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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

19 July 2002

Lugar Urges More Controls on Weapons of Mass Destruction

(Must preserve momentum toward nuclear dismantlement, he says) (1780)
(The following article by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar
(Republican-Indiana) appeared in the latest issue of "U.S. Foreign
Policy Agenda" devoted to the topic "Weapons of Mass Destruction: The
New Strategic Framework." This article and the rest of the electronic
journal, which was published on July 18, may be viewed on the Web at:
http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itps/0702/ijpe/ijpe0702.htm. There
are no republication restrictions.)
The U.S.-Russian Front Against Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation
By U.S. Senator Richard Lugar
(The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program has demonstrated
that "extraordinary international relationships are possible to
improve controls over weapons of mass destruction," says Senator
Richard Lugar (Republican-Indiana). He says programs similar to this
U.S.-Russian effort are needed to address proliferation threats around
the world.)
Over the last decade the United States and the Russian Federation have
accomplished something never before done in history. Former enemies,
who squared off against each other for almost 50 years, laid aside a
host of major disagreements and forged a new cooperative relationship
aimed at controlling and dismantling weapons of mass destruction.
This logical course was never a foregone conclusion. Many in both
countries failed to realize the magnitude of the threat and were
unable to grasp the opportunities presented by the end of hostilities.
While the world rejoiced with the end of the Cold War and leaders in
Washington and Moscow grappled with the new geostrategic landscape,
the weapons of the Cold War continued to threaten peace and stability.
One of the tremendous ironies of the post-Cold War world is that our
countries may face a greater threat today than we did at the height of
the Cold War. Whereas previous strategic calculations assumed more or
less rational actors, experiences with Saddam Hussein, Osama bin
Laden, and others make an assumption of rationality less plausible
The possibility of armed conflict between the United States and Russia
continues to dwindle, but that does not mean our countries have little
to fear. The attacks of September 11 in New York and Washington could
have taken place in Moscow or St. Petersburg and could have employed
weapons of mass destruction instead of commercial airliners.
We have agreed, through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction
program and the treaty signed by Presidents George Bush and Vladimir
Putin in May, to liquidate the Cold War's nuclear legacy. We must
preserve the momentum to finish the weapons dismantlement started a
decade ago, as well as focus diplomatic energies on today's dangers:
Osama bin Laden or other terrorists in possession of nuclear,
biological, or chemical weapons.
The Nunn-Lugar model can help build the foundation for an effective
coalition that combats terrorism and secures weapons and materials of
mass destruction around the world. Russia and the United States are
the key players in establishing such a coalition. This cooperation can
be grounded successfully in mutual self-interest.
First, there are a number of areas in which we should expand our
cooperative dismantlement and non-proliferation efforts with Russia.
Non-Missile Submarine Dismantlement: In visiting the shipyards of
Severodvinsk and Murmansk on several occasions, I have been startled
by the enormity of the task that lies before us in the area of
submarine dismantlement. Nunn-Lugar is limited to dismantling
strategic missile submarines. Current U.S. law mistakenly does not
permit the Pentagon to dismantle general-purpose submarines.
There are important nonproliferation and security benefits to the
timely dismantlement of conventional submarines. Many carry cruise
missiles which could prove valuable to rogue nation missile programs.
Others are powered by nuclear fuel enriched to very high levels which
could pose serious proliferation risks if unsecured.
Debt-for-Nonproliferation Swaps: When President Putin visited the
United States he spoke of the increasing debt burden facing Russia. An
improving Russian economy and rising oil prices may have alleviated
the debt burden in the short term, but the potential for the
re-emergence of debt problems is real.
Senator Joseph Biden and I have proposed a law to allow "debt for
nonproliferation swaps" between Russia and the United States. Such
swaps would relieve some Russian financial pressures and address
American security concerns.
Former Scientist Employment and WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
Facility Opportunities: The United States implements a number of
programs to employ former weapons scientists in peaceful scientific
endeavors. Tens of thousands of Russian weapons scientists have been
employed by these programs. Considerable success has been realized,
but with a renewed commitment of resources and leadership, the United
States can make dramatic progress in ensuring that scientists forego
the temptation of being lured back into weapons work. We must give
these scientists an opportunity to succeed. If desperation and
bankruptcy become the norm, many will believe they have little choice
but to leave Russia and renew their weapons careers.
American, European, and G8 corporations have much to gain by
cooperating with government efforts. I have urged American companies
to explore the possibility of investing in Russian laboratories. These
facilities would be an excellent investment in hardware and production
technology, as well as access to the finest minds in Russia.
