A USNI Article by Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, USN (Ret) is currently being linked by the Drudge Report.

President Barack Obama was outmaneuvered by the Russians and should have abandoned the New START negotiations instead of seeking a political victory, says former nuclear plans monitor Vice Admiral Jerry Miller, USN (Ret).

“The Obama administration is continuing a dated policy in which we cannot even unilaterally reduce our own inventory of weapons and delivery systems without being on parity with the Russians,” Miller told the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Md. “We could give up plenty of deployed delivery systems and not adversely affect our national security one bit, but New START prohibits such action – so we are now stuck with some outmoded and useless elements in our nuke force.” – Read the rest at ‘Obama was outmaneuvered by Russians on START’

For me it makes no sense to complete such an agreement with the Russians when they are working overtime to enable other bad actors around the world, such as the Iranians and just recently Venezuela. Back in 2008 I wrote an article noting a number of points why it was OK to stop paying off Russia in regards to it’s nuclear weapons given that the payback was pretty pitiful. These points are still relevant today:

1. At the moment, those most likely to steal a nuclear weapon from Russia are probably the same groups who are most likely to detonate a nuke inside Russia. Remember that Russia has a terrorist problem in Chechnya and they have struck inside Russia proper. Careless accountability puts Moscow at as much if not more risk for a nuclear attack than any Western country. Also, there is much less risk of being caught getting a nuke to Moscow than trying to move it halfway across the planet to get it to US soil. As a bonus, international stupidity has awarded Russia the Olympics games. So in addition to having Moscow as a target, terrorists might just as well target Sochi Olympics with the goal of wiping the city (and everyone in it) from the map.

2. Russian Nuclear scientists. Paying this money provides many of these scientists with support, but probably keeps them either idle or doing busy work that they have no interest in. A US Government study had already suggested that work from some of these scientists directly benefited the Iranian nuclear program. (See: US Assistance to Russia Funding Iranian Nukes) With all the calls around the globe for new nuclear plants, how about letting these nuclear experts move abroad and help the world increase its nuclear power generating capacity. If it takes aid money to facility the shift, then that is probably money much better spent than it is now.

3. Speaking of the Iranians, while the US is paying to secure existing Russian nukes, the money does nothing to prevent Russia from teaching the Iranians to build their own. This has included not only the supply of scientists, but also equipment, machinery and raw nuclear material. So while they are not passing whole nukes out the door, they are essentially sneaking out nukes in pieces.

Iran’s first nuclear plant in the southern city of Bushehr, which is being constructed in cooperation with Russia, is expected to become operational later on in 2008.

In December 2007, Russia began delivering 82 tons of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant, under the supervision and subject to the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The United States, Israel and their European allies allege that the enriched uranium provided by the Russians could be used to produce weapons-grade substances, and accuse Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of pursuing a military nuclear program. – Hurriyet

Putin and Ahmadinejad – Each the other’s most Useful Idiot

4. Russia has already used nuclear material in an attack, littering Europe with radioactive material in the process, exposing thousands of travelers to the nuclear radiation in the process.

Vladimir Putin should be known throughout the world as “Putin the Poisoner.” His signature act — the action that defined Putin’s character for all the world to see — was the radioactive poisoning of KGB turncoat Alexander Litvinenko in London, using polonium-210. The kicker is that you can’t just buy polonium-210 at your local chemical supply store. You can only get it if you have a nuclear weapons industry, because there you need it to start a nuclear chain reaction. It’s a super-tricky substance to control. Putin’s assassins left their traces all over London. Chemically, Po-210 is 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. But the Russians have always favored overkill. – American Thinker

5. Russia and the former Soviet States are still littered with unsecured nuclear material:

Another DOE effort that has been upended by the local violence is the tracking of abandoned radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) – thousands of highly radioactive strontium and caesium powered batteries that were placed throughout remote portions of the Soviet Union as navigational beacons and power sources.

These sources have fallen into decrepitude, and much of the paperwork on their whereabouts and conditions were lost with the Soviet Union’s fall. The RTG units are frequently dismantled for valuable scrap metal by scavengers. More troubling, the strontium and caesium sources also go missing.

