20 Mishaps That Might Have Started a Nuclear War

20 Mishaps That Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War
by Alan F. Phillips, M.D.

Ever since the two adversaries in the Cold War, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., realized that their nuclear arsenals were sufficient to do disastrous damage to both countries at short notice, the leaders and the military commanders have thought about the possibility of a nuclear war starting without their intention or as a result of a false alarm. Increasingly elaborate accessories have been incorporated in nuclear weapons and their delivery systems to minimize the risk of unauthorized or accidental launch or detonation. A most innovative action was the establishment of the “hot line” between Washington and Moscow in 1963 to reduce the risk of misunderstanding between the supreme commanders.

Despite all precautions, the possibility of an inadvertent war due to an unpredicted sequence of events remained as a deadly threat to both countries and to the world. That is the reason I am prepared to spend the rest of my life working for abolition of nuclear weapons.

One way a war could start is a false alarm via one of the warning systems, followed by an increased level of nuclear forces readiness while the validity of the information was being checked. This action would be detected by the other side, and they would take appropriate action; detection of the response would tend to confirm the original false alarm; and so on to disaster. A similar sequence could result from an accidental nuclear explosion anywhere. The risk of such a sequence developing would be increased if it happened during a period of increased international tension.

On the American side many “false alarms” and significant accidents have been listed, ranging from trivial to very serious, during the Cold War. Probably many remain unknown to the public and the research community because of individuals’ desire to avoid blame and to maintain the good reputation of their unit or command. No doubt there have been as many mishaps on the Soviet side. One has been reported in which a Russian officer, on 23 September 1983, decided on his own initiative not to report an apparently grave warning on his computer screen, in the correct belief that it was a false warning. He may have saved the world, but was disgraced for failing to follow his orders; his career was ruined, and he suffered a mental breakdown.

Working with any new system, false alarms are more likely. The rising moon was misinterpreted as a missile attack during the early days of long-range radar. A fire at a broken gas pipeline was believed to be enemy jamming by laser of a satellite’s infrared sensor when those sensors were first deployed.

The risks are illustrated by the following selections of mishaps. If the people involved had exercised less caution, or if some unfortunate coincidental event had occurred, escalation to nuclear war can easily be imagined. Details of some of the events differ in different sources: where there have been disagreements, I have chosen to quote those from the carefully researched book, “The Limits of Safety” by Scott D. Sagan. Sagan gives references to original sources in all instances.

These examples represent only a fraction of the false alarms that have been reported on the American side. Many on both sides probably remain unreported, or are hidden in records that remain classified.

1956, Nov.5: Suez Crisis coincidence.

British and French Forces were attacking Egypt at the Suez Canal. The Soviet Government had suggested to the U.S. that they combine forces to stop this by a joint military action, and had warned the British and French governments that (non-nuclear) rocket attacks on London and Paris were being considered. That night NORAD HQ received messages that: (i) unidentified aircraft were flying over Turkey and the Turkish air force was on alert (ii) 100 Soviet MIG-15’s were flying over Syria (iii) a British Canberra bomber had been shot down over Syria (iv) the Soviet fleet was moving through the Dardanelles. It is reported that in the U.S.A. General Goodpaster himself was concerned that these events might trigger the NATO operations plan for nuclear strikes against the U.S.S.R.

The four reports were all shown afterwards to have innocent explanations. They were due, respectively, to: (i) a flight of swans (ii) a routine air force escort (much smaller than the number reported) for the president of Syria, who was returning from a visit to Moscow (iii) the Canberra bomber was forced down by mechanical problems (iv) the Soviet fleet was engaged in scheduled routine exercises.

1961, Nov.24: BMEWS communication failure.

On the night of 24 November 1961, all communication links went dead between SAC HQ and NORAD. The communication loss cut off SAC HQ from the three Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sites (BMEWS) at Thule (Greenland,) Clear (Alaska,) and Fylingdales (England,). There were two possible explanations facing SAC HQ: either enemy action, or the coincidental failure of all the communication systems, which had redundant and ostensibly independent routes, including commercial telephone circuits. All SAC bases in the United States were therefore alerted, and B-52 bomber crews started their engines, with instructions not to to take off without further orders. Radio communication was established with an orbiting B-52 on airborne alert, near Thule. It contacted the BMEWS stations by radio and could report that no attack had taken place.

The reason for the “coincidental” failure was that the redundant routes for telephone and telegraph between NORAD and SAC HQ all ran through one relay station in Colorado. At that relay station a motor had overheated and caused interruption of all the lines.

[NOTE: Long after I wrote this, a reader informed me that he was a technician at Plattsburgh Air Force Base at the time. The order reached that Base as an “Alpha” alert, the highest level, at which nuclear-armed bombers were to fly direct to their targets and bomb, without waiting at the failsafe point for further orders. Before any bomber could take off the correction arrived making it a third-level “Cocoa” alert, at which the bombers stayed on the runway with engines running and waited for further orders. If even one bomber had taken off, it might have been very difficult to recall it or stop it.]

THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS LASTED FOR THE TWO WEEKS 14-28 OCTOBER 1962. MANY DANGEROUS EVENTS TOOK PLACE IN RELATION TO THE CRISIS, SOME OF THEM BECAUSE OF CHANGES MADE TO ENHANCE MILITARY READINESS. ELEVEN HAVE BEEN SELECTED:

1962, Aug.23: B-52 Navigation Error.

SAC Chrome Dome airborne alert route included a leg from the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, SW across the Arctic Ocean to Barter Island, Alaska. On 23 August 1962, a B-52 nuclear armed bomber crew made a navigational error and flew a course 20 degrees too far towards the north. They approached within 300 miles of Soviet airspace near Wrangel island, where there was believed to be an interceptor base with aircraft having an operational radius of 400 miles.

Because of the risk of repetition of such an error, in this northern area where other checks on navigation are difficult to obtain, it was decided to fly a less provocative route in the future. However, the necessary orders had not been given by the time of the Cuban missile crisis in October, so throughout that crisis the same northern route was being flown 24 hours a day.

Aug.-Oct.1962: U2 flights into Soviet airspace.

U2 high altitude reconnaissance flights from Alaska occasionally strayed unintentionally into Soviet airspace. One such episode occurred in August 1962. During the Cuban missile crisis on October of 1962, the U2 pilots were ordered not to fly within 100 miles of Soviet airspace.

On the night of 26 October, for a reason irrelevant to the crisis, a U2 pilot was ordered to fly a new route, over the north pole, where positional checks on navigation were by sextant only. That night the aurora prevented good sextant readings and the plane strayed over the Chukotski Peninsula. Soviet MIG interceptors took off with orders to shoot down the U2. The pilot contacted his U.S. command post and was ordered to fly due east towards Alaska. He ran out of fuel while still over Siberia. In response to his S.O.S., U.S. F102-A fighters were launched to escort him on his glide to Alaska, with orders to prevent the MIG’s from entering U.S. airspace. The U.S. interceptor aircraft were armed with nuclear missiles. These could have been used by any one of the F102-A pilots at his own discretion.

