What was new on START Web site?

January, 2000

January 27, 2000
Top U.S. and Russian officials ended nuclear disarmament talks in Geneva and Helsinki with Russia refusing to modify a key anti-ballistic missile treaty.

See also our special section ABM Treaty Modification: Should Russia Agree?

Russia and China may develop a joint missile defense system if the United States ignores their objections and goes ahead with a national anti-missile shield. The possibility of developing a joint regional missile shield was discussed during the Jan. 16-18 visit to Moscow of Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian (Russia, China Consider Joint Missile Defense, by Simon Saradzhyan, Russia Today, January 20, 2000). See also: An "Asymmetric" Russian Answer (Kommersant, January 20, 2000)

Last week's failed flight test of a missile interceptor should provoke a careful reevaluation by the Clinton administration of its plan to deploy a national missile defense "as soon as technologically possible, experts say:

Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov and Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov said last week that the Duma planned to consider START II Treaty - but not anytime soon:

See also: Russia And Start-II Treaty In 2000, (by Georgy Arbatov, RIA Novosti - Moscow Diary, January 18, 2000)

We present a new section Russian National Security Concept and Nuclear Policy. New publications in this section include:

A usual event in the United States, signing a treaty between USEC corporation and private company Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on LEU delivery, may directly hit Russian interests. The problem is, that Department of Energy and TVA made a joint statement last December, that the new commercial nuclear power plant Watt Bar (Tennessee) will produce not only electric energy, but also tritium - the basic component of nuclear weapons. According to an agreement between DoE and TVA, beginning from 2003, the power plant will deliver 1.5-3 kg of tritium annually to support the U.S. nuclear arsenal, (Cheating. Russia Builds Up The U.S. Nuclear Potential - in Russian, Pyotr Unbegaun, Russian DEADLINE, January 24, 2000)

The United States and Russia plan to open a joint military center near Moscow this year to reduce the chances of war between the world's two largest nuclear powers:

Transfer of strategic bombers from Ukraine to Russia continues, (Ukraine Delivers Strategic Bombers To Russia As A Part Of Its Debt For Gas, - in Russian, (ITAR-TASS, January 19, 2000)

Today at the START Forum (in Russian): on possibility of Russian-U.S. cooperation on BMD deployment.

January 19, 2000
In a serious setback to plans for creating a missile defense system to protect the United States, a missile fired from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific failed to hit a mock warhead fired earlier thousands of miles away from a California air base (Missile Is Unable to Hit Target in Pentagon Test, by Elizabeth Becker, The New York Times, January 19, 2000)

Nezavisimaya Gazeta continues to comment the new Russian concept on national security (in Russian):

According to official information from the Russian ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian-Canadian discussions on strategic stability were held in Moscow on January 13-14. In particular, the situation in disarmament area in relation to well known plans to deploy national ballistic missile defences was considered.

Three of six Russian Typhoon-class submarines will apparently remain in active operation to test the new Bark-class strategic missiles, according to Bellona experts (Typhoons to remain in service, by Igor Kudrik, Bellona press release, January 11, 2000).

The problem of obtaining nuclear weapons by Iran threatens to complicate relations between Moscow and Washington again. New debates broke out in the U.S. on emerging a new nuclear power (A Warhead For Ayhatollah, - in Russian, by Nikolay Kamenski, Izvestiya, January 19, 2000, p. 4)

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) are working on a white paper that would examine the proposal filed by Minatom to store foreign spent nuclear fuel in Russia against payment. The white paper is scheduled to be completed by March 2000 or by the date of the next meeting of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on Technical and Environmental Co-operation, Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor reported:

January 18, 2000
Presidential decree N 24, signed on 10-th January 2000, approved the new Concept on National Security (in Russian). The new concept broadens the possible scenarios in which Russia would use nuclear weapons. A 1997 national security document had used a vague formulation that called for the use of nuclear weapons "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation as a sovereign state." The new document says nuclear weapons can be used "in the case of the need to repulse an armed aggression, if all other methods of resolving the crisis situation are exhausted or have been ineffective": "...Analysis of Putin's statements shows that he has not determined his attitude toward future development of strategic forces yet. Maintaining a full-fledged nuclear tirade is becoming more and more beyond Russia's strength... Taking radical decisions on strategic offensive forces is inevitable in the next eight years, during which a new president may be in power...", (New Power Has a Chance To Drive The Military Reform Out Of Crises, - in Russian, by Sergei Sokut, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 13, 2000, p. 1, 2). See also: A White ACV For the Supreme C-in-C, - in Russian, (by Victor Sokirko, Moskovski Komsomolets, January 14, 2000)

U.S. officials reacted with alarm to reports over the weekend that Iran may order an additional three nuclear reactors from Russia:

A daily Russian newspaper Trud continues the theme on how the procedure of transferring control over strategic nuclear forces to the new Supreme Commander-in-Chief was implemented: The Suitcase Number One, (by Sergei Ischenko, Trud, January 11, 2000, p. 2). See also a story published by Izvetiya on January 5 (in Russian).

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is expected to meet Russia's Acting President Vladimir Putin at the end of January during a visit to Moscow.Albright will also hold talks with her Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, focusing on progress towards ratification by Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament of the START-2 treaty: Albright To Meet Putin In Moscow Jan 30, (by Reuters, Russia Today, January 8, 2000).

December's issue of Yadernaya Bezopasnost' is focused on problems and prospects of the Russian Sea Based Strategic Forces:

Russian Air Forces conducted the first test of a weapon of a new class - conventional long range air-launched cruise missile. In the past Russian strategic bombers carried Kh-55 nuclear ALCMs only (The End Of American Monopoly, - in Russian, by Sergei Sokut, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 12, 2000, p. 2).

President Clinton intends to ask Congress in his 2001 budget for a $2.2 billion increase in spending for a national missile defense, (Clinton's Budget Will Include Increase Of $2.2. Billion For U.S. Missile Defense, by Associated Press, The Washington Times, January 12, 2000).

The United States will attempt again this week to shoot down a missile in space in a key test. A missile with a dummy warhead will be fired from California late on Tuesday and a "hit-to-kill" weapon will be launched from Kwajelein Atoll 4,300 miles away shortly afterward to try and hit the warhead 140 miles above:

Meanwhile, a critical test of an interceptor designed to destroy ballistic warheads, hailed as a success when it took place last Oct. 2, may not have been such a clear-cut demonstration that antimissile technology is feasible, critics of the effort say. In the test, the interceptor did hit a mock warhead. But in recent interviews, the Pentagon officials conceded that the interceptor hit its target only after a series of technical mistakes caused it to drift off course, and that it initially picked up on a decoy balloon rather than the warhead. Without the large, bright balloon, which in this case happened to be drifting near the smaller and dimmer warhead in the interceptor's field of view, the test last October may not have succeeded, these critics say (Flaws Found in Missile Test That U.S. Saw as a Success, by James Glanz, The New York Times, January 14, 2000).

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao urged the United States to abandon plans for national and regional systems to defend American territory and overseas-based troops against missiles. The proposed systems were among topics Chinese officials were likely to raise with US Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth, who was in Beijing for a day of talks with Foreign Ministry officials. (by Associated Press, South China Morning Post, January 14, 2000). See also: Moscow, Beijing Slam U.S. Ballistic Missile Shield Plan, (by Agence France Presse, Russia Today, January 18, 2000).

Major presidential candidates answer to a question "Does America need a national missile defense system to defend itself against nuclear attack?": Candidates Thoughts on Missiles, (by Associated Press, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2000; 12:34 p.m. EST).

