Strategic Arms Control -- Moment of Decision?

Summary of a seminar sponsored by the START II Program
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
June 11, 1997

Panel 1: Status After Helsinki - Are We at a Crossroads?

Panel II: Moving Forward - What are the Critical Steps?

Panel I: Status After Helsinki - Are We at a Crossroads?

I. Rodney Jones, Policy Architects International, Senior Advisor to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Project

In his introductory remarks, Jones pointed out that key Russian interests in the terms of START II, which the United States shared and helped address in the early 1990s -- the denuclearization of Ukraine and the decoupling of Russian strategic forces from dependence on missile production plants in Ukraine -- faded into the background after START I entered into force and Ukraine acceded to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state in December 1994. Russian criticism of START II thereafter focused on U.S. missile defense developments that could affect the ABM Treaty, on the heavy costs to Russia of implementing reductions, and on the unequal U.S. and Russian reconstitution potential under START II ceilings. By 1996, reactions to NATO expansion had become a further obstacle to START II ratification in Moscow.

The principal Russian concerns regarding START II itself were addressed, however, in the agreements signed at the Helsinki Summit of March 20-21, 1997. As a result, the "goal posts" on ratification of the START II Treaty have been shifted. Additional action will now be needed by the U.S. Senate, and the schedule for implementing the pact will be extended.

Unfortunately, Jones continued, the level of opposition to the treaty in Moscow, is, if anything, higher today than in 1993-1994, because the Communist victory in the December 1995 Duma elections created an opposition majority in the Duma, which does not support START II. Moreover, the findings from the latest Carnegie trip to Moscow two weeks ago suggested that the Helsinki agreements extending START II and specifying lower START III ceilings were not enough. This implied the goal posts were being moved yet again. As result, Jones noted, there is growing concern in Washington that START II may fail, a development that would require a major readjustment in thinking about the arms control process.

Jones urged several questions be addressed by the speakers: (1) Will START II be ratified, or fail? Is the Duma capable of approving START II, at any price? (2) Is the real hold-up the Yeltsin administration? Can it succeed if it puts its shoulder to the wheel, and when might this occur? (3) If the next objective is deeper START III reductions, was the Helsinki decision to postpone START II deadlines by five years really a good idea? Will the goal posts be moved again by that point? (4) What are the consequences if START II fails? (5) Are we, as the seminar title suggests, "at the moment of decision?" Or, are we at a crossroads?

II. Alexei Arbatov, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee

Arbatov stressed that there is both good news and bad regarding prospects for START II in Moscow.

The news. On the bad news side of the ledger, the Helsinki agreements were not altogether well received at the Duma. Moreover, Yeltsin’s statements in Paris, during the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, muddied the waters because of his misstatement that all warheads would be removed from missiles currently targeted at NATO.

For the moment one piece of "good news" is that no one is thinking about START II because domestic budget battles and crises over taxes are dominating the political agenda.

START II ratification: Groundwork complete. On Jones’ question whether the Duma is able to ratify START II, Arbatov noted that attitudes in the Duma toward the treaty are mixed. Those who understand strategic issues, even conservatives, now support the treaty, he stated, as a better alternative than not having any treaty at all and continuing strategic deployments at START I levels. Indeed, even Lev Rokhlin, chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, who had opposed the accord when he arrived in the Duma, is now a supporter.

Arbatov underscored that the Helsinki understanding to extend the treaty’s deadlines and the commitment to lower START III ceilings removed substantial arguments of opponents in the Duma, where there had been pressure for these changes. He also noted that the body has had hearings for the past four years on the treaty and that most deputies involved have heard extensive testimony on the subject and know the details, especially on the START II/ABM Treaty interaction.

However, he continued, the broader political situation is also very important. The NATO-Russia Founding Act remains controversial in Moscow. While U.S. analysts may believe the Founding Act relieved Russian concerns about NATO enlargement, in Russia it is perceived as camouflage for a major defeat of Russian foreign policy -- a detriment to, not an achievement of U.S.-Russian foreign relations. To move START II forward, it will be necessary to build on the Paris accord, Arbatov stated. (See below.)

