Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Mitt Romney Gets the New START Treaty Wrong

Posted by K.E. White on July 6, 2010

Mitt Romney excoriates the New START Treaty in today’s NYTimes.  But in arguing that the treaty jeopardizes American security, he notes treaty technicalities without accessing their actual impact.  In so doing, he gets the treaty wrong, needlessly politicizing U.S. foreign policy for partisan gain.

Romney’s chief charge?  New START impedes U.S. missile defense:

Whatever the reason for the treaty’s failings, it must not be ratified: The security of the United States is at stake. The only responsible course is for the Senate to demand and scrutinize the full diplomatic record underlying the treaty. Then it must insist that any linkage between the treaty and our missile defense system be eliminated. In a world where nuclear weapons are proliferating, America’s missile defense shield must not be compromised. As currently drafted, New START is a non-starter.

On this score Romney is technically correct, but misses the larger point.

Yes, there are limits on America’s missile shield development.  The Heritage Foundation and others point out the indirect limitation of U.S. missile defense within treaty.  From Baker Spring’s webmemo at Heritage:

This specific collection of restrictions pertains to test target missiles and their associated launchers and comes in addition to a general restriction imposed by language in New START’s preamble and a specific restriction in Article V that prohibits the conversion of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers into missile defense launchers.

As non-deployed launchers, these test target launchers are counted against the 800-unit limit on deployed and non-deployed launchers in Article II of the treaty. Similar to the missiles themselves, Article IV of New START restricts what kinds of facilities may host non-deployed launchers, where they may be located geographically, and transit time. Like non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, application of elimination or conversion procedures (leaving aside those addressed in Article V) and notification requirements could apply.

So yes, there are limitations.  But Steven Pifer at Brookings notes the mootness of this restriction (along with the NYTimes’s Peter Baker):

As for hard limits, the treaty contains only one regarding missile defense:  the United States would be barred from placing missile defense interceptors in ICBM silos or SLBM launchers.  That’s a constraint, but not one that will affect the U.S. missile defense program.  The Pentagon has no plans to put missile interceptors in ICBM or SLBM launchers; it would be cheaper to build new silos for missile defense interceptors than convert existing ICBM silos.

And events on the ground suggest Brooking’s is right.  Romney’s article omits continuing U.S. missile defense plans in Georgia.

Now are there flaws with the treaty?  Unquestionably.  But the treaty in no way sacrifices America’s development of missile defense.  On top of that, the treaty offers tangible benefits to American security.

Advertisements

Posted in New START Treaty | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Success of Reset? Tame Response To Obamaland’s Changes to Missile Defense in Poland

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2010

Yesterday the United States and Poland signed an amended missile defense agreement.  The agreement amends a previous Bush-era deal, an effect of the Obama adminstration’s ‘reset’ policy towards Russia.

The net-effect:  plans for ground-based missile defenses in Poland are out; sea-based interceptors are in.

I’m surprised by the tame response to the news.  Admittedly, the Russian spy arrests and the 4th of July have distracted American coverage. But even the National Review and Commentary are silent on the news.

Compare this to Kejda Gjermani’s 2009 Commentary editorial excoriating ‘reset’:

There is a revolutionary aspect to diplomacy by tabula rasa: to the administration unconstrained by preceding commitments, the world of international relations becomes an exhilarating puzzle waiting to be put together from scratch. But the picture is very different to those nations whose good-faith gestures and risks are thus snubbed. In this case, pushing what Vice President Joseph Biden has called the “reset button” on missile defense has shaken the ground beneath the feet of America’s staunchest allies in Eastern Europe. Would President Obama feel sanguine about his own diplomatic initiatives if foreign leaders had to weigh his odds of re-election when considering his proposals? The president may have a thoughtful rejoinder, but he may just as likely be too infatuated with the historic significance of his presidency to realize he is setting a dangerous precedent that may apply to him as well.

