SOVIET Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's historic admission that the Krasnoyarsk radar is a violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty offers a new chance to clean up the long-standing mess that is United States compliance policy. Despite years of effort that have gone into the negotiation and ratification of a wide variety of arms control agreements, the US has given little thought to, and done even less about, the question of ensuring that signatories to treaties comply with them.
America's sorry record on compliance is due to a dangerous combination of two factors. One is the willingness of nondemocratic governments to violate arms control agreements. Krasnoyarsk is only the most egregious example of a pervasive pattern of violations by Moscow, just as Iraq's open use of chemical weapons is only the most flagrant example of violations of limits on chemical and biological weapons.
The other factor is the reluctance of the US and its democratic allies to recognize that these violations occur, that they undermine the arms control agreements that democracies always want, and that these violations must be met with effective responses, including appropriate penalties.
Unless Washington can develop compliance policies for existing and projected agreements, these will not work as advertised and may well be counterproductive, making international conflict more, not less, likely. What compliance policies, then, should the US and its allies develop?
First, use Moscow's precedent-setting ABM admission as a lever to persuade the Soviets to admit to other violations of which the US has convincing evidence. Washington should again publicize this evidence and consider whether some of the evidence that is still classified could now be declassified without compromising US intelligence sources.
Some of the more important Soviet violations that Mikhail Gorbachev could now be asked to acknowledge would include violations of the ABM treaty (such as deployment of L-PAR radars, testing of ABM components) and of the never ratified and now expired SALT II treaty.
The US should point out that it is inconsistent with glasnost for the Soviets to encrypt the telemetry from missile tests. Encryption makes it impossible for the US to verify whether Soviet missiles comply with treaty limits.
Similarly, the US should stress that Soviet violations of the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the 1972 Biological Warfare Convention must be admitted to avoid hampering progress toward a chemical-weapons convention. Moscow must explain how anthrax germs were released from a Sverdlovsk biological-weapons lab in 1979.
Second, the US should emphasize to Mr. Gorbachev that the admission of error is not enough. The Krasnoyarsk ABM radar and the L-PAR ABM radars should be dismantled, and the Soviets should announce a timetable for their dismantling. The Soviets should cease encrypting all telemetry from their missile tests. Gorbachev should allow inspection of suspected Soviet biological weapons research and manufacturing facilities at Sverdlovsk.
Third, the US should make it clear that since these measures are designed to reverse previous Soviet violations, there can be no legitimate grounds for reciprocal concessions from Washington. The Soviets cannot ask the US to defer modernization of the Thule and Fylingdales radars if the Soviets dismantle Krasnoyarsk, because this modernization is in compliance with the ABM treaty.
Fourth, the US should institutionalize a safeguards system for arms control agreements to ensure that Moscow complies with these in the future. Such a system, to be effective, should include such features as the imposition of increasingly severe economic and financial sanctions against the Soviets beginning 90 days after the violation has been uncovered, unless appropriate action has been taken by Moscow, and the suspension of all arms control discussions until agreements already signed are adhered to.
The US should also develop a compliance policy to deal with other governments that violate arms control agreements, such as Iraq. Some of the steps which could be taken were suggested in recent legislation passed by Congress. This legislation would impose significant economic penalties on governments that are certified by the administration as having violated the 1925 Protocol and would also penalize firms that supplied components to governments attempting to manufacture chemical weapons.
It is incredible that the US has done so little to ensure that the progress it has made in arms control is real and not illusory. When Washington did make an effort to ensure compliance - as when it accompanied the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty with safeguards - it met with success.
With the Krasnoyarsk admission, the Bush administration has been given a golden opportunity. In asking Gorbachev to do what he says he will do, the president can both set a public standard whereby Moscow's bona fides can be put to the test, and, at the same time, end Washington's decades-long lassitude and clean up the compliance-policy mess.