1962, Oct.24: Russian satellite explodes.

On 24 October a Soviet satellite entered its own parking orbit, and shortly afterward exploded. Sir Bernard Lovell, director of the Jodrell Bank observatory wrote in 1968: “the explosion of a Russian spacecraft in orbit during the Cuban missile crisis… led the U.S. to believe that the USSR was launching a massive ICBM attack.” The NORAD Command Post logs of the dates in question remain classified, possibly to conceal reaction to the event. Its occurrence is recorded, and U.S. space tracking stations were informed on 31 October of debris resulting from the breakup of “62 BETA IOTA.”

1962, Oct.25: Duluth intruder.

At around midnight on 25 October, a guard at the Duluth Sector Direction Center saw a figure climbing the security fence. He shot at it, and activated the “sabotage alarm”. This automatically set off sabotage alarms at all bases in the area. At Volk Field, Wisconsin, the alarm was wrongly wired, and the Klaxon sounded which ordered nuclear armed F-106A interceptors to take off. The pilots knew there would be no practice alert drills while DEFCON 3 was in force, and they believed World War III had started.

Immediate communication with Duluth showed there was an error. By this time aircraft were starting down the runway. A car raced from command centre and successfully signalled the aircraft to stop.

The original intruder was a bear.

1962, Oct.26: ICBM Test Launch.

At Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, there was a program of routine ICBM test flights. When DEFCON 3 was ordered all the ICBM’s were fitted with nuclear warheads except one Titan missile that was scheduled for a test launch later that week. That one was launched for its test, without further orders from Washington, at 4 a.m. on the 26th.

It must be assumed that Russian observers were monitoring U.S. missile activities as closely as U.S. observers were monitoring Russian and Cuban activities. They would have known of the general changeover to nuclear warheads, but not that this was only a test launch.

1962, Oct.26: Unannounced Titan missile launch.

During the Cuba crisis, some radar warning stations that were under construction and near completion were brought into full operation as fast as possible. The planned overlap of coverage was thus not always available.

A normal test launch of a Titan-II ICBM took place in the afternoon of 26 October, from Florida towards the South Pacific. It caused temporary concern at Moorestown Radar site until its course could be plotted and showed no predicted impact within the United States. It was not until after this event that the potential for a serious false alarm was realized, and orders were given that radar warning sites must be notified in advance of test launches, and the countdown be relayed to them.

1962, Oct.26: Malmstrom Air Force Base.

When DEFCON 2 was declared on 24 October, solid-fuel Minuteman-1 missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base were being prepared for full deployment. The work was accelerated to ready the missiles for operation, without waiting for the normal handover procedures and safety checks. When one silo and the first missile were ready on 26 October no armed guards were available to cover transport from the normal separate storage, so the launch enabling equipment and codes were all placed in the silo. It was thus physically possible for a single operator to launch a fully armed missile at a SIOP target.

During the remaining period of the Crisis the several missiles at Malmstrom were repeatedly put on and off alert as errors and defects were found and corrected. Fortunately no combination of errors caused or threatened an unauthorized launch, but in the extreme tension of the period the danger can be well imagined.

October 1962: NATO Readiness.

It is recorded that early in the crisis, in order to avoid provocation of the U.S.S.R., British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and NATO Supreme Commander General Lauris Norstad agreed not to put NATO on alert. When the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered DEFCON 3, Norstad was authorized to use his discretion in complying, and Norstad did not order a NATO alert. However, several NATO subordinate commanders did order alerts to DEFCON 3 or equivalent levels of readiness at bases in West Germany, Italy, Turkey, and United Kingdom. This seems to have been largely due to the action of General Truman Landon, CINC U.S. Air Forces Europe, who had on his own initiative started alert procedures on 17 October in anticipation of a serious crisis over Cuba.

October 1962: British Alerts.

When the U.S. SAC went to DEFCON 2, on 24 October, the British Bomber Command was carrying out an unrelated readiness exercise. On 26 October, Air Marshall Cross, CINC of Bomber Command, decided to prolong the exercise because of the Cuba crisis, and later increased the alert status of British nuclear forces, so that they could launch in 15 minutes.

It seems likely that Soviet intelligence would perceive these moves as part of a coordinated plan in preparation for immediate war. They could not be expected to know that neither the British Minister of Defence nor Prime Minister Macmillan had authorized them.

It is disturbing to note how little was learned from these errors in Europe. McGeorge Bundy wrote in “Danger and Survival” (New York: Random House 1988), “the risk [of nuclear war] was small, given the prudence and unchallenged final control of the two leaders.”

1962, Oct.28: Moorestown false alarm.

Just before 9 a.m. on 28 October the Moorestown, New Jersey, radar operators informed the national command post that a nuclear attack was under way. A test tape simulating a missile launch from Cuba was being run, and simultaneously a satellite came over the horizon. Operators became confused and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ that impact was expected 18 miles west of Tampa at 9:02 a.m. The whole of NORAD was alerted, but before irrevocable action had been taken it was reported that no detonation had taken place at the predicted time, and Moorestown operators reported the reason for the false alarm.

During the incident overlapping radars that should have been available to confirm or disagree, were not in operation. The radar post had not received routine information of satellite passage because the facility carrying out that task had been given other work for the duration of the crisis.

1962, Oct.28: False warning due to satellite sighting.

At 5:26 p.m. on 28 October, the Laredo radar warning site had just become operational. Operators misidentified a satellite in orbit as two possible missiles over Georgia and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ. NORAD was unable to identify that the warning came from the new station at Laredo and believed it to be from Moorestown, and therefore more reliable. Moorestown failed to intervene and contradict the false warning. By the time the CINC, NORAD had been informed, no impact had been reported and the warning was “given low credence.”

END OF CUBA CRISIS EVENTS

1962, Nov.2: The Penkovsky False Warning.

In the fall of 1962, Colonel Oleg Penkovsky was working in Russia as a double agent for the CIA He had been given a code by which to warn the CIA if he was convinced that a Soviet attack on the United States was imminent. He was to call twice, one minute apart, and only blow into the receiver. Further information was then to be left at a “dead drop” in Moscow.

The pre-arranged code message was received by the CIA on 2 November 1962. It was not known at the CIA that Penkovsky had been arrested on 22 October. Penkovsky knew he was going to be executed. It is not known whether he had told the KGB the meaning of the code signal or only how it would be given, nor is it known exactly why or with what authorization the KGB staff used it. When another CIA agent checked the dead drop he was arrested.

1965, November: Power failure and faulty bomb alarms.

Special bomb alarms were installed near military facilities and near cities in the U.S.A., so that the locations of nuclear bursts would be transmitted before the expected communication failure. The alarm circuits were set up to display a red signal at command posts the instant that the flash of a nuclear detonation reached the sensor, and before the blast could put it out of action. Normally the display would show a green signal, and yellow if the sensor was not operating or was out of communication for any other reason.

