Treaties governing nuclear-arms reduction and missile defences have slipped from their Cold War moorings. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) process and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty were premised on equality, but the United States and the Russian Federation are now very unequal partners. It is always difficult for arms-control treaties to formalise fictional equality or to codify inequality in changing geopolitical circumstances. Durable treaties also require bipartisan political support in the United States, which has been sorely lacking for the ABM Treaty.
These treaties are languishing for a more fundamental reason as well. START and the ABM Treaty reflect the logic of Mutual Assured Destruction, or MAD, the central organising principle of strategic-arms control during the Cold War. MAD's two basic tenets, as practised by the United States and the Soviet Union, were nuclear overkill and vulnerability to missile attack. Now that the Cold War is over, these tenets no longer command widespread public or congressional support in the United States. A sustainable and bipartisan basis for future US policies geared toward the reduction of nuclear dangers must be built on different ground. While nuclear deterrence will remain important in the twenty-first century, Cold War conceptions of MAD can no longer guide future US decisions regarding nuclear weapons and missile defences. The time has come to replace MAD with a new principle, one that embodies a cooperative approach to reducing nuclear threats.
Nuclear overkill and aversion to missile defences made perverse sense during the Cold War. The strategic competition between the United States and the Soviet Union produced many thousands of nuclear weapons and prospective targets. Large numbers of these warheads were placed on ballistic missiles that could traverse long distances in a matter of minutes. Improvements in guidance and warhead design meant that heavily fortified targets, such as missile silos and command and control centres, could quickly be placed 'at risk'. To avoid being disadvantaged in the event of a surprise attack, both countries maintained a significant portion of their strategic nuclear forces on 'hair-trigger' alert. (81//82)
Under these circumstances, the United States and the Soviet Union chose not to define MAD in minimal terms of, say, the demolition of a capital city, or ten important cities, or 50% of either nation's conventional military or militaryindustrial capacity. Had this been the case, Cold War arsenals would have remained small. Instead, the requirements of MAD became inextricably linked to the superpower competition, in both its political and military dimensions. The requirements of MAD became relative, not absolute. If one side seemed to be gaining a quantitative or qualitative advantage in nuclear forces, the other had to respond. What one side needed depended on what the other had, or was perhaps seeking. Nuclear forces, no less than superpower diplomacy, served the twin pursuits of seeking advantage and avoiding being placed at a disadvantage.
MAD therefore became synonymous with huge numbers of nuclear weapons, expansive target lists and forces ready to fire. Under these circumstances, neither superpower could allow missile defence deployments to go unanswered. To do so would be to accentuate perceptions of advantage or disadvantage. In the 1972 ABM Treaty, Washington and Moscow reluctantly agreed to forego national missile defences that would be ineffective and that would fuel even bigger nuclear arsenals.
Now that the Cold War is over, MAD's precepts governing strategic nuclear forces need rethinking. Russia's national budget is now roughly the size of Belgium's. Moscow's nuclear forces face block obsolescence, and its commandand-control networks, as well as military personnel, will be stressed and underfunded over the next ten years or more. It no longer makes sense for the United States to retain policies that keep dangerous, over-age Russian nuclear forces in the field and on alert.
Nor does it make sense to maintain expansive targeting lists and high alert rates against states with very small nuclear capabilities. If a small fraction of the US nuclear arsenal fails to dissuade a national leader from acting in 'roguish' ways, a much larger arsenal would be irrelevant for deterrence. And if a 'state of concern' is so unhinged as to carry out an attack with a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against the United States that can quickly be traced back to its point of origin, does it really matter if the devastating response comes 15 minutes or two hours later?
Lingering Cold War thinking about nuclear weapons also compounds proliferation problems. The international norms against the spread of nuclear weapons are enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a contract between nuclear 'haves' and 'have nots'. The 'haves' promise to kick their nuclear weapon habit while the 'have nots' promise continued abstinence. Nuclear testing fundamentally divides these two camps. The 'haves' cannot credibly claim to be kicking their habit unless they agree to end permanently nuclear testing, which is why abstainers have long demanded the negotiation and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Senate Republicans blocked ratification of this treaty on the grounds that nuclear weapons were central to US national security, and that enduring nuclear [82//83] deterrence required the option of renewed testing. If the most powerful, richest and most technologically advanced country in the world cannot forego future testing, what messages are conveyed to smaller states looking for ways to neutralise more powerful adversaries? And if nuclear weapons are so central to post-Cold War conceptions of US power, what does this imply for the future of the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
To those who place more trust in nuclear weapons than in treaties, these rhetorical questions are not very compelling. They argue that states have their own reasons for testing and deploying nuclear weapons, and that treaties - or the actions of the 'haves' - won't stop them. Sometimes the loudest complaints against the nuclear club come from states wishing to join, as was the case with India. Other states, such as Iran, hypocritically join this negative chorus because they are covertly looking for ways to neutralise US military advantages, counter powerful neighbours, or project their own power and influence within their region.
