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1 Reykjavik and Beyond: implications of Deep Reductions in Strategic Nuclear Arsenals and the Future Direction of Arms Control Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan appealed to scientists to make "nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete." He said: "Is it not worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war?" On January 15, 1986, General Secretary MikhaiT Gorbachev made a worldwide appeal for the abolishment of nuclear weapons. Both leaders based their statements on a common conviction that the doctrine of nuclear deterrence could not be a permanent basis for our security. Recently, during the large meeting of dignitaries and scientists on February 14, 1987, Gorbachev stated: "There is probably no one in this hall or elsewhere who considers nuclear weapons innocuous; however, quite a few people sincerely believe them an evil necessary to prevent a greater evil war." He then continued: "We would have to admit that the nuclear safeguard is not fail-safe or of endless duration." Thus, the two leaders appear to agree on the ends in this matter, but they drastically diverge on the means. The Committee on international Security and Arms Control (CISAC) of the National Academy of Sciences devoted a seminar at the Academy's 1985
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2 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND annual meeting to a discussion of whether dedicated strategic defenses deployed against ballistic missiles could meet President Reagan's objective. The general conclusion of that seminar and the emerging consensus of almost all informed individuals in the technical com- munity is that unilaterally deployed strategic defense does not constitute either a feasible or stable path toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. However, there remains some disagreement as to what role, if any, strategic defenses should play when we consider lesser objectives, or in the event that they were deployed by mutual consent after large reductions on both sides. At Reykjavik the two leaders reached consensus again on the goal of eliminating some categories of nuclear weapons. There appeared to be disagreement on which categories were to be eliminated and there continued to be major disagreement on strategic defense. After the meeting the U.S. position was that in 10 years strategic ballistic missiles should be eliminated; the Soviet position called for the elimination of all strategic nuclear weapons. What was actually agreed to during the meeting on this subject remains to some extent contentious and at this point possibly not relevant. What this dialogue has done, however, is to stimulate more intensive deliberation within the military establishment, among the United States and its allies, and within that part of the intellectual community concerned with strategic matters on which paths might be followed toward drastic reductions of nuclear weapons systems. It is somewhat paradoxical that, whereas the arms control community has dedicated considerable effort to analyzing and generally criticizing strategic defense, little has been done to study the more customary path to arms control; that is, limiting, decreasing, and eventually eliminating certain categories of weapons. Analysts have stayed clear of really facing the possibility of major success along this road; in other words, the community has considered the possibility of making nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete" through defenses and most have found the concept wanting, but it has not analyzed the possibility of achieving success along the direction of the traditional path of arms control. This seminar is dedicated to exploring that latter direction as triggered by the deliberations at Reykjavik. Let me warn you from the outset not to expect any ringing declarations or the identification . .
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IMPLICA TIONS OF DEEP RED UC TIONS of clear solutions. Although the problem is to some extent tractable to a level of arms reductions that goes much further than those now on the bargaining table in Geneva, it is difficult to foresee the total elimination of nuclear weapons from this earth without drastic changes in the international order. The reason for this somewhat pessimistic conclusion lies in the nature of nuclear weapons. It is not based on any particular strategic or political doctrine or policy; neither does it depend on any particular form of social organization as long as sovereign states remain. Nuclear weapons have increased by a factor of over one million the amount of explosive power that can be concentrated into a weapon of a given size and weight. Thus, the delivery and explosion of even a quite small number of nuclear weapons can wreak unspeakable havoc. As discussed in previous seminars, this has not only greatly tilted the traditional balance between offense and defense in favor of the offense, but it has also made the power of even a tiny fraction of the worId's existing offensive arsenals extremely large. These two factors have the consequence that, however distasteful or even immoral the so-called "doctrine" of nuclear deterrence may be to some, one has to conclude that, considering the size of today's nuclear stockpiles, it is not really a