Are nuclear weapons and materials being secured and destroyed?

Are nuclear weapons and materials being secured and destroyed?
There are several agencies engaged in this work. Here are a few:

1) The International Atomic Energy Agency is tasked with oversight of nuclear and related facilities in 140 signatory states. They receive reports from the countries involved and engage in a program of regular inspections. For information on their activities, go to:

2) The G8 meeting in Canada resulted in the creation of the G8 Global Partnership Program. The Foreign Affairs Canada website advises:
The Global Partnership is intended to address one of the most serious security threats facing our world today by preventing terrorist groups from obtaining weapons and materials of mass destruction (WMD) to carry out their campaigns.

In recognition of this threat, G8 Leaders, under the guidance of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (1993-2003), committed the G8 to a program aimed at preventing the acquisition of weapons and materials of mass destruction by terrorists or those who shelter them. At the Kananaskis Summit, G8 Leaders, from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the European Union and Canada, united to launch the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction <> . The eight countries agreed to raise up to US $20 billion to support cooperation projects, initially in Russia. As Chair of the G8 for 2002, Canada reinforced its leadership on the initiative by committing up to CDN $1 billion over 10 years, beginning in 2003.
For further information on their priorities and progress go to:

The goal of NUNN-LUGAR is to lessen the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, to deactivate and to destroy these weapons, and to help the scientists formerly engaged in production of such weapons start working for peace.
For updates on progress, go to or

4) The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) was founded in January 2001 by Mr. Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting and Senator Nunn. NTI’s mission is to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. NTI seeks to raise public awareness, serve as a catalyst for new thinking and take direct action to reduce these threats. For their 2004 Report go to:

Do you want more information?

Do you want more information?
Here are some good sources of information:

Merav Datan and Jurgen Scheffran, “Principles and Means for Verification of a Nuclear weapons Convention”, INESAP Information Bulletin No. 14, Nov. 1997, p. 21.

Steve Fetter, “Future Directions in Nuclear Arms Control and Verification”, INESAP Information Bulletin No. 15, at p. 50.

Steve Fetter, “Verifying Nuclear Disarmament”, Henry L. Stimson Center Occasional Paper No. 29, October 1996.

Steve Fetter, “ A Comprehensive Transparency Regime for Warheads and Fissile Materials”, Arms Control Today, January/February 1999.

David Fischer, “Safeguards for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons”, INESAP Information Bulletin No. 14, Nov. 1997, p. 30.

Patricia M. Lewis, “Laying the Foundations for Getting to Zero: Verifying the Transition to Low Levels of Nuclear Weapons”, VERTIC Research Report No.1 September 1998, published by the Verification Information Technology Centre, London.

Bhaskar Menon, Disarmament: A Basic Guide published by the UN , NY, 2001. Available at:

Ministry of Defence (UK), “A Summary Report by the Ministry of Defence on the Study conducted by the Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston into the United Kingdom’s Capabilities to Verify the Reduction and Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”, published in 2000, found on the Federation of American Scientists website.

Annette Schaper, “A Treaty on the Cutoff of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons – What to cover? How to verify?, Summary, PRIF Report 48/1997

Annette Schaper, “The Cutoff of Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons: Scope and Verification”, INESAP Information Bulletin No. 14, Nov. 1997, p.36.

Annette Schaper and Katja Frank, “ A Nuclear Weapon Free World – Can it be Verified?” Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, PRIF Report No. 53.

Theodore B. Taylor, “Global Abolition of Nuclear Weapons – Verification of Compliance and Deterrents to Violation” Draft of Contributed Paper for 40th Pugwash Conference, 15 – 20 September 1990, Egham United Kingdom.

“Verification and Enforcement”, published by Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), in Energy & Security No. 12, Nuclear Weapons and the Rule of Law, Science for Democratic Action.

2004 reports from the NPT prepcom

(Debbie Grisdale, Physicians for Global Survival)

Report #1 Day 1 – Monday April 26, 2004

The day began with the daily delegation meeting at the Canadian Mission. We are 12 people – a combination of DFAIT people (from Ottawa, NY,Vienna and Geneva), DND, the Nuclear Safety Commission and 2 NGO reps (Ernie Regehr of Project Ploughshares and myself). We went over the day’s events, assigned tasks and discussed preparations for the next few days.

The prep com sessions run from 10-1pm and 3-6pm. This first day was devoted to opening statements by countries, including Canada. The UK and China were the 2 nuclear weapon states to present today. Overall the statements are quite repetitive – on dangers of proliferation, need to strengthen the NPT, bring the CTBT into force, achieve fissile material cutoff treaty, rejuvenate the paralysed Conference on disarmament etc. I am struck by the huge amount of time and resources and paper that are devoted to statements and briefs – words by the thousands. So much of what is said is repetitive and it all seems so inefficient when there is so much to do. This is why I am not a diplomat!

Canada is presenting a 3 part package on

  1. greater NGO access to the NPT process,
  2. increased reporting by States on their progress toward compliance with NPT and
  3. addressing the ‘institutional deficit’ of the NPT by creating a standing body with annual general conference mechanism etc to make the NPT more responsive to problems and emergencies as they arise (e.g. DPRK withdrawa in 2003l from NPT). The 3 parts fit quite well together and complement each other.

Several countries expressed interest is looking more at this last idea on institutional strengthening, while the UK minced no words saying ‘The idea is that such measures would strengthen the NPT process. We disagree. ..,.” Our job over the next 2 weeks is to talk up the three notions and get other states and NGOs (not so difficult!) interested in them so the ideas can be further developed and make to the 2005 Review Conference.

At noon the Middle Powers Initiative held a standing-room-only panel on ‘Ensuring Full Implementation of the NPT’ with the New Zealand Minister of Disarmament (only country with Minister of Disarmament), Cdn Ambassador for Disarm. Paul Meyer, former Swedish Ambassador for Disarmament and Tariq Rauf (a Canadian) of IAEA. The room had many government representatives as well as NGOs. Canada is well regarded and certainly featured prominently in this roundtable which was introduced by Doug Roche. (Canada is one of the very few delegations with an NGO rep on it – let alone 2.)

There is, overall, a good turnout of NGOS here – 69 are registered. Tomorrow they will have the whole afternoon to make their 11 presentations to the plenary. A core group has been working on them for the last 6 weeks. Ron McCoy will present IPPNWs on the human face of NW. After tomorrow aft. the government sessions will be closed to NGOs.

It is pouring rain, good thing this hotel is only one block from the UN – perfect location. Will report again after a couple of days.

Report #2 from NPT PrepCom April 27-30 2004

Government Country Statements

On morning of the prepcom’s second day more countries gave their statements. Countries frequently mention the 3 “intertwined” pillars of the NPT — disarmanent, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The room filled up as names on the list moved down to the US government’s turn. The US focused mostly on issues of treaty non-compliance and how to “devise ways to ensure full compliance with the Treaty’s non-proliferation objectives”. The US seems to feel they are in full compliance with Article VI of the treaty (which deals specifically with nuclear disarmament) and went so far as to hold a special closed briefing at a lunch hour to govts providing “hard evidence” about how they are in compliance. Several countries later, Iran spoke — reading their prepared statement saying after a year of verification by the IAEA there was no indication of diversion of nuclear technology from peaceful uses to a weapons program. Then they added another para to reply to the US accusations saying the US needs to come clean about its violation of the treaty and its proliferation activities. The US has targeted Iran repeatedly in their statements.

The government statements were extremely repetitive. Issues touched on by many countries include: the universal reaffirmation of support for the NPT and its three intertwined pillars; serious concerns about and the need to tackle non-proliferation and compliance (DPRK, Iran, Libya); the need for progress on disarmament; negative security assurances (NW states assurance to non-nuke states that they will not use NW on them — this is fundamental to NPT agreement); the need to deal with the proliferation of nuclear technology; the continuing CD impasse; the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the CTBT, the Additional Protocol and interest in the fuel cycle proposals. Many called for the PrepCom to make substantive, not only procedural, recommendations to the Review Conference. But to date, little progress is being made toward any substantive outcome from this prepcom.

NGO Presentations

On Tuesday afternoon 13 representatives from NGOs spoke to the plenary. There were several mayors, Sarah Estabrooks of Proj Ploughshares, Ron McCoy and a wonderful sight of a young German with bright fuschia hair. As the first several NGOs spoke, their directness in addressing the issues was a welcomed relief. The speeches ran long and took exactly the allotted 3 hours with no time for the hoped for Q+A. For details on NGOs recommendations see Report #3.