Russian foreign policy: Recent successes. On the more positive side, Yeltsin’s foreign policy appears to have had some successes in the "Near Abroad." Although the Russia-Belarus union agreement lacks substance and no one can understand Russia’s motivations, the one good thing that has come out of NATO expansion is that it prompted Yeltsin finally to conclude an agreement at the end of May with Ukraine resolving the Black Sea Fleet problem and burnished Yeltsin’s reputation in the process.

New Defense Minister, a plus for START II. Another cause for cautious optimism, Arbatov noted, is that the new Minister of Defense, Igor Sergeyev, understands the treaty and supports it. Former Defense Minister Rodionov had privately opposed it on the grounds that it made too many concessions, stressing that it dated from a period when then-Foreign Minister Kozyrev was trying to placate the West -- to enhance prospects for integration. Rodionov was part of the old guard, Arbatov pointed out, and recently had begun talking about the threat of conventional war in Europe. Sergeyev, former head of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, knows all the details of the treaty and is one best thinkers in the MoD.

START II plan drafted. Returning to educating the Duma, Arbatov pointed out that the body has long called on the executive branch to present a program for START II, explaining budgetary implications, alternative force structures, etc. By now, he guessed, a program is sitting ready in the Ministry of Defense. It will show that it will be three times less expensive to implement START II (with extended deadlines) than to maintain START I deployments in order to retain parity with the U.S.

Competing hard-line vision. Arbatov continued that General Makashov, is talking about a more radical approach, however, under which Russia would abandon the effort to maintain parity, going its own way and retaining land-based, MIRVed ICBMs. Under this plan, Russia would reduce to the numerical level of 3,000-3,500 strategic warheads required by START II, as systems age naturally, but without the deMIRVing the treaty now requires. Advocates of this approach do not accept the vulnerability and crisis instability arguments, taking the view that since there is no longer any enemy, this threat no longer exists. If NATO is being portrayed by the West as friendly, then Russia can portray SS-18s as friendly missiles -- not to be aimed at any state, just a cheap way to maintain parity. Single-warhead mobile missiles are 100 times more expensive to operate than MIRVed silo-based missiles, Arbatov pointed out. With silo-based missiles 100 persons can service ten missiles with 100 warheads; in comparison, 100 single-warhead mobile missiles require 1,000 personnel. And for each person there are social costs, including housing, heating, electricity, and kindergartens.

This approach would approximate the French model ("deterrence with a sign, ‘To Whom It May Concern’") and would also avert the threat of a sudden arms race or arms build up via uploading under START II.

Arbatov picked up here on an earlier comment of Rodney Jones that extending START II postpones the goal of deeper reductions. We understand, he said, that this extended deadline may be perceived in the United States as slowing the arms reduction process. But for us the stretch-out allows more gradual reductions, which are cheaper, and with START III avoids the need for us to build up to START II levels.

No executive branch action. Arbatov stated that President Yeltsin would have the ability to push START II through the Duma "in a week," if he pressed for this objective and invested the needed political capital. However, Yeltsin is holding back, he said, possibly because people do not tell him that he could succeed quickly that way. Perhaps he is hoping to recoup some of the political damage he suffered in signing the Paris Accord, for example, by consolidating the NATO-Russia understanding on non-deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in new NATO member states and/or by showing success on CFE II. Success on these fronts could be linked with START II implementation and START III negotiation to make the Russian executive branch press forward with START II, he stated.

Deactivation. Arbatov noted that the agreement at Helsinki for a protocol extending the deadlines in START II was an important breakthrough, but that the agreement there on early deactivation of systems to be dismantled under START II was like a "spoon of tar" in a "bowl of honey." It raises new problems, because of inadequate capacity for transporting and storing the surge of warheads to be removed from the START II systems. Rail transport is not without security problems, weapon storage facilities are full, and dismantling plants, he said, are already working beyond capacity, to the neglect of safety procedures.

