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Our 2019 Annual Meeting brought together members and colleagues in the field, journalists, U.S. and international officials, and prominent experts and policymakers to discuss today’s most critical arms control challenges.
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Morning Panel I
“The INF, New START, and the Crisis in U.S.-Russian Arms Control"
Ambassador Richard Burt, Former U.S. Diplomat and Negotiator on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and U.S. Chair, Global Zero
Ambassador Anatoly I. Antonov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States
Joan Rohlfing, President and COO, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Morning Panel II
“Breaking Barriers to Gender Inclusivity in the Nuclear Policy Field”
Heather Hurlburt, Director of the New Models of Policy Change, New America
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Founder of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS), Member of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors
“Arms Control, Diplomacy, and U.S. Security”
Afternoon Panel I
“The Challenges of New Weapons Technologies and Strategic Stability"
Bonnie Docherty, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch, Arms Division
Erin Dumbacher, Program Officer for the Scientific and Technical Affair Program, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)
Amy Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy, Congressional Research Service
Afternoon Panel II
“Next Steps Toward Denuclearization and Peace on the Korean Peninsula”
Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Frank Aum, Senior Expert on North Korea, United States Institute of Peace
Daryl G. Kimball
Reception for Meeting Attendees
Special Guest: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland)
William R. "Russ" Colvin
COUNTRYMAN: So, good morning. There's a couple of you I haven't met. I'm Tom Countryman and it's my honor to serve as the chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association.
We're very happy to be in this new venue this morning with thanks to the Carnegie Institution for hosting us for so many years. We outgrew the size of their room and, again this year had to turn people away. So, we're very happy that you are able to be here today.
Let me just ask people to silence cellphones or any other devices that you have.
I think that most of you know the Arms Control Association, since 1971. We've been a key part of the debate about national security policy, about nuclear doctrine, about the nuclear budget, contributed not just to the U.S. government discussion and congressional discussion, but we think have contributed also to the international discussion and the decisions of other governments about what strategies to pursue in the military field.
And in all that time, we've punched above our weight as a very small NGO by Washington standards, having an influence that I think reflects the very practical policy point of view that we are trying to put out. Not trying to solve all the world's problems in a single week, but to help governments, especially the U.S. government, think about the right next step.
Did I start echoing? Okay. And we think that there are new opportunities to do this with a new and more active Congress and have started working with other NGOs in town in order to push forward the debate within the Congress on these crucial issues for American citizens and for global security.
We have a great program today. And if we've done it right, you should be very afraid because we will talk about the issues that continue to concern us. But if I could take a moment to talk a little bit happier note, as I say, I consider it an honor to serve as the chairman of the board of directors and I think it's worth noting that it's a really extraordinary board that continues to draw honors and gain respect from the world community.
And just a few things that you may not have heard in the last year, Professor Zia Mian from our board was given the American Physical Society's Leo Szilard Prize for someone in the physics field making major contributions to humanity and society. Dr. Catherine Kelleher has just had a fellowship named after her at the University of Maryland in recognition not just of her leadership in the international security field, but in mentoring and promoting generations of women in this field.
I see Bonnie Jenkins and her new organization, still very new, Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security. And, of course, we have board members like Laura Kennedy active in the political field and as well. I see Susan Burk who worked with a variety of social organizations advancing political education.
I think it's a terrific board and I'm very proud to work with them. I’ve got a special thanks for Michael Klare who has devoted several of the most of the last several months to working on new technologies and you'll hear about the work and the thinking he's been doing this afternoon.
The key thing, however, is not so much the board because we see our job as just supporting the people who are doing the real work, and that is a small dynamic team led by Daryl Kimball. I think you'll have an opportunity to, not just to see in our excellent journal but to see also in the topics that we discuss today what a great job they do, and I couldn't be more proud than I am just to be associated with them.
We have by the way, I should mention a couple of new board members, newly elected by the membership who will be starting terms now and I hope that some of you will know them, Angela King, formerly of the United Nations High Rep for Disarmament. And Maryann Cusimano Love of Catholic University. So, we think they will add to the strength and diversity and thought processes of our board.
So, that's all I really wanted to say. We can scare you and I think nuclear weapons should scare people a little bit. But we are not motivated and we do not seek to motivate others by fear. We're motivated by a genuine concern for the future of humanity, for the security of our country and our planet, and by a belief that we can make a difference. And we see it today in the engagement of so many NGOs in civil actions, I just came back from St. Louis where I met with a very local group that is researching as a group all the issues of national security in the budget and using that to motivate local discussion and local activism.
I'm very proud to be part of that movement and especially proud that the Arms Control Association under Daryl's leadership continues to lead the way.
With that, I would like to introduce our first panel and ask them to come up. Executive Director Daryl Kimball will moderate this panel. We have Ambassador Richard Burt, Joan Rohlfing from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and we're happy to have His Excellency Anatoly Antonov from the Russian Federation. So, if I could ask you all to come up.
“The INF, New START, and the Crisis in U.S.-Russian Arms Control"
Daryl Kimball, Ambassador Richard Burt, Ambassador Anatoly I. Antonov, Joan Rohlfing
KIMBALL: It's a pleasure to see all of you here at the Washington Court Hotel. As Tom said, we went to a larger venue to accommodate the growing interest in our annual meeting. And it's my pleasure to moderate this first session on the crisis in U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control.
We're going to be focusing here on the crisis facing primarily the INF Treaty and the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and I'm just going to give a brief introduction before we hear some opening remarks from each of our distinguished panelists and then get into a discussion about these issues.
As many of you already know, in February following the failure of talks to resolve mutual concerns about the INF Treaty, Washington and Moscow suspended their obligations under the INF Treaty. So, barring a diplomatic miracle between now and August 2nd, the U.S. is on course to withdraw from that landmark 1987 Treaty which led to the verifiable elimination of some 2,692 nuclear armed intermediate range-missiles in Europe in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.
The collapse of the INF Treaty from our perspective at the Arms Control Association opens the door to renewed missile competition, and we'll be talking a bit about what we can do to avoid that. Russia conceivably could deploy more of its controversial 9M729 ground-launched cruise missiles, Russia could also convert some of its sea-based cruise missiles, the caliber system, for ground watch.
For its part, the Trump administration wants to begin testing before the end of this year a new ground-launched intermediate range cruise missile, and even Ukraine, a party to the INF Treaty, let’s not forget, has suggested it might pursue INF missile deployment. Meanwhile, the new START Treaty which verifiably caps both the U.S. and Russian deployed strategic arsenals will expire on February 5, 2021, unless the two presidents agree to extend the treaty or somehow negotiate a replacement.
So, without the INF Treaty and without a positive decision to extend New START, there will be no legally-binding limits on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.
Now, last year President Putin voiced interest in an extension of New START and the Trump administration announced it’s pursuing a whole-of-government review about whether to extend the treaty and that review, of course, is being led by John Bolton who publicly called on President Trump to terminate the New START treaty shortly before he was named as the National Security Advisor.
So, with that introduction, I want to introduce our three excellent panelists to discuss how the U.S. and Russia can navigate these stormy waters. First, we have here in the middle, of course, Richard Burt, a veteran of U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations with the Reagan and Bush administrations and he was the leading negotiator for the 1991 START I agreement and he's currently chairman of the organization Global Zero, among other things.
Joan Rohlfing, on the right side, is president and chief operating officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative with whom we've partnered for many years since NTI was founded back in 2001 by Senator Sam Nunn and Ted Turner.
And, of course, we have, we are honored to have Anatoly Antonov, who's Russia's ambassador to the United States, as his bio and the other bios in the program show, he has a long and distinguished career in the diplomatic sector with the Russian Foreign Ministry, including serving as chief negotiator for the New START agreement.
And I've asked each of them to give us some brief opening remarks from some five to seven minutes on what they see as the value of U.S.-Russian arms control towards risk reduction efforts and the U.S.-Russia dialogue on strategic issues. I've also asked them to offer their thoughts about what could be done in the wake of the likely termination of the INF Treaty, to head off a new INF missile race, and what they see as the value of the New START agreement and the way forward. So, three very simple questions with some complicated answers.
And then after we hear from them, I'll engage our panel in the discussion about some of the deeper issues. This is not an introductory discussion on these issues—this is a well-informed crowd— so we'll be getting into some details about the way forward.
So, with that, I want to welcome Ambassador Burt to the stage. It's an honor to have you with us. The floor is yours.
BURT: Thank you, Daryl, and I can't help but recall that when I was still kind of writing about these issues for the New York Times in the late 1970s I was invited to talk to an annual meeting of the Arms Control Association then. So that was 40 years ago. So, we haven't yet succeeded, folks, so there's a lot to do.
I would begin by kind of talking about what I consider to be the great paradox about the status of U.S.-Russian arms control at present because I would argue that rarely if ever has the issue been more problematic and as this conference correctly diagnoses it, we confront a crisis.
And I'll go into a little more detail in just a moment on that, but it's a crisis that is a political crisis, it's a technical crisis, and it's a crisis that raises real questions about the future stability of the nuclear relationship itself.
But the paradox is this issue gets so little discussion at least here in the United States. It is a back pages issue. If you want to read about arms control, you go to the weather page of the Washington Post, maybe there's an article about it. So, I mean, it is just striking, if you will, the lack of attention this issue is getting when juxtaposed to the problems we are confronting.
So, I'm going to make three basic points. The first is the arms control relationship in my judgment cannot go forward, we're not going to succeed as long as the U.S.-Russian political relationship is so damaged and it’s continually worsening. It's hard to think of a relationship even in some of the worst moments of the Cold War where U.S. and Russia are at odds on more issues.