On Wed morning country statements were finally finished. For the afternoon session NGOs were no longer permitted on the conference room as has been the practice for the last number of years. They are allowed in for country statements only. Procedural issues were on the agenda — dates for next year’s review conference (May2-27), election of officers, agenda, rules of procedure etc. As countries debated the rules of procedure it was difficult to imagine how there could ever be agreement on an agenda, let alone anything of any substance. A number of issues were deferred — including a rule of procedure on NGO access to sessions.

Government Cluster&Mac226; Presentations

Over the next several days the governments delivered statements in what are called Clusters — of which there are 3 and deal with different aspects of the treaty -disarmament, nuclear safeguards and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. (These are supposedly different from their country statements but in actual fact go essentially over the same ground.)

The prepcom Chair (Indonesian Amb Sudjadnan) has kept a low key posture from the start, which is seen generously by some as exemplary of Indonesian subtletly, and by others as revealing a weak grasp of the process. It is believed by some that he is overly influenced by backroom sessions with the NWS, who are seeking a merely procedural outcome that does not attempt substantial recommendations. He did brief the NGOs at one of the early morning sessions.

NGO Access to Government Sessions

By Friday afternoon things had changed considerably for NGOs and they were permitted back into the “cluster” sessions The “cluster” sessions should finish Monday and it is not clear whether NGOs will be allowed to remain in during the remainder of the prepcom when, I believe and hope, there is more actual debate onn recommendations to go forward to the 2005 Review Conference.

Canada has been steadfast on NGO access and intervening on this issue whenever necessary. There are 2-3 other delegations with NGOs on them and so I have been asked a number of times by NGOs from other countries about how is it that Canada has one. I have been dividing my time between the govt sessions and the NGO panels.

NGO Sessions

The NGOs sessions are excellent, covering topics on missile proliferation, US weapons labs, civilian weapons inspectors, resolution of the crisis in the Korean Peninsula etc etc. One noon hour I went from a session by the UK government on their technical verification research program which also included outlining how they undertook mock inspections to a NGO session on “civilian weapons inspections” by representatives from churches and activist NGOs — the difference in the room was palpable in terms of personal engagement with the issue and the depth of the discussion. This holds true for most of the NGO sessions I have been to where they have very good presentations and information and are deeply aroused about nuclear disarmament and very frustrated with the lack of progress.

The question has been raised a number of times about how best to influence the government delegations and whether it is possible to do it here at the N. The answer that frequently comes back is that the work to be done is raising the awareness among civil society back home. For the Americans their first task is a change of president, but that is only the beginning. There was a very interesting presentation from Los Alamos Study Group on the social contract with nuclear weapons labs and the military in the state of New Mexico — the poorest state in the country, where 13% of the workforce is employed at the labs or in the military.

Over the weekend Abolition 2000 organized a town hall evening session on Friday, a rally on Sat (covered in the New York Times Metro section) and an all day general planning meeting on Sunday.

First thing this morning, Monday, Ambassador Meyer gave an “off the record” briefing to NGOs from the Canadian perspective.

The second week begins with the final slate of countries speaking on Cluster 1 issues — disarmament.

Report #3 from NPT Prepcom
Summary of Recommendations from NGO Statements to Plenary Session

Process of Developing the NGOs&Mac226; Statements

It took over 6 months of intensive brainstorming, debating, selecting and refining to get to these 13 statements. Not everyone is agreement on all points but the presentations reflect the NGOs “unquenchable desire for nuclear abolition” and “to rid the planet of nuclear weapons, verifiably and irreversibly”.

There were a number of Mayors or deputy mayors who participated in the presentation of the statements.

Vertical proliferation is defined as increases in the size of arsenals; the introduction of new weapons and new capabilities to arsenals including new means of delivery; and changes in the role of nuclear weapons in defense policy. All the nuclear weapon states are seen as proceeding with vertical proliferation programs that undermine the treaty.

Summary of Recommendations as presented:


  • Convene a Summit meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation tasked with the creation of an International Nuclear Disarmament Organization with the appropriate political and legal authority and financial resources to eliminate all nw and monitor the nuclear-free status.
  • Summit would be a prelude to the opening of negotiations on a Model NW Convention. * Establish clear timetable for the total abolition of nw no later that 2020, and negotiations should begin as of the 2005 NPT Review Conf on a phased program of incremental steps leading to the total elimination
  • NPT States Parties should condemn all practices that violate the letter and spirit of the NPT – inter alia preemptive nuclear strikes, development of new generations of NW
  • disarmament of delivery systems and of warheads
  • Let the radiation history of Indigenous peoples, hibakusha, downwinders, nuclear industry workers, community in the global south and elswhere be living history for all humanity – let us learn from it and prevent history from repeating itself.
  • to address the “disarmament deficit” and to avoid future reliance on the UNSC as a global lawmaker, revitalize the existing NBC-treaty regimes and create new multi-lateral agreements – on non-state actors, fissile materials, a biological weapons verification regime and more.

2. No new nuclear reactors

  • Moratorium on building of new nuclear reactors and old ones close down.
  • Transfer of funds from Export Credit Agencies and governments to an International Sustainable Energy Fund.

3. Implement and strengthen the NPT in a non-discriminatory manner that demands accountability

  • consider development of a permanent NPT body and a UN-based inspectorate, drawing on UNMOVIC capabilities, to address concerns of suspected or confirmed horizontal proliferation within the NPT framework and thereby reinforcing it, similarly for addressing and halting vertical proliferation
  • make common cause with BTWC and CWC in pursuit of mutually reinforcing systems for verification and enforcement
  • reconfirm commitment to 13 Steps to ensure it remains a living document and use as means to assess progress and to plot future steps
  • engage in broad and intensive discussions to acquire commitment to disarmament in 2005. NGOs are prepared to help in any way.
  • NNWS are encouraged to cooperate through diplomatic alliances to propose progressive and concrete recommendations as unified voice.

4. Insist that international mean international

  • Bring SORT into conformity with goal of NPT to achieve global disarmament under “strict and effective international control”
  • NPT member states should send invitations for formal observers from Israel, India and Pakistan at the NPT prepcoms and Review Conferences, and develop mechanisms for giving them greater access to NPT deliberations
  • Start negotiations immediately on a multilateral treaty banning shipment of NBC weapons
  • excess weapon-grade fissile materials of the NWS must be brought under IAEA safeguards. Parts of the nuclear fuel cycle should be brought under multinational control and that export controls should be universalized.
  • Revise withdrawal clause of the NPT and the method of convening States Parties to deal with disputes.
  • Provide financial and political support to the safeguard and verification regime thereby supporting the IAEA in verification of peaceful nuclear activities.
  • Create international controls on uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology through a multilateral agreement, as proposed by IAEA DG Mohamed ElBaradei
  • International oversight on the UNSC resolution on non-proliferation is required

5. Enhance NGO Access

  • Grant to NGO participants increased access to the proceedings, including fewer closed sessions allowing NGOs to attend cluster discussions and timely access to documentation.

6. Strengthen Member State Reporting

  • All states parties must be held to higher standard of reporting on treaty compliance in order to strengthen this as transparency tool.
  • Increase States’ participation in reporting before negotiating a standard format

7. Create an NPT Secretariat

  • Establish Secretariat to prevent functions and responsibilities and institutional memory of NPT from either falling to wayside or being dealt with in ad hoc fashion
  • Consider modeling on OCPW

8. Missiles, Missile Defences and Space Weapons: prevent an arms race

  • stop testing missiles and missile defence systems
  • initiate negotiations for an international treaty banning tests of ballistic missiles and of missile defence systems
  • initiate negotiations for a global treaty banning ballistic missiles and missile defence systems
  • any research, development, testing, building and deployment of weapons for use in space should be prohibited

9. Depleted Uranium

  • NPT member states are urged to sponsor a General Assembly [resolution] condemning the use of DU weapons and uranium-tipped radiological weapons

References to Canada in NGO Statements

  • “Australia and Japan have already decided to join US missile defence. Canada and the UK are in appropriate negotiations”
  • We also applaud the latest Canadian efforts to develop a comprehensive approach seeking to integrate space security issues with the international community’s need for security and equitable access to space for peaceful purposes, which has recently been presented at a seminar in Geneva”
    *Let us also ban all uranium mining in the First Nations of Canada and the United states, Australia, India and elsewhere that supplies the continuing global nuclear industry”.
  • “inalienable right” under the NPT to nuclear materials for peaceful purposes is given to all NPT parties and implemented by other NNWS such as Japan, Canada, etc

The full NGO statements can be found at

NPT PrepCom Report #4 May 3-5 2004

On Tuesday afternoon after countries had an opportunity to finish the last of the “special time” sessions which was on “Safety and Security of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Programs” the chair announced the program for the remainder of the week. The product of the prepcom will be a Report of the meeting (on procedural issues, provisional agenda for the 2005 Review Conference, Draft Rules of Procedure etc) and an annex to it that contains the Chairman&Mac226;s Factual Summary. After discussing the procedural issues in plenary on Wed AM countries would have a chance on Wed afternoon to meet with the Chair and Vice-Chairs individually to “provide their views” on what should be in the Factual Summary. The draft Report with the procedural aspects would be available on Thurs AM and the draft of the Factual Summary on Friday AM. This was announced by the Chair with no written overview of this timetable provided and many countries remained confused about what the plan was. Even one of the Vice Chairs admitted after in a smaller meeting that she was not exactly sure what was in the Chair&Mac226;s mind.

