NUNN-LUGAR: The Past as a Guide to the Future
U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar delivered the following speech today at the Monterey Institute of International Studies Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California:How many of us in this room would lose someone we know?
Thank you Bill, for your thoughtful and generous introduction. I congratulate you and thank you and the Monterey Institute for 10 years of invaluable service to our country and to world peace. It is a privilege to share with you and the extraordinary assembly you have in the celebration of this important milestone.
The Monterey Institute has played an essential role in educating our government and the American people about the threats that confront our country and Russia in the post-Cold War world. The Institute has made many significant contributions to the most important foreign policy debates of recent years. Efforts in the areas of nonproliferation, missile exports to Iraq, the need to sustain and expand the Material Protection Control and Accounting Program, and the problems surrounding the storage of Russian naval fuel are signal achievements. Your book, “Dismantling the Cold War”, was an important work that provided the first independent assessment of the Nunn-Lugar program. Its policy recommendations are a respected set of measurements as Congress seeks to update and refine our nonproliferation policies.
I want to acknowledge the presence of some members of our audience for their outstanding work on U.S. nonproliferation policy. Their talented efforts have made the world safer. Dick Combs was on the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1991 and was Senator Sam Nunn’s right-hand man. His fingerprints and wise counsel have left an indelible mark on the Nunn-Lugar program. In the early years, Roland Lajoie administered the Nunn-Lugar program office. His outstanding efforts can be seen in all of the ongoing dismantlement projects in the former Soviet Union. I could continue indefinitely reminiscing about old friends but let me specifically mention, specifically, General Kuenning, Andy Webber, Ron Lehman, Anne Harrington, Matthew Bunn, and Mike Moody for their outstanding contributions to our efforts.
When the Soviet Union collapsed just over eight years ago, a new era in world history began. Many suggested that the dangers of nuclear war had been dispelled by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As our former adversaries began to move toward democracy and market economic systems, many suggested that peace had been secured for our time.
Instead, we now face a world that is more turbulent, unpredictable, and, in some respects, more violent than the one we left at the beginning of this decade. The hopes of the early 1990's for enduring peace have given way to the reality of disorder and conflict.
During the Cold War, the United States co-existed with the Soviet Union in an environment characterized by the risk of total nuclear annihilation. But because of the unthinkable consequences of total nuclear war, the probability of a ballistic missile exchange between the superpowers at any given moment was low. Since the end of the Cold War, even as the threat of massive nuclear exchange has mercifully declined, the probability that one or several weapons of mass destruction might be used to attack the American homeland or U.S. forces abroad may have increased!
As a consequence of the collapse of the Soviet totalitarian command and control society, a vast supermarket of weapons and materials of mass destruction has become accessible. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the subsequent decay of the custodial system guarding it’s nuclear, chemical, and biological legacy has eliminated this proliferation choke-point.
Moreover, the aspiring nuclear powers of today are not constrained by the patterns of Cold War competition. They do not need a Manhattan Project. The small, covert weapons programs of rogue nations and regional powers do not require high standards or a large number of weapons. These programs are harder to detect and to identify as host nations are increasingly able to conceal their efforts and move ahead rapidly.
In addition, the motives and methods of these new transnational threats are very different from those of traditional nuclear powers. The available technology would allow a very small state or a small number of conspirators to threaten large populations.
Ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction provide a cost-effective deterrent for small countries who do not welcome American intervention. Rogue nations, regional powers and terrorist groups view ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction as a means to intimidate or terrorize their neighbors and the United States.
DANGERS OF PROLIFERATION:
In short, the world in which we now live is a very dangerous one. But we face difficulties in summoning the national will to deal with the proliferation problem because it seems far less consequential than the nuclear threat of the Cold War and far less immediate than the array of domestic problems that confront us. But consider for a moment what would happen to American society if even one small nuclear weapon were detonated in a major metropolitan area such as New York, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C.
What would be the effect on the national economy if a major metropolitan area with all its industry were functionally crippled?
How would we clean up what surely would be the most massive environmental disaster in our history?
How would Federal, state, and local governments afford to take care of the thousands of scarred survivors of such an attack?
In short, such an attack would be a disaster on an unprecedented scale. Its impact would not be limited to those hundreds of thousands caught in the blast. It would scar the entire country and seriously disrupt our lives beyond almost any other imaginable event.
The terrifying reality is that the threat of chemical and biological weapons is with us now and the terrorist use of nuclear weapons in the near future is no longer far-fetched. The Monterey Institute has helped to chronicle such incidents – the 30-pound package of radioactive material in the Moscow park in 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo’s sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway, the seizure of materials in Prague, the rampage aboard a nuclear-powered Akula class submarine by a deranged Russian sailor, the holes in the fences around Russian nuclear storage sites.
My purpose in reciting this list not to frighten you. My purpose is to suggest that we are not helpless. As in the Cold War, we can overcome the odds, if we possess the national will to do so. We can overcome the odds if we recognize the dangers and apply our resources to vigorous solutions.
