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We have never found anything that the Soviets have successfully hidden...
- Amrom Katz(343)
As we saw in the previous chapter, the Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC) established by the SALT regime was particularly active under the Carter administration. Between 1981 and 1985, throughout the first term of the Reagan administration, the role of the SCC was heavily downplayed. Allegations of increasing Soviet 'cheating' on the SALT agreements in the public press further constrained the abilities of the SCC to engage in useful dialogue toward resolving these allegations. This chapter seeks to explore the effect on the SCC of the new conservative regime and its impact on the issue of the altered status of US-Soviet relations as reflected in the first Reagan administration's use of the SCC, and through specific instances in which the US patently failed to use the SCC to resolve compliance issues, and in so doing, this chapter examines aspects of the US in terms of its defence policy image and its image of the Soviet Union.
To explore this, it is important to trace the rise of conservatism as it was played out before Reagan came to power and to look at those forces within US governmentality that, although in the minority, had their effect upon the ability of the Carter administration to function in the manner which their electoral mandate should have allowed them to do. That is, in Jervis'344 terms, to say that the conservatives managed to generate so much noise, relative to their size that Carter's signals were rendered unclear.
The first term of the Reagan administration may be characterised in terms of continuities and discontinuities. As noted in the last chapter Reagan continued the bulk of Carter's military initiatives as expressed in Defence Appropriations for FY 79, and Military Posture Statement FY78. These remained largely unchanged despite the rhetoric of Reagan's 1983 speech initiating the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI). There were additions to strengthen the nuclear posture, but these were emplaced without any reductions to the conventional programs initiated by Carter.
By allocating resources for the MX cruise missile, the development of the B-1 Bomber represented unnecessary and expensive duplication. The B-1's cancellation was not so much an act of unilateral restraint, but rather, as Richard Barnet points out, it was "... a very expensive weapons system basically conceived in the absence of the cruise missile factor..."345
With strategic nuclear parity and a certain level of qualitative evolution of nuclear weapons systems the extent to which further 'overkill' can be justified is a matter for political and discursive analysis. The former, insofar as perceptions of 'nuclear readiness' can be invoked to exert diplomatic influence internationally and domestically, and the latter, insofar as to invoke an image for the sake of perception is a communicative act, predicated upon the symbolic order [notwithstanding the 'real' or actual potency of the weapons systems themselves]. At this point it is worth discussing the formation of this symbolic order.
One of the key factors affecting the shape of the symbolic order throughout the Reagan Administration was the emergence and primacy of the Committee on the Present Danger. Its roots go back to the beginning of President Carter's term in office. I argued in the previous chapter that the emergent conservatism in security matters became prevalent from 1978, around half way through the Carter Administration. It was this conservatism346, most readily observed in the operations of Congress that arguably led to the failure of SALT II ratification and the downfall of the Carter Presidency. The appointment of large numbers of Members of the Board of Directors of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) to the Reagan administration attests to the extent of their ascendancy347 and their ability to constitute a domain of practice in which the terms of debate render the discourse of arms control as outside of the domain of the 'realistic'. This section shall argue that the CPD's power lay in its ability to marginalise, even silence, the arms control agenda. In Lyotard's terms, arms control became construed as a victim of différend.348 Before examining the Reagan administration's handling of SALT compliance issues, therefore, I shall trace briefly the rise and rise of the CPD as it plays an important role in structuring the domain of policy in which the SCC came to operate under the Reagan Administration.
The story of the CPD can be traced back well before the Carter administration came to power. One of the key players was Paul Nitze whose history in the Pentagon goes back to the 1940s.349 In 1950, at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, the first Committee on the Present Danger was convened, 350 Paul Nitze was among the committee members. This Committee had been formed to lobby President Truman to pursuade him to take a harder line toward the Soviets and to increase defence spending on the Korean War. With the implementation of Nitze's NSC-68, and a heightening of the Cold War the group had succeeded beyond their expectations, so they disbanded.351
After 1972, the conservative opposition to SALT grew slowly and without a unified voice. Its growing momentum surfaced with the call for the so-called 'Team B' inquiry to cross-check the CIAs intelligence analysis. The National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) had been criticised after the 'bomber gap352' and the 'missile gap' for overestimating Soviet capabilities353. As a response to this the intelligence community progressively downgraded their estimates until, in 1974, Albert Wohlstetter alleged publicly354 that the NIEs were grossly underestimating the Soviet threat. This was echoed by the Members of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board355. Pressure was brought to bear for the CIA to permit a parallel assessment of CIA intelligence data. As George Bush, the head of the CIA had himself become critical of the agency's critics. This led him to choose from among the agency's most vociferous critics to form 'Team B' to review evidence of the Soviet threat. Gregg Herken notes that several of the members of Team B, including its Director, Richard Pipes, had been founding members of the Committee on the Present Danger.356
The Team B report was submitted to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board on December 2, 1976. Its conclusions about the extent of the Soviet threat directly contradicted the CIA's own assessment. Team B challenged the notion that the United States had superiority in missile accuracy,357 that the Soviet civil defence preparations would prove futile and asserted that the Soviets were seeking strategic superiority over the United States.358
Although the Team A/Team B debate was ultimately inconclusive in objective abstract terms, Herken notes that from a political viewpoint, Team B won decisively.359 The outcome was that with the public divergence of views between the 'experts', and
... a series of steady, wearing attacks and disappointments ... the public attitude towards both the Russians and arms control had been transformed.360
This transformation, Herken argues, led, by the mid 1970s to a "new reality" for arms control.361 What had previously been a marginal, minority view362 was slowly transformed from "heresy to respectability, if not orthodoxy."363
The Carter administration denounced the Team B report, and in so doing set in train a set of conditions under which the CPD could flourish, and ultimately provide fertile ground in which the new conservatism could take root.
After preliminary discussions throughout 1975 between Paul Nitze, Eugene Rostow, Henry H. Fowler, Charls E. Walker, Richard V. Allen, Lane Kirkland and Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt and after consultations with then Secretary of Defence James R. Schlesinger, an organising meeting was held at the Metropolitan Club in Washington364, to discuss the formation of a formal organisation to "facilitate a national discussion of the foreign and national security policies of the United States directed towards a secure peace."365 The meeting, chaired by Eugene Rostow366 discussed the first draft of what would become the CPD manifesto "Common Sense and the Common Danger." After ten more meetings and a number of private contacts during which the Rostow manifesto went through thirteen full drafts there was agreement to 'go public' on November 11, 1976. The first funds had been raised in August367 of that year, and by the time of the public launch at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. had raised less than $US 80,000.
The date chosen was to be two days after the election which saw Carter become President. Despite a large Press turnout, little publicity was forthcoming until two months later with a small excerpt from the 'manifesto' in the New York Times. By January 1977 little had changed. The CPD then began work on a series examining the Superpower military balance. The first appeared in October 1978.368 By their own admission, the CPD had its greatest impact on SALT II ratification, beginning with public statements to prominent editors in 1977.369
Although not the only interest group concerned with the SALT II negotiations, the CPD was one of the best organised and most vocal opponents of SALT. Being a 'public education' group, the CPD was able to debate issues openly long before the Carter Administration was able to do so. As Dan Caldwell points out:
By the summer of 1977, the "facsimile ratification debate" had begun, a full two years before the treaty was signed. The Committee on the Present Danger was widely acknowledged as "the brains behind the opposition," and the press conferences that it held were characterised as "more like academic seminars given by Nitze to a small, select group of Washington-based journalists covering the national security beat for their papers, journals and wire services."370
As we saw in the last chapter, public opinion had swung firmly behind the CPD by the end of 1978, to the extent that the CPD could conduct a poll in March 1979 that showed that public support had moved away from SALT II ratification. General Edward Rowny has been quoted as saying:
SALT II was dead in the water in the late Summer or early Fall [of 1979], and the removal [of the treaty from the Senate] from active consideration by Carter after Afghanistan was just an easy way for him to recognise the obvious: SALT II didn't have a chance.371
Another opponent of SALT II, CPD member Eugene Rostow stated :
We had the [SALT II] Treaty beaten by mid- August 372
Moreover, by the time of the 1980 Presidential elections, the stage had been set for the emergence of CPD member Ronald Reagan as President.
The quantity of public output by the CPD was substantial, and demonstrated their ability to develop coordinated responses to any move by the Carter administration. As Caldwell documents:
From the time of its founding in 1976 through the end of December 1979, members of the executive committee and the board of the Committee on the Present Danger participated in 479 TV and radio programs, press conferences, debates, public forums, and speaking engagements. The committee distributed more than two hundred thousand copies of its pamphlets and reports. During the Senate's hearings on the SALT II Treaty, executive committee and board members testified on seventeen different occasions before the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.373
It is worthwhile taking a brief look at the rhetorical strategies invoked by the CPD to determine and augment the shape of the political realities of the late 1970s, from the last half of the Carter Administration to the first Reagan Presidency.
There was also considerable coordination with other allied interest groups that had been set up with related but different agendas, such as the American Security Council374 and the American Conservative Union375 and the Coalition for Peace through Strength376. The CPD concentrated on elite decisionmakers, while others took on the wider brief of direct mass public contact. As Kupperman notes in Caldwell:
...when the Committee received a request for information from the general public, it passed this to the American Security Council for a response.377
The CPD was thus well coordinated with other interest groups and this would have enhanced the effectiveness of their not insubstantial resources.
The CPD announced itself with a policy statement that established and summarised its politics in the title "Common Sense and the Common Danger." Colonising for itself the realm of 'common sense' in much the same manner as the 'realists' sought to colonise 'reality' in the interwar period, the CPD mobilised a discourse of threat378, largely directed towards a systematic demonisation of the Soviets, with the express aim of 'changing the course of US policymaking'.379
Whilst, in terms of their stated modus operandi the CPD was not to engage in formal lobbying, the CPDs published views were presented as the 'rational' approach, with the implication that other approaches might not be so 'rational'. Following the meeting between Carter, Warnke and Nitze380 in which Nitze gave an impromptu, but detailed briefing arguing that defence expenditure should be substantially increased, Nitze's view was seen as a minority and extreme view. Carter was not impressed. In response to what has been characterised as Nitze's 'humiliation'381 Eugene Rostow wrote:
A strong and angry tide of concern about the safety of the nation is running throughout the country...382
Significantly, perhaps, Rostow's remarks were closer to describing a 'significant absence' rather than the reality of the time. Masking his lack of evidence for this 'tide', he mobilises metaphors of natural disaster, invoking the mythology of the futility of Robert the Bruce in the face of a 'strong and angry tide' coupled with the Biblical Flood 'running through the nation' in order, presumably to claim some sort of moral high ground.
The manifesto "Common Sense and the Common Danger" opens strongly with a message about danger. In case we miss the point, the word 'danger' is repeated five times in as many lines, and twice in the opening sentence:
Our country is in a period of danger, and the danger is increasing."383
Dalby points out that the 'common sense' referred to in the title represents a distillation of the mix of US hegemony and containment militarism that characterised NSC 68. From far Right to common sense shows the extent to which US society had come to naturalise the US as metonymic of The West, metaphoric for order, security and rationality, and whose 'natural adversary' was the Soviet Union specifically named as the Other and primary threat to the established order, to the US and its allies.
The principal threat to our nation, to world peace, and to the cause of human freedom is the Soviet drive for dominance based upon an unparalleled military buildup ... The Soviet Union has not altered its long-held goal of a world dominated from a single center-Moscow. It continues, with notable persistence, to take advantage of every opportunity to expand its political and military influence throughout the world: in Europe; in the Middle East and Africa; in Asia; even in Latin America; in all the seas.384
This presumably differs from the actions of the US and its relations with "the democratic countries with which we are 'naturally and necessarily allied' and in the developing world" although it remains unclear about the nature of the differences. The 'Asia' spoken of in terms of the Soviet threat remains undifferentiated, despite the presumably ally status of Japan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Thailand, and the Philippines. The reader is further left to assume that there is some distinction between the Soviets' taking "advantage of every opportunity to expand its political and military influence throughout the world"385 and the US engaging in "effective action to ensure the peace and prosperity of the nation" (US) through "peaceful deterrence and concerted alliance diplomacy."386 For such a distinction is not easy to locate.