The DOE-led effort to isolate, dismantle and dispose of these forgotten facilities “will, for the time being have to be shelved,” said a DOE source in a telephone interview. – Bellona


Georgian interior ministry officials maintain that much of the nuclear material they stop can be traced directly to Russian sites, largely in Siberia. But, complained on official in an interview with Bellona Web Tuesday, the Russians are satisfied to leave these clean up efforts to Georgia, and will rarely take responsibility for Russia nuclear material ending up in the hands of Georgian law enforcement.

“To say that we are intercepting materials that come from Russia, and have the Russian’s admit it, means that the Russian sites are not as secure as they want the world to believe,” said the Georgian interior ministry spokesman, who, citing the current violence requested anonymity. – Bellona

6. Russia itself is a threat to nuclear material stockpiles:

“Russia will say that they will secure these radioactive sources, but the truth is they are as liable to take them as any smuggles we have apprehended,” said the Georgian interior ministry official in an email interview on Monday. – Bellona

You can bet that material stolen by the Russians will not end up in any facility subject to US-paid security.

7. Finally, the money spent securing Russian nukes will do nothing to prevent Russia’s access to the weapons. As it is, there are two recent stories noting either Russian movement of nuclear weapons or their suggestion of re-deploying them.

LONDON- Russia is considering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads for the first time since the cold war, warned senior military sources late August 17.

The Sunday Times wrote that under the Russian plans, nuclear warheads could be supplied to submarines, cruisers and fighter bombers of the Baltic fleet based in Kaliningrad. – The Baltic Times


Russia has inserted into Georgian territory two SS-21 “Scarab” short-range missile launchers. The only possible use for these in a conflict of this type is for delivery of tactical nuclear weapons. They are Russia’s insurance policy, deterring those who would come to Georgia’s aid to prevent it being torn asunder by the Kremlin’s war machine. – Irish Times


Russia no longer maintains a ‘no-first-use’ policy, and is considering re-deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. – American Chronicle


As recently as July, the newspaper Izvestia floated the idea that Moscow would station nuclear weapons in Cuba if the U.S. went ahead with the deployment of an antiballistic missile radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland. Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, chief of Russia’s strategic missile command, has openly spoken about aiming nuclear-tipped missiles at those two countries. Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that if it were to join NATO, “Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory.” Not long before that, Mr. Putin cheerfully described a series of ballistic-missile flight tests as “pleasant and spectacular holiday fireworks.” – The Wall Street Journal

Then there is Russia’s threat to nuke Poland in response to Poland’s agreement to host American missile interceptors. Of course, they only agreed to host them in order to get their hands on some Patriot missile batteries all the better to shoot down Russian missiles and jets. Only Russia can get pissed off over military equipment that is useful only on the defender’s territory. Mainland Russia does not even border Poland. However, the Russian seaport of Kaliningrad, seized from the Germans at the end of WWII does border Poland. To make sure the Poles take the threat seriously, Russia is suspected of stockpiling many tactical nukes there. Those being weapons you toss into neighboring countries. So before you even think of listening to Putin bitching about the US ‘stirring things up’ by placing a couple defensive missiles in Europe (See: “Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War”), consider that Putin has nukes already placed right in the center of Europe.

Russia has reportedly moved tactical nuclear weapons to a military base in Kaliningrad, an action that would contravene its apparent pledge to keep the Baltic region nuclear-free and could violate its 1991 commitment not to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. Russian officials have vehemently denied the allegations.

The move was first reported January 3 by The Washington Times, which cited unnamed intelligence sources and classified Defense Intelligence Agency reports, and stated that U.S. officials first became aware of the weapons transfers last June. Following initial press reports, U.S. news organizations reported senior U.S. officials as confirming that the Clinton administration believes Russia has moved tactical nuclear warheads during the past year to the isolated Russian region, which is located between Poland and Lithuania. – Arms Control Association, 2001

Of course the Russians promised not to do such a thing:

The presence of any stockpiled weapons in Kaliningrad would violate Russia’s apparent pledge to keep nuclear weapons out of the Baltics, and the more serious step of deploying tactical nuclear weapons would clearly violate its 1991 commitment. Russian officials have so far failed to clarify whether the Baltic outpost serves as a storage site for tactical nuclear weapons, although U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Post that Russia used Kaliningrad as a depot for tactical nuclear weapons that were removed from naval vessels in the early 1990s. – Arms Control Association, 2001

