The Heritage Foundation

Committee Brief #21

October 31, 1995

October 31, 1995 | Committee Brief on

Conditions for Ratifying START II

(Archived document, may contain errors)

A Special Report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

No. 21 10/31/95

CONDITIONS FOR RATIFYING START II

By Baker Spring Senior Policy Analyst In the coming days, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations may take up the matter of ratifying the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START H) Treaty. Signed by President George Bush on January 3, 1993, START III requires that the United States and Russia reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals to no more than 3,500 deliverable warheads. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee should not consent to the ratification of START II, and thereby allow the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal to shrink to such low levels, unless the Clinton Administration first makes some changes in the U.S. nuclear force pos- ture, strategy, and policy. Before reductions are made, the U.S. must be committed to four goals: 0 Building a national missile defense system; Devising a backup plan in case the reductions process breaks down; Continuing nuclear testing to ensure a safe and reliable arsenal; and 0 Establishing a clear strategic nuclear targeting policy. The Senate can ensure that these changes are made by imposing conditions on the ratification of START 111. These are conditions which the Clinton Administration would have to meet before the treaty could be brought into force. While these conditions do not affect the draft of the treaty, and thus would not involve a renegotiation with the Russians, they would mandate that the Clinton Administration cor- rect some of the serious flaws in its nuclear, strategic, and arms control policies.

PROBLEMS WITH CLINTON'S STRATEGIC POLICY On September 22, 1994, the Clinton Administration released a study of U.S. nuclear doctrine and force structure called the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

The study was designed to establish a new nuclear policy for the United States covering 1) nuclear doctrine, 2) the force structure for both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, 3) nuclear arms control matters, 4) nuclear command and control, and 5) safety issues. One of the most important of the NPR's findings was that the doctrine of intentional vulnerability to nuclear attack, called Mutually Assured De- struction (MAD), should be replaced with a doctrine called Mutual Assured Safety (MAS). Another ma- jor conclusion was that the U.S. should retain the existing "triad" of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers, even with a smaller nuclear arsenal. The NPR, however, presents a number of problems which must be solved before the Senate agrees to ratify START H. Indeed, solving these problems should be conditions which the Senate imposes on the Administration before consenting to ratification. 2 Problem #11: The Nuclear Posture Review fails to establish a proper role for strategic defenses. While the NPR declares that Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) has been replaced with Mutual Assured Safety (MAS), it fails to provide a clear definition of this new doctrine. Furthermore, it fails to acknowledge that strate3gic defenses, and particularly missile defenses, can play an indispen- sable role in buttressing MAS. Discussion of strategic defenses was omitted because such weapons are not nuclear-armed and therefore were deemed to be outside the scope of the study. This is a mis- take. What matters is the strategic nature of missile defenses, not whether they are nuclear-anned. Missile defenses are strategic weapons that must be considered in devising a strategy of Mutual As- sured Safety. Solution #1: Condition the ratification of START 11 on submitting a plan to deploy strategic de- fenses. In light of the decision to replace MAD with MAS, the Clinton Administration needs to re- visit the recommendation to defer deployment of strategic defenses. The President made this deci- sion in 1993 when his Administration completed its study of conventional military forces, called the Bottom-Up Review. A deployment plan should provide for defenses not only against ballistic mis- siles, but against bombers and cruise missiles as well. Absent such a plan, U.S. territory and the American people will remain vulnerable to the broad array of strategic weapons deployed by for- eign countries. This vulnerability will exist at a time when an increasing number of countries are building ballistic missiles and the political stability of Russia is uncertain. The Clinton Administra- tion needs to back up its MAS promises with action. It needs to present a plan for deploying missile defenses. The Senate can require the President to order the Secretary of Defense to revisit the issue of de- ploying strategic defenses. Both the House and Senate versions of the FY 1996 Defense authoriza- tion bill already contain provisions requiring the Secretary of Defense to produce a plan for develop- ing and perhaps deploying a national missile defense system. But the bill is bogged down in a House-Senate conference and under the threat of a veto by the President. To get around this prob- lem, the Senate could impose a condition on the ratification of START II: The President should or- der the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress for deployment of strategic defenses.