One key question remains that underpins the credibility of the presented statements, and that is the question of the identity of the unnamed 'we.' It seems that at least two 'we's are discernible, one is that of the CPD and the other is that of 'Washington.' If it is the former, then a lot of power is assumed for an organisation that professes to be not even a lobby group. If, however the 'we' refers to Washington [metonymic of place and metaphoric for government], then the accusation directed at "Moscow387" works equally within the text to portray Washington and US hegemony. Indeed, in the context of the opening to the second section, the 'we' most probably refers to the US (which metonymically condenses into Washington). With that single substitution, the reader is left with the following choice, between:
The Soviet Union has not altered its long-held goal of a world dominated from a single center-Moscow. It continues, with notable persistence, to take advantage of every opportunity to expand its political and military influence throughout the world.388
... a conscious effort of will is needed to restore the strength and coherence of [Washington's] foreign policy; to revive the solidarity of [Washington's] alliances ... acting together, work with the developing nations to create a just and progressive world economy-the necessary condition of [Washington's] prosperity.389
On these terms it is possible to see how, through a rhetoric of 'us' versus 'them' articulated through a discourse of danger, the CPD sought to constitute a domain of policymaking driven by 'moral panic' in the guise of 'common sense.' It does not end there.
With the suggestion that the Soviets have been systematically engaged in 'subtle and indirect' threats, driven by a 'long-held goal' of world domination, then the détente that brought the Carter Administration to power can be seen as illusory. Moreover, the Carter administration is implicitly seen to be a victim of the 'unawareness' to danger that, the CPD implies, blinds the rest of America. For this reason, the Carter administration is construed as lacking the 'conscious effort of political will needed to restore the strength and coherence of [US] foreign policy.'390 The final condemnation of the Carter administration lies in Carter's own set of agendas, insofar as it is only by addressing the stated lack of political will, can the US 'promote human rights, and help deal with the great and emerging problems of food, energy, population, and the environment.'391 In the same rhetorical move, the CPD claims for itself, these self same agendas as Simon Dalby puts it:
This move puts the CPD in a space of superior knowledge. It is aware of the real state of the world, not taken in by an 'illusory détente. Reality is thus defined as a military strategic one. Political détente is unreal, illusion. The CPD alone understands the presence of the as yet unnamed 'threat' which lurks unseen on the world stage. The implication is that those currently in charge of government policy are likely to make serious blunders because of their failure to appreciate the impending threat to the USA. The only solution is the adoption of the CPD 'common-sense' perspective.392
The logical inconsistencies in the paper are, as Dalby puts it, ignored.393 But that does not mean that it was without effect. What is of interest here, is how its effects operated in the face of some quite dramatic logical flaws. To follow this through it is worthwhile situating this text in the genre of 'persuasive rhetoric.' For, despite the CPD's protestations to the contrary, the CPD manifesto "Common Sense and the Common Danger" is a text with an ideological message that goes beyond abstract reason. It is a text that is designed to go beyond mere information. Its function is to persuade, against the weight of informed opinion. Its function in many ways is to work in the realm more traditionally associated with figurative activities like art or religion in order to create structures of meaning.394 It does so precisely by leaving gaps in its logical structure, in order to invite the reader to insert him/herself into the text in such a way as to bridge the gaps.
In the case of "Common Sense and the Common Danger" the reader is invited to understand the threat in terms of one that operates subtly and indirectly, leading to the conclusion that without substantial policy change, it may soon become too late. Importantly, the CPD maintains, no matter how subtly the Soviet threat operates, the CPD is able to mediate the threat and render it visible. "There is still time for effective action" the CPD reassures us, holding that "...there is no higher priority than peace with freedom and security for our country." That there is no causal connection between these priorities and the statements about the 'danger,' actually matters less in this type of discourse than that the two semantic fields can be juxtaposed in a manner that allows the reader to make whatever connections may be necessary to understand this text as a coherent piece of language. It is a text therefore, that operates on a connotative rather than a denotative level of cognition.395 For Barthes, the operation of this connotative system yields, at the third order of signification the system of ideology.396 Here we see then, the formal apparatus with which the CPD set about persuading the US to effectively undo a decade of détente and arms control, with the help, one must add, of a receptive audience.
Paul Warnke's confirmation hearings for his appointment to the directorship of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) represents one of the early signs of the growing power of the CPD to catalyse the 'hawkish' conservative voices within the US. Warnke had worked with Paul Nitze at the Pentagon. Known as 'the two Pauls' they were philosophically opposed on Defence force posture. Warnke did not subscribe to the apocalyptic thesis of the Pentagon 'hawks,' believing that the strength of the submarine and strategic bomber forces (two legs of the strategic triad) more than compensated for any weakness in the land-based forces. Strobe Talbot characterised Paul Nitze as
Warnke's most vociferous detractor-and one of the administration's most formidable opponents on SALT [and] ... a founder ... of the Committee on the Present Danger, a private, unabashedly hawkish lobbying group.397
Nitze, according to Talbot "had become increasingly disillusioned with SALT" and "appalled at what he regarded as American complacency in the face of 'a clear and present danger' from the Soviet Union." He saw Paul Warnke as representative of that "complacency."398
Warnke was appointed to ACDA, but the vote margin for his appointment as chief SALT negotiator was narrow (58-40). Talbot notes that Senator Henry Jackson and Paul Nitze "along with other SALT skeptics" read into that vote margin a symbolic victory for the CPD. They noted and made much of the fact that the vote for Warnke as chief SALT negotiator represented less than the two-thirds majority required for SALT II ratification (the treaty to be negotiated by Paul Warnke).
The anti-SALT II lobby groups had, in sum four main advantages, according to Dan Caldwell:
First, they were united in their opposition to SALT II; the same kind of unity did not characterize the protreaty groups. Second, the anti-treaty groups had superior resources and were more effective in organizing public opinion. Third ... a group's likelihood of success is enhanced if it focuses on blocking rather than initiating action. The opponents of SALT II therefore had the advantageous position. Fourth, scholars have found that conservatives tend to write [to] their legislators more than liberals and those who are opposed to a policy tend to write more often than those who favor a policy. SALT II was a case in which the conservatives were opposed to ratification of the treaty and, not surprisingly, mail to senators ran strongly against ratification.399
By 1978 the SALT process was losing momentum, while the litany of criticisms of Carter's administration was growing. With negotiations continuing in private, the Carter administration was somewhat at the mercy of the public debate over SALT, and Paul Nitze's CPD400, as Talbot notes "had been in existence-and on the attack-for more than a year, arguing that the United States was falling dangerously behind the Soviet Union in military might and that SALT was part of the problem."401
Halliday notes that the elements of the second Cold War were in place by the mid-term of Carter's Presidency. To look for the causes, however, in a monolithic Soviet push for supremacy, Halliday argues, is to gloss over the US' own role in provoking reaction from the 'Eastern Bloc.' As he states:
... the tensions of this period have their root in the attempt by the USA in the early seventies to use SALT talks and trade as a means of controlling Soviet foreign and defence policy, and in the rebuffs which this attempt encountered-on the battle fields of Indochina and Angola, and in the continued enhancement of Soviet military capacity within the framework of the SALT I agreement. In essence, the New Cold War is a response by the USA and its allies to the failure of détente as a means of waging globalised social conflict to their own advantage.402
The failure of detente, as it applied to SALT II, was also in part the result of Carter's own penchant for 'open government' and much of the momentum for SALT II was lost in Vance's initial approach to Moscow in March 1977. Moving substantially beyond the limits of the Vladivostok Accord, Carter sent Vance in with a proposal for deep cuts in strategic arms. The public release of the proposals before raising them officially with the Soviets was read by the Soviets as a direct piece of moral posturing. The vehemence of the rejection meant that there could not even be a return to the Vladivostok limits and the negotiations were substantially set back.403
Subsequent negotiations eventually resulted in agreement on a general framework for negotiation that took account both of the Vladivostok ceilings and of the US desire for more comprehensive limitations. This framework yielded a three stage set of agreements. These were:
i) a Treaty based on the Vladivostok Accord, to remain in force until 1985;
ii) A Protocol of three years' duration to constrain cruise missiles, mobile ICBMs and qualitative restrictions on ICBMs to allow for later negotiations on these matters in a SALT III; and
iii) A Joint Statement on Principles that would represent a set of guidelines for future negotiations.404
Following a series of high-level meetings in Washington, Moscow and Geneva during 1978 and 1979, the SALT II agreement was signed by Carter and Brezhnev in Vienna on June 18, 1979. President Carter transmitted it to the Senate on June 22, 1979 for consent and ratification.405
Despite the many successes in the ongoing aspects of arms control, compliance with previously established treaties and regular dialogue through the SCC, events seem to have conspired against Carter when it came to 'closing the deal' as it were, on SALT II. In many ways Carter's far-sightedness on arms control issues rendered him pragmatically impaired. His vision of a changing, postmodern world406 meant that he could not rest content with a treaty that had been under negotiation through two previous presidents, even if it was by then "ninety percent complete."407 His decision to start afresh meant that the treaty was delayed and was left without the bipartisan support that Carter had inherited. Additional delays were caused by the pace of technological development that meant debates on cruise missiles, by then accurate enough to be taken seriously,408 the Backfire bomber, and verification procedures of the treaty.409 Caldwell notes that other contributory factors included the sequencing of the Panama Canal Treaties and SALT II, such that considerable political capital and momentum was lost on the Panama Canal Treaties that were ratified with a narrow margin. The political reserves were thus not available to the same extent for SALT II.410 This held also for the ratification debates themselves, as William Hyland notes in Caldwell:
The [Carter] Administration's handling of the ratification process was badly botched; no president should have allowed the Senate to dally over such a critical treaty.411
But, of each of the elements noted above, none of them alone would have prevented SALT II ratification, indeed, Caldwell suggests that even when taken collectively there was still a chance that SALT II would have been ratified, but these, when taken together with three external events appear to have driven the final nails in the coffin of SALT II ratification, and into the chances for Carter's reelection as president.
These events were; the discovery of a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba and the politicisation of this issue which delayed the vote on SALT II, the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran during the first week in November 1979 which weakened public perceptions of the competency of the Carter administration, and finally, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Again, it is not so much the events in themselves, but the public perceptions of the Carter administration's responses to each of these situations that, having been fed on well organised and concerted conservative interpretations of Carter's handling of these events, led finally to Carter's withdrawal of SALT II from the ratification process. It was in this political climate that Ronald Reagan was elected President. As Richard Barnet describes it:
On November 4, 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide. The world view of the Committee on the Present Danger, it now appeared, was national policy.412
My point in labouring the articulations of SALT II ratification failure is to provide a contextual basis with which to explain aspects of the remarkable shift in US articulations of its national security identity, to show that Reagan was not so much the instigator of this, but a product of this process, and to establish the context in which the SCC was to perform its task in the face of this shift.
Although never ratified, both the US and the Soviet Union agreed to respect and abide by its provisions, and to add its provisions to the agenda of the Standing Consultative413 Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC) that was established under the auspices of the ABM Treaty and Interim Agreement of 1972.