There are, indeed, many reasons not to place too much faith in non- proliferation treaties or the self-serving arguments made against them by those seeking the presumed rewards of WMD. But even treaty sceptics do not wish to dismantle existing non-proliferation accords and the international norms they establish against WMD. If existing non-proliferation treaties are worth keeping, why then are they not worth strengthening? But strengthening measures are hampered by the 'haves,' whose actions diminish constraints on the nuclear aspirants. New entrants to the nuclear club are, after all, following well-worn paths to power and status. Proliferation is about emulation. Nuclear powers cannot devalue for other states that which they continue to hold dear. Hypocrisy flourishes on both sides of the nuclear divide.
New nuclear-weapon states will certainly not emulate the size of Cold War arsenals, but their early moves have taken a familiar form. The emulation of MAD creates special difficulties in Asia. China, India and Pakistan have all declared that they will avoid the excesses of Western nuclear theology, but they appear trapped in calculations where requirements are determined in relative, not absolute, terms, just as MAD was practised during the Cold War. The principle would have been far simpler, less expensive, and less dangerous had the two nuclear superpowers established its requirements in absolute and minimal terms. But domestic political, institutional and geopolitical factors drove the competition upward. Failing behind was not an option. MAD's calculations will be of an entirely different (and wiser) scale in Asia, but it will also be harder to calibrate because the calculus of competition in southern Asia is triangular rather than bipolar. If nuclear capabilities grow on one leg of this triangle, pressures will also grow on the other two.
Thus, while all three states have declared their adherence to minimal, credible nuclear deterrence, no neighbour can take these official statements at face value. Pakistan can least afford MAD's competitive dynamic, yet it has two well-funded laboratories competing to produce nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The Indian government has officially adopted a 'no first-use' [83//83] doctrine, while issuing an unofficial, draft nuclear posture that undercuts this core principle by embracing the Western requirement of prompt nuclear retaliation. This is not at all helpful, since nuclear forces truly configured to retaliate quickly look indistinguishable from those postured to strike first. China has adopted the most pacific declaratory posture of any nuclear-weapon state, but Beijing is also carrying out more strategic modernisation programmes than any other country. Declarations of good intentions are clearly insufficient in Asia. MAD acquires its own momentum, regardless of geographical coordinates.
The United States has great difficulty persuading India, Pakistan and China to embrace a future free of nuclear dangers by retaining Cold War practices. At present, Pakistan is deciding whether to place nuclear weapons on modified alert, India is considering whether to test thermonuclear weapons, while China is contemplating how many ballistic missiles to deploy, and whether to arm them with multiple warheads in light of prospective US missile defences. It is difficult for Washington to argue for restraint, when emerging Asian nuclear powers are, in their own modest way, emulating US practices. MAD and Missile Defences
Cold War precepts against missile defences are no less antiquated than continued dedication to MAD's embrace of nuclear weapons. There are many reasons to reconsider MAD's aversion to defences. To begin with, accidents happen. Given Russia's protracted difficult circumstances, the possibility of an unauthorised ballistic-missile launch cannot be entirely discounted. In addition, Middle Eastern and Asian countries are acquiring ballistic missiles for leverage against neighbours, to keep US expeditionary forces out, or as instruments of war-fighting. Covert supply networks, involving China, North Korea and Russia, that help new states to extend the range of their ballistic missiles and to secure weapons of mass destruction, cannot be completely quashed.
