Sunday, July 17, 2005

International Network Of Engineers And Scientists Against Proliferation

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International Network Of Engineers And Scientists Against Proliferation

The U.S. Presidential Decision Directive 60: New Targets, Old Policy

Götz Neuneck

The current arms control process seems to be saturated and loses momentum. Today disarmament1 is an adjustment to the new realities after the cold war, in a new "security environment".2 The Natural Resources Defense Council in a new study estimates that at present some 36,000 nuclear warheads are stored in the arsenals of the five declared nuclear powers of which 98 percent are in the possession of Russia and the U.S.3 With the provision that the START-2 Treaty is ratified by the Russian Duma and that START-1 and START-2 are fully implemented in 2007, the nuclear arsenal of the United States will be reduced from around 15.000 warheads to some 10.000 nuclear warheads including 3.500 deployed strategic and 950 operational tactical warheads.4 Today, the United States is the only country with nuclear warheads outside its territory.5

Russia also proceeded in eliminating its strategic forces under the START-1 provisions.6 In January 1996 the Russian strategic forces consist of 10.240 operational warheads. Russia has withdrawn all tactical nuclear weapons from Central Europe and the former states of the Soviet Union as well as from ships and submarines.

The UK is currently modernizing its submarine fleet. It will probably possess 260 operational nuclear warheads. French seabased strategic arsenal consists of 450-500 warheads. China is continuously modernizing its nuclear arsenal, which is estimated at 400 to 450 warheads. It can be concluded that these stocks of nuclear weapons are in no way justified by the new political realities. The remaining nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia exceed by far the level of a minimum deterrence presumably needed to insure against a resurgence of the competition between the old super-power rivals. The 1997 study "The "Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy" concludes by saying: "The United States has accomplished much to lay the foundations for stricter controls on and dramatic reductions in nuclear weapons, as well as fundamental changes in nuclear operations. But much more needs to be done by the United States and Russia, as well as by other nuclear powers. The world looks to the United States, as the sole remaining superpower, for leadership."7

The Presidential Decision Directive PDD-60

The top secret Presidential Decision Directive PDD-60, signed by President Clinton in November 1997, replaces a directive signed by President Reagan in 1981 and gives new guidance to the U.S. military on targeting nuclear weapons.8 PDD abandonded previous references to win a protracted nuclear war with the former Soviet-Union by no longer targeting Russian conventional forces. Accordingly Robert Bell, senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council (NSC) "calls for U.S. war planners to retain long-standing options for nuclear strikes against military and civilian leadership and nuclear forces in Russia".9 Bell also stated that "the directive's language further allows targeters to broaden the list of sites that might be struck in the unlikely event of a nuclear exchange with China".10 Moreover, it is widely believed that the list of targets was reduced from 16.000 (in 1985) to 2.500 thus resulting in "fewer but more widespread targets". According to other reports, PDD-60 not only allows the use of nuclear weapons against "rogue states", but also against an attacker using weapons of mass destruction (WMD)11 against the US territory, troops or allies.12

During a luncheon adress at the Arms Control Association on February 18, 1998 Robert Bell described the three-part strategy of the Clinton Administration how to deal with the WMD threat: Part one is preventing the spread and use of WMD by arms control treaties and multilateral non-proliferation regimes, part two is nuclear deterrence by maintaining "a strategic posture across the triad of strategic forces" and part three means involving "active means of defeating WMD including missile defenses and counter-proliferations attack capabilities".13

The changes in the US nuclear doctrine were based on a seven year lasting review process.14 Especially, the US military sees in the "increasingly capable Third World threats" a justification for maintaining strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons. The Gulf War, the clandestine Iraqi nuclear weapons programm and the missing US target data processing capabilities for the "southern hemisphere" accelerated the changes in the nuclear doctrine and posture. A globally-focused, flexible "Strategic War Planning System " (SWPS) was introduced in 1992. A "living SIOP" (Single Integrated Operational Plan) was developed to establish a "real-time nuclear war plan which could receive virtually instantaneous war fighting commands and upgrades".15 The core of this planning system is "adaptive planning". It allows to expand the US nuclear weapon capabilities to include WMD targets outside Russia in countries such as Iran, Iraq or North Korea.

