Congressional Research Service Reports

[CRS Issue Brief for Congress]

91139: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START I & II): Verification and Compliance Issues

Updated November 22, 1996

Amy F. Woolf
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division

CONTENTS

SUMMARY

MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS

Background of START I and START II
Arms Control Verification
The START Verification Regime
START Verification and Compliance Issues
Post-Soviet Political Instability
Overall U.S. NTM Capabilities
Telemetry Encryption
Nature of "Militarily Significant Violation"
Breakout Potential
Costs of Compliance
Past Soviet Compliance Behavior
On-Site Inspection Issues
START I Implementation: The Compliance Record
Force Reductions
The Inspection Process
JCIC Agreements on Missiles Converted to Space Launch Vehicles
Senate Consideration
START I
START II

CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, AND DOCUMENTS

FOR ADDITIONAL READING


SUMMARY

The Senate approved ratification of START I (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) on October 1, 1992. Its consideration of START included numerous monitoring and verification issues.

The U.S. and Russia signed START II on January 3, 1993. START II relies on the START I verification regime, with a few additional inspections. When the Senate approved START II's ratification on January 26, 1996, it included several conditions and declarations relating to verification and compliance in the resolution of ratification. The Russian Duma resumed its consideration of START II in February 1996; some members met with Secretary of Defense Perry to discuss the treaty in October 1996.

The START monitoring combines national technical means (NTM) and extensive notifications and on-site inspections (OSI), including continuous monitoring of some facilities in both nations. In addition, the United States made a major gain in the area of test flight data, called telemetry, which is crucial to monitoring various quantitative and qualitative limits. Telemetry now must be broadcast and tapes of telemetry exchanged after flight tests.

Numerous verification issues emerged during Senate consideration of START I and START II. These include

-- The ability of the four successor states (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine) to fulfill their treaty obligations.

-- Overall U.S. NTM capabilities are very limited and expensive assets and have multiple tasks. In considering the INF Treaty, the Senate Intelligence Committee already flagged the need for long-term investments in NTM modernization.

-- The potential for Russia to "break out" of the limits in the treaty and the costs of compliance with the treaty.

-- The record of past Soviet arms control compliance raised concerns about future compliance.

-- The extensive OSI regime of START, added to those of INF and CFE, raise questions about inspection access, costs, ongoing counter-intelligence concerns.

START I entered into force in December 1994 and implementation has proceeded relatively smoothly. Both sides have reduced their forces ahead of the schedules outlined in the treaty and the three non-Russian republics have returned all the nuclear weapons on their territories to Russia. The inspection process has also proceeded smoothly, with the United States conducting more than 150 inspections in the former Soviet Union and hosting around 60 inspections at U.S. facilities.

Nonetheless, some compliance questions have come up. One central issue focussed on Russia's conversion of SS-25 missiles to space launch vehicles and its desire to sell those vehicles to other nations. START I permits the conversion, but bans the transfer of treaty-limited items to other nations. In late 1995, the two sides reached an agreement that confirmed that Russia could not sell these converted missiles to other nations. It could, however, conduct space launches with these systems outside its territory, as long as it retained ownership and control over the missiles.


MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Secretary of Defense Perry met with representatives from several Duma committees on October 17, 1996, and sought to convince them to support the treaty. Reports from the meeting indicate that the Duma members remain sharply critical of the treaty and that Secretary Perry convinced few to support it. However, Defense Minister Rodionov expressed his support for START II after his meetings with Secretary Perry.

In early September 1996, officials in Russia and Kazakhstan announced that all 104 SS18 silos in Kazakhstan had been destroyed in the manner prescribed by the treaty. In late November, officials in Belarus announced that the last 18 SS-25 missiles in that nation had been returned to Russia.


BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS

Background of START I and START II

START negotiations began in 1992. The United States sought a treaty that would provide for "deep reductions" in U.S. and Soviet strategic offensive nuclear forces, equal limits on the two sides, and "effective verification." Talks were suspended in 1983, when the Soviets walked out in protest over U.S. intermediate-range missile deployments in Europe; they resumed in 1985 and concluded in July 1991.

The central limits in START I are a limit of 1,600 strategic offensive delivery systems (launchers for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers) and 6,000 attributed warheads, with sublimits of 4,900 warheads attributed to ballistic missiles, 1,540 warheads attributed to heavy ICBMs, and 1,100 warheads attributed to mobile ICBMs. (Warheads are "attributed" to missiles and heavy bombers through counting rules that indicate how many warheads each deployed missile or bomber will count as under the treaty's limit on warheads. The number of warheads attributed to ICBMs and SLBMs will usually equal the number actually deployed on that type of missile, but the number attributed to heavy bombers will be far fewer than the number of bombs or cruise missiles that each type of bomber can be equipped to carry.) The launchers that will be eliminated to complete the required warhead reductions will also produce a 46% reduction of Soviet throw-weight (the weight of the front end of the missile, the "bus", which includes warheads, decoys, guidance systems, penetration aids), setting a new throw-weight level that neither side may exceed. In addition, the treaty allows "downloading" (i.e., reducing the number) of warheads on some multiple warhead (MIRVed) missiles, and calls for extensive notifications and inspections to help monitor compliance.