On Wed AM discussion on the provisional agenda for the 2005 Review Conference (which is essentially the 2000 Review Conference’s agenda) hit a snag when Canada proposed that that the review should take into account not only the decision taken at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference but also „the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference”. Sounds reasonable, the 13 Steps, a very important achievement, came out of the 2000 RevCon. Canada proposed it as simply a technical adjustment, an update, to the agenda not a substantive change. There followed a lengthy discussion in the plenary many countries supporting Canada but the US in particular unable to see any value in adding in 2000, another hour in a smaller group, a third session in the afternoon and still there is no agreement. Discussions on this “technical” and definitely “not political” point begin again today. These smaller group sessions are chaired by Canada&Mac226;s Ambassador Paul Meyer, doing an admirable job. Most of the countries support Canada&Mac226;s suggestion except the US and Russia and the UK. The UK suggested putting in the phrase “where appropriate”, until it was pointed out that this was “cherry picking”. Discsussion continue this morning.

The NGOs have daily briefings at 9AM by various delegations and delegates. Yesterday I meet with NGOs to talk about being “an NGO on the Canadian Delegation”. A number of NGOs are interested in knowing the background on the Canadian situation.

Below is the May 5,2004 editorial of the daily newspaper “News in Review”, put out by the financially struggling WILPF&Mac226;s Reaching Critical Will Project (NIR). It is ,handed out at the door of the conference room and read avidly by delegates. All the NIRs can be read at

Playing Chess with Damocles

International relations have often been described as a complex game of chess, played on multiple boards simultaneously, wherein a decision on one board directly affects the strategies and opportunities on all the others.

Over the past week and a half that this PrepCom has been in session, the accuracy of this metaphor has been highlighted several times. First, the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) were given fresh impetus in their quest to frame the discussion on non-proliferation, rather than disarmament, when Security Council Resolution 1540 was passed last week. The resolution, as the News in Review has commented several times, struck a blow to the delicate balance between disarmament and nonproliferation by failing to reaffirm the intrinsic link between the two indivisible goals.

The multidimensional chess game was in full action yesterday at the UN as well, as the PrepCom devoted special time to Regional Issues while the “Quartet” – the UN, U.S., E.U., and Russia- met in a separate part of the building to discuss the tattered Road Map to peace in the Middle East.

Nearly a dozen States took the floor to call for Israel&Mac226;s accession to the treaty- the main obstacle in the creation of a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ)- and to reaffirm the urgency of universalization and the denuclearization of the volatile region. The United States, meanwhile, utilized the Special Time to once again accuse Iran of “serious violation of its NPTobligations.”

France, the only other Nuclear Weapon State to take the floor yesterday, heralded Security Council resolution 687 and the proposals from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and offered a “checklist” of conditions necessary to create a much needed “new regional security framework.” In order to achieve a NWFZ in the tumultuous region, France called for: an established dialogue amongst all parties; compliance with NPT commitments from the region&Mac226;s States Parties; cessation of arms and delivery systems proliferation; strict adherence to the NPT, CWC, BTWC, and the CTBT; adoption of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the placement of all facilities under IAEA monitors; the elimination of existing stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as their means of delivery; and more.

It could be argued that had the 1995 Review and Extension Conference not adopted the resolution on the Middle East as part of the “Package of Decisions” States Parties might not have been able to ascertain the indefinite extension that prolonged the treaty&Mac226;s lifespan. Although the resolution has yet to be implemented, it remains, as Kuwait remarked yesterday, “an integral part” of the international disarmament and nonproliferation regime.

The absence of further decisions on the Middle East at the 2000 Review Conference was entirely due to the possibility of the 13 Practical Steps. In 2000, Non Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) in the Middle East were temporarily content to relegate the region to the back burner in exchange for the “unequivocal undertaking” by the NWS to disarm. Now that the NWS have clearly reneged on that diplomatic achievement, the NNWS are duly determined to reprioritize the Middle East as a front issue for the NPT at the next Review.

While the Quartet deliberates how to reconcile Israel&Mac226;s proposed withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, States Parties trek back to their Missions to consider how the NPT can best address the crisis.

Neither framework is likely to discover a silver bullet in the next few days. But, as pawns and bishops scuttle across their separate boards, the nuclear sword of Damocles continues to loom over the Middle East and the entire world.

— Rhianna Tyson, Reaching Critical Will

For my Report #5 I am attaching below the report of veteran NPT watcher Rebecca Johnson. As she outlines, the whole process bizarrely and despairingly fizzled out at the end, at 8pm Friday May 7 – 2 hours past the scheduled closing. There no agreement on any substantive urgent issue. Any agreement that there was was on purely procedural items and even many of those items saw no agreement at all and so cannot go forward as official documentation from this prepcom to next year’s Review Conference.

Overall the experience was a good learning opportunity in many aspects, but it reinforced indelibly for me that any progress on nuclear disarmament will come as a result of civil society pressing for it.

Lots to be discussed at the Board meeting. See many of you then.


Date: Sat, 08 May 2004 15:00:43 +0100
From: Rebecca Johnson <
Subject: NPT PrepCom crashes in disarray

Confusion and Anger as NPT Meeting Closes in New York

The Third Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2005 Review Conference of the NPT closed in disarray around 8 pm Friday May 7, 2004, with adoption of only parts of its final report containing the most minimal agreements to enable the 2005 Review Conference to take place. States Parties were unable to take decisions on important issues such as the agenda and background documents, in large part because the US delegation was determined to oppose and minimise references to the consensus final document from the 2000 Review Conference, which had resulted in the ground-breaking 13-step plan of action on nuclear disarmament. The United States, actively abetted by France and Britain, with the other nuclear weapon states happy to go along, wanted to rewrite the NPT’s history by sidelining the 2000 Conference commitments, at which they had made an “unequivocal undertaking& to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals”. A majority of other states, by contrast, wanted the 2005 Review Conference to build on both the groundbreaking agreements from 2000 and the decisions and resolutions from the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.

The meeting, chaired by Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadinigrat of Indonesia, was expected to be difficult, but was made more so by the ideological US obstruction to anything that mentioned the CTBT or the 2000 agreements. The nonaligned states, frequently spearheaded by South Africa, a key player in both 1995 and 2000, refused to capitulate, though far too many of the western non nuclear weapon states appeared ready to roll belly up and settle for a lowest common denominator trade-off. Most notably, as the meeting went through its motions, a significant number of parties showed preference for ‘waiting out’ the problem, in the hope that time, further consultations and, most importantly, more constructive political circumstances (which many associated with possible regime change in the United States in November), might make consensus more reachable before the 2005 Conference opens.

Throughout the meeting, there was much stating of positions, but little stomach for confrontation or compromise. After two weeks of lacklustre debates, with much repetition and very few new ideas, the last day of the meeting turned into a bad-tempered shambles that ended in near farce, with a series of confused decisions taken without interpretation, with the majority speaking English but two delegations insisting on French. The PrepCom even failed to abide by its own rules whereby, if discussions have been held in closed session, the meeting is opened to the public for formal decisions to be properly taken.

Along with the rest of civil society, the Acronym Institute was outside the room throughout the long day, gleaning information from a series of frustrated delegates as they wandered back and forth for cigarettes or coffee. As debates went round and round in circles, messing up earlier agreements on access for nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), adding and subtracting words to slide just one outstanding – but importantly context-establishing – paragraph on the agenda past the US blockage, it was clear that many delegates, including, some complained, the Chair, had lost the plot. Their confusion about what they were doing even extended to the final decisions, as illustrated by contradictory reports of what occurred at the end.