International relations are not fickle variables to be reset sporadically at the push of a button. Continuity in foreign policy serves as a stable platform for the undertaking of any long-term initiatives with other countries. If U.S. presidents started rebooting relations between America and the rest of the world whenever they assumed office, all diplomatic frameworks would break down, as chronic uncertainty undermines international cooperation. America’s democratic allies are already biased against long-term thinking because the political fates of their leaders depend on the voters’ capricious approval. They might adapt to this climate of uncertainty by shortening their planning horizons even more, requiring immediate reciprocity to any accommodation of our interests. The reaction in Eastern Europe to America’s broken commitment suggests that the region is already contemplating a strategic shift in such a direction.

The Hill offers the best coverage on the amended agreement:

The agreed ballistic missile defense site in Poland is scheduled to become operational in a 2018 timeframe and is designed to be a key part of the United States’ European-based missile defense strategy.

The Obama administration last September dropped Bush-era plans to put 10, two-stage ground-based interceptors in Poland, and a related radar site in the Czech Republic.

The Obama administration’s plan is to deploy ships equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Aegis combat system and Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 or SM-3 interceptors to help defend European allies and U.S. forces against threats from Iran and others. The Pentagon is also looking to deploy sensors, such as Raytheon’s Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ariel Cohen Thinks We Can’t Read Russian: Cohen’s Misleading Critique of Obama’s “Reset” of U.S.-Russian Relations

Posted by K.E. White on June 24, 2010

Yes, Ariel Cohen thinks I can’t read Russian.

Actually he’s right. But I can do a quick babblefish translation.

Why is this important? Because translating one of Cohen’s cites reveals his critique to be grossly misleading.

Ariel Cohen, a Heritage Foundation research fellow, launches this clumsy and fatally exaggerated data-dump on Sen. John Kerry’s defense of Obama’s “reset” strategy towards Russia.

But his most explosive charge against the “reset” seems built on little more than exaggeration. In return for sanctions on Iran and a new START treaty, Cohen suggests that Obama has given Russia a free hand in “the post-Soviet ‘near abroad’”citing to a Russian publication. Now that vague term triggers images of a new Cold War divide in Europe.

Unfortunately, the cited article states nothing close to Cohen’s implication. In fact, the article, written by a Russian researcher, actually extols America recognizing recent Ukrainian elections that brought a pro-Russian government to power.

That’s a far cry from giving Russia a free hand to the post-Soviet near abroad.

And that doesn’t even get to the article’s most egregious omission: Cohen criticizes a lot, but fails to offer any alternative.

Sloppy research and data-dumping shouldn’t be permitted by any think-tank, whether it’s a blog-post or article.

Here’s a recapitulation of Cohen’s exhaustive list of U.S. “concessions” to Russia:

1. “limiting the U.S. ballistic missile defense”

2. Recognizing “Russia’s exclusive zone of interests” in the “post-Soviet near abroad” (Again, this actually means recognizing Russia’s increased influence in the Ukraine, not a free-hand in Eastern Europe)

3. “new security architecture in Europe”

4. 123 civilian nuclear reactor agreement — $10-15 billion in new nuclear fuel reprocessing business

5. Support for Russia’s entry into the WTO

6. Secret deal to limit U.S. ballistic missile defense (how does one argue against the charge of a secret deal?)

7. Russia has allowed more U.S. and NATO traffic of Russian territory

And in return, according to Cohen, America has received remarkably little:

1. Russia still supporting Venezuela and Syria

2. Weak sanctions against Iran “In short, Russia will be milking the rest for all its worth.”

3. A new START treaty with one-sides terms in two significant ways: first, the U.S has to eliminate 80 warheads more than Russia; second, the United States must eliminate 150 delivery platforms, while Russia can add over 100.  (A somewhat biased view of the agreement)

I have two questions for Cohen. First, what concessions would he take back? Second, what pressure should America apply to Russia?

Cohen’s article acts as a rejoinder to Sen. John Kerry’s defense of Obamaland’s foreign policy towards Russia. In his Politico op-ed, Kerry endorses the “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations: heralding the new START treaty, and Russia’s support of new Security Council sanctions against Iran, decision to not sell Iran anti-aircraft missiles and open airspace to US and NATO flights to Afghanistan.

Ariel Cohen serves as Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at the Katherine and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Owen Graham, Research Assistant to the Davis Center, contributed to the blog-post.