While at one level it could be argued that force levels are 'concrete facts' that bear little on 'theory', one must recall that the processes that lead to these force levels, that even the styles of technology development are themselves the result of negotiation and the production of text.414 This point is further underscored by Strobe Talbot who notes that
What utility nuclear weapons have ... is not so much military as political. Nuclear missiles and bombs are symbols of power. The way in which their custodians, the leaderships of the US and the Soviet Union manipulate these symbols is a key factor in how successful their other policies will be. In that respect, nuclear weapons exist to be talked about, not to be used. Largely for that reason, it is another central and, again, paradoxical part of their nature that they exist to be controlled. At least implicitly, the terms for the non-use of these weapons are always on the agenda of the superpower relationship, no matter how tense and antagonistic that relationship may be.415
One of the patterns of dispersion to be found in the arms control arena is thus that of compliance or noncompliance with the provisions of arms control agreements. It is the possibility of non-compliance that makes possible the space provided by and for the Standing Consultative Commission as an important domain of policymaking. It is a domain that occupies a singular space on the boundaries between the superpowers. It is a highly regulated space, given that its privacy provisions allow it to interpenetrate the other's private space of defence policymaking. It is of importance because it represents one of the sites at which, in the symbolic domain, the US and the USSR negotiate their boundaries with respect to their compliance with the management of the nuclear symbols of power. As Talbot points out:
Nuclear arms control has been one of the most critical enterprises in American foreign policy since the early 1960s. Like the Soviet-American relationship itself, arms control involves both cooperation and competition. Because the weapons under negotiation symbolize power of the most awesome kind, each side can use them as part of its ongoing effort to gain political advantages over the other, even as it seeks to avoid direct military conflict. An American administration's handling, or mishandling, of nuclear arms control has a major bearing on how that administration is judged by its constituents in the polls, by its legislative partners in government, by its allies in the councils of NATO, and also, of course, by its rivals in the Kremlin.416
Gloria Duffy and Vitali Loukiantzev note that the first term of the Reagan administration was characterised "more by controversies over compliance with past agreements than by progress toward new limitations."417 This period has been referred to as the "compliance crisis"418 which was a period in which the SCC channel was virtually ignored, while public accusations were repeatedly levelled at the Soviets over alleged non-compliance with a range of arms control agreements, SALT being the most notable. Moreover, old issues of ambiguous compliance behaviours which had been settled through the SCC were now raised again as violations, reclassified from 'possible' to 'definite' violation.419 This was a period in which US-Soviet relations were at a low ebb. Indeed, 1983 was characterised, perhaps ironically, by the Reagan administration as "the year of the missile."420 With CPD members Fred Iklé and Richard Perle formulating arms control policy, former ACDA Director, Paul Warnke, among other former Carter administration officials spoke of "foxes guarding the henhouse"421 and "when you have [Retired Army Major General] Ed Rowney reporting to Dick Perle there's no chance of getting anywhere."422
From the start of the Reagan Presidency the question of SALT was high on the agenda with considerable debate within the administration about whether or not to continue to adhere to the provisions of SALT II. Seemingly by default the US administration took the view that "there's not even a marginal military reason for exceeding the SALT limits, if the TTB [threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974] disappeared we'd test weapons over 150 kilotons, but if SALT II disappeared, there's nothing we'd do differently."423 Casper Weinberger disagreed. There were divisions over whether the Soviets had complied with the SALT treaties in the past. With the first SCC session to be held under the new administration approaching in March 1981 the first decision taken by Haig and backed by Reagan was a non-decision. It was a decision to postpone the SCC meeting until May, and it took so long to make that the meeting was not postponed until just before the scheduled meeting was due to take place. As Strobe Talbot put it, "there was a delay in proposing a delay."424
Part of the problem facing the conservative Reagan team revolved around a set of concerns that centre, in part, on the kinds of signals to send, both to the US' NATO allies and to the Soviet Union, and in part with the lack of firm evidence of Soviet cheating. Richard Burt, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, suggested a departure from the established SCC practice of providing the Soviets with a written statement of the steps the United States was taking to remain in compliance with SALT I by providing a spoken statement only. When the issue arose of re-raising the old issue of the SS-19 missile in the SCC, Burt sidestepped, and raised the issue through other diplomatic channels. This was done to avoid further sullying of the waters of the SCC.425
As it happened, there were other issues that were more pressing to raise in the SCC meeting in May let alone any provocative and not fully substantiated additions. Among these was the question of Soviet telemetry encryption in missile tests of the SS-NX-20 SLBM. In a climate in which senior members of Reagan's administration (as, for example, Casper Weinberger and John Lehman), were arguing for a complete abandonment of SALT II and for recognition that the Interim Agreement had expired, the United States was not in a strong position to press for strict compliance with SALT II. Moreover, as calls for a wider interpretation of the ABM Treaty became louder there was also a growing awareness that under the wider interpretation the Soviets were not in breach of its provisions as its ambiguous compliance behaviour might have suggested.
Furthermore, there were consistent charges from the far right that United States compliance with the unratified SALT II Treaty was unconstitutional.426 Nevertheless, since June 18, 1979, the United States and the Soviet Union were obligated under international law, through the principle of pacta sunt servanda, 427 to "do nothing which would 'defeat the object and purpose' of the SALT II Treaty" despite its being unratified.
On the subject of international law, the other approach, should the United States have chosen that route, would be to effect changes to the treaty (revision) which, under international law, through the principle of rebus sic stantibus, would require agreement between both Parties. This suggests that if such changes were negotiated through the SCC then the criterion of agreement by both Parties could be met. Such a move, arguably lies behind the negotiation of protocols for dismantlement procedures, for example. Any move beyond technical fine-tuning of the original Treaty, would however, constitute a new treaty. This would not be suitable practice for arms control agreements by which such changes could only be brought about through a recognition that the circumstances under which the Treaty had been negotiated had changed substantially. Such a clause was included within both the ABM Treaty and the Interim Agreement such that:
each Party shall have the right to withdraw from this (Treaty) (Agreement) ... if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this (Treaty) (Agreement) have jeopardized its supreme interests.428
As Calvo-Goller notes, the political aspects of this leave wide scope for each Party to determine how it defines or interprets the meaning of "extraordinary events," how one conceives of one's "supreme interests" and how each Party defines "threat." Calvo-Goller further notes that:
None of the withdrawal clauses in the SALT Agreements can be viewed as permitting denunciation due to a change of circumstances unless the new circumstances constitute extraordinary events.429
Thus the clause of rebus sic stantibus, could only be applied to exceptional circumstances under the Vienna Convention on Treaties, if "it is absolutely impossible for a state to execute a treaty or if a treaty is found to be in conflict with its most vital interests."430
Reagan's rhetoric of danger served to further demonise the Soviet Union. It did nothing to ease growing Soviet concerns that the United States was working to develop a first-strike capability. From the beginning of his presidential election campaign the term "window of vulnerability"431 was mobilised to condense the idea that Carter had let the country down, that by cancelling the MX missile program the US had effectively unilaterally disarmed, and that the Soviet Union would soon reach such strategic superiority that the United States would soon become vulnerable to a pre-emptive nuclear attack. On the basis of this catch-phrase, Reagan was set to justify his opposition to SALT II and to a nuclear freeze. That this rhetoric was not unlike the 'missile gap' rhetoric that brought Kennedy to power should not be so surprising as it was promulgated by Paul Nitze's Committee on the Present Danger - Nitze himself having been the architect of the rhetoric of the original bomber and missile 'gap' of the 1950s.
The so-called 'window of vulnerability' held that the Soviet Union was acquiring the capability to pre-emptively destroy the bulk of United States land-based ICBMs. The theory being that, at some point in the near future:
the Soviets will have a strategic advantage of such magnitude that they can launch a first-strike sufficient to prevent a devastating U.S. response432
The Reagan administration seemed in this to ignore the fact that earlier administrations had planned for such a possibility by developing two other legs to what had become known as the strategic triad. The triad consisted, not only of land-based ICBMs, but also of air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), both of which were widely considered to be 'survivable.'433 However, as late as 1983, David Sullivan observed:
Beyond American numerical inferiority, Soviet strategic forces of 1980 have already opened a "window of vulnerability" on all US strategic forces, and this window will gape open all the wider throughout SALT II. The SALT process itself has contributed to US strategic vulnerability by offering the false promise that somehow the Soviets would agree to limit their threat to American land-based missiles. ... The "window of vulnerability" once again leaves America open to Soviet nuclear blackmail, as in the period of Krushchev's rocket rattling in the 1950s and early 1960s.434
With statements like these in the public arena, the prospects for effective negotiations on arms control compliance were not good. As Thomas Schelling lamented in 1985:
For several years what are called arms negotiations have been mostly a public exchange of accusations; and it often looks as if it is the arms negotiations that are driving the arms race.435
This was brought out through studies of Soviet responses to Reagan's policies and rhetoric as expressed through, for example, Bialer and Afferica where they note:
President Reagan's concentration on the Russian danger as the fundamental issue in world politics is matched in intensity by Russia's preoccupation with Reaganism as a clear menace to its internal stability and international authority. ... Like American commentators on international problems, they regard as the key aspects of policy the direction of military decisions, the use of economic power, the climate of relations and the approach to negotiations and to regional conflicts. ... In Soviet eyes, the most significant element of the Reagan approach is its attempt to alter the balance of military power between the United States and the Soviet Union.436
As Coral Bell points out, by 1983 relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were "at their lowest point since the death of Stalin 30 years earlier."437 That said, she also points to Reagan's first term as fundamentally a continuation of the foreign and defence policies of Carter, with a discursive overlay of moral panic. For Bell the principal difference lay in the symbolic order, or to use her phrase "on the rhetorical front."438 The key difference, for her, lay in the declaratory policy rather than in operational policy. The Foucaultian sophistication of her Foreign Affairs article lies in her inclusion of the Reagan defence budget within the discursive framework of a "strong declaratory signal" insofar as it represents "a statement of intent about the future balance of forces-rather than a transformation of the existing balance of the 1980s."439 Hinting at the power of the Committee on the Present Danger and of their continuing role in the Reagan presidency, Bell argues that
...since the image of US military weakness was created chiefly by words (mostly from the Reagan camp from the Republican nomination fight of 1976 onwards) it is logical that more words from the same sources should have been effective in readjusting that somewhat distorted image to reflect the reality of effective (though asymmetrical) superpower parity.440
In following sections I shall examine some of these 'words' and their effect (reception) on the arms control process as expressed through the SALT SCC. The importance of the rhetorical in constituting the political reality is strongly hinted at in Bell:
... from the point of view of the theory of foreign policy, the greater importance of declaratory over operational signals in an age of surveillance may be the idea to be noted.441
Although discourse theorists may put it more strongly and with greater confidence, Bell nonetheless recognises that declaratory and operational policy, insofar as they are politically meaningful, can both be considered as species of the genus 'discursive practice.'
What is important here, is not that the 'Soviet threat' was a 'mere product of words,' but that for compelling domestic reasons a particular representation of Soviet strategy was necessary in order to draw together the disparate frameworks that constituted the United States under the unifying rubric of security against a common and 'present' danger.442
At the Spring session of the SCC in 1980, work was suspended on SALT II implementation procedures following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the failure of the US Senate to ratify the SALT II Treaty.
As noted earlier in this chapter the 18th SCC meeting scheduled for March was delayed until May 27, 1981. This was due to internal debate within the newly elected Reagan administration over whether or not to continue to uphold the SALT Treaties and whether or not to continue using the SCC.
During the October round of the SCC (19th meeting) the Soviet SCC delegation responded to US concerns regarding the location of Soviet LPARs by stating that their placement took account of "technical and practical considerations."
In the September 1982 round (21st meeting) the United States asserted that Soviet SS-16 ICBMs were secretly deployed at Plesetsk. The Soviet maintained that they were neither deployed, nor in production. They further contended that no clause of the SALT II treaty applied to those missiles. The two sides deadlocked on the issue and held a recess until December when the SCC convened an ABM Treaty review.
In October of the same year the Soviets flight-tested their SS-24 MIRVed ICBM.
This section provides the empirical data on which the analysis of the political shift between the Carter and Reagan Presidencies is based. It serves to reinforce the thesis that there is an indexical link between arms control policy (a subset of national security policy) and state-making viewed through the activities which maintain the state boundaries.
This record of SALT compliance in the first Reagan term draws principally, but not exclusively upon the 1984 and 1985 Congressional Hearings before the US Senate Armed Services Committee on Soviet Treaty Violations with additional background material as required to examine the degree to which compliance concerns are raised in this period, coupled with an examination of the manner and rhetoric with which often ambiguous behaviours are construed in this period as concrete examples of Soviet violations of the SALT Agreements.