As the Soviet Union began to break apart in 1991, mutual acquaintances on the Russian side, including some from the military, came to former Senator Nunn of Georgia and me and pointed out the dangers of the dissolution of a nuclear superpower. The viability of their entire weapons-custodial-system was in doubt. Hundreds of tons of nuclear weapons material were spread across multiple sites in Russia and other former Soviet states. Russian leaders requested our cooperation in securing and protecting Russia’s nuclear arsenal and weapons-usable materials. This was the genesis of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
This was not a problem that Congress wanted to deal with in 1991. Members were highly skeptical of committing funds to any program that seemed to benefit Russia. The atmosphere was decidedly hostile to any initiative that focused on a foreign problem. Americans were weary of the Cold War and the Gulf War. Both Congress and presidential aspirants had decided that attention to foreign concerns was politically risky. The House of Representatives had previously rejected, in a rather summary fashion, a plan to commit one billion dollars to addressing the problems of the former Soviet Union. That outcome did not give Senator Nunn and me much of a springboard for our initiative.
Yet we brought together a bipartisan nucleus of Senators who saw the problem as we did. We developed a plan to commit a small portion of Defense Department resources each year to a cooperative dismantlement with Russians of the old Soviet nuclear arsenal. Remarkably, the Nunn-Lugar program was passed in the Senate by a vote of 86 to 8. It went on to gain approval in the House and was signed into law by President Bush.
While much more remains to be done, the Nunn-Lugar Scorecard is impressive. Nunn-Lugar has facilitated the destruction of 373 ballistic missiles, 354 ballistic missile launchers, 52 bombers, 164 submarine missile launchers, 46 submarine launched ballistic missiles, and 12 strategic missile submarines. It also has sealed 191 nuclear test tunnels. Most notably, 4,854 warheads that were on strategic systems aimed at the United States have been deactivated.
Last year, the world was alarmed to learn that India and Pakistan had tested nuclear weapons. The nuclear aspirations of regional powers and rogue nations highlight the important decisions made in Ukraine, Kazakstan, and Belarus. When the Soviet Union collapsed, these three nations became the third, fourth, and eighth largest nuclear powers in the world. The addition of three more nuclear weapons states would have drastically changed the geo-strategic landscape.
Without Nunn-Lugar, Ukraine, Kazakstan, and Belarus would still have thousands of nuclear weapons. Instead, all three countries are nuclear weapons-free. I am proud of the role the United States played in their decisions and the role of the Nunn-Lugar program in facilitating the removal of thousands of nuclear warheads.
To put this into perspective, Nunn-Lugar has dismantled more nuclear weaponry than the countries of Great Britain, France, and China currently possess in their stockpiles and arsenals combined. All of this work has been done at a cost of less than two-tenths of one percent of the annual U.S. defense budget.
Nunn-Lugar is not foreign aid. It is not charity. It utilizes American firms to dismantle former Soviet weapons. Eighty-four percent of Nunn-Lugar funds have been awarded to American firms to carry out dismantlement operations in the former Soviet Union. Our efforts do not suffer from the same problems that afflict other U.S.-Russian programs. This money does not end up in off-shore bank accounts. American companies such as Allied Signal, AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed-Martin, Motorola, Raytheon, and Westinghouse receive funding.
To appreciate what we are doing through Nunn-Lugar, one has to step back and view it from the perspective of history. After forty-five years of tense military confrontation and ideological struggle, we are sending American firms and know-how to our former enemies to dismantle and safeguard their massive stockpile of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
But the circumstances under which Nunn-Lugar has been administered have not remained static. For 50 years, the bad news was that a totalitarian Communist government imprisoned its entire society. But one of the results of that totalitarian system was unquestioned control of dangerous weapons. As terrifying as the U.S.-Soviet nuclear competition had been, it had one advantage – both nations had an interest in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. As opposed to the Cold War, Russia’s threat to the United States today is generated by its weakness.
The single most important truth about the world security environment is that Russia is convulsed by a genuine, ongoing revolutionary transformation of the state, the economy, the military and the society. Unlike prior revolutions, history has chosen to store in the midst of this current revolution, a superpower arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Both the United States and Russia have had to set aside or consciously ignore past and current differences to accomplish this cooperation. This effort is all the more notable given that the overall relationship between Russia and the United States is “stressed”, to say the least. In my view, the U.S.-Russian relationship during the last eight years has declined from a strategic partnership, to a pragmatic one, to a relationship of benign neglect, to one that is lurching toward malign neglect.
Over the past year we have witnessed the re-emergence of a pattern that has come periodically to characterize Russian-American relations during the latter half of this decade – namely, a crisis or series of crises that grow to fever pitch, whose symptoms are then treated in a sufficiently antiseptic fashion (at least in political and public-relations terms through hastily called summits or G-8 meetings) that a return to some form of pre-crisis normalcy can be predicted. Whether it be Bosnia, NATO enlargement, or Kosovo, both sides used the winding down of the more overt manifestations of the crises to modulate official rhetoric, put the best face on the shrillness of the recent past, and thus set the stage for a more positive tone, if not the substance, in the relationship.
