I want to do three things this afternoon. First, I want to talk about the two START Treaties and bring you up to date on where they stand. As you probably know from the press, that is very much of a moving target. Second, I want to speculate a bit about the future, recognizing that, if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that conditions in the former Soviet Union can change quickly and in unpredictable ways. And finally, I want to suggest what these developments, both past and future, mean to the Submarine Force.
When I’m speaking about the current status of the two START Treaties, I’ll be speaking authoritatively, but my speculations about the future are just that-speculations-and should not be taken as representing Administration policy.
START I Status
Let me begin with START I. It was signed less than two years ago, after almost nine years of negotiation involving hundreds of people. Once implemented, the Treaty will result in an overall reduction of about forty percent in strategic forces, with cuts up to fifty percent in some categories. In negotiating START I, the United States had several goals:
- First and foremost, to increase stability and to reduce the risk of war through preferential reductions in the most destabilizing systems.
- Second, to maintain overalI equality despite the vastly different force structures of what we still called “the two superpowers.”
- Third, to capture real military capability through the use of complex counting rules and hy focusing on deliverable war-heads and ballistic missile throw-weight.
- Fourth, to avoid Iimitations on U.S. conventional forces and to avoid restrictions on our ability to develop strategic defenses.
- And finally, to do all this in a treaty that could be effective-ly verified through our own intelligence augmented by extensive on-site inspections and a large data exchange.
To accomplish these goals took an exceptionally complex Treaty over 600 pages long. Most of the complexity was a result of our great concern with verification, reflecting the Cold War attitude of mistrust that prevailed during much of the negotiations.
Less than a month after START I was signed came the August 1991 coup, the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union. Fifteen states emerged from the ashes. Four of them-Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan-have strategic weapons and facilities on their territories. While the forces in Belarus are small, Ukraine and Kazakhstan would be the third and fourth largest nuclear powers in the world were they to seek and obtain independent control of the forces in their respective states.
Obviously we had to adapt the START Treaty to the new situation. As a result, in May 1992, in Lisbon, the five states signed a new START Protocol under which Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine assumed the START obligations of the former Soviet Union. The protocol also obligated Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear weapons states as soon as possible. Finally, letters from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine obligated them to eliminate nuclear weapons and strategic offensive arms from their territories within seven years of entry into force.
When START I was signed, the reductions involved seemed huge. And they were. The former Soviet Union would have had to destroy a missile launcher or a heavy bomber every 68 hours for seven years. There was serious debate about whether we should even agree to follow-on negotiations, and those who favored them thought in terms of modest additional reductions. By the end of 1991, however, the collapse of Communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union had totally changed our attitude. It became obvious that, with or without follow-on negotiations, both sides were going to reduce to well below START I levels. Which led us, of course, to START II.
START II Status
START II began, although we dido ‘t fully realize it at the time, in September 1991 . That month, in response to the failed coup, President Bush set in motion a series of initiatives designed to transform the nuclear relationship between the United States and what was still the Soviet Union. The President announced that the United States would withdraw from overseas deployment and destroy all ground-launched tactical nuclear weapons and would remove all tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. ships and submarines. He challenged the Soviet Union to take comparable steps, which it soon did. And the President called on the Soviet Union to agree to eliminate all ICBMs with multiple warheads.
The President’s proposal was amplified in his 1992 State of the Union address, where he set forth a number of steps that the United States could take to limit sea-based forces and bombers as part of an agreement to eliminate all JCBMs with multiple warheads. Over the next year the basic START II trade emerged. It was a simple and straight-forward exchange. Recognizing that Russia would be forced by economics to reduce to unusually low levels of strategic forces, the United States agreed to go to those same low levels in return for Russian agreement to eliminate ICBMs with multiple warheads-MIRVed ICBMs-which have long been regarded as the most destabilizing strategic offensive system. The basic terms of the deal were settled during the June 1992 summit; the START II Treaty itself was signed in Moscow on January 3, 1993.