Moreover, Arbatov stressed, critics of START II, such as the Surikovs, will inevitably note that the deactivation understanding speaks only of removing warheads from systems to be "dismantled" under START II, not those to be downloaded, placing greater burdens on Russia in comparison to the United States, which will have large numbers of downloaded Minuteman III ICBMs and D-5 SLBMs. Russia would have to remove 2,000 warheads or so from deactivated missiles, and the United States only 500. This disparity needs to be addressed, he stated.

Arbatov proposed an extension of one year in the deactivation process and that the two sides work out a different technical solution to deactivation for Russian missiles, such as taking off the aerodynamic shrouds (nose cones) and storing them at missile bases. The existing on-site inspection procedure (for missile reentry vehicles) would verify the missiles were without shrouds and had only covers sealing the missile against the environment, he argued.

In sum, Arbatov concluded, ratification of START II would look much more promising if Yeltsin can make progress by getting the handful of changes, just described, made to the Helsinki accords. This would give him the political protection he needs to push the treaty through the Duma.

Regarding the ABM/TMD issue, Arbatov added, TMD is not a problem and even a limited U.S. national missile defense would not affect Russian deterrence capability. Arbatov stated that he personally rejected the arguments that it could affect the strategic balance. But there are other viewpoints, he added, and the extension of TMD into NMD could stimulate support for MIRVs, which could defeat the main purpose of START II.

In closing, Arbatov mentioned that by 2005, Russia would probably no longer have a bomber fleet. By 2010, Russia would decide on a "common missile" for its land-based and sea-based strategic systems, which would be heavily MIRVed when used in submarines (the mode for which it would be initially developed) and could also be lightly MIRVed when used as an ICBM -- providing a hedge against upgrading the light national missile defense envisaged by the United States..

III. Sergei Rogov, Director, USA-Canada Institute

NATO-Russia Founding Act. Rogov stated that he perceived the Founding Act to be a turning point in Russia’s relationship with the West. The accord, he said, marked the end of five years of missed opportunities, which had reached the point of political crisis because of the issue of NATO enlargement.

The Paris agreement, he said, "secures a Russian place in the post-Cold War European security system," ensuring that Russia will be a full participant in decisions on European security and providing a framework for institutionalizing such coordination.

While there is always a risk that the document will become only a scrap of paper, Rogov hoped that the Denver Summit will allow additional steps towards Russia’s integration with the West and further stabilization of the Russia-US relationship.

"Mutual" nuclear deterrence. Rogov argued that the idea of security partnership reflected in the Paris accord is incompatible with the reality of mutual nuclear deterrence as it is found today between the U.S. and Russia, although it need not be incompatible with the concept of nuclear deterrence per se. This paradox was manifest at the political level by Yeltsin’s statements in Paris regarding the detargeting of missiles previously aimed at NATO.

Currently U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear deterrence is characterized by a number of distinctive factors. These include:

  • the preoccupation with equal numbers of strategic warheads, numbers that are not based on actual security needs;
  • reliance on counterforce weapons, which creates concerns about "bolt from the blue" scenarios;
  • anxieties on both sides about pre-emption gives tremendous importance to tactical warning;
  • this forces reliance on a posture of launch-on-warning, to protect forces against a disarming strike;
  • the rigid relation between strategic offense and defense, which makes defenses destabilizing;
  • the treatment of the strategic nuclear balance in isolation from the overall military balance; and
  • the fact that one side’s deterrent objective of instilling uncertainty in the mind of the other only generates certainty that the other side must respond in kind, and vice versa, with the ever present potential for strategic crises.

Yeltsin’s slip of the tongue in Paris, Rogov noted, showed the illogic of deterrence, by highlighting that targeting NATO -- and perhaps even having warheads available on missiles for targeting NATO -- is not necessary any longer.