US foreign and national security policies in troubled regions will henceforth be hampered without missile defences. As with nuclear weapons, the political utility of missile defences is likely to far exceed the military utility, although the latter must be proven in order to secure the benefits of the former. In future years, the United States must be prepared to aid friends and allies in regions beset by ballistic missiles and WMD. During Cold War crises, the United States would signal resolve by increasing the readiness of nuclear forces or by repositioning ships or planes that could be carrying nuclear weapons. Now that the Cold War is over, signalling of this sort by the world's sole nuclear superpower is likely to be provocative, dangerous and counterproductive in a new era of asymmetrical warfare. The management of future crises and the demonstration of alliance resolve are far better served by moving missile defences instead of nuclear weapons into harm's way.
Because the threats posed to US forces overseas, friends and allies are far greater than comparable threats to the US homeland, theatre missile defences [84//85] have become far more important than national missile defences (NMD). The ABM Treaty constrains or precludes advanced theatre missile defences since they could also have some applicability for the defence of national territory. Treaty protectors fought tenaciously but in vain against amendments to permit advanced theatre missile defences. After strenuously opposing changes permitting high-velocity, high-altitude, long-range intercepts, the Kremlin subsequently consented. (The resulting accords also remain stuck in the limbo of ratification politics.) The implications of amending the ABM Treaty in this way are quite profound. If it is now permissible to defend forward-deployed US troops, allies, friends and US nationals living in troubled regions, why should defences of national territory remain absolutely prohibited? A modest insurance policy against low probability, but highly damaging eventualities makes sense for the US homeland. Many who reject this notion out of hand do not think twice about paying insurance premiums for catastrophic damage to their homes. But MAD, as enshrined in the ABM Treaty, expressly prohibits premium payments of any size on NMD.
Nuclear Treaties After the Cold War
With the basic structure, rationale and political support for treaties in question, it is not surprising that both the ABM and START accords face uncertain futures. Political debate in Washington is now marked by the absence of a compelling articulation of the case for treaties, and by a highly motivated campaign against them. Those who believe that treaties remain indispensable continue to use Cold War arguments on their behalf. These arguments, such as a concern that missile-defence deployments will generate an arms race with a cash-strapped Russia, are not convincing. Treaty opponents are divided between those who believe they are irrelevant and those who assert they are too restrictive. This line-up does not bode well for arms-control orthodoxy. Deconstructionists in the US Congress have failed to abolish the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service and the National Endowment for the Arts, but they might well succeed in killing the ABM Treaty.
Political manoeuvre from opposing camps on Capitol Hill fills the void created by a breakdown of consensus about the post-Cold War utility of nuclear weapons, missile defences and treaties. During the Clinton administration, ardent proponents of missile defences successfully topped up Pentagon budget requests while threatening to kill amendments to the ABM Treaty - including amendments expressly permitting effective theatre missile defences - if ever put to a vote. If President George W. Bush annuls or abrogates the ABM Treaty, opponents of missile defences are likely to take blocking action. Both advocates and sceptics can always rely on strong, polltested arguments: The American public feels uneasy about being undefended, but doesn't want to tear up treaties. In these circumstances, blocking action is far easier than building a durable, post-Cold War consensus on nuclear offences and missile defences. [85//86]
The way out of this impasse has not been well mapped, but the incoming Bush administration will surely accelerate the pace of developments. A transition to new ways of thinking about nuclear forces and missile defences is underway. George W. Bush and his closest advisers are sceptical both of treaties and Cold War nuclear orthodoxy. The road ahead will generally be marked by deeper cuts in nuclear force levels, a stronger commitment to missile defences and unilateral measures to reassure others. These components can be integrated in reassuring or destabilising ways.
Any change from the familiar will be difficult for domestic constituencies that have long supported Cold War nuclear postures or existing arms-control treaties. A transition that is pursued without a domestic consensus will be halting, and could well result in the unravelling of domestic support both for treaties and nuclear programmes. Change will also be hard on US allies in Europe and Asia, and the move to missile defences will be resisted strongly by Russia and China. Divisions are sure to grow at home and abroad if the Bush administration decides to nullify the ABM Treaty. US diplomatic isolation, so evident in the aftermath of the rejection of the CTBT by Senate Republicans, will grow. The unravelling of treaties in such circumstances would surely undermine US leadership, as well as US national, regional and international security.
The need for an integrated, coherent strategy on nuclear weapons and missile defence is clear and compelling. A bipartisan approach at home is essential to a successful presentation of new US thinking abroad. Moreover, a domestic consensus is needed to maintain strong US alliances and to foil wedge-splitting strategies by Moscow and Beijing. Ill-conceived missile defence deployments could exacerbate security concerns. Only a bipartisan approach at home can stand the test of time, alliance cohesion and annual budget battles on Capitol Hill.