And, you know, I don't mean to give you the laundry list of whether it’s on regional issues like Ukraine, Syria, now in Venezuela, basic political questions that have to do with the perceived intervention of Russia in our domestic affairs. And that has led to an even worse development, which is Russia policy has become a domestic political issue in our politics, which makes it in my view almost impossible to solve, because people want to use it for their own domestic political purposes and that's what you've seen and you will continue to see it as we move towards the 2020 election. So, we've got a major political obstacle.
Secondly, we've got technical obstacles. It isn't just that the United States has stepped out in the INF Treaty; that's bad enough. In my view, the Russians hoped that we would at some point step out of the INF Treaty. Vladimir Putin himself was complaining about the INF Treaty, I think, 10 years ago. So, I think the Russian side didn't like it anymore; the United States basically doesn't like arms control, at least, doesn't like the constraints of arms control as Daryl pointed out in the case of John Bolton.
So, there was a kind of convenience, that both sides have real reasons to step out of this treaty. The likelihood of extending the START treaty in my judgment is pretty low. I think that while I think Russia would like us to continue to adhere to it, I think that there are real questions of whether this administration will continue to do so.
So, there is that problem. But even if we stay in the treaty, the real broader problem is, can any future U.S. Congress support future arms control agreements? And given the polarization of our politics, is it possible to get arms control agreements ratified any longer? That's a longer-term issue that we're thinking about.
But beyond the simple treaties and the politics of those treaties, there is the technological issues. And I guess I'll very quickly make the argument that I think we're beginning in doctrinal terms actually in thinking about the role and purpose of nuclear weapons to diverge with the Russians. I think the Russians still support the notion of mutual-assured destruction and I believe that that is one reason why Vladimir Putin is so unhappy about our abrogation of the ABM treaty.
I think that the United States is beginning to think, at least some people in our government are beginning to think, of moving beyond assured destruction and with new technologies, particularly in areas of strategic defense, whether it's boost phase intercept, the use of directed energy weapons, and regional ABM systems that we are thinking once again, has happened for a period of time in the 1980s about shifting to an actually defensive-dominant nuclear strategy.
That in my view, that divergence between an offensive focus on the Russian side and defensive on the American side is potentially highly destabilizing and needs to be addressed beyond simply getting new arms control agreements, but in having a deep, deep discussion about the function of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia, a real discussion on strategic stability.
I'll end on this note by saying we also need to think and be probably more creative than we’ve been before about how new arms control agreements might look. Maybe they should be more informal, maybe they should really resemble confidence-building measures, maybe the era of numerical constraints and defined launchers and warheads, maybe that is no longer possible, maybe we need to think about approaches which give decision-makers more time to make decisions in the event of a crisis, maybe that means redeploying systems.
I think that if arms control is going to survive in this new and very difficult political environment, we're going to have to be much more thoughtful about what kinds of approaches might work.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much for the sobering thoughts, Rick. We want to turn now to Ambassador Antonov who’s worked many years on these issues.
ANTONOV: Thank you, Daryl. Thank you very much for the possibility to participate in this event, Ambassador Burt has raised some issues, and of course I have a lot to answer, but if I start -
BURT: You got to turn up your thing. Is it turned on?
ANTONOV: Yes. I can see over there. Ambassador has prepared three points; I have prepared ten. But all of them not just only for you but for those folks who are watching us, because I'm sure that not everybody understands what we are talking about and why these issues [are] so serious.
I agree with you while you have mentioned that we have just only little discussion in Washington on the situation regarding a strategic stability, arms control nonproliferation. For me for example, there is no opportunity to come to Congress and to explain [to] your senators, your legislators how we understand the situation. It's also very important to speak directly looking in your eyes but not to speak just only for mass media, but at this stage I spent already one year and haven’t I failed to start such dialogue. That's why I highly appreciate this possibility to discuss with this issue.
Immediately, I would like to react [to] what you mentioned. Maybe we have to revisit our conservative approach to legally binding documents on nuclear disarmament or maybe strategic stability. We are looking very attentively at what is going on in the United States. We don't want the same situation that we face now with [the] JCPOA. After a change in administration, you say that there is a decision to cancel this agreement… not agreement, arrangement… or I don't know how to totally understand it.
So, that's why we would like you to understand why we want legally binding documents. We would like these documents to be ratified by your Congress. It should be legal for the United States and for the Russian Federation.
So, my first point, I assume that the majority in this room favors arms control, I assume. We are consumed by the current shape of strategic stability, why do we need arms control? My understanding is simple., Arms control including disarmament creates a favorable and predictable atmosphere between major powers, positively impacts the international situation, eases tensions in the world, saves taxpayer money that could rather be invested into our economy, and therefore benefit our people.
Why does the majority in the world pressure the Russian Federation and the United States on arms control? I'll try to answer. The Russian Federation and the United States are the major nuclear powers, possessing 90-95 percent of all nuclear weapons. That's why in 2009 our leaders decided to start negotiations to limit American and Russian strategic offensive arms.
It was a logical step taking into account our positive experience of bilateral preparation on strategic stability. The potential for joint efforts for peace, security, disarmament, strengthening nonproliferation and arms control is far from being exhausted. We can do so much more if we respect the national interest of each other.
The primary goal for us is to build a security architecture which would give tangible results of the principle of equal and individual security for every nation. Second point, the Russian security is not solely determined by the balance of strategic nuclear weapons of our two countries. It depends on many other factors, including the plans to develop the United States global missile defense system, long-range high-precision systems, the United States launchers strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, balance of conventional forces, existence of a large number of military basis with a growing military infrastructure near the Russian borders, proposed deployment of weapons in outer space, a prospective halt of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, the situation with nonproliferation, and et cetera.
Third point, for many years, the United States has been rejecting any limitations on its military capabilities. Today, we are planning to discuss the INF and New START treaties and what should be done to limit painful consequences of efforts to destroy arms control regime, but these treaties are just a part of global problem.
Fourth, the issue of including every nuclear state in the process of limiting and reducing nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly present.
Fifth, let's take a look at what has been done by the Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty. Since 2007, we have been making suggestions to make the treaty multilateral. That's exactly what the United States administration is proposing now. We have been discussing our concerns over Washington's compliance with the treaty with the INF Special Verification Commission without making them public.
In order to dispel United States complaints over the 9M729 missile, we were ready for unprecedented transparency measures which reached far beyond the INF obligations. What did we get in return from our United States partners? Our suggestions were rejected, our concerns over unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, target missiles, and MK41 launchers deployed as a part of the United States missile defense in Europe were simply ignored.
Washington decided to take a hard-edged stance and talk to us through ultimatum. It goes without saying that such unconstructive approach is absolutely unacceptable to us and cannot lead to a positive outcome. Due to the end of the INF Treaty, the level of predictability of international security and strategic stability will certainly decline. The risk of misinterpretation will increase.
Six (and just a reaction [to] what the Ambassador has just mentioned), recently, political scientists and mass media outlets have been rigorously imposing the idea of so-called Russian and American withdrawal from INF Treaty. Such statement is a harsh distortion of the real facts and completely fails interpretation of the stance which our country has taken in response to Washington’s decision to completely dismantle the treaty.
It would be absolutely incorrect to talk about Russia's withdrawal from the treaty. We have never been pushing this agenda. We have never been pushing this agenda. We were consistently trying to preserve the INF Treaty. Only after Washington suspended its obligations under the treaty, our country considering the United States violations of the treaty was forced to take a reciprocal action.
However, we haven't taken any step on actual so-called withdrawal including sending a corresponding notification. Therefore, it would be wrong to push us on the same line with the United States in this regard, both from conceptual and legal points of view.
Seventh, on February 2, 2019 Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear Russia will not deploy intermediate range or shorter-range weapons if we develop weapons of this kind, neither in Europe nor anywhere until United States weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world.
Eight, it was the United States withdrawal from the ABM Treaty that forced Russia to develop entirely different new arms. Now some politicians and generals have expressed grave concerns over these systems, yet we have been warning about possible consequences of Washington's unilateral actions.
We have kept saying that we won't stand idly by watching strategic stability being distorted. Nobody will accept. And what do we see now? Astronomical sums of money will be spent to develop global missile defense, but all analysts admit that our new strategic weapons can penetrate any missile defense system. Further increasing spending money to pursue this goal will only harm American taxpayers. Meanwhile, our response is outlined in a way that will not draw the Russian Federation into a costly arms race.
By the way, according to the 2018 NATO Secretary General's annual report, NATO states spent almost $1 trillion on defense, therefore [the] Alliance defense budget was at least 20 times bigger than Russia's defense spending. You can decide for yourself who is pushing the world towards an arms race.
Ninth, concerns are growing over the future of the New START which expires in 2021. On many occasions we voiced our readiness to extend the treaty for another five years. We are told that the issue is being considered on inter-agency level. The extension of the New START is not a simple technicality that could be resolved in a couple of weeks. Serious issues must be settled. We hope that Russian concerns regarding conversion procedures the United States has employed to meet the accord's limit will be fully dispelled.
We have to remember that the American side has reached the set limits not only by actually reducing the arms but also by converting a certain number of them in a way that the Russian Federation still cannot confirm their incapability for employing nuclear weapons as is specified by the treaty.
And the last point, ten, as a leading nuclear power we responsibly adhere to our arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation obligations. Our proposals to resolve the INF issues and preserve the New START still stand. The efforts required to return to equal professional dialogue are not exhausted. We won’t act needy. We will not initiate talk on these matters in the future. It's a position that was introduced by my president. We will wait for our partners to come around and engage in an equal and meaningful dialogue on this issue of global importance.
Are new shocks really required for this to happen? I hope not. All our proposals are on the table. Thank you very much.
KIMBALL: So, thank you very much for that review of the Russian view on these issues, we’ll get into some of the details in a little bit. But first, Joan Rohlfing from the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Your thoughts.
ROHLFING: Thank you, Daryl. It's a pleasure to be here today. Honored to be on the panel with these two esteemed colleagues and wonderful to see all of you in the audience (inaudible). These are the people who go to the weather page to read on these issues on a regular basis.