Yet it would be profoundly wrong to assume that the end of NATO’s Kosovo bombing campaign has ushered in a return to a period of normalcy and one of business-as-usual. The “race to Pristina” has been followed by the “race to Grozny”. Each succeeding crisis and subsequent efforts at restabilization of the relationship has come at the cost of lower levels of trust and confidence which, in turn, provide more fertile ground for the seeds of the next crisis. Indeed, efforts to sell one another on the idea that the recurrent bouts of “normalcy” will continue to outnumber those of mutual distrust and crises tend to overlook the fact that the asymmetries in the circumstances of the two nations are growing, not receding.
Given the history, traditions, domestic political structures and elite self-images in the Russian Federation and the United States, these growing asymmetries complicate the management of the bilateral relationship. Arnold Horelick put it very well at a recent Russian-American dialogue at the Wye Plantation. He noted that, as the gap between the two countries continues to grow, the Russian side becomes more and more reluctant to reach agreements with the U.S. that appear to reflect these power asymmetries, including Russia’s financial dependence on the West and most particularly anything that smacks of concessions born of weakness. By the same token, as the American public and the Congress become more aware of these power disparities, the Clinton Administration finds it increasingly difficult to accept and justify outcomes in the bilateral relationship that fall short of what a hard-headed, “realpolitik” calculation would appear to call for.
Indeed, following Russia’s financial meltdown last year, the Kosovo crisis, the corruption scandals, and now the violence in Chechnya, the Clinton Administration has become both more defensive at home about its policy toward Russia as well as more openly critical of Russian actions. Those who continue to believe in the need to engage Russia broadly across the entire policy spectrum must now contend with an array of countervailing domestic forces that include a skeptical Congress, a “fatigued” Administration, and a public both weary and wary of non-stop bad news emanating from Russia. Such domestic defensiveness and skepticism, reinforced on an almost daily basis by the chaotic disarray that characterizes the Russian political and economic scene, makes much more difficult the argument that Russia is important and must be deeply and broadly engaged.
Lastly, both countries are entering into hotly contested election cycles that may make more intractable the issues on the bilateral agenda. The residue of political will to deal with bilateral differences is not likely to be much larger than the supply of political capital that political leaders might be willing to expend, particularly in an election year, to arrive at the trade-offs and compromises necessary to resolve outstanding issues.
Nonetheless, Russia policy is becoming, if not a major debating issue in the presidential primaries, at least a major item in the foreign policy planks of would-be presidents. George W. Bush, John McCain, and Bill Bradley have all commented at length on Russia policy in their national security pronouncements. In spite of or because of Chechnya, the differences that do emerge among the candidates over Russian policy have primarily to do with the degree and extent of timing of American engagement with Russia, not whether to engage her. Common in the views of all major candidates is that the United States, at minimum, must remain selectively engaged with Russia on those security issues that matter most to the United States and on which Russia still remains a major player.
And that means above all continuing pursuit of a credible arms control agenda and the security of nuclear, chemical and biological stockpiles and materials. In short, it means continuing, and perhaps greater, reliance on the Nunn-Lugar program as the primary, if not exclusive, plank in the bilateral security relationship.
We must be particularly creative if we are to adapt and recraft major elements of that program to address the ever changing security issues in the bilateral relationship.
Let me review with you some of the key accomplishments of the Nunn-Lugar program and suggest some new areas where the time may be ripe for new initiatives.
In Ukraine Nunn-Lugar has dismantled hundreds of SS-19 and SS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles and their silos. Nunn-Lugar continues to dismantle the Bear and Blackjack long-range bombers capable of launching nuclear-tipped air-launched cruise missiles respectively. In fact, I witnessed the tail-cut of the first Blackjack bomber to be dismantled in the former Soviet Union and, consequently, the beginning of the destruction, under START I procedures, of elements of the Ukrainian heavy bomber fleet. The Blackjack is similar to the American B-1 bomber and, according to our Ukrainian hosts, capable of delivering 24 nuclear-armed cruise missiles. We continue to dismantle the tools and infrastructure of Ukraine’s former nuclear arsenal.
In Belarus the Nunn-Lugar program ensured the safe return of 81 SS-25 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launchers to Russia. The program made great strides in dismantling the infrastructure necessary to maintain these weapons. The reign of Belarussian dictator Lukashenko and his irrational and threatening rhetoric has highlighted the importance of these accomplishments. Unfortunately, Nunn-Lugar activities were suspended in Belarus because of human right violations. But, not before the nuclear weapons were removed.
Kazakhstan became a non-nuclear state in November 1996. In addition to dismantling hundreds of SS-18 missiles, silos, and command centers, Nunn-Lugar has destroyed the former Soviet nuclear weapons testing complex. As many of you know, the United States performed hundreds of nuclear weapons tests in Nevada during the Cold War. The Degelen Mountain Test Tunnel Complex and Balapan were the Soviet equivalent of the Nevada Test Site. The Nunn-Lugar program has systematically dismantled the complex and sealed nearly 200 nuclear test tunnels and shafts. In fact, I recently received news from Kazakh President Nazarbayev that the last testing tunnel will be permanently sealed in the next few days. These facilities will never again contribute to the weapons systems that threatened our country during the Cold War.
