Russia Violated the INF Treaty. Now What?

On the radar: Engage, not withdraw; Full compliance report; Russia in denial; LANL’s retribution firing; Obama’s budgets defying Obama’s goals; Air Force wishes deterrence could be cheaper; and Theodore Van Kirk, 1921-2014.

July 31, 2014 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke

After the violation - What should the U.S. do in response to Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty? Amb. Steven Pifer writes in the LA Times that “withdrawal from the treaty would be a mistake” and the Obama administration should channel President Reagan to bring Russia back into compliance. Reagan, faced with Russia’s violation of the ABM treaty, pressed Russia to come back into compliance while negotiating successive treaties that eliminated thousands of nuclear weapons.

--Amb. Pifer’s recommendations: The U.S. should continue to observe the INF treaty, press Russian officials to come back into compliance, engage America’s allies. Full article here.

Valuable tool - “Washington and its allies are better off using the INF issue as a way to moderate Russian behavior and judge its future actions. Killing the treaty eliminates a valuable tool, even one that has been violated,” writes Jon Wolfsthal in The Huffington Post.

Violation - The State Department details its finding on Russia’s violation of the INF treaty in its new report, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.” See page 8-10 (pdf)

Riiiiiiiiiiiight... - “Russia denied on Wednesday accusations by the United States that it had violated [the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty] by testing cruise missiles,” writes Neil MacFarquhar for The New York Times.

Russia’s GLCM and the INF - “The Russian violation of the INF is, if true, a very serious matter and Russia must immediately restore its compliance with the Treaty in a transparent and verifiable manner,” writes Hans Kristensen in a technical analysis of Russia’s treaty violation for the Federation of American Scientists.

--”The official accusation it is likely to stir up calls for the United States to abandon the INF Treaty and other arms control efforts. Doing so would be a serious mistake that would undercut benefits from existing and possible future agreements. Instead the United States should continue to adhere to the treaty, work with the international community to restore Russian compliance, and pursue additional measures to reduce nuclear dangers worldwide.” Full analysis here.

Retribution firing - James Doyle, a political scientists and 17-year employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, got fired this month from the lab for publishing an agency-cleared article critiquing theories about nuclear arms races and supporting the Obama administration’s embrace of a world without nuclear weapons. “Experts say Doyle’s treatment raises questions about the commitment of the nuclear weapons labs — which face increased competition for resources amid declining military interest in their key product — to intellectual independence in their workforce,” writes Douglas Birch of the Center for Public Integrity.

--Read more about how the labs persecuted one of their employees for not staying on message about the lab’s central mission: building new nuclear weapons for $2 billion per year. Full story here.

--This is the article that got him fired: “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?” by James E. Doyle in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, February, 2013.

Misplaced priorities - “The substantial nuclear security budget cuts proposed by the Obama administration for fiscal year (FY) 2015, if approved, would slow progress toward preventing the essential ingredients of nuclear bombs from falling into terrorist hands,” write Matthew Bunn, Nickolas Roth and William Tobey in a new report, “Cutting Too Deep: The Obama Administration’s Proposals for Nuclear Security Spending Reductions” from the Belfer Center. (pdf)

--How it played: “Is Obama Changing His Mind About Nuclear Weapons? The administration is now spending far more to refurbish them than to reduce them.” by Douglas Birch in Politico Magazine.

North Korea’s missile activities - “Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that North Korea is nearing completion of construction and test activities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station to support long-range missile and satellite launches in the future,” writes Nick Hansen in a new analysis for 38 North.

Question - “Should America Keep Its Aging Nuclear Missiles?” asks Geoff brumfiel for NPR’s All Things Considered. Listen to the full story here.

Air Force likes its nukes - “The sustainment and improvement of the individual nuclear weapons is critical to the success of this deterrent stance and warrants continued emphasis. Improvements in the weapons themselves may offer opportunities for better delivery capability, to include modernized bombers and missiles that will ensure our nuclear mission remains the bedrock of national security...The nuclear mission must remain the clear priority of Air Force leaders at all levels,” writes the Air Force in a new report “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future.”

--Laugh line: In support of a modernized spin on deterrence, the Air Force argues, “Instead of committing vast amounts of national treasure to overwhelm any and all potential adversaries, we will develop innovative, lower-cost options that demand high-cost responses. If it costs markedly less for us to defeat a missile than it does for the adversary to build and launch it, the strategic calculus changes significantly.” Full report here. (pdf, p. 14)

Tweet - @SchwartzCNS: 24 years ago today, the United States manufactured its last completely new nuclear warhead (a W88) @PantexPlant

Theodore Van Kirk, 1921-2014 - “Theodore (Dutch) Van Kirk, the navigator and last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the last days of World War II, died on Monday at his home in Stone Mountain, Ga. He was 93,” writes Richard Foldstein in The New York Times.

--Mr. Van Kirk and the crew of the Enola Gay defend the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. “We were fighting an enemy that had a reputation for never surrendering, never accepting defeat...It’s really hard to talk about morality and war in the same sentence,” said Van Kirk. Full story here.

Closing time - After more than ten years of covering WMD issues as a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Global Security Newswire is closing up shop today. Here at Early Warning, we have greatly appreciated the top-notch work that GSN’s journalists always produced.

--Congrats to Global Security Newswire on a strong run. We especially want to thank editor Elaine Grossman and her team. We’ll be following their future work closely @ElaineMGrossman @OswaldRachel @DPGuarino @BarnesDi

Quick Hits

--”Senators and South Africa” by Mark Hibbs for Arms Control Wonk.

-- “How Partisanship Could Save Iran Diplomacy” by Ali Gharib for The Nation.


--“Nuclear Security Cuts: Why Now, What’s at Stake, and What’s Next?” Lunch briefing with Matthew Bunn and William Tobey. July 31 from 12:30 to 1:30 at 1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 7th floor. RSVP by email to

--“Hiroshima Peace Commemoration.” Sponsored by the DC Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee. August 5 at 6:30 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave., SW, Washington.

--“The Nuclear Zero Lawsuits: Why the Tiny Marshall Islands Took on the Nuclear Nine.” Discussion with Rick Wayman, Neisen Laukon, and Erica Fein. August 6 from 3:00 to 4:00. Registration for online webinar available here.