START I is the most complicated and comprehensive arms control agreement ever negotiated. In addition to the treaty itself, there are agreed, joint, and other statements; an extensive data exchange; a definitions annex; six protocols -- all of which are related to verification; related agreements; letters and correspondence; and declarations; totalling 280 pages. As such, it reflects the trend in arms control for agreements with more and more specificity and detail as one means of avoiding ambiguities or misinterpretations of treaty obligations. To this must be added the May 23, 1992, protocol signed between the U.S. and the four Soviet successor states that have weapons covered by START -- Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Taken together, these documents outline complex and often costly procedures that the nations must follow to remain in compliance with START I.

Shortly after the START I Treaty was signed in July 1991, the Soviet Union began to collapse. Many observers, recognizing that the demise of the Soviet Union could conclude a fundamental change between the United States and its former Cold War adversary, called for far deeper cuts in strategic offensive weapons than those mandated by the START I Treaty. The Bush administration agreed and START II negotiations between the United States and Russia began in early 1992.

On June 17, 1992, Presidents George Bush and Boris Yeltsin signed a Joint Understanding on Reductions in Strategic Offensive Arms, mandating even deeper cuts, to be achieved by the year 2003. Final details of START II were agreed upon on December 30, 1992, with the treaty signed on January 3, 1993. START II will reduce both nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds (3,500 warheads remaining for the U.S.; 3,000 for Russia). START II also bans all MIRVed ICBMs, with allowances for Russia to download 105 SS-19s, now carrying 6 MIRVs, to single warheads, and to use 90 modified SS-18 silos for a new single warhead ICBM. For the most part, START II will rely on the same verification regime as START I, and there are few new verification provisions in the second treaty. As a result, START II provisions raise verification concerns similar to those for START I.

Arms Control Verification

A central concern in any arms control treaty is the ability of signatory states to verify compliance by their treaty partners. Verification is actually a two-part process. The first part, monitoring, is an intelligence collecting and analytical function. Monitoring of the Soviet Union has long taken place because its military forces and capabilities pose a potential threat to the United States and its interests, not because there are arms control treaties. In addition to the basic strategic warning function of monitoring, forces and activities are also analyzed vis-a-vis relevant arms control treaty obligations. In the course of this analysis, questions may arise concerning compliance. This leads to the second part, verification, a policy process that determines whether activities are in fact violations; how to deal with issues of compliance and noncompliance in terms of raising them with the state in question; considering appropriate U.S. responses in terms of its own programs and forces; responding to potential problems in U.S. compliance, etc. This second part of the process considers not only the monitoring information, but also broader policy issues that may transcend arms control.

The intelligence community assesses each treaty provision in terms of U.S. collection capabilities, the terms of the provision, how the systems being limited or controlled have been deployed and operated over time, possible incentives for cheating, plausible ways that cheating might be conducted (called "cheating scenarios"), and the likelihood of detecting such cheating. The end result is a monitoring confidence, usually expressed by a term or percentage ("High Confidence," or "90% confidence"). These monitoring confidences express the intelligence community's assessment of the likelihood that the United States will detect a violation, not whether a violation itself is likely or what the United States might do about it (which is a verification decision).

No treaty is "100% verifiable;" i.e., each carries some risk that certain non-compliant activities may go unnoticed, either entirely or until they become problems. In crafting and assessing a treaty, analysts try to convey to decisionmakers the degree of risk that a "militarily significant violation" would go undetected, i.e., a violation that would threaten either the fabric of the treaty or national security overall. This standard is very different from "politically significant violations," which may be, in essence, any type of non-compliance regardless of their scope. For the United States, processes of assessing whether the risk inherent in any treaty is acceptable actually happens twice, once by the executive branch during its negotiations and once by the Senate during the advice and consent process. The questions and concerns raised in both are fairly similar.

Finally, no arms control treaty regime relies on any one provision as the basis for successful monitoring and verification. Rather, each regime is seen as an interlocking web of constraints and provisions designed to deter cheating, to make cheating more complicated and more expensive, or to make its timely detection likely.

The START Verification Regime

Past strategic arms control agreements relied on national technical means (NTM) for monitoring. This unilateral capability remains the bedrock, but START also builds on the INF and CFE experiences in which there has been a growing emphasis on cooperative measures. As with INF, START includes an extensive data exchange detailing the numbers and locations of affected weapons. An initial data exchange occurred in 1990. A second data exchange occurred in December 1994, within 30 days of the date START I entered into force; additional exchanges will occur every 6 months for the life of the treaty. START I also calls for numerous types of on-site inspection (OSI), including baseline inspections to confirm initial data, inspections of closed-out facilities or eliminated equipment, inspection of suspect sites, and continuous monitoring of certain facilities. START II relies on this same inspection regime, adding a few inspections to the list to help monitor conversion and elimination procedures that are unique to that treaty.