Today the vast majority of Nunn-Lugar work is taking place in Russia. Nunn-Lugar has destroyed nearly 100 ballistic missile launchers, submarine missile launchers and more than 400 missiles, including: SS-N-8s, SS-N-6s, SS-11s, SS-17s, SS-18s, and SS-19s. In addition to missile destruction, strategic aircraft are being eliminated. To date, 30 Bear bombers and 10 Bison bombers have been destroyed. These bombers were capable of launching between 6 and 16 nuclear tipped air-launched cruise missiles each.
One area in which I have taken a special interest is submarine dismantlement. We are currently dismantling seven strategic missile submarines and are committed to eliminating a total of 30 such submarines by 2003.
On two occasions I have traveled to the Arctic Circle to visit the SevMash naval shipyard and took part in the first senior American delegation visit to this top-secret base. During the Cold War, SevMash gained prominence as the birthplace and home of the 6 gigantic Soviet Typhoon missile submarines. The Typhoon is the world’s largest submarine and one of the most feared weapons of the Cold War. A Typhoon can carry 20 ballistic missiles each capable of launching 10 nuclear warheads at the United States. I am pleased to report that earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen approved the contract to begin dismantlement of the first Typhoon nuclear submarine. This is a major step forward. If and when all of these submarines are dismantled, 1,200 nuclear weapons will be removed from operational systems that could be used against the United States.
Critics suggest these submarines may just rot and decay due to a lack of maintenance. But I’m not willing to bet lives on that fact. Some cite that many Russian strategic nuclear submarines are in disrepair. They are correct, many will never go to sea again. The Typhoon missile submarine will never again lie off our eastern seaboard. Unfortunately their seaworthiness has little to do with the current threat they pose. These submarines do not have to submerge or go to sea to launch 200 warheads. They are able to do so in current locations, tied up at the docks.
Cruise Missile Submarine Dismantlement
But there is more that could be done in the submarine dismantlement area if we summon the political will to seize this opportunity. It is clearly in the national security interests of the United States to dismantle submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles. At the current time, the Nunn-Lugar program has the authority to dismantle the strategic missile submarines but cannot dismantle conventional submarines. I understand the reason for these restrictions. But we must have the flexibility to focus our efforts on the destruction of weapons that could threaten our vital interests regardless of their strategic or non-strategic classification.
There are currently 149 non-ballistic missile, conventional submarines awaiting destruction. Most of them do not pass the U.S. strategic interest litmus test. But 35 of these conventional submarines awaiting dismantlement have cruise missile capability. I believe there are important nonproliferation and national security benefits to dismantling these submarines. I understand that rogue states and groups would prefer ballistic missile technology, but cruise missile capabilities are a close second. If we have an opportunity to destroy former Soviet submarines with cruise missile capability, after we have completed our work on the strategic submarines, we should do this to ensure that this technology is never used again.
SS-18 Missile Dismantlement
Progress is also being registered in dismantling the land-based leg of the Russian triad. As frightening as the sea-based leg of the Russian nuclear triad was to Cold War combatants, it was the land-based inter-continental ballistic missiles that the U.S. Government saw as the most destabilizing portion of the Soviet arsenal. This decision was based primarily on the capabilities of the Soviet SS-18 ballistic missiles. Each SS-18 was capable of delivering 10 independently targeted re-entry warheads.
The Reagan and Bush administrations respected the SS-18 to such a degree that they made it the main focus of their arms control initiatives. The START II Treaty specifically banned land-based MIRV systems, in part, because of the threat the SS-18 posed to the balance of power. It was seen as a first-strike weapon and a very destabilizing presence in the bilateral relationship.
The Nunn-Lugar program is assisting in the reduction of the SS-18 missile threat to the United States. The Russian Federation must eliminate 100 SS-18s by December 2001 and an additional 154 SS-18s by January 2003. In recent years, Nunn-Lugar has played a role in SS-18 dismantlement. It provided the equipment necessary to help destroy the missiles. It will assist in the elimination of 945 solid rocket motors and upgrade the neutralization facilities for the rocket fuel.
In the last year or so, Nunn-Lugar has assumed a much larger role in the SS-18 dismantlement process. Utilizing funds appropriated in the last two years, Nunn-Lugar will begin direct and total missile dismantlement operations. The Russian SS-18 missile systems are clearly dangerous and destabilizing. Both sides must concentrate their efforts on eliminating them in the near term.
Let me turn now to the issue of warhead dismantlement. Chopping up the missiles, cutting off the wings of bombers, and turning submarines into razor blades is important work. But as important, if not more so, is the elimination of the warheads they carried. In the early days Russia refused to accept our involvement and assistance in warhead destruction. But their stance has begun to soften as conditions continue to worsen and Russian willingness to accept U.S. assistance has improved.