Overall, as Duffy points out, of the twenty arms control agreements between the US and the Soviet Union, fewer than half have been "the subject of significant, unresolved complaints regarding compliance."443 Eight agreements have been the subject of some forty United States and Soviet reciprocal charges of noncompliance since 1983, reflecting the deteriorating political climate of the time. Of those, we are concerned here only with those agreements that fall within the mandate of the SCC. It is also relevant to consider the legal status of these agreements as this may have some bearing on the implications of noncompliance. Those that fall within the purview of the SCC are the ABM Treaty, 1972; SALT I Interim Agreement, 1972; SALT II Treaty, 1979. The ABM Treaty is a fully ratified treaty, the SALT I Interim Agreement was an executive agreement in force until November 1986, and the SALT II Treaty holds the status of a treaty for which the ratification process had been discontinued.444 Although the first two can claim a similar degree of authority, SALT II falls into an ambiguous category, without the full binding force of a ratified treaty, yet laying claim to some force on the basis of the international law principle of pacta sunt servanda. According to Duffy, expectations for compliance with SALT II are based on the declaratory political commitment of the Parties.445
By 1982 the conservatives, including the CPD, had become increasingly strident, forming a suitable context within which Reagan could establish an arms control working group, as Reagan put it, "to examine verification and compliance issues." With some sixty CPD members, drawn from both Democrat and Republican sides, it seemed only a matter of time before Congress should call on President Reagan to report to it on Soviet noncompliance with arms control agreements under the FY 1984 Arms Control and Disarmament Act. Even the negative titling of the report that was submitted seemed to prejudge, not the degree to which the Soviets complied with their obligations under the various arms control agreements, but the degree of noncompliance.446
In 1984 the United States reviewed seven initial issues of concern and charged the Soviet Union with "violations and probable violations with respect to a number of Soviet legal obligations and political commitments in the arms control field."447 The relevant concerns for our discussion here, bear on compliance with the SALT agreements that fall under the purview of the SCC.
The 1985 President's report on Soviet noncompliance provided 'updated' information on the seven issues raised in the 1984 report and added six others covering aspects of compliance with the SALT I Interim Agreement, the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) and the ABM Treaty.
Of the four issues of concern in the 1984 Report that pertain to the SALT Agreements; one was of the ABM Treaty - the Krasnoyarsk radar issue - and represents probably the only full violation of a legally binding agreement, while the other three were grey area violations of the unratified SALT II Treaty. These concerns were (i) the encryption of telemetry, (ii) SS-X-25 missile, considered to be a second new type (where only one was permitted) and (iii) SS-16, possibly representing a banned deployment of an ICBM. The Krasnoyarsk radar issue is of particular interest, and for that reason I shall defer its exploration until after a brief review of the other SALT-related issues raised within the SCC.
Article II of the Interim Agreement states:
The Parties undertake not to convert land-based launchers for light ICBMs, or for ICBMs of older types deployed prior to 1964, into land-based launchers for heavy ICBMs of types deployed after that time.448
GAC Report (1983) cites as violation of SALT I Interim Agreement of 1972 the Soviet deployment of the large-throw-weight SS-19 and SS-17 ICBMs from 1972 to the time of the report. The charge alleged circumvention defeating the stated US object and purpose of limiting throw-weight of Soviet ICBMs and breach of the 1972 Principles Agreement.
This charge did not arise in the 1985 President's Report on Soviet Noncompliance with Arms Control Agreements, and appears to have been an attempt to resurrect an issue that had been settled long before, as documented in R.W. Buchheim's Briefing on SALT I Compliance in 1979.449
Use of telemetry encryption: 'Deliberate concealment measures that impede verification by NTMs
Article XV(3) of SALT II states in part:
Each Party undertakes not to use deliberate concealment measures which impede verification by national technical means of compliance with the provisions of this Treaty.
The Second Common Understanding states:
Each Party is free to use various forms transmitting telemetric information during testing, including its encryption, except that, in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 3 of Article XV of the Treaty, neither Party shall engage in deliberate denial of telemetric information, such as through the use of telemetry encryption, whenever such denial impedes verification of compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.
a) GAC Report (1983) cites as a violation the encryption of telemetry which impeded the ability of the US to determine the characteristics of test missiles, including those characteristics prohibited by SALT II.
The 1984 President's Report to Congress concerning Soviet noncompliance with arms control agreements notes that, as the SALT II Treaty had not been ratified, and that, as of 1981 the US had made it clear that ratification would not take place, then two degrees of noncompliance could be applied. Before 1981, both nations would be obligated under the conventional practice of international law to comply with the Treaty's provisions (under the principle of pacta sunt servanda ). After 1981, both the United States and the Soviet Union declared their political commitment to 'refrain from actions that undercut SALT II' for as long as each other continued to comply. Under this set of unilateral declarations, any breach of compliance with SALT II would thereby constitute violations of a political commitment.
The 1984 Report concluded that 'Soviet encryption practices constitute a violation of a legal obligation prior to 1981 and a violation of their political commitment subsequent to 1981' with particular reference to the Soviet SS-X-25 missile. This charge was reaffirmed in the 1985 Report, emphasised in the 1986 Report, and noted again in terms of a 'deliberate denial of missile test information.'450 The Soviets countered by asking the US to supply details of which telemetry channels need to be de-encripted to complete the requirements for verification. Unfortunately, for the US to reveal those details would, by implication, reveal the sources by which the US determines compliance - thus providing the Soviets with the information they would need to design around the US' national technical means of verification of compliance with the Treaty.
The SS-X-25 Missile: Second new type
Article IV(9) of the SALT II Treaty states:
Each Party undertakes not to flight-test or deploy new types of ICBMs not flight-tested as of May 1, 1979, except that each Party may flight-test and deploy one new type of light ICBM
The Second Agreed Statement attached to Paragraph 9 of Article IV of the SALT II Treaty states:
The term 'new types of ICBMs,' as used in paragraph 9 of Article IV of the Treaty, refers to any ICBM which is different from those flight-tested as of MAY 1, 1979 in any or more of the following respects:
a) the number of stages, the length, the largest diameter, the launch-weight, or the throw-weight, of the missile;
b) the type of propellant (that is, liquid or solid) of any of its stages.
The First Common Understanding attached to Paragraph 9 of Article IV of the SALT II Treaty states:
As used in the First Agreed Statement to paragraph 9 of Article IV of the Treaty, the term 'different,' referring to the length, the diameter, the launch-weight, and the throw-weight, of the missile, means a difference in excess of five percent.
The Second Agreed Statement attached to Paragraph 9 of Article IV of the SALT II Treaty states:
Every ICBM of the one new type of light ICBM permitted to each Party pursuant to paragraph 9 of Article IV of the Treaty shall have the same number of stages and the same type of propellant (that is, liquid or solid) of each stage as the first ICBM of the one new type of light ICBM launched by that Party. In addition, after the twenty-fifth launch of an ICBM of that type, or after the last launch before deployment begins of ICBMs of that type, whichever occurs earlier, ICBMs of the one new type of light ICBM permitted to that Party shall not be different in any one or more of the following respects: the length, the largest diameter, the launch weight. or the throw-weight, of the missile
The reason for this set of provisions, as expressed in the President's Report on Soviet non-compliance 1985, is that these represented an attempt to 'constrain the modernisation and the proliferation of new, more capable types of ICBMs.'451 By constraining the 'one new type' of light' (that is, single-warhead) missile, such that the post-boost reentry vehicle must not be less than fifty-percent of the throw-weight (defined as the weight of the warheads and the mechanisms that target and release them452) it was intended that single-warhead ICBMs should not be readily convertible to MIRVed systems. The throw-weight allowance differential between the post-boost vehicle greater than fifty percent, but less than one hundred percent of the throw-weight would, however allow for a limited degree of penetration aids ('spoofing,' in the form of radar chaff, or light-weight decoys).
As Duffy points out, 'modernisation' of existing types did not mean that the modernised version had to be specifically related to a previous type. The constraints are merely that:
as long as the launch-weight, throw-weight, length, and largest diameter of a missile tested are within 5 percent of those of any missile of an existing type, (and the kind of propellant and number of stages are the same) [then] ... the new missile is for treaty purposes to be considered a modification of that existing type...453
With the flight testing of the SS-N-24 in October 1982, the Soviet Union declared that this was to be the 'one new type' as allowed by Article IV of the SALT II Treaty. The SS-N-24 was MIRVed with ten warheads, and designed to be rail-mobile and silo-based. The United States in turn designated its MX [Missile: Experimental] missile as its one new type under SALT II.
In February 1983 a missile was flight-tested from Plesetsk. Designated the SS-25, it was thought to represent the first of a second new type of ICBM, although heavy telemetry encryption made it difficult for the US to be able to state unequivocally that the missile represented a new type, and hence a treaty violation.
Although stating that the evidence was 'somewhat ambiguous,' the GAC Report (1983) cited the SS-X-25 as a possible second new type of ICBM and therefore a 'probable violation' of the provisions of the SALT II Treaty.454 From 1985455 onwards the charge was listed as a definite violation and was reaffirmed in every subsequent report to the present (1990).
The December 1985 report charged that the throw-weight of the SS-25 exceeded by more than five percent the throw-weight of the SS-13 ICBM. This would mean that the SS-25 could not be considered a permitted modernisation of an earlier type, as permitted by SALT II and as claimed by the Soviets. Its testing, in addition to the testing of the SS-X-24 (the Soviet's stated 'new type') would render the SS-25 a prohibited second new type. This was claimed by the US to be a 'violation of the Soviet Union's political commitment to observe the 'new type' provision of the SALT II Treaty.'456 The December report goes on to add to this a related violation by the deployment, in 1985, of the SS-25.
The Reagan administration charged that the SS-25 was a violation of both the 'new type' rule and of the 50% rule. The 'new type' charge arose from claims that the throw-weight of the SS-25 was estimated to be around 90% greater457 than the SS-13 that the Soviets held up for comparison. The Reagan administration further alleged that the reentry vehicle of the SS-25 violated the 50% rule on the grounds that it constituted only about 45% of the missile's throw-weight.
The process of determining throw-weight from flight-test telemetry is neither easy nor straightforward, especially when there is a high level of telemetry encryption.
At a press conference on June 4, 1986, a Soviet official458 stated:
At variance with [the throw-weight definition] provision, the weight of certain elements which make up the throw-weight of the old missile [SS-13] (means to overcome ABM defence and the warhead guidance device) is not included by the United States.459
What he was pointing out is that the United States had overestimated the throw-weight of the SS-25 by including the weight of an instrument package used during testing that would not be included in the actual deployment of the missile, and that other components had been excluded in estimates of the throw-weight of the SS-13. The net analysis, according to Marshal Akhromeyev is that the US assessment was in error, not because of faulty measurement, but because of inappropriate calculations which apportioned the ratio of throw-weight to launch-weight.
Duffy notes that the US has to rely on 'best estimates' of throw-weight derived from the analysis of test data, which operates with a broad margin of uncertainty. The Stanford Research Group observes that there is still some overlap of the distributions which allow for a small percentage chance that the parameters of the SS-25 may fall within the five-percent limit, and that the apparent differences may be due to measurement or statistical errors. They note, however, that the chance is small, and that the 1985 Report's use of the phrase 'based on convincing evidence'460 suggests that the Reagan administration was confident that the difference was real and significant. Moreover, the Reagan administration charged that, whether or not the SS-25 constituted a violation of the re-entry vehicle to throw-weight ratio, the encryption of the test telemetry was "illustrative of the deliberate impeding of verification of compliance in violation of the USSR's political commitment.
The Arms Control Association's staff assessment of the charge concludes that:
Until the administration is prepared to explain on what basis it excludes ... additional devices from its calculation of the SS-13's throw-weight, and on what basis the instrumentation package on the SS-25 should be included in the missile's throw-weight, its case will remain weak. Whether or not the SS-25 fits within the five-percent limit on throw-weight using the Soviet reading of the treaty language depends upon the weights of the various elements of the throw-weight. This information, which the United States may not know in detail, has not been volunteered by the Soviet Union.461
The Stanford Research Group came to similar conclusions, suggesting that the evidence that the SS-25 represents a violation is not at all clear cut. In concluding comments reviewing both the US and the Soviet positions they note:
It appears that a reasonable though legalistic case can be made for the Soviet position. Secretary of State Schultz in effect conceded as much when he stated in a television interview, "there are questions about whether in a purely technical sense, the SS-25 fits within the treaty language as might be interpreted by a lawyer."
