The Impact of Missile
The American missile defense plan would seriously damage the bilateral strategic arms control process and all existing non-proliferation mechanisms as well. One of the most likely short-term outcomes of the Bush administration's policy -nullification of the ABM Treaty- could trigger a hazardous domino effect. If the United States abandons the ABM Treaty, Russia might not implement START II. The 1988 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which prohibits deployment of all American and Russian land-based missiles with a range between 500 and 5,000 kilometres, might also unravel. Eroding the very fundaments of bilateral arms control might in turn negativly affect a range of other international treaties like the NPT or CTBT.
|Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty|
Current levels of Russian strategic nuclear forces would be sufficient to penetrate the limited potential NMD of 100 interceptors as proposed by the Clinton administration, but in the future, the size of the Russian strategic arsenal will significantly decline due to financial constraints. Russia possesses around 6,000 strategic warheads, 2,300 of which are kept on hair-trigger alert, 776 of those being liquid-and solid-fueled ICBMs. In August 2000, the Russian Security Council decided to a lot more budget resources to conventional forces while making deep cuts in nuclear forces down to around 1,500 warheads. A Russian proposal to lower START III limits below 1,500 warheads was rejected by Washington in January 2000.
Progress on missile defense technology, in particular increasing the capability to destroy Russian missiles during their initial flight (boost) phase, might create a situation in which 200 NMD interceptors would be sufficient to undermine Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent. Moscow would be forced to introduce countermeasures to penetrate any future missile defense system and might maintain a larger arsenal than it can adequately support.
One option would be to to extend the operational lifetimes of some of Russia's older missiles such as the SS-18 and the SS-25, but without sufficient resources to ensure their security and reliability. Another option that is probably more attractive would be for Russia to equip its new Topol SS-27 ICBMs with multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), which can carry three independently targetable warheads mounted on each missile.
Both options would require Russiaís withdrawal from START II, which prohibits MIRV-ed ICBMs as well as heavy ICBMs such as the SS-18. President Putin has warned that if the U.S. abandons the ABM Treaty, Russia would not only withdraw from START II, but from the whole system of treaties on the limitation and control of strategic and conventional weapons. Altogether there are 80 bilateral agreements between the United States and Russia.
More on strategic nuclear weapons in
|Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)|
An American decision to deploy an NMD could push the NPT to its turning point. The United States would send an unambiguous message to the rest of the world of its lack of commitment to nuclear nonproliferation. Non-nuclear weapon states may decide that it is in their best interests to abandon the NPT, and states that have already nuclear weapon capabilities may implement programs to strengthen or expand their arsenals. Moreover, because nuclear modernization in states such as India might require explosive testing and production of additional fissile materials, the CTBT and progress towards a FMCT could be derailed.
The 1970 NPT prohibits the five recognized nuclear states from transferring nuclear weapons or technology relevant to such weapons to non-nuclear weapon states. The non-nuclear weapon states in turn agree not to pursue nuclear weapon capabilities and to allow regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In addition, Article VI of the NPT obligates the nuclear weapon states to negotiate on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
|Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)|
The MTCR was founded in 1987 as an informal and voluntary agreement between Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is intended to restrict the transfer of certain types of ballistic missiles and related technology. The Guidelines and Equipment Technology Annex defines the purpose of the MTCR and provides overall guidance to members and other countries. The Annex Handbook is designed to assist in implementing export controls. The MTCR is a supplier regime, which means that its effectiveness depends on a near-monopoly on the technologies that it seeks to control. Export control policies are implemented according to national legislation, as the MTCR has no regulatory or enforcement capacitiy. As non-MTCR states become more sophisticated in developing missiles and components, the regime has over the last years approached countries outside the regime in order to engage them in a broader multilateral effort. The most recent exemples of this approach were the 2000 American-North Korean talks on the North Korean missile production and export programs.
See also the State Department's Statement on the Draft International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, February 11, 2002 (in pdf)Under a 1999 memorandum of understanding, the United States and Japan are cooperating in the U.S. Navy's Theater Wide missile defense program. This joint research project includes the transfer of interceptor technologies to Japan and raises the question of MTCR compliance. Although the missile defense system is aimed at shielding Japan from North Korean attack, it could also be easily deployed near Taiwan. China, which has objected to Japanese missile defense since the issue appeared, has agreed to follow the guidelines of the MTCR, but it is still reluctant to include the MTCR annexes in the Chinese export control law. As a result of the Japanese-American joint venture, Beijing may become even less willing to cooperate on nonproliferation efforts than it is today. Allegations of assistance to Iran's and Pakistanís missile and nuclear weapons programs are fostering doubts about Chinaís commitment to nonproliferation.
|Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty|
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was negotiated between January 1994 and August 1996 at the Conference of Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. The treaty bans all nuclear explosions, for nuclear weapons testing as well as for peaceful purposes. All five nuclear weapons states have halted their nuclear tests. The CTBT will enter into force after the 44 nuclear capable CD participants have ratified it. 30 CD members (including Russia) have already signed it, while the U.S. rejected treaty ratification in 1999. A special conference on the initiation of the CTBT reaffirmed the countries' commitments to refrain from nuclear tests.
Following the January 2002 session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Undersecretary of State Bolton said the Bush administration has no plans to resume nuclear testing, although it is opposed to the CTBT. Bolton also said that a decision has been made in the Nuclear Posture Review to upgrade the American nuclear testing infrastructure: "If the strategic circumstances in the world changed dramatically ... we'd be in a better position in terms of our testing and research infrastructure than we are now."
In the late 1980s, the United States proposed to the Soviet Union to conclude an agreement calling for advance notification of ICBM and SLBM launches. On May 31, 1988, in Moscow, the Agreement on Notifications of ICBM and SLBM Launches was signed that provides for notification, no less than 24 hours in advance, of the planned date, launch area, and area of impact for any launch of an ICBM or SLBM.