When fully implemented, START II will reduce strategic arsenals by about two-thirds from current levels. That’s what’s gotten the publicity, but that’s not what’s important. We didn’t set out to get to 3500 warheads; it was the price we paid for the complete elimination of MIRVed ICBMs.
START II reductions will occur in two phases. No later than seven years after entry into force of the first START Treaty, the United States and Russia will be limited to 4250 total warheads on deployed strategic offensive arms. Because by this time Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine are supposed to have eliminated all strategic offensive arms, START II only involves the United States and Russia.
All remaining START II reductions must be completed by January 1, 2003. From then on, each Party will be limited to 3500 total warheads, of which no more than 1750 may be SLBM warheads. In addition, at this point, deployment or production of any MIRVed ICBMs will be banned. And, in a particularly important accomplishment, all heavy ICBMs must have been eliminated . This elimination achieves a decades-old U.S. objective. Under START I, half of the existing 308 heavy ICBM silos must be destroyed. Under START II, all the rest must be destroyed or converted to launch single-warhead SS-25 ICBMs. In return for our allowing Russia to save money by converting rather than destroying some silos, the Russian Federation agreed to eliminate all deployed and non-deployed SS-18 missiles; an elimination requirement which goes beyond what is required by either the START I Treaty or the agreement between the two Presidents reached at last year’s summit.
If that’s what we got, what did we give up? Four things:
- First, as I noted, we went to a level of deployed strategic warheads that is considerably tower than we initially preferred.
- Second, we agreed to a limit on SLBM warheads, something we had resisted in START Because some START I rules are relaxed under START II, however, we can meet that limit by downloading, or reducing the number of warheads on Trident II SLBMs, without reducing our planned Trident SSBN force structure.
- Third, we agreed to changes in the heavy bomber counting rules. Under START I, a series of attribution rules resulted in heavy bombers being counted at significantly tess than their full weapons loading. In contrast, START II counts such bombers with the number of nuclear weapons for which they are actually equipped. The impact of this provision on the United States is mitigated by provisions allowing up to 100 heavy bombers to be reoriented to a conventional role and thereby not to count against START II warhead limits. These provisions were designed to allow us to reorient the entire B-1 force, but are not specially limited to the B-1.
- Finally, for the first time, we will permit exhibition and inspection of the B-2 bomber. Such exhibitions and inspections are not required under START
There has been a lot of talk about the demise of the Soviet Union. I must confess that, for a long time, I thought that the Russians were just Soviets with a different name. Some of them, of course, still are. But I was struck with how different the endgame of START II was from the START I endgame. In START I we were constantly fighting against Soviet walkbacks, up to and including the morning the Treaty was signed. With START II there was none of that; just professionals doing a professional job. Maybe things really are changing.
The Future of Nuclear Arms Control
What about the future? Will there be a START Ill? It might seem that, with two massive treaties which haven’t yet been ratified, we have more than enough to do without looking for more negotiations. And of course, in one sense thats true.
Everyone in the Administration agrees that our first priority is to get START I and START II ratified. That is proving difficult. The legislatures of the United States, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have all approved START I. Russia, however, imposed a condition: it will not exchange instruments of ratifica-tion until Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine not only ratify START I, but also agree to give up nuclear weapons by acceding to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states. Only Belarus has approved accession to the NPT, although I expect Kazakhstan will take similar action either this summer or in the early fall.
That leaves Ukraine. The Ukrainian Parliament began to debate START I in early June, although many parliamentarians are predicting that no action will be taken before fall. While the government remains firm that Ukraine should approve START I and become a non-nuclear state, there are some in the Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, who are urging keeping nuclear weapons, at least for a while, primarily because of security concerns about Russia’s intentions and long-term stability. Ukraine also is worried by the cost of implementation of START, and by its continuing disputes with Russia over the division of the assets of the former Soviet Union, including the highly enriched uranium in nuclear warheads.