All parties are also obligated to provide each other with notifications of several types of activity, such as the movement of items limited by the treaty between declared facilities. In addition, in a major gain for longstanding U.S. policy, all parties will refrain from activities to encrypt or deny the telemetry (missile test data) that is essential to monitoring many of the qualitative and quantitative limits. This includes the obligation to exchange tapes of telemetry that are broadcast during flight tests. Finally, the treaty establishes the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC), where the parties meet to discuss treaty implementation issues and compliance questions. The JCIC has produced agreements that outline specific, detailed procedures that the parties must follow as they implement the treaty. These agreements not only fill in details that were lacking from the main treaty documents, they are also designed to ease implementation and build confidence in compliance with the treaty.

START Verification and Compliance Issues

Some of the monitoring, compliance, and verification issues raised by START are unique to this treaty; others are either more generic in nature or stem from the past 20 years of arms control experience with the Soviet Union or the ongoing political uncertainty in the four successor states.

Post-Soviet Political Instability

The sudden unraveling of Soviet central authority just one month after START was signed raised a number of questions related to the treaty. For example, many questioned whether the four nuclear-armed republics (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) would accept the full obligations of START. This question was answered on May 23, 1992, the U.S. and the four republics signed a protocol under which the republics agreed to assume the Soviet Union's START obligations. Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine agreed either to destroy their strategic nuclear warheads or transfer them to Russia; these three republics also pledged to sign the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. In effect, the bilateral START Treaty became multilateral.

Ongoing political instability and uncertainty in each of the republics continued to pose questions about their ability to fulfill their obligations. These concerns prompted a number of conditions binding on the President that the Senate attached to START I and START II before approving their ratification (see below, Senate Consideration). During the START I debate, attention focused on Ukraine because some Ukrainian legislators discussed keeping some strategic weapons as a hedge against possible unwelcome changes in Russian foreign policy. After prolonged negotiations, a trilateral agreement (U.S.-Russia-Ukraine) was concluded January 14, 1994, under which Ukraine would send its nuclear weapons to Russia for dismantlement, for which Ukraine would receive much-needed nuclear fuel and financial aid. On November 15, 1994, Ukraine's Parliament voted (301-8) to join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to get rid of the approximately 1,800 nuclear weapons inherited after the fall of the U.S.S.R. This action paved the way for the entry into force of START I on December 5, 1994, and for the United States and Russia to consider ratification of START II.

Overall U.S. NTM Capabilities

National technical means (NTM) are the bedrock of arms control monitoring. Although U.S. NTM are held in high regard, they are limited assets in that they are few in number and have multiple tasks at any given time, ranging from the strategic warning function noted above to monitoring current global trouble spots, as well as numerous arms control responsibilities. Some have voiced concern about these increasing tasks for what are limited and very expensive assets. For example, during the debate over the INF Treaty, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (S.Rept. 100-318) questioned the effects of that treaty and START on U.S. NTM capabilities, noting the need for funds "to initiate a long-term program to modernize and improve upon current plans for intelligence collection." In a subsequent report (S.Rept. 102-85) the committee urged the intelligence community to "continue to make investments that are helpful in verifying ... START."

Nonetheless, growing demands on intelligence assets and continuing budget restrictions raised questions in the Senate about the U.S. ability to monitor Russian compliance with START II into the future. As a result, in the resolution of ratification for START II, the Senate included a condition that requires the President to certify, within 90 days of the treaty's entry into force, that U.S. NTM are "sufficient to ensure effective monitoring of Russian compliance with the provisions of the Treaty governing the capabilities of strategic missile systems." In a report accompanying the certification, the President is to describe how the United States will marshall its collection, processing, and analytic resources to ensure effective monitoring.

Telemetry Encryption

Closely related to NTM capabilities is the issue of telemetry encryption, or the encoding of data transmitted from missiles during flight tests. These data give valuable information on missile capabilities and performance and are especially important for monitoring provisions that set qualitative limits or define new missiles or allowed modernization constraints. This issue, also referred to as data denial, was one of four issues that held up START during its final phases.

Past treaties have banned concealment measures that "impede" verifying compliance via NTM. The inability to have unimpeded access to Soviet data was an ongoing U.S. concern during START negotiations. Part of the problem stems from differences in U.S. and Soviet missile testing. The United States tests its ballistic missiles over open ocean, making its data more available to interception. Many Soviet tests took place wholly within its own territory -- now entirely within Russia's territory (some are tested over the Pacific, including some with impact areas near Hawaii), thus limiting U.S. access to these data. Moreover, both sides reportedly use different frequencies.

