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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 53, December 2000 - January 2001

START, INF - Inspection Agreements

In Geneva in mid-December, officials from the US, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine signed two agreements designed to facilitate the final implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction (START I) and Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaties.

On December 11, an agreement was signed detailing the phased elimination under START I of SS-24 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in Ukraine. The deadline for eliminations under the accord is December 4, 2001. According to US officials, 50-60 SS-24s remain on Ukrainian territory.

On December 14, agreement was reached on arrangements for terminating, after 13 years of operation, the continuous monitoring of sites under the terms of the INF Treaty. In the summary provided by a Joint Statement:

"At the signing ceremony...at the Twenty-Sixth Session of the Special Verification Commission (SVC), representatives of the [five states]...signed an amendment to the INF Treaty's Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Although the INF Treaty is of unlimited duration, the treaty's extensive inspection regime, including continuous monitoring at missile assembly plants at Magna, Utah, USA and Votkinsk, Udmurtia, Russia, will be concluded at midnight May 31, 2001. The newly-signed amendment provides principles and procedures for the completion of INF inspections by means of continuous monitoring."

In an interview with Reuters on December 14, US Ambassador Steven Steiner, head of the US arms control delegation, noted: "This agreement ends a...regime of 24-hour 'portal monitoring' at the gates of missile assembly plants... Every truck, container, vehicle or cargo big enough to carry a missile that came out was inspected. ... The INF [Treaty] made history, it went a long way to denuclearising Europe and took out Soviet SS-20s trained on Europe, and Asia, too. It set up the first real on-site inspections between the US and Soviet Union. It also eliminated a whole class of missiles in a verifiable way."

Notes: as reported in the last issue, Russia is alleging that America's testing programme for its Hera ballistic missile, and its failure to destroy stocks of the missile, constitute a violation of the INF Treaty. Hera has a range of around 1,000 kilometres. The Treaty's prohibition refers to land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometres. On November 20, Russia's position was set out by senior INF negotiator Gennady Khromov, in a briefing paper prepared for the Moscow Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies:

"Working on the development of [a] theatre ABM system, the United states recently put in use as a target a newly-designed missile. The nature of the development of a tactical ABM system determines that intermediate-range missiles are the most suitable for the role of targets. However, according to the 1987 INF Treaty, the US and Russian Federation are not allowed to have such missiles. ... [The] Pentagon took the path of creation of such a missile using the second and third stages of [the] Minuteman-II missile...and, according to some sources, guidance-components from Pershing missiles eliminated under the INF Treaty. Intentionally or not, they developed a new intermediate-range missile... Naturally, [the] Russian Federation could not pass by this obvious...violation of the INF Treaty and expressed concerns via diplomatic channels. ... To answer the Russian concerns, the US try to justify their position [by claiming that the] Hera missile [consists of]...'booster systems' existing at the time when the Treaty was signed, which the parties have the right to produce and use (paragraph 12 of Article VII). However, that very paragraph specifies that 'such booster systems are used only for research and development purposes to test objects,' which meant payloads launched to upper- and exo-atmosphere. ... What is done is done. We can consider this as sloppiness, which can quite often be seen in [the] Pentagon's actions, or as disrespect to Russia... We don't have to wait too long to see the policy of the new American administration. Meanwhile, one should keep in mind that Russia has the ability to take certain reciprocal measures in this situation."

See Documents and Sources for a Russian Foreign Ministry statement referring to the Hera controversy, and also alleging US violations of the START I Treaty.

On December 26, Russia deployed six single-warhead Topol-M (SS-27) ICBMs, the latest entry into service of the system set to become the centrepiece of the country's strategic force. The US welcomed the deployment as a sign of active compliance with the terms of the START II Treaty. According to State Department spokesperson Philip Reeker (December 26): "[W]e support very much their efforts to prepare for a post START -II environment and that's exactly what you're reading about in these reports..." However, the Topol-M, weighing 47 tons and with a range of 6, 200 miles, is also seen by Russian officials as central to meeting the challenge of any US NMD system and the collapse of the ABM/START regime. According to General Vladimir Yakovlev, Commander of Strategic Rocket Forces, quoted by Interfax on December 27: "The Topol-M gives us the possibility of a symmetrical response to any breach of the START II or ABM Treaties..."

Reports: The use of 'Hera' missile violates the INF Treaty, Gennady Khromov, Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies http://www.armscontrol.ru/start, Moscow, November 20; Two sets of arms control agreements signed in Geneva, US State Department (Washington File), December 13; US, Russia agree to end INF missile inspections, Reuters, December 14; US, ex-Republics sign agreement, Associated Press, December 14; Text - US-Russia sign agreement to end medium-range missile inspections, US State Department (Washington File), December 15; Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 1522-22-12-2000, December 22; US sees new Russian missiles as treaty compliance, Reuters, December 26; Russian rocket chief warns US on missile defense, Reuters, December 27.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.