"General" nuclear deterrence. For US-Russian cooperation and coordination to become true partnership, Rogov continued, it will be necessary to dismantle mutual nuclear deterrence and move toward generalized nuclear deterrence. Making this transition is difficult, he stated, but the relationship between Britain and France showed that the mere ability of the two to destroy each other did not lead to mutual deterrence. The key to this relationship is a commonality of political and economic goals.

Institutionalizing cooperation on strategic issues, the heart of the Paris agreement, is a very important first step towards replacing mutual nuclear deterrence with general nuclear deterrence. Moreover, he continued, the agreements at Helsinki on US-Russian confidence building in nuclear warhead dismantlement and deployments of tactical nuclear weapon also contribute to this, since the increasing transparency contemplated by such arrangements will become incompatible with mutual nuclear deterrence.

START III; economic constraints. Turning to START III, Rogov noted that current budget cuts in Russia will result in a $14 billion defense budget, and even though this might represent $40 billion in purchasing power, it still represents only a small fraction of the U.S. defense budget. The START III ceilings of 2,000-2,500 strategic warheads does not really resolve this disparity, but the stretch-out will help. In the end, he said, Russia will have no choice but to build additional SS-25 missiles and SS-25 follow-ons and this will be difficult because of economic constraints.

To address this economic challenge, Rogov proposed that Russia and the U.S. move towards a 1,500 warhead level. This would allow the U.S. to retain D-5 missiles with three warheads each; the Minuteman III arsenal would be reduced to 200-300; and the strategic bomber force would be limited to B-2s, only. If a sub-limit of 1,200 warheads on submarines were adopted, the 1,500 ceiling would also work for Russia. Transparency and institutionalized measures could be implemented to avoid rapid reload problems.

IV. Kenneth Myers, Sr., staff of Senator Richard Lugar

Myers opened his comments by stressing that the Duma and the U.S. Congress have strongly divergent views on bilateral Russian-U.S. strategic issues.

Referring to the "Dumatization" of the Congress, he stressed that the two bodies are both now insisting on concessions in return for their approval of important arms control agreements, as seen on the U.S. side in the demands made by the Senate when it approved START II and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Myers stated that sentiment in the Senate is so opposed to arms control measures that leading members have advised the Clinton Administration not to bother sending the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty up for approval at this time and that Senate consent to the Helsinki START II stretch-out protocol would have little chance of success right now.

The Clinton Administration has been too eager to offer incentives to the Duma to ratify START II, Myers argued. The goal posts have been moved so much, in fact, that no one can tell what the game is any more. The START II extension buys nothing in the U.S. Senate. Instead, it imposes the unexpected cost of staying up at START I levels for years longer than expected. As for the condition of deactivation, what it really raises for the U.S. Senate is how much extra the United States is going to pay Russia to support this goal. It is very doubtful that the needed two-thirds majority (67 votes) could be mustered to approve the Helsinki agreement, or even to take the matter up.

Exacerbating this antagonism to arms control measures in Congress is that Russia has not acted on the CWC. Meanwhile, he said, conservatives are seeking to roll back U.S. ratification of that pact by opposing essential implementing legislation.

START process dead. Myers declared that "the START process as we envisaged it is a `dead duck, ’" because Russia is no longer able or willing to uphold the force restructuring principles that underpin the pact. By 2005, he argued, Russia is unlikely to have a strategic bomber capability. This undercuts the "slow flyer" argument that give bombers more favorable treatment than ballistic missiles in START, because bombers can be recalled after launch whereas missiles cannot. Now Arbatov points out that some Russians are talking about backtracking on the ban on MIRVed ICBMs, and he sees practical and economic difficulties in increasing the proportion of missiles on submarines. Indeed, the SLBM leg of the Russian triad is said to be collapsing. So from the Russian point of view, the START process does not offer much to look forward to. Myers argued that in the future steps such as "de-alerting" rather than restructuring and reducing deployed forces would be a more fruitful course for bilateral nuclear arms control.