Adaptive planning makes limited nuclear operations in regional contingencies against "rogue" nations in a short time with reduced nuclear arsenals possible thus solving the dilemma that is created by extending the target list globally if the number of nuclear weapons continued to decline in the START-II/III process. Hence, "adaptive planning" makes future reductions of the nuclear arsenals possible, but did not change the US nuclear declaratory policy. The distinction between strategic and tactical nuclear planning was also cancelled in 1992: "The new SWPS will achieve a preliminary theater support of non-strategic nuclear weapons planning by January 1998, and the goal is optimized adaptive planning within the theaters. (...) As a result, nuclear Tomahawk land-attack missiles assigned to nuclear submarines and dual-capable aircraft, like the F-16 and F-15E the US Air Force currently deploys in Germany, Italy, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, will be incorporated into STRATCOM nuclear planning, albeit in coordination with the regional commanders."16

It is reported that in February 1996 regional nuclear counterproliferation was formally included into the US nuclear doctrine when the Joint Chiefs of Staff released the "Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations" (Joint Pub 3-12.1). The version of February 9, 1996 explains: "The threat of nuclear exchange by regional powers and the proliferation of WMD have grown following the end of the Cold War. Currently, short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical warheads are the primary threat in theaters".17 PDD-60 has to be seen as a series of detailed nuclear attack options for the Post-Cold war period.

Consequences for the nuclear forces modernization

Introducing a post-Cold War nuclear guidance means also modernizing and upgrading the nuclear weapon systems and infrastructure. The Navy is creating a SLBM Retargeting System (SRS) which allows Trident submarines at sea a greater capability to attack fixed and mobile sites.18 The USAF is upgrading its B-2 bombers for nuclear counterproliferation missions.

Today the USA has more than 3000 nuclear warheads operational for immediate launch from ICBM and SLBM on alert. An extra reserve supply of non-deployed nuclear warheads, the "hedge", provides an additional upload capability. The large Russian arsenal is still in the focus of the US nuclear forces.19 PDD-60 clears the way for modifications of new US nuclear weapons such as the B61-11 which allows to introduce new capabilities for targeting new proliferators in the "Third World". The B61-11 program started in October 1993 to develop a nuclear "Earth Penetrator". The bomb burrows several meters before exploding. The Pentagon did not have such a weapon to target buried command bunkers or chemical-weapons factories beneath the earth. Scientists from Sandia National Laboratory are studying other B61 designs to limit or minimize collateral damage or other effects such as the electromagnetic pulse (EMP).20 To cover also the "Southern Hemisphere" it is necessary to implement data targeting technologies from the Northern Cold-War coverage to obtain a "global capability". For example, the MILSTAR satellite communication system is designed to provide secure global command and control capabilities for nuclear warfighting.21

Former Commander-in-Chief of the US Strategic Command STRATCOM General Lee Butler describes the option to threaten chemical or biological attackers as an "outmoded idea".22 He and others are arguing, that "conventional retaliation" would be far more " proportionate, less damaging to neighboring states and less horrific for innocent civilians".23

The use of nuclear weapons to deter the use of chemical or biological attacks by merging proliferators of the Third World is not convincing. On the one hand, it is doubtful that regional troublemakers really are impressed by the US threat to use nuclear weapons. Would the US really plan the death of 10.000 or 100.000 innocent people in largely populated areas caused by one nuclear explosion? What if the use of B/CW is spread out in a clandestine way? The effects of B/CW are hardly predictable and not comparable with the consequences of nuclear weapons. The threat of B/CW can also be addressed by the superior US conventional forces and additional defensive measures. Finally, such a policy legitimizes the use of nuclear weapons to deter other than that posed by nuclear weapons themselves and it violates negative security assurances given by the nuclear weapon states.