START bans data denial and includes obligations to broadcast such data and to exchange tapes of the data after flight-tests. The provisions apparently meet the major U.S. requirements and should be of major utility to monitoring various qualitative treaty limits. During the first year after START I entered into force, the parties demonstrated their telemetry tapes, as required by the treaty, and installed play-back equipment on each other's territory. Although they regularly exchange tapes after missile flight tests, both sides have raised questions about the completeness of the other's telemetry tapes during meetings of the JCIC.

Nature of "Militarily Significant Violation"

Since the Reagan Administration, the United States has sought what is termed "effective verification," which, as defined by Ambassador Paul Nitze during the INF hearings, means the ability of the United States to detect any militarily significant breach of the treaty in time to respond effectively and deny the other side the benefit of the violation. The ability to do this is also seen as having a deterrent effect on potential violations.

However, there are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes a "militarily significant violation" in terms either of type or of magnitude. For example, under START, 10 additional MX or SS-18 ICBMs, meaning 100 additional warheads, are still relatively small in an overall force of 6,000 warheads or even 1,600 launchers, which would be the actual strategic targets. Nonetheless, such a violation could not be ignored given its "political significance," a more encompassing term that includes any and all violations, regardless of their military effect. On the other hand, under START II, the magnitude of violations could possibly be greater given the much smaller warhead totals.

In the START II Resolution of Ratification, the Senate addressed the question of standards for compliance in broader terms than those measured by the standard "military significant violation." In the first condition listed in the resolution, the Senate indicated that it would be concerned about any activities that are "inconsistent with the object and purpose of" or "in violation of" START I or START II. This standard of compliance could require the President to report on and consult with the Senate in the case of activities, such as the development of new types of missile systems, that do not violate the terms of the treaty but could, under some circumstances, be considered to be inconsistent with the purpose of the treaty.

Breakout Potential

Breakout refers to the possibility of a state secretly holding more weapons than the treaty allows and then suddenly revealing this clandestine capability for political or military leverage. This is a matter of concern in all treaties that involve numerical limits, but is of particular concern when dealing with strategic forces because covert weapons might be prepared for use relatively quickly.

Among the break-out concerns in START is the issue of excess missiles and warheads. START designates deployed launchers and their associated missiles as "accountable units" (Article III), but not non-deployed missiles and warheads, which are extremely difficult to monitor. START also calls for the destruction of missile launchers (Article VII), but not the missiles and warheads. These provisions raise concerns about the possibility of covert launchers for these weapons. Provisions banning rapid reload (Article V, par. 16), location restrictions on non-deployed missiles and test launchers (Article IV, par. 9), and on-site inspections may mitigate this concern.

Another break-out concern in START I is the provision (Article III, par. 5) that allows both parties to download the number of warheads on certain missiles as a means of maximizing the number of allowed missiles while staying within the 6,000 warhead limit. Under START II, Russia will have 525 empty loading slots on its remaining, down-loaded SS-19s. There is the possibility that a missile could either be declared as downloaded when in fact it was not, or reloaded after having been downloaded. Again, random inspections of missile loadings (Article XI, par. 6 and Inspection Protocol, Annex 3) could serve to deter or detect such evasion. Monitoring both of these areas was noted as being problematical for U.S. intelligence in the SSCI report on START.

Russian officials have also expressed concerns about U.S. "break-out" potential under the terms of START II. Some have noted that Russia will reduce its forces to START II levels mostly by eliminating older MIRVed ICBMs, while the United States will reduce its forces mostly by downloading its Minuteman III ICBMs and its Trident SLBMs. The resulting break-out potential for the United States, which could exceed 2,000 warheads, has been cited by some in Russia's parliament as a key inequity in START II.

Costs of Compliance

The demise of the Soviet Union and deteriorating economic conditions in the former Soviet republics have also raised questions about costs of compliance with the START treaties. START I outlines complex procedures that the nations must follow when they reduce their forces to comply with the limits in the treaty. For example, when eliminating silo launchers for ICBMs, the parties cannot simply remove equipment that would be used to launch ICBMs and seal the launchers or use them for other purposes. The parties must excavate the silo to a depth of eight meters or explode the silo to a depth of six meters so that it could never again hold or launch a ballistic missile. For the most part, these provisions are designed to ensure that the weapons elimination process is irreversible, so that none of the parties of the treaty could break out of the limits by restoring weapons that had been removed from service. Yet these procedures can be far more expensive than less complex, and less complete, elimination procedures.

Russia and the other former Soviet republics have raised concerns about the costs imposed by some of the START procedures. For example, in late January 1995, an official in Belarus suggested that his nation should not be obligated to blow up the launch pads for mobile ICBMs that had been based in Belarus (and are now being returned to Russia). He argued that the explosions would cause irreparable ecological damage to the sites; more likely, it is too costly for Belarus to devise a less damaging means to eliminate the launch pads or to repair the damage that does occur.

The United States has recognized that START implementation will be costly for the former Soviet republics. However, it is not willing to alter the elimination procedures because it does not want to introduce new uncertainties into the verification process. Instead, the United States is providing financial and technical assistance under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to help the former Soviet republics comply fully with the provisions of START I. The U.S. believes that Russia can implement START I with its own financial resources but U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense Perry, emphasize that Nunn-Lugar assistance will help Russia and the other republics accelerate the process of implementing START reductions.

