The Foreign Service Journal, December 2009

38 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 9 commitments. In short, all arms control agreements must be ade- quately verifiable. Fortunately, the United States has had more experience with veri- fication of arms control agreements than any other nation in the world. In fact, we are the only government that produces published reports evaluating whether other nations have complied with the terms of ex- isting arms control agreements. While other capitals and international organizations participate in arms control ne- gotiations, inspection regimes and debates about verifica- tion, they are not required, as we are by Congress, to produce verification evaluations. As a result of this legisla- tive mandate, both the executive and legislative branches in Washington have devoted decades to building up expertise on this critical issue. When the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was abolished and its staff merged with the Department of State in 1999, one major component that State retained, and indeed expanded, was the Verification and Compliance Bureau (now the Verification, Compliance and Implemen- tation Bureau). A decade later, the experts in VCI are still a tremendous resource. The Verification Regime Any plan for a verification regime includes several in- terrelated, critical elements. First, there must be an hon- est evaluation of the probable effectiveness of the proposed framework. Next, other nations’ likely compliance (or lack thereof) with the obligations entailed therein has to be as- sessed. Finally, actions to bring potential violators back into compliance have to be pursued. Under a truly effective system, each of these facets en- lightens and strengthens the others. In some situations, after an evalua- tion that effective verification is not possible, the president and Con- gress have to make a policy decision about whether to proceed. For in- stance, the U.S. Senate ratified the Biological Weapons Convention even though it was judged through- out the negotiations to have a low degree of verifiability. A common misperception is that a verification regime consists only of specific technical provisions that govern on- site inspections. Important as those sections are, an effec- tive verification regime must also provide clear definitions of all terms, spell out all parties’ respective obligations, and take into account the strength and applicability of our in- telligence collection capabilities. Otherwise, obligations that negotiators may think are quite clear may turn out to be anything but that when the actions of one or more of the parties appears to be in conflict with them. For example, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty called for the elimination of specified missiles, including the Soviet SS-23. Possession of those missiles after 1988 was prohibited. In 1990, when East Germany announced that it was eliminating SS-23 missiles located there, the United States became aware for the first time of the exis- tence of SS-23s and launchers in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and East Germany. None of these countries were parties to the INF Treaty, and the Soviet Union had insisted on provisions in that agreement for U.S. missiles that had been provided to our European allies. Whether the existence of thesemissiles constituted a So- viet violation of the INF Treaty hinged on whether they were “possessed” by the Soviet Union. To answer that ques- tion, the United States obtained documentation about the missiles and when they were “given” to the three countries. In the February 1991 Report to Congress on Soviet Noncompliance, the George H.W. Bush administration de- clared that the Soviet failure to inform the United States of the existence of the SS-23 missiles during the negotiations on the INF Treaty and prior to 1990 constituted negotiation in bad faith. But this did not resolve the question of who “possessed” the missiles. The U.S. subsequently found that each SS-23 in these countries possessed a connecting section that would allow it to deliver a nuclear warhead, and conventional warheads F O C U S Even the most intrusive verification regime does little good if policymakers can’t decide if an activity is permitted or prohibited. Paula A. DeSutter served from August 2002 to January 2009 as assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bu- reau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation. Be- fore that, she spent four years as a staffer with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and also held nu- merous positions in the Verification and Intelligence Bu- reau in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The author of Denial and Jeopardy: Deterring Iranian Use of NBC Weapons (NDU Press, 1998), she is an independent consultant.