Summarizing, Myers stated that the politics of ratification in Washington and Moscow have set limits on what both sides can accomplish. With little inclination in the Senate to go beyond Helsinki agreements, he urged that the Administration not provide further incentives to the Duma, because each new concession to that body can make the U.S. ratification process correspondingly more difficult.

Myers concluded by stating that until Russia ratifies START II, there will be no movement on the Helsinki agreements or other arms control measures in the U.S. Senate, and "zero prospect" for START III. He underscored that the United States has gone politically as far as it can go and has already offered too many incentives to Moscow.


Yeltsin push. Responding to a question on President Yeltsin’s ability to push the START II treaty through the Duma, Alexei Arbatov noted that the current fight in the Duma over cutting the Russian budget provides Yeltsin unusual leverage against the Communists, the largest bloc in the Duma and leader of the majority coalition. If they vote for the cuts proposed by Yeltsin, the Communists will lose their status as a true opposition party, but if they refuse, Yeltsin can call for new elections, in which the Communists would undoubtedly lose seats. This gives Yeltsin bargaining power he could use to help obtain approval of START II, but he is not doing this because he wants a decisive win on the budgetary issue.

Sergei Rogov added that because the Russian constitution provides for a powerful, "imperial presidency," Yeltsin does not want to diminish his authority by bargaining.

Kenneth Myers stressed that because Yeltsin can get the treaty approved, there is no need for the United States to make further concessions on the accord. The United States, he emphasized, must negotiate with Yeltsin, not with committees of the Duma.

Alexei Arbatov interjected that Yeltsin’s ability to have the treaty approved only emerged after the Helsinki Summit, where most concerns raised by the Duma were addressed.

Nuclear deterrence. Elaborating on his call for an end to mutual nuclear deterrence, Sergei Rogov noted that transparency and confidence-building measures could address two current problems. Anxieties in Moscow and Washington concerning tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and the up-loading potential of both sides under START II could be partly alleviated by the sharing of information.

Alexei Arbatov noted that the model of Britain and France as exemplars of "general nuclear deterrence" is not apt, because the two states have been allies against a common enemy, the Soviet Union, and now, perhaps, Russia. He stated that it is hard to imagine a relationship other than mutual nuclear deterrence except in such cases, or in those where the distances between two states are so large as to preclude this (as in the case of France and China), or in the case of where disparities in forces make it impossible as a practical matter (as in the case of China versus the United States).

Costs to U.S. of stretch-out. Kenneth Myers pointed out that it will be more expensive for the United States to extend the START II deadlines than to implement the treaty’s original schedule, because of the need to keep more systems deployed for a longer period. Similarly, if U.S. funds are to be provided to Russia for dismantlement assistance throughout the START II implementation period, the effect will be to extend the Nunn-Lugar program through 2007; it had been hoped that the program could end in 2001 or 2002.

Alexei Arbatov urged that Nunn-Lugar funds not be used to assist in the dismantling of missiles because it is provocative and unnecessary; with the extended START II deadlines, Russian can afford to dismantle the weapons on its own. Thus an extension of the program may not be required.

Founding Act; tactical nuclear weapons, CFE II. Myers also noted that the more that cooperative measures under the Russia-NATO Founding Act are elaborated during the next two years, the more anxious the new NATO member states may become, because this could mean that until they are formally inducted into NATO, these states may have less involvement in NATO affairs than Russia.

Myers cautioned that because negotiating a revised CFE treaty will be so difficult in itself, new negotiations on tactical nuclear weapons should be deferred. He stressed that the CFE Flank Agreement was approved by the Senate only after the Clinton Administration made the major concession of agreeing that the multilateralization of the ABM treaty would be submitted for Senate. The negotiations on CFE II will be a "hornets nest" he said.

Panel II: Moving Forward - What are the Critical Steps?