The directive maintains the ambiguity of the U.S. policy by threatening with nuclear weapons anyone attacking U.S. territory or troops with chemical or biological weapons, thus complicating the negative security assurances and further nuclear disarmament. Robert Bell reiterated that the United States sees no problems with the given security assurances: "It is not difficult to define a scenario in which a rogue state would use chemical weapons or biological weapons and not be afforded protection under ours negative security assurances."24 These guidelines still reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first during a conflict.

Contradictions to the NPT

According to the then Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, "in deterring this threat, we depend both on a strong conventional military force and a smaller but still powerful nuclear force. In our nuclear posture review, we reaffirmed the importance of maintaining nuclear weapons as a deterrent. But I would like to point out that both our conventional and nuclear force, as deterrents, not only must be strong, but they must be perceived that the United States has the will power to use that strength."25

In effect these ambivalent statements are in contradiction with the negative security guarantees given some days before the NPT extension conference in 1995. On 5-6 April 1995, the five nuclear-weapon States published declarations26 giving "negative security assurances" applicable to the NPT. Russia, France, Britain and the United States declared in separate statements that "these countries will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT, except in the case of an invasion or attack on their territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or States towards which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State, in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state." China declared "not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances" and "not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances."

One has to argue that the possession and the attempt to find new military roles for nuclear weapons could be an encouragement for other countries to develop weapons of mass destruction and that this process could be a serious obstacle for further nuclear disarmament. Furthermore, it can be argued that the U.S. has sufficient conventional forces that could counter non-nuclear threats if they occur and that the U.S. should invest in improving the international nonproliferation effort including better financial support for the IAEA or a continuation of the Nunn-Lugar program.

The increasing capability to target potential proliferators armed with nuclear, chemical and biological and radiological weapons has changed the US declaratory nuclear policy and continues to reshape the US nuclear posture. There is also the possibility that other nuclear weapon states could take up this rationale thus enduring the role of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War period. Correctly, the BASIC-Report resumes: "By using nuclear weapons in this way, the United States is sending a message that nuclear weapons are important for achieving prestige in world affairs and for accomplishing military and political objectives. Pointing with nuclear weapons at regional troublemakers will provide them with a justification to acquire nuclear weapons themselves. Encouraging nuclear proliferation can only increase the risk to US security in the long term."27

Russian vulnerabilities

In an article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Bill Arkin and Hans Kristensen it became clear that the US has now a greater capability to destroy the Russian nuclear forces than ten years ago.28 Russia's nuclear forces, especially the mobile SS-25 and its ballistic missile submarines are in a miserable shape thus creating crisis instabilities and an emerging vulnerability: "Russia's vulnerability is undoubtedly the underlying reason why START II remains unratified in Moscow and strategic arms reductions falter".29

At the end of December 1997 President Boris Yeltsin signed Decree No. 1300 which has not been released up to now.30 The document, titled "National Security Concept of the Russian Federation", bypassed the Russian Duma, discusses future threats, national interests and the fundamentals of the national security strategy. For example, it calls for retaining sufficient nuclear forces to inflict destruction on any individual aggressor and even a coalition which uses either conventional or nuclear weapons that threaten the existence of Russia as a state. It also advocates a robust R&D effort such as the deployment of the mobile and silo-based Topol M-2 ICBM (SS-27), a new tactical system of nuclear weapons with a range of 400 km, small nuclear warheads, weighing less than 90 kg and the construction of a new class of advanced Boreia-class nuclear-powered submarines.

On February 4, 1998 Russian President Yeltsin warned that a U.S. attack in Iraq could lead to a world war: "One must be careful in a world that is saturated with all kinds of weapons, and sometimes in the hands of ... terrorists. (...) We must try at the same time to make Clinton feel that with his actions in Iraq he can lead to a world war."31 Clintons press secretary M. McCurry said on February 2, 1998 that a U.S. response to any biological attack would be "devastating and overwhelming". Not mentioning Iraq, this statement was seen as a veiled warning to Iraq, which denied inspections of its remaining suspected weapon sites.