During the commercial power failure in the NE United States in November 1965, displays from all the bomb alarms for the area should have shown yellow. In fact, two of them from different cities showed red because of circuit errors. The effect was consistent with the power failure being due to nuclear weapons explosions, and the Command Center of the Office of Emergency Planning went on full alert. Apparently the military did not.

1968, Jan.21: B-52 crash near Thule.

Communication between NORAD HQ and the BMEWS station at Thule had 3 elements: 1. Direct radio communication. 2. A “bomb alarm” as described above. 3. Radio Communication relayed by a B-52 bomber on airborne alert.

On 21 January 1968, a fire broke out in the B-52 bomber on airborne alert near Thule. The pilot prepared for an emergency landing at the base. However the situation deteriorated rapidly, and the crew had to bale out. There had been no time to communicate with SAC HQ, and the pilotless plane flew over the Thule base before crashing on the ice 7 miles miles offshore. Its fuel, and the high explosive component of its nuclear weapons exploded, but there was no nuclear detonation.

At that time, the “one point safe” condition of the nuclear weapons could not be guaranteed, and it is believed that a nuclear explosion could have resulted from accidental detonation of the high explosive trigger. Had there been a nuclear detonation even at 7 miles distant, and certainly if one happened nearer the base, all three communication methods would have given an indication consistent with a successful nuclear attack on both the base and the B-52 bomber. The bomb alarm would have shown red, and the other two communication paths would have gone dead. It would hardly have been anticipated that the combination could have been caused by accident, particularly as the map of the routes for B-52 airborne flights approved by the President showed no flight near to Thule. The route had been apparently changed without informing the White House.

1973, Oct.24-25: False alarm during Middle East crisis.

On 24 October 1973, when the U.N. sponsored cease fire intended to end the Arab-Israeli war was in force, further fighting started between Egyptian and Israeli troops in the Sinai desert. U.S. intelligence reports and other sources suggested that the U.S.S.R. was planning to intervene to protect the Egyptians. President Nixon was in the throes of the Watergate episode and not available for a conference, so Kissinger and other U.S. officials ordered DEFCON 3. The consequent movements of aircraft and troops were of course observed by Soviet intelligence. The purpose of the alert was not to prepare for war, but to warn the U.S.S.R. not to intervene in the Sinai. However, if the following accident had not been promptly corrected then the Soviet command might have made a more dangerous interpretation.

On 25 October, while DEFCON 3 was in force, mechanics were repairing one of the Klaxons at Kinchole Air Force Base, Michigan, and accidentally activated the whole base alarm system. B-52 crews rushed to their aircraft and started the engines. The duty officer recognized the alarm was false and recalled the crews before any took off.

1979, Nov.9: Computer Exercise Tape.

At 8:50 a.m. on 9 November 1979, duty officers at 4 command centres (NORAD HQ, SAC Command Post, The Pentagon National Military Command Center, and the Alternate National Military Command Center) all saw on their displays a pattern showing a large number of Soviet Missiles in a full scale attack on the U.S.A. During the next 6 minutes emergency preparations for retaliation were made. A number of Air Force planes were launched, including the President’s National Emergency Airborne Command Post, though without the President! The President had not been informed, perhaps because he could not be found.

With commendable speed, NORAD was able to contact PAVE PAWS early warning radar and learn that no missiles had been reported. Also, the sensors on the satellites were functioning that day and had detected no missiles. In only 6 minutes the threat assessment conference was terminated.

The reason for the false alarm was an exercise tape running on the computer system. U.S. Senator Charles Percy happened to be in NORAD HQ at the time and is reported to have said there was absolute panic. A question was asked in Congress. The General Accounting Office conducted an investigation, and an off-site testing facility was constructed so that test tapes did not in the future have to be run on a system that could be in military operation.

1980, June 3-6: Faulty Computer Chip.

The Warning displays at the Command Centers mentioned in the last episode included windows that normally showed:

0000 ICBMs detected

0000 SLBMs detected

At 2:25 a.m. on 3 June 1980, these displays started showing various numbers of missiles detected, represented by 2’s in place of one or more 0’s. Preparations for retaliation were instituted, including nuclear bomber crews starting their engines, launch of Pacific Command’s Airborne Command Post, and readying of Minutemen missiles for launch. It was not difficult to assess that this was a false alarm because the numbers displayed were not rational.

While the cause of that false alarm was still being investigated 3 days later, the same thing happened and again preparations were made for retaliation. The cause was a single faulty chip that was failing in a random fashion. The basic design of the system was faulty, allowing this single failure to cause a deceptive display at several command posts.

Boredom

The extreme boredom and isolation of missile launch crews on duty must contribute to occasional bizarre behaviour. An example is reported by Lloyd J.Dumas in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists vol.36, #9, p.15 (1980) quoting Air Force Magazine of 17 Nov. 71. As a practical joke, a silo crew recorded a launch message and played it when their relief came on duty. The new crew heard with consternation what appeared to be a valid launch message. They would not of course have been able to effect an actual launch under normal conditions, without proper confirmation from outside the silo.

Launch on Warning

There are still thousands of nuclear weapons deployed. At the time of writing (December 2001) Russia and the U.S.A. still have the policy of “Launch on Warning”: that is to say, they plan to launch a salvo of nuclear-armed rockets if the warning systems show that a missile attack appears to be on the way. The retaliatory salvo would be launched before any of the incoming missiles arrived, so it could be launched as a result of a false warning. Thus a nuclear war could start for no military or political reason whatever.

The following event could have caused the final disaster if, for example, the rocket guidance system or the radar tracking had malfunctioned:

1995, Jan.25: Norwegian Rocket Incident.

On 25 January, 1995, the Russian early warning radars detected an unexpected missile launch near Spitzbergen. The estimated flight time to Moscow was 5 minutes. The Russian Defence Minister and the Chief of Staff were informed. The early warning and the control and command systems switched to combat mode. President Yeltsin was handed the “nuclear suitcase” ready to give the launch signal.

Within 5 minutes, the radars determined that the missile’s impact point would be outside the Russian borders. The missile was carrying instruments for scientific measurements. On 16 January Norway had notified 35 countries including Russia that the launch was planned. Information had apparently reached the Russian Defence Ministry, but failed to reach the on-duty personnel of the early warning system. (See article in Scientific American, November 1997, by Bruce G. Blair, Harold A. Feiveson and Frank N. von Hippel.)

Comment and Note On Probability

The probability of actual progression to nuclear war on any one of the occasions listed may have been small, due to planned “fail-safe” features in the warning and launch systems, and to responsible action by those in the chain of command when the failsafe features had failed. However, the accumulation of small probabilities of disaster from a long sequence of risks add up to serious danger. There is no way of telling what the actual level of risk was in these mishaps but if the chance of disaster in every one of the 20 incidents had been only 1 in 100, it is mathematical fact that the chance of surviving all 20 would have been 82%, i.e. about the same as the chance of surviving a single pull of the trigger at Russian roulette played with a 6 shooter. With a similar series of mishaps on the Soviet side: another pull of the trigger. If the risk in some of the events had been as high as 1 in 10, then the chance of surviving just seven such events would have been less than 50:50. [Note that there is no attempt here to calculate an actual probability. This is merely an example to illustrate the cumulative effect of any low-probability risk that is taken repeatedly, or accepted continuously, over a period of time.]