Ballistic missile defenses development as seen from the U.S.: Star Wars: The Second Edition, Modified and Expanded. Defense of the Missile Defense, (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January 12, 2000)

Krasnaya Zvezda daily newspaper kindly agreed to grant us permission to reproduce an article On the Issue of ABM Treaty of 1972, - in Russian, (by Nikolai Mikhailov, Krasnaya Zvezda, December 30, 1999, p. 1,2). See also our updated special section ABM Treaty Modification: Should Russia Agree? Other special sections of the START Web site were updated last week as well.

Russia's early warning system is so decayed that Moscow is unable to detect U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile launches for at least seven hours a day and no longer can spot missiles fired from American submarines at all, U.S. officials and experts say, (Russia's Missile Warning System Is Decaying, U.S. Says, by Jonathan S. Landay, Miami Herald, January 9, 2000). See also our special section on Current Status of Russian Early Warning System.

This year Pentagon has to decide the fate of the first four Trident SSBNs, service lives of which are coming to their end. One of the possible options - converting the submarines to SSGNs. Converted submarines will be capable to carry up to 154 long range sea launched cruise missiles each. However, one of the main obstacles to implement the plan is START I Treaty. According to recent information, the Pentagon has given initial approval and funding of the plan which includes the possibility of converting some retiring Trident ballistic missile submarines to land attack/special operations boats. Set forth in program budget decision (PBD) No. 744C, signed Dec. 21 by Pentagon Comptroller Bill Lynn, the $1.1 billion plan offers the possibility of either refueling Los Angeles- class attack subs previously slated for retirement or conducting the Trident conversion. Sources say the $1.1 billion budgeted from FY-02 to FY-05 could buy four LA refuelings or two Trident conversions. Whichever option is to be chosen will be decided at a later date, probably during deliberations over the FY-02 program objective memorandum, which will begin this summer.The document also established an actual budget line for the Trident conversion program and added $35 million in research funds for design work in FY-01 (Navy Submarine Force Size To Increase Under New Budget Plan, by Peter J. Skibitski, Inside The Navy, January 10, 2000, p.1.). Thus, it is very likely, that the United States will begin putting pressure on Russia in order to make changes in the START I Treaty, or insist on an interpretation of the treaty statements, so that implementation of SSBN conversion plans would be easier.

The PIR Center published PIR Study Paper No. 13 Cooperative Threat Reduction Program: How Efficient?.

Discussion of U.S.- Russian HEU contract continues. This dispute was initiated by Lev Maximov, the acting Director of the Institute of Physical Problems of Metallurgy and Special Machine Building. Mr. Maximov claims that 500 tons of HEU, which Russia is supposed to sell to the United States, are worth of almost $ 4 trillion instead of $12 billion, as indicated in the contract. (Widow's Silence. Uranium Trace, by Alexander Golovenko, Vechernyaya Moskva, January 11, 2000). As we learnt, the Security and Defense Committee of the Federation Council plans to hold hearings on February 1, 2000 to resolve the issue. See also our comment How Much Does Weapon Grade Uranium Cost?, - (in Russian).

The Department of Energy announced its decision to safely and securely dispose of up to 50 metric tons of surplus plutonium from the United States in a hybrid approach and to construct and operate three new facilities at its Savannah River Site (SRS). The Department of Energy also took two additional steps toward establishment of a new semi-autonomous agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA):

The Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) of the Central Intelligence Agency prepared a compendium of newly declassified US intelligence documents covering the years 1989-1991: The Pentagon recently discovered a new area of alarming secret cooperation between Russia and China: nuclear weapons. The National Security Agency obtained an electronic intercept in November that was passed to senior officials in a top-secret report. The report said Russian nuclear weapons experts are assisting China with "tritium extraction" for thermonuclear warheads: Moscow-Beijing Axis, (by Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, January 14, 2000).

The Institute for Physics & Power Engineering published the first announcement on the Second Russian International Conference Nuclear Material Protection, Control & Accounting, to be held in May 22-26, 2000 in Obninsk.

Today at the START Forum (in Russian): on prospects for Russian strategic sea based forces.