The Administration’s cancellation of the anti-missile system that was going to be deployed in Poland and the now-confirmed lie that the Administration swore that the cancellation had nothing to do with Russia’s objection to the system puts doubt in my mind that the US has the will needed to put the Russians in check. We certainly should have the motivation to try and limit the threat that is Russia. One way to do that is of course to have them account for their past nuclear sins. A good way to do that is to push the Russians to do a better job cleaning up after their own nuclear waste. As you can see from the extract examples above, it is an issue that they defer to our allies to handle. That is something that should change. The Russians should want to remove this waste from their environment. This is not the case because ‘the West’ is climbing over each other to do this for them.

Is this new START program going to stop the Russians from helping our enemies gain nuclear strike capability? I think not. My opinion however matters little. However, it is interesting to note the Vice Admiral’s comments on this matter fit with my own opinion. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for the actual results of this Treaty against what is being promised.

Posted by FFry in Foreign Policy
Tags: , , ,

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Wasn’t this the same START Treaty that Admiral Mullen, CJCS, was very vociferously admonishing Congress to approve?

    That speaks volumes.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    I’m tracking on most of the sentiment in this post. But, some of your words from 2008 are a little dated, aren’t they?

    “”We have proposed to share responsibility and Russia is ready to act in some part and take on anti-missile defense responsibility,” he told Vesti 24 television.

    President Dmitry Medvedev warned two weeks ago that if missile defense talks failed “a new round of arms race will start” and Russia will “have to adopt decisions on the deployment of new strategic weapons,” RIA Novosti reported.

    Russia and NATO agreed at a recent Lisbon summit to draft terms for missile defense cooperation by June. ”


    “Mr Rasmussen said: “The Nato nations and Russia have today agreed in writing that while we face many security challenges, we pose no threat to each other.”

    He said Russia had agreed to allow more supplies to travel through Russian territory to support Nato’s mission in Afghanistan and to allow equipment out as well.”

    “Mr Medvedev praised US President Barack Obama for his “courageous” rejection of the version of the European missile shield projected by former President George W Bush.

    But Mr Medvedev said many details of the shield plan were still uncertain and that the scheme would “only be peaceful when it is universal”.

    And he warned: “Our participation has to be a full-fledged exchange of information, or we won’t take part at all.””


    “It’s time to invite Russia to join NATO” by Volker Rühe

    I get that Russia has followed policies that are not completely in line with the wishes of the US and NATO. That, at one time, when I was very young, they were our sworn enemies. But, isn’t this treaty only a part of a larger agreement between the US, Russia and the EU to increase cooperation and security from the Atlantic across Europe to central Asia? Shouldn’t we be viewing this treaty through a prism that allows us to see more colors than just the merits of what it immediately apparent in START?

  • Fred,
    This whole exercise WRT this backwards looking START treaty had me in such a funk, I just didn’t want to engage on the subject. You’ve done the heavy lifting for me though; thanks.

    In line with the VADM’s remarks there is no better validation of his concerns than …. the Russians.

    Via Bill Gertz; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/22/inside-the-ring-928353954/?page=3
    One of the key arguments made by American proponents of New START is that the language in the treaty’s preamble linking strategic offensive and defensive weapons is nonbinding.

    Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who has been leading the fight for ratification, said during floor debate that the treaty’s preamble is “a component of the treaty that has no legal, binding impact whatsoever.”

    Moscow apparently has a different view of the preamble.

    ITAR-Tass, the main Russian government information agency, reported last week: “The treaty will have a legally binding provision on the link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons and will affirm the increasing importance of this link amid the reduction of strategic offensive weapons.”

    Several Republican-authored amendments to the treaty that sought to alter the preamble were voted down, based in part on assertions that the preamble had no legal standing.

    Sad, really. Implications for SM-3? Yet to be determined. Pathetic in a fashion. They do know that the Soviet Union went away almost a couple of decades ago, right? Russia really isn’t a “Top-5” threat in the 21st Century in so far who may engage USA forces or threaten the homeland – they have looked at Russia’s demographics; right?