Acronyms:

BMEWS: Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site
CIA: Central Intelligence Agency
CINC: Commander in Chief
DEFCON: Defence Readiness Condition (DEFCON 5 is the peacetime state; DEFCON 1 is a maximum war readiness).
HQ: Headquarters
ICBM: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (land based)
KGB: Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopaznosti (Soviet Secret Police and Intelligence)
NORAD: North American Aerospace Defense Command
PAVE PAWS: Precision Acquisition of Vehicle Entry Phased-Array Warning System
SAC: Strategic Air Command
SIOP: Single Integrated Operational Plan
SLBM: Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile

Principal Sources:

Britten, Stewart: The Invisible Event, (London: Menard Press, 1983).
Calder, Nigel: Nuclear Nightmares, (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1979)
Peace Research Reviews, vol. ix: 4, 5 (1984);
vol. x: 3, 4 (1986) (Dundas, ON.: Peace Research Institute, Dundas).
Sagan, Scott D.: The Limits of Safety, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, (1993).

Alan F. Phillips M.D., 11 January, 1997; revised April, 2002.

Conventionally-Armed UK Trident?

CONVENTIONALLY-ARMED UK TRIDENT? By Commander Robert Green, Royal Navy (Retired)*

Doubts about Nuclear Deterrence

The recent US nuclear posture review was partly prompted by growing doubts about the effectiveness of nuclear deterrence against the current primary threat – extremists armed with weapons of mass destruction. These doubts surfaced during the Gulf War, when Israel was subjected to nearly 40 Iraqi Scud missile attacks, for which it was known a chemical warhead had been developed. Lack of a proportionate response has led several US nuclear weapon experts to argue that deterrence through threatened use of precisely targeted conventional munitions, rather than nuclear weapons, would be more credible and preferable in most cases. For neutralising deeply buried targets, however, the head of nuclear weapons research at Los Alamos National Laboratory has recommended that the US should develop a new generation of “small” nuclear weapons.

George W. Bush is the first US President to have publicly expressed lack of faith in nuclear deterrence against extremists, linking this to his emphasis on reviving ballistic missile defence. What is more, both his Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected use of nuclear weapons against Iraqi forces in the Gulf War, which means that any future comparable US nuclear threat would lack credibility.

“Small” Nuclear Weapons No Answer

Those pressing for so-called “small” nuclear weapons to be used against deeply buried targets need to be aware of the following drawbacks:

• In tests, the currently operational US B61-11 nuclear weapon penetrated only 20 feet into dry earth.
• Deeper penetration is impossible because the weapon casing cannot be made strong enough to withstand the impact and temperatures involved.
• Low-yield warheads are too sensitive to the massive shock.
• The heavy radioactive fallout cannot be contained.
• In addition, even the smallest nuclear weapon has such excessive explosive power that, when combined with its unique long-term poisoning effects from radioactive fallout, it would inevitably breach international humanitarian law on proportionality and discrimination.

The irresponsibility of calling for such a role for nuclear weapons was highlighted in 1998, when General Lee Butler, Commander-in-Chief US Strategic Command in charge of all strategic nuclear weapons from 1992-94, warned: “In a single act, we would martyr our enemies, alienate our friends, give comfort to the non-declared nuclear states and impetus to states who seek such weapons covertly.” Experience in Afghanistan has shown that the US has a growing choice of precision-guided conventional munitions, some of which are capable of disabling targets formerly thought vulnerable only to nuclear attack. However, the enormously indiscriminate “daisy cutter” fuel-air munitions, and those using depleted uranium, probably violate international humanitarian law.

US Navy Converting Trident to Conventional Armament

The START II Treaty limits US and Russian nuclear-armed ballistic missile-firing submarine (SSBN) forces to 14 hulls each – so the US will have to decommission four of its 18 Ohio class Trident-equipped submarines. Irrespective of this, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to accelerate US Navy plans to start work in October 2003 on a $2 billion project to convert the first two of them to carry a formidable mix of conventional armament as attack submarines (SSGNs). The 24 Trident missile launch tubes will be altered to accept canisters carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, fitted with a variety of conventional warheads. With a full cruise missile conversion, each submarine will be able to launch up to 154 cruise missiles, compared with 24 such missiles in current US SSGNs. An alternative configuration allows for 66 special forces to access two midget submarines to carry out covert shallow water and amphibious operations. These are each attached to the SSGN’s deck over two launch tubes. The remaining tubes will be shared between special forces equipment stowage and cruise missile canisters, still enabling some 98 Tomahawks to be carried.

US Concerns About UK Trident

Ever since the US allowed the UK to acquire Polaris, Trident’s predecessor system, in 1962, it has had understandable concerns about the complications for its own nuclear strategy. Kennedy’s Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, condemned small nuclear forces as “dangerous, expensive, prone to obsolescence and lacking in credibility as a deterrent.” The limitations of trying to encapsulate a credible capability in one system have become more apparent with Trident now the sole delivery system for the UK nuclear arsenal. For example, the UK government felt the need to claim an added sub-strategic capability by a “degree of flexibility in the choice of yield for the warheads on its Trident missiles.” Apparently this has been achieved by fitting a single, lower yield warhead in some of the 16 missiles carried by the four Vanguard class SSBNs.

Bearing in mind that sub-strategic nuclear weapons would be the first and most likely ones to be used, there is a risk that use of a UK Trident missile would be misidentified as a US Trident launch. Also, there is no way of distinguishing between sub-strategic and strategic use. NATO’s announcement in 1999 that “a small number of United Kingdom Trident warheads” were part of NATO’s sub-strategic posture in Europe, therefore, was unconvincing. With British attack submarines now equipped with conventionally-armed cruise missiles, this would be a much more proportionate and lawful way to launch a sub-strategic strike.

UK Trident and Nuremberg

The current UK government is widely acknowledged as the most constructive among the nuclear weapon states. In the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, it unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal by a third – at 200 warheads, now the smallest of the five recognised nuclear states – and announced that it had relaxed Trident’s notice to fire from “minutes” to “days”. It was credited with a key role in negotiating the May 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review final document incorporating a plan of action on disarmament measures, by interceding with the other nuclear states and non-nuclear NATO member states.

However, the UK government is under pressure from the Trident Ploughshares non-violent direct action campaign, which is exposing the illegality of the current deployment of the single UK SSBN on so-called “deterrent” patrol. Citing the 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion on the threat or use of nuclear weapons, the campaign has achieved sensational acquittals in jury trials of activists in both Scotland and England. The Court confirmed that any threat, let alone use, of nuclear weapons would generally violate international humanitarian law, of which the Nuremberg Principles are part. This has serious implications for all those involved in planning and deploying nuclear forces because, unlike hired killers or terrorists, military professionals and their political leaders must be seen to act within the law.