Considerable thought and planning should be given to overcoming
Western corporate hesitancy, sometimes caused by an inhospitable
Russian investment environment.
Tactical Nuclear Weapons: We must also begin to consider moving beyond
strategic systems into the tactical weapons arena. In many ways the
threat posed by the proliferation of tactical nuclear systems is more
serious than that posed by strategic weapons. Tactical warheads are
more portable, usually deployed closer to potential flashpoints, and
many are not secured at the same level as strategic systems.
We must establish transparency in this area so that both sides can
have confidence concerning the quantity, status, storage, and security
of the other nation's weapons. It would be a great shame if our
impressive record of success in the strategic arena was undercut by
the vulnerability of tactical weapons.
Fissile Material Security: After eight years of close cooperation and
considerable effort, only 40 percent of the facilities housing nuclear
materials in Russia have received security improvements through U.S.
assistance. Unfortunately, only half of these facilities have received
complete security systems.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to speed this important
effort. First, Russia should continue to consolidate materials in
fewer locations. Such consolidation will save money and time. But, if
facilities housing nuclear weapons materials are vulnerable, we cannot
wait until a convenient budgetary situation arrives to complete our
work. We must commit ourselves to installing necessary security as
quickly as possible.
On September 11th, in a dramatic telephone call to President Bush,
President Putin was the first foreign leader to join a global
coalition against terrorism. The phone call and the cooperation that
has followed the Afghan campaign constitute the best reflection yet of
a new phase of relations. The two leaders must now build a coalition
focused against terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. The goal
of this coalition would be to creatively and aggressively safeguard
nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their component materials
and technology so that they do not fall into the wrong hands.
The problem we face is not just terrorism. It is the nexus between
terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. There is little doubt in
my mind that Osama bin Laden and his operatives would have used
weapons of mass destruction if they had possessed them. The horrible
death and destruction of the September 11th tragedy was minimal
compared to what could have been inflicted by a weapon of mass
destruction. A simple and clear definition of victory in the war on
terror is bringing into account all nations that house terrorists, as
well as those countries that possess materials and weapons of mass
The United States and Russia, along with other members of the
coalition, should seek to root out each cell in a comprehensive manner
for years to come and maintain a public record of success that the
world can observe and measure. Our common goal must be to shrink the
list, nation by nation, of those that house terrorist cells,
voluntarily or involuntarily.
We must further demand that all states possessing materials and/or
weapons of mass destruction secure them from proliferation. If that
country's funds are insufficient, then they should be supplemented
with international funds.
Our campaign should not end until all nations on both lists comply
with these standards. Today, we lack even minimal international
confidence about many weapons programs around the world.
Unfortunately, outside the former Soviet Union, Nunn-Lugar-style
cooperative threat reduction programs aimed at these threats do not
exist. They must now be created on a global scale. Nunn-Lugar has
demonstrated that extraordinary international relationships are
possible to improve controls over weapons of mass destruction.
Programs similar to Nunn-Lugar should be established in each country
that wishes to work with the United States, Russia, and our allies.
I have offered legislation to permit the Secretary of Defense to use
Nunn-Lugar expertise and resources to address proliferation threats
around the world. The precise replication of the Nunn-Lugar program
will not be possible everywhere, but the experience of Nunn-Lugar in
Russia has demonstrated that the threat of weapons of mass destruction
can lead to extraordinary outcomes based on mutual interest.
This type of cooperation could be just the beginning. Nations
cooperating on securing instruments of mass destruction might also
pledge to work cooperatively on measures to retrieve weapons or
materials that are in danger of falling into the wrong hands, and to
come to the aid of any victim of nuclear, chemical, or biological
By proposing that the next phase of the war on terrorism focus on
weapons of mass destruction, and by forming a coalition to combat it,
Presidents Bush and Putin would be addressing arguably the most
important problem in international security today. Such a coalition
could provide both presidents with a focus for the qualitatively new
post-Cold War relationship they have propounded, but to which they
have yet to give major content. It would be a fitting replacement for
the old-style bilateral arms control regimes whose era is drawing to
an end.
The United States and Russia can forge the most far-reaching and
effective alliance for peace the world has ever witnessed. The last 10
years have shown that nothing is impossible. The next 10 years must
show how Russia and the United States subdued terrorism and led our
countries and all who joined with us to security and an enriched
quality of life.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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