January 8, 2000
Early resignation of president Boris Yeltsin and nomination of Vladimir Putin as an acting president, undoubtedly were a major surprises of the last year. Izvestia reported on how the procedure of transferring control over strategic nuclear forces to the new Supreme Commander-in-Chief was implemented: Putin Packs Suitcases. The Russian "Nuclear Button" Has Changed Its Master, - in Russian, (by Yuri Golotyuk, Izvestiya, January 5, 2000, p. 3).

Russian computer systems successfully entered into the year 2000. The worst concerns of sceptics fortunately did not materialize. See our special section to find about how the joint group of U.S. and Russian officers monitored data that would reflect any ballistic missile activity around the world the last day of 1999 (in Russian).

Discussion of the ABM Treaty will likely remain in the focus of the U.S.- Russian arms control dialog this year as well as in 1999:

Russia has launched a Cosmos type military satellite on a high-elliptical orbit on December 27, 1999. According to military experts, "...replenishment of the reconnaissance satellite system will improve the effectiveness of the early warning system and enable to better monitor ballistic missile launches..." (The Year of Space Launches At Plesetsk Site Ends With Molniya-M Launch, - in Russian, ITAR-TASS, December 29, 1999).

Rear Admiral Vladimir Makeyev, the Head of a test site of the Northern Fleet said in interview to Interfax agency, that "Yuri Dolgoruki" type SSBNs will be armed with "Bark" type missiles. The first submarine of this class is to be launched in 2005. The "Bark" SLBM is a naval alternative to "Topol-M" ICBM, and its characteristics are classified thus far. The missiles will be tested by Typhoon class SSBNs. According to Vladimir Makeyev, the press reports about early retirement of Typhoon SSBNs have no grounds (The Russian Navy Meets the New Millenium With A New Weapon, - in Russian, Interfax, January 4, 2000). Ural-Press information agency reported in the mid-December, that the State Center of Missile Building "Makeyev's Design Bureau" started work on a new naval missile system D-19UTKh, which is supposed to replace the system with RSM-52 (SS-N-20) SLBMs.

A new supersonic strategic bomber "Tu-160" (Blackjack) has finished delivery trials at the Gorbunov's scientific production association and is going to be delivered to the Air Forces soon. The number of Russian Blackjack bombers may amount to 20 in 2000 after commissioning the new bomber (Aircraft Factory in Kazan Prepares to Delivery of Another Strategic Bomber to the Air Forces, "Agentstvo Voyennykh Novostei", December 14 1999).

An American company Non-Proliferation Trust, Inc (NPT) and Minatom carry negotiations on creation a giant storage of radioactive wastes. A draft agreement of October 25, 1999 between the NPT and Minatom was delivered to the Civil Center of Nonproliferation in Krasnoyarsk by the U.S. experts. The storage capacity is supposed to be increased from 6,000 tons to 10,000 tons of radioactive wastes. The contract cost is going to be raise up to $ 15 billion: All the Wastes Will Stay With Us. Russia May Become the Dump Of Foreign Nuclear Garbage, - in Russian, (by Alexei Tarasov, Izvestiya, December 29, 1999, p. 3)

According to press reports, Russia will conduct a series of sub-critical nuclear tests at an Arctic testing range this year to check the safety of its nuclear arsenal (Report: Russia To Conduct Nuke Tests, by Associated Press, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000; 8:34 a.m. EST).

Among the articles of the recent "Yaderny Control Digest" (Winter 2000, vol.5, N 1), published by the PIR Center in Moscow:

Several papers worth of particular attention were published in October 1999 by the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security Policy Memo Series:

Over 20,000 visitors made nearly 130,000 requests of the START Web Site pages in 1999. The news page was the most popular one (11,760 requests). The most frequently visited publications in English include:

The most frequently visited publications in Russian can be found on the corresponding Russian page. See also statistics of the previous year.

What Was New?

In 1999: January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December
In 1998: January | February | March | April | May | June | July-September | October | November | December
In 1997: November | December

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Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT, 1999.