The campaign is gaining support among legislators and church leaders, particularly in Scotland where the UK Trident force is based. As with the campaigns to ban slavery, and now landmines, and to establish an International Criminal Court, it is drawing upon a deep and growing awareness that it is on the right side of morality, commonsense, the law and public opinion. The basic legal argument is as follows:

• Use of UK Trident nuclear weapons would be illegal, because the explosive power of each warhead (about 100 kilotons, equivalent to roughly eight times that of the weapon which devastated Hiroshima) plus radioactive effects make them incapable of use without violating international humanitarian law.
• In its Advisory Opinion the World Court stated: “If the envisaged use of force is itself unlawful, the stated readiness to use it would be a threat prohibited under Article 2, paragraph 4 [of the UN Charter].” The UN Charter is applicable at all times.
• UK Trident is deployed under a policy of “stated readiness to use”, in order that nuclear deterrence is credible.
• Nuremberg Principle VI states: “The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law: (a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation… of a war… in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i); (b) War crimes… (c) Crimes against humanity…”

Probably for the first time, the Nuremberg Principles are being brought to bear on the Royal Navy, which obviously does not want to be accused of crimes against peace and humanity, let alone war crimes. Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham observed: “I suspect we are all going to find international law, as it applies to conflict, a harsh taskmaster.” Yet the UK government prides itself as the only permanent member of the UN Security Council to recognise the World Court’s jurisdiction, and wishes to be seen to uphold international law and democracy as leader of the 54-member Commonwealth.

The Royal Navy’s leaders must be increasingly disturbed and frustrated by the legal challenge to Trident, and – especially after 11 September 2001 – by the reality that the weapon system of four of its most prestigious and costly “capital ships” is currently impotent in responding to the most serious and intractable threat.

Implications for UK Trident

All this has serious implications for the UK’s four new SSBNs. Some former Royal Navy colleagues have indicated to the author that they would support getting rid of the nuclear weapons “provided that a conventional role is found for the submarines”. However, in the latest edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships, Editor Captain Richard Sharpe RN (Ret’d) reported: “The UK government has said it has no plans to deploy conventional warheads in Trident.”

With the increasing cost of high-technology warships, the Royal Navy is steadily shrinking. As it learned the hard way in the Falklands War, the vulnerability of surface ships to missile attack is extremely expensive and difficult to counter, and ever-quieter submarines can now deliver them from stand-off range. If it wants to sustain a capability for rapid, substantive military reaction with global reach, it cannot afford to ignore the option of converting UK Trident to conventional armament – especially as the research, development and production of the modular systems are being done by the US, and their availability looks compatible with the deadline for the decision on whether to replace UK Trident. For the variety of reasons covered above, the US would probably welcome such a development in the US-UK special relationship.

A New World Role for the UK?

That decision apparently has to be taken by around 2007. This will offer the opportunity to renounce nuclear weapons, and replace them with a more credible, practical and lawful conventional deterrence system, which the US Navy is developing anyway – and which the US Defense Secretary, impressed by the performance of its SSGNs in countering terrorism, is raising to a top priority. With four conventionally-armed, multi-role Vanguard class SSGNs, the Royal Navy’s submarine service – diverted since the Polaris era into the essentially political power game of nuclear deterrence – would be able to focus fully on what it does best: “precision engagement” to prevail in the three key military objectives: deterrence, coercion and combat.

For maximum kudos, the UK government should announce this step at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. The first “breakout” by one of the five recognised nuclear states – and permanent members of the UN Security Council – would be sensational, and would transform the nuclear disarmament debate overnight. The UK would gain a major new world role which would be enormously popular, with its Prime Minister an immediate candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. In NATO, with Lord Robertson as Secretary General, the UK would wield unprecedented influence in leading the drive for a non-nuclear strategy – which must happen if NATO is to sustain its cohesion. It would create new openings for applying pressure, particularly to the US and France, and heavily influencing India, Israel and Pakistan, and others intent on obtaining nuclear weapons. Moreover, it would open the way for a major reassessment by Russia and China of their nuclear strategies, for all nuclear forces to be de-alerted, and for multilateral negotiations to start on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Wider Implications

Both the anti-nuclear movement and Trident advocates have to confront difficult and challenging questions. Acquisition by the five recognised nuclear states of their nuclear arsenals involved probably the greatest investment in financial, political and human terms since the Second World War. Short of a detonation of a modern nuclear weapon in a populated area, none of these states is likely to be prepared to risk breaking out of the nuclear club without finding a replacement system with clear advantages to balance the perceived loss of security. Conversion of its SSBNs to conventional, multi-role armament offers such a system for the UK. France, Russia and China would probably try to copy the US and UK, because the SSGN would come into its own as one of the most potent, yet invulnerable, maritime coercion platforms. Meanwhile, the longer those who prefer to cling to the illusions of nuclear deterrence do so, the more likely it becomes that undeterrable extremists will follow their irresponsible example and obtain nuclear weapons.

Conclusion

Nuclear-armed Trident missiles in the Royal Navy’s Vanguard class SSBNs are a major impediment to the UK’s ability to contribute to deployment of rapid reaction forces in support of the US, because they are militarily useless; and anyway their use – and therefore any threat to use them – would be unlawful.

A confluence of developments in the US, driven by a loss of faith in nuclear deterrence against the most serious threat of extremists armed with weapons of mass destruction, points to a “win-win” solution for the Royal Navy, the US-UK special relationship, and the worldwide anti-nuclear movement. Exploiting US plans for some of its Ohio class Trident-armed submarines, a UK decision to convert its four Vanguard class submarines to carry a mix of precision-guided conventional armaments and special forces would restore the Royal Navy’s eroding position as a leading maritime force equipped to work alongside the US Navy, and would probably be encouraged by the US. In so doing, the UK government would gain huge kudos as the first recognised nuclear state to break out from reliance on nuclear weapons for its security, and would position itself to take a leading role in the struggle to secure an enforceable global treaty with a verifiable plan to eliminate nuclear weapons.


*Commander Robert Green navigated Buccaneer nuclear strike aircraft and anti-submarine helicopters before serving in Fleet Intelligence during 20 years in the Royal Navy 1962-82. He is now a consultant on alternative security thinking based in Christchurch, New Zealand. http://www.disarmsecure.org

NOTES
1. See Robert W. Nelson, “Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons”, The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists, January/February 2001, Volume 54, Number 1, http://www.fas.org/faspir/2001/v541/weapons.htm
2. Walter Pincus, “Nuclear Expert Challenges U.S. Thinking on Warheads”, Washington Post, 24 October 2000.
3. Speech at National Defense University, 1 May 2001.
4. Colin Powell, A Soldier’s Way (Hutchinson, London, 1995), p324.
5. Nelson (2001).
6. General Lee Butler, “A Voice of Reason”, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 1998, p61.
7. Jane’s Defence Weekly, 8 August 2001, p3. Update on Rumsfeld in “$20 Billion Budget Rise Is Urged”, International Herald Tribune, 8 January 2002.
8. John Baylis, Ambiguity and Deterrence (Oxford University Press), 1995), pp300-301.
9. ‘Sub-Strategic Use of Trident’, letter from C.H.J.Davies, UK Ministry of Defence, to Dr E. Waterston, 27 October 1998.
10. Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Advisory Opinion of July 8), UN Document A/51/218 (1996), http://www.icj-cij.org reprinted in 35 I.L.M. 809 & 1343 (1996).
11. Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham KCB , “The Apotheosis of 21st Century Warfare”, RUSI Journal, December 2000, pp64-68.
12. Jane’s Fighting Ships 2000-2001, p748.