The Clinton administration never postulated, articulated, or defended a post-Cold War strategic concept governing nuclear forces and missile defences. The Pentagon, s review of nuclear policy during President Clinton's first term produced a reaffirmation of institutional interests, albeit with useful changes at the margin. There was no review during the second term. Instead, the administration continued to seek amendments to existing treaties, downsizing START while at the same time modifying the ABM Treaty to permit limited defences. This piecemeal approach did not generate bipartisan support or calm concerns in allied capitals, Moscow or Beijing.
The absence of a new conceptual framework made each of the Clinton administration's decisions harder to implement and easier to oppose. For example, Clinton's separate efforts to downsize nuclear arsenals and deploy limited defences were not mutually reinforcing at home or abroad. Moscow indicated that limited national missile defences might be palatable, with deeper cuts, but this ran afoul of the Pentagon. By expressing continued fealty to MAD's precepts while trying to engineer phased reductions, the Clinton team was caught in a domestic bind: under MAD's tenets, lower numbers and lower alert rates equalled less safety and security.
The phased introduction of limited NMD further complicates matters, if pursued under the logic of MAD. The Clinton administration argued that Moscow need not be concerned about limited defences because Moscow maintained high alert rates and the ability to overwhelm defences. This line of argument was neither reassuring nor convincing. Post-Cold War imperatives call for both defences and threat reduction, but MAD continues to pit one against the other. For missile defence deployments to become an integral part of cooperative threat reduction, nuclear forces must clearly be re-postured in non-threatening ways. MAD's embellishments constrain the transition to cooperative threat reduction.
The current strategic environment and its potential threats are very different from those of the Cold War era and demand a new conceptual approach. This will entail a top-down, bipartisan reassessment of Cold War orthodoxies, rather than merely triming and tailoring them as the bloated US nuclear arsenal deflates. The time has come to replace MAD with a new strategic synthesis aimed at reducing the dangers from missiles and WMD.
Cooperative Threat Reduction
The concept of cooperative threat reduction is embodied already in a number of of programmes and in a familiar acronym, CTR. Unlike MAD, the concept of cooperative threat reduction is properly affirmative and descriptive. The practice of CTR also strengthens non-proliferation regimes by clarifying that security is enhanced by reducing the salience of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
The mechanisms for increasing national, regional, and international security through the practice of cooperative threat reduction are quite flexible. Threat reduction can be bilateral - as is the case for ongoing US programmes in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakstan - or multilateral, typified by the collaborative efforts of the United States, South Korea and Japan to freeze and disassemble North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. CTR provisions can be embedded in treaties or carried out as unilateral or reciprocal initiatives. Programmes can involve military, political or economic incentives, or some combination thereof. The creative application of cooperative threat reduction is bounded only by political will and resources.
During the Cold War, enormous intellectual and diplomatic efforts were devoted to creating treaty regimes governing the most powerful weapons known to humanity. It took extraordinary political effort to convince powerful goverriment institutions, party leaders, politicians, and concerned citizens that treaty constraints on nuclear forces and missile defences were both wise and necessary. The creativity, time and effort involved in crafting these accords - selecting measuring devices, devising treaty constraints to establish mutually agreed stabilisation measures, and (hardest of all) agreeing upon intrusive verification arrangements to give these accords political standing and durability - helped keep the Cold War from becoming hot.
In the first decade of the post-Cold War period, by contrast, very little creativity has been applied to new treaty instruments. Instead, existing ones [87//88] have been amended, downsized, or adjusted to the new circumstances. Meanwhile, cooperative threat reduction has expanded greatly. The new emphasis on CTR was evident in iggi, when presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev took steps to reduce nuclear danger when the Soviet Union was coming apart. The 1992 Open Skies Treaty, permitting cooperative aerial inspections from Vancouver to Vladivostok, was a prime example.
During this period, the roles of treaties and less formal initiatives have been reversed. Bilateral US-Russian treaty negotiations have foundered on legislative shoals that have prevented accords from entering into force. After producing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Chemical Weapons Convention, multilateral negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva have ground to a halt. During the Clinton administration, far more effort was applied to CTR initiatives rather than to treaty-making.