doctrine but a physical fact beyonc! the reach of political authority to deny. Therefore, the context of the following discussion is that mutual deterrence will be a fact of life for the foreseeable future but that a great deal can be done to decrease both the burdens and dangers of nuclear armament and nuclear war. Last year's annual meeting seminar dealt with one facet of the problem that is at some level independent of the nature of the arsenals themselves: crisis management in the nuclear age. Today's seminar examines the path toward deep reductions of nuclear weapons. Although the Reykjavik Summit has provided the incentive for analyzing this question in greater depth, the meeting had a mixed outcome. It broke up in discord on the matter of strategic defense, and there were no documented specific agreements. Yet both leaders, for political reasons of their own, declared the meeting a success after a brief period of apparent dejection. Again, in the words of Gorbachev during the February 17, 1987, gathering of luminaries,
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4 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND "It was not a success, it was a breakthrough a momentous opportunity to embark on the path leading to a nuclear weapon-free world was glimpsed." Statements within the West were less mon- olithic. Some Defense Department spokesmen attacked the "nuclear- free" concept outright and European leaders sucldenly found them- seIves confronted by a possible folding up of the nuclear umbrella, which would leave them with a more uncertain future determinecl by the balance of conventional forces. Let me review briefly the actual accomplishments and nonaccom- plishments from Reykjavik, using what ~ might call a "score sheet" of the deliberations. As shown in Figure I, the results from Reykjavik can be categorized into three essential segments: I. Agreement on limiting or eliminating intermediate nuclear forces in Europe ant] reducing central strategic systems by what is billed to be 50 percent but that is actually somewhat less. This program is to be accomplished fully in 5 years. 2. To reduce "something" to zero by the end of a 10-year period, whether that something is ballistic missiles, according to the U.S. version, or strategic nuclear weapons, according to the Soviet version. 3. Proposals on strategic defenses from the two sicles, resulting In unresolved disagreement at the end of the meeting. The first set of agreements is generally billed as a success, although one should recall that a great deal remained uncliscussec3 or only partly discussed at Reykjavik. There was agreement on basic num- bers. In particular, the Soviets accepted what was originally the U. S. "zero-zero" proposal for zero intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) cleployment in Europe, with each side retaining 100 warheads that could be deployed within the United States and East Asia, respec- tively. (Both sides have since agreed not to retain the 100 TNF missiles outside of Europe.) Progress was made on agreements for the reduction of central strategic systems, in particular with respect to the hitherto controversial issue of how to count nuclear weapons on strategic bombers. What was left were verification issues, sea- launched cruise missiles, and the incorporation of the fate of shorter- range missiles in the INF agreement. At the time of the Reykjavik meeting the Soviets insisted that progress along all these lines should
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5 IMPLICA TIONS OF DEEP RED UC TIONS REPORTED "AGREEMENT" OPEN ISSUES Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) No INF delivery vehicles in Europe; 100 warheads permitted elsewhere Verification details Shorter-range missiles / 1,600 Strategic delivery Strategic Arms vehicles (cut from 2,400) 6,000 Warheads cut from R e c I u c t i o n s T a l k s 1 0 , 0 0 0 ~ S u b c a t e g o r ~ e s In 5 ears Counting rules for Y . Submar~ne-launched cruise weapons on strategic missiles bombers How to get there? . Verification? Zero strategic weapons or . . . Conventional balance? In 10 years zero ballistic missiles Aircraft, cruise missiles not ~ specified Comprehensive Start talking again No CTB until ballistic Test Ban (CTB) missiles eliminated (United States) \ _ _ Staging? Verification? U.S. POSITION SOVIET POSITION Strategic Defense "New" interpretation of Laboratory work only, and Initiative (SDI) ABM treaty (permits (?) traditional testing and interpretation of ABM development) treaty, such as testing from fixed sites Abrogate ABM treaty in Discuss future of ABM 10 years; deploy ABM treaty in 10 years; treaty system if developed still in force FIGURE 1 The Reykjavik "score sheet." be linked to an agreement on ballistic missile defense, and shortly after Reykjavik they deepened their commitment to that linkage. Only the subsequent agreement by the Soviets to unlink consideration of INF from limits on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) has led to the recent discussions that are viewed with so much hope by the woricl and may result in a signed TNF treaty by the end of 1987. The SDI discussions were totally unproductive. I consider the U. S. position to be essentially a move toward destroying the