A reasonable case can be made for the administration as well. The situation appears to be one in which a literal reading of the treaty language and a common sense interpretation of its intent lead to opposite conclusions. A more forthright presentation of the issue would have at least made it clear that there is a Soviet side to the story, a side not totally devoid of substance.462
The issue of verification standard has been canvassed in earlier chapters. However, the application of these standards requires an assessment of the alleged non-compliant behaviour in terms of military significance. Particularly, but not exclusively, with respect to the standard of 'adequate verification' (this also applies to Reagan's standard of 'effective verification') the object of verification is to detect non-compliant, or potentially non-compliant behaviour before the effect of such behaviour becomes 'militarily significant.' This in itself can be the object of intense debate over how one applies the term 'military significance,' but at some point these behaviours require some form of proportional response. This again is a political issue, as even technical breaches of a treaty can be assessed in multiple ways as regards their military significance.
If one assumes that the SS-25 issue represents a clear violation of the SALT II Treaty, the question arises as to the military significance of this breach. Such an assessment has to take account of the manner or style of breach, and it has to take account only of that aspect of the missile system that is in breach of the treaty. Finally the breach needs to be assessed in terms of the value of its contribution to the strategic capability of the notional adversary and assessed in terms of what the degree of change indicates about the intentions of the other side. Note that the overall capability itself need not be taken into account with respect to the 'intentions' of the other, but the direction and degree of change to the other side's force posture. In this sense, what is significant is the degree and manner in which a breach can be read in terms of gesture. In interpersonal terms (as we are dealing with subjectivities, however multiple and contradictory) one does not read the other in terms of whether or not they possess arms, hands or face, but in the movements of these parts by which they signal their intentions - their gestures. In this sense, then, the other's responses to the formal behaviour codes instituted by an arms control regime are enunciated by gestures that can be 'read' by and through various interpretive schemata in terms of compliance/violation, enunciative force of the agreement (whether formal ratified treaty or political commitment) modality and degree of violation (is it a material breach by extension (vertical proliferation); that is, by exceeding numerical limits; or by lateral proliferation, that is, by developing and deploying prohibited new types).
In the case of the SS-25, as Duffy notes,463 the significance lies in the differential in throw-weight between the SS-13 and the SS-25, rather than in the significance of the total package of the SS-25. If the mass of the SS-25's reentry vehicle were held down to SS-13 specifications as read by the US, then there would be no technical violation and the SS-25 would have represented a permitted modification of the SS-13. If that were the case, Duffy argues, although the nuclear yield would be 'somewhat less' than the actual SS-25, this would be readily offset by developments in yield-to-weight ratios and improvements in targeting accuracy464 that would more than offset any marginal decrease in the warhead's fissile mass. Duffy points out that the real significance of the SS-25 is its mobile basing mode which would enhance its survivability. As Duffy notes:
Whatever the strategic significance of the SS-25, very little of that significance is attributable to the extra throw-weight that constitutes the compliance issue.465
Assuming that the SS-25 is a violation in the terms stated by the Reagan administration assessments of the RV:Throw-weight ratio, then the question remains as to the extent of the violation in terms of the potential to derive a MIRVed mode for the SS-25. If the US figures are correct and the RV represents between 40-50% of the throw-weight, then two immediate questions arise:
i) why go to all the trouble of violating a treaty for the sake of an ambiguous ability to add only one extra warhead. Duffy argues that if the RV had been only 10% of the throw-weight then it would seem logical to assume MIRV capabilities for this missile.
ii) It is not at all clear that it would be possible to mount an extra warhead in any case, since to do so would require the addition of yet another post-boost vehicle (PBV), with a corresponding increase in instrumentation - itself no light weight. A second reentry vehicle (RV) would leave only about 10-15% of the throw-weight for the additional post-boost vehicle. Duffy notes that it seems unlikely that the Soviets would have one light enough to fall within these specifications. Therefore, claims made by the Reagan administration that "the SS-25 also could be modified to carry more than a single warhead"466 seem to be more a case of imputing to the other capabilities one does not possess oneself.
The political climate in which the SCC was expected to operate at this time was at its most confrontational as we have seen for reasons given at the beginning of this chapter. According to Duffy:
The SCC has discussed the SS-25 but has made no progress toward resolving the dispute. Apparently, the United States has simply accused the Soviets of a violation and insisted that they terminate the SS-25 program. For their part, the Soviets have not provided any information that might be helpful, such as the nature and weight of the SS-13's "guidance device" or the nature of the penetration aids that they claim it carries and that the United States has not detected.467
This instance is one of many that reflect the political nature of what has often been described as a technical issue. That no agreements were signed in the SCC during the first term of the Reagan administration was no accident. Nor did this reflect a failure in the SCC process itself, but rather an unwillingness to utilise the SCC for that for which it was intended.
There were a number of issues raised in the SCC as potential violations of the SALT Treaties that fall under the purview of the SCC. In many cases, the manner in which they were approached by the Reagan administration followed closely the pattern of responses set out in the SS-25 issue above.
Non-permanently fixed ABM radar
GAC Report (1983) cites as a violation the development and deployment of a non-permanently fixed ABM radar on the Kamchatka peninsula in 1975 and 'continuing developmental activities between 1975 and the present (1983).
These issues are largely a raking over of old issues - the 'Pawn Shop' and 'Flat Twin' radars were more than a decade old at the time of the allegations. At no time were they mobile in any meaningful sense of the word. While they could be erected in a shorter time than previous ABM systems, they still needed to rest on prepared concrete foundations, and, according to the ACA assessment of the 1987 President's report on Soviet noncompliance:
... a single operational site would take about half a year to construct. A nationwide ABM system based on this new system would take a matter of years to build468
The Arms Control Association assessment concludes:
Apparently, very little activity with regard to these two radars has taken place since the 1978 report was written and none of the radars have been deployed at the permitted Moscow deployment area or elsewhere in the Soviet Union. Therefore there is little evidence for the administration's charge that these radars represent a "potential violation" of the treaty.
Exceeding launcher limits
GAC Report (1983) cites as a violation the deployment of DELTA submarines resulting in exceeding the limit of 740 launch tubes without dismantling sufficient older ICBM or SLBM launchers. This accusation represents a review of the 1975 violation, but now suggesting that the actions were 'probably not inadvertent but rather part of a deliberate Soviet challenge to US arms control verification capabilities.
Deployment of SS-16 ICBMs at Plesetsk
GAC Report (1983) cites as a violation the 'probable continued deployment' of the Soviet SS-16 ICBM at Plesetsk. The report charges that Soviet 'deliberate' use of concealment which impedes verification of compliance by US national technical means has been associated with probable SS-16 deployment. After 1979, modifications of sites that had been associated with the SS-16 ICBM, and the lack of evidence that the SS-16 missiles had been destroyed, led the United States to assume the SS-16 was still deployed
Duffy notes that US surveillance satellites have reportedly never actually observed SS-16 missiles at the Plesetsk site. Duffy also notes:
In late 1985 US intelligence observed the Soviets moving warhead transporters and other support equipment for mobile missiles onto rail-cars at Plesetsk. Much of the intelligence community drew the conclusion that the Soviets were removing the SS-16s from Plesetsk and sending them into storage. This charge therefore, does not currently represent Soviet non-compliance, if it ever did.469
Mobile Missile Base Construction at Dismantled SS-7 ICBM Sites
The 1985 report on Soviet non-compliance reaffirmed the February 1985 report that the Soviets had been using former SS-7 ICBM facilities for the storage, support, or launch of SS-25 mobile ICBMs in violation of the SALT I Interim Agreement. This issue was again reaffirmed in the 1986 report. What needs to be remembered here, is that under the SALT I Interim Agreement there is no limitation to the deployment of mobile, land-based ICBM launchers. Moreover, the 1985 report, while raising the issue, concludes that:
...Soviet activity apparently related to SS-X-25 ICBM deployments at two former SS-7 bases does not at present violate the agreed implementing procedures of the SALT I Interim Agreement. However, ongoing activities raise concerns about compliance for the future, since use of "remaining facilities" to support ICBMs at deactivated SS-7 sites would be in violation of Soviet commitments. The US will continue to monitor developments closely.470
Reconfiguration of Yankee-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines
The 1985 Report raised the issue of whether the reconfigured Soviet 'Yankee' class submarine violated the SALT I Interim Agreement under which submarines limited by the Interim Agreement must be dismantled or reconfigured into submarines without ballistic missile capabilities. The report concluded that the reconfiguration of this submarine into a longer, cruise-missile-capable one was not a violation of the Soviets' political commitment under the SALT I Interim Agreement .
The 1985 Report also added three issues concerning the ABM Treaty:
i) whether the Soviets had concurrently tested SAM and ABM components,
ii) whether the Soviets had developed, tested, or deployed mobile ABM components, and/or
iii) whether the Soviets had provided a base for territorial defence.
Mobility of New ABM System
The 1985 report raised questions over the issue of whether the Soviet Union had developed a mobile ABM system in violation of its obligations under the ABM Treaty. The report concluded that the activity in question was 'ambiguous,' and remained cautious over the potential for a system which was reportedly deployable at sites with relatively little preparation. Again the problem arises over the lack of a definition for the term 'mobile.'
Concurrent Testing of ABM and SAM Components
The 1985 report examined the issue of whether the Soviets had concurrently tested ABM and SAM elements in contravention of Article VI of the ABM Treaty and Protocol. This issue was raised again in 1986 and 1987.
The 1985 report concluded that there was 'insufficient evidence ... to assess fully compliance with Soviet obligations under the ABM Treaty.' The United States was concerned that concurrent testing, if it should occur, with other activities, meant that the Soviet Union could be preparing an ABM defence of its national territory.
This issue first arose over questions to do with the Soviet SA-5 SAM system in 1973-1974. As noted in chapter three of this thesis, the issue was raised in the SCC and the concurrent testing ceased shortly afterwards. A classified Agreed Statement was negotiated in the SCC and signed in 1978. The Statement regulated the concurrent testing of air defence and ABM components.
Operation of air defence radars at the Sary Shagan range led to this issue being revived in the SCC. This, in turn, led to a Common Understanding signed in 1985. The Understanding reportedly bans all use of air defence radars during ABM testing, except in the unlikely event of a hostile aircraft being clearly in the vicinity. This should have brought the matter to a close.
However, the December 1985 Report does not mention the Common Understanding reached in 1985 in the SCC, which was designed to resolve the problem, preferring to note publicly that the Soviets have 'probably violated' the ABM Treaty. The ACA expresses this in stronger terms:
This issue is a prime example of the administration's tactic of making public charges on issues that could be (or in this case apparently already had been) resolved in the SCC. The SCC's record in handling this has been impressive: The Soviets ceased their initial activity soon after the question was raised, and two subsequent agreements have been negotiated. The 1985 understanding ... should resolve the issue once and for all. Despite this constructive history, the administration has consistently referred to this issue as a 'highly probable' violation in its compliance reports471
ABM Territorial Defence
The February 1985 report examined the issue of whether the Soviets had, by the combination of a number of factors, deployed or provided a base for an ABM defence of their territory. Citing radar construction, concurrent testing SAM upgrading, ABM rapid reload and ABM mobility, concluded that the Soviet Union may be in the process of preparing such a defence system for its national territory. This conclusion was reaffirmed in the December 1985 report, and expanded in the February 1986 report.