Problem #2: The Clinton Administration has failed to articulate which steps should be taken if the arms reduction process breaks down. The NPR requires the Pentagon to maintain a "hedge" against a breakdown in the arms control process. It fails to state, however, which steps the U.S. would take under adverse circumstances. For example, nothing is said about what the U.S. should do if the Russians delay in implementing the START treaties, or refuse even to comply with them. In short, the term "hedge" remains undefined. Since the NPR's force structure recommendations are predicated on the implementation of START II and START I, the Clinton Administration essen- tially is assuming that nothing can go wrong with the reduction process. But something already is going wrong: America is reducing its nuclear arsenal faster than Russia. The U.S. has cut its arsenal to 6,000 deliverable warheads, while Russia retains 9,000. 4 This kind of unilateral disarmament undermines the strategic balance. If this trend continues, America may end up with too few weapons to cover all its strategic targets. Even if the Russians are not technically in violation of START II, a targeting disparity could emerge if the U.S. continues to disarm unilater- ally. If the U.S. rushes to disarm too quickly, there will be a disparity between the number of U.S. nuclear warheads and their respective targets in Russia-the very nuclear missiles the Russians have been so slow to dismantle. If Russia were to drag its feet, it would violate START II. As things now stand, the U.S. would have no recourse but to issue diplomatic complaints about such violations. There currently are no provisions specifying how the U.S. strategic force posture should be adjusted if the disarmament process breaks down. Solution #2: Condition ratification of START 11 on a halt in U.S. reductions and, if necessary, the reconstitution of U.S. strategic nuclear forces if the disarmament process breaks down. The Clinton Administration, at a minimum, needs to declare that it will halt the disarmament proc- ess if the disparity in the pace of U.S. and Russian reductions becomes too great. In addition, the U.S. should state unequivocally that if the Russians seem poised to break out of the START trea- ties, it will reconstitute its nuclear force to the levels necessary to hold the larger Russian nuclear force at risk. Thus, in keeping with these provisions, before it agrees to the ratification of START II, the Sen- ate should impose the following requirements on the President:

ow A declaration that the U.S. will halt reductions and reconstitute the strategic nuclear force if the disarmament process breaks down;

ow A halt to dismantling strategic nuclear weapons under START I and START 11 any time the number of accountable warheads in the strategic nuclear arsenal of the United States is 500 fewer than in the strategic nuclear arsenal of Russia;

ow A resumption of U.S. reductions only after Russia has lowered its strategic nuclear arsenal to a level equal to that of the United States; and

mw A plan to begin rebuilding U.S. strategic nuclear forces in six months if the number of account- able Russian warheads has not been reduced to U.S. levels. Problem #3: The Clinton Administration has no plan if countries other than Russia build or ex- pand their nuclear arsenals. The NPR, for good reasons, is focused primarily on Russia. To be sure, Russia retains one of the largest strategic nuclear arsenals in the world. Moreover, it remains the only country capable of destroying the U.S. Nevertheless, because START I and START H will shrink America's nuclear arsenal dramatically, the U.S. must be cognizant of nuclear weapons derth Korea, for example- velopment in other countries-such known proliferators as China and No which may threaten the American people. Otherwise, the combined threat of Russian and other nu- clear arsenals could put the U.S. at a strategic disadvantage. Solution #3: Condition ratification of START 11 on a declaration that the U.S. will withdraw from START 11 if countries other than Russia significantly expand their nuclear arsenals. Arti- cle VI of the START H Treaty permits either party to withdraw, with six months notice, if it deter- mines that "extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its su- preme interests." The Senate should require the President to notify the Russians that the expansion of strategic arsenals by countries other than Russia may well cause the U.S. to exercise its option to withdraw under Article VI. Problem #4: The Clinton Administration has failed to explain how the U.S. can retain a mod- ern, safe, and reliable nuclear arsenal without nuclear testing. The NPR fails to explain how the safety and reliability of the nuclear arsenal it recommends can be ensured absent underground explosive tests of nuclear weapons. If the NPR is clear in declaring that the U.S. will remain a nu- clear power for the foreseeable future, it is not clear as to how it will assure this outcome without conducting explosive weapons tests. President Clinton announced on August I I that he desires to extend the current moratorium on U.S. nuclear testing until the ratification of a comprehensive test ban treaty. In reality, a modem, safe, and reliable nuclear arsenal cannot be maintained under a com- prehensive test ban. The U.S. cannot remain a nuclear power indefinitely, nor can it modernize its ar- senal, if a truly comprehensive ban on testing is adopted.5 Solution #4: Condition ratification of START 11 on the resumption of nuclear testing. The Senate needs to be absolutely clear in expressing its determination that the U.S. will retain the capable and reliable nuclear arsenal recommended by the NPR. It can do so by requiring the Clinton Administra- tion to order the Department of Energy to conduct at least one underground nuclear test per year un- til a comprehensive test ban treaty is ratified by the United States and enters into force. Problem #5: The Clinton Administration has failed to clarify the connection between its strate- gic policy of Mutual Assured Safety (MAS) and the targeting requirements established for the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal. A strategic policy like Mutual Assured Safety is designed to define both the purpose and the mission of the strategic nuclear arsenal. The purpose should be to deter an enemy attack on the U.S. or, if deterrence fails, to stop that attack with nuclear weapons and strategic defenses. The mission of U.S. strategic forces, whether they be offensive or defensive, can be defined by assigning enejny missiles and other strategic objects as "targets" for U.S. forces (called targeting requirements). For example, if the mission of the strategic nuclear arsenal is to de- ter an attack by threatening the civilian populations of potential aggressor nations, the targets will be urban centers. If, on the other hand, the mission is to deter attack by threatening enemy missiles, the missiles themselves will be the targets. The public description of the NPR provides only the most cursory definition of the targeting re- quirements it established for the strategic nuclear arsenal. The NPR is classified, but press releases state only that targeting requirements are based on "projected military requirements.'s7 Absent some explanation of what "projected military requirements" means, there is no clear indication that these targeting requirements are connected in any way to MAS policy. In other words, it is not clear whether potential enemy missiles will be targeted for destruction by America's offensive and defen- sive strategic arsenal. If they are not, Clinton's MAS policy will have no practical meaning. Solution #5: Condition ratification of START 11 on the establishment of strategic targeting re- quirements that assume the destruction of weapons that threaten the United States. If the word "safety" has any meaning, the Clinton Administration's strategic policy should seek to protect the American people against nuclear weapons. How can safety be achieved? By developing a strate- gic mission for both offensive and defensive weapons that would destroy enemy missiles and the in- frastructure that supports them. The infrastructure would include such things as strategic nuclear command and control centers and storage facilities. The purpose of this strategy would be to use both offensive (nuclear missiles and bombers) and defensive (anti-missile missiles) weapons to limit damage from an attack on the U.S. The Senate can ensure that these targeting requirements are reflected in America's strategic pol- icy. The Senate can condition the ratification of START 11 on adoption of these targeting require- ments. Furthermore, the Administration should be required to certify that the vast majority of U.S. strategic weapons are targeted on the weapons that threaten U.S. territory and their supporting infra- structure. This will ensure that the Administration has taken the necessary steps to implement the tar- geting policy required by the condition. 8 Finally, the Senate should require the Administration to no- tify both houses of Congress in advance of any future changes in strategic targeting policy. With this provision, future Congresses will not be caught by surprise in the event there is a decision to change the targeting policy.