Posted in Diplomacy, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

All Wrapped Up: U.S.-Russia Set to Sign START Treaty Replacement

Posted by K.E. White on March 24, 2010

Apparently a new U.S.-Russia arms control treaty has been finally hammered out.  While many outlets chronicle the slow pace of negotiations and focus on the signing location of the treaty (Prague), MSNBC.com sheds some light on 1) the details of the agreement and 2) what may have been behind the delay.

The START treaty expired last December, but the United States and Russia have been voluntarily conforming to the parameters of the agreement.

Two quick notes.  First, the treaty is of considerable size–especially compared to other recent nuclear agreements.  At 20 pages, this new arms control  treaty definitely offers more detail the SORT/Moscow Treaty (3 pages) concluded under the George W. Bush administration or the legislatively-authorized US-India nuclear deal.  Related to the length, the treaty includes a verification protocol.  This, again, represents a large departure from Bush-era arms control policy.

Why is the second point important?  The key to reducing nuclear arms or restricting their use is in the verification of such efforts.  The Bush administration treaty, while obtaining a large cut in nuclear arsenals, mainly trimmed bloated stock-piles, and pegged to its verification standards to START.  Getting countries to promise to cut arsenals is one thing; forcing countries to verify they actually eliminated them is another–more complicated–endeavor.  And with the SORT treaty expiring in 2012, the expiration of the START treaty risked making SORT irrelevant.

Granted, it seems that this treaty will not represent a bold step in reining in the countries’ nuclear arsenals.  But it represents forward progress, and presumably lays the foundation for future agreements.

From the MSNBC.com article:

The Kremlin source, speaking by telephone to The Associated Press, said the documents included the treaty and protocol. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week that the treaty was 20 pages long, with an extensive protocol attached.

Russian negotiators have balked at including some intrusive weapons verification measures in the new treaty. The Obama administration has warned that without these, Senate ratification could prove difficult.

Any agreement would need to be ratified by the legislatures of both countries and would still leave each with a large number of nuclear weapons, both deployed and stockpiled.

Posted in START Treaty | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Explaining the START Slowdown

Posted by K.E. White on March 23, 2010

START renewal talks have stalled between the United States and Russia.  TIME Magazine offers theories behind the slow-down, while sketching out the supposed template of the agreement.

Possible road blocks?  First, Russian fears that Obama has not completely shelved plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe.  Another theory points to Russian domestic politics, and differing interests between Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

This Voice of Russia article highlights Russian objections to possible U.S. missile defense schemes in Eastern Europe.  Yet, the article still considers the agreement “95 percent ready, with both sides expected to sign the document ahead of the international security summit slated for April 12 in Washington.”

For those readers hungry for more detail, Arms Control Association offers fantastic resources:  especially Daryl G. Kimball’s recent Moscow Times editorial and Greg Thielmann’s New START Verification: Fitting the Means to the Ends.

From the TIME.com article:

Currently, it is not clear what is holding up START negotiations. The basics of an agreement have been locked down since a joint Obama-Medvedev meeting last July: the White House reported that the two sides were ready to commit to reduce their arsenals to somewhere between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads and between 500 and 1,100 delivery systems, i.e. missiles and long-range bombers. Currently, the treaty allows each side a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

Early on in the talks, Russia raised concerns about U.S. plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, which could potentially give the U.S. an edge if it could neutralize parts of Moscow’s arsenal. Many hoped that concern had been addressed by Obama’s pledge last September to scrap a Bush-era plan to station interceptor missiles in Poland and by promises to include missile defense in negotiations of any further arms-control treaties. But Moscow remained concerned over the alternatives to the Polish scheme being considered by the U.S, for deployment in Europe. Last week the Speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Boris Gryzlov, said that the Duma would not ratify a START treaty until all U.S. plans for a Europe-based missile-defense system were shelved.

“There are all sorts of rumors for why [a new treaty] hasn’t been signed,” says Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. “At a deeper level the delay hints at lingering distrust between the United States and Russia.”