President-Elect Ambassador Sergio Duarte of Brazil may have to wait some time before there is full clarity about what was decided and what he will have to do over the next year to create the conditions for the Review Conference to get to work in May 2005. Certainly, the PrepCom failed to agree any substantive recommendations and refused to annex the Chair’s summary of the meeting, which will be issued merely as a chair’s working paper, with no authority. The Chair’s summary, issued late on Thursday evening, was – as with its predecessors – challenged by several states, including the United States and Iran. Canada was angry that the summary had failed to mention initiatives on strengthening the Treaty’s enforcement mechanisms; there were complaints that text on nuclear energy and safeguards provided by the Vice Chairs had been ignored. Illustrating the difficulties of walking this Chair’s tightrope, the summary provoked grumbles from some states that it too closely resembled the chair’s summary issued by Ambassador Laszlo Molnar of Hungary the previous year, while others complained that it read like a NAM (non-aligned states) document, of which Indonesia is a prominent member.

As it turned out, however, the chair’s summary was little more than a sideshow, paling into insignificance as states parties realised they were in danger of not being able to take the necessary decisions to enable the 2005 Conference to be held. After much to-ing and fro-ing it appears that the disputed parts of the report dealing with the more fundamental issues of agenda, background documents and subsidiary bodies will now be turned into a chair’s working paper that will be forwarded together with the bare bones of a report that were agreed.

In view of the confusion and the lack of reliable documentation on the decisions, a more substantive analysis will be published by the Acronym Institute once the decisions have been clarified and the statements and documents have been further analysed.


The NPT PrepCom opened at the United Nations in New York on April 26, 2004, and ran for two weeks. The meeting was required to come up with recommendations for the 2005 Review Conference, but seemed just to go through the motions, managing only to adopt a timetable of work at the end of the first week. On Friday, April 30, the decision was taken to enable NGO representatives to attend and receive statements and documents from the so-called ‘cluster debates’, on the non-tranfer and acquisition of nuclear technologies and nuclear disarmament, safeguards, and nuclear energy for non-military purposes. The objections to the timetable centred on whether there should be ‘special time’ allocated to the issues of security assurances (in accordance with which the nuclear weapon states commit not to use nuclear weapons to attack states without nuclear weapons) and the Middle East.

It was finally decided to fold the security assurances discussion into a session devoted to consideration of the practical pursuit of nuclear disarmament measures, and to include the Middle East question in a session on regional issues. For ‘equity’ among the three ‘pillars’ of the NPT, it was also decided to devote a session to ‘the safety and security of peaceful nuclear programmes’. Symptomatic of the lack of real progress at this PrepCom, it turned out that many statements to these special sessions merely repeated, with slightly more detail or argument, on points already given in general debates.

As anticipated (see my Disarmament Diplomacy 76 article on “The NPT in 2004: Testing the Limits”), the main focus of interventions from the United States has been noncompliance by North Korea and Iran and the need for stricter measures to deal with NPT parties who use the Article IV provision on nuclear energy to fulfil nuclear weapon ambitions. At the same time a large number of states, including many US allies, highlighted the importance of fulfilment of disarmament obligations – with emphasis on core agreements such as the CTBT – while also raising concerns about new developments in nuclear weapons or doctrines. States lined up to support Additional Protocol, and suggestions were put forward for how to manage nuclear fuel cycle supply, restruct exports in sensitive technologies and materials and provide better institutional tools for states parties to strengthen the treaty’s implementation.

The General debate heard interventions from: Mexico on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition; New Zealand; Ireland on behalf of the European Union; China; Britain; Algeria; Mexico; Malaysia on behalf of the Group of Non-Aligned States Parties; Australia; Peru; Indonesia; South Africa; Egypt; Bangladesh; Republic of (South) Korea; Switzerland; Japan; Syria; Venezuela; Canada; Belarus; Kazakhstan; Bahamas and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The General Debate continued on Tuesday and Wednesday with statements from France; Brazil; the Holy See; the United States (John Bolton); Norway; Iran; Russia; Viet Nam; Burma/Myanmar; Cuba; Ukraine; Morocco; Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group; Nepal; Chile; Argentina; Serbia and Montenegro; Mongolia; Saudi Arabia; Kyrgyzstan; Cuba; Nigeria and Ecuador. As a result of the decision to open the cluster debates to NGOs, these statements are also obtainable from the website of

In one three hour session, the PrepCom was addressed by thirteen civil society representatives, including the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Senator Patrik Vankrunkelsven from Belgium, the Mayor of Kiev, Olexandr Omelchenko, the Hon Bill Perkins, the Deputy Majority Leader on New York City Council and attended by a host of others. The full texts of the NGO statements, as well as a daily news review with summaries of the many civil society panels held during the first week, are also available from

The 2005 Review Conference will be held from May 2 to 28. A fuller analysis of the third PrepCom will be published in Disarmament Diplomacy 77, due out in June.

Senior Advisor, Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction <

Executive Director
The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy
24 Colvestone Crescent,
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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Reports filed for Canadian NGOs by Debbie Grisdale (Physicians for Global Survival) from the 2004 NPT prepcom: here


NPT Background

NPT Statements by States and Nongovernmental organizations

NPT Statement by Under Secretary General Jayantha Dhanapala

NPT Chairman’s Factual Summary, May 9, 2003

Comments on the NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting – 2003:
Senator Douglas Roche, O.C., Chairman, Middle Powers Initiative
Download as a pdf file: Ritualistic Façade

The reports filed for Canadian NGOs by our representatives on the Canadian delegation,
Ernie Regehr and Sarah Estabrooks:

Comments of Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute:

Bev Delong: Canada, missile proliferation and controls

Briefing note for Government-Civil Society Consultation Feb. 24 & 25th, 2004

The literature in this area seems based in a fantasy world of good guys and bad guys, or perhaps even a world where the only owners of nuclear weapons are North Korea, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. Rare are references to the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons. And nonexistent are references to the warnings given by Dr. Joseph Rotblat, General Lee Butler, Dr. Bruce Blair and others of the dangers involved in states persisting with policies of launch on warning. (1)

Thankfully greater realism has obviously encouraged Canadian officials in their persistent work in moving from the MTCR to the Hague Code of Conduct. The clarity of thinking is very evident in Rob’s excellent paper. We are in a somewhat more secure world due to his work on Pre Launch Notifications in the Code. Mark Smith of the Mountbatten Centre has commented on the importance as well of the establishment under the Code of basic working relationships and he notes that “Stopgap solutions, after all, are better than a widening gulf.” (2)

There is some evidence the MTCR has slowed transfers of sophisticated technology.(3) But all these initiatives fail to define disarmament as an urgent legal obligation.(4) And I think that apart from improving the procedures defined under the Hague Code and widening its membership, we may now be at a halt.

Why do states want missiles? Regional quarrels obviously support the drive to buy nuclear weapons. But, more importantly, I think that demand is fuelled when states are subjected to threats of nuclear use. The US is known to have made such threats over 20 times.(5) And the new- and near- nuclear states have noted the profound hypocrisy of NATO states who, while claiming to support the NPT, simultaneously maintain their capacity to threaten nuclear use.

Given this dangerous state of affairs, what could the Government of Canada do to build international energy toward fulfilling our legal obligation of nuclear disarmament?

A. The Government could use the opportunity of the NPT PrepCom to publicly move to an authentic position of legal compliance with the NPT. We can join South Africa and 61 other states now in NWFZs in delegitimizing nuclear weapons. This soon-to-be-historic (!) speech at the PrepCom would require several elements. The Canadian Government would:

1st, call upon all Nuclear Weapons States to immediately de-alert their nuclear weapons recognizing the threat posed by launch-on- warning strategies;

2nd, Canada would refuse the offer made by the US to Canada in the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction to use nuclear weapons to defend us, noting that such a defence is immoral, unlawful and could trigger a nuclear holocaust (6).

3rd, the Government would announce that Canada will no longer participate in NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group noting that such planning for the use of nuclear weapons is both immoral and unlawful as a breach of international humanitarian law; [I reject the “seat at the table”argument and think officials need to be very mindful of the implications of the Nuremberg Principles for those “planning…a war in violation of international law..”]