KIMBALL: …and Arms Control Today.
ROHLFING: And of course, Arms Control Today. As Mo Udall once said, "Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it," so I am going to try and recap on a few of the things that the previous speakers have already said.
I’ve got a simple three-point message and then a few embellishments. But the three points are number one, we’re in an extremely dangerous moment. Number two, we’re moving in the wrong direction. And number three, we need a new strategy for pulling back out of this dangerous, escalatory cycle.
Let me talk about these things further. What would a new strategy for pulling back from this dangerous escalatory cycle look like? I think it's clear we need to find a way to stop arguing about how the ox cart got into the ditch, as Sam Nunn would say, and say instead start talking about how to get the ox cart out of the ditch. We have now been through year upon year upon year of accusing each other, raising concerns, talking past each other, and all the while, escalating.
And, I would say… I’ve been asked recently to speak a number of times on the question of are we in a new arms race, or is the new arms race preventable, as if we’re on the verge of one, but haven't yet entered into one. And I would say it’s clear that we’re in a new arms race, maybe not even so new, and that we’ve been in one for some period of time.
We need to move beyond the mistaken idea of the U.S. in a unilateralist world or, as Ambassador Burt said, a world where we shift to a defense-dominant doctrine. We can’t spend our way to nuclear safety. We are locked in mutual vulnerability for the foreseeable future. So more lethal forms of these weapons, more numbers of these weapons are not going to make us safer, they’re simply going to introduce new risks.
So how do we get out of them and what role does arms control play? I think Ambassador Burt said it well when he talked about the value of arms control. And so did Ambassador Antonov. I want to just add to that, I always go back to a classic from 1960, the Tom Schelling and Morton Halperin book called Strategy and Arms Control. And the case he makes is that arms control is another way of achieving military strategy, another path to achieving, another means of achieving military strategy, arms control can help us reduce the chances of war, it can reduce the consequence of war if it breaks out, and it can reduce the cost to both parties in the interim. I think that's a good bet and we need to get back to these basic principles of why arms control is so important.
So, what do we need to do in that space? I would say our number one priority by far, and with a great sense of urgency about this, is let's please at least preserve the last remaining gargoyle (?) we have and that is, of course, New START. And I believe New START should be extended without conditions. I worry that both the U.S. and Russia are overplaying their hands by trying to leverage…, in the case of the U.S. bringing new systems into the mix or trying to bring a new party under the treaty, and on the Russian side by saying, "well, we've got to resolve these concerns first before we can extend New START." I think that leaves us in a very perilous position, where potentially New START is either allowed to expire, or worse yet, we decide withdraw from it, and as far as I am concerned that's like canceling your homeowners insurance policy while you’re trying to negotiate a little better deal, and meanwhile the house burns down. So, let's at least keep the safety net in place to buy ourselves the space and time that we need to resolve the legitimate issues and concerns of both sides.
And then let me just conclude by making a final point, which is something…, Daryl, I hope we can focus on in the Q & A…, and that is the importance of the U.S. and Russia… We are now about a year out from the 2020 NPT review conference, which is an important moment in time and this is the backbone treaty preventing proliferation around the world and it’s under extreme stress as a result of the lack of progress on arms control, particularly between the United States and Russia over the last five-year period.
The U.S. and Russia need to think about what it can bring to the 2020 review conference, I would say an extension of the New START treaty is a bare minimum. And I think we need to look forward and think about what else can both sides bring. Can we commit to further reductions? Can we commit to beginning negotiations for a successor treaty? Can we call on other nuclear armed states to commit to a freeze or a ceiling on their numbers while we figure out how to all move down, closer toward zero. Let me stop at that.
KIMBALL: Thank you so much, Joan, and I thank you for your forward-looking suggestions. I do want to have our conversation that we’ll have now to be forward-looking, looking at how we solve these problems, rather than going back over past disagreements.
So, let me start with, I have some questions to I wanted to get into the discussion before we open up the questions to the audience in a little bit. And I wanted to start with a question about New START, and an issue that Joan raised, and a question that Ambassador Antonov raised.
Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the signing of the New START, it was the eight actually. And on the occasion of that anniversary, a group of 24 Senators led by Chris Van Hollen, whom we will hear from at our reception today, wrote to President Trump, urging him to extend New START with Russia for another five years. They said failure to extend New START risks unraveling a broader arms control regime that has helped uphold stable deterrence and curb a costly destabilizing arms race for nearly half a century, themes that each of you have touched upon today. I think one of the things that’s important about this letter is that to me it speaks to the fact that despite the political differences between the U.S. and Russia, and despite the fact that, as you said Ambassador Burt, that the U.S.-Russian relations have become something of a political football, there still is a strong reservoir of support in the Senate for maintaining a dialogue and maintaining the guard rails with Russia on nuclear issues.
But as Joan brought up, there is a possibility that, some of the issues that we've heard about from Ambassador Antonov and some other issues that we’ve heard from Secretary of State Pompeo last week could become impediments in the way of a political decision on New START.
So I wanted to ask each of you—and Joan, you could have another whack at this if you wish—I mean if we all agree that New START extension is a bare-minimum step forward —call it just a part of a larger puzzle, but it's an important part, you know—how should the two sides move forward? Must the issues regarding Russia's concerns about the verifications and conversions of U.S. strategic systems become something of a condition that has to be resolved before a political decision is made on extension? Should concerns that the United States government may have—we’re not sure if they’re real—about covering the new Russian strategic systems with New START become a precondition? Or should the two presidents make the political decision to move ahead with extension, well ahead of the 2020 conference and agree to resolve these issues in the years ahead. So, that's my basic question, I think that was the proposition that Joan was putting forward.
Ambassador Burt, if you could offer your thoughts first, and then we’ll let Ambassador Antonov offer his reactions, and Joan, if you have any additional thoughts.
BURT: I just think we should "keep it simple, stupid." And I think the fewer constraints or revisions or clarifications that either side requires in order to extend this treaty, the better. And I think that both sides should agree that if they’ve got these problems and questions that they will get first priorities in any follow-on discussions, but both because of the NPT, but more importantly, in order to show both sides—but let’s be honest here, particularly the U.S. side—that there is some new momentum in the relationship. I think this should be a position that the Russians should adopt.
I am quite sure that John Bolton, from the American side, is looking for opportunities and ways to turn an extension discussion into a new negotiation and to use the talk about our strategic modernization program and everything else that's going on as bargaining chips in order to get a better deal in an extended agreement. Well, we should drop that.
But that Russian side should also recognize that this is an opportunity to perhaps transform the U.S.-Russia relationship. Does it want to continue to live with an America that is obsessed with the idea that the Russians are intervening in American domestic politics, that the relationship is driven by these differences on regional issues, or is there an opportunity, as was the case in the '70s and into the '80s to make the arms control issue a pivot point for improving the overall issue, the overall relationship as a whole. I hope both sides do that.
KIMBALL: Thank you. Ambassador Antonov, your thoughts?
ANTONOV: It’s a little difficult to react. First you said that I prefer to react what you have mentioned, but Ambassador Burt today have already has mentioned twice Russian interference in internal elections. First of all, it’s not an issue of our discussion. I spend here one year and a half; I didn’t make any remarks on this issue. But it seems to me that you’re sending me message to react to this issue. I would like to say to everybody, we have totally rejected all accusation on this issue, and again, it’s not an issue for our discussion today.
First, the second you said the (New) START Treaty, it seems to me that we have to stick to all provisions of (New) START Treaty. We have concluded this agreement, not just only to show the international world that we are continuing negotiations between major nuclear weapon states; we tried to show our readiness to reduce the quantity of missiles and warheads that we possess, but I hope that you understand that we have to implement all provisions of that treaty. And if we see some issues, I don't want to call them impediments, I would like to say again, some issues that have to be discussed together. We have to discuss it, not inviting mass media, but to discuss them in the format of BCC, the special bilateral commission established to solve all outstanding issues in the context of the (New) START Treaty.
What we are talking about… conversion of the United States, we are talking about questions regarding the procedures used by the United States regarding conversion of their arsenal. We would like to get an answer. We would like to see disarmament to be irreversible.
So, what we want we would like to solve all these outstanding issues. As to speak about the new nuclear weapons that Mr. Putin has presented recently, I would just like to say [to] you that it's not subject of this treaty.
We have made it clear that we are ready to discuss them in the format of strategic stability talks, but it's not Russian Federation, it is United States who is not ready to restart such talks.
So, first of all, I would like to support everybody who is in favor to consider extension of this treaty as it is now without amendments. And I understand that if we decide to expand a subject of this treaty it means new negotiations; it will be another treaty. So that's why, first of all, we have to sit together with our American friends, we have to tackle all outstanding issues, and we have to decide whether this treaty is still in the favor of the United States' interest as well as the Russian interest. My president has made it clear that we are ready for such discussions.
KIMBALL: Thank you. Just for the sake of clarity, if I could ask you to just answer a particular question about the new Russian strategic systems. As I understand it, there is the SARMAT heavy missile, which is an ICBM, which would be logically be covered under New START, if extended.
There is the Avangard hypersonic vehicle, which is launched from an IBCM, correct? That would be covered through the delivery system limits under New START. The question is probably about the Status Six, also called the Poseidon Nuclear Arms Underwater torpedo. So that I think is the system that you are suggesting—tell me if I’m wrong—that would have to be discussed with the U.S. as to whether it’s covered, is that correct?
ANTONOV: First you said that in accordance with provisions of this treaty, each side has a right to raise any issue that this side would like to get an answer. And I understand that we have some confidential discussions on various issues of strategic offensive arms.
