO members.:
The Russian Security Council will meet on April 27 to discuss the development of the Russian nuclear weapons complex, Security Council Secretary and Director of the Federal Security Service Vladimir Putin stated on Tuesday (Russian Security Council to discuss nuclear weapons complex, ITAR-TASS, April 13, 1999)
Russian and Chinese military officials and diplomats who met in Moscow to discuss the situation issued a statement saying the two countries have serious concerns about the U.S. plans to to develop a nationwide defense system against limited missile attack, (Russia, China Warn US of Arms Race, by Associated Press, Wednesday, April 14, 1999; 5:24 p.m. EDT).
April's issue of NG-Regiony (a supplement to Nezavisimaya Gazeta) has published a commentary from "Mayak" production facility of the Minatom (A Trap For Radiation, by Svetlana Dobrynina, NG-Regiony, April 13, 1999, pp. 9, 14).
A discussion on integration of Russian strategic forces under a unified command continues: "To The Problem Of Creating A Unified Supreme Command Of the SNF", (by Dmitri Litovkin, Yaderny Control, ¹ 2, March - April, 1999). Vladimir Zakharov discusses basic reasons of current Russian nuclear policy in the same issue of Yaderny Control (On Motivation For Military Build-Up In Russia, pp. 67-80).
A US Navy (USN) study has concluded there would be significant warfighting benefit in converting four of its Trident-armed Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) into conventionally-armed submarines (SSGNs) with long-range strike and special operations capabilities. The navy study says the net cost of modifying 22 of the submarines' missile silos with land-attack missiles and the remaining two with SOF delivery vehicles would be $1.994 billion over three years. This compares with $427 million to decommission them, as called for under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II) with Russia (US Navy completes Trident conversion study, Jane's Defense Weekly, April 14, 1999).
April 9, 1999
The deep U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear arms reductions are impossible without establishment of a high level of trust between the two countries. Unfortunately, U.S.-Russian relations deteriorated much before the crisis in Yugoslavia. Recently, we translated into English the paper Breaking the Deadlock: Confidence Building Measures Could Accelerate the Nuclear Weapons Reduction Process by Anatoli Diakov and Eugene Miasnikov. This paper was published in Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG last fall (September 11-17, 1998, pp 1,4, No 40).
Eugene Miasnikov comments On submarine accidents (in Russian) in an answer to the yesterday's publication in weekly "Sobesednik". The magazine published an article, where the expert of our Center was misquoted.
"...In addition to efforts in negotiations on limiting strategic nuclear arms it is necessary to speed up working out and implementation of concrete technical and political steps, which are directed to the "exit" from the current state of mutual nuclear deterrence...," (How To Break Out the Gauge?, by Pavel Zolotarev, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 9, 1999, p. 8)
The war in Yugoslavia prompts to assess the utility of Russian nuclear weapons in a different way. According to Novyye Izvestiya, "..."Tomahawks" will not land on our houses until nuclear "Skalpels" are ready for use near the throats of our "potential friends" ...", ("Skalpel" Is Sharper Than "Tomahawks", by Alexander Khokhlov, Novyye Izvestiya, April 7, 1999 ã, p. 1, 4).
"...U.S. programs focused on nuclear nonproliferation assistance to the Newly Independent States (NIS) have so far spent more than $2 billion trying to spend our way toward nuclear security. But a review of the Department of Energy's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program, or IPP, raises serious doubts about where the money is going and whether U.S. security is in fact being enhanced..." (Compliance for sale?, by Sean Paige, The Washington Times, April 7, 1999). As we mentioned earlier, the attack on DoE programs with Russia began since the GAO report of February Nuclear Nonproliferation: Concerns With DOE's Efforts to Reduce the Risks Posed by Russia's Unemployed Weapons Scientists (in PDF format).
Debates on national BMD continue. The Navy's theater ballistic missile defense program, which had been projected to cost $913 million through 2005, will require an additional $420 million over that time in order to remain on track. According to the U.S. independent experts, recent "...failure of the Army’s Theater High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD) to intercept a Scud-type target should provide us with a reminder of the inherent limitations of missile defense systems..."
April 2, 1999
The Concept of Russian Federation On Disposal Of Plutonium, Released In The Process of Nuclear Disarmament (in Russian) is now available in the Web. This document was prepared by a working group of the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy in 1998.
According to today's Izvestiya, western analysts actively pursue a research on "prospects of dispersal of weapons of mass destruction on the territory of the Russian Federation in case of weakening its integrity and collapse" (The West Wants To Buy Our Armed Forces, by Maxim Nadezhdin, Izvestiya, April 2, 1999, p. 1).
"...If the question is raised to be or not to be...every means of the Russian Armed Forces, including its nuclear weapons should be used...,",- Anatoli Kvashnin, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said at the hearings in the State Duma on urgent measures to raise fighting capabilities of the Russian military (We're Gonna Punch Now!, by Oleg Odnokolenko, Segodnia, April 1, 1999)
On Thursday Russia's Northern Fleet, carried out a test launch of a SS-N-18 ballistic missile from a Delta-3 class SSBN (Demonstration Performance of the Russian Navy, by Yuri Golotyuk, Izvestiya, April 2, 1999). A week earlier (March 25, 1999) the U.S. Navy conducted military exercise launchings of two sea-based ballistic missiles. The blastoffs of Trident rockets were made from an Ohio-class nuclear submarine with an interval of five minutes.
An experimental missile defense system THAAD failed its most basic test last Monday for the sixth time, failing to hit a missile launched at a New Mexico test site. The test failure today will cost the prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corporation $15 million in penalties. And if the system fails two more attempts to intercept missiles before June 30 the company will be penalized $20 million more.
Today's issue of NVO-NG gives an answer to the article published in Krasnaya Zvezda "There Is No Censorship, But Secrets Remain" on March 26, 1999:
"...Gorodovoy's attack (Col. Gorodovoy is the Head of Information Security Service of the Russian Ministry of Defense, who gave an interview to Krasnaya Zvezda - Å.Ì.) on authors of a remarkable book Russian Strategic Nuclear Weapons shows, that some persons of the military service adhere to the Soviet style of censorship. The old style consists in admitting that a person, who has no security clearance ... is able to produce a classified book or an article relying on open literature only. It looks like the military censor believes, that the CIA and other intelligence services consist of idiots ... Mr. Gorodovoy's goal is clear, and in fact he has spelled it out: "...All materials must be gone through the press-service of the Ministry of Defense or subdivisions of our Service prior to publication...". Thus, the military censor all articles about military men, the banks (they also have their own commercial secrets, as well as state secrets) - about banks, the police - about police, etc...." (Bottom Up: I Have Not Read Yet, But I Condemn..., Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG, N 12, April 2-8, 1999, p. 8).