4th Canada would call upon the US to honour its Negative Security Assurances and withdraw its threats against the several states named in the Nuclear Posture Review; and finally

5th, Canada would call upon the US to withdraw its threat of preemptive nuclear use against states thought to possess WMD. Such threats simply encourage those states to acquire missiles and weapons to protect themselves against the US.

Imagine how such a speech might serve to delegitimize nuclear weapons?

In addition, there are other steps Canada could take to limit missile proliferation and to delegitimize nuclear weapons.

B. It is obvious that Canada should withdraw from all US plans for missile defence, noting that this program is encouraging the maintenance and indeed expansion of nuclear arsenals and missile technology worldwide. (7) As an alternative, the government could engage like-minded states in discussion of the possibility of a missile flight test ban. Indeed, Canada should invite other states to discuss the new threat potentially posed to satellites by missile defence technology and the need for satellite security. (8)

C. Canada might host meetings to explore the necessary elements of model domestic legislation criminalizing not just the activities of those involved in sales of nuclear technology – as Dr. El Baradei has proposed – but the activities of those involved in all aspects of nuclear weaponry. If we start a process of one state after another criminalizing nuclear weapons activities, perhaps it would build public support and political momentum toward a norm of rejection of nuclear weapons.

D. Canada could investigate means of supporting the renewal of a US-North Korea security agreement. The American assurance against the threat and use of nuclear weapons from the 1994 Framework Agreement should be urgently renewed. North Korea should quite simply be bought off with food aid and fuel.

E. The Canadian Government should be strongly encouraged to support efforts through ASEAN to build military and popular support for a North East Asia Nuclear Weapons- Free Zone. As recommended by the Pacific Campaign for Disarmament and Security, Canada might play a role by encouraging the invitation of civil society from the ASEAN states to present their proposals for this Zone and engage in debate within a ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting. (9) And a similar strategy should be supported in other regions.

F. As for the Proliferation Security Initiative, I am a newcomer to maritime law, but my initial look at the Law of the Sea Convention leads me to believe that interdiction on the high seas – no matter how justified – is currently unlawful. Almost more worrying is my sense that it will be perceived to be an act of bullying by states. We need to avoid rash action. If we want our seas nuclear free, the time must be taken to build consensus on a Nuclear Weapons Free Seas Treaty – applicable to all – or amend the Law of the Sea Convention. The U.S. should be warned that bullying activities may provoke further proliferation or terrorism against them.

G. More generally, but still very important, the Canadian government can confront proliferation by increasing funding directed toward democratization and development strategies worldwide, such work being of particular importance in these “states of concern”. It is this work that will in the long term build a more stable international security. Ernie Regehr has written very persuasively on the need for attention to governance issues. (10)

H. Finally, in accord with its undertakings at the UN on Disarmament Education, the government could fund a nuclear weapons education program to build a norm supporting abolition of nuclear weapons. It could initially be directed to four specific groups each of which might become engaged in discussing missile proliferation within their communities. Might I suggest these groups – all potential citizen inspectors or whistleblowers:
1) new Canadians who might have important contacts in new or near nuclear weapons states
2) scientists who could potentially be invited to engage in research regarding nuclear weapons and their delivery systems,
3) Canadians engaged in work, study and travel abroad, and
4) unions involved in the transportation industry responsible for handling goods in ports, and airports.
Such strategies might provide a truer and nondiscriminatory path to engaging the global public in understanding the risks of missile proliferation.

(1) Bruce G. Blair, “Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark”, Feb. 16, 2004;
Bruce G. Blair, “Rogue States: Nuclear Red-Herrings”, Dec. 5, 2003 (both at
Generals Lee Butler and Andrew J. Goodpaster, “Joint Statement on Reduction of Nuclear Weapons Arsenals: Declining Utility, Continuing Risks”, 2002 (at ;
David Ruppe “Experts Warn of Accidental U.S., Russian Missile Launches”, Jan. 28, 2004, Global Security Newswire,

(2) Mark Smith, “Preparing the Ground for Modest Steps: A Progress Report on the Hague Code of Conduct”, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 72, August – September 2003, at p. 10 wherein he comments “…while provision of information such as the HCoC’s PLNs [Pre Launch Notifications] and annual declarations is certainly a limited cure for the insecurity generated by missile development, the modest impact of such basic working relationships should not be dismissed. Stopgap solutions, after all, are better than a widening gulf.”

(3) Mark Smith, “Pros and Cons of the MTCR, and Efforts to Move Forward”, INESAP Bulletin 21, publishing a paper delivered on Jan. 24-26, 2003 in Berlin.

(4) W. Pal S. Sidhu and Christophe Carle, “Managing Missiles: Blind Spot or Blind Alley?”, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 72, August – September 2003, at p. 7.

(5) For instance, see the threat of nuclear use made by the U.S. in the Nuclear Posture Review. This is only one of a series of threats by the U.S. and other nuclear states. For a list of the threats, refer to “A Chronology of Nuclear Threats” which has been researched by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Maryland, USA. For a further update, see the speech”Nuclear Weapons: Forgotten but not Gone”, by Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation, on Feb. 24- 25, 2001 at their website within which the author notes: “…. over the past decade the U.S. has threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Libya (April 1996), North Korea (July 1994) and Iraq (1991 and 1998).”

(6) In the U.S. “National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction” released in 2002, it states “The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force – including through resort to all of our options – to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.”

(7). Unhappily we note that Russia has just engaged in a huge military exercise to test ballistic missile launches in an attempt to develop weapons systems “capable of providing an asymmetric answer to existing and prospective weapons systems, including missile defence”states Col. Gen. Baluyevsky, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces quoted in “General says maneuvers are response to American nuclear development plan”, International Herald Tribune (online), Feb. 11, 2004.

The report of these exercises in “Military Exercises of the Nuclear Briefcase” from Rossiyskaya Gazeta of Feb. 11, 2004 advises that “Such large-scale exercises have not been organized in Russia for a long time….Strategic nuclear forces will play the main role in the exercise.”

(8) David Wright and Laura Grego, “Anti-Satellite Capabilities of Planned US Missile Defense Systems”, Union of Concerned Scientists, Dec. 9, 2002, at

(9) “Promoting a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free-Zone: An Opportunity for Canada”, Pacific Campaign for Disarmament & Security, August 2003.

(10) The need to support improved governance has been well argued by Ernie Regehr in “Missile Proliferation, Globalized Insecurity, and Demand-Side Strategies”, Ploughshares Briefing 01/4.

In what ways does Canada support nuclear war-fighting?

In what ways does Canada support nuclear war-fighting?

The Government of Canada provides:

  • political, military and financial support for NATO and NORAD
  • airspace and facilities for nuclear bomber training/li>
  • approval for port visits by nuclear-armed submarines/li>
  • maintenance for communications sites for nuclear forces/li>
  • permission for deployment of bombers and support forces to Canadian airfields during nuclear crises/li>
  • support for production and export of components for nuclear weapon delivery vehicles, such as bombers and submarines

Although NATO has reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons, those states persist in relying on nuclear weapons as a “credible and effective element of the Alliance’s strategy of preventing war.”  Such statements serve to encourage other states to acquire nuclear weapons.  NATO has taken no steps to comply with the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons.  To find their current view, review the Final Communiqués out of the most recent Meetings of the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group at:

See also Canada and nuclear weapons: Canadian policies related to, and connections to, nuclear weapons
Ploughshares working paper 02-5 by Bill Robinson


Note on terminology used in discussing the launch of rocket-mounted nuclear weapons

In connection with “launch on warning” the terms used by different speakers, writers, and sources of information, have varied. At times they have been intentionally or unintentionally ambiguous. Different groups have used one term with various meanings, and few have made a serious attempt to achieve consistency.

In the launch of a nuclear rocket or salvo of rockets, the moment of the first launch relative to perceived actions by the enemy must be in one of three distinct time periods:

(i) Before any enemy missile has been launched;
(ii) During the flight of one or more enemy missiles, and before the detonation of any enemy warhead;
(iii) After the first detonation of an enemy warhead.

This paper (“No Launch on Warning”) concerns itself with period (ii), during which warning systems indicate enemy missiles or warheads in flight. Launch during period (ii) has been referred to in most anti-nuclear writings and speeches, and in discussion, as “Launch on Warning”. It is abbreviated to “L-o-W” in this paper.