An agreed process for disarmament

An agreed process for disarmament

All global citizens should be concerned that nuclear weapons are found, secured, disarmed and the components monitored or destroyed. This is a rough guide to the elements of the process which is required.

a) Declarations – statements will be made by states describing the warheads, delivery systems, materials, equipment, and facilities they control which are associated with nuclear weapons.

b) End launch-on-warning posture for all nuclear weapons.

c) De-alerting of all warheads worldwide- taking steps to make it more difficult to use nuclear weapons rapidly, such as removing warheads from missiles and storing them a distance away, or covering a silo with dirt.

d) Safe storage of and accounting for fissile materials – this occurs today in 36 non-nuclear weapons states who have all their fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) under the regular inspection and controls of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

e) Securing all warheads so they cannot be stolen.

f) Tagging each warheads can be tagged with unique identified for each warhead or container. They cannot be altered without the tampering being revealed. This allows for accurate accounting records.

g) Sealing the warheads or their containers to stop the substitution of fake warheads or other objects for the original contents.

h) Monitoring the storage through the use of sensors or video monitoring to ensure the storage facility is not entered.

i) Safe transport — occurs regularly in today’s world

j) Authenticating the warheads when they are presented for dismantling to confirm that the warhead or component is what it is declared to be — and not a fake.

k) Establishing a chain of custody of fissile materials and other components through to an agreed final disposition state.

Has the use of nuclear weapons been threatened?

Has the use of nuclear weapons been threatened?
Yes, here are a few examples in history of such threats:

NUCLEAR WEAPON CRISES 1946 – 1985

Incident Year Length of Crisis Threat By Weapons Held by US Weapons Held by USSR
IRAN I 1946 One day USA 40 0
YUGOSLAVIA 1946 One day USA 40 0
BERLIN 1 1948 15 months USA 120 0
KOREA 1950 36 months USA 400 ?
VIETNAM 1 1954 3 months USA 1200 ?
CHINA 1 1954 8 months USA 1200 ?
SUEZ 1956 7 days USSR/USA 2100 60
CHINA 2 1958 2 months USA 3000 110
BERLIN 2 1959 4 months USA 3200 175
BERLIN 3 1961 4 months USA 3600 240
CUBA 1962 2 weeks USSR/USA 3900 300
VIETNAM 2 1969 3 months USA 4000 1400
JORDAN 1970 2 weeks USA 4000 1800
ISRAEL 1973 19 days USA 6800 2200
IRAN 2 1980 6 months USA 10312 6846

Source:  David Morgan, VANA

Step to Abolition

How do we go about getting rid of nuclear weapons?

  1. A legal obligation to ban nuclear weapons
  2. An agreement to ban testing
  3. An agreement to eliminate nuclear explosive materials
  4. Nuclear weapons free zones
  5. Reductions in nuclear warheads
  6. An agreed process for disarmament
  7. No cheating
  8. Negotiation of an agreement among all states which:
    • defines the process for eliminating nuclear weapons
    • prohibits further development, stockpiling, use and threat of use
  9. Do you want more information?

No cheating?

How can we be sure that nuclear explosive materials aren’t secretly being produced or delivery systems being readied for use? We need a combination of technological devices and monitoring (and whistleblowing where necessary) by citizens.

The bulk of the technology is known. The US and Russia already have abided by agreements requiring declarations, safe storage, monitoring, and dismantling of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. To see the technology used, check the website for the Center for Cooperative Monitoring: http://www.cmc.sandia.gov

What do we need for further progress?

No backtracking! We need legally binding promises for reductions from all nuclear weapons states and the reductions must not be reversible. 187 states agreed in May 2000 that the “‘Principle of Irreversibility’ should apply to nuclear disarmament, …arms control and reduction measures”.

Transparency is key – what reductions are made must be seen to be made by other states. All global citizens have their security at risk due to their weapons….

Verification is a mechanism or procedure that seeks to determine whether a party is abiding by or fulfilling its obligations under a given agreement, and verification measures are designed to detect those who violate their obligations. The essential basis of verification is a formal commitment by parties to engage, or not to engage, in certain activities.

Here are some of the terms used to describe the technical steps used by states to verify:

    1. Surveillance techniques for items subject to verification can include use of fixed and mobile monitors including:
      • radiation sensors
      • CCTV (closed circuit TV)
      • time lapse photography movement sensors
      • tamper-indicating devices and seals.
        Source: Ministry of Defence (UK) Summary of AWE Study.
    2. Perimeter-portal monitoring at dismantling facilities refers to the capability of verifying that weapons enter an area for dismantling and do not leave except as tagged components.
      Source: Steve Fetter, “Future Directions in Nuclear Arms Control and Verification”, INESAP Information Bulletin No. 15, at p. 50, at p. 52.
      See further discussion in Steve Fetter, “Verifying Nuclear Disarmament”, Henry L. Stimson Center Occasional Paper No. 29, October 1996, p. 11 – 13.
    3. National Technical Means (NTS) – carried out without the active cooperation of the state under inspection and may include satellites, seismic sensors, radar systems, intelligence service activities and collection and processing of information via government departments.
    4. Onsite Inspections – usually by international inspectors of two types:
      • Routine inspections – onsite inspections assume a willingness to coperate and intervene more fundamentally in the sovereignty of states. Routine inspections allow inspectors to carry out controls at predefined times and at previously agreed locations on a state territory.
      • Challenge inspections- used to look into specific indications for non-compliance. They would be more intrusive than routine controls since the state under inspection would have problems adapting to them, if it really did want to hide something.
    5. Technical data analysis/ data processing
    6. Whistleblowing – a person passes on information regarding banned activities to the appropriate recipient.
      Source: Annette Schaper and Katja Frank, A Nuclear Weapon Free World – Can it be Verified?
      Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, PRIF Report No. 53, at p.
    7. Environmental monitoring technologies refers to:
      • continuous monitoring around sites
      • monitoring during on site inspections
      • locating covert plants involved in the nuclear weapons cycle
      • provide data as part of dismantlement verification process.

      Source: Ministry of Defence (UK) Summary of AWE Study (pdf file). (AWE)

    8. Non-destructive assessment techniques to verify dismantlement process include;
      • gamma-ray spectrometry
      • neutron measurements.
        They are used to verify the existence and number of warheads, provide vital information much more quickly, cheaply and safely than through other methods. They maintain the secrecy of design information.Source: Ministry of Defence (UK) Summary of Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston (AWE) Study.