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6 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND antiballistic missile (ABM) treaty. We agrees! with the Soviets to abide by the treaty for 10 years; that is, not to invoke for a decade the abrogation provisions spelled out in it. However, although this was not explicitly stated, we asserted the right to live within the treaty strictures using the so-called broad interpretation, which permits unlimited testing and development of weapons in space. Moreover, according to our position, the ABM treaty would be definitely abrogated after 10 years, whereas according to the Soviet position the continuation of the treaty after 10 years would be a subject of discussion. Because as a practical matter deployment of space-basecT ABM weapons realistically could not be accomplished for 10 years at any rate, the practical consequence of the U.S. position, had it been accepted, would have been an immediate abrogation of the ABM treaty. The Soviet position has been reported as one of wishing to strengthen the ABM treaty by restricting research and development work to the laboratory only. There remains some ambiguity as to whether the wore! "strengthen" used by the Soviets really meant to modify the treaty or to support it firmly in its traditional form. There is also ambiguity as to whether the word "laboratory" is meant to restrict experimentation to the strictly "under root?' type or whether it would include, for instance, "laboratories" in space or some other, more generic interpretation. Trying to define how the provisions of the ABM treaty in its traditional interpretation apply specifically to various technologies remains a major challenge to the U.S.-USSR dialogue. Introclucing the broad interpretation, or what the United States euphemistically calls the "legally correct" interpretation, would destroy the assumptions on which the U.S. Senate based its ratification process and contradicts the statements and testimony of the U.S. participants in the negotiations and the understanding that has been maintained since 1972. The discussions on the total elimination of"something" nuclear bear witness to the parties' lack of preparation for the summit. Clearly, this was neither the time nor the place to reach an agreement on something as dramatic as zero nuclear ballistic missiles, or even zero strategic nuclear delivery systems, without prior consultation with the Allies, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Congress. Not surprisingly, the resultant agreement has drawn protests from all of
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7 IMPLICA TIONS OF DEEP RED UC TIONS these constituencies, and spokesmen for the White House have stated that they would "deemphasize" that subject in future talks with the Soviets. Nevertheless, something very positive was achieved as a result of these zero discussions: public dialogue of quite drastic reductions has been made respectable. Clearly, the objections voiced by the Allies, Congress, the academic strategic community, and even spokesmen within the administration have a sound basis. Yet these objections should be discussed and examined on their merits. There are indeed many questions associated with deep reductions of central strategic forces. For example, there is the resulting increased role of the remaining shorter-range nuclear weapons in Europe. There is the question of verification; that is, whether or not relatively small clandestine deployments would have great leverage. There is the question of whether increasing the role of strategic defenses might destabilize the situation if the offensive balance is sustained at Tower force levels. There is the issue of the conventional force balance in Europe, which would come more into the forefront if the nuclear umbrella- the last recourse in case of threatened defeat—is no longer in place. There is the problem of the nuclear forces of the Allies and China, which would become more prominent as the superpowers' arsenals were reduced. Not only do these questions come to the forefront as central strategic nuclear forces are reduced, but the basic concepts of deterrence also require reexamination. This should not be viewed as a problem but rather as a challenge such a reexamination is long overdue. Our basic concepts of deterrence have drifted over the last decades. Originally one would consider an opponent to be deterred if by attacking first, it would face "unacceptable damage" to its society through retaliation by the surviving forces of its adversary. Doctrines then shifted to the "flexible response," which implied that retaliation would not require an all-or-nothing strike but could be tailored in magnitude to the situation faced. Flexible response gave way to "selective targeting," which meant deterrence by threatening to use a small number of sorties that would permit very selective attacks on fixed enemy military or industrial targets. The concept has changed still further to the requirement that deterrence deny the opponent, after it attacked, the opportunity to continue the war; in