The US military use the term “Launch under Attack”, or “LUA” to denote launch during the same time period (ii). Their spokespersons have sometimes denied a policy of ‘launch on warning’ while admitting “LUA”. The word attack may have been chosen in order to imply that enemy warheads have already detonated, or that perception of the attack was in some way more certain than it was in the context of “L-o-W” (which was used at an earlier date). However, “LUA” is defined in the dictionary of military terms at: as “execution by National Command Authorities of Single Integrated Operational Plan Forces subsequent to tactical warning of strategic nuclear attack against the United States and prior to first impact.” This (if you have grasped the jargon) is identical with the peace movement use of the term “Launch on Warning”.

“Launch on Warning” is not defined in the web version of the dictionary of military terms, which contains some 100,000 definitions. However we have been told that L-o-W can have a very scary meaning in deterrence theory. It means, or includes, a launch in period (i), that is before any enemy missile has been launched, but when there is convincing evidence that a nuclear attack by the enemy is imminent. It would be a huge attack, aimed mainly at rocket launch sites and enemy command and communication systems.

A consistent system of terminology for launches could be this:

Launch during period (i): “Launch on Warning”
Launch during period (ii): “Launch under Attack”
Launch during period (iii): “Launch after Detonation”

However, that is not the terminology in use. In practice the term “Launch on Warning” as used by non-military writers usually means a launch during period (ii). “Launch after Detonation” or “No Launch Before Detonation” are new terms we are suggesting here for the posture we advocate to eliminate the danger of a launch due to a false alarm.

A policy or option of launching during period (ii) inevitably carries a risk (perhaps only a very small risk, but always a real one) of the ultimate and most absurd disaster that the human species could inflict on itself – a full-scale nuclear war due solely to a false warning. That is why this paper advocates a change of policy: giving up the option of launch in period (ii) (whether it is called L-o-W or LUA) and waiting those few minutes to “Detonation” before launching retaliation. This change would eliminate the risk of starting a war because of a false warning.

An option of launch during period (i) obviously carries a greater risk of disaster with quite different possibilities for misinterpretation of information received. It is, however, not the subject of this paper.

No Launch on Warning

by Alan F. Phillips, M.D.

(see also Note on Terminology)

This paper argues for abandoning “Launch on Warning” (L-o-W), as a simple and quick method of greatly reducing the risk of nuclear war, pending the permanent elimination of nuclear weapons which has been promised by all the Nuclear Weapon States that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Elimination seems likely to take a considerable time, and meanwhile the world is at serious risk from a possible nuclear war, and particularly from a purely accidental war. It is this last risk which could be reduced almost to zero by abandoning L-o-W.

The discussion here is based on the simplifying assumption of a one-against-one antagonism – U.S.A. vs. Russia – with stability based on nuclear deterrence. The assumption is appropriate because L-o-W is only relevant between adversaries with arsenals adequate for them to consider a “disarming first strike”, rather than, say, a surprise attack on cities. Also, the war that it is essential for humanity to prevent at the present time is one between those two countries. Their arsenals are so large that if they should go to war the result would be complete destruction of civilization in the northern hemisphere, nuclear winter, and other sequelae that might combine to exterminate the human species.

Regarding the several other states that have, or may have, nuclear weapons deployed, their arsenals are so much smaller that only the civilizations of the warring states would be destroyed by a nuclear war between them. Collateral damage in other countries could be extensive, but not completely destructive. With their present arsenals, nuclear winter would be threatened only if practically all the weapons were detonated. These states with smaller arsenals are not believed to have the policy of “Launch on Warning”, so that in any case the discussion in this paper does not apply to them.

The concept that stability can be achieved by nuclear deterrence is an assumption that is seriously questioned. However, it is a concept that is assumed in arms control discussions between, and agreements made by, the governments and military establishments of U.S.A. and Russia. Nuclear deterrence is accepted for the present discussion because, without implying its validity, I am arguing for a change of just one feature in the two States’ military posture, for their own safety and the safety of the people of the world. The change is a logical necessity; it is urgently needed, and does not require any change in the assumptions upon which policy is based, whether these are valid or not. It is financially neutral, not requiring substantial extra expense nor yielding significant savings.

1. Definition of L-o-W, and distinction from “Launch Under Attack”

The term “Launch on Warning” is used here in reference to retaliation with rocket-mounted nuclear weapons to a perceived nuclear attack. It is the policy that, when there is a warning (by radar or satellite sensors) of attacking missiles on the way, requires a decision to launch or not to launch retaliatory weapons to be made so promptly that the launch can be done before any incoming warhead has arrived and detonated.

Another term, “Launch under Attack”, has been used less precisely by U.S. Strategic Command and in Congress, possibly sometimes with the intention of causing confusion. It is commonly supposed to mean a prompt launch of retaliation as soon as one or more incoming nuclear weapons have detonated. However, in the late 1970’s it was included in the dictionary of military terms by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained as “execution by National Command Authorities of Single Integrated Operational Plan Forces subsequent to tactical warning of strategic nuclear attack against the United States and prior to first impact.” This is identical to “L-o-W”. But at times military spokespeople have said their policy is not L-o-W, but “launch under attack”, implying that there is a difference, and that retaliation would be launched only after impact or detonation.

An alternative distinction has sometimes been implied: that L-o-W means to launch on a warning from one system (radar or satellite) alone, and “launch under attack” means launching retaliation before detonation, but only if the warning is confirmed by a second system. This is too uncertain a distinction to rely on. If communication with one system were temporarily disrupted there would be great pressure to act on an indication from only one. In fact it is believed that, because the Russian satellite fleet is incomplete, there are periods when segments of their periphery are not doubly monitored. Also some of the radar complexes installed under the Soviet system are now in independent States, and there is said to be a corridor along which missiles could approach with no warning early enough for evaluation of the situation before impact.

Both Russia and U.S.A. are believed to have the policy of L-o-W, as defined above, at the present time. If this is true of Russia, they must be relying on warning from only one system for a large fraction of the time. Their satellite fleet is incomplete and there are periods when segments of their periphery are not doubly monitored. Some of the radar complexes installed under the Soviet system are now in independent States. There is said to be a corridor along which missiles could approach giving no warning early enough for evaluation of the situation before impact. We have no way of knowing whether, for that direction of attack, their retaliation would be purely reflex or would wait for impact.

2. History of L-o-W, and the reasons for L-o-W

The avowed function of nuclear ballistic missiles is “deterrence”. Deterrence is in theory achieved when a potential attacker is convinced that an attack will be unavoidably followed by retaliation so devastating that it would be irrational to try it.

When the extreme destructiveness of nuclear weapons was realized, it became clear that a massive first salvo directed at command and weapon locations and at communications could diminish or eliminate a response. Knowledge of that by the enemy would weaken deterrence and invite a “disarming first strike”. To avoid this weakening of deterrence, the possibility was explored of launching retaliation before the first impact and detonation, L-o-W. It was probably put into effect as soon as such a quick launch became possible. The development of solid fuel as rocket propellant (around 1960) was a decisive factor.

During atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the early 1950’s the electrical phenomenon called “Electro-Magnetic Pulse” (EMP) was discovered. The Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) is an extremely sharp and energetic electromagnetic impulse that is emitted by electrons traveling at nearly the speed of light from a nuclear explosion. It is maximal when the detonation is at very high altitude and the electrons interact with the earth’s magnetic field above the atmosphere. It disrupts unshielded electrical and electronic equipment over a wide area. Around1960 the U.S. conducted a series of high-altitude nuclear explosions to investigate it, incidentally causing significant disruption of radio communications each time. The purpose was presumably two-fold: to explore the possibility of using the phenomenon to enable a disarming first strike, and to study methods of protecting their own electronic equipment so that deterrence would be maintained even if the enemy was planning to use EMP. The possibility that electrical disruptions might prevent retaliation made a second reason to adopt L-o-W.

As early as 1960 the propriety and morality of adopting L-o-W was being discussed , because of the recognized danger of launching on a false warning and so starting an unintended nuclear war. In that year the Planning Board wrote that it was “essential” to avoid the possibility of launching unrecallable missiles based on a false warning. They stressed the importance of a “reliable bomb alarm system to provide early positive information of actual missile hits.” In 1962, Robert McNamara said that as long as he was Secretary of Defense and Jack Kennedy was President, the U.S. would never launch on warning. But the same year, the Secretary of the Air Force must have been thinking of L-o-W when he informed Kennedy that once the Minuteman missiles had been deployed in the first complex, in their “normal alert status”, all “twenty missiles will be able to be launched in thirty seconds.”