I hope that you understand that I don't want to disclose the detail of such confidential talks, but again if we decide to cover all these nuclear weapons that was presented by Mr. Putin, it will be another round of negotiations with a view to amend some provisions of this treaty; it means negotiations. For me, it means that the result of this negotiation must be ratified by Congress and by State Duma in the end. It couldn't be just only political binding agreements between this administration and the Russian Federation. So that's why you say that I am in favor of a simple decision. Just only to a final solution on all Russian concerns regarding United States implementation of this treaty, and to extend this treaty as it is now provided, that we are ready. I would like to confirm again to continue or restart our consultations on various issues of strategic stability.
That's why if you remember in the beginning of my remarks, I raised some points that we would like to discuss with our American friends. You saw that in that format of strategic talks between the United States and Russian Federation.
KIMBALL: Thank you. I will get to you, Rick, let’s let Joan have her comments.
ROHLFING: I just wanted to pick up on a couple of the comments that were made. Of course, with respect to Russian concerns about some of the conversions I would just say your tenth point, Mister Ambassador, was about Russia adhering to its arms control obligations. And I would hope that that being the case that Russia would in fact use the BCC to resolve these issues but, in the meantime, would agree to extend New START without any conditions on the assumption that we will be able to work through those issues through the BCC. I also want to pick up on the observation that Ambassador Burt made about extending New START as an opportunity to build political momentum within the US and to use it to transform the relationship. I think that’s a really fundamental point, and if we can’t find some way to get out of this ditch that we’re in, it’s going to be really tough to do anything in the arms control space.
Congress also can play a role, Russia can help the U.S. and itself, but Congress needs to play a role in creating a space or dialogue between the administration and Russia. And I would hope that Congress would step up and begin some active outreach on a Russia strategy both within the administration and on the Russian side.
And the final observation, just to echo what Ambassador Antonov has just said, those who are calling for bringing new kinds of weapons into the extension process or any new parties, like China, are really talking about a new treaty. It’s disingenuous. If you’re talking about opening up and renegotiation, that’s a new treaty, that’s not a simple executive extension of the New START.
ANTONOV: You said I have to react because…
KIMBALL: You have to, but you could—if we could just ask — Rick, do want to go back to some before and we can give the chance to the ambassador?
BURT: Yes, yes, I wanted to make a very few quick points. One thing that probably historians know about, but most people don't is, Ronald Reagan ran against the famous SALT II, that was never ratified between the two countries because of events in Afghanistan.
What was interesting was though, the Reagan administration actually lived up to the terms of SALT II throughout its eight years in government and told Soviet side it was doing so. So, to argue that, well, we've got to have treaties that are ratified by the Senate, you know, this is the future of arms control, actually that isn't what happened in the 1980s into really the early '90s when the START Treaty was finally signed and ratified. So, it is possible for both sides to exercise restraint. And if the politics for one reason or another it seems to me either in Russia or the United States don't enable an administration or a government to announce that it's publicly going to sign an agreement or agree formally to an extension, I can live with some unilateral restraint exercise by both parties because that's after all what we are trying to achieve.
KIMBALL: Mister Ambassador?
ANTONOV: Yes. Again, what I said, I would just like to make some clarifications. Today you have already mentioned twice that Russia has introduced conditions for extension. Please, we didn't introduce any conditions for extension.
I would like to repeat it again, we never made it in such a way, we never put it in such a way. I said that we have concerns. And these concerns have to be tackled in the format of BCC. That's all that I said. I didn't say that somebody is violating treaty and so on. Please, I would like to be very cautious.
Regarding, again, we return back to the issue: what kind of agreements do we need in the future? Of course, there are different schools of thoughts on this issue. It could be unilateral statements. It should be political-binding documents.
As to me I am very much conservative. I am in favor of legally-binding documents.
Frankly, my distinguished colleagues, I don't understand what is going on sometimes in the international scene. So, you saw that after the Second World War it was clear that we have a legal international law, a legal system which was endorsed by the United States, by the Russian Federation, the majority of the world.
Now you'll see that all leaders from the West have decided to forget about international law. That now everybody is talking about order based on rules. Order based on rules. I don't understand, what does it mean?
If you look at all the statements made recently by politicians in Europe, as well in the United States you will see that there is a decision to change international law for order based on rules. So, what does it mean?
You see that as to me I have grave concerns regarding this expression. And again, you will see that I would like to see our peace, our world more stable. If there is a general understanding, what does it mean? It means that all politicians in your country, as well as in my country, have to be involved. It goes without saying that I am in favor of participation of your Congress in this process. And I have to say that I would like to welcome a letter on behalf of 23 senators sent to the administration regarding the necessity to restart the dialogue between the United States and Russia. And it is high time for us, it's high time for us to decide what we will see in 2021.
And of course, you will see that it's also very important to think about the future NPT Review Conference.
I know how it will be difficult for the United States, as well as the Russian Federation for all P-5 to make a report to non-nuclear weapon states regarding implementation of Article VI in this regard. It will be very difficult, but I don't want everybody to treat Russia as they will treat the United States during this conference, because it was not our intention to withdraw from INF. It was not Russian intention to forget about START Treaty.
KIMBALL: Let's turn to the INF Treaty briefly, and I want to talk about what we do now to get the INF Treaty situation out of the ditch, so to speak, to use Joan's imagery.
So as I said in my opening, it is possible that in the coming one to two, to three, to four years we could see the United States and Russia deploying intermediate range, ground launched cruise missiles that are currently prohibited by the INF Treaty, in Europe, perhaps the United States, in areas in Asia.
So, I wanted to ask each of you to briefly tell us what your thoughts are about whether and how the two sides might reach an agreement, whether legally binding or politically binding that mitigates against that risk?
And specifically, I mean, Mr. Ambassador Antonov, you mentioned President Putin's proposal from February 2nd, I think it was, that President Putin said we proceed from the premise that Russia will not deploy intermediate-range, or shorter-range weapons, …
ANTONOV: … in my remarks.
KIMBALL: I'm sorry. If we develop weapons of this kind, neither in Europe nor anywhere else until the U.S. weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world.
So, let me start with Joan, and then Rick, and then Ambassador Antonov. I mean what could the two sides do at this stage given the lack of dialogue on the INF issue to mitigate against that risk and how could President Putin’s idea be developed into a more solid and meaningful proposal?
ROHLFING: Thank you. I’ve been given a second microphone. Hopefully this is better than the last one. I want to start by picking up on the last comment that Ambassador Antonov made, that it was not Russia’s intention to withdraw from the INF. Fair enough, but I do think we need to note here that we are at this moment in time, in part because of a Russian violation of the treaty, testing and now deploying a system that exceeded the prohibitions of the INF Treaty.
But looking forward, how do we get out of this ditch? I think it’s unlikely that we’re somehow going to rescue the INF Treaty at this point. I think it’s clear we need to move to prohibition on deployment on a regional basis of the treaty-limited systems, that’s what we should be working on.
KIMBALL: All right. Ambassador Burt, your thoughts.
BURT: So, I think, first of all, if we’re going to somehow try to rescue INF, we have to realize everything is in the U.S.-Russia relationship is connected with everything else. So, it’s not going to happen even if we’re very bright and committed if New START extension runs off the tracks or there’s a blowup in the relationship say over something like Venezuela. So, you know, we have to realize that we’re — this is a very, very fragile relationship.
Now, the best kind of, I guess, model for me about what you do with the explosive issue of cheating, if you go back and look at the experience that took place under the ABM Treaty with the famous Krasnoyarsk radar. And that issue took almost two years of intensive discussion and negotiation to resolve. Why? Because both sides wanted to save the ABM Treaty. And so, you had a lot of information exchange, you had a lot of disagreements and different positions were offered. And finally, there were changes made to the radar and how it was deployed in a way that met the needs of the U.S. side and the ABM Treaty survived.
I don’t think both sides have gone the extra mile here to resolve this issue. It’s not enough for the Russians to bring some weird-looking device and put it in a hall in Moscow and ask reporters to come and take photographs of it. There should have been an open agreement that on the one end American inspectors and experts were able to actually visit the test range and look at the data and look at that system and determine whether or not this system was in violation.
And at the same time, Russians should have been invited to the Aegis Ashore facility in Romania, they should have taken a look at that launcher and they should have discussed the kind of software or other changes that were necessary to make sure that offensive weapons weren’t going to be used in those launch tubes. And they should have — both sides should have been open to make the necessary changes to stay in compliance. But I go back to what I said earlier. I think for the U.S. side, you had — you had people who didn’t want to be constrained by this agreement and somehow saw this agreement as limiting our options vis-à-vis the growth of Chinese military capabilities in East Asia.
I happen to think that having ground-launched cruise missiles in Asia for the U.S. kind of is a nutty idea, but still that was what was driving the U.S. side. And on the Russian side, hey, I understand the Russian perspective. They happen to be ringed by countries that have — countries with nuclear weapons, so they probably I think worked over a decade or so have wanted to leave that agreement. So, unless both sides are willing to walk the extra mile and take those kinds of steps, that treaty, as far as I'm concerned, is a goner.
KIMBALL: And that’s right, ambassador, unless you’re going to make a new proposal that will save the INF Treaty, I wanted to just encourage you to look forward and tell us a little bit more about President Putin’s proposal, what it means. We’ve got serious arms control wonks in the room. I mean I think they might be interested in understanding better to the extent you could tell us, you know, what systems that covers, which ones it doesn’t cover, does it cover the 9M729 or not, what is the geographic area that President Putin is thinking about, how do we define that, and then how do — how do the two sides reach some understanding, you know, what’s the mechanism. So, I just wanted to give you a chance to elaborate a little.
ANTONOV: It’s a little difficult for me, just only to cover this issue within a few minutes. First, I will say that let’s be frank. Let’s be candid. We shouldn’t pretend saying that is just only one reason why the United States has decided to withdraw from INF. It was made clear one year and a half ago when admirals — the United States admirals made it clear that the United States had concerns regarding China. It was clear, and at that time I already made it clear to Moscow that Washington is planning to withdraw from INF first.