In effect, the transition from MAD to CTR has already begun, although individual programming efforts have not been aggregated or conceptualised in this way. CTR is practised every day in scores of laboratories, military bases and research institutes in the former Soviet Union. Washington and Moscow now engage in wide-ranging initiatives, including Pentagon programmes to help the Russian Ministry of Defence to dismantle dangerously ageing nuclear forces. Parallel programmes are underway in which US nuclear laboratories work with Russian ones to safeguard fissile material. Fledgling initiatives have also begun to find gainful commercial employment for workers in Russia's ,nuclear cities' as well as those who previously produced chemical and biological weapons. These cooperative threat reduction programmes have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the United States, even as treaties have come under intense fire.
The source of such broad support is no mystery. By the end of October 2000, CTR programmes in the former Soviet Union had secured the deactivation of 5,014 nuclear warheads, destroyed 407 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and 366 ICBM silos; eliminated 68 strategic bombers and 256 launchers from ballistic missile-carrying submarines; destroyed 148 submarinelaunched ballistic missiles, 17 ballistic miss ile-carrying submarines, and 204 long-range cruise missiles; and sealed 194 nuclear-test tunnels. Assistance has been provided for nuclear weapons storage and transportation security. Construction is well underway for a large, secure fissile-material storage facility. The United States is helping to improve the safety and security at Russian chemical weapons storage sites. Security upgrSdes have been implemented for 750 tonnes of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Radiation detection equipment has been installed at Russian border crossings to help detect and interdict nuclear smuggling. Plutonium-laden fuel rods from nuclear power reactors have been secured. This list is only a small sample of initiatives now underway.
CTR initiatives with China during the Clinton administration have been relatively modest and are now in doubt. During the Clinton administration, a small-scale 'lab to lab' programme was initiated between US and Chinese [88//89] nuclear scientists, but was suspended amidst Congressional concerns over Chinese espionage. Beijing's future role in CTR - as a partner or a problem - depends on the dynamics of the Taiwan question.
Lingering Cold War attitudes on the part of Russia and China continue to limit the scope and effectiveness of CTR efforts. Both continue to rely heavily on their own nuclear and missile programmes. These programmes are remnants of Moscow's superpower status, and currently Beijing's sole means of power projection. Both leaderships have separate but reinforcing reasons to oppose revisions to the ABM Treaty. For Moscow, Cold War treaties provide nominal equality and protection of sunk costs in nuclear forces. For China. START and the ABM Treaty offer assured constraints and reductions on the two larger nuclear powers. Russian and Chinese leaders fear that, in the absence of existing treaties, the United States would be free to pursue dominance in both strategic offensive forces and missile defences. More broadly, it will be difficult to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons and missiles elsewhere if Russia and China (along with the United States) continue to accord them great status. Moreover, Russia and China continue to provide critical support to states that either seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction and missiles, or to expand existing capabilities. Russia's continuing technical. material and diplomatic support for Iran and Iraq and its unwillingness or inability to suppress transactions by well-connected middlemen increase proliferation dangers. US-China cooperation on non-proliferation has similarly been hampered by Beijing's support for Pakistan as a counterweight to India. This support has been manifested in Pakistan's nuclear and missile programmes, and Pakistan may seek further help as Indian conventional and nuclear capabilities grow. Elsewhere, Chinese support for Iranian and North Korean missile programmes could again be of concern if relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorate.
Proliferation is antithetical to cooperative threat reduction. If Moscow and Beijing persist in abetting proliferation. then collaborative efforts with the United States will obviously be limited. Domestic US support for the CTR activities in Russia will be restricted to programmes that provide clear US national security benefits. Ongoing programmes to dismantle and safeguard Russia's Cold War arsenal clearly fall within this narrow framework. Cooperation on early warning for missile launches also continues to make sense, given Russia's blind spots as portions of its Cold War constellation of radar stations and satellites have fallen into disrepair and disuse.
US Policy Choices
The Russian and Chinese cooperation that is required for a successful transition from MAD hinges, in turn, on their perceptions of US strategic objectives. If Russian and Chinese leaders conclude that US efforts to move away from MAD are a cover for negating their own nuclear deterrents, there will be no transition. But if the Bush administration is perceived as accepting a nuclear- [89//90] deterrent relationship with Russia and China, the pace of transition can pick up and the scope of current cooperative threat reduction efforts can expand. The central choice facing the Bush administration is whether to extend conventional military dominance to missile defence, nuclear weapons and space.