Congress has approved approximately $10 million for warhead dismantlement in each of the last two years. U.S. involvement in warhead destruction process is extremely important. It provides unprecedented transparency to the Russian weapons elimination program.
The United States must continue to provide support in this area. I believe warhead dismantlement verification will become more important as the arms control process continues. As both sides continue to move towards smaller numbers of nuclear weapons the need for precise verification is crucial. Earlier in the process a small margin of error could be tolerated because both sides still maintained thousands of weapons. As we continue to reduce the arsenals, the importance of precise verification of warhead dismantlement will become increasingly important.
Fissile Material Storage
Let me now turn to the issue of fissile material storage. Warhead dismantlement brings with it another challenge, namely, the safe and secure storage of the warhead’s fissile materials.
The condition of Russian storage facilities is dire. Many of the facilities are not adequately protected with security systems. In fact, some sites do not even have a fence around the property. We are attempting to improve these facilities through the Material Protection, Control and Accounting program. Currently the program plans to improve the security surrounding Russian fissile material storage facilities over the next three to four years. We plan to work on several facilities per year. Although this appears promising, I believe this strategy is unacceptable.
If facilities housing nuclear weapons materials are vulnerable, it is in our national security interest to improve promptly the security surrounding them. We cannot wait until a convenient budgetary situation arrives to do this work. We need to be moving as quickly as possible to remove this threat.
The Nunn-Lugar program is constructing a facility to safely store plutonium removed from the warheads of dismantled weapons. The Pentagon refers to it as the Fissile Material Storage Facility. We call it Mayak. It is 810 miles and two time zones east of Moscow in Siberia. Mayak will be the world’s safest and most secure bank. It will provide a centralized, secure and ecologically sound storage area for weapons-grade materials removed from the dismantled strategic systems. When the first wing of the facility is completed in 2002, it will hold the plutonium taken from 6,250 nuclear weapons.
It is my hope that we will continue to expand our dismantlement and destruction projects throughout Russia. But, if the rate of dismantlement is expanded and increased, the current planned storage capacity at Mayak will soon be overwhelmed. I believe we should begin to think about the construction of a second wing at Mayak now -- even before the initial wing is completed.
Automated Inventory Control System
One of the most often over-looked projects underway in Russia is the development of an accounting system to log the amount and location of their nuclear arsenal. The Soviet inventory system was largely handwritten and decentralized. This situation has to be rectified. The Nunn-Lugar Automated Inventory Control and Management System will establish 10 regional tracking stations and up to 100 field sites to track the Russian arsenal.
The importance of this effort was illustrated by former Russian National Security Advisor General Alexander Lebed’s claim of two years ago that suitcase-sized ‘atomic demolition devices’ were missing. Russian military leaders discounted these allegations but were unable to disprove it. The Nunn-Lugar supplied system is scheduled to be fully operational by December 2001. The benefits to international security of a Russia able to accurately account for their arsenal is clear. Russia must be able to accurately assess the whereabouts of their stockpile if we are to end the threat of proliferation.
YEAR 2000 COMPUTER ASSISTANCE:
If the situation were not bad enough, the safe and secure storage of the Russian nuclear stockpile will be complicated by Y2K. Nunn-Lugar has also been affected by the approaching millennium. Over the last ten months, the Department of Defense has sought to engage its Russian counterparts on the nuclear warhead protection systems. Early in the discussions, the Russian Ministry of Defense admitted that it had not considered the impact Y2K could have on their systems.
With U.S. cooperation, the Russians have made substantial progress in responding to these potential problems. They have committed to establishing and maintaining fifty special Y2K monitoring stations at their largest storage facilities. Stations will be manned 24 hours a day by officers specially trained to monitor physical security, environmental controls within the facility, telecommunications, and power levels. These efforts and accomplishments mark a tremendous improvement.
At Pentagon urging, the Russians conducted assessments to gauge their ability to respond to an emergency. Unfortunately, the results were not encouraging. Due to the lack of appropriate response equipment, it was clear there were significant deficiencies in their ability to respond to intrusions and other potential threats.
As a result, the Ministry of Defense requested assistance in upgrading their ability to respond to potential Y2K emergencies. Nunn-Lugar reviewed the request and agreed to assist in the procurement of emergency response equipment. A contract has been issued to Bechtel and the items will be on-site prior to New Year’s Eve.
Let me turn to non-nuclear threats. Nuclear weapons are not the only proliferation threat. During the Cold War, both sides manufactured enormous stockpiles of chemical weapons. The Russian stockpile is stored in seven sites across that country and the security surrounding it is failing. The United States and Russia cannot permit these weapons to be stolen or sold to the highest bidder.
Nunn-Lugar is attempting to address this threat. The program was to begin construction of Russia’s first chemical weapons destruction facility at one of their largest storage sites. When operational it will destroy about 2 million chemical weapons, approximately 500 metric tons per year. These weapons are mostly artillery rounds and rocket warheads, filled with 5,600 metric tons of nerve agents, constituting 14% of Russia’s total stockpile, 20% of the nerve agent stockpile, and nearly half of all Russia’s nerve-agent for ground forces. Unfortunately, the U.S. House of Representatives has hamstrung these efforts by denying funds for facility construction.