Then there was a necessity for United States to find a pretext to withdraw from INF. This pretext is excellent, that Russia is violating INF. I just would like to flag a problem that you have mentioned and said before. You said that Russia has tested prohibited missile. I don’t know about it. Could anybody give me facts that Russia has tested missile beyond the limits of INF? Even United States administration didn’t say so. But if you didn’t test this missile, it’s impossible to say that this missile or that missile could fly more than 500 kilometers.
We have to be really cautious regarding our arguments. Our problem with the United States is that we have a different perception what is going on in the frame of INF. United States is sure that Russia has violated norms. We have tried to explain that we are in compliance with INF. Moreover, you have just only repeated what you heard from the administration, but you have no fact[s] that there is a violation of INF by Russian side. But at the same time, we have presented a lot of documents, factual documents that the United States is not in compliance with INF.
By the way, I have requested my colleagues from my embassy to present you some documents that is outside of this conference where you will take Russian arguments on INF, on strategic stability, and on START treaty don’t forget when you leave this building, to take the Russian propaganda.
So, third point, what does it mean—you have raised the question, if we look at President Putin’s statement on the 2nd of February, it’s very easy. We are looking very attentively what United States is doing. We will take into account all United States efforts. We will not be the first who will undermine what we have today. And we will answer in a way that United States does. That’s all.
As to proposals, to United States to solve this issue. If you, again, look at the statement made by Mr. President — my president, you will see that President Putin has made it clear that all our proposals are on the table. We are ready to deal with them. We are ready to discuss them, but we will not initiate more conversation, talks on this issue with United States. We will wait. If and when United States is ready to restart substantial conversation with the Russian Federation.
You say that you have criticized Russian proposals on INF. It could be not enough to meet concerns of the United States. It could not assuage concerns but the United States, but there is just only one demand from United States, you must eliminate missile 9M729, that’s all. You say that we are permanent members of Security Council.
We are nuclear powers. It’s not possible to speak to each other in such tone using just only ultimatum and just only to demand from one side to do something without putting on the table from your side. So, we are in favor of a respectful conversation between two major nuclear powers. We are ready and we are waiting reaction from the United States to all our proposals.
KIMBALL: I want to thank you all for the respectful dialogue. And I want to just invite the audience to offer their questions for our panelists so that we can stay on time, and I want to just alert my staff to have the handheld microphones ready. I see Ambassador Jim Goodby who’s been working this issue for longer than most of us have been alive to offer the first question, and doing a damn good job at it, too. Ambassador Goodby and then I would invite also other members — members of the press to offer their questions. Jim? In the — in the microphone please?
GOODBY: I wanted to first commend the speakers. I thought it was an excellent panel. There’s one thing that was left out, however, and I’d like to ask you to fill that in if you don’t mind. A few days ago, there was an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal written by George Schultz, Bill Perry, and Sam Nunn. And it offered three rather specific proposals for trying to get out of the ditch that we’re in.
One was that there should be a congressional panel established to work with the administration on trying to change our policy towards Russia. Second, there was an idea that had to do with a statement that Russian and American leaders have made before to the effect that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The suggestion was that Putin and Trump should issue a statement that would include a statement like that. And I think that will be a useful thing to do and seems compatible with what I’ve heard Ambassador Antonov say just now.
And third, there is the notion that we really need to have a serious discussion between Russia and the United States at the professional level regarding our vision, a mutual vision for a stable future over the next 5 to 10 years is what was mentioned because of all the unstable developments that are occurring at the present time. So, what do you think of those particular proposals, which I thought might be useful and might be very useful to discuss here? Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you, Jim. Joan, I suppose you think those were all great ideas, right?
ROHLFING: I endorse them.
KIMBALL: You endorse them. Good. Perhaps I can — Ambassador Burt, Ambassador Antonov you can react.
BURT: I endorse them as well. And I admire and respect the three authors. I would say though — and I know that the Nuclear Threat Initiative as well as the European Leadership Network, which I'm involved with, has been pushing this idea of the statement that Reagan and Gorbachev made, and I think that would be important. I think it would resonate worldwide.
I don’t think the idea frankly — of the idea of kind of putting together a congressional group. You know, I saw the value of that when I was negotiating the START agreement. It was fantastic to have people like Sam Nunn, people like John Kerry, really titans of the Senate come to Geneva and actually sit down and get briefed, and spend time with the Russian negotiators, really be building of base of support for what we were trying to do.
But I have to tell you quite honestly that our politics today are so polarized and so broken I really wonder if you could put a group like that together. It’s worth trying I think, but I don’t think, it needs to be done as it’s possible in a balanced way. And also, we have to keep — I think bear in mind another point about the U.S. Congress. I won't filibuster here even though they do that at least in the Senate.
But I think though just as is true within our governments. And I say that not just the U.S. government, but the Russian government as well. It is also true for the Congress. There’s no — there’s not much expertise in this area anymore. If you look around and think about people who have real experience in negotiating these issues and real experience in understanding these issues, there is a big generation gap. There isn’t a muscle memory there once was. So, if we were to gin up a big U.S.-Russia negotiation, it would be hard to find people in our bureaucracy and it’s also I have to say the Russian bureaucracy. When I go to Moscow and ask to participate on a panel, I'm sitting there with guys that are as old as I am and that’s too old. So, both in terms of the Congress and in terms of our government, if we’re going to address these issues, we need to get a whole new generation of young people engaged and involved.
KIMBALL: Indeed. Ambassador Antonov, if you could be quick because we’re coming to the end of our time.
ANTONOV: I have to be very cautious, because I’m your guest, I don’t want to be involved in any discussions in your country where it would be in the interest of the United States to restart dialogue or not, but of course, I am in favor of any constructive proposal in this sphere. It goes without saying. I share your concerns regarding the lack of expertise in the Russian society, but you see that you can understand how it’s possible to see new generation if there is not any dialogue between the United States and Russia.
I remember, when we started our negotiations on START Treaty, the situation was the same. We looked around, where are those who know everything about arms control. There was nobody, just only you and your counterparts in Russian Federation. And it was a lot of concerns in Russia, whether we, Russian delegation, would be ready to tackle all issues with a distinguished American team, but in the end, we understand that everything is possible. That was my proposal to my counterpart Rose Gottemoeller to continue our negotiations and not to leave Geneva, we like it very much. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you. And we’re going to have to close out this session so that we can stay on track for our other excellent panels. I want to thank each of our panelists for a great discussion, Ambassador Antonov, Ambassador Burt, Joan Rohlfing. And I want to close with a thought from a former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator, who recently passed away, because I think at this moment after this discussion, we could use a little bit of encouragement.
And that former negotiator, of course, is Larry Weiler who recently passed away. Larry was 98. He was a regular attendee at the Arms Control Association Annual Meetings. He was very active and concerned with these issues into his final year, and last year spoke at the State Department’s anniversary. I think you were there too, Mr. Ambassador, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the treaty.
He and I co-wrote an op-ed urging the U.S. and Russia to get back into discussions on these issues. So, Larry had a bit of experience going back to the Eisenhower administration and these issues. And he wrote in a message to Arms Control Association members last summer. He said, “Though we’ve achieved progress, our work is not done. The disarmament regime that many inside and outside of government have helped build is at risk, but I'm still optimistic. Even in the dark days of the Cold War, we persisted. American and Soviet negotiators engaged with one another in an effort to reduce nuclear risks. If we could do it then, we can also find practical ways to tackle today’s tough challenges.”
So, I hope today — I hope this gives us some ideas about how we can do that. I hope we’ll continue trying. Thanks everyone for your attention. And we’re going to take a two-minute break as we make the transition — as we make the transition to the next panel. Thank you.
BELL: Great. Thanks, Daryl. Good morning, everybody. As Daryl said, I'm Alex Bell. I'm the senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and I’d like to thank Arms Control Association for hosting this event and adding this panel, Breaking Barriers to Gender Inclusivity in the Nuclear Policy Field to the main lineup. It’s not the sort of session that usually makes it into the main lineup at a hard security conference even if it merits a breakout session.
The attendees tend to be women and that that shouldn’t be the case. There are too many nuclear threats in this world and not enough people helping to reduce them. Leaving half of our population on the bench isn’t going to make things any easier on us. Women and people of color bring their own unique perspectives to the debate, and those perspectives can help us unlock solutions. In fact, our problems may seem so unmanageable because maybe we’ve never actually had enough diversity at the table.
Fortunately, our two speakers today have been working to change that. It would take most of the day to outline the full biographies of Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins and Heather Hurlburt. So I will attempt to convey just a few of their tremendous accomplishments. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins is the founder and executive director of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation. Everything needs an acronym in D.C., WCAPS is the acronym here.
She is a non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. From 2009 to 2017, she was an ambassador of the U.S. Department of State where she served as the coordinator for threat reduction programs in the Bureau of International Security and Non-Proliferation. Bonnie holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Virginia along with four other degrees. She is a retired naval reserve officer and served as counsel on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States also called the 9/11 Commission. She is also a member of ACA board of directors.
Heather Hurlburt is the director of the New Models of Policy Change Project at New America’s Political Reform Program. Previously, she ran the National Security Network and held senior positions in the White House and State Department under President Bill Clinton and worked on Capitol Hill and for the International Crisis Group. She holds degrees from Brown and George Washington Universities. She’s a contributor to New York Magazine and co-hosts Drezburt podcast and frequently appears in print media and broadcast media.
In short, I don’t think we can find two better women to talk about gender inclusivity in the field of nuclear policy. So, first things first, Heather, you recently produced Consensual Straitjacket: Four Decades of Women in Nuclear Security. This is a study in which both Bonnie and I participated. I’ll note that the launch happened just a few weeks ago. Heather and Bonnie were on the panel with the highest-ranking woman at NATO ever and a woman who’s also talked about as possibly being a candidate to be the first female secretary of Defense.