Potter, however, believes that domestic tensions in Russia rather than a rift between the two countries is responsible for the delay. “The delay has had more to do with Russian domestic politics and involves disputes between Russian military and political figures about the role of nuclear weapons in Russian security policy and the importance of improved Russian relations with the United States,” he explains. “Some Russian analysts also have suggested that President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have different interests in rapid conclusion (and ratification) of the treaty, which is related to their positioning for the next presidential contest.”

Posted in START Treaty | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Proliferation Press Round-Up: New START Agreement At Hand? Reorganizing State’s Arms Control Team and Susan Burke–America’s Top NPT Representative–Talks to Arms Control Today

Posted by K.E. White on March 17, 2010

  • Close to START II?

AFP reported yesterday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Russia where sources “have confirmed she will have bilateral negotiations on START with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.”’

Global Security Newswire (GSN) sheds light on the key sticking point in an excellent article posted yesterday.

The main sticking point in negotiations?  According to GSN, “[t]he Obama administration’s plans to deploy missile defenses in Europe remains the top issue of contention, according to defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. Moscow wants the nuclear treaty to address the matter, but any restriction is not likely to gain approval from U.S. senators who must ratify the agreement.”

The NYTimes portrays the long and winding road these talks have traveled.

  • State Brings Back Arms Control—In Title

Global Security Newswire reports today that the State Department has started reviewing how to better “strengthen” their arms control bureaus.

Currently three bureaus—Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI), International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) and Political-Military Affairs Bureau—make up the ‘T’ of the State Department’s arms control bureaus.

The White House plans to better divide responsibilities between these three bureaus, and will change VCI’s name to Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Only five years ago, the Bush administration oversaw a similar restricting.  In 2005 two of the then four arms control bureaus—Arms Control and Nonproliferation—were merged into today’s ISN.  The rationale?  The bureaus, separately, did not reward staff with opportunities for advancement and failed to attract staffers.  (This is when Arms Control—at least in name—was stricken from the title of any State Department arms control bureau.)

But a 2009 GAO report found that this reorganization failed to solve either problem.

So the Obama Administration is trying again.

Main take-away:  Reorganizing agencies is tough work, and can determine the effectiveness of critical branches of the U.S. diplomatic and national security apparatus.  Hopefully, the United States can at least enjoy a smooth-running arms control team for the last half of his administration.

  • Susan Burke Interview at Arms Control Today

Susan Burke, who finally received Senate approval in June, talks with Arms Control Today about the upcoming Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference.  Susan highlights what will be the ‘big picture’ goal of the United States at the conference that takes place only once every five years:

What we have been discussing with our partners as we engage in diplomatic outreach is the importance of full compliance with the treaty to maintaining the integrity of the treaty and the corrosive effect that noncompliance has on the treaty itself and on the understandings that other countries have had. We expect that this will be discussed in May. It has to be discussed—full compliance, full support for safeguards, and all those other measures. Exactly how it will be discussed is up in the air at the moment. There are different views on how to handle the issue. But I don’t think there is any disagreement among parties—certainly not in my consultations—that full compliance is absolutely essential.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Morning News Round-Up

Posted by K.E. White on December 23, 2009

Well, I’ll just underline the reason to be alarmist. If the rest of the world sees that North Korea can keep its nuclear weapons, they see that Iran is capable of defying United States and getting nuclear weapons, they see Hugo Chavez still completely unplugged and growing closer and closer to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran — let’s not forget Venezuela has its own uranium deposits — then the lesson, I think, for would-be proliferators around the world is clear. You can get nuclear weapons, and the United States and others will not act to stop you.

And if those constraints don’t have any force, then I think we’re going to see a lot more countries with nuclear weapons, and I think that raises the risk of global instability by an enormous factor.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Afternoon Tea: Holbrooke Goes Big; Thank Bush for Obama! (?); Fight Over America’s Future; Pakistan’s Still A Mess; Don’t Do This On The Queen’s Lawn and Other Exciting News

Posted by K.E. White on April 30, 2009

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke’s Fat and Free-Wheeling Flotilla At State

Thank you President Bush! Obama’s First 100 Days

Lind vs. Bacevich on ‘The American Century’: Hello again United States of Ponzi? Or Good-Bye and Good Riddance?