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8 REYKJA INK AND BEYOND other words, a seconc! strike would have to be strong enough to destroy the opponent's war-making potential. This progression of doctrines requires translation into actual military planning; in regard to the potential uses of strategic nuclear forces, such a translation means the establishment of target lists. The target lists in turn are translated into requirements for strategic nuclear strike delivery systems in a somewhat arbitrary process. One of the fundamental reasons why we have been unable to answer the question "When is enough enough?" to the satisfaction of the military constituencies is the evolution of such doctrines, all in the name of deterrence. Deterrence is a state of mine! and is not based on specifiable physical facts. It assumes that a rational clecisionmaker would not be tempted to initiate a nuclear war in time of crisis or if he or she sees an evolving uncontrollable threat. Yet there can be and is a wide range of judgment as to what it wouIc! take to deter the opponent under such circumstances, even if you assume that the leaclers of the opposing nation are rational. If you go beyond that ant! assume that the opponent's leaders are not rational, then the concept of deterrence becomes totally indefinable. The levels of forces required for deterrence vary drastically depending on which of the abovementioned interpretations of de- terrence you accept. Under the earlier definitions of deterrence, it was argued, and ~ believe reasonably, that the potential of 30 million- 50 million dead wouicl be adequate deterrence; yet the nuclear weapons unleashed from only a single Trident submarine against major Soviet cities would have just that effect. Flexible response leacis to somewhat larger force requirements but mainly challenges command, control, and decision-making bodies. Denying the ability to continue the war is fundamentally an open-ended prescription for additional requirements. Few words in the military jargon have been abused as much as the term "requirement." One hears, for instance, such comments as, "If we reduce our forces from the present 10,000-plus strategic nuclear weapons to the 6,000 weapons agreed to at Reykjavik, then only 75 percent of our 'required' targets can be struck." Anyone familiar with the targeting situation knows that lists include many potential targets of progressively decreasing military significance. In a real way there continues to be a symbiotic relationship between
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9 IMPLICA TIONS OF DEEP RED UC TIONS requirements and the available weapons systems military targeting requirements leacI to the acquisition of new weapons, anc] the existence of new military delivery systems leacis to a search for new targets. Thus, one of the major benefits of facing the prospect of drastic reductions wouict be an examination of just such targeting . . . . . priorities anc ~ strategic c .octrlnes. If there were fewer weapons available for deterrent purposes, fewer weapons couIc} be cleclicatec] to missions anc! targets that are superfluous ancl in fact dangerously clestabilizing to the funciamental concept of cleterrin~ the onnonent ,- . . . . trom 1nltlatlng nuc. ear war. ~ . . . ... . ~ 1 1 In ~~bA~ S ce~lneratlons on this question, we have carried out numerical stucties on purely countermilitary exchanges to examine the retaliatory potential remaining if the current number of strategic weapons was reclucec! to the 6,000 warheads agreed to at ReYkiavik , , or by another factor of 2, which might be an example of a more drastic regimen of cuts. Quite apart from the other issues aIreacly cited, this lower level is likely to cleny coverage of some military targets now incluclec! in a scenario intenclect to cleny the opponent the opportunity to continue fighting the war. Yet when one examines, even at the 3,000-warheac} level, the collateral civilian cteaths that wouIct result in this type of intenclecI, purely antimilitary exchange, one obtains numbers in the many tens of millions. Thus, one may legitimately ask: "Is the decision faced by the national leaclership whether and how to retaliate against nuclear attack really that different whether one lives within an 'unacceptable damage,' 'flexible response,' 'selective targeting,' or 'clenial of continued war-fighting' doctrine?" Even more important may be whether the willingness of national leaclers to initiate nuclear war in the face of certain retaliation IS really that clepenclent on the perceived doctrine that the opponent might follow. In short, have we not really "cloctrinecI" ourselves into progressively increasing military requirements for deterrence without examining whether this makes military sense, quite apart from the basic inhumanity of this line of thinking? A reexamination of these questions is essential if meaningful discussions on drastic cuts are to flow from the Reykjavik experience. One shouIc! now ciare to inquire what changes in strategic thought anct even in the international orcler are requires! to make drastic cuts acceptable. This seminar is clecticatecI to the examination of the
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10 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND totality of these issues. Let me say again that the audience should have no illusion that the speakers have answers to these many questions or that a clear message will emerge from this discussion. However, T sincerely hope that this seminar will play a significant role in adding an independent, reasonable voice to supplement the chorus demanding a world moving toward freedom from nuclear weapons.
Representative terms from entire chapter: