January 28, 2021, 12:00
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol.51,No.4 (Jul/Aug 1995); 62-68
By Metta Spencer
By its nature, science knows no national boundaries. Experimental researchers and theorists normally maintain extensive contacts with their peers around the world, and they tend to support one another when things get dicey. This fact enabled several key scientists of both blocs to cross East-West borders, figuratively if not always literally, and cooperate with wonderful and historic effect.
In the United States and Britain, dissent against governmental policies that contributed to a nuclear arms race came early and openly. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the Federation of Atomic Scientists later, the Federation of American Scientists, or FAS) were founded in the fall of 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who wanted to insure that nuclear weapons were never again used in war. The Atomic Scientists Association in Britain was founded a few months later with the same goal.
In contrast, Soviet scientists worked in a police state where dissent was dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. It was not until after Stalin’s death in 1953 that it became thinkable that Soviet scientists might meet with Western scientists to discuss—unofficially—a wide range of arms control concerns. The foundation for cooperation between Soviet and Western scientists was built, brick by brick, by the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.
The Pugwash movement formally got under way with a meeting hosted by Cleveland industrialist Cyrus Eaton at his summer home (and birthplace) in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, in July 1957. In attendance were three scientists from the Soviet Union; three from Japan; two each from Canada and Britain; one from Australia, Austria, China, France, and Poland; and six scientists and one law professor from the United States.
That first Pugwash meeting was inspired by a 1954 “manifesto” drafted by British philosopher Bertrand Russell and signed by a host of prominent scientists, including Albert Einstein. The manifesto urged humankind to abolish war, and it enjoined the world’s scientists to “assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction.”
Although never a large movement—it recruits by invitation only— Pugwash played pivotal but behind-the-scenes roles in influencing the political leaders of the superpowers. All participants were invited as individuals, not as representatives of their government or any institution. However, the Soviet delegates had to be approved by the top level of the party and were monitored while they were abroad. Long-time Pugwashites sometimes recall the mischievous role of Vladimir Pavlichenko and l.A. Sokolov, who watched over the Soviet Pugwash delegations until recent years.
Sokolov, in particular, made little effort to disguise his authority over the sometime official head of the delegation, Academician M.A. Martov, greatly to the embarrassment of participants from other countries and-one supposes—to Martov himself. Sometimes Western participants who spoke excellent Russian would catch Pavlichenko changing or adding something while translating a paper. Eugene Rabinowitch, the Russian-born editor of the Bulletin, and Joseph Rotblat, a Polish-born British physicist and a founder of the Pugwash movement, would challenge him openly from time to time, saying: “This is not part of the paper.”
Although some Soviet scientists were clearly intimidated, suggests Rotblat, there were other scientists “who didn’t care a hoot about people like Pavlichenko and Sokolov. [Lev] Artsimovich was a brilliant scientist. He didn’t care! He would even speak up openly, a bit like [Andrei] Sakharov. He was the first person to invent the big machines that produce fusion. And Peter Kapitza was another person who would speak up. Igor Tamm, another giant physicist. They spoke their mind.”
Of the early Soviet participants in Pugwash, it is worth singling out two who made especially important contributions in moderating their nation’s engagement in the nuclear arms race: Academicians M.D. Millionshchikov and Lev A. Artsimovich. Both were eminent nuclear physicists: Millionshchikov was vice president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and Artsimovich was in charge of the Soviet fusion research program.
The road to Sochi
The annual Pugwash Conferences cover a wide array of topics on science and world affairs, with several symposia and workshops every year, mostly relating to nuclear weaponry. There have been 45 major Pugwash meetings since 1957, as well as many smaller meetings. Early on, Pugwash began looking into the matter of antiballistic missile (AEM) defenses, among the most contentious weapons issues of the 1960s. Both superpowers had been working on ABM systems since the mid-1950s, and in 1964 the Soviets deployed a primitive system around Moscow. Meanwhile, the United States was attempting to upgrade its Nike anti-bomber system so that it, too, could destroy missiles.
Most arms control experts were wary of defensive systems. In bald terms, according to the prevailing arms control view, nuclear stability-deterrence itself—depended on the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union were both held hostage by nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara called it “assured destruction.” (ABM proponents added the word ‘mutual,” giving the twentieth century one of its most descriptive acronyms, MAD.”)
In the United States, pressure for an ABM system had become irresistible by the mid-1960s. The Pentagon wanted it; a majority of Congress wanted it; and the American people seemed to want it. Eventually, Congress appropriated money for a new post-Nike system, “Sentinel.”
McNamara, however, along with most arms control experts, was against building anything but a limited system, nominally to protect the country from accidental Soviet launches or an attack from China. President Johnson sat on the fence, dubious about a full-blown ABM system, hut mindful of the political pressure to build one. Even the best system would be porous and easily overwhelmed by more and better offensive weapons, argued McNamara. ABM defenses would accelerate the arms race and perhaps create East-West instability, which could lead to a nuclear first strike.
In contrast, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin was wholly in favor of defensive systems. The topic was a hot button at the June 1967 summit in Glassboro, New Jersey. At one point, Johnson ordered McNamara to explain to Kosygin why the Soviet ABM system was pointless. McNamara told the premier that no matter how strong Soviet defenses were, the United States would build the weapons necessary to overcome them. “The blood rushed to his [Kosygin’s] face,” writes McNamara, “he pounded the table, and he said, ‘Defense is moral; offense is immoral.’ That was essentially the end of the discussion.”1
The official Soviet war-and-peace position of the day had few gray areas. The Soviet Union said it favored general and complete disarmament. If that could not be obtained, then defenses against nuclear weapons would seem to be a benefit, not a disadvantage. The United States dismissed the Russian position, announcing that it would retain nuclear stability by developing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) for its intercontinental missiles. No defensive system could stand up to such an onslaught.
Some first-rank Soviet scientists-including Peter Kapitza—soon saw the dangers posed by ABM systems.2 By about 1964, Artsimovich and Millionshchikov, who were well positioned to influence the government, were quietly adopting the anti-ABM view propounded by most U.S. arms controllers. Further developments in the scientists’ position could be seen in a December 1967 meeting of the Soviet-American Defense Study Group, whose members all were Pugwashites, including Millionshchikov, Artsimovich, and Kapitza. According to Raymond Garthoff, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., “Several senior Soviet officials have privately identified this meeting as having made a significant contribution toward shifting Soviet policy away from support for ABM and toward acceptance of the stabilizing function of mutual deterrence.”3 Rotblat confirms this view:
“At that time, the Soviet Union was officially in favor of developing anti-ballistic missiles. They looked at it almost as a moral issue. They said, ‘We want to defend our people.’ The Americans at the time were against having such a defense system. We knew that the offensive weapons are much cheaper than the defensive weapons. You can always saturate the defenses, either with offensive weapons or with decoys. Somehow we had to explain this to our Soviet colleagues.
“The leader of the Soviet delegation was Mikhail Millionshchikov, who was a physicist and a very powerful figure in the Soviet Union—he was also the speaker of the Parliament, the Soviet. The speaker in the Soviet was not like the speaker in the House of Commons. He had even more power, though the Soviet met only once a year.
“At a meeting in India, he put forward arguments why the Soviet Union should develop these defenses. There was a good paper from Jack Ruina [a professor at MIT] that provided the counter-argument and we argued about this. We did not think that we convinced him. He just listened and explained why his views were right.
“Then we met the following year and we took up this discussion again. It was clear to us that he had presented his views to the government and the generals back there and they again came out asking for more details: In what way would such a development affect the future arms race? It was clear to us that he wanted to be armed with such arguments that he could present hack on the other side.”
Rotblat said that Millionshchikov generally took the Soviet position in the Pugwash meetings, but upon returning to Moscow argued the Western view. By the time of the Pugwash Conference in Sochi in October 1969, which was attended by 21 Soviet scientists, Millionshchikov definitely said he opposed ABM systems. The topic was debated, and the final statement of the conference included the following regarding the deployment of ABMs and MIRVs:
“Deployment of either of these weapons systems … will not only increase the waste of resources and the danger of accidental or unauthorized launching of nuclear-armed missiles but will also increase the probability of nuclear war, since one or the other major nuclear powers might conclude that there are advantages to be gained by striking first rather than accepting the risk of a first blow by its adversary.”4
A month after the Pugwash meeting in Sochi, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks began in Helsinki. One outcome was the ABM Treaty of 1972, which—until President Ronald Reagan revived the notion in 1983 with his Strategic Defense Initiative—successfully prevented a destabilizing race for defenses against ballistic missiles.