Critics believe that efforts to destroy Russian chemical weapons is a hopeless task. Clearly the situation has been difficult and frustrating in recent years. Moscow is unlikely to be able to fund all the infrastructure necessary to build and operate the facility. Russian regional governments continue to have difficulty in supplying the necessary permits. Furthermore, the United States has continued to press the allies to make contributions to these efforts, but after several rounds of donor conferences, the allies have yet to step up to the plate.
Obviously, the project has met with adversity. However, I don’t believe the answer is to kill this important effort. Critics overlook a simple point: this material was produced for one purpose, to kill American soldiers. Every munition destroyed is one less that could be used on the battlefield or against civilians abroad or here at home.
I am sympathetic to the establishment of a moratorium on facility construction until specific conditions are met. Long-term plans must be finalized to ensure that American tax-payer funds are not wasted. But, it makes no sense to remove all chances of construction of a destruction facility in the future. We must push for Russian monetary or in-kind contributions as well as monetary commitments from the allies. But we must not allow these slippages to halt our important work. If the result of debates over cost is that weapons remain on station and a threat, we will have missed an extraordinary opportunity. Fortunately when Congressional action prevented start-up construction, additional steps were taken to improve security at the seven storage sites. This is important, but destruction is clearly the final and best answer.
Chemical Weapons Production Facility Dismantlement
In addition to chemical weapons destruction, Nunn-Lugar is also dismantling the facilities that produced them. Three years ago, I spent a Saturday morning in the Kremlin pouring over maps of the Volgograd chemical production plant. Volgograd was one of the largest chemical weapons production facilities in the world. Our discussion revolved around the extent to which American and other foreign chemical companies would be encouraged to invest in the facility. I pointed out that there was one important condition to Western investment and that was the permanent cessation of weapons production. The Nunn-Lugar program will remove and dismantle those pieces of machinery capable of weapons production to ensure that this factory never again produces weapons of mass destruction. When these efforts are completed, private U.S. firms will make decisions on potential investments. I am hopeful that Nunn-Lugar and the U.S. chemical industry will prove to be an effective combination in removing these threats at additional facilities in the future.
Then there are the threats associated with biological weapons. The biological arsenal, like its nuclear and chemical counterparts is in serious trouble. A total of 13 civilian and several military institutes made up the largest offensive biological weapons program in the world.
A year ago, in the first such meeting of its kind, Senator Carl Levin, Sam Nunn and I engaged in a 3-hour discussion with the directors of the civilian biological weapons facilities from across Russia. These men were intimately involved in the Soviet biological weapons program. They communicated their current predicament of unpaid wages and abandonment by Moscow and their hopes of entering into cooperative relationships with firms in the West. In many cases these scientists and engineers have not been paid in months. There is great concern they may be lured to Pyongyang, Tehran, or Tripoli with promises of a secure income and a bright future. Furthermore, the facilities are beginning to approach dangerous levels of insecurity. Nunn-Lugar is engaged in eight pilot projects at these institutes. These cooperative efforts must continue and expand to prevent the emigration of the finest minds who have been involved in the most deadly weapons programs.
On that same trip, we visited Obolensk, the premier biological weapons research and development institute for the bacterial pathogens Plague, Tularemia, and Glanders, as well as the world's leading anthrax research institute. Today, through Nunn-Lugar, the scientists at Obolensk are cooperating in vaccine research with the U.S. Army . We were given complete access to the facility; we examined the laboratories, various culture facilities, and observed Nunn-Lugar pilot projects. We had not received the requisite inoculations to enter the third floor -- one of the largest biological and pathogen-strain libraries in the world. Obolensk has on file hundreds, if not thousands, of pathogens deadly to human beings.
The Director of Obolensk warned that, without collaborative efforts with the West, he is convinced that institute security will fall to dangerously low levels. It is clear that we must not allow unapproved access to this facility. These facilities were devoted to the study of organisms that are meant to kill people on a massive scale; we must not permit their contents to leak. We discussed plans to enhance security for biological weapons materials at Obolensk and Vector in eastern Siberia.
The need for Nunn-Lugar to expand work in the biological field is clear. In addition to the civilian facilities where we are working, there are military facilities to which we have not yet secured access. The U.S. must continue to work to ensure that biological weapons research is halted in the former Soviet Union.
We currently find ourselves in a similar position with respect to biological weapons as we did with Russian nuclear systems just a few short years ago. In the early days of the program, seeking access and transparency to nuclear dismantlement operations was troublesome. But as these hurdles were overcome, we made tremendous strides.
Our efforts will not be perfect. The shear size and scope of our endeavors will negate the possibility of a perfect batting average. Of the thousands of people involved in these programs we may lose some. Some may emigrate to rogue nations and continue their former work. But we owe it to our military and the American people to do everything in our power to reduce these threats.