Consequently, one key indicator of US strategic objectives for both Moscow and Beijing will be the architecture chosen for US missile defence deployments. Some missile-defence architectures can strengthen alliances, shore up nonproliferation regimes, and send useful signals to states brandishing missiles and WMD. Other architectures can vastly complicate these dangers. If missile defence deployments suggest an 'America First' orientation, if prospective defences appear to far exceed realistic threats, or to negate Russian or Chinese nuclear deterrents, the transition to CTR will be stillborn. It is in the US national interest to make choices that facilitate rather than foreclose a transition strategy.
The Bush administration's approach to the weaponisation of space is therefore of critical importance. The more the United States takes the lead in
pursuing anti-satellite weapons or weapons in space, the less Russia and China can be expected to cooperate in reducing post-Cold War dangers. Of course, Russia or China could also take the lead in developing or testing space-warfare capabilities. In this event, the United States would surely follow. Either route to the deployment of weapons in space, or weapons that could disable objects in space, would have profoundly dangerous consequences.
During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and the United States tested anti-satellite weapons and retained the inherent capability to destroy objects in space. Space debris resulting from attacks would create havoc for satellites of all kinds, commercial as well as military. Given the risks of space warfare, US and Soviet leaders generally resisted these impulses during the Cold War. President Ronald Reagan was moved by a different set of calculations. In his considered view, the dangers posed by weapons in space were less of a concern than the dangers posed by nuclear weapons on the ground. The initial and most ambitious goal of Reagan's Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) was to make nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. Many ballistic-missile-defence enthusiasts believe that the most efficient and effective way to disable ballistic missiles is to shoot them down from space. To do so, however, means placing cocked weapons in space, hovering above potential enemies. Needless to say, this is not a reassuring prospect for nations relying on nuclear deterrence, including US allies. SDI was eventually brought down to earth by technical and fiscal constraints, as well as by diplomatic and domestic political opposition. Now that the Cold War is over, it would be ironic if the United States became newly interested in space-warfare capabilities. Reassurance is an essential complement to deterrence as well as to CTR. The development of US space warfare capabilities will only reassure a narrow band of domestic proponents. US pursuit of space weapons will engender much opposition at home and abroad, estrange the United States from European and Asian allies, and help forge closer strategic cooperation between Moscow and Beijing. Such [90//91] initiatives would also hamper the commercial utilisation of space. Spacewarfare initiatives by the United States will be widely perceived not only as a rejection of MAD but as a way to replace nuclear deterrence with strategic dominance. Space-warfare capabilities are consonant with unilateral, rather than cooperative, threat reduction; US pursuit of them would doom a transition strategy.
A new strategic concept also requires a synthesis of nuclear offence and missile defence. Such a synthesis would marry deep reductions in nuclear force levels and alert rates with limited national and more ambitious theatre missiledefence deployments. The imperatives of alliance relations, international reassurance and near-term threats all mandate that priority be given to theatre, and not national, missile defences. Similar imperatives necessitate a transition strategy based on treaty adaptation rather than treaty demolition.
A treaty-based approach to secure deeper cuts in nuclear forces has several advantages. Amendments drawing down START levels are easy to conceptualise and negotiate. This course would be most reassuring to Russia, China and US allies, in part because it would be harder to reverse than less formal regimes. Moreover, this approach would draw upon verifiable, agreed procedures for dismantling nuclear forces. The reassurance of treaty regimes would certainly facilitate a wider range of cooperative threat reduction activities in the former Soviet Union, perhaps including the expansion of CTR programmes to include verified warhead dismantling.
The treaty-based approach also has some drawbacks. The opposition of legislators in both the United States and Russia could continue to prevent the entry into force of negotiated amendments. Negotiations take a long time anyway. And expanding the scope of treaties to cover the dismantling of warheads and non-deployed missiles - as opposed to deployed forces covered in treaties so far - could be complicated and difficult to negotiate.
The alternative would be to rely on unilateral, or so-called 'reciprocal' nuclear force reductions. Such measures would be easier to implement than treaties, but they would also be easier to reverse. Intrusive monitoring arrangements for treaties are spelled out; they would be voluntary or nonexistent for unilateral or reciprocal initiatives.'
If unilateral steps are pursued entirely as a substitute for treaties, many new problems could result. Even dramatically ambitious reassurance initiatives could be undermined or completely nullified by other initiatives, such as moves to deploy space-based weapons or to expand NATO to the Russian border. The abrupt replacement of treaties with unilateral initiatives will not be reassuring and could generate a strong backlash at home and abroad. The demise of bilateral treaties would spill over and undermine multilateral accords, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The net effect of jettisoning treaties could be profoundly unsettling, including the sharp curtailment of cooperative threat reduction initiatives now underway in Russia.
Heavy reliance on unilateral measures could have another negative consequence: making the intended recipients of reassurance measures the [91//92] central arbiters of their utility. National leaders could stress an absence of reassurance in order to prompt further initiatives to alleviate their expressed concerns. The informal nature of reassurance arrangements - and the ability of states to reverse course relatively quickly - could retard the desired transition to CTR. Congressional prerogatives would also need to be taken into account for a strategy that seeks to replace treaties with reassurance measures. If initiatives are not reciprocated fully, the US Congress could become disenchanted with this process.
The risks and unintended consequences of unilateral measures can be minimised by using them as a supplement to, rather than as a substitute for,
treaties. The combination of treaties plus unilateral measures is more powerful than either standing alone. For example, the 1991 Bush-Gorbachev initiatives, whereby the least safe and secure nuclear weapons were removed from operational status, were facilitated by strategic arms reduction treaties that provided reinforcement and reassurance. Likewise, the transition to CTR can proceed more smoothly when initiatives are carried out alongside formal treaty constraints. Verifiable treaties offer more reassurance. Unilateral measures offer more flexibility and powerful symbolism. Some changes, such as revisions in nuclear targeting, can only be realised by unilateral or parallel steps. Amendments to START, combined with unilateral and reciprocal measures provide a strong foundation to keep alliances healthy, strengthen non-proliferation regimes and reassure Russia and China that a cooperative transition is in their national security interests.
The defensive side of the ledger is clearly more problematic. Harmonising defensive deployments with farther reductions in Cold War arsenals is fraught with risks and possible unintended consequences. The net effect of missile defence deployments should be to reinforce reductions in nuclear forces, reassure allies, support non-proliferation partners and reduce the salience of missiles and WMD. It is difficult to achieve this effect, however, when many countries continue to view missile defences in Cold War terms.
One way to overcome this Cold War mentality would be for the US to place the highest priority on the deployment of theatre missile defences. This priority is warranted because shorter-range missiles pose far greater threats to US allies and American forces abroad than missiles able to reach US soil. Such an approach would counter perceptions of a 'Fortress America,' by underscoring the US commitment to aid friends and allies threatened with proliferation. Additional amendments to the ABM Treaty might well be required to counter the evolution of missile threats to US friends, allies, and forward-deployed forces.
Beijing, which relies heavily on ballistic missiles for power projection, will argue most vociferously that theatre-missile defence deployments will spur arms races. This places the cart before the horse, since interest in theatre missile defences in Asia are a consequence of Chinese and North Korean missile flight tests. A failure by the United States to respond properly to China's reliance on missiles for coercive diplomacy could unsettle US friends and allies, thereby aggravating proliferation problems. On the other hand, one driver for theatre [92//93] missile defences in the Asia-Pacific region - North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes - is waning. Proliferation concerns - and the presumed need for theatre defences - could be dampened further by decisions taken in Beijing to reduce the salience of its missile programmes.
A second essential element of reassurance is for the US to set clear limits on its NMD. Defences designed to negate the Russian and Chinese nuclear deterrents are doomed to fail and guaranteed to backfire. Even a Russia in continued decline will have the technical means and force structure to penetrate US defences. China will have the financial means to develop its strategic deterrent in parallel with the US efforts to negate it. If the United States sizes or structures NMD deployments in ways that suggest a strategy of neutralising China's deterrent forces, China will respond by increasing the size and capabilities of its nuclear arsenal, with cascading effects on India and Pakistan. In addition, Russia and China are likely to seek to counter US efforts to secure offensive and defensive dominance. Their most probable approach will be the testing and deployment of space-warfare capabilities.
These developments are not in the US national security interest. They can be avoided if NMD systems are designed to counter a narrow range of lowprobability but high-consequence threats, such as a breakdown of command and control resulting in a small-scale, unauthorised attack by a major nuclear power, or a limited attack by a hostile state that operates by an improbable set of rules. Because such occurrences are in fact unlikely, the premiums paid for this modest insurance policy should be limited. Such contingencies can be met with modest amendments to the ABM Treaty permitting ground- and seabased interceptors, as well as upgrades to space~based sensors.
Additional reassurance could be provided by amendments to the ABM Treaty expressly permitting NMD by respecting the treaty's central prohibition against weapons in space. The risks and unintended consequences of introducing missile defences can also be reduced if pursued within a broader strategic context of CTR. Missile defences can be harmonised with nonproliferation norms by respecting multilateral treaty obligations and by taking additional steps to reduce US reliance on nuclear weapons. No step would be more helpful in this regard than US ratification of the CTBT.
Keeping NMD limited and respecting the ABM Treaty's prohibition on weapons in space would not only provide reassurance to Russia during a decade of decline, but also give Moscow added reasons to expand the scope of CTR efforts. One area of expansion could be joint efforts on theatre missile defences. If Moscow's strategic concerns are thus alleviated, Beijing will be hard-pressed to lead the charge against missile defences. At the same time, the pursuit of robust theatre missile defence programmes would signal to Beijing and Moscow that Washington will respond unhesitatingly to the coercive use of ballistic missiles. This mixed message is essential for regional and international security.
The initiative on these matters clearly lies with Washington. If the Bush administration seeks amendments for limited national defences that exclude space-based interceptors, Moscow would be wise to agree. Amendments that [93//94] are limited in nature and consistent with a cooperative transition would allow President Bush to manage alliance qualms and to secure congressional support. Successful negotiations to amend the ABM Treaty could be supplemented by unilateral reassurance measures. If, however, the Bush administration seeks more expansive amendments and negotiations subsequently break down, damage limitation will be difficult. And if Bush abrogates the ABM Treaty summarily, the diplomatic fall-out will be great, and substitute measures to provide reassurance are unlikely to be credible. There are many sound reasons for President Bush to avoid a treaty demolition strategy. Further amendments to the ABM Treaty are necessary. They are also feasible, if the Bush administration maintains limited and realistic objectives.
New rules of the road are needed to reduce post-Cold War nuclear dangers. These rules must recognise changed realities amid the enduring vulnerabilities of the nuclear age. The essential choice facing the Bush administration is cooperative threat reduction or strategic superiority. The pursuit of strategic superiority will damage alliances and increase proliferation. Cooperative threat reduction initiatives will continue to coexist with nuclear deterrence, since technological optimism and missile defences cannot remove the danger posed by large nuclear arsenals. While nuclear deterrence will continue to inform US relations with Russia and China, it does not necessarily follow that vulnerability continues to have intrinsic value. And although defences against a large-scale attack will remain futile, it hardly follows that defences against much lesser contingencies are unwise or unhelpful. In locations and circumstances where missile defences can reduce dangers, they ought to be deployed.
The deconstruction of MAD and the substitution of CTR constitutes an ambitious and difficult agenda. Why should the new US president expend the time, effort and political capital to seek a cooperative transition of this magnitude? First, the dangers of WMD and missile proliferation are growing and are only exacerbated by Cold War-era remedies. Second, the singleminded approaches of missile defence enthusiasts and staunch treaty protectors are neither persuasive nor sustainable and fail to change the fundamentals of nuclear deterrence. In contrast, CTR can strengthen alliances and reduce the salience of WMD and missiles.
A forward-looking synthesis can be forged around the central principle of cooperative threat reduction. The transition strategy will require the deconstruction of the Cold War embellishments of mutual assured destruction that drove force levels, targeting requirements, and alert rates to absurd levels. These edifices need to be replaced with stronger conventional forces, alliances and non-proliferation regimes, treaty adaptation, reassurance measures and missile defence deployments. MAD can no longer help with these important tasks. A new strategic concept and expanded cooperative threat reduction initiatives can. [94//95]
Take, for example, the 1991 unilateral and reciprocal arrangements carried out by presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, removing the least safe and secure nuclear weapons from operational status. Ten years later, press reports indicate that some of these tactical nuclear weapons have been returned to the Baltic region, presumably to compensate for Russian conventional military weaknesses. Bill Gertz, 'Russia transfers nuclear arms to Baltics,' Washington Times, 3 January 2001. Nonetheless, the 1991 BushGorbachev initiatives were widely applauded at the time, and continue to be viewed in a positive light.