On-Site Inspection in Theory and Practice: A Primer on Modern Arms Control Regimes

By George L.Rueckert | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Suspect Site Regimes

Most arms control inspections designed to ensure compliance with treaty provisions take place at previously declared military-controlled or- related sites and facilities, using well-established procedures laid out in treaty documents. But what if a party to a treaty has strong reason to suspect—perhaps through information gained by its own national technical means (NTM), by defectors, or by reports from other countries—that a treaty violation is occurring at an undeclared, perhaps privately owned, site not normally subjected to inspection under any arms control regime?

Under most early arms control agreements, countries had little recourse but to raise such issues through diplomatic channels. To provide an alternative expert forum for raising arms control compliance issues, The Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT) established a separate body—the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC)—to discuss such matters. Early experience with using that body to deal with problem areas was relatively positive, but the cooperative atmosphere in the SCC deteriorated as serious compliance concerns were raised during the Reagan administration. There was no way of compelling a satisfactory answer to these concerns, which, more often than not, were dismissed by the Soviets in the SCC as “groundless, ” answered with unsubstantiated “assurances” that no violation had occurred, or tied up in endless fruitless discussions.

To improve the investigation and resolution of compliance issues that can not be resolved in the established treaty compliance bodies, many modern arms control agreements also contain specialized procedures that permit “suspect site” inspections. Some of these inspections are limited to designated sites, but others permit inspections at any location, whether or not listed in the treaty text, and at privately owned facilities as well as government sites. Among the various types of suspect site inspections are International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) special inspections—an early type of suspect site inspection; suspect site inspections under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which permit

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