    Ungh. This whole thing just has me going ungh. We need fewer people whose mindset is stuck in the 1970s – in a variety of areas – and more who can look forward. A rearward focus will hobble your future security. This START treaty is a perfect example.

    The fact this was done Lame-Duck is another post for another venue that can be done by another author. It is ruining my Christmas Spirit.

    Time for some Egg-Nogg. Light on the Egg; heavy on the Nogg.

  • Dear Lucian,
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, much of what I wrote was done in 2008. However, I do not think they are dated as they are most certainly still recent enough examples of how the Russian Government behaves. Worse they are also examples of how the West in General has let them get away with their activity. The nuclear poisoning is a perfect example. Russia managed to spread nuclear contamination halfway across Europe. Imagine the outrage had the US done the same thing.

    One of the big issues for me is how Russia keeps aiding all of our enemies in their nuclear ambitions and getting away with it. Another big issue is that we do not know the whole story and our politicians are making decisions based solely on publicly-known information. Two lies were presented by the Government as part of the excuse for canceling the Polish missile defense system:

    1. Russia was not pressuring the US to cancel the system (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/poland/101210/wikileaks-cables-US-Poland-missile-defense) (This story has the added bonus of revealing that the replacement Patriot missile batteries were not operational.)

    2. Iran did not have the capability to launch missiles that could strike Europe. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/8166848/WikiLeaks-Iran-obtains-North-Korea-missiles-which-can-strike-Europe.html)

    As you mention, there seems to be too much backward-looking. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem for the US. It seems that we first have to experience an attack before reacting to the specific threat. Iran is the new threat. Russia is one of their enablers. North Korea is the other enabler. We (and Europe) are not doing enough to neutralize today’s threats.

  • Derrick

    In my opinion, the only way to get a realistic and fair arms control treaty is to involve all the major powers in it (USA, Britain, France, Russia, China, India, Japan, Germany, Canada, etc.) and include controls of nuclear weapons with conventional arms. In my opinion, reducing nuclear arms without a parallel draw down in conventional arms just gives advantages to countries which have a larger number of soldiers. However, I think a multi-country arms control agreement would be impossible to negotiate.

    I guess a good advantage of arms control treaties is that it limits the amount of money we must spend on deterring state actors/peer competitors so we can focus on the non-state actors (ie Al Qaeda).

  • Lowly USN Retired

    Our politicians in Washington, D.C., including those in uniform and those out of uniform who were not elected by the American people, refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past. Between these people, the Russians, the PRC, the DPRK, Iran, soon Venezuela and other puppets in the axis of evil, Americans will now be at a disadvantage to defend the threats these countries pose.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Indeed. It would be a propo for CJCS to provide military guidance to the politicians, instead of political guidance to the military.

  • Lowly USN Retired

    UltimaRatioReg, BZ. What to do to correct this? Are the service academies, ROTC and other commissioning sources the root cause of producing uniformed politicians? Is RTC catering to political correctness and too kind and too gentle to the 21st century recruit because men and women are now in the same Recruit Company? A solution must be found and the problem solved; or, is the U.S. condemned to be outmaneuvered by the Russians and soon the PRC, now and in the future.