That these conclusions were drawn does not, however, render them conclusive. While noting that some of the activities are permitted within the ABM Treaty, when considering those activities that fall outside of the Treaty the language changes in tone to the less certain register of 'potential or probable Soviet violations or other ambiguous activity. Each of the charges laid was qualified by modal auxiliaries 'apparent', 'probable,' 'may have' and so on. The 1986 report concludes with a statement of the dire consequences for the West, if the Soviets should develop an ABM defence for their national territory. Citing 'profound implications for Western security and the vital East-West strategic balance' and concluding:
A unilateral Soviet territorial ABM capability acquired in violation of the ABM Treaty could reorder our deterrent and leave doubts about its credibility. such a capability might encourage the Soviets to take increased risks in crises, thus degrading crisis stability. [emphasis mine]472
The ACA assessment of the 1987 Report on Noncompliance concludes that, despite the seriousness of the charge, the evidence on which it is based 'rests on old and largely discredited or irrelevant assertions.'473
At this point it is relevant to consider the trajectory of the most significant of the claimed violations - that of the Krasnoyarsk radar - in the context of an examination of the extent to which even the seemingly most obvious violation is itself the product of a range of political processes, from the allocation of resources for the acquisition of the intelligence assets, through the production of the intelligence product as such, through the decision to raise the issue in the SCC, the Soviet responses, the US responses to the Soviet responses, both within the SCC and in the mobilisation of this issue as a sign through which the Soviet Union has been demonised as threat and as other, and how this sign has been juxtaposed with other signs to construe a virtual reality space of threat and, within the United States, of security articulated as identity.
Krasnoyarsk: Collusion of Discourses.
Large phased-array radars were limited by the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty because, if properly located, they represented a necessary element of ABM battle-management and, if constructed, were therefore indexical of an intention to deploy an ABM system. They would have to be very large, permanent structures with attendant long construction times spanning a number of years. Peter Zimmerman notes:
They were recognised during the negotiations of the ABM Treaty as the key elements of an ABM system which would most severely limit the rate at which one of the Parties could 'break out' to provide a missile defence for all of its territory.474
Being very large structures, they would be verifiable by national technical means of verification (NTMs), and being slow to build, they would be detected before becoming operational, and detectable with a sufficient time-margin to react to possible treaty violations with consultation to clarify ambiguous behaviour, and such other action as may be necessary to prevent a violation from occurring. Whether the Krasnoyarsk radar is considered to be a full violation of the ABM Treaty depends upon one's definition of the word 'deploy,' but if the purpose of limiting LPARs is to have an indicator of an intention to construct an ABM system, then logically, the lead time should be construed as detection time, and deployment should, as with the submarine missile launchers, be construed as any time after the radar is tested as such and becomes ready for operation. Although considered to be a violation of the most conclusive kind, this section shall argue that deployment is the point at which a violation should be charged, while any time after detection falls within the boundaries of 'potential violation' or 'notice of intent to violate,' rather than as a violation in itself. This would give both Parties the opportunity to make use of the Standing Consultative Commission as a forum in which private negotiation can take place over whether or not an activity represents a violation or an activity which, if continued could become a violation.
Although this seems to be the intention of the treaty, the issue of definition is extremely important. The choice to limit LPARs is based on their potential for use as ABM battle-management radars. LPARs, however, have other functions which fall outside the boundaries of the ABM Treaty. Any understanding of the specific terms of the ABM Treaty with respect to LPARs rests upon an understanding of the relation of particular specifications to the kinds of uses to which they can be put. That is to say, what are the characteristics held in common by LPARs for ABM battle management, for early-warning of ballistic missile attack, or for space tracking as national technical means of verification? The following table lists the characteristics required for each of the potential
Table 4.1 LPAR Functional Characteristics
ABM battle- mangnt Early warning Space- tracking Kras-
* Structural hardening against blast * *
* Hardening against Electromagnetic Pulse * *
* Independent power generation * *
* Underground facilities * *
* Frequency in low gigahertz *
* Frequency in low hundreds of megahertz * *
* Frequency in high hundreds of megahertz *
* Periphery location looking outwards *
* Southward orientation to face most space orbits *
Based on information derived from: Downey, Thomas J., Bob Carr, and Jim Moody. "Report from Krasnoyarsk." Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. November (1987):11-14.
functions of an LPAR, showing how the Krasnoyarsk radar compared with those characteristics.
This table points to the kinds of ambiguities that can arise when US assumptions about the required characteristics of a particular radar system are used to 'read' the intended use of a non-US system. Clearly, according to the table, the 'closest fit' of characteristics to function is with space tracking and NTM. The problems with that assessment are that the frequency is not optimised for space tracking (according to US experts, the frequency of 180 megahertz is too low for space tracking) and the radar faces almost directly away from the majority of space orbits. (Northeast, instead of South) and the radar is oriented toward the horizon, an orientation more suited to the detection of missiles at the earliest possible moment, whereas a space track radar looks directly up through the thinnest possible slice of atmosphere.475
The Krasnoyarsk radar case is important for several reasons. Firstly, of all the charges brought by the US against the Soviet Union of violation of the ABM Treaty, the Krasnoyarsk large phased-array radar is the most widely acknowledged, even, since 1989,476 by the then Soviets themselves. Secondly, this case raises significant issues regarding remarkably similar activities conducted by the United States at Thule in Greenland, and at Fylingdales Moor in the United Kingdom. Thirdly, although the reports and other writings surrounding the issue of arms control compliance, that raise the issue of Krasnoyarsk, take as their point of entry the discovery of the radar as the starting point for their narrative, a discourse analytic approach would not be satisfied with such sharp and clear beginnings. For a play to begin in medias res is fine for the encouragement of the willing suspension of disbelief, but politics is about the discourses that shape political reality; and arms control, as we continue to see, is very much about politics. Fourthly, what is particularly interesting about this case is the way in which, through the medium of the virtual space between states represented by the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) the Krasnoyarsk radar was made to acquire levels of meaning beyond that of a fairly plain trapezoidal concrete structure the size of the Great Pyramid at Giza, into an issue of sovereignty and of ideological Manachæism. Krasnoyarsk, over a period of years, and within a specific political context became a symbol of otherness for the US, that led weight to assumptions already held, in which belief systems were confirmed and boundaries maintained. Moreover, in order to show that events do not simply appear without context, without prior discursive structures being in place, this section shall bring together some relevant traces of those formations that made possible the rasing of Krasnoyarsk as an issue and as a sign.
Chapter three teased out two major themes: Carter's commitment to a world view of a world in flux. It was a complex world view that flew in the face of the modernist conceptions of linearity and progress. Partly as a reaction to the Realpolitik of Nixon and Kissinger's foreign policy, Carter's was a world view that valued diplomacy, that valued a commitment to security through arms control and the processes of dialogue based on his reading of the signals of détente established by and through the two Republican presidencies that preceded his own. That commitment and that vision was reflected in his administration's use of the Standing Consultative Commission to discuss and, where necessary to react to ambiguous compliance behaviour. During his term of office there were no unequivocal breaches of any legally binding arms control agreement. The other major theme, rendered explicit in the intertext on the rise of the Committee on the Present Danger, represented the reactionary and conservative force of modernism at its most dogmatic, leading to what has been characterised as "the irrational presidency."477 In the clash of world views between Carter and Reagan, what is often forgotten are the continuities, the longer cycles of defence capital acquisition and intelligence assets acquisition for example, that, in the Krasnoyarsk case, made possible the discovery of the Krasnoyarsk radar, and provided the institutional/discursive framework around which Krasnoyarsk as sign could be set in play.
Two sets of intelligence assets that are central to the Krasnoyarsk narrative are the development of the 'JUMPSEAT' radar 'ferret' satellites and the development and acquisition of photoreconnaissance imaging satellites. Their respective histories go back many years before the discovery of the Krasnoyarsk radar, yet the use of the two types in concert, in 1983, made possible the discovery of the Krasnoyarsk radar.
March 21, 1971, marked the launch of the first operational JUMPSEAT satellite. It was designed for the interception of Soviet ABM radar signals.478 The JUMPSEAT occupies a highly elliptical orbit with its apogee (highest point) of about 24,000 miles reached as it passes over the Arctic region. This not only allows the JUMPSEAT to remain over the Soviet Union for around eight or nine hours,479 but also, because the orbit is identical to the Satellite Data System (SDS) satellites [that relay intelligence data from imaging satellites], the Soviets can confuse the JUMPSEAT with a data relay platform.480
While photoreconnaissance satellites date back to the SAMOS ('Keyhole' or KH-1) series in the early 1960s, detailed imagery from orbit became finely honed with the advent of the Lockheed-designed KH-6 (operated by the CIA, rather than the US Air Force) which was a manoeuvrable, 'close-look' satellite, first launched in 1963 aboard a Thrust Augmented Thor. With orbits as low as 76 miles, excellent resolution was available, although at the price of short life-span (averaging just 5.3 days each.).
With the advent of the fourth generation KH-9 (Hexagon, more widely known as 'Big Bird'), the dual-function surveillance satellite had come of age. Primarily an 'area-survey' satellite, the KH-9 was made capable of close-look missions as well. With an impressive array of sensors, the image could be directed to infra-red sensors, multi-spectral scanner, thematic mapper and photo-multipliers for enhanced night vision.481 With image-splitting through the use of a second mirror, a three-dimensional effect could be produced, that would enhance the ability of analysts at the National Reconnaissance Office to determine the heights of buildings and the depths of holes. Central to all this was the Perkin-Elmer Cassegrain telescope, that had a focal length of about twenty feet (three metres), and a primary mirror, some six feet (two metres) in diameter.
The whole thing was made relatively compact by having a so-called 'folded' focal length, by which the light collected in the primary mirror was reflected, via a secondary mirror, through a hole in the primary mirror to the focal plane (see Figure 4.1). With the use of prisms and small mirrors the light at the focal plane could be redirected onto any of the array of sensors, providing multi-spectral scanning for greater discrimination of the target image.
Photographic images would be wound onto spools and later ejected in capsules from orbit to be collected by specially equipped aircraft as they parachuted to earth. Ground resolution, according to Burrows was in the order of one foot.482 It was this quality of resolution that allowed the US to discover the Krasnoyarsk radar under construction deep in Siberia, in 1983.483
Figure 4.1. Diagram of KH-9 telescope.
At some point, probably around the end of May, 1983, a the radar microwave frequency sensors aboard a JUMPSEAT satellite, (one of probably two in orbit at the time) collected suspicious radar test transmissions from a site in central Siberia. The signals would have been part of the preparation for the construction of a large phased-array radar, designed to test the atmospheric wave propagation properties of different radar wavelengths of a type suited for early warning. RADINT analysts at the National Security Agency's SIGINT complex at Fort Meade would have been alert to the fact that, if a large phased-array radar were undergoing preliminary site tests at a site as far inland as central Siberia, then it was possible that such a radar could, if deployed represent a potential violation of the ABM Treaty.
On June 20, 1983, a Big Bird (KH-9) satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, by a Martin-Marietta Titan 3D, into a 96-deg. inclined, elliptical orbit with a closest approach (perigee) of 163 km. (101 mi.) and an furthest reach (apogee) of 218 Km. (136 mi.).484 Image analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency's National Photographic Interpretation Centre located the new radar almost three weeks later in mid July.485
The radar was located near the village of Abalakova, in south-central Siberia, at a latitude of approximately 58.08 N. and longitude of 92.4E., near a spur line running north from the Trans Siberian Railroad. It is about 750 kilometres from the nearest Soviet border, and the radar is oriented away from the nearest border, that of Mongolia and towards the north-east where the next border is some 4600 kilometres away. This would enable it to detect Trident missiles launched from submarines in the Bering Sea or Gulf of Alaska. This has important implications for the ABM Treaty, in which Article VI(b) states that the Parties undertake:
not to deploy in the future radars for early warning of strategic ballistic missile attack except at locations along the periphery of its national territory and oriented outward. 486[emphasis mine].
Other relevant provisions of the ABM Treaty and Agreed Statements that refer to the deployment of large phased-array radars and that have been invoked in the case of the Krasnoyarsk radar have placed emphasis on its potential uses and on its specifications as a large phased-array radar, as these form indicators of the appropriate 'grammar' into which this radar can be situated in order to 'read off' various forms of violation, the specificity of which depends upon its technical capabilities.