The Role of the Private Sector
I believe that the American private sector can and should also play a role in responding to this biological threat. American biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms have much to gain by cooperating with Russian colleagues. I have proposed that industry explore the possibility of purchasing or establishing long-term contracts with these facilities for employment in peaceful endeavors. These facilities would be an excellent investment in hardware and production technology. For example, just one of the thirteen Biopreparat facilities has more BL-4 laboratory facilities on one floor than currently exist in all of North America. Furthermore, corporations would have access to some of the finest medical and biological minds in Russia for purposes of research and development and production and distribution centers for European and Asian markets.
BIOLOGICAL THREATS TO AMERICAN AGRICULTURE:
The full breadth of the potential biological weapons proliferation threat comes as a shock to many. Most nations that have undertaken an offensive biological weapons program have engaged in research other than anti-personnel pathogens. In other words, these programs were not entirely focused on weapons to target humans. A great deal of work has also been done on anti-animal and anti-plant weaponry. In some cases, as much as 50% of the work was focused in the agricultural area.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently working with Nunn-Lugar and the State Department on projects with several Russian biological institutes. Experts have been visiting with and begun cooperation with Russian institutes to prevent proliferation . There is great concern that this technology may leak and threaten our food and agricultural systems.
The 1983 Avian Influenza outbreak in Pennsylvania provides useful lessons for tomorrow’s biological weapons attack. It was caused by a mutated form of the virus that made identification and response difficult. The Department of Agriculture estimates that the outbreak cost producers and consumers $465 million in direct costs and an additional $150 million in lost trade.
The Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in Taiwan falls into a similar category. Early attempts to identify the disease were difficult. Initially, Foot and Mouth Disease was discarded because nearby cattle were not infected. Cattle are usually as much at risk as swine to this disease. The Taiwanese were forced to slaughter 3.8 million swine at a cost of $7 billion and a majority of their Asian markets. Many believe that this mutated gene was the difference between saving a large majority of the swine population and its total destruction.
A pre-meditated biological weapons attack would most likely be based on a mutated form of a biological pathogen similar to the Pennsylvania and Taiwan incidents. It would be chosen for the inherent difficulties in identification and response. It is clear we must be prepared to respond to an attack on our agricultural system wherein the goal could range from economic warfare to terror and social/political upheaval.
Our first line of defense against these potential threats must be in the former Soviet Union. We must learn more of these potential threats and begin to address them at their most likely source, the biological weapons institutes of the former Soviet Union.
To date, this is not an issue that has attracted a great deal of attention. But the U.S. government must take it seriously. On several occasions, I have written to Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, urging action. In the Senate, I offered S. Con. Res. 24 calling for the American food supply system to be protected against unconventional threats. Important work is progressing but we still have much to do. I intend to keep pushing the Administration to prepare to meet this potential threat.
OTHER NUNN-LUGAR EFFORTS AND PROPOSALS:
CONGRESSIONAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
It might surprise some to learn that Nunn-Lugar has accomplished what it has under enormous burdens. In some cases Pentagon staff spend almost half their time writing Congressional reports. Nunn-Lugar has labored under an increasing number of reporting requirements – many of them overlapping and requiring completion before work is even begun or funds obligated. In my opinion, the costs of reporting requirements in terms of staff diversion from programmatic work remains greater than the benefit to Congress.
The reporting requirements Congress currently imposes on Nunn-Lugar must be reviewed. We must maintain those requirements necessary for effective Congressional oversight of the program but the rest should be eliminated. The program must be allowed to concentrate on weapons elimination and nonproliferation, not bureaucratic reporting. I will urge my colleagues on the relevant committees to review these onerous reporting requirements and remove those that do not provide value to Congressional oversight.
There are other things we could do legislatively to enhance the effectiveness of Nunn-Lugar progress. As many of you know, Nunn-Lugar has undertaken several previously-classified emergency missions to stop proliferation. Project Sapphire is probably the best known. In the pre-dawn hours of November 20, 1994, as winter descended upon northeastern Kazakhstan, experts from the Departments of Defense and Energy took possession of enough highly enriched uranium to make between 20 and 30 nuclear weapons. Two U.S. C-5 cargo planes flew 20 hours with five mid-air refuelings, to deliver the material safely to the United States and prevent it from falling into the hands of Iranian agents who had attempted to acquire it.
Another success occurred when the U.S. purchased 14 nuclear-capable MiG-29Cs from Moldova. The MiG-29C was built by the former Soviet Union to carry and launch nuclear weapons. Again, the U.S. was able to prevent these advanced aircraft from falling into the hands of Iran.
Many of the professionals in the Pentagon and the Department of Energy who played pivotal roles in these efforts believe that the bureaucratic web is too thick to navigate successfully in times of crisis. They refer to the need for a “Sapphire Condition”. This proposal was inspired by the changing Kazakh conditions for removing the HEU in Project Sapphire. Initially, the Kazakh conditions for cooperation could be met under Nunn-Lugar. Then, while the Americans were on the ground, the Kazakhs changed the conditions to the point where Nunn-Lugar funds could not be used. This left the Pentagon in a quandary. They were forced to seek an inter-agency solution and luckily were able to find one.