Some Russian officials have stated that the costs of START II implementation could exceed Russia's available resources. Alexander Saveliev, the Vice-President of Russia's Institute for National Security and Strategic Studies suggested in an interview in June 1995 that the United States might have to provide Russia with several hundred million dollars, or even a billion dollars for Russia to be able to honor its START II commitments by the year 2003. Members of the Russian parliament have also raised this issue during their deliberations. Some have suggested that the elimination period for START II be extended by up to 10 years so that Russia can eliminate weapons at the end of their service lives and so that the costs of the elimination process can be stretched out to a more affordable level. Some have also suggested that the silo elimination and conversion procedures be altered to reduce costs.

Past Soviet Compliance Behavior

Past Soviet compliance with arms control treaties is also an issue. During the 1970s and 1980s, the United States raised numerous questions about Soviet compliance with the SALT (strategy arms limitation) Treaties. In its 1995 report on Russian compliance with arms control agreements, the Clinton administration noted that the former Soviet republics' record of compliance with agreements such as the INF Treaty and START I had been generally good, even though they had missed some implementation deadlines in START I and the United States had found some discrepancies in exchanged data when the treaty entered into force. With respect to other arms control agreements, such as the biological weapons convention, the administration, along with some in Congress, have noted that Russia's compliance record has left some questions unanswered.

The Senate expressed its continuing concerns with the Soviet and Russian record of compliance in the 1st condition and 8th declaration in the START II resolution of ratification. In the 1st condition, the Senate stated that the President shall consult promptly with the Senate and submit a report if any of the parties to START I or START II are found to be acting in a manner that is not consistent with the object or purpose or to be in violation of either treaty. If the noncompliance persists, the President must seek a Senate resolution of support for continued U.S. adherence to both START I and START II. In the 8th declaration, the Senate stated that START II is in the interest of the United States only if Russia is in strict compliance with the terms of the Treaty as it was presented to the Senate for advice and consent. The Senate also stated that it expects the executive branch to offer regular briefings on compliance issues related to START II, including a description of any compliance issues that it plans to raise or has raised in the Bilateral Implementation Commission established by the treaty. In addition, if the United States determines that Russia is not in compliance with or acting in a manner inconsistent with the purpose and object of the treaty, the Senate has required that the President submit a written report explaining why it remains in the U.S. national security interest to continue as a party to the treaty.

On-Site Inspection Issues

Inspection access is clearly central to the verification regime for START. However, the START OSI regime is not an "anytime, anywhere" regime, which neither side wanted. Thus, there is always the possibility of hidden weapons or covert facilities that may be missed, although the intelligence community remains confident that any pattern of such activity would eventually be detected. Critics may also note that the provisions for continuous monitoring (Article XI, par. 1) and perimeter portal monitoring (Inspection Protocol) take place at final assembly areas rather than production facilities, raising the possibility that missile stages may be produced and stored covertly without going to final assembly areas. Such a cheating scenario would raise questions about the technical reliability of such components; moreover, the provisions noted above with regard to non-deployed missiles and warheads would again help detect or deter this activity.

The costs of on-site inspections are a key issue for the former Soviet republics. Several officials in Ukraine, for example, have suggested that the United States cover some of the costs that Ukraine would have to bear to provide facilities and escorts for U.S. inspectors stationed in Ukraine. Some have also suggested that the requirements for inspections be eased so that the costs could be reduced. For example, START I permits the United States to maintain a permanent perimeter and portal monitoring facility around the missile assembly facility at Pavlograd, in Ukraine. Although the United States will bear most of the costs of establishing and operating that facility, some in Ukraine would like the effort to be scaled back. In December 1994, Ukraine's defense minister suggested that the United States conduct "periodic inspections" at the plant, and he claimed that the permanent presence of the inspectors would be "inexpedient." Regardless, the first team of inspectors who will operate the perimeter and portal monitoring system reportedly arrived in Ukraine on January 11, 1995.

The extensive OSI agreed to in START I and START II will also be costly for the United States. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that U.S. costs for verifying and complying with START could range from $100 million-$390 million annually. The Department of Defense requested $63.5 million for START I implementation in FY1997; this includes the inspections costs and the other implementation costs associated in the treaty. Looking at just inspections costs, DOD requested $112 million for the On-Site Inspection Agency (Congress reduced this request by $14 million in the FY1997 Defense Authorization Act), but this includes funds for inspections under several other arms control treaties, such as INF and CFE, in addition to START I.

OSI inevitably raises the specter of intelligence collection by the inspecting team for reasons beyond the scope of the treaty. Under START I, inspectors from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan will visit a variety of U.S. military facilities. This potential espionage threat raises the question of U.S. counterintelligence capabilities. The FBI has long complained about its manpower difficulties in this area. The SSCI has echoed these concerns in the past (see S.Rept. 102-85) and raised them again in its report on START.