  • This is a very far reaching discussion with important political insights of grave concern.I however believe,aside from the Vice Admirals assigned duty,it has very little to do with the professions of Naval Service.I think grave matters of state,because of sensitive international and dipplomatic consequennces is best discussed in another forum as a political matter.I do not discourage education or spirited discussions on such serious affairs,indeed all of our officers should be well aware of such great foreign policy initiatives,but our opinions as military officers should be sent up or down the ranks only or failing that in a private protected,anonymmous fashion on another website.There are consequences to Military and Naval officers publicly airing their individual opinions since they have been elected to no national office by the citizens of our Republic.YES, discuss all over the world wide web by all means, but not as a professional association or Institute of primarily Naval officers.i.e.Korean War, Afghanistan and even Vietnam General officer reliefs 60,40 and as recently as 1year ago for U.S.Central Command are painfully brought to mind.(making no judgement whatsoever on the validity of opinions which were held)Their manner of transmission on the internet however unfair or even criminally obtained by an unsrupulous reporter or media representative,does not downplay the gravity of such public disclosures in a nation which is at WAR.I by my own errors in some of my judgements,can say as we do in the Army” been there done that”.LT R.A.Schwehr USCG previosly retired,current LtCol U.S.Army still serving.I would invite to the editors the prudence which may be gained by ending the publication or active continuation of this internet discussion.I believe it is my duty to invite these historical and strategic considerations to the very and always learned and professional editorial staff at USNI.Wartime considerations ring out to me the old saying,”All men make mistakes but only fools repeat them.”With all due respect as a combat veteran of the USNR and a former Army NCO I believe we owe as much to our immediate superiors and Commander-in-Chief whom I believe should be always referred to even in print as “President Barak Obama.”This is an apolitical statement on military courtesy and national security.

  • Belay my last,thank you.

  • For info only,I stand by my previous statement on internet discussions.One good thing is that under the UCMJ and this Constitution everybody has the right to be wrong,…..and justly punished for being so!I apologize for the bad spelling,it was a flash precedence in wartime correspondence to me.An interim comment on treason and libel was incendiary and a bit too harsh for this context,but we all should speak our minds when duty dictates,but be damn well willing to take the consequences.

  • Robert,
    Thanks for your comments. As far as the discussion here goes, this story was already linked by the DRUDGE REPORT so the whole world saw it. Generally the blog contributors stay away from these political issues, but seeing that USNI published this story and that I had additional thoughts on this matter I brought it over here.

    Looking at the bigger picture, this is not merely a political issue. This is in regards to a treat to limit weapons of warfare. It is also in regards to the issue of cheating as well as bending of the rules.

    As for commenting, this is for each to decide whether to comment and how to do so (Diplomatically or not. Anonymously or not.).

    Here is something that can be commented on:

    How will START II impact the Navy?

  • I believe the story was very legitamate,but am still concerned that remarks about a Commander-in Chief during a period of WAR should not ring of insubordination or libel,even in a non diplomatic description.Thank you for your fairness and journalistic integrity in publishing an opinion as apparently unpopular as mine,it speaks well of your editorial balance,yes it is certainly a matter of duty to comment on matters which affect the Navy,especially on a direct military and strategic arms issue such as nuclear defense.It is very informative and certainly fair game for military perspectives.President/General Eisenhower,I think he was 5 stars took political neutrality for the military/Naval services so seriously that he did not even vote,or so reports in journals about WWII have read.I personally voted against our President in the last election,but became a “supporter” when Secretary Colin Powell endorsed him,see how dangerous such discussions can be for the U.S.military or for me and my potential pay and even freedom?Free speech is guaranteed by the blood of our fallen comrades but in the abscence of impeachment by the Congress and high crimes,The same document and every military regulation ever written tempers or limits the free wheeling expression of that”right”i.e.try unbridled free speech on the Bridge of a Man-o-War or at Paris island.The presence and daily conduct of WAR by this nation should preclude unguarded comments even on the”commercially sacred “internet.WAR changes or should change the rules of engagement even for conversation amongst our Officer Corps and beloved Naval Institute.,primarily in responses and remarks that are more than simply uncomplimentary by the readership.The fact that the whole world has picked up a report does not totally justify disrespectful,disparaging remarks by the troops,no matter how politically rattled we all have been in the last 4 years.Submitted with humility,gratitude and some just anger.I apologize in advance if feelings of better men then myself have been offended.I did not make these potentially self destructive comments to blame or ridicule or mock.I made these comments because I am(for the time being)an officer in the United States Army.All of us have agreed to lay down our lives for the defense of our Constitution,many have actually given their lives or what is left of them.My career doesn`t mean as much to me as our country does nor yours to all of you I am sure.Let`s try and be mindful and yes,diplomatic where and when necessary,even before commencing fire.Thanks again sir.This is how I have decided whether to comment diplomaticlally or not,anonymously or not.Tremendous messages from USNI,provocative but I hope productive.

  • old guy

    Like The New York Yankees playing against the Podunk Pansies.