The United States has taken a number of steps to meet Ukrainian concerns . We have allocated at least $175 million in Nunn-Lugar funds to aid Ukraine in dismantlement and related tasks. We have told Russia we will not implement the agreement to purchase highly-enriched uranium from dismantled weapons until the Russians reach agreement with the other states, including Ukraine, on an equitable sharing of the proceeds. We have agreed that we will give Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine certain security assurances once START and the NPT have been ap-proved. As you can tell from the newspapers, the jury is still out on whether this is enough.
START II ratification is also facing problems, this time in Russia. While the Supreme Soviet approved START I by a huge margin (157 to 1), START II is far more contentious. Although the Treaty was submitted to the Supreme Soviet in early March, consideration has been delayed by the domestic political tensions between the Yeltsin government and the legislature. In addition, many Russians are reluctant to act until Ukraine approves START I and joins the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Although some Russians claim START II is unbalanced in favor of the United States, I believe Russia will ratify the Treaty once Ukraine acts and the Russian political crisis is over. The Treaty has the strong support of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the military. When approval will come is hard to predict; it won’t be before this fall and could be much later.
Once we overcome these problems and get START I and START II ratified, there is general agreement that our highest priority should be to accelerate the reductions called for by both Treaties. In particular, while the letters associated with the Lisbon protocol give Kazakhstan and Ukraine seven years to eliminate strategic arms from their territories, the United States would obviously like to see that elimination occur sooner and we are willing to spend U.S . money to make that happen.
Similarly, START II has built-in provisions for acceleration. If we and the Russians agree on a program of assistance to Russia, all the obligations specified for January 1, 2003-the reductions, the ban on MIRVed ICBMs, the elimination of all SS-18 ICBMs-can be advanced to the end of the year 2000. Once ratification occurs, negotiating such a program of assistance will be a high priority.
But I do not believe that the United States will be satisfied to simply consolidate and accelerate what we have already gained.
As you know, the Administration will be examining where to go next in strategic arms control, and in nuclear arms control in general, over the next few months. One result of that examination is clear: there will be negotiations on a comprehensive test ban, leading to the complete, and probably permanent, cessation of nuclear testing in the next few years.
I think that there will also be interest in negotiating various confidence building measures. These are measures that seek to promote openness or reduce risk without imposing actual limits on forces. There have been suggestions in the press, for example, that we might seek an agreement on detargeting strategic missiles.
The Russians may want to reach some type of formal agreement on attack submarine operations near their SSBN patrol areas. You can think of other measures that might be interesting as well .
A year ago, I would have said that if there were to be START Ill negotiations at all, they would be limited to confidence building measures. That remains my personal preference, but it is by no means a sure thing. In the most recent issue of Forej~ Affairs, Admiral Bill Crowe, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argues for a strategic force of 1500 warheads. I’m uncom-fortable with reductions of that magnitude, given the great uncertainties we face about Russia’ s political future, but it would be a mistake to dismiss proposals for further cuts out of hand. Three years ago a colleague of mine proposed that START II aim at a reduction to 3500 warheads. He was derided as hopelessly naive. Who knows what will seem acceptable in a year or two.
You will note that I’ve said nothing about what happens if Ukraine fails to ratify START I or elects to keep nuclear weapons. I’ve also said nothing about what happens if Russia rejects START n. That’s because I remain confident, despite some discouraging trends, that both treaties will ultimately be ratified. Sooner or later, Ukraine will recognize that its future security lies in integration into European political and economic institutions and that nuclear weapons stand in the way of that integration. In Russia, we are in the happy position that the more individual Russian officials understand START II, the more they support it as being in their interest. Thus, once Ukraine acts and the current constitutional crisis is resolved, I’m reasonably certain that Russia will reaffirm its commitment to START II. If I’m wrong about either of these predictions, the consequences will be severe and all predictions about the future are off.
Submarine Force Impact
Finally, what does all this mean for the Submarine Force? What START I and START II themselves mean is clear. They mean that ballistic missile submarines will remain the mainstay of our deterrent and we can continue to operate those submarines the same way we have in the past. START II was explicitly designed to allow the United States to keep all 18 Trident SSBNs . We sought and obtained changes in the counting rules so that the missiles on these submarines could be downloaded from eight warheads to four, allowing us to meet the START II limit of 1750 SLBM warheads without changing our planned SSBN force structure.