START I Implementation: The Compliance Record

Force Reductions

Both the United States and former Soviet republics are well ahead of the force reduction time-table outlined in START I. In addition, the non-Russian republics have all complied with the terms of the Lisbon Protocol. In May 1995, Russia and Kazakhstan announced that all of the nuclear warheads from SS-18 missiles in Kazakhstan and all of the nuclear weapons for bombers in Kazakhstan had been returned to Russia. On September 7, 1996, Russia and Kazakhstan announced that all 104 silos for SS-18s in Kazakhstan had been destroyed according to the treaty provisions. On June 1, 1996, President Kuchma of Ukraine announced that all of the nuclear weapons had been removed from Ukraine's territory as well. Ukraine has also begun to eliminate the launchers on its territory.

In late November 1996, officials in Belarus announced that the final 18 SS-25 missiles based in Belarus had been returned to Russia. These were originally scheduled to be removed by the end of July 1995. However, in early July, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, announced that he was suspending the withdrawals. He initially stated that the removal of nuclear weapons from Belarus was no longer necessary because it was only a matter of time before Belarus reunited with Russia. He also indicated that he had stopped the withdrawals because they were not in the economic interest of his nation. He claimed that Belarus should be compensated for the value of the SS-25 missiles and the nonstrategic nuclear weapons that had been returned to Russia. In August he added another demand; he stated that Belarus would not complete the withdrawal of SS-25 missiles unless Russia cancelled $400 million in debts for the natural gas that Belarus buys from Russia. By early 1996, Russia and Belarus had again agreed to a schedule for the missiles' withdrawal. This plan came into question again in late 1996, when a political crisis in Belarus appeared to stall the withdrawal. Nonetheless, the process reportedly was completed by late November.

The Inspection Process

START I baseline inspections began on March 1, 1995, and concluded in July 1995. The United States visited 65 locations in the former Soviet Union during this period. Inspectors from Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Russia visited 36 sites in the United States during the same time frame. For example, Russian inspectors visited U.S. bomber and ICBM bases, such as the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington, the ICBM support facility at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and the B-1 bomber base at Ellsworth, South Dakota. U.S. inspectors have visited ICBM bases, bomber elimination facilities, and strategic ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) bases in Russia and the other republics. During a June 1995 visit to the SSBN base in Murmansk, U.S. inspectors sought to view a Russian Delta IV submarine that was scheduled to launch a German space module. To accommodate the START I time-table, the space launch was delayed until the inspection was complete. Both sides report that the inspections proceeded smoothly, with the few questions that come up being resolved easily. The baseline inspections had been completed on schedule in mid-1995.

The implementation process has continued with all the parties conducting short-notice inspections permitted by the treaty. For example, in early October 1995, U.S. inspectors arrived in Ukraine to inspect missiles at the Pervomaysk missile base. Russian inspectors have also returned to North Dakota to examine Minuteman III missiles at Minot Air Force Base. During an October 1995 visit to Missouri with Secretary of Defense Perry, Russian Defense Minister Grachev set off the detonation needed to destroy a Minuteman II silo. In a reciprocal visit on January 5, 1996, Secretary of Defense Perry joined with Minister Grachev and Ukraine's Defense Minister Shmarov to detonate the explosives and destroy an SS-19 silo at Pervomaysk in Ukraine. Although observers from the other treaty parties were on-site at the time of these highly visible ICBM silo eliminations, the rubble from the explosions will be left in place for a while so that parties can confirm the elimination with their national technical means of verification. Secretary Perry, Senator Nunn, Senator Lugar, and Senator Lieberman also observed the Russian elimination of a ballistic missile submarine at a northern Russian naval base in October 1996. The United States has recently added Mountain Home Air Force Base, in Idaho, to its list of START facilities because the base is now home to U.S. heavy bombers. A team of inspectors from Russia visited the base in October 1996 to conduct a "new facility" inspection. By late 1996, the United States had conducted around 150 inspections at sites in the former Soviet Union and had hosted nearly 60 inspections at U.S. facilities.

JCIC Agreements on Missiles Converted to Space Launch Vehicles

The START I treaty permits all the parties to convert ICBMs or SLBMs limited by the treaty to boosters that launch payloads into space. The United States believes that the treaty clearly indicates that, although these boosters are no longer equipped with nuclear warheads, they would still be subject to other restrictions in the treaty because they use the same rocket motors as missiles limited by the treaty and because they could, with time and effort, be converted into nuclear-tipped missiles. In early 1995, Russia offered its own interpretation of the treaty's provision on space launch vehicles, claiming that converted missiles should not be subject to treaty provisions because they were different from ballistic missiles and they were no longer equipped with nuclear warheads. Russia's position appeared to reflect Russia's interest in selling space launch vehicles derived from its ballistic missiles to other countries that wanted to launch satellites. Because START I bans the transfer of missiles limited by the treaty to other nations, Russia would not be able to sell these converted missiles if they remained subject to the restrictions in the treaty.