A discussion in 1969 is on record as showing that some who were opposing “Ballistic Missile Defense” favoured L-o-W, but The White House is stated to have opposed it “on the grounds that 50% of warnings from Over-the-Horizon Radar were false”. (The validity of this position seems dubious, because no true warning of a nuclear ballistic missile attack has ever been received. Presumably the other 50% were true observations of test rocket launches.) Lawrence Lynn, of U.S. National Security Council Staff, responded that the new satellite early warning system was estimated to produce only one false alarm per year, which he evidently regarded as acceptable. Georgy Arbatov, a Soviet deterrence specialist who had joined the National Security Council, assured Council members that “neither side would wait if it received warning of an attack but instead … would simply empty its silos by launching a counter-strike at once.” That removes concern about failure of deterrence against a surprise first strike, but underlines the danger from a false warning.

It seems probable that by 1969 L-o-W had been the military policy on both sides, for a number of years, notwithstanding the record that in 1973 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird expressed the hope that “that kind of strategy would never be adopted by any Administration or by any Congress.” The recollections of former officers and enlisted men of Strategic Air Command (SAC) from the early 1970’s confirm that L-o-W was in effect then.

The policy of L-o-W is apparently still in effect both in U.S.A. and Russia, even though the Cold War is regarded as over. This seems inexcusably dangerous.

3. The danger of inadvertent N_war from false warnings or accidental coincidences.

Launch on Warning has kept the world exposed, for at least 30 years, to the danger of a nuclear war caused by nothing but a coincidence of radar, sensor, or computer glitches, and a temporary failure of human alertness to appreciate that an unexpected message of attack from the warning system is false, the enemy having done nothing. There is at most 20 minutes for the human operators and commanders to call and conduct a “threat conference”; and for the chief of SAC is put in touch with the President to advise him, and the President decides whether to order retaliation. The disaster of an accidental nuclear war has not happened yet, in spite of a large number of false warnings of which at least a few have had very dangerous features. This is a credit to the care and alertness of the military in both Russia and U.S.A. It should not be taken as reassurance. A single instance of launch of nuclear weapons on a false warning would result in nuclear war, and the end of civilization, just as surely as a nuclear war started by an actual attack. There would be no chance to review the system to make it safer after one failure of that kind.

The threat conferences require, and so far have achieved, the extraordinary standard of perfect accuracy. They have been called many times. Probably most of them have been routine and it was easy to exclude a real attack. To get some idea of how the laws of chance apply to the situation, suppose we make a very conservative assumption, that just one conference a year had a risk of error as high 1% (and that the rest had a much lower risk). It is simple mathematics to calculate that one 1% risk of disaster per year for 30 years does not result in 30%, but in a 26% probability of one actual disaster in that time. On that assumption, then, we had approximately 3 to 1 odds in favour of surviving the period 1970 – 2000, and we did survive. But so, from the risk of accidental war alone, we had a one in four chance of not surviving, which is not very safe. A single trial of Russian roulette is safer: it gives a one in six chance of death, or 5 to 1 odds on surviving. (This is not an attempt to calculate an actual probability. It 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.)

During the Cold War, many mishaps within the nuclear retaliation system on the U.S. side are known, including false warnings. There must have also been many such on the Russian side. One has been reported in which an officer decided on his own initiative not to report an apparently grave warning on his computer screen, on 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.

Scott Sagan described a large number of errors and accidents within the U.S. nuclear deterrence system, in a study of rival theories of accident probabilities. He concluded that the risk of nuclear war from accidents had not been excessive. I came to the opposite conclusion from his data. I have collected from that source and others, 20 mishaps that, with less alertness among military officers, or some coincidental problem, might possibly have started a war.

One example of a situation that was difficult to assess correctly at the Command Center, was this: On the night of 24 November, 1961, all communication links between SAC HQ and NORAD went dead, and so cut SAC HQ off from the three Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sites (BMEWS), at Thule (Greenland), Clear (Alaska), and Fylingdales (England) . For General Power at SAC HQ, there were two possible explanations: either enemy action, or the coincidental failure of all the communication systems, which had multiple ostensibly independent routes, including commercial telephone circuits. The SAC bases in U.S.A. were therefore alerted and B-52 nuclear bomber crews started their engines, with instructions not to take off without further orders. In the hope of clarifying the situation, radio contact was made with an orbiting B-52 on airborne alert which was near Thule (5,000 kilometers away) at the time. Its crew contacted the BMEWS station and could report that no attack had taken place, so the alert was cancelled. The reason for the “coincidental” failure was that the “independent” routes for telephone and telegraph between NORAD and SAC HQ all ran through one relay station in Colorado (which seems to show a remarkably stupid error in system design). At that relay station a small fire had interrupted all the lines.

That particular false warning was followed by a coincidental mishap that could have been disastrous. It seems there was an error in transmitting the alert code to 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburg, New York. A former aircraft maintenance technician, who was serving at that B-52 bomber base, recently told me his recollection of the incident (which is vivid) is that the coded order first received by the bomber crews instructed them to take off and proceed directly to their pre-assigned targets, and bomb. The order was down-graded to the code meaning “wait with engines running”, before any plane had taken off. If the corrected code had not been received in time it could have been very difficult to stop the bombers.

The episode just described took place before L-o-W was instituted for the ICBMs that were in service. By 1979 the policy of L-o-W was in effect, and on the morning of 9 November a war games tape was running in a reserve computer when failure of the operational computer automatically switched in the reserve to take its place. The Threat Conference saw the picture of a massive attack in a realistic trajectory from Russian launch sites. On that occasion, preparation to retaliate got as far as launch of the president’s National Emergency Airborne Command Post (though without the president), before the error was discovered.

The most recent example known to the public was on 25 January 1995 when, as described in a report of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “the Russian missile early warning system detected a scientific rocket launched off the coast of Norway. This area is frequented by U.S. submarines, whose ballistic missiles could scatter eight nuclear warheads over Moscow within fifteen minutes. Norway had informed the Russian Foreign Ministry about the upcoming launch, but this information had not been transmitted to the military. Over the next several minutes President Yeltsin was informed of the possible American attack, and, for the first time ever, his ‘nuclear briefcase’ was switched into alert mode for emergency use, allowing him to order a full Russian nuclear response. Tension mounted as the rocket separated into several stages, but the crisis ended after about eight minutes (just a few minutes before the procedural deadline to respond to an impending nuclear attack) when it became clear that the rocket was headed out to sea and would not pose a threat to Russia.”

4. Recommendations to U.S. Government on the need for de-alerting.

Several reports to governments have indicated the importance of abandoning this hair-trigger stance with weapons of such terrible destructive power. The first two steps in the recommendations of the Canberra Commission were: “• Taking nuclear forces off alert • Removal of warheads from delivery vehicles.”

5. A working definition of “de-alerting”, and how it might be done.

“De-alerting” is a term commonly used in suggestions and recommendations that nuclear weapons should be taken off “hair-trigger alert”. A definition that covers the current usage is that physical changes are made so that there is an unavoidable delay between a decision to launch, and the irrevocable step by which the rocket is actually launched. It would be incompatible with L-o-W, and would provide a period in which to review the fateful decision and take counsel.

A wide variety of methods have been suggested to introduce this delay. A very radical one would be to have all warheads removed from all delivery vehicles, and stored at a distance from them. Others include:

• making a heap of earth and rocks on silo lids that requires heavy machinery to remove it;
• removing hydraulic fluid from the machines that raise silo lids;
• inactivating the mechanism that rolls back garage roofs (Russia);
• pinning open a switch in a place that takes time to reach, or within a casing that takes time to open; and
• removing batteries, gyroscopes, or guidance mechanisms from rockets or re-entry vehicles

Some methods would be applicable to some types of warhead, and some to others. For each one a suitable method would have to be chosen and the details adjusted to achieve the required delay.

De-alerting would make sure that nuclear weapons could not be brought into use hastily. It would tend to reduce reliance on them in crisis situations, and thus be a step towards their eventual elimination from national arsenals. De-alerting would also make unauthorized launch of a nuclear weapon far more difficult to do, and would remove entirely the risk of accidental war due to a false warning. It would make more improbable the already unlikely event of a serious dispute between Russia and U.S.A. pushing either of the two into intentionally starting a war, by giving more time for diplomatic exchanges between the hostile governments and for conciliatory efforts by third parties.