While the Pakistani counter-extremist military operations appear successful, will their restraint just set in motion future déjà vu? The Economist probes Pakistani motivations, warning American officials not to harbor false hopes of a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s security outlook. (And yes, Obama meant it when he pledged assistance last night)

And in other news…

China and Japan wrap up their two-day meeting; China signals long road ahead on North Korea. And get to know the Chinese power couple ready to take the dollar down.

‘Ice, Ice Baby’: Russia puts talks of militarizing Antarctica on ice. But gets tough on pork and pirates!

US Attorney General Holder asks for European help to shut down Gitmo in Berlin.

The Dutch get tough on teens.

And what not to do on the Queen’s lawn.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

News From Around The Web: Being ‘frank’ with Frank Gaffney, Japan’s Nuke Itch, US-Russia Nuke Cooperation, Nuclear Abolition and What About the Trash?

Posted by K.E. White on April 21, 2009

Is Japan inching closer to nuclear weapons? Review their nuclear policy here.

PONI (politely) slams Frank Gaffney’s alarmist opt-ed against Obamaland nuclear policy. My attempt to build on PONI’s first critique:

What Gaffney calls ‘cold war nostalgia’ (Obama calls for eventual [i.e. in his life-time] nuclear abolition &cutting US-Russian nuclear stockpiles) is a response to the failed Bush administration policy of nuclear dominance. At this critical period-with Iran and North Korea both push the NPT to irrelevance-a comprehensive view (ie that looks at the role current nuclear stockpiles and nulcear policies have on nuclear proliferation) towards nuclear weapons is necessary. It’s exactly because a handshake between Russia and America no longer defines arms control that Obamaland is trying to resurrect a counterproliferation norm.

Worse case scenario: The attempt fails; and America reverts to dominance or mitigates proliferation fall-out. This out-come seems well worth a chance at preventing an Iranian bomb and mounting stockpiles in North Korea.

Yale lecturer Jonathan Schell goes over Obama’s nuclear speech, and lays out the case for nuclear abolition.

Jeffrey Lewis and Meri Lugo answer this critical question: where do nuclear weapons go to die?

Another shout-out to PONI: Debate on Obama’s goal of nuclear abolition.

And Robert Zarate reviews US-Russian nuclear cooperation and make recommendations for the way forward. One recommendation, in particular, deserves note:

Given that tomorrow’s nuclear threats are likely to arise in war-prone regions roiled by today’s nonproliferation failures, the U.S. should work with Russia, France, Japan, Germany and other key nuclear suppliers to build consensus on what should be the new “model” for civil nuclear cooperation in the Middle East, East Asia, and elsewhere. As NPEC executive director Henry Sokolski has argued, the proposed U.S.-UAE civil nuclear cooperative agreement provides an opportunity for creating greater consensus on these issues. In the version of the agreement that is publicly available, the UAE says it will voluntary forgo enrichment and reprocessing activities (ENR), and the U.S. says it reserves the right to terminate the nuclear cooperation if the UAE does pursue ENR. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the agreement in January 2009 as “a powerful and timely model for the world and the region.” But if this agreement is to be the new “model” for war-prone regions, then the U.S. should make the ENR disavowal unambiguously legally binding and completely verifiable, and its termination of nuclear cooperation in the event of an ENR violation more automatic. And…the U.S. should ensure that France, Japan, Russia and other nuclear suppliers are willing to fully support this tougher model.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Proliferation Press News Round-Up

Posted by K.E. White on April 10, 2009

Gates Plan: Zakaria’s “bold” and revolutionary vs. Kori Schake’s “conservative” and backwards-looking critique

Speaking of going backwards, pirates are back with a vengeance-and it’s not funny anymore. One French hostage is dead, while American forces still gather around lifeboat holding Capt. Richard Phillips. But neo-conservatives critics of Obama seem to be playing politics and fudging history. (America has paid off pirates before; and should America really go into Somalia again right now?)

Fear the Russian bear! But I thought it was changing colors? (And will Moldova freeze improving US-Russian relations?)

Think Obama’s goal of a nuclear-free world is ridiculous? Well you better get ready to rumble with Sen. John McCain.

And Michael Reiss pulls for North Korean “malign neglect.”

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »