How to lose a war without firing a shot? Ignore our enemies' arms-control violations

How to lose a war without firing a shot? Ignore our enemies' arms-control violations
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The State Department has released the unclassified executive summary of its new report — Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments — an annual report focused on arms control violations and noncompliance by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and others.

The State Department finds Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Burma in violation or noncompliance with various arms control commitments, including the nuclear Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), unratified Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), Presidential Nuclear Initiative (PNI), Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Biological Weapons Convention (CWC), Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), and the Open Skies Treaty (OST).

Every year for decades, the State Department has reported significant arms control violations and noncompliance by Russia and other potential adversaries of the United States.


Dangerously — with rare exceptions — the White House, Congress and Washington foreign policy and defense establishments regard U.S. unilateral compliance with arms control agreements, while Russia and others routinely violate agreements, with complacency. It’s “business as usual.”

The State Department’s Compliance Reports, so-called in shorthand, do not assess the threat to the United States from unilateral U.S. compliance with all arms control agreements while Russia, China and others are cheating.  

Perhaps the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Net Assessment should begin supplementing State’s reports with a National Security Impact Report for U.S. unilateral compliance while our adversaries cheat on arms control.   

Some examples:

The big news in the 2020 Compliance Report is that Russia and China have been violating the TTBT and CTBT by conducting nuclear tests, while the U.S. has complied with the agreements and conducted no tests since 1992. “Russia has conducted nuclear weapons experiments that have created nuclear yield and are not consistent with the U.S. ‘zero yield’ standard,” the report cautions.  


The report further states that China’s “possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur, and lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities — which has included frequently blocking the flow of data from its international monitoring system (IMS) to the international data center operated by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization — raise concerns regarding China’s adherence to the ‘zero yield’ standard.”

Thus, the U.S. is probably 28 years behind Russia and China in developing advanced nuclear weapons based on new designs and technology.  

Russia openly writes about having new-generation nuclear weapons based on “new physical principles” such as Super-EMP, neutron and X-ray warheads; “clean” warheads that produce no radioactive fallout; “dirty” super-high-yield (100 megatons) doomsday warheads; and ultra-low-yield warheads “useable” by land, air and naval forces.

What all this means is that the U.S. could lose a nuclear war.  

Knowing this, would the U.S. dare risk war with Russia or China? Will U.S. allies trust our security guarantees and continue to be allies? Is the U.S. already losing the “new cold war” because of arms control? Worse, the violations of arms control agreements by Russia, China and others almost certainly are far worse than the Compliance Reports acknowledge.

The State Department’s bread and butter is arms control. Historically, State has been reluctant to acknowledge violations of arms control agreements; the department and the intelligence community covered up Russia’s violations of the INF Treaty for years during the Obama administration.  

Both the State Department and the intelligence community are unreformed from the Obama years, still preferring to “see no evil” when it comes to violations of arms control sacred cows.  They still have not declassified President Reagan’s General Advisory Committee report, “A Quarter-Century of Soviet Compliance Practices Under Arms Control Commitments, 1958-1983” that exposed the long history of failed arms control.

Predictably, many left-leaning organizations — such as the Arms Control Association, the Federation of American Scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists, and former Obama administration officials — will defend Russia and China, claiming that they are not really cheating. 

It seems we still have not learned the Latin adage, “Si vis pacem, para bellum” — If you want peace, prepare for war.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry was chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission and served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee and at the CIA. He is the author of several books, including “The Power And The Light: The Congressional EMP Commission’s War To Save America 2001-2020” (2020).