Agreed Statement (F) of the ABM Treaty states:
The Parties agree not to deploy phased-array radars having a potential (the product of mean emitted power in watts and antenna area in square metres) exceeding three million, except as provided for in Articles III, IV and VI of the Treaty, or except for the purposes of tracking objects in outer space or for use as national technical means of verification.487
Its specifications, based on its dimensions and external similarities to other Soviet large phased-array radars (LPARs) suggest that its mean potential would exceed the limitations described in Agreed Statement F. The radar is reportedly around 100 metres in length and 33.8 metres high and similar in design to those at Pechora, Kiev and Komsomolsk. According to the estimates of the team that inspected the Krasnoyarsk site the radar would operate at a frequency in the order of 180 megahertz in the VHF range.488 This would limit its ability to discriminate between reentry vehicles and decoys and booster fragments, or to act as a guide for an ABM interceptor.489 Its design would allow a 120(o) azimuth (coverage fan).490 According to the US inspection team the structure was not blast hardened, being constructed from mortared cement blocks, nor was it electronically hardened, there being no sign of metal shielding, and the structure containing windows which would preclude electronic hardening against nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Although the assessments based on national technical means gave the external dimensions of the structures, the subsequent onsight inspection suggested that the Krasnoyarsk structure was in fact poorly configured for an ABM role.
Article III (b) of the ABM Treaty states:
Each Party undertakes not to deploy ABM systems or their components except that:
(b) within one ABM system deployment area having a radius of one hundred and fifty kilometres and containing ICBM silo launchers, a Party may deploy: (2) two large phased array ABM radars comparable in potential to corresponding ABM radars operational or under construction on the date of signature of the ABM Treaty in an ABM system deployment area containing ICBM silo launchers.491
Article IV provides that the Article III limitations shall not apply to ABM systems or their components used for development or testing, and located within current or additionally agreed test ranges. Article VI includes an undertaking by each Party not to give radars, other than ABM radars, capabilities to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory, and not to test them in an ABM mode.
The report by the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament (GAC) of 1983 "A Quarter Century of Soviet Compliance Practices Under Arms Control Agreements 1958-1983," a declassified summary of which was issued in October 1984, listed the Krasnoyarsk radar as a violation of the ABM Treaty Article VI(b) which limits the location and orientation of radar deployment
... by the construction of a large, phased-array radar not located on the periphery of the Soviet Union and not oriented outward, [violation duration:] 1981 to present.
...The design of the facility is substantially identical to another radar declared by the Soviets to be an early warning radar. The Soviets, however, have stated that the Krasnoyarsk radar is a 'space tracking' radar. All early warning radars can also perform limited 'space tracking' functions, and while this radar is no exception, its location and geometry are inappropriate for a dedicated space tracking radar.492
Under the provisions of Articles III, IV and VI of the ABM Treaty, LPARs may be deployed within permitted ABM deployment areas, within ABM test ranges, as early-warning radars deployed along the periphery of its national territory and facing outward, or for space tracking, or for national technical means of verification. At no point is there an agreed definition of the word 'deployed,' however, and the case against the Soviet Union in the charges of violation relating to the Krasnoyarsk radar hinge on the manner in which this term is defined. This section will return to this question later, but first it is important to examine the ways in which this case was handled by both Parties.
The United States raised the issue in the September 1983 round of the Standing Consultative Commission in Geneva, along with the question of Soviet tests of a solid-fueled ICBM493 (to be considered later). The US delegation stressed the similarity of the Krasnoyarsk radar to other permitted Soviet early warning radars and coupled with this the fact that, by virtue of its estimated operational frequency the radar would not be suitable for other permitted functions, as, for example, space tracking, and for these reasons, the United States declared the radar a violation of the ABM Treaty and called for it to be dismantled. The Soviet response was that the radar was for space tracking and was therefore not in violation of the ABM Treaty.
In the US Arms Control and Disarmament Association (ACDA) Annual Report 1985 ACDA argued that the Krasnoyarsk radar did not substantially contribute to existing Soviet capabilities for space tracking. Since most space tracking radars would need to look to the South, rather than the Northeast, and since Soviet capabilities were reasonably well serviced for space tracking equipment, it was argued that both the location and the orientation of the radar were neither suitable for spacetracking missions nor for national technical means of verification (NTM). Moreover, it was argued that the wave band in which it was designed to operate was considered to be more suited to ballistic missile detection and tracking. As the ACDA report concludes:
It closes the last remaining gap in Soviet coverage. It could have major significance if it is part of a large scale future Soviet ABM deployment. Together this radar and the five others like it form an arc of coverage from the Kola Peninsula in the northwest, around Siberia, to the Caucasus in the Southwest. We have concluded that the Krasnoyarsk radar is not for space tracking as claimed by the Soviet Union.494
Part of the initial concern was that the radar was seen to be in the same region as three of the six Soviet SS-18 ICBM fields and one SS-11 facility495, raising concern over whether the radar represented an attempt to provide battle management for a Soviet ABM system. It was conceivable that the Krasnoyarsk radar could detect launches of US ICBMs, combine the data with that gained from the Pechora radar to provide some limited triangulation and therefore a more accurate attack assessment than could be obtained from a single radar (see Figure 4.2). This led to concerns that this could be translated into better target acquisition and tracking for interceptor missiles. If this were the case, it was argued, that Krasnoyarsk radar would represent a substantial 'break-out' from the ABM Treaty if the Soviets should later opt to develop and deploy ABM interceptors.496
However, when considered in strategic terms, any gains claimed for the Krasnoyarsk radar are at best marginal in comparison with the same radar located at the periphery and with the same orientation. Its inland location represents a loss of several minutes of warning time of a missile launched from the northern Pacific, and this loss represents the important several minutes of warning time during the launch phase in which the incoming missile would present its largest radar profile. Moreover, since no major strategic targets are located forward of the area covered by the Krasnoyarsk radar, its usefulness for ABM target acquisition and tracking is doubtful.497
Some analysts have suggested that more prosaic and mundane considerations may have contributed to the siting of the Krasnoyarsk radar in its inland location. These being the not inconsiderable climatic characteristics of the northern Siberian periphery of the Soviet Union. William Durch, for example notes:
According to Article VI of the ABM Treaty, an early-warning radar with this orientation should have been located on the Pacific coast or in the outer Arctic reaches of Siberia. Terrain, climate and sheer inaccessability may have ruled out the latter location.498
The author's discussions with a political geographer499 revealed that to build a stable structure of the design and mass of the Krasnoyarsk radar requires a stable subsoil for the foundations of an extent largely unavailable east of Krasnoyarsk. As Duffy notes, the heat generated by the radar would be sufficient to melt the upper levels of permafrost, thereby rendering the foundations unstable.500 The Krasnoyarsk site marks the eastern boundary of continuous [year-round] permafrost of a prevailing thickness in excess of three hundred metres. The Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk boundaries are characterised by discontinuous permafrost, with a further inland belt of continuous permafrost of a prevailing thickness of less than three hundred metres. The argument concerning the relative costs of building on the two types of terrain is significant if the figures given by former air force general Boris T. Surikov, cited in Raymond Garthoff,501 are accurate. According to Surikov the radar at Krasnoyarsk was originally planned to be sited at Noril'sk to fill a gap in early-warning coverage, inland from the Arctic Ocean, but less further inland than the Pechora LPAR.
The cost of building on the permafrost, however, was estimated to be around a billion rubles (1979). By moving outside the permafrost zone, costs could be reduced to as little as one-third: around 350 million rubles.502
The furthest East for such a site was at Abalakova, between Yeniseysk and Krasnoyarsk (see map on previous page503). Moreover, as Duffy points out, a site much further north would have been remote from the rail transport infrastructure that has been associated with the construction of previous LPARs as, for example, at Pechora, Lyaki, Olenogorsk, Sary Shagan, and Mishelevka504
Strategically, the radar, representing a compromise for the Soviet Union, does not necessarily provide an indication of the level of treaty breakout that the Reagan administration's response held it to be. US analysts in 1984 noted:
A single, highly vulnerable radar installation is of only marginal importance in relation to any large-scale breakout from the ABM Treaty505
While in 1987 the Arms Control Association, in their analysis of the Reagan administration's report on Soviet non-compliance concluded that the Krasnoyarsk radar provides neither substantial battle-management capabilities nor does it fundamentally undercut the treaty's objectives in constraining the location of LPARs to prevent their being used in a battle-management role.506 The ACA concluded that:
The Krasnoyarsk radar appears to have been placed in its illegal inland location primarily to provide cost-efficient early warning and not to serve a battle management function in connection with a nationwide ABM system ... it would be of very little value as part of a nationwide defence ... it is vulnerable to direct attack and susceptible to degradation from nuclear blackout effects. ... it is not well suited for an ABM role because it does not cover the path of incoming US ICBMs because it is too far east and is pointing in the wrong direction.507
Figure 4.2. Estimated Soviet Radar Coverage Including Krasnoyarsk
[Map constructed by the author based on information in Duffy, Gloria.Compliance and the Future of Arms Control. Stanford: Stanford University and Global Outlook, 1988. p.106.]
On the United States' side, assessment of the extent to which, if any, the Krasnoyarsk radar represented a violation of the ABM Treaty was filtered through a set of reading practices, by which the specifications of the radar were set against the potential uses to which it could be put, and in what sense it constituted the violation with respect to the radar's capabilities as against the specific criteria laid down by the treaty.
The institutional technologies of the United States had photographed, noted, analysed and filed the radar. Its resemblances to other Soviet large phased-array radars had been noted. Its physical proximity to other ICBM fields was coupled with its notional proximity to the capabilities of ABM radars and noted. Its distance from the national boundary was placed alongside its distance from its potential to perform certain kinds of task. Its transformations from the type of radar that could be labeled 'permitted,' according to whether its function was determined to be for early-warning, space tracking, or ABM battle-management were taken into account. All of these established the Krasnoyarsk radar as discursive object above and beyond its mere Being in the form of a trapezoidal lump of cement. All of these had some bearing on the manner in which the Krasnoyarsk radar was raised as a subject for and of discussion, both inside the Standing Consultative Commission and outside, in Congressional Reports, Senate hearings, the Stanford Research Group and elsewhere.508 These formed the body of evidence used to determine, on the US side, that the Krasnoyarsk radar was indeed a violation of he ABM Treaty. However, on the basis of the SALT II usage of the term 'deployed' the balance of evidence suggests that the Krasnoyarsk radar, far from being an unequivocal violation was in fact either an example of the grey area known as 'ambiguous compliance behaviour' or it was at best an example of behaviour, which if continued may represent a potential violation in the future. In either event the issue was rightfully raised as an issue within the SCC, and, albeit with some external pressure from the US the issue could be said to have been settled within the SCC, thereby proving its value as a consultative body. This interpretation flies somewhat in the face of the hard liners who assert that the SCC has been a failure. Nevertheless, if one takes as the object of the ABM Treaty's limitation on LPARs, the setting in place of a provision which is adequately verifiable under the definition of the administrations from Nixon to Carter, such that potential breakout from the treaty could be discovered and raised with the other side before becoming operational and thereby militarily significant, then the Krasnoyarsk radar fits that description.
Politically there are problems with that, since there is no definition; in the treaty, in the agreed statements, or even in the unilateral statements concerning the proper use of the term 'deploy' within the confines of the ABM Treaty. Thus the hardliners in the Reagan administration were able to cite as violations activities that the Central Intelligence Agency had already argued were at best potential or ambiguous violations. The Krasnoyarsk radar was considered, in the President's reports to Congress on Soviet noncompliance with arms control treaties and in the report by the General Advisory Committee of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1983 (declassified version, 1984), to be a violation while still a very incomplete structure. Certainly its presence rated concern, and clearly there were enough elements of its construction that warranted its being raised in the Standing Consultative Commission as ambiguous compliance behaviour, but it was not yet a clear violation of the treaty because it never became operational, and even if it had, as we have seen, its utility in non-compliant roles would have been less than adequate. In many ways though, regardless of the actual strategic implications of compliance at the margins of arms control treaties, such as those represented by the Soviet Krasnoyarsk radar, are the questions relating to the manner in which such a technicality becomes a sign, and more than that, the embodiment of an ideology.