CONCLUSION The Clinton Administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) has declared that Mutually Assured De- struction is no longer U.S. policy. This is a step in the right direction. The U.S. is entering a period in world history where the threat of retaliation with nuclear weapons is less likely to deter an attack on the U.S. But the NPR also contains a number of problems. It does not account adequately for the role of strategic defenses, and it fails to explain how the U.S. would react if the nuclear arms reduction process breaks down. Until these problems are resolved, it would be foolish for the Senate to agree to the dra- matic reductions in the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal required by START II. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee can use the opportunity presented by the ratification of START H to solve the problems presented by the NPR. This can be done by imposing conditions on the ratification of START II. Once these conditions are imposed, the Senate can and should consent to rati- fication. Only then can the treaty really help to protect the American people from nuclear attack.

APPENDIX

Sample Resolution of Ratification

Resolved, (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring therein), That the Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons signed at Moscow on January 3, 1993, including Protocols on Elimination or Conversion and Inspections, and Memorandum of Under- standing on Warhead Attribution (all transmitted within Treaty Doc. 103-1); all such documents being integral parts of, and collectively referred to as, the "START H Treaty," subject to the following: (1) CONDITIONS.-The Senate's advice and consent to the ratification of the START II Treaty is subject to the following conditions, which shall be binding upon the President: (1) A PLAN FOR DEPLOYING STRATEGIC DEFENSES. -Prior to the exchange of the instru- ments of ratification of the START 1E1 Treaty, the President shall order the Secretary of Defense to submit to the Senate and the House of Representatives, by no later than six months following the issu- ance of the order, a plan that- (A) recommends the deployment of strategic defenses to counter the following strategic weap- ons, which may be used to attack the territory of the United States and against which the offen- sive strategic nuclear arsenal cannot readily be used: 1) mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles; 2) submarine-launched ballistic missiles; 3) long-range bombers; 4) cruise missiles; (B) recommends providing the means for destroying at least 50 percent of weapons in each category of weapons described in subparagraph (A) likely to be deployed by Russia after the im- plementation of the START II Treaty; (C) includes a plan for the deployment of a national missile defense system that combines sea- based and space-based systems such that when the entire system is deployed it is capable of meet- ing the requirements established by subparagraph (B) for countering mobile intercontinental bal- listic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