The 1993 Russian military doctrine stated to reserve the right to initiate the use of nuclear weapons if it is attacked by a non-nuclear-weapons state allied with or supported by a nuclear-weapons state. According to U.S. intelligence sources, Russia plans to reduce its ground forces by up to 50 per cent, and intends to put greater emphasis on the use of nuclear weapons in future conflicts.32

ABM Treaty and Ballistic Missile Defense

The 1972 ABM Treaty was signed to prevent the deployment of defense technologies against the long-range strategic missiles of the U.S. and Russia. As such defense can be overwhelmed by offensive missiles, the two superpowers were encouraged to maintain relatively large numbers of nuclear missiles, thus complicating future reductions. After the Gulf War the US decided to develop more capable theater missile defenses. According to some analysts, programs such as the Army's Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) or the Navy's Theater Wide System are in principle also capable to intercept long-range missiles. The US BMD spending can be seen in table 2. The U.S. Administration's original position was that THAAD was not able to intercept strategic missiles. However, analyses from independent analysts demonstrated that if THAAD worked as claimed against 3,500 km range TBMs, it would also be effective against strategic missiles.33 Their mobility and high production rates also raise concerns that they could also be deployed to defend the U.S. territory. It is important to note that the effectiveness of the planned TMD systems is primarily dependent on their ability to deal with countermeasures.34

In 1993 the U.S. began discussions with Russia to modify the ABM treaty. Whereas Russia wanted to limit testing (and the interceptor's speed to 3 km/s), the US wanted the treaty to permit deployment of any TMD-System as long as the system was not tested against incoming targets with a speed of 5 km/s.

On September 26, 1997 the United States and Russia signed two separate "Agreed Statements" to specify which system could be considered treaty compliant.35 The "low-speed agreement" says that any system will be permitted if its interceptors do not travel faster than 3 km/s and if the system is not tested against targets that fly faster than 5 km/s. Unfortunately the "high speed agreement" only specifies that a treaty-compliant system must fulfill the same testing restrictions as the low-speed system and that the parties will "hold consultations and discuss" their "questions and concerns". For the U.S. this means that each party will rely on its own responsibility to determine treaty compliance. The agreement prohibits also the deployment of space-based interceptors and introduces two principles:36

1. The scale of deployment of high-speed systems in terms of number and geographic scope

2. The deployment of high-speed systems only if they do not pose "a realistic threat to the strategic nuclear force" of the other country.

According to L. Gronlund from the MIT, the second principle introduces a new "force-on-force" interpretation because it permits intercepting strategic missiles as long as they do not threaten the entire retaliatory force of the other side. Whereas a mobile TMD system does not constitute a real threat to an arsenal of several thousand nuclear weapons, it could in principle threaten an arsenal of a few hundred missiles thus complicating future nuclear reductions to low levels.37

Defensive weapons including ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems are a major component of counterproliferation. Most of the budget for the Defense Counterproliferation program is spent on BMD systems. Confronted with such a massive program a study by U.S. scientists which analyzed the global missile threat and its dynamics for the next decade came to the conclusion that investing heavily in BMD programs is "misguided and dangerous": "Essential international arms control treaties designed to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction have been held hostage to other issues. Funding is slashed for programs which provide the front line of defense against the nuclear danger by reducing the threat itself, while billions of dollars are being poured into ballistic missile defense, the last and more questionable line of defense."38


1. "Unfortunately, not all reductions in the number of weapons can be called disarmament; A leaner army may be `meaner' and more efficient." Bonn International Center for Conversion: Conversion Survey 1996, Oxford 1996

2 . ESC 1996, p.85 (see footnote 1)

3 . William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, Joshua Handler: Taking Stock. Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington D.C. 1998

4. K. Schultz: U.S. Nuclear Posture and Doctrine Since the End of the Cold War, Washington D.C. 1996, (Working paper, Center for Defense Information). published in: Berliner Informationszentrum für Transatlantische Sicherheit (BITS) "The Future of Nuclear Weapons in European Security", Berlin 1996. On December 15, 1997 the New York Times reported that the United States has still 7.500 nuclear warheads ready for use. PPNN Newsletter No.40, 1997, p.8.