This issue came to a head in March 1995 when Russia used a variant of the SS-25 ICBM as a space launch vehicle in an attempt to launch satellites into orbit. According to published reports, Russia failed to provide the United States the opportunity to inspect the missile to confirm that it was configured as a space launch vehicle when it exited the Votkinsk missile assembly facility, and it failed to provide the proper notifications, as specified in START I, about the location of the missile prior to the satellite launch. Russia claimed that it was not obligated to notify the United States as to the whereabouts of the missile or permit the United States to inspect the missile at the Votkinsk portal because it was a dedicated space launch vehicle that was not limited by START. The United States held that the missile was subject to the inspection and notification provisions in START I because it was a variant of a missile limited by the treaty.

During discussions prior to the summit between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin in Moscow in May 1995, Russia agreed that space launch vehicles derived from missiles limited by the treaty would remain subject to the restrictions in START. These restrictions included the notification and inspection provisions for missiles limited by the treaty and the ban on the transfer of converted missiles to third parties.

But Russia still wanted to sell the space-launch capabilities of these missiles to other countries. As a result, in September 1995, Russia, the United States, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan concluded a Joint Statement in the JCIC that clarified the restrictions that would apply to converted missiles that were offered to other countries as space launch vehicles. According to published reports the parties have agreed to permit Russia to set up two space launch facilities for converted missiles outside Russian territory, as long as Russia maintains ownership and control of the space-launch vehicles. The converted missiles will remain subject to START provisions, so the total number of launchers for these missiles will be limited to 20, Russia will have to notify the United States when it plans to move a converted missile to the space launch facility, and Russia will have to broadcast all telemetry generated during the space launch so that the United States can confirm that the booster carried a satellite, not nuclear warheads.

This agreement has proven to be very controversial. Initial news stories erroneously reported that the agreement relaxed START constraints on missile transfers by allowing Russia to sell as many missiles as it wanted to any country. This, critics claimed, would accelerate international ballistic missile proliferation and threaten U.S. security. But administration officials have noted that Russia cannot sell the missiles to anyone; it can only sell space launch services and it must maintain ownership and control of the missiles. In addition, there can be only 2 overseas launch facilities and no more than 20 ICBM and SLBM launchers at all space launch facilities, including those in Russia. Nonetheless, critics believe that Russia is so interested in raising cash that it will sell space launch services to any buyer, even if the buyer plans to re-convert the missiles to carry warheads. Others, however, have noted that Russia must notify the United States when it plans to transfer a converted missile to an overseas space launch facility, so the United States would be able to track these systems and it would raise questions if the missiles were headed for nations who lacked satellite programs but appeared interested in missile programs. Hence, although there is some possibility that a nation could forcibly take control of the converted missiles, the Clinton administration believed that the risks of this were slight and that the agreed Joint Statement was far better than Russia's original position, where the converted missiles would not have been subject to any START provisions. In that case, Russia could have sold unlimited numbers of missiles to any potential buyer.

Further questions about sales of missile technology for space launch purposes arose in May 1996, when news reports indicated that China had sought to purchase SS-18 ICBM technology from Russia and Ukraine. China claimed that the technology would contribute to its space launch programs, but many analysts have noted that China's own ICBM programs would benefit greatly if China could gain advances in guidance or propulsion technologies. Secretary of Defense Perry has stated that the United States has raised its objections to this possible transfer with both Russia and Ukraine, reminding them of their obligations under both START I and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Senate Consideration

START I

President Bush submitted START I to the Senate on November 25, 1991; the Lisbon Protocol was submitted on June 19, 1992. Three Senate committees -- Foreign Relations (SFRC), Armed Services (SASC), and Select Intelligence (SSCI) -- reviewed START I and issued reports. The SFRC reported START on July 1, 1992, 17-0, after adding a number of conditions binding on the President. These stated that the Senate advice and consent to START I was conditioned on the four Soviet-successor states being legally bound by the various obligations entered into by themselves and by the U.S.S.R. The SFRC also mandated a Presidential report on compliance 180 days after Senate approval of ratification and called for the rapid conclusion of a treaty based on the Bush-Yeltsin agreement of June 17, 1992.

The SASC also voted to support START I. In terms of compliance issues, SASC stated that one of the SFRC conditions concerning START implementation by the Soviet successor states did not go far enough in that it allowed START to enter into force prior to those states reaching agreement among themselves on implementation. The SSCI concurred in the judgment by the Intelligence Community that "while there are some areas that will be problematic, we are confident that we can monitor most aspects of the Treaty well." The SSCI noted the problem areas of non-deployed missiles -- especially mobiles, and cheating scenarios, but also held that the break-up of the U.S.S.R. into independent states made cheating more difficult. It also felt that this political change "is critical to the Committee's general confidence in U.S. START monitoring capabilities."

