Center for Strategic Decision Research


Defense by Other Means: Status of the Nunn-Lugar Program

The Honorable Harold P. Smith, Jr.
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense of the United States

To use General Joulwan's artful phrase, despite the kind introduction by General Curtin, I am a simple implementer of very key programs. And I will not attempt to surpass the eloquence that I have heard in this gathering in this historic city. This is the city to which Rudolph II brought de Brahe and Kepler to study and work with the court in the early 17th century. As I hope you all know, that set the stage for the scientific revolution. To a scientist such as myself, this is a city where it started. When Isaac Newton said the reason he could see so far was that he stood on the shoulders of giants, the giants, in fact, were here. And it was Prague that grew them. So I pay my obeisance to this wonderful capital city, and I thank you for giving me the chance to come here.

What I am going to talk about is defense by other means. We have already noted that an expanding NATO is a new form of defense, a new form of security, for Europe. President Constantinescu said that security was equal to prosperity. There is another dimension. Security is also equal to cooperation with one's former adversaries. What I want to do is to present a new form of defense for Europe, as Secretary Perry said, "defense by other means," in which Europe can, should, and indeed must play a greater role. I will attempt to show why.

What I will first do is give you the status of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. I will quickly tell you what the United States has done, is doing, and, in fact, plans to do. And then I will try to show a few examples where member-states' help is badly needed. Ambassador Robert Hunter, last year at this gathering in Warsaw, said, "We must also determine what countries must do to become real allies--producers, and not just consumers, of security, when they join the Alliance." And of course I will make some suggestions today. The point is, there is a cost to being a member of NATO--a cost, when paid, that enhances the security of us all.

The Nunn-Lugar Bill was first passed in 1991. It was an extremely complicated bill, and it remains so today. To carry out the dictates of the bill demands lengthy negotiations within the bureaucracy of the United States, and then it demands lengthy negotiations within the bureaucracy of Russia, and then it demands notification and agreement from the United States Congress. It is the best example I have ever found of Churchill's observation of America: "The Americans always get it right--after they have tried every conceivable alternative."

Allegedly, the program got off to a slow start in 1991, and, indeed, it did. The bill provided only for authorizations of $800 million for the first two years, but with no appropriations. That meant that Secretary Cheney, at the time, had the dubious pleasure of convincing the various constituents at the Pentagon that they should give up improvements to quality of life, peacekeeping, improved infrastructure, better housing, research and development, procurement, etc., in order to assist their former enemies, the Russians and the 3 other nuclear states, Kazakstan, Belarus, and Ukraine. Needless to say, Secretary Cheney moved cautiously. In fact, only $23 million of the $800 million available during the Bush administration was even obligated. It did, indeed, get off to a slow start.

But this is a new administration. This is the Clinton administration, and then-Deputy Secretary Perry made it vividly clear to me when I was sworn into office in June, 1993, that this program must move, and it must move quickly--and indeed it has. Now, some four years later, we have notified and have the agreement of the Congress to spend almost $2 billion. We have actually obligated, that is, have under contract, well over $1 billion. Congress, indeed, has been very generous. And as I start to show you what $1 or $2 billion buys, I think you will agree with me that Senator Dirksen was wrong. He said, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money." Nonsense! We have done some wonderful things with that billion dollars.

For example, there are three fewer nuclear states in the world today: Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. They have all agreed, independently and severally, to return their nuclear warheads to Russia. There are many reasons for that, but a significant reason was the willingness of the United States to provide the funds for the safe transport of those weapons, and to destroy the vehicles, the silos, that remained behind. Step one, then, to create three fewer nuclear powers, is well worth a billion dollars.

When those warheads were being moved within Russia, under the 12th Main Directorate, we used super-containers built by the British. We have also provided rail cars, computers, emergency equipment and training because we wanted to make sure that those weapons arrived and arrived safely. The cooperation with the Russians was a joy to behold.

