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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Nuclear Weapons

Aired January 2, 2000 - 6:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, with few computer problems to fix, workers in Y2K watch centers have plenty of time to catch up on the other news.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: And the threat of nuclear weapons, we'll take an in-depth look at the issues surrounding that topic as more nations develop nuclear power.

Hello, and welcome to CNN and our continuing Millennium 2000 coverage. I'm Colleen McEdwards.

HARRIS: And I'm Leon Harris. Welcome to day two of the new millennium, where everything appears to be Y2-calm. Automatic teller machines are spitting out cash, planes are flying, missiles are not. In fact, of the 170 nations reporting to the International Y2K Cooperation Center, not one has called in with any major incident.

Experts say there's still a chance, though, of some glitches on Monday, when people return to work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KOSKINEN, PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON Y2K: On Monday, obviously the markets will open for the first time and the banks will be up and running, although a lot of banks are operating today without any noticeable problems. We do not expect in the United States any significant problems. But again, we cannot guarantee that.

But we will not be -- we will be pleased if we get through the day without any problems, which is what our expectation is. But again, I think we will probably find some small glitches, particularly in smaller organizations that may not have done any preparations at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, MICROSOFT: In terms of infrastructure, things like elevators and planes and missiles, I thought people would be able to do a great job, you know, making sure there were no dependencies there. There is going to be a -- in the months ahead, you're going to hear about billing systems or tax- related software that's going to get screwed up. But it's not going to be catastrophic, I don't think, in any case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

McEDWARDS: Well, to Russia now, where new Acting President Vladimir Putin says he has no intention of acting hastily in Chechnya. Russian troops are in the second week of a major drive to seize the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Mr. Putin, who visited Russian troops in the republic on Saturday, says his goal is to minimize Russian losses as well as civilian casualties. Chechnya's president is calling on the international community to intervene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASLAN MASKHADOV, CHECHEN PRESIDENT (through translator): All governments in the world must act, especially as we enter the 21st century, so that never again could any government or any people go unpunished in killing other peoples. No government, no world power has this right. At least they should be punished.

Today, Russia is simply allowing itself to carry out what is indeed barbarism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

McEDWARDS: For Russian soldiers in Chechnya, the new year has brought only more of the grinding misery of that conflict.

CNN's Steve Harrigan reports from the front lines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the most important holiday in the Russian calendar, but not all Russian soldiers have survived to see the new year.

Two thousand finds the Russian army in the same place they were five years ago, fighting for the city of Grozny. Now the time of steady advances with low Russian casualties may be over.

UNIDENTIFIED RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): I can't speak for the whole operation, but on some days we get 40 or 60 wounded.

HARRIGAN: Forty wounded at a field hospital with two surgeons.

(on camera): It's a different kind of fighting now, a face-to- face battle for the capital city. And the Russians are beginning to pay a price.

(voice-over): This soldier has been shot in the neck. The medics try to save him, but he dies before he reaches the hospital.

Dema (ph) is in better shape. His unit was cut off after their phone went dead. Dema was shot in the ribs, the back, and the buttocks. UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN (through translator): For three days, he crawled back to his base until reconnaissance troops found him lying in the field.

HARRIGAN: His wounds were infected during the crawl, but Dema is expected to be walking again by the year 2001.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Grozny, Chechnya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: We're at four minutes after the hour now.

The Indian Airlines hijacking drama is over, but the Indian government is still facing political fallout from its decision to free those three militants in exchange for the freedom of the hostages.

CNN's Maria Ressa reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA RESSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Celebrations for the millennium, overshadowed for this family by the homecoming of a newlywed couple returning from their honeymoon in Nepal when flight 814 was hijacked. Their eight-day ordeal ended after India agreed to release three Islamic militants, something even the relatives of the hostages fear may send the wrong signal.

DR. SANJIV CHIBBER, RELATIVE: Three terrorists have been released. Our happiness is pinched with a shade of gray. But we feel it's worth it.

RESSA: Others in India disagree.

RAHUL BEDI, ANALYST: It has been a blow to the fight against terrorism globally, because it has really, by capitulating, the Indians have shown that terrorists can and will hold out for high stakes.

RESSA: On Saturday, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh again blamed Pakistan for engineering the hijacking. He claimed all five hijackers were Pakistani nationals and that they were now heading for Pakistan.

Pakistan's interior minister denies that and says if the hijackers enter Pakistani territory, they'll be arrested.

Another accusation from India that the only casualty, passenger Rufin Katyal (ph), could have been saved after the hijackers allegedly offered to release him and others when the plane was in Pakistan.

SHARAD YADAV, CIVIL AVIATION MINISTER (through translator): The hijackers had agreed to release women, children, and the injured Katyal. But the Pakistan government refused to allow any passenger to get down in Pakistan.

RESSA: Pakistan has not yet responded to that charge.

All this increasing tensions further between India and Pakistan. The world's newest nuclear powers, they have fought two wars over Kashmir since 1947.

BEDI: Yes, the atmosphere is charged. They are on a -- they are virtually fighting a daily -- what's called a proxy war in Kashmir State.

RESSA: Now the foreign minister for Afghanistan's Taliban forces says the hijackers and the freed Islamic separatists are headed for Kashmir.

(on camera): Some analysts here are now warning that the deal India cut could embolden Islamic separatists in Kashmir and mark India as a soft target for terrorism. Still, External Affairs Minister Singh says India will confront terrorism head-on, vowing to seek justice and retribution at the right time.

Maria Ressa, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: In the U.S., a pilot is facing several federal charges after he illegally flew over Cuba, dropping leaflets urging the overthrow of President Fidel Castro. Government authorities say that Li Tong (ph) is lucky to be alive. The Vietnamese-born man flew a single-engine Cessna into Cuban air space early Saturday morning. As he circled over Havana, his aircraft was tracked by two MIG fighter jets.

Tong, who has no ties to Cuban exile groups, is described as a strident anticommunist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LI TONG: I've tried to encourage and appeal to Cuban peoples to stand up, to rise up, to overthrow the Havana tyrant. That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: In 1996, Cuba shot down two planes that illegally entered its air space, killing four members of a Miami-based Cuban exile group.

McEDWARDS: Tens of thousands of people greeted Japan's Emperor Akihito and other members of the royal family as they made a traditional New Year appearance. The well wishers, many were carrying Japanese flags, came to the imperial palace to hear the emperor's New Year's message. He told the crowd, "I pray for happiness for Japan and the world at the beginning of the year."

There was a note of sadness to the occasion. Not among the family members appearing today was Crown Princess Masako, who suffered a miscarriage several days ago. Well, a change could be in the wind for Croatia. Monday's legislative elections are seen as a crucial test for the country's democratic development. And the Croatian Democratic Union, the party of the late President Franjo Tudjman, is running behind in the polls. Tujiman ran the country from its independence in 1991 almost until his death last month.

With Tujiman's passing, an alliance of the six main opposition parties looks set to win the government in Monday's voting.

HARRIS: Coming up, the threat of nuclear destruction in the new millennium.

McEDWARDS: The cold war may be over, but the world does remain a very dangerous place.

Stay with us for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

McEDWARDS: The atomic bomb ended World War II, and the threat of mutually assured destruction kept the cold war cold.

But now nuclear might isn't limited to just the elite few. Some poor and possibly unpredictable countries want to join the club.

Well, when the cold war ended in the last decade of the 20th century, much of the world breathed a huge sigh of relief at the diminished prospect of nuclear war between the superpowers. But is the world a safer place as we enter the new millennium?

HARRIS: In some ways, the danger posed by nuclear weapons appear to be greater now, and the goal of nuclear disarmament seems elusive.

Our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre takes a closer look at nuclear weapons in the third millennium.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A changing of the guard of sorts at the U.S. Navy's super-secure sub-base at King's Bay, Georgia. The ballistic missile submarine U.S.S. "Pennsylvania" returns from a lonely 11-week vigil in the Atlantic, while out of sight, an identical submarine, the U.S.S. "Wyoming," readies to take its place.

The cold war may be over, but not for 18 U.S. submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles.

CMDR. JACK NICHOLSON, U.S.S. "WYOMING": The mission of the ballistic missile submarine is still nuclear deterrence.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Alert one, alert one.

McINTYRE: When the U.S.S. "Wyoming" takes to sea, its primary mission is to be ready for a chilling doomsday scenario, the launch of long-range nuclear missiles.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Weapons con, you have permission to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: (inaudible) to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Permission to fire, (inaudible).

McINTYRE: It's a sobering drill that the crew knows by heart and demonstrated for CNN's cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Man battle stations missile for strategic launch. Spin up all missiles.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: XL (ph), ready to report message one.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Report message one.

NICHOLSON: The officer of the deck informs me, the captain, that this message is on board, and the teams that process the message present it to me.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Put message one on. Captain, message one is a valid and authentic launch order.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: I concur, Captain.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: I concur, Captain.

NICHOLSON: I concur. Action directed.

Those two members of that team, as well as myself and the executive officer, verify that the message is valid and authentic, and then we -- if necessary, we make preparations to launch the missiles.

Spin up all missiles.

We need to be ready to carry out that mission if so tasked. But I don't lose sleep over it.

McINTYRE (on camera): And you're convinced, obviously, that were the circumstances ever to arise where you were to receive those kinds of orders, that you'd be able to carry them out?

NICHOLSON: There's no doubt in my mind.

UNIDENTIFIED SUBMARINE CREW MEMBER: Thirteen, away.

McINTYRE: A ballistic missile submarine like the U.S.S. "Wyoming," packs an awesome amount of firepower. Each of the 24 vertical tubes is loaded with a Trident II missile. Each missile can carry up to eight warheads, and each warhead can create a blast more than 25 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Add that all up, and that's more firepower on this single ship than all the munitions expended during World War II.

(voice-over): Even with the cold war over, the United States still pours billions of dollars -- $20 billion a year by one congressional estimate -- into maintaining its nuclear arsenal. Besides 18 ballistic submarines, the United States also has more than 500 buried missile silos housing land-based ICBMs, missiles that, despite detargeting in 1994, are just a few computer keystrokes away from being ready to launch.

The third leg of the nuclear triad, long-range B-52 bombers, were taken off alert in 1991 by President Bush but are still available for nuclear war.

WILLIAM COHEN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think for the foreseeable future, a nuclear capability and deterrent will remain a core element of security, but for the United States and for Europe.

McINTYRE: Cohen argues nuclear weapons deter not just nuclear threats but also germ and chemical warfare. It is, he argues, a grave new world, in many ways more dangerous than the superpower standoff of the cold war.

GARY MILHOLLIN, WISCONSIN PROJECT ON NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL: During the cold war, we had a lot of predictability. That is, there were only two countries. We were used to dealing with each other. Today we have -- we're seeing nuclear weapons spreading to any number of countries. And Russia's just another country.

McINTYRE: With underground tests in 1998, both India and Pakistan elbowed their way into a once-elite club, joining the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France as declared nuclear powers. Israel is also widely believed to have developed nuclear weapons, but so far hasn't tested them.

India and Pakistan are bitter adversaries with a common border and a history of wars.

ADM. STANSFIELD TURNER, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Last July for the first time in history we had two nations with nuclear weapons capabilities at war with each other, at war in Kashmir. A terribly dangerous situation.

McINTYRE: Stansfield Turner was CIA director in the Carter administration and has written a book on disarmament, "Caging the Nuclear Genie." He sees dangers from current and aspiring nuclear powers, such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

TURNER: And they will be rather less inhibited than would we or the Russians. Why? Because the rival they would want to attack -- Iraq, let's say, attacking Iran or Israel -- might or might not be a nuclear power, and they might be willing to take that risk of retaliation.

McINTYRE: North Korea's launch of a three-stage missile in August of 1998, along with its excavation of an area believed by the U.S. to be intended as a site for a nuclear facility, has Washington worried that the famine-stricken country may soon obtain nuclear weapons.

And China's small nuclear arsenal of about 400 warheads continues to grow, the U.S. suspects with the help of secrets stolen from a U.S. weapons laboratory.

MILHOLLIN: The average person in America thinks that the nuclear threat is pretty much gone, and that's wrong. The chance that we'll all be incinerated in a big nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union, which was the fear during the cold war, that's gone. But the chance that one or two or three or four cities may go up in America because some rogue country decides that it's had enough of the United States and it has a few bombs, that risk is increasing.

McINTYRE: But despite the growing threats, many arms control experts say, paradoxically, that the dawn of the new millennium may be the best time for deep cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which still contains between 7,000 and 12,000 warheads.

TURNER: We don't need these numbers. We don't need them on alert.

MILHOLLIN: We don't need nuclear weapons, really, for any purpose other than to deter the use of those weapons against us. It's hard to say what number of nuclear weapons we really need for our security. I would say if we had a couple of thousand that we could use, that would be adequate.

TURNER: I think we should get down to 100 to 200 to 300, something in that range. There is a point at which you do so much damage to a country that it'll never recover.

McINTYRE: The START 2 treaty between the United States and Russia would take both sides down to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads and set the stage for a third round of reductions. But START 2 has languished unratified by Russia's lower house of parliament, which has been dominated by nationalists wary of Washington's motives and outraged by NATO expansion.

What's needed, argue disarmament advocates, is bold unilateral action.

TURNER: Tomorrow morning, President Clinton could call up the commander of our strategic command and say, General, I want you to take 1,000 warheads off of their missiles and move them, let's say, 300 miles away, so they're not easily returned. Put them in storage. And I'm going to ask Mr. Yeltsin to send Russian observers who will be there at the storage site. They'll count what goes in, they'll count if anything comes out.

Don't need a treaty. You just have to have a calculator and add.

McINTYRE: Still, the United States remains committed to some number of nuclear weapons, a fact underscored last year when the U.S. Senate voted down a global test ban for fear it might render U.S. stockpiles unreliable and do nothing to stop other countries from getting the bomb. SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: Now, the only successful way to deter a nuclear weapons is say, Don't you use it because we've got one or two better than yours. And that, thus far, has been a successful policy of this nation in deterring any use of a nuclear weapon.

McINTYRE: Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

McEDWARDS: And for more on the role of nuclear weapons in the third millennium, we'll hear from David Kay, a former nuclear weapons inspector for the United Nations, and from Jerrold Post, who specializes in political psychology at George Washington University.

That's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

McEDWARDS: Welcome back to CNN and our Millennium 2000 coverage.

This hour, we're focusing on nuclear weapons.

And joining us now from Washington to discuss some of the issues surrounding that topic is David Kay. He's a former United Nations nuclear weapons inspector. And we are also joined by Jerrold Post, director of the Political Psychological Program -- Program, rather, at George Washington University.

Thank you both, gentlemen, for joining us.

David Kay, first question to you. People around the world have gotten used to this notion of fearing the nuclear arsenals of the old superpowers. Where do you see the real threat coming from now?

DAVID KAY, FORMER UNITED NATIONS NUCLEAR WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, in terms of probability of use, I would put India and Pakistan at the very top. You have, in the case of Pakistan, a failed state, bankrupt, engaged in a devil of a conflict over Kashmir, which blends nationalism and ideology.

So, you know, an event like the hijacking of an aircraft could easily pull the two into a conflict that would result in nuclear weapons being used.

McEDWARDS: Or the testing, indeed, that went on just a short time ago, the tit-for-tat testing between the two countries. Jerrold Post, how disconcerting was that?

JERROLD POST, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, it was extremely disconcerting. And one of the interesting aspects was our surprise when in fact the Pakistan leader had run on a campaign of achieving nuclear capacity. I think it's really important that we not Westernize too much, think internationally too much, and realize how much these regional conflicts and regional rivalries can become the hotbed of a conflict that could draw others in. McEDWARDS: David Kay, do you want to elaborate on that?

KAY: Well, I think Jerry's absolutely right. We tend to view these conflicts from our perspective, and we say no one rationally would ever use nuclear weapons, and we can relax. I think that's a very dangerous presumption.

These countries exist in conditions far different than the Soviet Union in its day and the United States existed. They don't have the infrastructure, the command and control structure. The conflicts are much closer to them and each other, and they do combine a really dangerous mix, by and large, of nationalism and religion.

McEDWARDS: Jerrold Post, North Korea has recently shown its own capacity. How dangerous is it?

POST: Well, there's a very interesting paradox with North Korea. We seem to be persuaded that the weaker they get, the more likely they are to enter warfare, which is a somewhat strange and paradoxical point of view.

But in fact in this case, there's an interesting economic incentive for North Korea to be a nuclear power, insofar as, in an almost extortionate fashion, to the degree they become threatening, it has led the West to provide incentives for them not to move in that direction.

McEDWARDS: And what exactly do you mean by that?

POST: Well, when we are feeling anxious about their threatening moves, we have made economic incentives, helped them with their really gravely wounded economy.