An agreement to eliminate nuclear explosive materials

An agreement to eliminate nuclear explosive materials
The two main fissile materials used in nuclear weapons are Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). For details on where these materials can be found, including current inventories, please refer to the Power Point program created by Dr. Annette Schaper of the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt. Her data is based on the text Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium: 1996: World Inventories, Capabilities and Policies by David Albright, Frans Berkhout and William Walker.

Governments worldwide have proposed that the Ambassadors meeting within the Conference on Disarmament should start negotiations on a Fissile Missile Control Treaty. Two points of contention have arisen.

First, some nuclear weapons states want controls to be only on future production, not current stockpiles.

Second, China believes that it cannot participate in such a Treaty if the US intends to build a missile defence system. The Chinese governments thinks that if the US has the capability of defending against China’s 20 ICBMs, that China will need to build more nuclear weapons. Because of this, they may need more fissile material and thus they won’t sign such a Treaty.

For details on progress toward an FMCT, please check these sites:

Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/fmct/index.html
Acronym Institute (UK): http://www.acronym.org
Reaching Critical Will (operated by WILPF in New York): http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org

Reductions in nuclear warheads

Reductions in nuclear warheads

Have reductions in nuclear arsenals occurred?
YES:
Total warheads in 1986: 69,480
Total in 1996: 37,000
Total in 2001: 21,840

How have these occurred?
Most have been negotiated under bilateral agreements such as:
The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Agreement , “INF Treaty” (1987)
START I
START II

For more information on proposed agreements see:
http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/index.html

What is a nuclear warhead? What is fissile material?

What is a nuclear warhead? What is fissile material?
The atomic bomb relies on fission for its power. “Nuclear fission is the splitting of the nuclei of heavy atoms such as uranium or plutonium.”

The thermonuclear bomb relies on fusion.  “Nuclear fusion is the combination of light atoms such as hydrogen isotopes.”

“In both processes part of the mass of these elements is converted into energy and, if this can be made to happen fast enough, a nuclear explosion is the result.”

(Source for the above: Christy Campbell, Nuclear Facts, Methuen, Toronto, 1984.)

A “warhead” is the explosive part of a nuclear weapons system.  “Warheads consist of nuclear materials, conventional high explosives, related firing mechanisms and containment structure” (as defined within the model Nuclear Weapons Convention).

“Fissile Material” are elements in which the nuclei may be split either spontaneously or with the bombardment of neutrons of low energy.

“Fissionable Material” are elements in which the nuclei may be split either spontaneously or with the bombardment of neutrons regardless of the energy of the neutron, and includes fissile material.

See additional definitions in the model nuclear weapons convention document.

If these weapons enrage you, you are not alone!

If these weapons enrage you, you are not alone!
Excerpt from “The End of Imagination” by Arundhati Roy
published on Saturday August 1, 1998 in The Guardian (UK); also posted at: http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/imagination.html

“Who the hell is the prime minister to decide whose finger will be on the nuclear button that could turn everything we love — our earth, our skies, our mountains, our plains, our rivers, our cities and villages — to ash in an instant? Who the hell is he to reassure us that there will be no accidents? How does  he know? Why should we trust him? What has he ever done to make us trust him? What have any of them ever done to make us trust them?

The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made.

If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man’s challenge to God. It’s worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that You have created.

If you’re not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is four thousand, six hundred million years old.
It could end in an afternoon.”


Sixty-one International Generals and Admirals have spoken out calling for long-term international nuclear policy being based on the elimination of nuclear weapons:

Statement by Generals and Admirals of the World Against Nuclear Weapons
December 5, 1996

We, military professionals, who have devoted our lives to the national security of our countries and our peoples, are convinced that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons in the armories of nuclear powers, and the ever present threat of acquisition of these weapons by others, constitute a peril to global peace and security and to the safety and survival of the people we are dedicated to protect.

Through our variety of responsibilities and experiences with weapons and wars in the armed forces of any nations, we have acquired an intimate and perhaps unique knowledge of the present security and insecurity of our countries and peoples.

We know that nuclear weapons, though never used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, represent a clear and present danger to the very existence of humanity.

There was an immense risk of a superpower holocaust during the Cold War. At least once, civilization was on the very brink of catastrophic tragedy. That threat has now receded, but not forever — unless nuclear weapons are eliminated.

The end of the Cold War created conditions favorable to nuclear disarmament. Termination of military confrontation between the Soviet Union and the Unite States made it possible to reduce strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, and to eliminate intermediate range missiles.

It was a significant milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament when Belarus, Kazakhastan and Ukraine relinquished their nuclear weapons.

Indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 and approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the UN General Assembly in 1996 are also important steps towards a nuclear-free world. We commend the work that has been done to achieve these results.

Unfortunately, in spite of these positive steps, true nuclear disarmament has not been achieved. Treaties provide that only delivery systems, not nuclear warheads, will be destroyed. This permits the United States and Russia to keep their warheads in reserve storage, thus creating a “reversible nuclear potential.”

However, in the post-Cold War security environment, the most commonly postulated nuclear threats are not susceptible to deterrence or are simply not credible. We believe, therefore, that business as usual is not an acceptable way for the world to proceed in nuclear matters.

It is our deep conviction that the following is urgently needed and must be undertaken now:

First, present and planned stockpiles of nuclear weapons are exceedingly large and should now be greatly cut back;

Second, remaining nuclear weapons should be gradually and transparently taken off alert, and their readiness substantially reduced both in nuclear weapons states and in de facto nuclear weapons states;

Third, long-term international nuclear policy must be based on the declared principle of continuous, complete and irrevocable elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United States and Russia should — without any reduction in their military security — carry forward the reduction process already launched by START — they should cut down to 1000 to 1500 warheads each and possibly lower.

The other three nuclear states and the thee threshold states should be drawn into the reduction process as still deeper reductions are negotiated down to the level of hundreds. There is nothing incompatible between defense by individual countries of their territorial integrity and progress toward nuclear abolition.

The exact circumstances and conditions that will make it possible to proceed, finally, to abolition cannot now be foreseen or prescribed.

One obvious prerequisite would be a worldwide program or surveillance and inspection, including measures to account for and control inventories of nuclear weapons materials. This will ensure that no rogues or terrorists could undertake a surreptitious effort to acquire nuclear capacities without detection at an early stage.

An agreed procedure for forcible international intervention and interruption of covert efforts in a certain and timely fashion is essential.

The creation of nuclear-free zones in different parts of the world, confidence-building and transparency measures in the general field of defense, strict implementation of all treaties in the area of disarmament and arms control, and mutual assistance in the process of disarmament are also important in helping to bring about a nuclear-free world.

The development of regional systems of collective security, including practical measures for cooperation, partnership, interaction and communication are essential for local stability and security.

The extent to which the existence of nuclear weapons and fear of their use may have deterred war — in a world that in this year alone has seen 30 military conflicts raging — cannot be determined.

It is clear, however, that nations now possessing nuclear weapons will not relinquish them until they are convinced that more reliable and less dangerous means of providing for their security are in place.