Project Sapphire and the removal of the MiG-29Cs from Moldova were important efforts that made significant contributions to our national security. I believe we must maintain the flexibility and authority to permit emergency acquisition of weapons and materials of mass destruction and advanced dual-use weapons at risk that could threaten our vital national interests. We must not allow the next Project Sapphire to be threatened by bureaucratic and legislative hand-cuffs.
We may not have the luxury of buying additional time while Pentagon lawyers seek a "creative" solution to a critical turf problem. A “Sapphire Condition” would permit the Pentagon to waive, under certain extreme circumstances, the conditions for utilizing Nunn-Lugar and other restrictions. It could only be invoked when extremely dangerous conditions were present and in the vital interests of the United States. Conditions must include the following: (1) materials that are weapons usable; (2) proliferators are known to be in the immediate area; (3) present security conditions are completely unsatisfactory; (4) diplomatic efforts are stalled; and (5) proliferation is considered likely.
Execution of the Sapphire Condition would require a number of things. First, Congressional notification would be a prerequisite. Second, Presidential certification would be required to state that the situation was a direct threat to the national security interests of the U.S. Third, some type of checks and balances system between the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense would be necessary. Finally, it would have to be demonstrated that all other avenues had been exhausted and that, unless the U.S. intervened in an immediate fashion, the proliferation of weapons or material would occur.
I am committed to working further with the Executive Branch and my colleagues in Congress to craft and pass such a condition.
Let me bring this recitation of Nunn-Lugar programs and proposals to a conclusion by placing them back in the context of Russian-American relations.
In his State of the Union Address, President Clinton announced his plans to increase funding for Nunn-Lugar and its companion programs by some sixty-five percent over the next five years. This is a testament to the program’s value and its contributions to U.S. national security.
The Nunn-Lugar program has withstood the test of time in this often volatile post-Cold War environment. It has weathered many political, military, and social storms. It is clear that cooperative nonproliferation efforts is the basis of the bilateral relationship. Last year when the United States and Great Britain launched Operation Desert Fox in the face of Iraqi intransigence with UNSCOM most of the bilateral ties between the U.S. and Russia were severed. Only Nunn-Lugar continued unabated.
This year when NATO launched offensive operations in Yugoslavia the bilateral relationship stalled. Again, only Nunn-Lugar and its companion programs withstood the enormous pressure and continued its important work.
I raise the importance of nonproliferation’s central role in the relationship because there may be incidents or scenarios in which it may suffer and possibly stall. Let us be clear: the U.S.-Russia relationship will face difficult times in the months ahead. I am concerned that fiery rhetoric and unstable political and arms control landscapes could threaten to severely damage cooperative nonproliferation efforts. Clearly, the Nunn-Lugar program is extremely important and both sides have understood this. The program has survived the ups and downs of the relationship. But one wonders whether this will always be the case.
The looming foreign policy hurdles and the unsettled domestic situation may be a factor in Foreign Minister Ivanov’s public warnings about a possible “pause” in U.S.-Russian dealings, one that could negatively impact on the Nunn-Lugar program. Moscow is more unpredictable today than at any other time in the post-Soviet period, a situation in great part due to the steady accumulation of bilateral disagreements, prevailing domestic political currents, and momentum toward a post-Yeltsin administration. This combustive potential is primed by new threats that Moscow regards as qualitatively different from Kosovo and Iraq.
The volatility of Chechnya in bilateral U.S.-Russian relations is compounded by Caspian trends that Russia sees as tantamount to a second wave of NATO enlargement along its southern periphery. By the same token, national missile defense has an even greater disruptive potential, and Moscow’s rhetoric of missile defense will become harsher, thereby worsening bilateral atmospherics.
It is our responsibility, those of us in this room and our respective governments, to ensure that Nunn-Lugar and its companion programs remain in the zone of collaboration. Both sides are going to have to work very hard to see to it that Nunn-Lugar programs are not interrupted or impacted adversely by any further “chill” in the bilateral relationship.
Both countries are best served by continued implementation of the Nunn-Lugar program. Currently, the Pentagon estimates that destruction and dismantlement projects will continue through 2007 and will have deactivated 8,900 warheads; and destroyed 1,150 ballistic missiles, 366 missile silos, 289 mobile ballistic missile launchers, 589 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and sealed 194 nuclear test tunnels. The destruction of these weapons will contribute not only to U.S. national security interests but to Russia’s as well. The fundamental question is whether there exists sufficient political will in Moscow and Washington to devote requisite resources and leadership to these programs.
I believe we have a window of opportunity to reduce the threat of former Soviet weapons of mass destruction. We cannot afford to squander this opportunity. Historically, no great military power has ever possessed the opportunity to work with a former adversary in removing the threat that confronts both of them. Statesmanship and patience will be required over many years. We can succeed. History will surely judge our efforts. For the sake of our children and our hopes for normal life in Russia, the United States, and the world, we must be successful.
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