I. Stephen Pifer, Senior Director for Russian Affairs, U.S. National Security Council

Pifer stressed that the United States has sought to be responsive to Russian concerns in order to advance START II ratification in Moscow. He noted that within two weeks of the Helsinki meeting, the Clinton Administration had prepared a draft of the protocol to extend the deadlines in the START II Treaty; that "some progress" had been made in negotiations on the ABM demarcation agreement; and that efforts were being made to build upon the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

He stated that it was now up to the Russian executive branch to obtain ratification of START II and move on to START III or face the alternative of remaining at START I deployment levels.

The U.S. government believes, Pifer said, that START II can be ratified in the Duma. President Yeltsin will have to decide, however, whether to press ahead first with the Chemical Weapon Convention and whether the CWC or START II can be placed ahead of his domestic legislative agenda.

Pifer stressed that within the Clinton Administration there is little sympathy for the idea of taking additional steps to meet any additional Russian concerns regarding START II and that in this respect the Administration shares the views of the Congress. He added that the Administration is sensitive to the concerns of the Senate regarding the delays in the Duma’s acting on the treaty.

Pifer said that the Administration is not prepared to bypass START II and "leap-frog" to START III. START II represents a "balance of compromises" on many issues that would come up again in a START III-without-START II negotiation and this would seriously bog down the negotiating process.

Now, he concluded, "the ball is in Russia’s court."

II. Michael Nacht, University of Maryland

Nacht stated that we are now coming to the end of the third decade of the START process. Arms control has always been difficult, he noted, pointing out that ratification of the SALT I agreement had taken three years. He stated that he believed START II and START III would be ratified, but that the process would be costly for the U.S. Administration as it negotiated with the Senate.

Role of arms control. Noting that "back channels" are always part of the bilateral negotiating process, Nacht said the cause for his optimism was that the presidents of Russia and the United States have parallel visions of the futures of their respective countries and see the treaties as important tools for achieving these visions. Clinton’s vision, Nacht stated, is to help fashion a peaceful, democratic Europe. Economic integration, deep reductions in nuclear forces, and an expanded NATO are all elements the Clinton plan. Yeltsin’s vision is to bring Russia into the family of modern nations and for this he needs Western help, Nacht continued.

For both, arms control is thus a "means to achieving broader ends."

Helsinki compromises. Nacht stressed that the Helsinki agreements, like START II, itself, was a balance of compromises. All the elements of the package of agreements adopted at the summit were interrelated, he noted, especially those on START III and the ABM Treaty demarcation agreement. Washington had also long understood, he said, that Yeltsin would not push START II until Russian relations with NATO were clarified.

Stating that he hoped the ABM demarcation agreement would be completed by autumn 1997, Nacht declared that at this point the onus must be on Yeltsin to gain Duma approval of START II. This will not be easy, Nacht acknowledged, but Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov is a supporter of the pact who will play an influential role and who sees the NATO-Russia Founding Act and the Helsinki agreements as the first two products of his foreign policy of integration vis-à-vis the West. Newly appointed Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev will also be a critical player in support of the treaty. More broadly, other key Russian politicians, including First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatoli Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, as well as future presidential candidates Alexander Lebed and Moscow Mayor Yuri Lushkov are all in favor of Russia’s integration with the West and are likely to see START II as an important stepping stone towards this goal.

Demarcation ratification. Nacht acknowledged that gaining Senate approval of the ABM demarcation agreement would be a "very bloody fight" but argued that the Administration would ultimately prevail because opponents lack the political clout to muster the thirty-four votes needed to block the accord.

Political health. For Yeltsin and Clinton to advance arms control agreements, both would have to be "politically healthy," Nacht stressed. Yeltsin faces a continuing financial crisis at home that could undermine his political power, while Clinton faces political scandals involving allegations of illegal campaign financing and sexual misbehavior.

Agenda. Taking issue with both Kenneth Myers and Sergei Rogov, Nacht stated that the START process had not yet reached its fruition and that lower levels of nuclear weapons and verified warhead dismantlement would be the arms control agenda for the next ten years, roughly through 2010. During this period, he believed that bilateral, mutual nuclear deterrence would continue. After this point, it might be possible to look more carefully at deploying national missile defenses, but for now, he stated, this would be premature.

III. Nikolai Sokov, Visiting Scholar, Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies

Looking at the broad direction of the arms control process, Sokov saw four elements of current U.S. and Russian nuclear postures that would have to be addressed for further progress to be made.

First, he noted, the structure of existing arsenals would have to be revised. This was likely to take place by the time START III is ratified, probably with both sides adopting SLBM-ICBM dyads for their forces.

Second, the organization of forces and nuclear doctrines of both sides would have to be modified. Sokov noted the destabilizing potential of new U.S. "bunker busting" nuclear weapons and the strategic threat that Russia believed was posed by highly accurate conventionally armed cruise missiles.

Third, the issue of tactical nuclear weapons would have to be addressed, Sokov argued, because of U.S. concerns about Russia’s much larger TNW deployments and stockpile, and Russia’s concerns about the enlargement of NATO’s membership and its superiority in conventional weaponry.

Finally, Sokov stated, it will be necessary to focus more on Chinese nuclear forces. China’s modernization of its forces through the development of mobile MIRVed ICBMs is an important new development that will raise new arms control questions.

In view of the legislative obstacles to START II and START III, Sokov proposed the establishment of "strategic stability conferences" in order to institutionalize additional bilateral channels of U.S.-Russian arms control discussions. These stability conferences would enable the sides to take up other bypassed agenda items and fill the gaps between high-level meetings. The mechanism would principally involve governmental representatives but could also involve legislators and non-governmental influentials. The conferences would have as their goals the building of understanding and good will, and the discovery of areas of common ground and potential action, but would not be the fora to negotiate specific agreements. Topics to be discussed might be joint understandings of strategic stability, new measures for enhancing transparency, variables in defensive systems that do not affect the basic offense/defense balance, and mechanisms for involving third nuclear powers in arms control discussions.


Responding to a question on how the sequence of pending START II and ABM Treaty demarcation agreement ratifications would unfold, Michael Nacht and Stephen Pifer said they expected that the first step would be the signing of the demarcation agreement. Then, hopefully, the Duma would ratify START II. They speculated that the Duma could attach a unilateral statement requiring President Yeltsin to report annually that U.S. TMD/NMD activities did not threaten Russian national security. A more complicated scenario would occur if the Duma instructed Yeltsin to hold up exchange of START II instruments of ratification pending U.S. Senate approval of the TMD demarcation agreement. U.S. and Russian ratification of the demarcation agreement might be a Senate prequisite for its advice and consent to the START II extension protocol.

A member of the audience then noted that the list of pending arms control agreements was considerably longer than those anticipated by Helsinki, and that the Clinton Administration would have to decide carefully the sequence of actions it would seek from the Senate. He noted that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the enlargement of NATO, the ABM demarcation agreement, and the START II extension protocol might all come before the Senate in 1997 but that some would likely still be pending at the time of the 1998 mid-term elections.

Responding to an inquiry as to why he believed the Senate would ratify these agreements when Kenneth Myers had stated that there was currently no interest in the Senate in taking such steps, Michael Nacht replied that in the long term he agreed that the START process would lose momentum. In the near term, however, he believed that the President can obtain Senate approval for the cluster of treaties now on the table.

Asked about the possibilities of discussions on tactical nuclear weapons, Nacht replied that in Helsinki the United States wanted to have the subject included in future talks, while the Russians wanted to hold discussions on sea-launched cruise missiles, which the United States does not consider strategic weapons. In one of the balances of compromises embodied in the Helsinki agreements, Nacht continued, it was agreed that both topics would be taken up in the context of talks on START III.

A member of the audience noted that on the issue of tactical nuclear weapons, the disparity in U.S. and Russian forces may diminish by attrition because of the aging of Russian platforms (aircraft and naval vessels). Gradually Russian operational nuclear weapons are likely to number 1,000-3,000 rather than the 10,000 to 20,000 of today.

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