It is also clear, as a consequence, that the nuclear powers will not now agree to a fixed timetable for the achievement of abolition.

It is similarly clear that, among the nations not now possessing nuclear weapons, there are some that will not forever forswear their acquisition and deployment unless they, too, are provided means of security. Nor will they forego acquisition it the present nuclear powers seek to retain everlastingly their nuclear monopoly.

Movement toward abolition must be a responsibility shared primarily by the declared nuclear weapons states — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, by the de facto nuclear states, India, Israel and Pakistan; and by major non-nuclear powers such as Germany and Japan. All nations should move in concert toward the same goal.

We have been presented with a challenge of the highest possible historic importance: the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free world. The end of the Cold War makes it possible.

The dangers of proliferation, terrorism, and new nuclear arms race render it necessary. We must not fail to seize our opportunity. There is no alternative.

Signed,

CANADA

Johnson, Major General Leonard V., (Ret.)
Commandant, National Defense College

DENMARK

Kristensen, Lt. General Gunnar (Ret.)
former Chief of Defense Staff

FRANCE

Sanguinetti, Admiral Antoine (Ret.)
former Chief of Staff, French Fleet

GHANA

Erskine, General Emmanuel (Ret.)
former Commander in Chief and former Chief of Staff, UNTSO (Middle East),
Commander UMFI (Lebanon)

GREECE

Capellos, Lt. General Richard (Ret.)
former Corps Commander
Konstantinides, Major General Kostas (Ret.) former Chief of Staff, Army Signals

INDIA

Rikhye, Major General Indar Jit (Ret.)
former military advisor to UN Secretary Generals
Dag Hammerskjold and U Thant
Surt, Air Marshal N. C. (Ret.)
 

JAPAN

Sakoijo, Vice Admiral Naotoshi (Ret.)
Sr. Advisor, Research Institute for Peace and Security
Shikata, Lt. General Toshiyuki (Ret.)
Sr. Advisor Research Institue for Peace and Security
 

JORDAN

Ajelilat, Major General Sahfiq (Ret.)
Vice President Military Affairs, Muta University
Shiyyab, Major General Mohammed K. (Ret.)
former Deputy Commander, Royal Jordanian Air force
 

NETHERLANDS

van der Graaf, Henry J. (Ret.)
Director Centre Arms Control & Verification,
Member, United National Advisory Board for Disarmament Matters

NORWAY

Breivik, Roy, Vice Admiral Roy (Ret.)
former Representative to NATO,
Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic

PAKISTAN

Malik, Major General Ihusun ul Haq (Ret.)
Commandant Joint Services Committee

PORTUGAL

Gomes, Marshal Francisco da Costa (Ret.)
former Commander in Chief, Army,
former President of Portugal

RUSSIA

Belous, General Vladimir (Ret.)
Department Chief, Dzerzhinsky Militay Academy
Garecy, Army General Makhmut (Ret.)
former Deputy Chief, USSR Armed Forces General Staff

Gromov, General Boris, (Ret.)
Vice Chair, Duma International Affairs Committee,
former Commander of 40th Soviet Army in Afghanistan
former Deputy Minister, Foreign Ministry, Russia

Koltounov, Major General Victor (Ret.)
former Deputy Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces

Larinov, Major General Valentin (Ret.)
Professor, General Staff Academy

Lebed, Major General Alexander (Ret.)
former Secretary of the Security Coucil

Lebedev, Major General Youri V. (Ret.)
former Deputy Chief Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces

Makarevsky, Major General Vadim (Ret.)
Deputy Chief, Komibyshev Engineering Academy

Medvedev, Lt. General Vladimir (Ret.)
Chief, Center of Nuclear Threat Reduction

Mikhailov, Colonel General Gregory (Ret.)
former Deputy Chief, Deparment of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces

Nozhin, Major General Eugeny (Ret.)
former Deputy Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces

Rokhlin, Lt. General Lev, (Ret.)
Chair, Duma Defense Committee,
former Commander Russian 4th Army Corps

Sleport, Lt. General Ivn (Ret.)
former Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces

Simonyan, Major General Rair (Ret.)
Head of Chair, General Staff Academy

Surikov, General Boris T.,(Ret.)
former Chief Specialist, Defense Ministry

Teherov, Colonel General Nikolay (Ret.)
former Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces

Vinogradov, Lt. General Michael S. (Ret.)
former Deputy Chief, Operational Strategic Center, USSR General Staff

Zoubkov, Rear Admiral Radiy (Ret.)
Chief, Navigation, USSR Navy
 

SRI LANKA

Karumaratne, Major General Upali A. (Ret.)
Silva, Major General C.A.M.M. (Ret.)
USF, U.S.A. WC (Sri Lanka)
 

TANZANIA

Lupogo, Major General H.C. (Ret.)
former Chief Inspector General, Tanzania Armed Forces

UNITED KINGDOM

Beach, General Sir Hugh (Ret.)
Member U.K. Security Commission
Carver, Field Marshal Lord Michael (Ret.)
Commander in Chief of East British Army (1967-1969),
Chief of General Staff (1971-1973),
Chief of Defense Staff (1973-1976)

Harbottle, Brigadier Michael (Ret.)
former Chief of Staff, UN Peacekeeping Force, Cyprus

Mackie, Air Commodore Alistair (Ret.)
former Director, Air Staff Briefing
 

UNITED STATES

Becton, Lt. General Julius (USA) (Ret.)
Burns, Maj. General William F. (USA) (Ret.)
JCS Representative, INF Negotiations (1981-88)
Special Envoy to Russia for Nuclear Dismantlmement (1992-93)

Carroll, Jr., Rear Admiral Eugene J. (USN) (Ret.)
Deputy Director, Center for Defense Information

Cushman, Lt. General John H. (USA) (Ret.)
Commander, I Corps (ROK/US) Group (Korea) (1976-78)

Galvin, General John R.,
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (1987-1992)

Gayler, Admiral Noel (USN) (Ret.)
former Commander, Pacific

Horner, General Charles A. (USAF) (Ret.)
Commander, Coalition Air Forces, Desert Storm (1991)
former Commander, U.S. Space Command

James, Rear Admiral Robert G. (USNR) (Ret.)

O’Meara, General Andrew (USA) (Ret.),
former Commander U.S. Army , Europe

Pursley, Lt. General Robert E. USAF (Ret.)

Read, Vice Admiral William L. (USN) (Ret.)
former Commander, U.S. Navy Surface Force, Atlantic Command

Rogers, General Bernard W. (USA) (Ret.)
former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army;
former NATO Supreme Allied Commander (1979-1987)

Seignious, II, Lt. General George M. (USA) (Ret.)
fomer Director Army Control and Disarmament Agency

Shanahan, Vice Admiral John J. (USN) (Ret.)
Director, Center for Defense Information

Smith, General William Y., (USAF) (Ret.)
former Deputy Commander, U.S. Command, Europe

Wilson, Vice Admiral James B. (USN) (Ret.)
former Polaris Submarine Captain


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