(2) PRESIDENTIAL ORDER ON HALTING THE DISARMAMENT PROCESS AND RECONSTI- TUTING THE STRATEGIC NUCLEAR FORCE. -Prior to the exchange of the instruments of rati- fication of the START II Treaty, the President shall issue an order to the Department of Defense re- quiring it to- (A) discontinue dismantling strategic nuclear weapons under the START Treaty and the START 11 Treaty at any time the number of accountable warheads in the strategic nuclear arsenal of the United States is 500 fewer than in the strategic nuclear arsenal of Russia; (B) resume dismantling the strategic nuclear weapons of the United States after the United States halts the disarmament process pursuant to the requirements of subparagraph (A) only after Russia has reduced its strategic nuclear arsenal to a level equal to that of the United States in terms of accountable warheads; (C) initiate the drafting of a plan to reconstitute U.S. strategic nuclear forces at the time the United States halts the disarmament process pursuant to the requirement established by subpara- graph (A), which shall be submitted to the President for his consideration if the number of ac- countable warheads in the strategic nuclear arsenal of Russia has not been reduced to a level that equals the number of accountable nuclear warheads in the strategic arsenal of the United States by six months following the initiation of the drafting of the plan.

(3) EXPANDING STRATEGIC ARSENALS IN COUNTRIES OTHER THAN RUSSIA. -If dur- ing the time the START II Treaty remains in force there is an expansion of strategic arsenals by coun- tries not party to the Treaty, the supreme interests of the United States could be jeopardized. Should that occur, it would constitute a basis for withdrawal from the START H Treaty. This statement shall be communicated by the President to the Russian Federation, in such form as he deems appropriate. (4) NUCLEAR TESTING. -Prior to the exchange of the instruments of ratification of the START II Treaty, the President shall issue an order to the Department of Energy requiring it to- (A) conduct no less than one underground nuclear explosive test in each fiscal year, beginning with the fiscal year that starts immediately following the entry of the START 11 Treaty into force; (B) halt the conduct of underground nuclear tests only after the United States and an adequate number of additional countries ratify a comprehensive test ban treaty in order to bring the test ban treaty into force; (C) pay for the tests described in subparagraph (A) from funds Congress may make available to the nuclear stockpile stewardship program. (5) STRATEGIC NUCLEAR TARGETING REQUIREMENTS. -Prior to the exchange of the in- struments of ratification of the START H Treaty, the President shall certify to the Senate that- (A) the targeting requirements for strategic nuclear weapons of the United States, along with those for strategic defensive weapons, are based on a policy that seeks to limit, to the greatest ex- tent possible, the damage that would otherwise be inflicted on the territory of the United States from an attack with strategic weapons by seeking to destroy such weapons and their supporting in- frastructure in a timely and effective manner; (B) the strategic nuclear weapons of the United States, along with strategic defensive weapons, are now targeted primarily, although not necessarily exclusively, on the strategic weapons de- ployed by nations other than the United States that may pose a threat to the territory of the United States and their supporting infrastructure; (C) the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be notified in advance of any future changes in the policy governing the targeting requirements for the strategic nuclear weapons of the United States.

About the Author

Baker Spring F.M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Show references in this report

I Department of Defense, "DoD Review Recommends Reduction in Nuclear Force," News Release No. 541-94, September 22, 1994. 77his press release and its accompanying package of materials constitute the Department of Defense's disclosure of NPR findings. The NPR itself has not been released to the public.

2 Ile Senate informs the President of its consent to the ratification of a treaty by adopting a resolution of ratification. Conditions the Senate wishes to impose on the President prior to the ratification of a treaty take the form of amendments to the resolution. A sample resolution of ratification is presented in the appendix to this paper. Having met the conditions imposed by the Senate, the President may then exchange the instruments of ratification. The exchange of the instruments of ratification has the effect of bringing a treaty into force.

3 For a detailed description of why strategic defenses can bolster strategic stability and safety and lead to a reduction in offensive nuclear weapons, see Baker Spring, "What the Pentagon's Nuclear Doctrine Review Should Say," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 987, May 26,1994.

4 Department of Defense, "DoD Review Recommends Reduction in Nuclear Force." See accompanying chart, "Force Structure Paths: Protecting Options in an Uncertain World."

5 For a more detailed description of the problems with the Clinton Administration's policy on nuclear testing, see Baker Spring, "Will America Remain a Nuclear Power? Implications of Clinton's Nuclear Test Ban," Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum No. 427, August 23, 1995.

6 The targeting requirements established for the strategic nuclear arsenal by the Nuclear Posture Review are used for planning purposes. Currently, U.S. strategic missiles are not actually targeted on anything because of a January 14, 1994, agreement with Russia to "de-target" the missiles. 71is agreement fails to serve the national interest because it is not verifiable and the Russians can easily "re-targee, their missiles in a matter of minutes.

7 Department of Defense, "DoD Review Recommends Reduction in Nuclear Force." See accompanying chart, "Military Requirements for US Strategic Nuclear Forces."

8 This provision also will have the effect of overturning the U.S.-Russian "de-targeting" agreement of 1994.