5. See Arkin 1998, p.1.

6. For details see: Shannon Kile, Eric Arnett: Nuclear Arms Control, in: SIPRI Yearbook 1996: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford 1996, p. 611 ff.

7. Committee on International Security and Arms Control, National Academy of Sciences: The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy, National Academy Press, Washington D.C. 1997

8. The secret directive was reported by the Washington Post on December 7, 1997. See: R. Jeffrey Smith: Clinton Directive changes Strategy on Nuclear Arms, The Washington Post, December 7, 1997 pp.A1 and A8.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. In the Pentagon terminology "rogue states" are used for countries such as Iran, Iraq, Liya, Syria and North Korea. WMD refers to nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons.

12. See for details the excellent BASIC-Report 98.2 "Nuclear Futures: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and US Nuclear Strategy written by Hans M. Kristensen, Washington D.C./London 1998. In the following quoted as BASIC 1998.

13. Robert Bell: Strategic Agreements and the CTB Treaty: Striking the Right Balance, Luncheon Adress to the Arms Control Association, February 18, 1998.

14. An excellent outline of the emerging US doctrine can be found in the BASIC-Report 1998.

15. BASIC 1998, p. 11.

16. Ibid., p. 12.

17. Joint Chiefs of Staff: Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations, Joint Pub 3-12.1, February 9, 1996, p.Vi

18. BASIC 1998, p. 18.

19. "Russia is not an enemy. Nonetheless, Russia remains capable of destroying Americaïs way of life. By most estimates, Russia retains some 20,000-25,000 nuclear weapons, and Russian political and military leaders repeatedly stress their reliance on nuclear weapons for their own security." Statement of General Eugene E. Habiger, USAF, Commander-in-Chief, US STRATCOM before the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 13,1997.

20. BASIC 1998, p. 20.

21. See BASIC 1998, p.10.

22. Ibid., p.3.

23. Quoted from BASIC 1998, p.7.

24. Defense News 5.-11. January 1998, p.4/19.

25. William J. Perry DoD News Briefing,16:00-16:34 April 11, 1996.

26. See for the four statements in UN-documents: The Arms Control Reporter 7-95. 850.393.

27. BASIC 1998, p. 5.

28. William M. Arkin, Hans Kristensen: Dangerous Directions, in: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 1998, p. 26-31

29. Ibid., p.26.

30. See: Richard F. Starr: Russiaïs National Security Concept, in: Perspective Volume VIII, Number 3, January/February 1998, p.1

31. Reuters 4. February.1998

32. Reuters 18. Oct. 97, quoted from PPNN Newsbrief No. 40 1997, p. 7/8

33. Lisbeth Gronlund, George Lewis, Theodore Postol, and David Wright, "Highly Capable Theater Missile Defenses and the ABM Treaty", Arms Control Today, April 1994, pp. 3-8.

34. For a description of these countermeasures, see Lisbeth Gronlund, George Lewis, Theodore Postol, and David Wright, "The Weakest Line of Defense: Intercepting Ballistic Missiles", in Joseph Cirincione and Frank von Hippel, The Last 15 Minutes: Ballistic Missile Defense in Perspective, Washington D.C.: Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, 1996.

35. See the excellent analysis from Lisbeth Gronlund: ABM: Just kicking the can, in: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 1998, p. 15-16

36. ibid.

37. ibid.

38. J. Cirincione, F. von Hippel, The Last 15 Minutes, Washington D.C. 1996.

Götz Neuneck is a senior researcher at the institute for Peace and International Security Research Hamburg (IFSH).

Adress: Falkenstein 1, 22587 Hamburg, Germany; tel +49 040-86905, fax - 8663615



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