And it's a situation which is quite troublesome, however, insofar as internally, as best as we can tell in this somewhat murky land to estimate, internally there's a need to appear strong, so that some of the factional rivalry within the leadership would seem to argue for the most bellicose, the most aggressive posture.

McEDWARDS: Understood. David Kay, what about China?

KAY: Well, I actually worry more about China and Taiwan than I worry about North Korea. I think we tend -- and it's a case of us Westernizing the behavior, why would China ever use nuclear weapons against Taiwan? China's vast economic expansion right now.

I think we forget that there -- the Chinese view Taiwan as an integral part of their own territory, as a heritage of this generation of communist leadership, that's about to pass to the scene, owes (ph) to the next of reuniting Chinese territory.

I really worry that in the next five years, we may well see the Chinese try to intimidate Taiwan with the threatened use of nuclear weapons.

McEDWARDS: And Jerrold Post, when you talk about factions and radical groups and the concern there, which ones are you talking about? I mean, what -- give us a worst-case scenario.

POST: Well, the worst-case scenario has to do with a failed economy, a failed leadership, where the manner in which the power struggle is played out within the country -- and his can occur within a number of these countries, not just North Korea, it can certainly occur within Russia, which we'll be talking about shortly as well -- where the need for a military in control to be palliated by the political forces can lead to a more threatening posture internationally, which inadvertently can have dreadful consequences.

McEDWARDS: David Kay, I'd like to just touch on Russia a little bit before we go to break. Again, I think a lot of people in the world have gotten used to thinking of Russia as being in such dire straits economically that it's no longer a threat in terms of its nuclear arsenal. What would you say to that?

KAY: Well, I think there are at least three types of threats with regard to Russia we have to worry about. We have to worry about the leakage of the technology and material, which may be criminal in interest and not government policy, to countries like Iran.

Secondly, we have to worry about the accidental launch of a Russian weapon, simply because the Russian infrastructure, their missile detection infrastructure, the whole command and control, is in serious disarray.

And thirdly, least likely, we have to worry about a miscalculation in which a Russian leadership would directly decide to threaten the use of nuclear weapons against the United States or an ally.

That's quite a range of threats from a country with a huge arsenal of nuclear materials and weapons.

McEDWARDS: All right. We're going to take a short break here.

HARRIS: Yes, this is a good point to take a break, because coming up we'll continue to explore the issue of Russia and nuclear weapons.

McEDWARDS: And we'll have a report on the Soviet nuclear legacy from Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty.

Stay with us. That and a continuing discussion with our two guests is right ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: We're going to take a look at Russia's nuclear arsenal now. And all those fears of the Y2K bug brought renewed attention to Moscow's missiles.

McEDWARDS: There were, of course, no accidental launches during the millennium changeover. But many experts say their concerns about Russia's nuclear weapons are far from over.

CNN's Jill Dougherty has more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They stand poised for launch at any moment, 756 intercontinental ballistic missiles with almost 3,500 nuclear warheads capable of striking Washington in less than a half hour or Beijing in less than 20 minutes -- a vast arsenal reinforced by approximately the same number of aircraft-carried and submarine-launched nuclear weapons unmatched by any country except the United States, Russia and the old Soviet Union's nuclear security blanket.

At the height of the cold war, Russia had more than 30,000 nuclear warheads, some mounted on long-range strategic missiles, others on short-range tactical nuclear missiles.

A series of arms control agreements gradually reduced the total numbers of those weapons. Still, by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, Moscow controlled 10,000 warheads on its strategic missiles. The U.S. had 12,000.

As former Soviet republics gained their independence, missiles formerly stationed there were returned to Moscow. From Kazakhstan, Bellarus, and Ukraine, the nuclear might of the Soviet Union was summoned home to Mother Russia.

Some of the missiles were destroyed, literally chopped into pieces. Others were dismantled and scrapped, their nuclear material removed. Most of the cost, $3 billion, was paid for by the United States.

(on camera): Partnership was the byword, partnership between the world's two nuclear superpowers. Now, however, that partnership is fraying.

TOBY GATI, RUSSIA ANALYST: Russia feels isolated, and I think there's a deep sense that certainly among the military, growing more and more, that Russia's security somehow is not being guaranteed, first of all by its political leadership, and second of all by the system of arms control agreements.

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): NATO expansion, the war in Kosovo. When Russia looks westward, it sees a threat.