Why did the Soviet government abandon its simplistic position that “defense is moral; offense is immoral”? No doubt there were many factors, including cost and the growing conviction, nourished over the years by Soviet participants in Pugwash, that made-in-America MIRVs could defeat any defensive system. But U.S. political scientist Matthew Evangelista offers a distinctive sidelight, speculating that Ludmila Grishiani, a historian who was at the Pugwash conference in Sochi, may have been able to explain to Kosygin what McNamara had failed to convey at Glassboro. After all, she was Kosygin’s daughter.5
Millionshchikov later gave substantial credit to the Pugwash process. He noted that he had privately come around to the anti-ABM position in 1964 during a Pugwash meeting at which the participants “had learned inch from each other,” and that he had ‘passed the lesson on to his government.”6 Artsimovich had also come to the same position recognizing the connection between offensive and defensive weapons, and he openly stated his concerns about ABMs in 967 at the Pugwash conference in Sweden.7
Georgi Arbatov, head of the Soviet Union’s Institute of USA and Canada Studies and another Pugwash participant, published an article critical of ABMs in Izvestia in 1969. Evangelista also believes that the Soviet government was influenced by Academician Vladimir Kirillin, a deputy to Kosygin, who attended a Pugwash meeting in 1963 and later kept up with further discussion of the ABM issue with Artsimovich, Sakharov, Millionshchikov, and other Soviet scientists.8
“Very often in Pugwash,” noted Rotblat in an interview with me, “we seem to talk and that’s the end of it. /e often have to wait years before e can see any real effect of our debate, but this time we could see how happened.”
The FAS and CSS
Both Millionshchikov and Artsimovich died in 1973. They and their cohort were succeeded by able scientists who would eventually pick up the East-West dialogue and carry it forward. Especially notable would be Yevgeny Velikhov and Roald Sageev, both of whose careers were advanced by Artsimovich. Nevertheless, their main contributions to ending the nuclear arms race would have wait until Mikhail Gorbachev took over in 1985.
In the 1960s, Artsimovich had already singled out physicist Velikhov for promotion. Although Velikhov’s initial specialization was in developing computer technology, he became director of the Soviet fusion program in 1977.
Gorbachev, who was then national arty secretary for agriculture, wanted to learn how computers might be used in farming. Velikhov introduced him to the world of computers, and mm then on, Velikhov would be a key science adviser to Gorbachev. In fact, Velikhov ultimately had more contacts with Westerners during the 1980s than any other Soviet figure except Arbatov of the USA-Canada Institute.
Sagdeev was also a protégé of Artsimovich. Having spent a lengthy period in Academic City in Novosibirsk conducting research on fusion power, Sagdeev returned to Moscow in the early 1970s. By 1973, he was director of the Space Research Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
The Brezhnev era lasted 17 years, and during that time little was accomplished in arms control or disarmament, although the failure was not just the fault of the Soviets. Apart from Pugwash, there were few meetings between Soviet officials and their counterparts abroad. It was the time of Watergate, the aftermath of Vietnam, and Cold War competition for influence in Africa, Asia, and Central America. Détente came and went, and the East-West arms race lurched onward with MAD momentum.
But then came President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative speech in March 1983, a proposal to develop the technical means to destroy ICBMs in flight. The speech alarmed the Western arms control community as well as peace activists. Reagan’s “Star Wars” proposal seemed certain to revitalize the nuclear arms race.
Key Soviet scientists were dismayed, too. Frank von Hippel, a Princeton physicist and then chairman of the FAS, recalls that shortly after the speech, a group from the Soviet Academy of Sciences sent an open letter to the American scientific community. The gist of the letter, in von Hippel’s words: “You people convinced us that it would be counterproductive to have an anti-missile race. There were talks going on through Pugwash about these matters in the late 1960s. Have you changed your mind?”
One of the scientists behind the letter was Velikhov, who was already well known to U.S. scientists, having worked with them on arms control issues. In response to the Star Wars speech, he founded the Committee of Soviet Scientists for Peace and Against the Nuclear Threat, commonly known as CSS. It was made up of high-level Soviet Academy scientists, and it had been responsible for the open letter to American scientists. The FAS responded positively to the letter, and Velikhov invited it to send a delegation to Moscow to meet with the CSS. The FAS accepted, beginning a long and useful collaboration between the Washington-based FAS and the Moscow-based CSS. Von Hippel, for instance, estimates that he has been to Russia more than 30 times since 1983.
The CSS, says von Hippel, played a key role in persuading Gorbachev, who took the reins of power in March 1985, that the Soviet Union should not engage in a Star Wars race. SDI was unworkable, said the CSS scientists, and could be easily overcome with more cost-effective countermeasures. Sagdeev’s expertise as a space scientist was particularly crucial in the Soviet debate about Star Wars, says von Hippel.
Seismometers in Semipalatinsk
Since the early years of the nuclear era, a primary goal of the international arms control movement had been to see a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty enter into force, as a means of slowing down and perhaps even ending the nuclear arms race. Twice the Soviet Union proposed a moratorium on nuclear testing—once, in 1958 under Nikita Khrushchev, which President Dwight Eisenhower accepted, and again in August 1985 under Gorbachev, which President Reagan rejected.
Velikhov was a major player in containing the 1986 Chernobyl disaster’, and his experience at Chernobyl was directly related to his opinion about nuclear tests, as he explained to Western researchers in 1989:
“Before the Chernobyl explosion, many important specialists and political figures believed that a nuclear reactor could not explode. Now they know the truth. That is why it is wrong to believe that there cannot be accidents involving nuclear weapons. And there will be an accident if we don’t start eliminating them very soon. Gorbachev agrees. He doesn’t believe in the infallibility of nuclear weapons, and Chernobyl strengthened his feelings about them. After Chernobyl, he extended the Soviet moratorium on nuclear testing, and he thought you would have enough sense to follow this example. But you didn’t.”9
In September 1985, von Hippel and Velikhov met at a Pugwash workshop in Copenhagen. Velikhov was distressed that the Reagan administration had reacted so negatively to the moratorium. At one point, says von Hippel, Velikhov suggested that the Soviet government might be willing to let a Western group monitor the moratorium within the Soviet Union to show that there was really no testing going on.
This was the first suggestion that the Soviet Union might accept seismic monitoring stations on Soviet soil. A generation earlier, the CTB idea had foundered even though Khrushchev and Eisenhower (and then Kennedy) had wanted one. U.S. weaponeers had argued that the Soviets might be able to conduct “decoupled” underground tests that seismic sensors located beyond the borders of the Soviet Union would not be able to distinguish from earthquakes.
The remedy: on-site inspections backed with a worldwide system of seismic monitors. Khrushchev had rejected all but a sharply limited number of inspections, saying that they would be little more than “spying” expeditions. But in the mid-1980s, with a truculent U.S. administration accelerating the nuclear arms race and a man who favored “new thinking” in the Kremlin, it was the time to try again.
Several Western organizations began developing the seismic monitoring idea at almost the same time, and they explored it together. Parliamentarians Global Action (PGA) in particular used the opening to test out some new ideas regarding verification techniques. It had already commissioned Charles Archambeau of the University of Colorado to design a verification system adequate to monitor a permanent CTB.
In December 1985, before the six-month moratorium was to expire, Gorbachev announced the first of two extensions. And he said he would welcome the PGA’s offer to help with verification.
A PGA delegation, with von Hippel as its science adviser, flew to Moscow in April 1986, where it met with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. He agreed that the Soviet government would adopt the PGA’s monitoring proposal—if the United States would also declare a test moratorium. Von Hippel, who wasn’t sure much had been accomplished, suggested that the PGA talk to Velikhov, too.
The meeting with Velikhov turned into a brainstorming session. Velikhov wanted to move even faster and involve scientists in verification-even if there was no bilateral moratorium. Before the Westerners left Moscow, the PGA and the Soviet Academy of Sciences had agreed to organize a joint workshop on verification in May.
When they got home, von Hippel and Aaron Tovish, executive director of the PGA, asked Tom Cochran and Adrian De Wind of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a Washington-based organization that does legal and technical work on environmental, energy, and disarmament issues, to take part in the upcoming workshop. They also invited Jack Evernden, a seismological monitoring specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey, to go along. A PGA seismologist from Sweden, Ola Dahlman, was also part of the team. Dahlman, Everaden, and the NRDC had done impressive recent work on monitoring, in anticipation of a possible test ban.
The Soviet and Western scientists met two weeks after Chernobyl, and Velikhov had to shuttle back and forth between Moscow and the stricken area, leaving the Soviet and Western scientists to work out details. The PGA’s Tovish had supposed that they were discussing a long-range monitoring plan, a scheme that would be ready when-and if—the Reagan administration agreed to make the moratorium bilateral. Despite Velikhov’s earlier enthusiasm for monitoring in the absence of a bilateral moratorium, no one really expected the Soviet government to accept seismic stations on Soviet soil while the Americans continued to test.
However, to everyone s amazement, Velikhov persuaded Gorbachev to accept the idea of monitoring in the absence of a bilateral agreement. In fact, Velikhov asked the group to work out a plan then and there. The Westerners extended their stay while Velikhov returned to Chernobyl. When Velikhov later returned, the group quickly drafted an agreement and the seismologists started drawing designs on the blackboard for seismic stations that would be grouped around the Soviet test site at Semipalatinsk as well as the Nevada Test Site.
The monitoring system that the PGA proposed would have required the United States to join the test moratorium, which wasn’t in the cards. But the NRDC was able to make an immediate commitment to the project, bilateral or no. Therefore, the agreement that emerged from the meeting was between the Soviet Academy and NRDC.
Back in Washington, there had been a months-long effort by the Reagan administration to portray the moratorium as just another Soviet propaganda ploy. The Reaganites made it clear that they wanted no part of a CTB. Nuclear testing was necessary for the nation’s security, went the argument-the weapons labs had to test to refine weapons scheduled for deployment; to improve safety and reliability; and to develop a “third generation” of weapons, including the nuclear-pumped X-ray laser, a possible keystone for Star Wars.
Lies were deliberately spread alleging that the Soviets had accelerated nuclear testing before calling the moratorium. But now with Gorbachev’s response to the PGA’s original initiative, and with the NRDC’s seismic monitoring, it was obvious that something new was afoot. Col. Ed Nawrocki, an assistant to then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, later put it this way:
“The NRDC’s goals were totally the opposite of our own. They went into this project to prove that a comprehensive test ban treaty is verifiable. [And we’d made verification the main public objection to a comprehensive test ban because] verification is such a ‘show-stopper,’ as Perle is fond of saying. So the government didn’t go much beyond verification as a reason why we shouldn’t have a CTB. And the NRDC was out to undermine the verification argument against a CTB.”10
Led by NRDC’s Cochran, an American team of seismologists was in Kazakhstan by summer, collecting data that would be useful in designing systems to verify a low-threshold underground test ban treaty. The American government reciprocated by allowing the group to set up monitoring stations around the U.S. test site in Nevada. The reciprocity was only symbolic, in that there were already university seismic stations in the area, but it was an important symbol nevertheless.
In the Soviet Union, American scientists worked with scientists and technicians from the Institute of Earth Physics to set up ten stations.
The political impact of the project may have been even more important than the technical information generated. It suggested that the Soviet government was willing for the first time to accept intrusive monitoring.11 Aaron Tovish, the PGA’s executive director, said in 1993:
‘[Cong.] Tom Downey has on his office wall, framed, the first seismograph of an earthquake coming from the station near Semipalatinsk. And [Cong.] Ed Markey got up on the floor of Congress and said, ‘Look at this. I have evidence here of the change in the Soviet Union. This is information gathered by American scientists in a militarily sensitive area.’ It had quite an impact. There were streams of delegations going over to look at the seismic stations.”
Nearly a decade after the PGA and NRDC efforts, a comprehensive test ban is not yet a reality. But negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear test ban within the Conference on Disarmament framework have made substantial progress in the past two years, in part because of the exploratory work of nongovernmental organizations such as the PGA and NRDC. They proved, conclusively, that the Soviet Union, after decades of posturing, was ready to cooperate on verification issues.
In the past few pages, I’ve offered a number of examples as to how the international scientific community contributed to ending the East-West arms race. The account is illustrative, not definitive. Many other stories could have been told, equally compelling. But after years of studying the role of the scientific community in ending the Cold War, I suggest that a few common myths ought to be disposed of:
If governments can be influenced by the public at all, it is only their own citizens who can do so. Foreigners cannot expect that their voices will be heard. That is not always true. Indeed, the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev period was extraordinarily receptive to the views of foreigners, especially scientists and civilian experts. Even tyrannical governments are not indifferent to organized international pressure. Transnational peace, human rights, and environmental organizations should keep up the pressure. They can often have a greater effect on undemocratic regimes than can the dissidents within.
Foreign influence, when it occurs, is typically channelled through official diplomatic or intergovernmental bureaucracies. Again, not true. Or not always true. During the Cold War, scientists from East and West built personal networks, informal— but effective—“back channels.” Even when important ideas are transmitted via formally prescribed state institutions, their actual influence is mediated by personal relationships in social networks. A formal bureaucratic machine may exclude certain ideas, which members of a back-channel network nevertheless pass along with enthusiasm. Further, in face-to-face meetings, body language and other unwritten cues help individuals put written material into a more accurate cognitive context.
Scientists are technocrats who take no responsibility for the social consequences of their work. To be sure, there are many such scientists. But the remarkable record of scientists connected with organizations such as Pugwash, FAS, and CSS, demonstrates that many scientists are willing to grapple with the political and ethical dimensions of their work. When they are well organized, former weapons scientists are particularly able to make their expert opinions count.
There is yet another myth that lies somewhat beyond the scope of this article. It is that the United States “won the Cold War” by pushing ahead with its military programs, which virtually bankrupted the Soviet Union. As a host of analysts have recently demonstrated, the reality was far more complex—in fact, the Reagan-era arms buildup almost certainly prolonged the Cold War by giving aid and comfort to hard-liners in the Kremlin. (Among the analyses of the end of the Cold War, The Great Transition, a 1994 book by Raymond L. Garthoff of the Brookings Institution, is especially good.)
As Garthoff and others have noted, it was Gorbachev who took the lead in ending the Cold War. And it is clear that to some degree, Gorbachev was influenced by the international community of scientists—Millionshchikov, Artsimovich, Velikhov, von Hippel, Rotblat, Stone, Sagdeev, Sakharov, and hundreds of others.
That was more than just a happy coincidence. In the decades preceding Gorbachev’s rise to power, the groundwork had been laid: top researchers and theorists, East and West, had built extensive networks. This enabled key scientists in both blocs to seize the moment when Gorbachev took office in 1985, and then to cooperate with wonderful and historic effect.
1 Robert S. McNamara, Blundering into Disaster: Surviving the First Century of the Nuclear Age (New York: Pantheon, 1986), p. 57.
2 Another early opponent of ABM systems was not a scientist hot a well-informed Soviet journalist, Gennady Gerasimov, who would later become famous as Foreign Ministry spokesman under Gorbachev. See his article, The First-Strike Theory,” International Affairs (Moscow), no. 3 (1965). pp. 39—45. He elaborated the same paints in a subsequent book opposing Star Wars, Keep Space Weapon-Free (Moscow: Novosti. 1984). However, in an interview Gerasimov told me that he did not have much influence with Gorbachev on this topic at first. Though he was present at Reykjavik and gave his reasons for discounting SDI as impractical. Marshal Akhromeyev offered a mare conventional view that won out an that occasion. Later, almost everyone came to accept Gerasimov’s arguments.
3 Raymond Garthaff, “BMD and East-West Relations,” Ballistic Missile Defense, Ashton B. Carter and David N. Schwartz. eds. (Washington D.C.: Brookings institution, 1984) p. 298 n49, discussed by Matthew Evangelista in “Soviet Scientists as Arms Control Advisers: The Case of ABM.” IV World Congress far Soviet and East European Studies, July 1990. Evangelista plans to publish this paper in Taming the Bear (forthcoming). His work is especially convincing regarding the influence of these Soviet scientists on ABM policies.
4 Joseph Rotblat, Scientists in the Quest far Peace (Cambridge, Mass, and London: MIT Press. 1972). pp. 337—38.
5 Evangelista. “Soviet Scientists,” p. 30.
6 Rudolf Peierls, Bird of Passage: Recollections of a Physicist (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press 1985), p. 285, cited in Evangelista “Soviet Scientists,” p. 24.
7 Bernard Feld Artsimovich and the Pugwash Movement in Reminiscences about Academician Lev Artsimarich (Moscow: Nauka, 1985) p 84 and Evangelista, Soviet Scientists p 1b
8 Evangelista “Soviet Scientists,” p. 30.
9 Yevgeny Velikhov interview, “Chernobyl Remains on Our Mind,” in Stephen F. Cohen and Katrion vanden Heuvel, Voices of Glasnost (New York: Norton, 1989), p. 161—62.
10 Philip F. Schrag, Listening for the Bomb: A Study in Nuclear Arms Control Verification Policy (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. 1989), p. 84.
11 From interviews with Thomas Cochran, Nicholas Dunlap, Christopher Paine, Aaron Tovish, and Frank von Hippel.
A one-man crusade
Pugwash scientists are not the only ones who contributed to arms control. A host of scientists worked mostly or entirely outside of Pugwash. Consider Jeremy Stone. In 1963, as a young mathematics professor, Stone wrote a paper called ‘Should the Soviet Union Build an Anti-Ballistic Missile System?” His answer was no. In 1964, he presented the paper to a group of influential Russians and Americans in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Americans liked his paper, but the Russians did not, so Stone began visiting the Soviet Union to promote his ideas. He and his wife, B.J., financed themselves as tourists, and B.J. learned Russian for the purpose. Between 1966 and 1970 they made five trips—lecturing, lobbying, and presenting Stone’s writings in favor of an ABM treaty.
Stone says he was then too young to be a Pugwash regular, yet he managed to form relationships with top-level Soviet scientists, such as Mikhail Millionshchikov and Vasily Emelyanov. ‘They were the transmission belt,” he says, ‘and it wasn’t a question of when they changed their tune. It was a question of when they were permitted to express the views that, I think, scientists all along understood.”12
By 1975 Stone’s visits focused on human rights issues. By then he was president of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and he was prodding Western scientists to defend Soviet dissidents. After meeting Andrei Sakharov in 1976, he organized a boycott of scientific meetings in sympathy with Sakharov’s hunger strikes. However, by 1983, the FAS recognized the overriding importance of discussing nuclear issues with Russian scientists, so Stone called off the boycott, seizing every opportunity to speak on behalf of Sakharov.
Stone invented a simplified arms control strategy. He suggested that, once a fair agreement was established with ceilings for each category and subcategory of weapons, new agreements need not be negotiated. Additional reductions could just be a matter of shrinking each ceiling by a certain percentage annually. Heads of state could negotiate the next steps on disarmament by themselves, just by deciding whether to reduce limits set in a treaty like SALT II by perhaps 2 or 7 percent a year. President Carter secretly tried Stone’s idea during a summit in Vienna, says Stone.
However, during the early 1980s, arms control was stalled by a new problem: President Reagan’s fervent commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or “Star Wars”) which most Soviets feared. By any conventional reading of the ABM treaty, SDI would have been a violation. Still, Reagan refused to trade away his program, even for remarkable Soviet offers, thus stalling negotiations to reduce the numbers of both intermediate-range and strategic missiles. In 1985, addressing 40 scientists in Moscow, Stone proposed a way of breaking the impasse. He combined it with his older idea of percentage reductions:
“You people are saying that if we go ahead with Star Wars, there can be no disarmament. I agree, but you should turn it around. You should see that if both sides go ahead with disarmament, there can be no Star Wars. Disarmament in and of itself might be the answer to Star Wars. With offensive reductions under way, there would be no political support for Star Wars [in the United States]…. Only one number needs to be negotiated—the percentage for annual reduction of SALT II limits.”13
Stone called his idea a “bear hug.” He proposed that the Soviets announce, “Okay, we won’t complain about Star Wars. We’ll go right ahead with disarmament, but we’ll do it on a year-by-year basis, under a continuing agreement. If you go beyond talk and actually violate the ABM treaty in any way, then, boys, we’ll stop the agreement.”
After Sakharov regained his freedom in 1986 and became influential in nuclear politics, he adopted a version of the bear hug. He argued that SDI was technically unfeasible anyway, and that there was little risk involved. Unlike Stone, however, he proposed that disarmament be halted only if Star Wars were actually deployed. His model, called the “Sakharov finesse,” was widely credited for making possible the START agreement. In fact, however, it was Stone’s broader version that the Soviets adopted.
12 Interview with Jeremy Stone, April 1995.
13 Strobe Talbott, The Master of the Game (New York: Vintage, 1988), p. 261.