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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons


Amy F. Woolf
Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy

During the Senate debate on the new U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in 2010, many Senators raised questions about Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons and noted their absence from the treaty limits. The United States and Russia have not included limits on these weapons in past arms control agreements. Nevertheless, Congress may press the Administration to seek solutions to the potential risks presented by these weapons in the future.

During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union both deployed nonstrategic nuclear weapons for use in the field during a conflict. While there are several possible ways to distinguish between strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons, most analysts consider nonstrategic weapons to be shorter-range delivery systems with lower yield warheads that the United States and Soviet Union/Russia might use to attack troops or facilities on the battlefield. They have included nuclear mines; artillery; short-, medium-, and long-range ballistic missiles; cruise missiles; and gravity bombs. In contrast with the longer-range “strategic” nuclear weapons, these weapons had a lower profile in policy debates and arms control negotiations, possibly because they did not pose a direct threat to the continental United States. At the end of the 1980s, each nation still had thousands of these weapons deployed with their troops in the field, aboard naval vessels, and on aircraft.

In 1991, both the United States and Soviet Union announced that they would withdraw from deployment most and eliminate from their arsenals many of their nonstrategic nuclear weapons. The United States now has approximately 1,100 nonstrategic nuclear weapons, with a few hundred deployed with aircraft in Europe and the remaining stored in the United States. Estimates vary, but experts believe Russia still has between 2,000 and 6,000 warheads for nonstrategic nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The Bush Administration quietly redeployed and removed some of the nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. Russia, however seems to have increased its reliance on nuclear weapons in its national security concept. Some analysts argue that Russia has backed away from its commitments from 1991 and may develop and deploy new types of nonstrategic nuclear weapons.

Analysts have identified a number of issues with the continued deployment of U.S. and Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons. These include questions about the safety and security of Russia’s weapons and the possibility that some might be lost, stolen, or sold to another nation or group; questions about the role of these weapons in U.S. and Russian security policy; questions about the role that these weapons play in NATO policy and whether there is a continuing need for the United States to deploy them at bases overseas; and questions about the relationship between nonstrategic nuclear weapons and U.S. nonproliferation policy.

Some argue that these weapons do not create any problems and the United States should not alter its policy. Others argue that the United States should reduce its reliance on these weapons and encourage Russia to do the same. Many have suggested that the United States and Russia expand efforts to cooperate on ensuring the safe and secure storage and elimination of these weapons, possibly by negotiating an arms control treaty that would limit these weapons and allow for increased transparency in monitoring their deployment and elimination. Others have suggested that any potential new U.S.-Russian arms control treaty count both strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons. This, they say, might encourage reductions or the elimination of these weapons. The 112th Congress may review some of these proposals.



Date of Report: February 14, 2012
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: RL32572
Price: $29.95

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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program


Jeremiah Gertler
Specialist in Military Aviation

The largest procurement program in the Department of Defense (DOD), the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), also called the Lightning II, is a new aircraft being procured in different versions for the United States Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Current DOD plans call for acquiring a total of 2,456 JSFs. Hundreds of additional F-35s are expected to be purchased by several U.S. allies, eight of which are cost-sharing partners in the program.

The F-35 promises significant advances in military capability. Like many high-technology programs before it, reaching that capability has put the program above its original budget and behind the planned schedule.

The Administration’s proposed FY2013 defense budget requested about $5.8 billion in procurement funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. This would fund the procurement of 19 F-35As for the Air Force, 6 F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, and 4 F-35Cs for the Navy. 

FY2012 defense authorization act:
The report on the House-passed version of the FY2011 defense authorization bill included language limiting expenditure of funds for performance improvements to the F-35 propulsion system unless development and production of such propulsion system is done competitively. Other language required the Secretary of Defense to preserve and store government-owned property acquired under the F136 propulsion system development contract and allows the contractor to conduct research, development, test, and evaluation of the F136 engine at the contractor’s expense. The Senate Armed Services Committee report required that the fifth F-35 low-rate initial production contract lot be a fixed price contract, and that the contractor assume full responsibility for costs under the contract above the target cost specified in the contract. The Senate report also required DOD to implement the requirements of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 in the F-35 program. These provisions, less the language regarding allowing the F136 contractor to continue development, and with a required report on the status of F-35B development, were included in the final conference report. 

FY2012 DOD appropriations bill:
The House Appropriations Committee funded 19 F-35As, 6 F-35Bs, and 7 F-35Cs, as requested, while cutting $55 million from F-35C and $75 million from F-35 research and development. The Senate Appropriations Committee funded 17 F-35As, 6 F- 35Bs, and 6 F-35Cs. With cuts to R&D and advance procurement, the SAC mark funded $695 million less than the Administration request.

The conference report on FY2012 defense appropriations funded F-35 procurement at $5.9 billion for 31 aircraft (19 F-35As, 6 F-35Bs, and 7 F-35Cs), plus $455 million in advance procurement.



Date of Report: February 1
6, 2012
Number of Pages:
50
Order Number: RL30
563
Price: $29.95

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NATO Common Funds Burdensharing: Background and Current Issues


Carl Ek
Specialist in International Relations

For decades, Congress has maintained an interest in burdensharing arrangements with allies, particularly with those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The 28 NATO member states contribute to the activities of the alliance in several ways, the chief of which is through the deployment of their own armed forces, funded by their individual national budgets. Certain commonly conducted activities, however, are paid for out of three NATO-run budgets. These three accounts—the civil budget, the military budget, and the security investment program—are funded by individual contributions from the member states.

The countries’ percentage shares of the common funds are negotiated among the members, and are based upon per capita gross national income and several other factors. The U.S. shares for the three funds, which have fallen over the past three decades, currently range from about 22%-25%. In three waves, 12 central and eastern European nations were admitted into the alliance in 1999, 2004, and 2009. As NATO has expanded, it has incurred certain additional costs to address some of the force modernization needs of the new members. These costs are being shared by all, including the new countries. In 2005, members of the alliance adopted a new burdensharing agreement, under which the U.S. level was limited to its then-existing share. Further changes in the cost share formulas may be under review.

During a November 2010 summit in Lisbon, NATO member states agreed to the acquisition of a new capability: ballistic missile defense. Although the estimated commonly shared costs of the planned system are relatively modest, member states eventually will be encouraged to assume responsibility individually for deploying various elements of the system, such as radar, interceptor missiles, sensors, and Aegis-equipped naval vessels.

The 112th Congress may examine U.S. contributions to the NATO budgets. In the wake of the global financial crisis, most member states have been making or considering reductions in their defense budgets, prompting questions over their willingness and ability to contribute effectively to possible future alliance operations.



Date of Report: February 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RL30150
Price: $29.95

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The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions


Amy F. Woolf
Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy

The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee both held hearings on the treaty. The U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on December 22, 2010, by a vote of 71-26. Both houses of the Russian parliament—the Duma and Federation Council— approved the treaty in late January 2011, and it entered into force on February 5, 2011, after Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification.

New START provides the parties with seven years to reduce their forces, and will remain in force for a total of 10 years. It limits each side to no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM and SLBM launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. Within that total, each side can retain no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber.

New START contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the parties calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty limits. Moreover, the delivery vehicles and their warheads will count under the treaty limits until they are converted or eliminated according to the provisions described in the treaty’s Protocol. These provisions are far less demanding than those in the original START Treaty and will provide the United States and Russia with far more flexibility in determining how to reduce their forces to meet the treaty limits.

The monitoring and verification regime in the New START Treaty is less costly and complex than the regime in START. Like START, though, it contains detailed definitions of items limited by the treaty; provisions governing the use of national technical means (NTM) to gather data on each side’s forces and activities; an extensive database that identifies the numbers, types, and locations of items limited by the treaty; provisions requiring notifications about items limited by the treaty; and inspections allowing the parties to confirm information shared during data exchanges.

New START does not limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. It does ban the conversion of ICBM and SLBM launchers to launchers for missile defense interceptors, but the United States never intended to pursue such conversions when deploying missile defense interceptors. Under New START, the United States can deploy conventional warheads on its ballistic missiles, but these will count under the treaty limit on nuclear warheads. The United States may deploy a small number of these systems during the time that New START is in force.

The Obama Administration and outside analysts argue that New START will strengthen strategic stability and enhance U.S. national security. They contend that New START will contribute to U.S. nuclear nonproliferation goals by convincing other nations that the United States is serious about its obligations under the NPT. This might convince more nations to cooperate with the United States in pressuring nations who are seeking their own nuclear weapons.

Critics, however, question whether the treaty serves U.S. national security interests, as Russia was likely to reduce its forces with or without an arms control agreement and because the United States and Russia no longer need arms control treaties to manage their relationship. Some also consider the U.S.-Russian arms control process to be a distraction from the more important issues on the nonproliferation agenda.


Date of Report: February 1
4, 2012
Number of Pages:
37
Order Number: R4
1219
Price: $29.95

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Identity Theft: Trends and Issues


Kristin M. Finklea
Specialist in Domestic Security

In the current fiscal environment, policymakers are increasingly concerned with securing the economic health of the United States—including combating those crimes that threaten to further undermine the nation’s financial stability. Identity theft is one such crime. In 2010, about 8.1 million Americans were reportedly victims of identity fraud, and the average identity fraud victim incurred a mean of $631 in costs as a result of the fraud—the highest level since 2007. Identity theft is often committed to facilitate other crimes such as credit card fraud, document fraud, or employment fraud, which in turn can affect not only the nation’s economy but its security. Consequently, in securing the nation and its economic health, policymakers are also tasked with reducing identity theft and its impact.

Identity theft has remained the dominant consumer fraud complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Nevertheless, while the number of overall identity theft complaints generally increased between when the FTC began recording identity theft complaints in 2000 and 2008, the number of complaints decreased in both 2009 and 2010. Prosecutions of federal identity theft violations have followed a similar pattern. However, while the number of identity theft cases filed and the number of defendants convicted both decreased in FY2009 and FY2010 relative to FY2008, the numbers of aggravated identity theft cases filed and defendants convicted have continued to increase.

Congress continues to debate the federal government’s role in (1) preventing identity theft and its related crimes, (2) mitigating the potential effects of identity theft after it occurs, and (3) providing the most effective tools to investigate and prosecute identity thieves. With respect to preventing identity theft, one issue concerning policymakers is the prevalence of personally identifiable information—and in particular, the prevalence of Social Security numbers (SSNs)— in both the private and public sectors. One policy option to reduce their prevalence may involve restricting the use of SSNs on government-issued documents such as Medicare identification cards. Another option could entail providing federal agencies with increased regulatory authority to curb the prevalence of SSN use in the private sector. In debating policies to mitigate the effects of identity theft, one option Congress may consider is whether to strengthen data breach notification requirements. Such requirements could affect the notification of relevant law enforcement authorities as well as any individuals whose personally identifiable information may be at risk from the breach. Congress may also be interested in assessing the true scope of data breaches, particularly involving government networks (e.g., S. 2105).

There have already been several legislative and administrative actions aimed at curtailing identity theft. Congress enacted legislation naming identity theft as a federal crime in 1998 (P.L. 105-318) and later provided for enhanced penalties for aggravated identity theft (P.L. 108-275). In April 2007, the President’s Identity Theft Task Force issued recommendations to combat identity theft, including specific legislative recommendations to close identity theft-related gaps in the federal criminal statutes. In a further attempt to curb identity theft, Congress directed the FTC to issue an Identity Theft Red Flags Rule (effective December 31, 2010), requiring that creditors and financial institutions with specified account types develop and institute written identity theft prevention programs.



Date of Report: February 1
5, 2012
Number of Pages:
32
Order Number: R40
599
Price: $29.95

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