When Russia looks in the mirror, it sees a weakened shell of its former self, an economy on the rocks, a military budget of less than $6 billion, a small fraction of the Pentagon's budget.

BRUCE BLAIR, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The conventional forces, the nonnuclear forces, are very weak, and to compensate for that, Russia is clinging to nuclear weapons like a life raft.

DOUGHERTY: But that life raft is leaking. Listen to the man who commands Russia's strategic missile forces.

GEN. VLADIMIR YAKOVLEV, RUSSIAN STRATEGIC MISSILE FORCES (through translator): Seventy-two percent of the missiles are past their guaranteed terms of performance. But that doesn't mean these missiles aren't capable of completing their assigned missions.

DOUGHERTY: What it does mean, General Yakovlev says, is ecological danger for places where missiles are based.

One nightmare scenario for Russia's nuclear arsenal, terrorists trying to divert nuclear material or even nuclear bombs. It hasn't happened. To make sure it never does, the U.S. is funding nuclear weapons security training centers, like this one, opened in November near Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's a pair of electronic eyes and ears, if you will, to help support the -- you know, the overall security.

DOUGHERTY: External threats, however, are not the biggest worry.

ALEXANDER RUMYANSEV, KURCHATOV NUCLEAR INSTITUTE (through translator): The attempted theft of atomic fuel by several officers in the naval fleet is proof that the threat has moved from hypothetical to real.

DOUGHERTY: At Moscow's Kurchatov Institute, a nuclear research facility, the U.S. has provided up to half the money spent on updating atomic security.

BILL RICHARDSON, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Our programs are not perfect, but they're working, and they're important. They involve safeguarding Russian nuclear materials. They involve protecting defections from Russian scientists to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

DOUGHERTY: Russian nuclear scientists once were the cream of the Soviet elite, able to command good salaries and top funding for their research projects. These days they're just scraping by on a few dollars a month. The temptation is great, a choice between poverty and obsolescence, or thousands of dollars to sell your top-secret expertise to so-called rogue states.

U.S. scientists say there are other areas where cooperation is crucial.

TODD PERRY, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: I think that the -- probably the largest dangers, and they're not particularly affected by any recent events, but ongoing dangers, have to do with the large nuclear material production facilities, mostly in Siberia, closed nuclear cities where not only is there a lot of material but a lot of uncharacterized, unmeasured waste.

DOUGHERTY: In spite of these problems, Russia continues to rely more than ever on nuclear weapons, both in its strategic defense policy and even psychologically. One reason, money.

ALEXEI ARBATOV, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: To maintain effective deterrence with respect to Western superior nuclear and conventional forces is much cheaper relying on nuclear weapons, rather than building up conventional forces to level equal to that of NATO. DOUGHERTY: The former Soviet Union pledged it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons. In 1993, Russia renounced that pledge to match the U.S. and NATO doctrines. A new draft military strategy, announced this year, puts even more emphasis on nuclear might.

DMITRI TRENIN, MOSCOW CARNEGIE CENTER: If the West mounts a large-scale invasion of Russia, the Russians will be almost constrained to use nuclear weapons fairly early on, more or less the way NATO forces were thinking about -- NATO countries were thinking about using nuclear weapons in the event of a massive Warsaw Pact advance.

DOUGHERTY: Russia's defense minister, Marshall Igor Sergeyev, calls his country's nuclear forces "the cornerstone of our entire national strength." And if the United States decides to build an antimissile defense system, Russia warns it will arm its new Topel-M (ph) missiles with multiple nuclear warheads.

GATI: And I think nuclear weapons will continue to be an important part of Russian thinking, military thinking, an important part of the sense of pride that Russians feel in their ability to compete with the United States. Russia has very little else, as we enter the new millennium, to compete with the West.

DOUGHERTY: Gone are post-Communist Russia's dreams of a strong economy that could compete internationally. Politically, Russia's nascent democracy is still weak and unformed.

BLAIR: Well, they think that that's the only thing that commands the attention on the world stage, nuclear weapons, and they, I think, have a point there.

DOUGHERTY: Blair, along with many U.S. and Russian experts, predicts Russia's weakness will continue, presenting new dangers.

SERGEI ROGOV, DIRECTOR, USA/CANADA INSTITUTE: If the new rules of the game are perceived by Russia as detrimental to Russian interests, as something which prevent us from being an equal partner, then I think we might be at the beginning of the new geopolitical conflict of the 21st century.

DOUGHERTY: A conflict in which nuclear weapons will continue to be the measuring stick of Moscow's might for years to come.

Jill Dougherty, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

McEDWARDS: And as we continue our discussion on Russia's role in the nuclear world, we will be joined by George Washington University's Jerrold Post once again, and more again, of course, from former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay. Both our guests will be with us when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

McEDWARDS: Welcome back to CNN's Millennium 2000 coverage.

We're focusing this hour on nuclear weapons. We're talking with former U.N. nuclear weapons inspector David Kay and Jerrold Post, who specializes in political psychology at George Washington University.

More on Russia, David Kay. The START 2 treaty, which is to reduce the number of warheads between the United States and Russia, has been quite bogged down in the Russian parliament. With the change in leadership that we're seeing there, what would you expect to happen?

KAY: Well, I expect START II to stay bogged down in the Duma. I think the only way around this deadlock is not -- is to put START II aside and start talking about what is the strategic future between the U.S. and the Soviets, not on a treaty-by-treaty basis -- which largely has been a mistake, in my view, over the last few years -- and talk about what the future is going to be for Russia and the United States in the nuclear era.

McEDWARDS: Jerrold Post, interim President Vladimir Putin, what would you expect from him?

POST: Well, one of the reasons that he has been named interim president and that Yeltsin stepped aside was the quite strong response in the recent elections, which reflects something very important for us to understand, namely that however much we may deplore what the aggressive and very strong actions in Chechnya seem to us in the West, that it was quite popular within Russia.

And what that says is, there is remaining deep within that Russian psyche a wish for a strong, aggressive world power leadership. And that issue of pride and needing to be out there and overcoming the humiliation of loss of its superpower status is a very important issue for us to keep in mind.

McEDWARDS: David Kay, is Russia in a position to sell its technology, sell its expertise, or give its expertise to some of these rogue nations?

KAY: Well, certainly in terms of having the technology and the expertise, it's in a position. The question is, what is the government policy, and then the own -- really more important question is, how much of this does the government actually control?

I think most of us in the analytic community worry as much about criminal commercial sales to states like Iran and Iraq, really more than we do about government-to-government sales out there.

But the Russians certainly have it in their capacity, if they want to make our life difficult, in the Middle East or in South Asia, increasing their cooperation in the nuclear weapons area with states like India, Iran, or even Iraq, they're there, and they're interested in money.

McEDWARDS: Jerrold Post? POST: But it's not only the question of loose nukes, there's also the question of loose nuclear scientists. As was pointed out in the setup piece. What was the most prestigious community within the Soviet Union, the scientific community, we now have a large group of underemployed or unemployed nuclear scientists, and in many ways there's a want ad out, you know, a need for employment in the nuclear science capacity. And that's a very dangerous prospect indeed.

McEDWARDS: Jerrold Post, we heard in Jamie McIntyre's piece that the idea that the U.S. and Russia don't need such big arsenals any more, if the threat is as real as you two are saying, what would you -- how -- what would your response be to that?

POST: Well, we're not talking so much about numbers. I certainly agree with the setup that these numbers are not necessary. What we're talking about is matters of symbols.

And there's a clash of symbols here in many ways, and a reluctance -- the weaker that Russia feels militarily and is militarily -- and there's been a major degradation in their capacity -- the more strongly they will cling to the nuclear weapons arsenal as their sole remaining statement of their power internationally.

McEDWARDS: David Kay, look ahead, if you would for us in the 21st century, what will it be known as, (inaudible) or is it still a nuclear age, or do other weapons like biological weapons become more of an issue?

KAY: I'm much more concerned about biological and advanced chemical weapons. They're cheaper, they're easier to do, you can do them under the guise of a commercial program. So I think we will see states like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, if it exists in that period of time, and others resort to these weapons.

Also, we'll have more accurate delivery vehicles. The commercialization of space has meant that -- and certainly in the 21st century will mean that a large number of states have access to long- range delivery vehicles and the intelligence services to deliver them accurately to the right place. So I think the world potentially is much more dangerous and much broader than just nuclear weapons.

McEDWARDS: All right. David Kay and Jerrold Post, thank you both for being with us.

KAY: Our pleasure.

POST: Thank you.

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