But let us continue to watch the flow of those weapons. Some are being dismantled, and will end up at a place called Mayak. There the United States has contracts with Bechtel to build a storage facility to hold approximately 12,500 warheads. The walls are rising now, thanks to the leadership of Bechtel, and thanks to their ability to hire Russian subcontractors, which means jobs in Russia--hard currency, paid-every-two-weeks. When those warhead components begin arriving, they will be safely stored, and they will be subject to transparency measures. If indeed we proceed to a START III, which includes stockpile transparency measures, what we are learning in Mayak will be of considerable value.

Let me return, though, to those nuclear warhead storage sites that I mentioned, with over 10,000 nuclear weapons, both tactical and strategic. I posit that this is possibly the greatest source of nuclear proliferation in the world today. Those weapons are guarded by loyal soldiers who are, unfortunately, underpaid, sometimes not paid, underfed, and not well housed. The morale may or may not be good, but one can see that it is a fruitful field for people who may have a million dollars, who might want one or two or three of those weapons. There have been no mistakes so far, but we--we, NATO; we, the United States; we, Russia--cannot afford to let anything but the finest security be present at those sites. Therefore, the Nunn-Lugar Program is providing this day to the Russians cameras, computer inventory, personnel-reliability programs, physical security enhancements, anything we can think of and the Russians can think of, to secure those weapons. We will be planning all this at a place called Sergiev-Posad. Many of you know it as Zagorsk, a wonderful city with 11 different monasteries and cathedrals, but also, I am pleased to say, shortly with one site where the Americans and Russians are training the troops who guard those weapons with the various technologies that we can bring to the scene. Will the Americans ever be able to go out to the site and assist in the actual guarding? I doubt it. But we have found a way to convince ourselves and the Congress that the equipment is being used for the purposes intended, and that the Russians are truly appreciative of what we are bringing to them.

Let us turn to the delivery vehicles we promised to destroy in the three now no-nuclear states and in Russia as well. Secretary Perry and I have personally been to the Engels Air Base, and we have seen American equipment chopping up bombers, piles of jet engines and propellers. I was with Secretary Perry at Pervomaysk in Ukraine, on a cold winter day, 30-knot winds, and we successfully withdrew an SS-19 missile from its silo. I have a wonderful photograph of that scene signed by Bill Perry. He describes it as "a moment in history." And he is right. I have a better photo, which shows that missile being transported across the winter waste of the Ukrainian plains. And today, if you go to that silo, you will find that it is not there, that in fact there are sunflowers growing there--sunflowers being a cash crop in Ukraine. The Americans made good on our promise. We have removed the warheads; we have removed the missile; we have destroyed the silo, we have returned the land to the purposes for which it was intended.

Or take the case of Surovatikha in the Ural Mountains, where one of the finest rocket engines of all time, the SS-18 liquid-rocket engine, is being eliminated. I have stood with the colonel who oversees the storage and maintenance of engines, while we put it into a meat grinder that would have pleased James Bond in the movie Goldfinger. And coming out the back end of that meat grinder is an SS-18 engine--although it is really just a cubic foot of pressed metal, thoroughly destroyed, never to be used again.

Or consider the solid-rocket motor contract that we have just awarded to Lockheed-Martin. We will destroy--we will help the Russians destroy--almost 17 kilotons of solid propellant that formerly was in the SS-24 , SS-25, and naval missile, the SS-N-20. Lockheed-Martin will do that as the integrating contractor. I want you to note the steady progression here from an order-book mentality, where we simply ask our Russian colleagues, "What do you need? Rail cars? Geiger counters?" And we provided them. Now I am talking about an integrating contractor--a contractor with the skills of a Lockheed-Martin--that goes in, designs and organizes the plants, hires the subcontractors, again, thereby providing honest, good-paying jobs to the local community. So we have gone from the order-book to the general contractor to the integrating contractor, and I think we are going to now take another step.

