Friday, February 29, 2008

John Isaacs: An Early Look Ahead: McCain, Clinton and Obama on National Security Issues

The Center’s Executive Director, John Isaacs, recently wrote a terrific piece on what to expect from McCain, Clinton, and Obama in terms of national security issues.

Key sections are provided below.

Policy toward Iran

President Bush has displayed unremitting hostility toward the radical regime dominating Iran, a country that U.S. intelligence sources report had previously been pursuing a nuclear weapons program. He branded Iran part of the “axis of evil” and promoted regime change as the preferred U.S. policy. With a few limited exceptions, the United States under Bush has refused to talk directly with Iran.

McCain has been clear about his position on Iran. In early February, he told an audience: “I intend to make unmistakably clear to Iran we will not permit a government that espouses the destruction of the State of Israel as its fondest wish and pledges undying enmity to the United States to possess the weapons to advance their malevolent ambitions.” 10 He also rejects “unconditional dialogues” with Iran. 11

Obama and Clinton have delivered messages on Iran that were more mixed. Obama has promised to open a dialogue with Iran without preconditions to attempt to work out a solution. 12 However, he has called Iran “a threat to all of us” and suggested in March 2007 that the military option should remain on the table. 13 At the same time, he has said that it “would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran” and condemned the administration’s “saber-rattling” on Iran. 14

Clinton has pledged to reach out immediately to Iran, saying, “you don’t make peace with your friends. You have got to deal with … people whose interests diverge from yours.” 15 At the same time, she has indicated that she remains open to all options, including military ones. 16 Clinton has also declared: “We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons.” 17 She voted for a controversial amendment offered by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Lieberman that proposed labeling Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. 18 Obama missed that vote but called the amendment a repeat of the mistakes that led to war in Iraq; however, he had cosponsored an earlier bill declaring the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. 19

Nuclear Weapons

In 2007, a bipartisan group of senior and former government officials called for moving toward a “world free of nuclear weapons.” 20 In their article by that name, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), and former Secretary of Defense William Perry urged the United States to lead an international effort to rethink traditional deterrence, reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles, and take other steps toward the longer term goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Obama has been clear in his support of their effort. In response to a Council for a Livable World questionnaire, he promised: “As president, I will take the lead to work for a world in which the roles and risks of nuclear weapons can be reduced and ultimately eliminated.” 21 While Clinton said that she supported the goal of a nuclear-free world, she was less specific in what she would do if elected: “As president, I will work to implement the sensible near-term steps” to achieve the objective. McCain has made no known statement on the plan from Kissinger et al., but he has promised to reduce nuclear weapons if elected. 22

New Nuclear Weapons

The Bush administration has forwarded proposals to build a new generation of nuclear weapons; however, these plans might be seen as conflicting with U.S. efforts to restrain other states’ nuclear ambitions.

McCain has supported the proposed new nuclear weapons programs. In four key Senate votes from 2003 to 2005, McCain voted to proceed with the work on such weapons. 23 Clinton voted against these programs all four times. She was clear in response to a Council for a Livable World questionnaire: “The Bush administration has dangerously put the cart before the horse, planning to rush ahead with new nuclear weapons without any considered assessment of what we need these weapons for or what the impact of building them would be on our effort to stop the spread of nuclear weapons around the world.” 24 Obama, only in the Senate for the fourth vote, also opposed the new weapons. He was less categorical to the council’s queries, responding that he did not support "a premature decision to produce the [Reliable Replacement Warhead]." 25

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

One of the longest sought goals of the nuclear age has been a global ban on all nuclear test explosions as an important step to advance nuclear nonproliferation. In 1996, after 50 years of work, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed and opened for ratification. However, three years later, the Senate decisively rejected the treaty. Although the United States has not conducted a nuclear test explosion since 1992, the Bush administration has not put the treaty forward for a new vote.

McCain voted against the treaty, stating at the time: “The viability of our nuclear deterrent is too central to our national security to rush approval of a treaty that cannot be verified and that will facilitate the decline of that deterrent.” 26 There is little evidence that McCain will bring the treaty before the Senate; instead, he has written about strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 27 Although neither Clinton nor Obama were in the Senate at the time of the 1999 vote, both have promised to make the test ban treaty a priority of their first term in office and pledged to work to rebuild bipartisan support for the treaty. 28

National Missile Defense

In 2001, the Bush administration withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and since then has moved swiftly to deploy national missile defense interceptors in Alaska and California. The latest fiscal budget request for 2009 is $12.3 billion for all forms of missile defense.

McCain has declared that he “strongly supports the development and deployment of theater and national missile defenses.” 29 His votes in the Senate back up that claim: he opposed all three amendments to cut the program in 2004. 30 In a 2001 speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, he advocated abandoning the ABM Treaty. 31

Obama has been critical of the Bush missile defense plans: “The Bush Administration has in the past exaggerated missile defense capabilities and rushed deployments for political purposes.” 32 Clinton’s position has been more ambiguous. Of three key votes in 2004, she voted in effect for missile defense once and against it twice. However, she criticized President Bush’s decision in 2001 to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and both she and Obama voted for an amendment offered by Sen. Carl Levin in 2005 (the last major vote on missile defense) while McCain missed the vote. 33 She also has criticized the Bush administration of “focusing obsessively on expensive and unproven missile defense technology.” 34 Neither Clinton nor Obama has indicated plans for missile defense upon assuming the presidency.

Missile Defense Site in Europe

McCain has also been clear in his support for a third missile defense site in Europe that is bitterly opposed by Russia. Congress cut a portion of the funding for the program in 2007 in advance of approval from the two Central European countries. In an October 2007 debate, McCain said: "I don't care what [President Vladimir Putin's] objections are to it." 35 Obama has not been clear what he would do with the Bush proposal, but indicated that he would not allow the program “to divide ‘new Europe’ and ‘old Europe.’” 36 It is also unclear what the Clinton policy would be.

Other Issues in Brief


U.S.-India nuclear deal: McCain, Obama and Clinton all voted for the U.S.-India nuclear deal in 2006, but Obama and Clinton also voted for amendments to condition the deal on India ending military cooperation with Iran and a presidential certification that nuclear cooperation with India will not aid India in making more nuclear weapons. 38


North Korea: Obama has called for “sustained, direct, and aggressive diplomacy” with North Korea; Clinton for “direct contact, engagement” with Pyongyang. 40 McCain argues: “It is unclear today whether North Korea is truly committed to verifiable denuclearization.” 41

Nuclear nonproliferation: Clinton and Obama have committed to securing all vulnerable nuclear weapons materials around the world within four years of taking office. 42 McCain has endorsed strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency and putting the burden of proof on suspected violators of the NPT. 43

Disarmament Efforts Get a Boost in Norway

A group of high-level disarmament experts gathered this week in Oslo, Norway for an international conference hosted by the Norwegian government. Participants for the conference, entitled, "Achieving a World Free of Nuclear Weapons," included former Secretary of State George Shultz and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.

Schultz and Nunn are two authors of the four-member team, also including former Defense Secretary William Perry and former secretary of State Henry Kissinger, that published articles in the Wall Street Journal last month and in January 2007, calling for a "world free of nuclear weapons."

In an interview with the Arms Control Association, Nunn described moving toward the abolition of nuclear weapons as "climbing a mountain, the top of the mountain being zero nuclear weapons. We might not get there in my lifetime, but we need to be heading up the mountain, not down the mountain." With that broad goal in mind, the authors and the members of this week's conference offered practical steps to take along the way and prevent the "nuclear nightmare" toward which Nunn believes we are headed.

Conference participant Jeff Lewis of the New America Foundation (known in the blogosphere through Arms Control Wonk) commented on the steps discussed.

The end point seems really quite unachievable and the challenges of getting there seem very daunting, but I haven't heard any ridiculous ideas today. I've heard sensible pathways to elimination that one has to consider very carefully even if only to dismiss them. That's very impressive. I think that's a very different debate than we've had the past 20 years.
One of those actions is what Nunn sees as the best single step for U.S. and Russian security: extending warning times on nuclear weapons, thousands of which currently sit on hair trigger alert, with the capability to launch in minutes. "If everyone had the posture where they could not shoot for a week...that would make nuclear weapons less relevant, and the discussion about how many you need takes on a different flavor," he told ACA.

Other steps discussed at the conference, according to Greg Webb, included:
  • deeper reductions in the massive nuclear stockpiles in Russia and the United States (the United States nuclear arsenal includes almost 10,000 warheads, and Russia's, approximately 15,000);
  • speeding up efforts to secure loose nukes;
  • and removing and eventually dismantling forward-deployed nuclear weapons.
The process will certainly not be easy, and no one expects it to be, especially in light of tense U.S.-Russian relations. But this week's conference adds credibility to a disarmament process re-invigorated by the earlier letters of Nunn, Schultz, Kissinger, and Perry.

In Lewis's words, "Serious people, who are careful what they say in public so they don't damage their reputation... gathered at a very expensive hotel to hold a very serious discussion about eliminating nuclear weapons." That's more than a step in the right direction.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Congressional Schedule for DoD and DoE Bills

Provided below is an updated schedule of Congressional action on key Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DoE) bills, as prepared by David Culp of FCNL.

Monday, February 25, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

Congress is back from recess this week. The Senate is scheduled to vote on February 26 on whether to invoke cloture or shut off debate on two Iraq-related bills introduced by Sens. Feingold (D-WI), Reid (D-NV) and Menendez (D-NJ). The first measure would cut funding for U.S. troops 120 days after enactment of the measure except for specified purposes, including bringing the troops home. The second measure requires an Administration report to Congress on its strategy for combating al Qaeda.

House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee chairman John Murtha (D-PA) indicated that the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee intends to complete work on the defense portion of the over $100 billion fiscal year 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not clear when the full Appropriations Committee or the House will take up the bill; it may not be until mid-to-late spring. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) has indicated he does not plan to take up the bill until April at the earliest. The measure is expected to be the vehicle for new fights over withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and perhaps many other issues.

North Korea Nutshell: Bob Woodruff at Yongbyon

Although Woodruff has been to North Korea before, this time he was allowed into the plant at Yongbyon and got to see and videotape the process of disablement himself. As I still remain skeptical about the possible overall outcome of the negotiations, I can't help but be amazed about the contrast of where we are now when compared to just a few years ago. An American journalist in the heart of the North Korean nuclear complex. I had to see it to believe it. Make sure to catch the stylish yellow shoes everyone is wearing inside the plant.

This visit is a part of a week-long series of reports by Woodruff that will culminate tomorrow when the New York Philharmonic will perform inside Pyongyang. The performance will be simulcast live, if you live in New York. Otherwise, you can catch it nationwide Thursday on PBS. Secretary of State Rice will be in Seoul on the 25th for the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak. Some sources have claimed that Rice will take this opportunity to make a surprise visit to Pyongyang. My personal opinion is that she would not do so unless she was able to present a breakthrough in the negotiations while she was there. She would not likely give Kim Jong-Il that kind of diplomatic victory without getting something serious in return. We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Experts Outline "Ten First Steps" to Reduce U.S. Nuclear Arsneal

Earlier this month, analysts from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and independent nuclear weapons experts released a report, Toward True Security, which argues that the United States and the other original nuclear powers “must drastically reduce the role that nuclear weapons play in their security policies.”

According to the report, the United States faces three principal nuclear dangers: 1) a Russian accidental or unauthorized attack; 2) the spread of nuclear weapons to more nations, particularly unstable states; and 3) the acquisition of nuclear materials and technology by terrorists.

U.S. nuclear weapons policy fails to adequately address these dangers (in fact, it sometimes even exacerbates them). To that end, the report outlines ten unilateral steps the next president should take to begin to change U.S. nuclear policy. Not only would implementation of these steps enhance U.S. national security, but it would also create the necessary possibility conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons.

In lieu of merely summarizing the “ten first steps,” I’d like to address two issues raised by the report, one general, one specific.

The first issue pertains to whether the ten first steps can be helpful in reducing and (ultimately eliminating) the nuclear arsenals of the four states that lie outside the nuclear nonproliferation regime: India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. Richard Garwin and Frank N. von Hippel, two authors of Toward True Security, tackled this question at the unveiling of the report on February 13.

Though mindful of the fact that it will always be difficult to induce “outliers” to give up their arsenals so long as they feel that their national security interests require them to possess nuclear weapons to deter more powerful states, Garwin and von Hippel noted that U.S. adoption of the ten first steps would allow for the development of a much more robust nonproliferation regime. The idea here is that a commitment by Washington to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in its defense posture would augment the legal and moral legitimacy of U.S. nonproliferation policies and give non-nuclear NPT signatories a far greater incentive to join the United States in its efforts to combat the arsenals of outliers.

The second issue relates to the 9th step in the report: Halt the further deployment of the Ground-Based Missile Defense system, and drop any plans for space-based missile defense. Proponents of a U.S. missile defense system argue that such a system is necessary given the ballistic missile threats from Russia and China on the one hand, and rogue states such as Iran and North Korea on the other.

There are a number of responses to this line of argument. First, it is not at all clear that North Korea’s Taepo Dong 2 ballistic missiles are capable of targeting the United States or Europe.

Second, a U.S. missile defense system based in Alaska or Eastern Europe would be powerless to intercept an Iranian attack against American forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Third, as Garwin and von Hippel are keen to point out, a U.S. missile defense system, no matter how advanced, would not be invulnerable to a potential Russian or Chinese attack. Similarly, any nation capable of developing medium- or long-range nuclear missiles would also be capable of devising effective countermeasures against a missile defense system.

In short, China and Russia would respond to a viable U.S. missile defense system by doing everything in their power to maintain their nuclear deterrent.

Needless to say, the last thing the world needs right now is another nuclear arms race that would poison great power relations, increase the risks of a nuclear accident, make it easier for terrorists to steal nuclear material, and further undermine the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nukes Invisible in Dem Debate

Last night's Democratic debate in Austin, Texas reflected the changes in the public's primary election concerns over recent months. Iraq and other foreign policy issues largely took a back seat to the economy, health care, and immigration. The action also included recent political but not policy-related headlines from the campaigns - accusations during what Obama called the election's "silly season".

Overall, while the candidates' tried to highlight the nuances of their positions, the debate reflected the overall similarities of their policy stances. Unlike other recent debates, however, that took at least a brief look at nuclear issues, nukes didn't make it into the Austin debate once. Relative to other issues examined by Nukes of Hazard, only a few comments were made.

Fidel Castro's recent resignation announcement in Cuba provided a launching point for the candidates to highlight their differences in regard to diplomatic interaction with nations including Iran and North Korea.

Obama reiterated his commitment to presidential negotiations with these foreign leaders.

I do think it is important, precisely because the Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations, that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago.


If we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time, and I think that it's important for us, in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step.


I do think that it is important for the United States not just to talk to its friends but also to talk to its enemies...In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.
Clinton asserted her caution toward high-level direct negotiations, focusing instead on mid-level talks.
I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement, where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest.

There has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations, and it should be part of a process. But I don't think it should be offered in the beginning because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of somebody like Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad and others.
On Iraq and terrorism, Obama highlighted again his consistent position against the Iraq war.
What I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation - whether or not to go to war in Iraq - I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that. Now, that has consequences. That has significant consequences because it has diverted attention from Afghanistan, where al Qaeda, that killed 3,000 Americans, are stronger now than at any time since 2001.
Given that the debates don't appear to be the place to find details on the candidates' positions on nuclear issues, you can check out these resources:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Taking "The Shot"

Following up on Max's excellent post about the strategic logic of what has been dubbed by the Navy as “The Shot,” I thought I would provide an in-depth look at exactly why this is such a bad policy decision.

1. The Reasoning Given

During the briefing that described the necessity of taking “The Shot,” Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright both stated that the reason that this falling space debris was different from previous debris was the possibility that a 1,000 pound tank of hydrazine may fall to the Earth and spray it contents over 200 yards. Gen. Cartwright described the effects of hydrazine as:

In a worst-case scenario for the hydrazine, it's similar to chlorine or to ammonia in that when you inhale it, it affects your tissues in your lungs. You know it's -- it has the burning sensation. If you stay very close to it and inhale a lot of it, it could in fact be deadly. But for the most part here, we're talking an area, say, roughly the size of two football fields that the hydrazine could be dispersed over, and you would at least incur something that would make you go to the doctor.

A quick check of the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) essentially confirms this assessment. It states that, “Breathing hydrazines for short periods may cause coughing and irritation of the throat and lungs, convulsions, tremors, or seizures.” Generally, it seems that this stuff could burn if it got into your lungs, but only would be deadly if you ignored that burning and continued to breathe it in for a long period of time. Even the official Health Advisory issued by the Center for Disease control said that "The risk of health effects related to the satellite is considered to be low."

But what are the chances that this tank will even fall in a populated area? Discovery quotes some numbers that say that the chance a person will be hit by space debris is less than one in one trillion. Given that three-fourths of Earth's surface is water and of the one-fourth that is land, only 1.5% of that can be considered populated urban centers, the likelihood that this satellite will land where it will have an effect on humans is pretty minute. Dr. Lewis at asked a colleague of his to do a quick calculation of the risk assessment and he found that the hydrazine gas has a 2 out of a thousand chance to crash in a area that would affect 3 people, in a worst case scenario.

Taking both of these factors together, this means that the Bush Administration determined that because there is a fairly infinitesimal chance that a satellite will crash in an area where there is a concentration of people, and then possibly leak a chemical that might cause irritation to people within a couple hundred yards, they need to spend $40-60 million to shoot 3 missiles at this satellite and possibly break it apart or miss it, instead of just tracking where the satellite will fall and then contacting those who are likely to be in the crash zone hours beforehand. This seems to be a pretty flimsy justification for a decision that has numerous negative consequences.

2. The Consequences

In January of 2007, the Chinese conducted a test of an anti-satellite missile and were soundly criticized by the world community. Many believed that it would start a dangerous new arms race in space. The spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, stated that the Chinese test was inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that exists in the development of space technology.

Less than a year later, the U.S. has put itself on a course to conduct a very similar test and likely faces even more serious international consequences. Both China and Russia have come out against the U.S. decision and state that the U.S. has simply come up with a flimsy excuse in order to conduct an anti-satellite missile test. What makes matters worse is that these countries also recently submitted a new draft for a treaty against space weapons to the UN Conference on Disarmament. Whether the U.S. government means to or not, it will be thumbing its nose at those two countries by making the decision to conduct this test so soon after the renewing of the treaty efforts.

The diplomatic consequences for the U.S. shooting down this satellite will not just stop with statements of condemnation. No less than three critical ongoing foreign policy crises could be affected by the worsening of relations between these three world powers. Both the 6-Party talks for denuclearizing North Korea and the United Nations Security Council work towards a diplomatic solution with Iran, involve intimate consultations and compromise between China, the U.S. and Russia. More recently, these countries have come to loggerheads over recognizing the independence of Kosovo which seems to be quickly evolving into a referendum on East-West relations. Rarely do these governments agree on exactly the way forward in any of these issues, and “The Shot” just adds to the list of issues of tension that seems to get longer each month.

On the technical side, there seems to be a host of other issues. The first of such issues is the fact that this launching sets a standard by which other countries can conduct anti-satellite tests. One of the major reasons China was condemned so vehemently is that their test lacked any notification of other nations and resulted in a significant amount of space debris sent into higher orbits that could be a danger to other objects in orbit. The U.S. has notified other nations of its intentions and has modeled the test to minimize the possibility of dangerous debris. Yet, if other nations wished to conduct anti-satellite missile tests in the future, they would now likely simply include a human safety justification. By choosing to shoot down this satellite, the U.S. leaves itself in a weakened position to argue against other countries more dangerous military tests.

The second issue, and one that could be far more quickly damaging to national security, would be that the United States has put itself in a place where it must succeed or face huge embarrassment and loss of military credibility. Many experts have stated that even with three chances at hitting the satellite, the missile still have a reasonable chance of at least not fully accomplishing the mission. As pointed out in Max’s post below, the U.S. gains very little even if this test is a success. However, were this mission to fail, the U.S. is now in a position where its most reliable missile defense technology, the Navy’s Aegis system, is shown to come up wanting.

3. Other Possible Reasoning

This situation seems to point to additional factors that must be influencing the Bush Administration to make this decision. It just does not seem logical to move forward with this, given the low probability of serious danger and far higher likelihood for consequences. So what else could be influencing the Bush Administration to go ahead with this mission?