Examining the rhetoric that surrounded the major reports on Soviet non-compliance with arms control treaties from 1983-1986 and beyond, it is worth noting that, in the reports dealing with Soviet compliance, the compliance aspect is played down, the significance being given to potential or material breaches of arms control agreements. This is perhaps not altogether surprising, since the US has more at stake in the event of noncompliance than with compliance. Nevertheless, in seeking to present a 'balanced' report, one could reasonably expect observations on why the Soviet should comply with those treaties with which it has, in the view of the reports authors, complied. Instead, under the heading: "Patterns in Soviet Compliance Practices" in the GAC Report, the interpretation concludes that since 1958 the Soviet Union's actions:
... demonstrate a pattern of pursuing military advantage through selective disregard for its international arms control duties and commitments509
after allegations of "deliberate Soviet efforts to counter US national technical means of verification" the report goes on to state categorically that "US verification capabilities have not deterred the Soviets from violating arms control commitments." The report concludes with an attack on the SCC process for attempting to resolve compliance ambiguities outside of the political grandstanding that had, by 1981 come to characterise the US approach to arms control under the guidance of the Committee on the Present Danger. As the report notes:
... the near total reliance on secret diplomacy in seeking to restore Soviet compliance has been largely ineffective. The US record of raising its concerns about Soviet noncompliance exclusively in the Standing Consultative Commission and through various high level diplomatic demarches demonstrates the ineffectiveness of this process.510
That the SCC had been rendered largely ineffective by the extensive leaking and public posturing over alleged violations, causing the Soviet Union to raise the issue of SCC privacy in the SCC, did not seem to enter the calculations of the members of the GAC. By 1983 the arms control process had so completely bogged down that the Soviets had walked out of the negotiations on strategic and intermediate nuclear forces. Nevertheless, even with such strained relations the SCC continued to function with each side raising and discussing narrow technical issues pertaining to the SALT agreements.
The point here is that although the GAC report alleges material breaches for four SALT compliance issues that had previously appeared as non violations in the State Department report of 1978, the GAC report places the responsibility for these 'material breaches' in terms of a failure of the SCC to resolve these problems. The previous report, not only denied that there had been material breaches of the treaties but that "in every case [of a questionable practice raised by the US in the SCC] the activity has ceased, or subsequent information has clarified the situation and allayed our concern."511 Yet, we have seen in chapter two of this thesis that privacy of the proceedings, and even, in many instances of the outcomes of those proceedings, is crucial to its operation in order to prevent precisely the sort of political grandstanding embodied in the GAC Report.
The question remains as to the extent to which the political climate of the time influenced the extent to which the Krasnoyarsk radar was used and re-used as a sign of Soviet willingness to abrogate the terms of the treaty, and the extent to which it served the purposes of the US hard liners to construe this as a violation in order to push for their own abrogation or 'wide definition' of the ABM Treaty in order to pursue development of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), following Reagan's famous 'star wars' speech in 1983.
We have seen earlier how a particular lobby group, the Committee on the Present Danger had exerted a great deal of influence on rendering the Carter administration SALT II arms control program ineffective through a set of well coordinated media campaigns, and we have seen how this same group, which included Ronald Reagan amongst its members had helped the Reagan administration come to power on a platform of anti-Soviet ideology and rhetoric. When Reagan invoked the independence and bipartisanship512 of the General Advisory Committee on Arms control (GAC) to lend credibility to the charges of Soviet treaty violations and to the ineffectiveness of the SCC, one should perhaps note that of the twelve members of the GAC, nine, including the chairman, were members of the board of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD).513 Not surprisingly, the members of the GAC were themselves appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.514 The report produced by the GAC, unlike the reports submitted by President Reagan to Congress, were not the result of interagency clearance and agreement, and hence is not considered to carry the same weight as the Presidential reports. Nevertheless, that President Reagan invoked their independence from the administration in order to assert their 'objectivity,' somewhat stretches the concept of independence.
The point that was missed by the General Advisory Committee is that the SCC has no powers of enforcement and it cannot impose sanctions. Its success, therefore is entirely dependent upon the political will of the treaty partners to negotiate solutions to the problems that ambiguous compliance behaviours impose upon the treaty regime. As I have pointed out in Chapter two of this thesis, the US and Soviet Commissioners are dependent upon their instructions from their respective leaders. Graybeal and Krepon note that during times of friction the negotiation latitude allowed the Commissioners to resolve disputes tends to become narrower. The same holds true for frictions within the US administration, thus, as we have seen before, the SCC operates its boundaries, not merely between states, but also within them. As Graybeal and Krepon suggest:
When friction within the executive branch is pronounced, instructions tend to become increasingly rigid. If, for example, government agencies cannot agree on a proposed course of action, the US Commissioner at the SCC is not free to suggest one to his Soviet counterpart. What flexibility the US Commissioner has relates to his choice of tactics to implement negotiating instructions.515
When, in the same year that the US raised the issue of the Krasnoyarsk radar, the Soviets raised similar complaints regarding the so-called 'modernisation' of US LPARs at Thule and Fylingdales Moor, the US displayed precisely the same intransigence over the correctness of their own position as the Soviets had, and more, since the modernisation has gone ahead without regard for the views of many analysts that these radars constituted a greater contravention of the ABM Treaty, than had the Krasnoyarsk radar.
Thule and Fylingdales Moor Radars
Significant questions are raised by the 'modernisation' of the radars at Thule, in Greenland, and Fylingdales Moor, in the UK. These questions concern, not merely whether or not they were in fact technical violations of the ABM Treaty, but more importantly, from the perspective of the SCC is the question of response to 'violations' of this kind. Whereas the Soviets ultimately 'backed down' over the Krasnoyarsk radar issue, the US has not been so forthcoming with respect to its two LPAR radars that are not on the periphery of US territory.
This section shall argue that, in terms of US approaches to evaluating the effectiveness of the SCC the key issue is not necessarily the Soviet Krasnoyarsk radar, which ultimately was declared a technical violation of the ABM Treaty and which, at the time of this writing, is in the process of being dismantled, but rather, if the SCC is to be considered in any sense 'ineffective' it is over the issue of the Thule and Fylingdales Moor LPARs. Moreover, this issue raises the question of how one is to define the term 'effectiveness' with respect to the SCC. This is the central question for this section as it concerns the politics and ideology of treaty compliance more than any narrowly defined technicality resulting from inconsistent definition of the basic terms of the treaty. The Soviet view of SCC, based on Graybeal and Krepon (1985) and on the author's interview with a Soviet arms control expert (1991) holds that its effectiveness rests on the degree to which the SCC functions as a conduit for communication between governments, and not on the ability of the SCC to 'resolve' disputes. This view falls more closely in line with the parameters under which the SCC was first established (See the MOU concerning Regulations of the SCC in Chapter two).
The issue of the Thule and Fylingdales Moor LPARs rests on the definition of the term 'modernisation' which was invoked by the US as justification for their construction. Their stated intention was to replace two conventional, mechanically steered early warning radars that had been in existence since the late 1950s.516 According to Zimmerman they had been planned to be replaced with updated versions of the same technology, that is to say, with modern, mechanically steered conventional radars.
That these radars had specific drawbacks over the new type of phased-array radar led, in 1979 and 1980, to consideration of replacing these mechanically steered radars with the new LPARs.517 The benefits of LPARs over conventional mechanically steered radars were threefold:
* that they operated with electronic speed,
* that they could track multiple targets and
* their lack of moving parts rendered them less susceptible to mechanical breakdown under adverse weather conditions.
The drawbacks at that time were considered to be the long lead time (the primary reason for limiting LPARs in the ABM Treaty), their high cost, and, according to Lt. General Kelly H. Burke in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee, "potential ABM Treaty conflicts."518 Clearly, the Carter administration was concerned to uphold the letter of the ABM Treaty, even if it meant forgoing the benefits of LPAR technology for Ballistic Missile Early Warning Systems (BMEWS). Just three years later, under Reagan, when the time came to call for tenders for the upgrading of the Thule and Fylingdales Moor radars, the same considerations held a different priority.
Reagan had come to power under an anti-SALT banner, and with open criticism of the way in which Carter had managed the evidence of alleged Soviet violations of the SALT Treaties.519 By 1983, as the rhetoric of the second Cold War was being fed with accusations of Soviet violations of SALT and other arms control agreements, the contract for the 'modernisation of the Thule and Fylingdales Moor radars was let to the Raytheon Company, for a PAVE-PAWS-style large phased-array radar, the AN/FPS 115. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) comprises two CYBER 174-12 computers which perform the tasks of beam steering, the storage and display of data, and post-mission data reduction and analysis. The Thule radar, like the PAVE PAWS, has two circular planar phased arrays approximately 30 metres in diameter, inclined about 20(o) from the vertical, yielding a combined coverage of the two beams of about 85(o) elevation and 240(o) azimuth, and a range of around 4,800kms these will replace the older AN/FPS-50 and AN/FPS-49a radars. The Fylingdales Moor radar, when complete will be a modified AN/FPS-115 with three faces, rather than the usual two, yielding an azimuth of 360(o), replacing the older AN/FPS-50 and AN/FPS-49 radars. The Thule radar became operational in 1987, while work continues on the Fylingdales Moor site.520
Article IX of the ABM Treaty states:
To assure the viability and effectiveness of this Treaty, each Party undertakes not to transfer to other states, and not to deploy outside its national territory, ABM systems or their components limited by this Treaty.521
The issue of Thule and Fylingdales, with respect to the ABM Treaty is that, being located, respectively, in Greenland and the United Kingdom, neither of these radars is located on the periphery of the United States, nor are they oriented outward as required by Article VI(b) of the ABM Treaty. Moreover, the only radars excluded from this provision are the original BMEWS radars. The US argues that these new LPARs are just sophisticated modernisations, rather than total replacements (which would not be permitted under the provisions of the ABM Treaty). Zimmerman sums up the problem, arguing that the Thule and Fylingdales Moor radars are not mere 'modernisations' of old radars, rather:
They incorporate entirely new technologies and wholly different operating principles, a fact not missed by the ABM Treaty, which clearly treats [LPARs] differently from other types of radars. Nor will the new radar at Fylingdales directly replace the old one. It will be built on a different site, and the old radar will operate concurrently for at least a year after the new one is finished.522
This interpretation of 'deploy,' implying a definition after the style of the SALT II definition of deployment of submarine launched ballistic missiles; such that deploy means after 'sea trials,' flies in the face of the definition that the Reagan administration operated with respect to the Soviet Krasnoyarsk radar.
At issue here, too, is that of the definition of the word 'modernise.' According to the Stanford Research Group's 1988 report, the Reagan administration argues that:
... the ABM Treaty generally permits modernisation. Proponents of this view note, for example, that Article VII explicitly approves modernisation of components or systems that are identified as primarily associated with ABM systems. The United States argues that the BMEWS radars were originally designed as and continue to be early-warning facilities. The ABM Treaty is silent with respect to modernisation of early-warning systems. Therefore, the Reagan administration argues, since the treaty generally permits modernisation of permitted systems and does not specifically prohibit the modernisation of BMEWS, the LPARs at Thule and Fylingdales are entirely legitimate.523
However, in the case of Fylingdales Moor the LPAR is being built at a different site from the older AN/FPS-50 and '49 radars. This would seem to stretch the notion of modernisation to its elastic limit at the very least.
This debate hinges on how one is to read the material texts of radar deployment and of LPAR deployment in particular. It rests upon whether one is to accept the US Reagan administration's reading of the Thule and Fylingdales Moor radars as a metonymic transformation - more of the same, just more refined - or whether one reads the Thule and Fylingdales Moor LPAR deployments as a metaphoric transformation, in which case one stands-in for the other - a process of replacement while invoking a different, if parallel, discursive order. Using the [literally] concrete examples of the deployment strategies of large phased array radars, it is possible to see, as with any other cultural artifact, such as a statue, elements of the world-view or épisteme within which these artifacts were and are produced.
In the same way, the dispute over the Krasnoyarsk radar represents the same sets of choices within the 'grammar' of arms control. The question of compliance with the ABM Treaty centred upon whether the Krasnoyarsk radar represented a metonymic transformation of the concept of early-warning radar, extending the notion of territorial boundary to take account of technical problems of siting, or whether the radar represents a transformation on the metaphoric plane in which the radar is construed as an early-warning token standing-in for an ABM battle-management radar. The choice between these positions is ultimately political rather than technical.524
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