The room was packed. There were seven men there. Seven total. I'm pretty sure in a D.C. security field if you had Rose Gottemoeller and Michele Flournoy, and these two women discussing Annex VII Section II Clause B of the 1997 Defense Authorization Act, you’d have more than seven men there for it. So why is that you had this incredible lineup, talking about this incredible panel and barely a man to speak of, there was even a reception afterwards. I don’t know what was happening there. But we can get into why men tend to avoid subjects of this kind, panels of this kind in the discussion, but first, Heather, can we talk a little bit about the motivation behind Consensual Straitjacket?
HURLBURT: Sure. I Just want to pause for a moment and thank Michele Flournoy again for that title, which just means people could say that over and over in public settings. But I want to start out with the question of, so why should this topic be a mainstream panel topic. And actually, Ambassador Burt teed it up really well for us on the preceding panel when he said if we’re going to have a future for arms control, we need a new generation of talent and a new generation of interest.
And something you notice if you look at the field is that you’ve got—as in many fields, you’ve got really a quite broad interesting representation at the most junior levels. Although not, of course, at the levels it was when many of us were coming up in the field and you simply couldn’t be a respected security professional without understanding nuclear deterrence, but still it’s not bad.
We have plenty of young people who expressed interest in the field. And then, they kind of trickle away and we’re not retaining talent in this field. And we’re not retaining diverse talent and so there’s question of why. Second, actually something else that was said on the panel and something that Mort Halperin himself frequently says, you know, why do we still go and in what other branch of security policy do we still think that the most defining texts are from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
In what other field do we not think that sort of dogma and doctrine have moved on, that the technological and political revolution of the last 50 years have made changes that should be reflected in our core doctrine. So are there some ways in which this field is profoundly stuck or is profoundly missing out on opportunity? And might that in some way be connected to some of the frustrations that younger people in the field have expressed about the field’s failure to, as Michele puts it, look more like the country that we serve.
So we started out to ask some of those questions and also to explore how frankly, in other parts of security policy, there’s grown up a real strong literature over the last 20 or 30 years documenting connections between gender inclusivity and better and more stable policy outcomes. So, for example, conflict and peace negotiations. Many of you may have heard the finding that peace deals are more than 30 percent more likely to last if you have women on the negotiating teams.
The World Bank has found that loans are much less likely to go into foreclosure when women were on the loan-making committee. And, of course, there’s so much literature from Harvard Business School about how diverse boards and diverse governing structures produce more stable outcomes, fewer instances of groupthink in the private sector that I could sit here all day and just recite it to you.
So, but interestingly, all of that discourse hasn’t really transitioned into the nuclear field at all. So we set out to find out what’s the experience of people like Bonnie and Alex and Rose and Michele and Ambassador Kennedy, who I saw in the audience, and about two dozen women overall who have, as we all know, had these jobs. And even just the point that I’ll sort of stop with as an introductory point, it’s, I think, no accident that actually arms control and the nonproliferation field emerge and really flourish and do amazing creative work just about at the same moment that American society and the elites of American security policy crack open and start letting in people who look like the three of us.
You know, the moment where women are admitted to the service academies and the Ivy Leagues and married women are allowed to stay in the Foreign Service, and people of color start pushing back against some of the discrimination that had kept them out of these settings. And so you can't tell the history of innovation in nuclear policy without telling the story of the diversification of the American national security establishment. And so if one of those has ground to a halt, we need to worry about the other one.
BELL: So what do you think is one of the most interesting things you learned in doing this study?
HURLBURT: The perseverance of the women who stayed in the field, which I think it can be very easy to sort of either say, “Oh, everything is fine,” because there are so many great women in the field like the ones I just named off, or everything is terrible and there’s no in between. But that universally, every single person we interviewed said, there is a tax that you pay being a woman or a person of color or a twice minority in this field. And that just on top of doing your job, there’s this other tax that you have to pay and constantly worrying, am I being taken seriously, will I ever be taken seriously as a policy person now that I'm up here talking to you on a gender panel?
Do you think that I'm too nice, not nice enough? And that’s a finding again that we found in other areas of American life. You’ve heard a lot about it, but it had — it’s never been expressed in this field. It’s not a conversation we’ve had, and that it was every single person, whether they thought sexism had impinged on their career or hadn’t, all of them thought there was this extra weight that they carry, which again, as Alex said when you’re also carrying the weight of trying to prevent nuclear war, figure out how to manage weapons safely, figure out how to de-escalate arms races, it’s a big deal if some of your staffers are also carrying this extra burden.
BELL: Thanks. So Bonnie, you've had an amazing career in and out of the government. You could have done myriad things when you left the Obama administration, what motivated you to found WCAPS?
JENKINS: Thanks, Alex. First of all, I want to say thanks to Arms Control Association for having me and for doing this panel. I think it's really a sign of different discussions that we need to have in these kinds of environments. And of course, it's an honor to be up here on the stage with my colleagues here, Alex and Heather.
When I left government in 2017, like most people, you take a little break, take four months just to figure out where I am. And the organization I started was really something I had been thinking about for quite some time and really it's because I've been in this field for many, many years and I've truly enjoyed the work of arms control, disarmament, threat reduction, security issues very much. But it was very much a world where it was not very many people who look like me in terms of people of color on top of that, you know, having also not as many women in the field.
And so I felt that I wanted to do something, wanted to give back, but also to see what I could do to try to help bring more voices into these areas that I have been working in, with the recognition that we can all benefit from more diverse voices. This is not an issue that is just for any particular group, any particular gender. This is really an issue for all of us in terms of how do we make sure that the policies that we have are the best that we can have. And particularly since the issues that we're dealing with are very difficult issues, that we could benefit by having people around the room who bring in different ideas and perspectives and really different ways of looking at a problem that may not be represented in the dominant viewpoint.
And I think one of the things that we suffer from is when you don't have people around the room who test your views and test the way you’re thinking about something and say, "You know maybe you should look at it this way," or maybe, "Let me just give this point of view." And it can bring a different lens to it.
And so I wanted to start this organization that I did really because I wanted to have that discussion, and have that space which really brought it out there (?). So that's really why I started the organization. It's been really beneficial because it's allowed me to meet a lot of women and women of color and people of color who are young and who want to get into this field and they have a very difficult time figuring out how to do it, because they don't see a lot of people who look like themselves in the places that they go. They are often questioned by their friends and parents about why are you getting into this when you probably should be doing something else.
And it's hard to make the argument when they don't see others like themselves or they don't get the encouragement, they don't have the mentors out there to encourage them to keep at this and keep doing it. And for those who may be in the field at an early age, it's difficult to find a rationale to stay.
So the goal of the organization is really to have a space for these kind of discussions, to bring more people into it and to mentor more people into it. And I can say for myself, I got into this field not because I planned to do it. I was very lucky to be at a place where I learned about the field of arms control and nonproliferation disarmament and I thought it was fascinating and I decided, "This is something I wanted to do."
I didn't have a lot of people of color who were mentors at that time, but it's something I wanted to do and I decided to do it. And as I speak to other young people or people of color, a lot of them also say, "I got into this field because a professor said I should take a course," or all these kind of random things have happened where they learned about the field and realized this is something they wanted to do.
So in order to diversify the discussion, you have to bring more people at the table and you have to interest people earlier in their lives and to also highlight the ones who are doing it to make sure that we keep them in the field. So that's basically why I started it, it's been really very rewarding efforts so far.
BELL: Great. How do you feel like the community, hard security community in D.C. has sort of accepted this new group or are you feeling like you're being integrated or are you pushing your way into discussions?
JENKINS: I think it's beneficial that I work with a lot of colleagues who've been working (inaudible) (this field?) for very long. So I've been fortunate to find that I've been accepted in these kind of settings and with last week with Heather and with the conversation we had there. So I think it's helped to bring that extra perspective in there, into these discussions. I also think that we're seeing a lot more discussion right now in gender, national security, nuclear policy issues. My only concern is that it continues and that it’s not a phase, and that there's a continued recognition that we need to do this in the long term and then that goes into what sort of a culture.
BELL: So a common refrain from people who sort of maybe tend not to come to sessions like this, they're making too big of a deal out of this. Like what's the differences actually made, people should only get things based on merit and so they do and it's fine and we really are like spending too much time, why is it that improving—and you touched a little bit on this Heather, but why is it that improving diversity will lead to better policy outcomes specifically for the nuclear policy field?
JENKINS: Well, I think you have to take a step back and say it's important in the nuclear field, but it's important overall in our U.S. policies and any policy to have the voices that we talked a little bit about why. But I think you need to think in terms of the larger issue of you need to have people who look like America in decision making, in policies that affect Americans and affect our policies and what we do overseas which may be affecting people who look like people who are diverse. And there's a better chance that our policies might actually be successful particularly if we're looking at foreign policy to affect people with different culture than the dominant culture here, if you have people who understand that culture who are a part of those discussions.
So I think you have to have them here for diversity here, to reflect what we see here, but also overseas. And I think in the nuclear policy area where you really don't see very much, these are issues that affect everyone and these are issues that, in many ways, things that we have done in the past are a reflection of the fact that you haven't had people at the table and decisions that were made about where we test and the ramifications that many people of color are still suffering from in terms of things that we did and things that we decided.
If you are looking particularly now and you look at the conversation we just heard about a new way of looking at arms control, I mean what we should be doing in the future is very important. And if we're starting a new way of looking at it, strengthening arms control than it has been but looking at it in a different way, we need to make sure that at this point, we have those diverse voices to make sure that decisions that are made reflect different viewpoints, they're not negative in terms of how they affect any particular group and that we’d make sure that they are the best policies they can be.
HURLBURT: Two really concrete points on that, Alex, and directly for the nuclear community, the women we interviewed told us over and over again that there was a particular priesthood, silverbacks, sort of the idea that at the core of the nuclear community is this very small self-sustaining elite that had a particular sort of way you needed to look, a way you needed to act and the corpus of knowledge that you needed to master before you could be taken seriously in that context.
And that's what Michele Flournoy refers to as the Consensual Straitjacket. And her description of it is basically you agree that you will look and act a certain way and that you will restrict your thinking in a certain way and that is the cost of getting inside the heart of this community.
And number one, in any field, and I don't care what the characteristics are, that's a recipe for failure, right there, and so we should be very concerned that that's such a common perception of the field. And number two, we heard again and again from these brilliant and accomplished professionals, I have a phrase I like to use about myself that I've had a good career for a man, and all of these women are people, including my two colleagues on the stage are people who've had a good career for anybody of any gender or appearance, and that these people were saying, "I opted out of hard core nuclear deterrence doctrine work because it was too unwelcoming to me and my ideas. And I moved on."
And that should be a red flag for this community, whether you care about gender and representation and you should for all the reasons Bonnie said. But even if you don't, you are hemorrhaging talent and that is a problem at a moment where all across the national security field we have problems attracting talent, we have problems keeping talent, we have a catastrophic failure even though there have been women and others in the field since the beginning and we don't communicate that.
At some level it's a sheer numbers and creativity problem.
BELL: Is there an inherent discomfort in the nuclear policy field for traits, skills, attributes that are often associated with femininity into conversations about hard security, specifically nuclear weapons, the idea that emotion should be completely separate from any discussion of nuclear deterrence.
JENKINS: Yes, I think there definitely is certain beliefs about the way in which one acts or behaves in the field of nuclear policy and security issues. The whole emotional thing I think is very—there's a couple of ways to look at it, one is it's tied to the whole female perspective, the female role, and it could be used as a way to constrain, used as a way to limit involvement by women by saying you're being so emotional, that's a women trait, that's a weak trait, you can't have that if you're in these hard security areas. And so not only is it constraining in terms of what's being said, but it's also a way that can be used to make people feel as if they're not doing the right thing and they should not be participating because they cannot do it the way it's supposed to be done.
And I think that that's probably true in other traits as well that people may have that may not fit the stereotypical way of which one is supposed to behave and act. And the problem with that is that it's also a way of turning people off to being part of something if they're feeling who they are and the way they are is not accepted where it's not or that I have to change the way I am if I'm going to be in this space. And that could be a real turnoff for people.
So it's a way in which it keeps—as Heather said, it keeps the priesthood one way by saying you have to conform, but it has a negative effect of making them feel less diverse and less gender representive.
HURLBURT: Yeah. We heard a couple of different ways this plays out and number one, I'm thinking of somebody we interviewed who's still at the Defense Department who said, "You know, one of the reasons I shifted jobs is that I did find this work emotionally very draining because I never stopped thinking about the reality of what I was talking about." But that perspective that when we talk about it in the dry language we use, there's meaning behind that, was not a welcomed perspective, so I have to go home and offload it and eventually I decided I just needed to offload myself into another part of the Defense Department.
Second is again this extra tax because if you feel that you're constantly under a microscope, "Oh, is she going to get all emotional about this?" That is an extra level of burden that, again, people who in any way don't fit the dominant paradigm carry through their days. And actually, again, if you think about some of the greatest hits and the success of American arms control it's when leaders, mostly men, actually were allowed to get kind of emotional. I mean think of Reagan at Reykjavik, right? That's a very emotion-first presentation, so it's quite possible that we've been missing something.
The third point that I would mention because there are coping strategies, and one of the things, all three of us on stage have worked in international negotiations. Mine were on the conventional arms side and we heard from our interviewees that people skills, soft skills, emotional intelligence, I mean they're critical to negotiations, we all know that, right? You don't need me to write a report to tell you that. But the interest that the very same qualities that women professionals were having to be super careful not to display in the office were incredibly useful when going out and working with counterparts or in listening to counterparts and trying to understand counterparts.
So in fact, women are already using whatever skills and talents they bring and particularly the ones that we've been socialized to have more of to help you all out along the way. And we might do even better the more we have systems. And interestingly one of the things that really holds women back is promotion systems which are not designed to validate or to score. How good are you at getting the delegate to tell you what their instructions are sometimes because they think you're too dumb to understand, but okay, whatever works.
There's not something in how we rate and promote government employees that factors that in. So the women are emotional thing cuts a number of ways.
JENKINS: And I just want to add to that. I mean I think Heather is right because I think the qualities that you mentioned are very good in terms of being able to be successful in negotiations which are a lot of qualities that are not highlighted. But the problem is that because the narrative is not controlled by people who recognize those as being good qualities, they're not celebrated or they're put into a phrase of looking at it like it's not a good thing, but in reality, it is good. But because we don't control that narrative, the narrative is being defined by those who say that’s not a good thing.
So you have to know that you have those qualities and you know in yourself that these are the things that's going to make for good negotiations despite the fact that the narrative says they're not.
BELL: Yeah. It just makes me think about the fact, I don't think I've ever heard a colleague working in mass atrocities, genocide prevention ever talk about being told they’re being too emotional when dealing with this very potentially dangerous situation. I can't think of anything more dangerous than the breakout of nuclear war, but yet, there's this sort of wall to not talk about the human factor that would be involved.
Switching gears a little, what are the specific steps that you think that we can take to further integrate women to be at sort of equal levels in the field and specifically the cultural barriers that are inside these institutions that may make it a little bit more difficult to make those corrections?
HURLBURT: Well, I mentioned performance reviews which is something we don't always think of. I also want to be sure, we talked about mentoring which Bonnie alluded to. And one of the things that we found in our study that this, and again, you all know this instinctively, this is an incredibly networked and mentorship-dependent field and every one of the women we interviewed talked about mentorship relationships as being really important to her career, and in most cases, those were lots of men and lots of women, so the field is very tightly knit together.
One of the things we didn't do that I really wanted to do was kind of draw a map because all of the women, particularly the ones in my age and older, tended to go back to a few key nodes, you could all probably guess who they are. And again both male and female, Michele Flournoy talks about the sort of negative aspect of mentoring being the mini-me and I think this is a human trait that we all have of men and women, that we pick people to mentor because oh, she reminds me of me at that age. And the challenge for all of us is to really branch out beyond that and pick people to mentor because we think they'll add something important to the field.
The other point about mentoring, I'm actually personally someone who is never very good at being mentored. I never could figure out how. I'm kind of stubborn. Those of you who know me know. But there's a model that in other sectors that sort of rather than mentorship, you think about it as sponsorship that explicitly you and the other person are entering into a long-term relationship where you both are going to do things for each other.
I mean the dirty little secret is if you pick your mentees well, it gives you a big leg up at the middle and senior levels both because they make you look really good and they're information networks for you. So to think about it as sort of building long-term networks which is maybe something we don't talk about enough, there is a whole raft of ways we can make offices more human-friendly which people are probably familiar with and there's lots of details. But the third point Bonnie referenced which is so important is that people coming in to the field or choosing to stay in the field still don't see people who look like us as representative of the field.
So we can get all hung up on how many women do you hire and how many women do you promote, but also who are you choosing to represent your organization at events, who, when you get interview requests, who are you sending out? Who are you having talk to the media or when you write reports, who are you citing? Are we actually creating a field that looks like the field we say we want?
And those are steps that anybody in here can take whether you run an organization, whether you're in a managerial position or whether you're not in a managerial position, but we all have choices about, as you say, Alex, creating a culture and reflecting to the outside of culture that looks more, as Bonnie said, that looks more like the country and the world that we're coming from.
JENKINS: Yes. And just to build on those points I mean culture is obviously a fundamental part of all of this, not just the culture in the organization itself, but the culture in which we all live. And when you're thinking about changing the culture of your organization, you have to understand that we live in a culture that has certain beliefs and certain ways of looking at things, and very often, you will have people in a culture who maybe even want to make a change and want to be more diverse, but because we’ve all grown up in a culture that depicts perception or has the perceptions of people and the perceptions of women and people of color, you kind of have to find a way to step outside of that and understand what's happening and where those beliefs come from and make a decision that I'm going to be doing something different.
So part of it is awareness, awareness of the culture you're in, the culture that you're trying to make a change, and of course the culture in your organization. And so you want to change that culture, but you have to be, first of all, aware of what is in your brain that you don't even think about because that's what we've grown up in.
And then you have to be also reminded regularly of things that you might be doing that you may not recognize is perpetuating that culture. So even if you say we're going to bring in five women and five people who are diverse backgrounds and people who live outside DC and people who have different economic backgrounds, in order to maintain that diversity and maintain a desire for people to stay in that environment, you have to understand that you're going to have to be reminded that you have to keep doing things to make them want to stay and to make them feel included, because you're in a culture that tells you that you're, that's not necessarily the way it has to be.
And not only the culture of the U.S. and the culture of the organization, but the culture of the nuclear policy world. And then there's action, all of this is based on action. Part of it is awareness, understanding culture, understanding what you're trying to do, but a lot of it is action. And one of my favorite things that I talk about when people ask me what action is, I always refer to the movie Hidden Figures and the role that Kevin Costner played. When there was a scene where one of the three women always had to—the women had to always run to use the lady's restroom because there was segregation and she couldn't use the restroom where she was working because it's only for white women.
And there's a scene where Kevin Costner, he runs out and he takes—he has like a hammer or something and he knocks down the sign that says, "For Colored Only." And the reason why that was a moving point in the movie is because he took an action that was totally against what everybody was saying you're supposed to do, and did something and he took action and everybody recognized that, and by being a leader in taking that action, that's a ripple around everyone else to understand that something is going to change, we have to change or our minds have to change.
And not to say that when you knock down something, everything is going to be different because we're in a culture where you're ingrained to think a certain way. But I use that as an example to say if you want to take action, you have to do something and you have to show that you want to be different or things are going to be different or people need to think differently and you have to start somewhere.