On October 1, 1992 the Senate voted 93-6 to approve a resolution of ratification, incorporating the conditions voted by SFRC.

START II

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on the START II Treaty in March 1992, but it delayed further consideration of the treaty pending entry into force of START I and evidence that the Russian parliament was moving forward with its consideration of START II. Hearings resumed in January, February, and March 1995. One of the hearings focussed specifically on the verification regime in START II and on the U.S. ability to verify Russian compliance with the treaty. At that time, the CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence stated that U.S. confidence in monitoring Russian actions under the treaty would be highest in the area of weapons reductions, but that there would be some uncertainties when monitoring missile production at facilities that would not be subject to perimeter monitoring. He concluded by stating that, on the whole, the intelligence community will be able to perform the monitoring tasks necessary under both START treaties if it receives the programmed level of resources. At the same time, most of the Members' questions about START II verification and compliance focussed more on Russia's ability to implement the treaty in an era of political and economic instability. Clinton Administration officials assured the committee that Russia had the ability to implement the treaty itself and that U.S. assistance would be used to speed the process of eliminating weapons under START II.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution of ratification for START II by a unanimous vote on December 12, 1995. The full Senate followed with a vote of 87-4 on January 26, 1996. As has been described above, the resolution of ratification contains numerous conditions and declarations related to verification and compliance, with the Senate requiring the Executive Branch to submit reports in cases where questions of noncompliance with START I or START II by Russia, or the other former Soviet republics and to seek Senate approval for continued U.S. adherence to the treaties if the noncompliance persists. The resolution also mandates that the executive branch keep the Senate fully apprised of any compliance issues that the United States raises with Russia in START II's Bilateral Inspection Commission. And it requires that the Administration certify that U.S. NTM capabilities are sufficient to monitor Russian compliance with START II. Other conditions and declarations in the resolution express the Senate's views on the absence of linkage between START II and the 1972 ABM Treaty and on the benefits for U.S. national security of missile defense deployments that occur in conjunction with offensive force reductions.

Russia's parliament began its consideration of START II in July 1995. Members of the Russian parliament have expressed numerous concerns about the limits in START II and the costs of its implementation. Reports indicate that officials from the Ministry of Defense argued that the treaty was in Russia's national security interest because it was the only way for Russia to maintain parity with the United States. Nonetheless, many analysts in Russia believe that the timeframe for START II implementation should be increased to ease the economic burden on Russia from eliminating MIRVed missiles and producing new single warheads missiles. Members of parliament have also argued that Russia should not approve START II if the United States takes steps to develop or deploy ballistic missile defenses that are inconsistent with the limits in the ABM Treaty. Members of Russia's parliament have also expressed concern about other issues on the U.S.-Russian agenda, such as the expansion of NATO, and they have argued that Russia should not accommodate Western policies.

The Duma resumed its consideration of the treaty in mid-February 1996. Some U.S. analysts who have met with Russian officials believe a vote may occur in late 1996. Secretary of Defense Perry met with members of the Duma on October 17, 1996, in an effort to convince them that the treaty served Russia's security interests. Reports from the meeting indicate that the Duma members were extremely critical of the treaty and that Secretary Perry won few votes. Although the members raised numerous questions about the limits in the treaty and the economic burden of implementation, reports indicate that some seemed more concerned about the effect that NATO enlargement would have on Russia's security environment. Hence, even though most U.S. analysts believe Russia will eventually approve the treaty, most also expect the Duma to attach conditions that would be unacceptable to the United States.


CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS, REPORTS, AND DOCUMENTS

United States Congress. Congressional Budget Office. U.S. Costs of Verification and Compliance under Ending Arms Control Treaties, by Michael O'Hanlon. Washington. September 1990. 69 p.

United States Congress. House. Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence . Intelligence Support to Arms Control. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1987. (100th Congress, 1st session. H.Rept. 100-450)

United States Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Verification Technologies: Managing Research and Development for Cooperative Arms Control Monitoring Measures. Washington. May 1991.

United States Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Treaty with the U.S.S.R. on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START). Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1991. (102nd Congress, 1st session. Treaty Document 102-20)

-----The START Treaty. Report. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1992. (102nd Congress, 2nd session. S.Rept. 102-53) [Includes reports by Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence .]

United States Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Intelligence . The INF Treaty Monitoring and Verification Capabilities. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1988. (100th Congress, 2nd session. S.Rept. 100-318)


FOR ADDITIONAL READING

Lowenthal, Mark M. "The Politics of Verification: What's New, What's Not." Washington Quarterly, Winter 1991.

CRS Reports

CRS Report 91-492. Cooperative Measures in START Verification, by Amy F. Woolf.

CRS Report 89-592. On-site Inspections in Arms Control: Verifying Compliance with INF and START, by Amy F. Woolf.

CRS Report 91-782. START Index: An Index to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, by Mark M. Lowenthal.

CRS Report 95-1183. START I and Space Launch Vehicles: Recent Agreements on Ballistic Missile Conversion, by Amy F. Woolf.