Just as the impact on force structure is minimal, so too is the operational impact. The only notifications directly related to submarines concern construction, dismantlement, change of home port, or missile launch. There are no operational notifications. While submarine-launched ballistic missiles, primarily D-5, can be inspected to ensure they carry no more than the legal number of warheads, the impact is minimized since these inspections can be done topside with the missile in its launch tube or with the missile removed, at our choice. Shipyards and submarine interiors are never inspectable.
This sounds as thought the two START Treaties won’t force us to make any difficult decisions, but I need to sound a note of caution. While START II allows keeping 28 SSBNs, it doesn’t require it. Nine submarines outfitted with missiles carrying eight warheads each would be equally compatible with the Treaty. Given the costs of retrofitting the D-5 missile in the first eight Ohio class boats or of extending the life of the C-4, this may be a hard option to resist. Although neither treaty provides proce-dures for doing so, it would also be legal to make the reductions by reducing the number of tubes per submarine. At least one Senator advocates such an approach on tiscal grounds.
I think the implications tor the Submarine Force of the general developments of the past two years are also clear. With the possible exception of changes in forward operations as a result of the two Barents Sea collisions-which is a subject I’m not prepared to discuss for the excellent reason that I’m not involved in the issue-there are no arms control restrictions, no inspections and reporting of any kind involving attack submarines. Nor do I see any likelihood of such restrictions in the future. The collapse or the Soviet Union ha.«i, it seems to me, eliminated whatever faint utility naval arms control might have had. [Ed. Note: Emphasis added.]
At the same time, the elimination of nuclear weapons, includ-ing TLAM/N, from ships and submarines other than SSBNs does eliminate one potential attack submarine mission. In my view, this change is irrevocable. While it’s probably important to preserve the option to redeploy such weapons, it is extremely difficult to see any circumstances in which we would actually do so.
When we turn to the future, it becomes far more difficult to assess the impact of nuclear arms control. A comprehensive test ban will have little direct impact; it will simply intensify the current move toward relegating nuclear weapons to the role of ultimate deterrent, with non-strategic nuclear forces no longer having any significant nuclear role. That tends to fit historic Navy preferences. Confidence building measures, also by definition, will not alter the fundamental way in which our strategic forces are structured, although they may change some of the ways we operate.
If, however, the United States elects to seek still further reductions, there could be significant changes. Admiral Crowe’s article doesn’t advocate any particular force composition, but we can’t get to 1500 warheads without some drastic force structure changes. Indeed, if anything like that level were to be negotiated, I suspect that there will be calls to reconsider the concept of a Triad. My expectation, which I assure everyone here shares, is that the Submarine Force would maintain its preeminence, but who knows.
Finally, those of us charged with national security responsibilities always have to keep in mind that favorable outcomes aren’t the only possible ones. I think Ukraine will ultimately give up nuclear weapons, but they might not. If they become a permanent nuclear power, it could open the flood gates to nuclear proliferation, leading to a different and frightening world.
Similarly, I think that Russia’s experiment in democracy will succeed. The April referendum and its aftermath are hopeful signs. But as I reminded you last year, we can’t be certain that democracy will prevail. After all, 60 years ago there was another state which, like Russia today, had a long authoritarian tradition, fragile democratic institutions, a demoralized military, hyperinflation, and a tradition of ethnic scapegoating. It was called the Weimar Republic and it voluntarily turned over power to a messianic, totalitarian, militaristic leader who plunged the world into war. Locking in the reductions of both START Treaties is an important hedge against unfriendly regimes coming to power in the future. But we also need to maintain strong, capable, and survivable strategic forces just in case the future doesn’t go our way.
Thus, despite the tremendous accomplishments of the past two years, of which I’m very proud, the Navy, the nation, and the Submarine Force are all going to have to continue to maintain a robust deterrent for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, in today’s Submarine Force, that deterrent is in good hands .