The most obvious answer seems to be that they want to promote missile defense. Ever since the Bush Administration came into power and chose to abrogate the ABM Treaty with Russia, they have been on a path that promotes this capability despite the consequences. It hasn’t mattered whether project costs continued to skyrocket with only minimal results, or if European and Russian governments protest against proposed installation sites. The Bush Administration has continually discounted its critics and gone forward with promoting this program. In fact, the fiscal year 2009 budget request includes an unprecedented $12.3 billion in funding for missile defense related programs despite the fact that they have yet to been able to field a system that would protect the U.S. from a missile strike with any high rate of success.

This anti-satellite mission is a perfect cover for creating another justification for continuing this program. Congressional appropriators will now have solid evidence to point to that shows that missile defense not only works, but has the capacity to be adapted to unexpected crises that may arise. For missile defense advocates, this broken satellite was an opportunity that was just too good to pass up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

Congress is in recess this week.


The Senate is scheduled to vote on February 26 on whether to invoke cloture on two bills related to Iraq, the fight against al Qaeda and the readiness of our armed forces. The first measure cuts funding for U.S. troops in Iraq 120 days after enactment of the measure except for specified purposes, including bringing the troops home. The second measure requires an Administration a report to Congress "setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates."

On February 12, the Senate approved continued surveillance of Americans by a 68 - 29 vote, with 19 Democrats voting in favor. The major difference between the Senate and House-passed bills is whether to provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in warrantless surveillance. On February 13, the Senate approved the Intelligence Authorization bill (HR 2082) which included language that bars the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. The vote was 51 - 45. The President has promised to veto the bill because of this restriction.

House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee chairman John Murtha (D-PA) indicated that the remaining $120 billion fiscal year 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be considered by his committee by the end of February and by the House in March. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) has indicated he does not plan to take up the bill until April at the earliest.

Monday, February 18, 2008

History of U.S. Anti-Satellite Weapons Belies Claims that U.S. Has No Motive for Further Tests

The Bush administration announced plans this week to use the Sea-Based Midcourse Missile Defense system (SMD) to strike a U.S. spy satellite that lost power shortly after launch last year. Left alone, the satellite would hit the earth, emitting a potentially deadly amount of hydrazine fuel. However, the planned use of a missile against the satellite has raised fears that the whole exercise is a pretense for the Bush administration to test and/or demonstrate its anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons capabilities. As the AP reported, "The Bush administration is trying to convince foreign countries that the Pentagon's plan to shoot down a dying spy satellite is not a test of a program to kill their orbiting communications and intelligence capabilities."

A 2003 test of the interceptor that will be used to destroy a disabled U.S. spy satellite this month.

Administration officials argued that the United States has no secret interest in testing anti-satellite weapons because a successful test has already been conducted--twenty years ago.
[Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey "and other U.S. officials"] said Washington was not shooting the satellite down in response to China's anti-satellite test last year, noting the United States had already demonstrated its capability to hit a space object with a missile in the 1980s.
However, as the Union of Concerned Scientists' excellent history of U.S. and Soviet ASAT programs demonstrates, Jeffrey's historical reasoning is dubious. While the United States has conducted a successful test of an anti-satellite weapon, that weapon was of an entirely different type than the weapon that will be used against the beleaguered U.S. spy satellite. The spy satellite will be shot with a sea-based missile, while the successful U.S. test in 1985 used a missile (the Air-Launched Miniature Vehicle, or ALMV) fired from an F-15 fighter jet.

Jeffrey is arguing that the successful test of the ALMV in 1985 means that the United States has no reason to conduct an ASAT test in 2008, and that the motives for shooting down the spy satellite are purely innocuous. He is mistaken for at least two reasons:
  1. The test of the ALMV over two decades ago does not demonstrate that the United States retains a viable ASAT capability. As the Union of Concerned Scientists' Laura Grego points out, "The current capabilities of the Air Force's ALMV systems are not clear, as testing was never completed" due to political opposition to the testing of space weapons.
  2. Defense Department activity after the 1985 test belies Jeffrey's argument that U.S. ASAT capabilities are already firmly established and not in need of further demonstration: Despite successfully testing the ALMV in 1985 the Department of Defense has continued to fund the development of a ground-based ASAT system--the Army's Kinetic Energy ASAT, or KE-ASAT.
We should not conclude from the 1985 ASAT test that the United States has no motive for further ASAT testing. Rather, the use of the Aegis Sea-Based Midcourse Defense system (SMD) to destroy an errant spy satellite will serve, intentionally or not, as a test of one part of the Bush administration's emerging portfolio of space weapons.

As Laura Grego and David Wright observed in 2002, "some of the systems currently being developed to intercept ballistic missiles would have considerable inherent capability to be used as ASAT weapons, and could therefore significantly increase U.S. ASAT capability." The Sea-Based Midcourse Defense system is no exception. While its ASAT capability is decidedly niche compared to the ground-based components of the National Missile Defense system, the SMD could serve as an important anti-satellite weapon. Grego and Wright point out that the nautically mobile missile defense system offers "essentially global coverage against satellites at these [i.e. low] altitudes." The SMD system has potential to serve as an anti-satellite weapon, and the use of the SMD to destroy the American spy satellite will serve as a test of those capabilities.

Such a test is undesirable for a number of reasons. As the spokesman for Bush's National Security Council stated publicly after China's successful ASAT test last year, "...development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area." Anti-satellite weapons pose a threat to the peaceful and commercial use of space that enriches our lives on a daily basis, they uniquely threaten American security given our disproportionate reliance on satellites for military command, control, and intelligence, and they may create catastrophic instability in the case of an international crisis. Bush's planned test of American anti-satellite capabilities is one more ill-advised step towards an age of unrestrained space warfare.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rice's Reassurances on India-NSG Negotiations Not Very Reassuring

At a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 13, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged that the United States will not support an agreement between India and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that contravenes U.S. law. At first glance, this appears to be a welcome clarification of the U.S. position on bilateral nuclear trade with India. Upon closer inspection, however, Rice’s statement obscures more than it reveals.

Rice’s pledge would be easier to accept if it did not fly in the face of the actual text of a March 2006 U.S. draft proposal calling for an India-specific exemption to the NSG guidelines. At present, India is seeking an NSG exemption without conditions. The U.S. draft proposal essentially supports this demand in so far as it allows individual NSG members to determine on their own if India is meeting its nonproliferation and safeguards commitments. Consequently, depending on the outcome of negotiations in the NSG, other NSG states may not have to adhere to the same restrictions and conditions as the United States when they craft their own nuclear cooperation agreements with India, thus putting the United States at a competitive disadvantage. This would contradict the Henry Hyde Act's requirement that "NSG members...act in concert in terms of the timing, scope, and safeguarding of nuclear supply to all countries, including India."

Furthermore, though Rice insists that the United States will support an agreement only if it is consistent with the Hyde Act, her reassurances must be evaluated in view of the disastrous concessions granted to India by the Bush administration during the negotiation and finalization of the 123 implementation agreement, several of which fail to uphold key provisions of U.S. law enshrined in the Hyde Act.