However, there seems to be an obstacle that is difficult to overcome. Until elimination of the weapons is complete and assured by treaty, it has to be assumed that governments will go on regarding possession of nuclear weapons as essential deterrence against use of them by their enemy.

The two governments will require approximate equality of arsenals, and the military will insist on close symmetry of the de-alerting delays enforced. That would require rather complex arrangements, because of the differences in warhead types and in delivery vehicles. In the event that one side was actually intending to start a war, they would as rapidly as possible start to reverse the de-alerting process and ready their first salvo to fire. The other side would follow suit immediately, assuming that a verification system was set up so that they knew immediately. During the re-alerting process the weapon system would be vulnerable to attack, so whatever different systems were in use, the enforced delay times would have to be equal.

The governments will also demand intrusive verification to ensure the completeness of the de-alerting measures actually carried out, and that they cannot be secretly reversed. This may require representatives from neutral countries, and perhaps from the adversary, in the vicinity of each one’s launch sites. The military on both sides will then be concerned about maintaining the secrecy of features of their systems. To include verification acceptably for submarine-launched missiles would be extremely difficult.

It would take a prolonged technical study and discussion to set up these two systems — the de-alerting itself and the verification — in a way that would satisfy the two adversaries. When the experts and the military establishments were satisfied (which might prove impossible) a formal written agreement would be needed. This could require an actual treaty which would need ratification by the parliament on each side, and this raises another possibility of disappointing failure after years of work.

The only other way of getting the two governments and military establishments to accept de-alerting, is to persuade them that deterrence with nuclear weapons is no longer necessary. It may be even more difficult to do that.

6. NO L-o-W would be much easier to achieve.

A very simple change can be made which would remove entirely the risk of a launch of nuclear weapons in response to a false alarm. It is to abandon the policy of Launch on Warning. Since a false warning is immediately revealed as such when the predicted time has passed for the first rockets to arrive and no detonation has been detected, simply delaying retaliation until there has been a nuclear detonation guarantees that a war will not be started accidentally from that cause.

Incidents from which a purely accidental war might have been started seem to have outnumbered the actual geopolitical crises when nuclear war was intentionally threatened. Most of these threats, though dangerous, have been regarded as threatening gestures rather than an actual thought of going to war.

Since the Berlin Wall came down, the most serious threat of a nuclear war between Russia and U.S.A. known to the public has been the “Norwegian Rocket event” of January 1995, described above. Without L-o-W, the Russian alert and the anxious few minutes would still have occurred, but there would have been absolutely no danger of nuclear war because the rocket was unarmed and there could not have been a nuclear explosion.

To change from L-o-W to NO L-o-W does not require any change of alert status of the retaliatory system. It only requires a change of standing orders and standard operating procedure, such that no launch may take place until a nuclear detonation is reported.

A possible procedure might be as follows: As soon as a warning is received that the threat conference deems might be real, the order to prepare for launch is given, and arrangements are made to put the Chief of Strategic Command in touch with the President (or the equivalent steps on the Russian side, if it is their warning system that has come into action). As the situation develops over the next few minutes, the President decides whether, in the event of it proving to be a real attack, he will launch immediate retaliation. If he decides to do so, he will give a conditional order to retaliate using the appropriate SIOP option. Perhaps half of the launch code will be sent to the silos at once. The remainder will sent with the order to launch as soon as a detonation is reported to the military command. If the actual launch order is not received at the silos within a predetermined time, the preparatory order is regarded as cancelled and the preparatory steps are reversed without further orders.

Bomb alarms were installed many years ago near all military installations and all big cities in U.S.A., and presumably in Russia, which automatically and instantaneously indicate at the Strategic Command Centers any nuclear explosion and its location. If, and only if, indication of a nuclear explosion was received at the predicted arrival time of the attack, the final order to launch would be sent immediately to the silos. No delay to obtain presidential authorization would be needed at that point. The actual retaliatory launch could probably take place within a minute of the first detonation.

With a procedure like that in place, there would be no possibility of launching nuclear-armed rockets unless an actual attack had taken place. It would probably eliminate 90% of the current risk of nuclear war between U.S.A. and Russia.

A secondary benefit would be the reduced stress on the President during those vital minutes. He would know that he was not in danger of starting a war on a false warning. Under L-o-W, that worry might impair his concentration on the main issues.

It is worth noting that the change to NO L-o-W can start with a unilateral decision. Neither side wants an accidental war. They know that if either side mistakenly launches nuclear weapons both countries are going to be destroyed: it makes no difference who started it. If one side changes to NO L-o-W the risk of a purely accidental war from a false warning is approximately halved, immediately. It does not depend on the other side knowing that the change has been made.

7. Any loss of deterrence is minimal.

There can be few grounds for objection, by the military or by the governments, to this very necessary safety measure. One objection has to be taken seriously: that “NO L-o-W” might impair deterrence and tempt the enemy to try a “disarming first strike”. There are good reasons why this objection should not be allowed to prevent the change.

• First, for a first strike to be a rational option, the attacking side would have to be sure that the first salvo could effectively disarm the enemy within one minute of the first detonation. Their degree of alertness has not been reduced, and retaliation for a real attack would still be launched within a minute, as explained above. Synchronisation of detonation times on widely separated launch sites and command posts could not be assured to that accuracy, even if the many other uncertainties could be overcome.

The other possible method to prevent retaliation would be a first salvo engineered to maximize EMP and disable enemy electronics instantly. It is hardly credible that the attacking side could feel sure that their EMP would disrupt communication and launch mechanisms sufficiently, since they know that military electronics will have been shielded. Furthermore, they will know that submarine-launched missiles will not be disabled, because the sea-water shields the submarines and their contents.

• Second, the side planning an attack would have to be sure that their adversary had in fact changed to and remained under a policy of NO L-o-W. They cannot be sure without verification. A verification agreement is therefore not only unnecessary but actually undesirable.

• Lastly, the original reason for L-o-W does not now apply. During the Cold War it was assumed by both sides that the other would make a pre-emptive first strike in the event that it believed war to be inevitable, or would contemplate an unprovoked attack if that were possible without unacceptable damage to itself. At the present time it seems most unlikely that either U.S.A. or Russia is contemplating an attempt to destroy the other by a nuclear war. Nor are there any disagreements on the horizon that are likely to make war “inevitable”.

If the situation should change so that either side believed a first strike against it to be once again a real threat, then the NO L-o-W policy can be changed back instantly to L-o-W by an executive order, and the small changes that were made in operating procedure could be overridden. In the ordinary course of events there would be no reason to change back: NO L-o-W on either side is an advantage to both, simply because it halves the risk of a purely accidental nuclear war.

If, despite these arguments, the military establishment on either side is not convinced, the head of state must balance the elimination of the very definite risk of accidental war due to a false warning, against a hypothetical possibility of weakened deterrence. The results of a nuclear war would be the same, whether started by accident or by intention.

8. Conclusion.

Compared with real de-alerting that introduces a time delay, the change to NO L-o-W is quick and simple. It does not need symmetry, verification, agreement, nor even trust, between the adversaries. If adopted unilaterally by one, it is of immediate benefit to both. It does not impair deterrence. Unilateral operation of NO L-o-W by one country for a time might well be sufficient for the other to understand the benefit and to realize that the change did not in fact invite a first strike.

Putting NO L-o-W into effect requires only an executive order, followed by a change in Standing Orders to the effect that no rocket is launched until a nuclear explosion is reported to Strategic Command. There is no reduction in alert status. There would be minor changes in the launch sequence to suit whatever safeguards would be made to ensure that no launch could occur while the crews in the silos were waiting for the final order, and that they would be ready for instant launch if that order came through.

All the world’s people would be safer for the change. Therefore all governments have a duty to their people to urge the U.S. and Russian governments to make it at once. NGOs should consider making this their primary objective until it is achieved. Thereafter, they will continue to urge the Nuclear Weapon States to fulfil their undertaking to eliminate nuclear weapons from their arsenals.


Ballistic Missile Early Warning System
ElectroMagnetic Pulse
Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile
Launch on Warning
Non-Governmental Organization
North American Aerospace Defense Command
Strategic Air Command (later changed to “Strategic Command”)
Single Integrated Operational Plan
Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

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.]


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.”


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.


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.]


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.


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.

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,
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), 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:


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:

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:
Acronym Institute (UK):
Reaching Critical Will (operated by WILPF in New York):

Reductions in nuclear warheads

Reductions in nuclear warheads

Have reductions in nuclear arsenals occurred?
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)

For more information on proposed agreements see:

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:

“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.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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