There are three yards where the Russians built some of the finest submarines in the world: Bolshoi Kamen, Murmansk, and a place called Severodvinsk. Severodvinsk is a company town. Its population is constant, but it is not getting any money. It is supposed to be dismantling the Russian submarines, and indeed they are, at a rate of about one per year, using American equipment. I have even met with the mayor of that town. We could in the future negotiate a contract in which the Americans as a prime contractor will be allowed to organize the yard, form subcontracting teams, and, we think, improve the efficiency by a factor of four. At that time, the workers who are currently underpaid or not paid will be fully paid, with hard currency, on time, and will be removing strategic missile submarines at four times the rate previously. So you can see we have now gone from integrating contractor to turn-key to, in fact, plant manager.

The nice thing about this is that the Russians are clearly admiring and learning the kind of technology that our prime contractors bring to the scene. More importantly, trust has been building over these four years as we have gone from the order-book mentality to that of the integrating contractor. That trust is going to pay great dividends in the years ahead.

So the question is, what role can the NATO member states play? New members and old members--what role? And the answer is, any role you please. Simple, bilateral relationships will work just fine. The United States, for obvious reasons, needs to be kept informed. As an example, the Germans have provided the wherewithal to destroy eleven silos in Ukraine. Those eleven silos are near populated areas where the local codes do not allow our explosive technologies to be used to destroy them. Without our knowledge, the Ukrainians accepted the German offer, and thereby created a problem. We had a contract to destroy all, and the Germans had a contract to destroy some. That is not a problem between Allies--we simply adapted our program and rewrote the contract with our contractors. The German technology is being used for a total of seventeen silos, and our technology will be used elsewhere.

The British have played a role, the French, the Canadians, the Japanese, the Norwegians, the European Union. These countries have provided everything from tools, trucks, emergency equipment, destruction of mustard-gas weapons, conversion of weapons plutonium metal to oxide fuel for reactors--but they could do much more. It is a small percentage of what the Nunn-Lugar Program has provided.

Let me give you only one example of where your assistance is greatly needed. I will turn to the world of chemical weapons. The Russians have declared some 40,000 tons of chemical weapons; we, the Americans, have some 30,000. And long before the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) appeared on the scene, the United States committed itself to destroying those weapons. Because of the perceived and real dangers of destroying lethal gas, it has been an extremely difficult program but it proceeds, and it would have proceeded with or without the CWC. Fortunately, as you all know, we ratified that treaty at the eleventh hour. But the Russian Duma has not ratified. Their logic is quite simple: if they do not have the funds to carry out the conditions of the treaty, they will not ratify it.

The CTR program, from 1993 forward, waited neither for Russian funds nor the Chemical Weapons Convention. We started immediately. And we have come a long way. We have qualified a Russian technology for the destruction of nerve agents. We have selected a site in the southern Urals, a place called Shchuch'ye. Two contractors, Bechtel and Parsons, are on the ground, in the Urals, designing the equipment to destroy the chemical weapons site present there. We have agreed to build everything inside the industrial fence, that is, the actual pilot plant itself, and we are beginning negotiations to consider building the entire plant itself. But Congress has been very, very clear: there will be no U.S. money to build anything outside the fence. There are no roads; there is no power; there is no water for a plant of this size. The money has to come from somewhere. We will continue with our program of building the pilot plant inside that fence, up until we come to an impediment caused by the lack of an industrial infrastructure in a very rural town in the Urals. At that point, we stop. At that point, massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction will continue their slow deterioration and their mounting risk to the local community and, in a sense, to the world. We invite all member-states, and especially new member-states, to contribute in some form or other to this very important project. As Minister Kosmo said, "There is a cost to membership."

We have just marked the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, and I do not mean to imply that the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, the Nunn-Lugar Program, is a Marshall Plan. But it is the right plan, some 50 years later. A cold and forbidding peace settled on Europe in 1947. Today there is vibrant hope. But we must first dismantle those engines of mass destruction that held us all in thrall for half a century. My Russian colleagues join me in inviting your assistance in this defense of all of us--this defense by other means--by generously and cooperatively removing the weapons of mass destruction from this earth.


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