In sum, it will take more than Rice’s word to reassure skeptics, and supporters of common sense international standards for nuclear trade with India must continue to urge the President not to support any change to NSG guidelines pertaining to India that contravenes the Hyde Act.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Congressional Schedule for DoD and DoE Bills

Provided below is an updated schedule of Congressional action on key Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DoE) bills, as prepared by David Culp of FCNL.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Folly of Attacking Iran: Lessons from History released yesterday an excellent video on the historical backdrop to the current standoff with Iran. It reveals the dangers of an armed U.S. intervention and promise of diplomacy and stars the Center's Senior Military Fellow, Lt. Gen Robert Gard (USA, ret.), as well as a stellar group of Iran experts, including Stephen Kinzer, Trita Parsi, and Barbara Slavin. The video complements the organization's national Folly of Attacking Iran Tour. Check it out below.

Monday, February 11, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

On February 4, the President sent the annual military budget to Congress. The budget totals $515.4 billion for Pentagon activities. However, adding funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (estimated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates at roughly $170 billion) plus the nuclear weapons portion of the Department of Energy budget, the total exceeds $700 billion. The Senate and House Budget Committees will take the first legislative action on the budget.

Some highlights of the request:
--This budget exceeds last years by 7.5%
--Total missile defense funding is $12.3 billion, including $720 million for the third missile defense site in Europe
--$414.1 million for Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction non-proliferation fund
--$30 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead

North Korea Nutshell: Chris Hill in Town

This past Wednesday, Amb. Chris Hill came to Washington to sit before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and provide them with an update on the current status of the 6-Party Talks. Your intrepid Nutshell reporter was there with pen in hand and took down the key elements of what was discussed. I provide to you below the synopsis of my notes from that hearing. Make sure to notice important new information about what Hill what shown about the Russian purchased aluminum tubes and how the U.S. will move forward with full denuclearization (Phase 3). Keep in mind that everything below is an approximation and not direct quotations, including the questions from the Senators. If you want the direct text of Hill's testimony, check it out here.

Chairman, Senator Joe Biden:

Like many, Biden cannot wait to be able to turn the page of this chapter of history with North Korea. He appreciates the respectful and tough-nosed diplomacy practiced in this case. The work done with North Korea in the past (Bush 41, Clinton) was helpful, but nothing has gotten has far as we have currently.

Currently, Biden’s staff is working with Jim Webb’s office in drafting legislation that would allow for an exception to the Glenn Amendment which prevents the Department of Energy from providing any aid to North Korea (passed after the North Korean nuclear test in October ’06). This aid will be vital in funding the final denuclearization process.

Ranking Member, Senator Richard Lugar:

The Nunn-Lugar program should be considered for application in North Korea. The scientists in the country would likely need to be dealt with if the entire indigenous nuclear program were dismantled.

Maintaining the measured pace of action-for-action is the best way to keep progress up without overreaching. Lugar recommends that as progress is made, Secretary Gates visit North Korea to discuss confidence building measures with the heads of their military. It is also important for a new President to not change course with this policy.

Amb. Hill:

Historical Catch-Up

The October Agreement (Phase 2) between the parties has allowed for significant progress in denuclearizing North Korea. It led to the North Koreans themselves asking for U.S. technicians to enter their facilities and begin the process of disabling their machinery. Typically there are 5 U.S. personnel who have worked in rotating shifts to keep the work going. This team has completed 8 or the 11 disablement steps laid out for Phase 2, and is currently involved with the North Koreans in step 9, which is removing fuel rods from the nuclear reactor. The removal of these rods has been slowed down for two reasons: the transfer pool for the rods needed to be decontaminated first, and the North Koreans have switched from 3 shifts to 1 shift of workers because they feel that heavy fuel oil aid has been coming too slow.

During the disablement procedures, it was surprising for Hill to hear from the American’s involved that the North Korea scientists never brought up procedures on how certain mechanisms could become reconstituted. As well, the longer the facilities at Yongbyon remain disabled and go without proper upkeep maintenance, the longer and more expensive a feat North Korea would have to undertake in order to rebuild the facility.

The Issue of the Declaration

The one major holdup to the progress in North Korea is the fact that they have not issued a declaration of nuclear facilities that can be deemed as “complete”. This was supposed to have been completed by December 31 but is still outstanding. The declaration would consist of the following 3 parts:

  1. Weapons Material/Development- This is the plutonium that makes up the most crucial part of the nuclear weapons program. Negotiations are ongoing and are likely to be successful in getting the North Koreans to provide documentation concerning the reprocessing of spent fuel to get the plutonium. With this documentation and the access that American technicians have inside the facilities at Yongbyon, Amb. Hill is highly confident that we would be able to verify whether the declared amount of North Korean plutonium production is truthful. Here we also want to see what technical progress the North Koreans have made in developing their nuclear weapon. This latter area is troublesome as the North Koreans are hesitant to show us the exact specifications of their bomb designs.
  2. Facilities- We are able to identify what facilities they have by “National Technical Means”, ie. intelligence gathering, and they know that we have this capability so coming to an accord on this has not and will not be a problem.
  3. Other Aspects of the Nuclear Program- This is the area where 90% of the trouble lies. We need significantly more information concerning their attempt to obtain a uranium enrichment capacity. This information needs to go into what they purchased from the AQ Khan network (confirming this connection through the allusion to Pervez Musharraf’s autobiography which mentions this sale) and what has been done with any other purchases for this program. We have worked closely with the North Koreans in trying to resolve this and they have shown us some of the tubes they high grade aluminum tubes they purchased were for non-nuclear purposes. On the issue of “proliferation” (aka. Syrian bombing), the North has assured us that they have no efforts ongoing and will be pursuing nothing in the future. The U.S. will continue to press for more information concerning this connection and will monitor any possible proliferation risks.

Inducements for North Korea

The October Agreement allows for 950,000 tons of fuel oil or equivalent aid to be given to North Korea. It is expected that about half this amount will actually be given in heavy fuel oil and the other half will come in other assistance such as steel. The burden for providing this aid will be shared equally between South Korea, Russia, China, the U.S. and eventually Japan if the issue of the abductees is addressed to their satisfaction. So far, they have received about the equivalent of about 200,000 tons of fuel oil with about 53,000 more coming in the next few weeks from the United States. Much of the slowness in delivery in aid to North Korea can be attributed to the inherent difficulties in getting a hold on heavy fuel oil in the open market. For example, Russia was unable to produce and process oil for this purpose domestically and had to eventually just purchase it from Singapore. This aid will continue based on progress with Phase 2 actions, namely the final 3 steps for disablement of the reactor and the submission of a complete and verifiable declaration.

The removal of North Korea from the State Sponsor’s of Terror list and the Trading With the Enemy Act will also be linked to Phase 2 commitments.

If List is Offered and Accepted, What Can We offer for full dismantlement (Phase 3)

  1. Full diplomatic relations upon denuclearization.

This does not deny the fact that human rights concerns are still valid. However, completing this move will allow a greater dialogue to begin that will address the North Koreans directly on human rights concerns. Currently, pressing them on human rights accomplishes little as the North’s leadership has little to lose from denying the claims.

  1. A full peace regime to replace the Korean War Armistice

This would include the Chinese, DPRK, South Korea and the U.S. and negotiations could begin as soon as Phase 3 obligations are agreed upon. The signing of the pact would not be done until final dismantlement is completed.

  1. North-East Asia Peace and Security Mechanism

The 6-Party talks have established a useful forum for discussing important issues in this region. Formalizing this structure into something that would meet on a regular basis to hammer out a wide range of issues would be useful.

  1. Bringing in international economic institutions/aid (IMF, World Bank)

This would begin the process of helping North Korea rebuild its failed economy and create a new system that would reflect both progress and transparency.


Senator Biden:

What happened concerning the North Korean aluminum tubes that you and your colleagues were shown?

We were shown 2 conventional weapons systems that the tubes had been converted for use in. The first system was not functional and it seemed that the tubes were not the right type of material for use in that system. It was an artillery type of system. It seemed to be the same source as the aluminum tubes found in Iraq.

Why is proliferating nuclear know-how important to consider?

Knowing about North Korea’s activities in this area would stabilize the negotiations. It would establish a greater level of transparency in how the North has conducted itself and help build trust towards moving forward. This is not being requested in order to give the U.S. an excuse to walk out on negotiations.

Senator Lugar:

How was President Bush’s letter to Kim Jong-Il received when you delivered it?

The visit to Yongbyon and Pyongyang went well. I requested to deliver the letter to Chairman Kim myself, but after waiting until the very last day I was told to give it to the foreign minister. However, I was able to meet with the 3rd highest Party official before leaving. The North Korean response was a small, brief verbal message expressing hope for completion of the agreement.

Is the funding provided by the State Dept.’s disarmament fund sufficient to complete Phase 2 and move into Phase 3?

The current available funds are enough to complete the disabling tasks laid out in Phase 2, but will not be adequate to meet the needs of Phase 3. President Bush and Secretary Rice are looking for an exemption from the Glenn Amendment. We do not know what kind of money will be needed for Phase 3 but I will have my staff start putting together numbers for the Committee to look at in preparation for quick movement if it becomes necessary.

How many North Koreans have emigrated to the U.S.?

37 have done so since 2004

Senator Casey:

What about the difference between the 50kg plutonium estimate you have given previously and the 30kg reported to have been revealed by the North Koreans?

Being able to verify any declared amount of plutonium is the most important thing to consider here. Having the records necessary to gauge what levels would be appropriate is the key and there is some agreement with the North Koreans on them providing this. We would also not just trust the documents they give us as we would have other physical measures at the facilities themselves that would help us test the validity of the documents.

What lessons have you learned from all of your time negotiating with the North Koreans?

I have learned that diplomacy is not something that can work in all situations but this is one of the situations where it is really the only option that has any chance of success.

The North Koreans themselves seem to have shortages of everything in their country except time. They can always afford to wait and consider their opaqueness during negotiations to be a strength that helps confuse their opponent. These talks have helped bring us much closer to China while also giving Japan an opportunity to stay engaged with their regional partners during a time of some tension. This process has strengthened the sense of community felt throughout the region. The President and Secretary Rice have also been incredible allies in this process and have provided tremendous support now and in the future.

Senator Hagel:

Why has the process of disablement slowed?

The first thing that slowed the process was health and safety concerns with removing the fuel rods from the reactor at Yongbyon. The water pool the rods were to be transferred to was contaminated and needed to be cleaned. After this was completed the North Koreans later reduced the numbers of shifts of workers from 3 down to 1 to show that they were dissatisfied with the pace at which aid has been given. So far we’ve only provided about 20% of the material aid we promised for Phase 2 and the disablement process is far more than 20% completed so they do have a point in this. As said previously, the fuel is hard to get a hold of but we are working on improving this pace. Once the fuel we have coming in the next week or so arrives, the North Koreans will hopefully respond by increasing the shifts again.

Is the North Korean leadership having trouble in finding consensus on the nuclear issue?

I have asked the North Korean negotiators several times to bring a more diverse set of officials to discussions instead of just the Foreign Ministry. This is because we believe that certain bureaucracies such as the nuclear ministry and military don’t understand exactly the inducements we are looking to provide and that many of their remaining fears could be dealt with if they were able to participate.

Senator Kerry:

How long are we going to wait for the declaration?

The declaration in fundamental to being able to move forward and State Dept. official Sung Kim was just in North Korea to push just this point. The North Koreans are reluctant about this list because it will likely require them to admit about many things that are inconsistent with what they have told us in the past. Other than being caught in lies, they are also worried that providing such information will just lead to an infinite number of further questions that probe much deeper into the North Korean government and military than they are comfortable with at this point.

There is no real Plan B for if the U.S. is not able to get a declaration from North Korea. All of the focus is placed on getting the declaration and working to finish denuclearization by the end of 2008.

Do other nations agree that North Korea likely had a uranium enrichment program?

Other nations do seem to agree on this point but they don’t see as a program that currently exists and is ongoing. The plutonium, however, is the key to the importance of the declaration as it’s the main component of their weapons program.

Is the election of new South Korean President Lee likely to be significant?

The current Roh administration has worked well with the United States in making positive movement on denuclearizing North Korea. I do welcome the linking of the North-South dialogue to the nuclear progress. It will be interesting to see how North Korea responds to this considering they have yet to seriously make a statement about the incoming government.

Are the North Koreans sincere in giving up their nuclear program?

Many people in their government seem to disagree with moving in this direction but there are many we encounter that are set on this path.

Senator Murkowski

Is the United States prepared to take the North Koreans off the list of State Sponsors of Terror before they addressed the issue of Japanese citizens abducted and not yet returned?

The United States has a very special alliance with the Japanese and they have many serious issues with North Korea including the threat of missile strikes and these abducted citizens. The latter issue is not just a problem that the government has; it is an issue that is very important to the domestic Japanese society.

Every time I have a meeting with the North Koreans I bring this issue up. I, in fact, keep a listing of all of their names in my pocket in case any of their names is possibly mentioned at one of the sessions. This effort seems to be paying off as the North Koreans have come to realize that this issue is crucial to moving forward with a normalizing of relations and improving their overall regional situation.

Linking the issues, however, is not in the interest of moving forward with the talks. We will definitely consult with Japan before we move to take North Korea off the terror list. It will not come to them as a surprise, and we hope to not do this at the expense of our relationship with Japan.

Senator Nelson

What happened with the North Korean connection to the facility Israel bombed in Syria?

It is important to make sure that North Korea is as transparent as possible in any issues that may involve proliferation. Other than this, we need to know more about the possible purchase of centrifuges from the AQ Khan network.

Senator Biden

What are President-elect Lee’s views on the U.S. relationship?

He sees a policy with the U.S.-ROK relationship in the forefront. But the U.S. must understand that the North-South issue is very unique and that we cannot underestimate the emotional impact of having these peoples forcible separated for so long. However, Lee will likely be more responsive.

How fast will funding be necessary for Phase 3 once the declaration comes?

Probably a month or two, so fairly quickly.

Any steps towards the North-Asia Security Mechanism?

There is a working group as part of the 6-Party talks on just this issue. Currently a Russian ambassador is in Washington to discuss this with government officials.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

NATO and Nuclear Weapons

Two weeks ago, we reported on a recently released 150-page manifesto in which five retired military strategists from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands declared that “the first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.” As noted at the time, the proposal is madness.

Fortunately, there are important voices within NATO who are thinking about the future of the alliance’s nuclear policy in a much saner way. During the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels last December, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Ghar Støre called on NATO countries to do more for disarmament. In the words of Steinmeier:

We in NATO must again give disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation the attention they once had!

NATO has in the past always done well to emphasize not only its military potential but also its readiness to enter into dialogue and cooperation – on matters including disarmament. This approach has paved the way for many of the Alliance’s political successes.
An important underlying premise of Steinmeier and Støre’s initiative is that relegitimizing nuclear weapons in NATO defense planning is the wrong way to contend with the diffuse nature of 21st century security threats. This strikes me as correct, and I would only add that loose talk about the first use of nuclear weapons is also likely to further poison relations between NATO and Russia. Steinmeier and Støre’s initiative provides a much sounder platform upon which to begin repairing East-West relations on the one hand, and achieve important arms control objectives on the other.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

NNSA Budget Request Contradicts Earlier Claim on JASON Report

One of the most pressing scientific questions surrounding the debate over the "Reliable Replacement Warhead" program is the issue of warhead certification. It is very likely that the replacement warheads could only be used if they could be certified as reliable without nuclear testing. (Others--myself included--believe that the production of new nuclear warheads is ill-advised even if testing could be avoided). Therefore, the NNSA's plans to introduce a new generation of nuclear warheads hinge on the agency's ability to establish a viable system for determining warhead reliability without ever testing the warhead.

The NNSA's progress on developing such a system was evaluated last October by the JASON Defense Advisory Group, a very well-respected body of independent scientists who advise the government on issues of concern. The JASON report concluded that "the certification plan presented needs further development," and called for a number of improvements.

Jeffrey Lewis of ArmsControlWonk wrote that the JASON report "suggest[s] that NNSA's certification plan might have led to the development of a warhead that could not be certified without testing," and described the report as therefore being "a short-term blow to RRW and a long term blow to NNSA." The NNSA's view of the report--at least their public view--could not have been more different. They issued a press release titled "Independent Scientific Review Confirms Technical Approach to RRW," in which they characterized the JASON report as a pat on the back accompanied by a handful of helpful tips.

Two questions therefore emerge from this debate: First, should we interpret the JASON report as primarily supportive or critical of the NNSA's efforts to date? And second, did the agency genuinely perceive the report as positive, or was the press release simply spin? An examination of the NNSA's 2009 budget request suggests that Jeffrey Lewis was correct in his assessment of the report. In attempting to justify RRW certification funding to Congress (thanks to Nuclear Watch New Mexico for linking directly to this section in their guide to the 2009 NNSA budget), the NNSA does not invoke JASON as proof that their current approach is working. Rather, the budget request treats the JASON report as a powerful critique that will guide future agency activity.

Recent studies, both internal and external to the Department of Energy, have highlighted areas for improvement in how we certify and assess in the absence of nuclear testing…Consistent with the Program Plan established in response to Congressional direction in FY 2008, the Advanced Certification Campaign will address the long-term scientific issues related to the topics raised by the JASON review of RRW. Analysis will be applied to the existing RRW-1 design to accredit a certification concept, addressing JASON issues, that could be applied to warhead life extensions or future modifications. (Emphasis added)
The NNSA's budget request thus largely characterizes the JASON report as one that "highlighted areas for improvement" and "raised issues" with the current approach. This stands in stark contrast with the NNSA's earlier, self-congratulatory public statements on the report. The NNSA might have put on a happy face in press releases, but when addressing Congress they struck a different note, describing the report as a critique, not a complement.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Analysis of FY09 Pentagon Spending Request

The Center’s Chris Hellman and Travis Sharp released their Analysis of the Fiscal Year 2009 Pentagon Spending Request today. They note that the total “top line” funding request by the Bush administration for the Defense Department in FY09 is $515.4 billion, an increase of $35.9 billion over current levels.

Of special interest, the Bush administration request increases funding for the Missile Defense Agency by approximately 4 percent over current levels to a total of $8.9 billion. It also increases funding for the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy by 5.1 percent to $6.6 billion, while decreasing DoE’s nuclear nonproliferation work by 6.7 percent to a total of $1.2 billion. The request similarly decreases funding for Cooperative Threat Reduction (“Nunn-Lugar”) by 2.8 percent to $414.1 million.

See a pattern?

Included below are the sections of Hellman and Sharp’s terrific analysis that are especially relevant to nuclear weapons and nonproliferation issues. Click here for the full analysis.


“Top Line” Funding -- The Bush Administration is requesting $515.4 billion for the Department of Defense in Fiscal Year 2009, which begins on October 1, 2008. This is $35.9 billion more than the current levels, an increase of 7.5 percent, and inflation-adjust (“real”) increase of 5.4 percent. This figure does not include funding for the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy, which is considered part of total “National Defense” spending (Function 050). Nor does this figure include the costs of ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Office of Management and Budget estimates that total annual funding for the Defense Department alone will grow to $546 billion by Fiscal Year 2013, a figure which is undoubtedly low. Total Pentagon spending, not including funding for the Department of Energy or for actual combat operations for the period FY’09 through FY’13 will reach $2.6 trillion.

Meanwhile, in January the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deficit for FY’09 will be $198 billion. This estimate assumes that only $70 billion will be appropriated for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and does not include the additional supplemental funding that will be requested later in the year.

Funding for Contingency Operations (Supplemental Appropriations) – In addition to its annual budget request, the Pentagon is also requesting $70 billion in supplemental funding for combat operations for Fiscal Year 2009. According to the Pentagon, this is only a partial figure, and additional funds will be requested later in the year. Congress has already approved nearly $700 billion in supplemental funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and an additional $126 billion in FY’08 war funding is still pending before the House and Senate.

Missile Defense – The Administration is requesting $8.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency in FY’09, up roughly $350 million from the current $8.6 billion. Missile defense continues to receive more funding than any other weapons program in the annual Pentagon budget. This total does not include $2.3 billion for the SBIRS-High satellite program and a further $1 billion for programs such as Patriot and MEADS that are being funded directly by the services.

Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) -- The Administration is requesting $414.1 million for the CTR (also known as “Nunn-Lugar”) program, 2.8 percent below the current level of $425.9 million. The CTR program assists Russia and the former Soviet republics safeguard weapons of mass destruction and related technologies.

Department of Energy Activities – The request includes $6.6 billion for the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy (a 5.1 percent increase), and $1.2 billion for DoE’s nuclear nonproliferation work (a 6.7 percent decrease). It includes $10 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, and $302 million for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative – the Research & Development portion of the nuclear spent fuel reprocessing program under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

TOTAL REQUESTED FUNDING - Future Year’s Defense Plan (FYDP) DoD Military (Function 050, including weapons activities of the Department of Energy and funding from other miscellaneous accounts.)

FY'08 $566.2 billion estimated*
FY’09 $540.9 billion requested
FY'10 $530.9 billion projected
FY'11 $544.8 billion projected
FY’12 $559.2 billion projected
FY'13 $573.9 billion projected
Total, FY’09-'13 $2,749.7 billion projected

* This figure likely includes a portion of the costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but does not appear to include an estimated $126 billion in emergency war funding still pending before Congress


Ballistic Missile Defense Agency
$8,605.6 million -- FY’08 Total
$8,946.1 million -- FY’09 Request


Terminal Defense
$1,045.3 million -- FY’08 Total
$1,019.1 million -- FY’09 Request

Boost Defense
$510.2 million -- FY’08 Total
$421.2 million -- FY’09 Request

Midcourse Defense
$2,243.2 million -- FY’08 Total
$2,076.7 million -- FY’09 Request

$1,126.3 million -- FY’08 Total
$1,157.8 million -- FY’09 Request

BMD Sensors
$585.1 million -- FY’08 Total
$1,077.0 million -- FY’09 Request

Space Tracking & Surveillance
$231.5 million – FY’08 Total
$242.4 million – FY’09 Request

BMD Technologies
$108.4 million -- FY’08 Total
$118.7 million -- FY’09 Request

Advanced Concepts
$196.9 million -- FY’08 Total
$288.3 million -- FY’09 Request

BMD System Interceptors
$340.1 million -- FY’08 Total
$386.8 million -- FY’09 Request

Multiple Kill Vehicle
$229.9 million -- FY’08 Total
$354.5 million -- FY’09 Request

Other MDA Programs
$1,934.0 million -- FY’08 Total
$1,748.3 million -- FY’09 Request

Joint Theater Air Missile Defense Org. (Joint Staff)
$53.7 million -- FY’08 Total
$55.3 million -- FY’09 Request

GRAND TOTAL Ballistic Missile Defense
$10,438.7 million -- FY’08 Total
$12,259.9 million -- FY’09 Request

Breakdown of NNSA FY09 Nuclear Weapons Budget Request

The folks over at Nuclear Watch New Mexico just put out a terrific breakdown of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Fiscal Year 2009 nuclear weapons budget request.

They report that total NNSA nuclear weapons costs are approximately $340 million higher than advertised in “Total Weapons Activities” section of the budget for a total cost of just under $7 billion. They also note that NNSA is seeking to continue RRW through the Advanced Certification Campaign.

Click on the image for a larger, more readable version, or click here for the full PDF version of this graph.

Stay tuned for more complete details on the FY2009 budget numbers as they related to nuclear weapons and nonproliferation programs.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Highlights (and Lowlights) from the Recent Republican Presidential Debates

Since we last reported on the Republican presidential campaign on December 14, there have been four debates as well as a forum hosted by Fox News. Duncan Hunter, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson no longer remain in the race, and while Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul have yet to formally throw in the towel, most observers believe that either Mitt Romney or John McCain will represent the GOP come November. That said, the race may be all but over by tonight, as McCain holds impressive leads in most of the states up for grabs today (Super Tuesday).

Sadly, on the nuclear and nonproliferation fronts, there is very little to report from the debates. Most of the foreign policy action centered on the merits of going to war with Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the ridiculous tiff between Romney and McCain regarding whether Romney was vociferous enough in his support of the “surge.”

In New Hampshire on January 5 (transcript here), Thompson argued that the threat of CBRN-armed terrorists might necessitate the preemptive use of military force:

We now have terrorists and various groups, al Qaeda, rogue nations in different stages of developing nuclear weapons. We must be prepared for the different kind of weaponry that we're facing. We could be attacked with a biological weapon and not even know it for a long period of time. This is a different world.

So instead of mutually assured destruction, which we lived under for a long time, it's now a world where preemption has got to be an option under the right circumstances.
In South Carolina on January 10 (transcript here), the candidates debated Iran in the context of the naval incident between American ships and Iranian fast boats in the Strait of Hormuz. According to Thompson:
Iran was clearly testing us. They took British hostages under similar circumstances and it proceeded obviously much past what happened to us, but they're testing our resolve. They know that they're dealing with a nation that's not going to put up with that sort of thing. But it's some insight as to the way that they're thinking.
Giuliani chimed in with the following:
Well, this really should give us some sort of indication that the NIE should not be interpreted as the -- the National Intelligence Estimate, where it was suggested that possibly Iran had stopped their nuclear program in 2003, high confidence that they stopped it in 2003, only moderate confidence that they haven't continued it.

I think an incident like this reminds us that we shouldn't be lulled into some false sense of confidence about Iran. We have to be very focused on the fact that Iran should not be allowed to become a nuclear power. We should make it very, very clear that we're not going to allow that, and we should go to every country that we can think of to impose serious sanctions on Iran.
McCain echoed similar sentiments:
Maybe the Iranians think we're weaker because of the NIE. Maybe the Iranians aren't really slowing their export of most lethal explosive devices into Iraq.
And Romney:
And so I believe it was a very serious act. And the Iranians continue to take acts like this, it points out that we have in Iran a very troubled nation.
Needless to say, Thompson, Giuliani, McCain, and Romney all have preconceived notions about Iran which lead them to spin every incident as evidence of Iran’s bellicosity. I doubt that recent media reports suggesting that the actions of the Iranian boats were far less threatening than originally claimed will do anything to change their views.

On the topic of Pakistan, Thompson responded to a question about widespread Pakistani discontent with President Musharraf by noting that:
They're the only Muslim nation in the world that has nuclear weapons and a nuclear capability. Our national security interest and who's hands those nuclear weapons are going to be in is an overriding interest of ours.
Finally, in California on January 30 (transcript here), Romney responded to a question about Vladimir Putin with a much more general observation about international politics:
What we have today in the world is four major, if you will, strategies at play.

One, there are the nations with the energy, like Russia. They're trying to use energy as a way to take over the world.

Then there's China, which is saying, "We're going to use communism plus sort of a Wild West form of -- of free enterprise. We're going to give nuclear weapons to -- or nuclear technology to the Iranians. We're going to buy oil from the Sudanese." You've got China.

Then you've got al Qaeda, which says, "We want to bring everybody down."

And then finally, there's us, the only major power in the world that says, "We believe in free enterprise and freedom for the individual."
As for the larger meaning of this inane quadripartite division of global politics for American grand strategy, well, I'm flummoxed...