A Breakthrough in Arms Control? BY FRANCES FARENTHOLD Karnack IN A REMOTE East Texas town, ten miles from the Louisiana border, the United States government took its first steps toward compliance with the historic INF Treaty. On September 8, at the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant near Marshall, two Pershing missiles were destroyed on the ground in a “static firing.” Some 1,500 feet from the iron mounts where the motors were fired, Vice President George Bush stood and watched. Later, the missile bodies were demolished in a crusher; but the nuclear warheads once mounted on these two weapons are held in some unidentified location. Warheads were exempted from the treaty at the behest of the United States because, as the Administration explained, there is a shortage of nuclear materials such as plutonium and uranium, and, also, because Soviet observers would learn too much about the secret design of the warheads if these parts were included in the treaty. The warheads will to be retained in their entirety without being dismantled. The official twelve-member Soviet inspection team and representatives of the United States On Site Inspection Agency monitored what seemed like a replay of the Soviets’ first step in July with one quite noticeable difference. The Soviets invited various peace groups from around the world; from the United States representatives of Sane/Freeze and the Center for Defense Information attended. The Longhorn demonstration excluded any citizen participation although officials encouraged media presence. Of course, NATO ambassadors from Europe were also present. Vice-President Bush addressed the latter and, most importantly, the television cameras. The press observed the burnings from a distance of. 1600 feet. We were provided with ear plugs so that we could tolerate the terrific roar of the burning engines, but the vibration shook our bodies from head to foot. The Soviet inspection team observed from a bunker at 900 feet distance, then followed the spent casing of one missile as Frances “Sissy” Farenthold, a former state Representative and candidate for governor in 1972 and 1974, now lives in Houston. it was towed to the crusher. They, along with the American team, looked for all the world like a funeral procession. The question arises: exactly what are the specifics of the INF treaty? And what is the place of the treaty in a larger context? The question includes possibilities for further nuclear arms reduction, the treaty’s limitations, and possible counterproductiveness of the treaty. As set out in the Defense Monitor, published by the Center for Defense Information, the INF will eliminate all U.S. and Soviet land-based nuclear missiles with range between 300 and 3400 miles. Under the treaty, 1,286 operational missiles in Europe and the Soviet Union will be dismantled. In addition, 1,417 non-operational missiles will be dismantled. What the treaty does not do is eliminate any naval or aircraft nuclear delivery system, landbased weapons with a range under 300 miles, or long-range nuclear weapons. Again according to the Center for Defense Information, as limited as this treaty is, it includes some significant benefits. Number one, the treaty’s provision for on-site inspection provides a precedent for the verification of future arms limitation agreements. These on-site inspections include continuous 24-hour-a-day monitoring of certain production plants in the U.S. and U.S.S.R. for 13 years after the treaty goes into effect, plus observation of dismantlements and numerous short-notice inspection of suspicious sites. At the December 1987 summit, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. issued a joint statement committing themselves to build on the verification procedures established by the INF in their on-going negotiations to reduce long-range nuclear weapons. Number two, the INF treaty removes the dangerous U.S. Pershing H and the Soviet SS-20, both of which could be used as part of a surprise first-strike attack. Number three, the INF treaty could build political momentum toward a comprehensive arms weapons system and an end to all nuclear explosions. It can be argued that the treaty indicates there is broad-based support in the U.S. for a nuclear arms limitations agreement. Number four, the treaty shows that the U.S.S.R. is willing to accept asymmetrical cuts in its forces. For example, the Soviets will be destroying missiles that are capable of carrying four times as many nuclear warheads as the missiles that will be destroyed by the U.S. Number five, finally, the INF treaty restores confidence in the process of negotiating limits on and reductions in nuclear weapons. Yet even after the INF treaty goes into effect, the U.S. will continue to maintain a large nuclear arsenal in Europe. Excluding the missiles to be dismantled, the U.S. has over 4,000 nuclear warheads in Europe. The machinery to deliver them taxes the imagination. There are: short-range Lance missiles, artillery pieces to fire artillery shells, neutron weapons earmarked for Europe though stored in the U.S., a variety of aircraft with different flying ranges that are nuclear-capable. Over 1,000 nuclear bombs in Europe are assigned to these aircraft. As for the sea part of the U.S. triad, beginning in 1984, nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles were placed on surface ships and attack submarines. The number grows each day. Then, there are Poseidon submarinelaunched ballistic missiles that are designated for use in Europe. In addition, two U.S. aircraft carriers are usually deployed in European waters. For the carrier-based aircraft there are also nuclear bombs. The INF treaty affects none of the above, nor are there any restrictions on French or British nuclear forces. In short, the INF treaty is but a modest first step away from nuclear catastrophe. Considering future U.S. policy, we must understand that, in the past, arms control measures have traditionally resulted in efforts to develop nuclear weapons not covered by the treaty. This arms reduction treaty, the INF, could have the same consequences as earlier treaties. Melvin Laird, while he served as Secretary of Defense in the Nixon administration, gave his approval to the Salt I Treaty on condition that Congress would support the Pentagon’s cruise missile project. Elimination of all U.S. and Soviet short-range and tactical nuclear weapons in Europe is a logical next step toward reducing the risk of nuclear war on that continent. However, plans of the Nuclear Planning Group of NATO, comprised of the organization’s foreign ministers, are already under way to deploy new U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. The euphemism used for this development is “compensatory.” Reports have it that in addition to a “modernized” Lance missile 6 SEPTEMBER 30, 1988
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.