BELL: So in that idea, it's easy to do public naming and shaming of things like “manels”—man only panels—and “marticles”—which is man only articles, I'll trademark that term along with Kelsey Davenport there in the back. We had noticed that there were tons of articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, et cetera that were quoting men from the community, sometimes four and five at a time and then we're sending it around and saying, "Oh, isn't this great, look at all the quotes from the community," with no recognition that there were no women in any of these articles. But those things that are easy to point out, we still struggle with, but they're very public.
What about the things in an organization like pay gap or leadership structure or the composition of boards of directors that are sort of more private things, how do you get at those?
HURLBURT: It's actually, in my experience, the public conversation helps you get at the private things. And this is challenging because not all of us are comfortable in the public space. Not all of us are in positions where we can call people out in the public space, and there are lots of organizations that do really great work and have really problematic policies and many of us find ourselves in this place of, "Well, I don't want to ruin organization X, I don't want to ruin the career of leader Y," and yet this situation. I think the trick is the public opening of space is one critical piece and in some ways the private opening of space is even harder, right?
Because I can go—me tweeting something which my boss may or may not see, and me putting up my hand in a senior staff meeting and saying, "The situation that we have here is not parallel with the proposals you claim to espouse up there on Twitter," the private actions are much harder.
So, you know, for private actions, you need allies and allies come in all different shapes and sizes, and unfortunately we don't all get Kevin Costner every day. I keep waiting. But one of the things that we can all do is stand up for and support other people when we see them. So one of the things that we heard from women who had served in the Obama administration which was really different. Now, in general by the way, administrations aren't all that different by party. There's a slow steady ramp up overtime, so this isn't primarily a partisan issue and this is mostly to do sort of with the moment in time.
But you had a critical mass of women in arms control and non-pro jobs in the Obama Administration who looked around and said, okay, we're seeing some things we don't like, what can we do? So they made a pact that if a women said something in a meeting the others will all say, "Hey, that's a great idea," or "Hey, didn't Bonnie say that 10 minutes ago? Let's go back to Bonnie's idea." So there was an—and none of those women was going to go and say fill in the blank prominent official X, you're kind of sexist, but there was a subtle way of working that helped improve on these things.
So it's making the commitment to do it internally day after day, and also just accepting that some people—it's just like arms control, there’s an outside game and an inside game and you know which one is your role.
JENKINS: I pretty much plan to say what Heather has said about internally. I think manels and panels and marticles, those are good because there's a value in having women on panels, there's a value because it shows at least a start of a commitment by an organization and a recognition that something has to be different and you actually get to hear women who are experts who are not there because they're women, but because they actually know something.
And so I mean I think all of that is good, but I think it's important what's going on behind closed doors, because I think it could also get too easy for organizations to just jump on the bandwagon and say, "okay, well, we need to do our thing, because everyone else is doing it. Let's go have ours and let's go have our female panel thing." I think it's important to see what's going on in the organization itself.
And so you see that when you look at the boards. How are the boards, do they have diversity on the boards? What about the other levels of leadership? I mean that's when you start to see—and this stuff takes time, so it's not going to basically happen overnight, but you want to see that happening. You want to see if an organization has a strategy that they have set forth on diversity. Do they have a strategy to diversify their boards? Are they going out to look at women-owned organizations to do some of the things that they want to get done? Do they look for experts who are people of color to do some of their research projects that they have?
So I think a lot depends on internally doing something and making an effort and always asking the extra question. It's easy just to go with my friends. It's easy just to go with the people I know and that keeps the old boys' club thing kind of going because of the people who are making the decisions are reaching out to their friends that means we will never really get diversified.
But if you say take the extra step and say we need to bring a different organization or a different company or a different researcher to do this for us, to research for us, to do that survey for us, these are kind of things that will show and have more diversity within the organization that will actually help to change the culture which is always very difficult to change.
HURLBURT: Can I jump in and say one more thing? I think there's this totally understandable desire to sort of, okay, tell me when I've done enough. Tell me when we've checked the box and we can just move on to get back to talking about arms control.
And the bad news which is also good news is that even, again, if you don't care about gender and diversity at all, it's going to be harder to bring in and keep good people in our field than it was in the past. People are not going to have simple linear career paths and we can just pull them in and keep them as was maybe the case for at least Bonnie and me.
So, anybody working in this field is going to have to have a more intentional management strategy. Also, this is the part of the panel where we complain about millennials—sorry, Alex.
BELL: I'm actually like lower gen X I think or upper gen X.
HURLBURT: But millennials, younger people in the workforce have a different set of expectations about what the workforce is. Better, worse, doesn't really matter, it's just different.
So, those of us in managerial positions or who want to be in managerial positions are going to be dealing with questions of how to attract and keep talent and what our workplace culture is forever. And so, the sooner that you just this is part of workplace culture, it's not different from workplace culture, if you do it right, white guys have better ideas and perform better and are happier, too.
So, just the sooner that you sort of, that we all get over the idea that this is a moment or a box and move on to this is part of a way of managing that is just a basic necessity for the century that we live in, the happier we'll all be.
BELL: Great. So, we actually do have time for some questions. There are some folks in the back with mics so if you just raise your hand there and then we'll go to Joan.
Mr. Ritesection (ph)? Just keep your hand up, sir.
RITESECTION (ph): Yes. I've wondered for whatever progress has been made here in this country as far as gender inclusivity and diversity, does the same amount of progress have to be made over there in Russia and China and how much dialogue do you have with those people.
HURLBURT: Well, I'm glad you raised that because actually one of the—it was very interesting, our respondents talked a lot about not so much China but how challenging, both on the one hand it could be very challenging to work with Russia in particular, there were a couple of other sort of most often criticized nationalities.
But then at the same time, once you got past a certain point, you attained a sort of what we used to call honorary man status. On the other hand, there are also societies that are doing much better than the U.S. is on these grounds. But I think the important—if you think back to somebody like Roz Ridgway who did all of Reagan's negotiating, there's this excuse that's used of oh, because other societies are more backward, we can't put women forward because it won't—and that just—there is negative evidence for that.
Everywhere we've had arms control successes, women have been involved and participating fully. So, yes, there's an opportunity to help each other and Laura Holgate's Gender Champions Initiative and the International Gender Champions Initiative that was put together by women at the UN, you did have global participation and that's really interesting, and to me that's the forum where women in one society can help women in others.
Rose Gottemoeller has a great story about during the New START negotiations—actually, you want to tell that? You tell the story.
BELL: About the…?
HURLBURT: About sending—so, she'd presents to the women on the Russian delegation and not to the men.
BELL: Yes. I don't want to tell her stories for her but...
HURLBURT: Yes, you do.
BELL: ... there were a couple of incidents while she was negotiating with the Russians just sort of them adjusting to the female lead on the U.S. side. But the Russian papers at that time when she was named by President Obama were like oh, no, not Rose. She'll be too tough on us. She wants to whip our negotiators and they'll give up too much.
So, she had sort of already established herself. But I think the important—it's not just countries like Russia and China that have problems. Some of our closest allies, I would go to meetings and it would be just all men on the other side. And I was like these are healthy democracies and they can't even bring one junior staffer in to sit and take notes or what have you, just be completely male-dominated.
But I think Heather is right. You just have to lead by example. The U.S. can get out there and show that we don't treat women and men any differently when it comes to this issue. That it is a priority issue for the United States and hopefully people will start to take note.
JENKINS: Well, I think it's important not just for the U.S. to understand the importance of having well-rounded, diverse policies. I think it's great for other countries, too, as well. Of course, they make their own decisions but I think that having diverse views is not a unique thing to the U.S. I think it's probably good for everybody.
And it'll behoove other countries to also think about other discussions like this to take place and have those kinds of discussions. It's also great when you're in a negotiation to see other women at the table, to see other women right behind the country flag, not only in a delegation but also leading the delegations.
I think that gives other women in the room a sense of empowerment. It's not just young women who need it, it’s other women who are in the field to see other women like themselves. And I think that the entire discussion will be benefitted from that.
One thing that I raised at a meeting last week was during the nuclear security summits there were a lot of women who were lead for the U.S. delegation. And so for the U.S., you saw a long line of women, maybe one man and that gave a sense of—and the U.S. was even when we weren’t chairing the particular discussions.
The U.S. was considered pretty much the lead of the whole effort and I think that set a tone in the room because of that, and it felt, there's a lot of camaraderie I think with the other women who were sitting behind the flags and sitting behind the woman with the flag. And so, I think it's beneficial overall to have that from other countries as well.
ROHLFING: Okay. Thank you, Alex and Bonnie and Heather for your leadership on this issue and for raising the visibility on how important it is and how it's in our collective self-interest to have a diverse workforce. I think that's an important point to have made.
I wanted to come back to something that, Heather, you mentioned at the outset the ways in which this whole field is profoundly stuck. We're still operating off of doctrine and thinking and writings from the 1950s and 1960s. And then you also mentioned, then I kind of connected these in my head that there's a whole cohort from your interviews of women who left the field because they didn't feel there was room for their views.
And that got me wondering whether that's true of men, too. I know the study interviewed women but this idea of a Consensual Straitjacke t, does that apply to men, too, in our field?
HURLBURT: Oh, yes, most definitely. And I think—so, number one, yes. And I think it's been really gratifying for us at New America to see that the response to the report we put together has not—so, there's been the response of women saying, "Oh, yes, thank goodness, someone actually thought my experience was important enough to write about," which was wonderful but also an outpouring from younger men saying, "Yes, this exactly described my frustrations with the field."
And that is something we hoped for but didn't expect. So, again, I think there's a real tendency to look at this issue as oh, we're sort of satisfying, we're patting some people on the head over here. But these women, the women that we interviewed, others in the room, I mean, deserve to be seen as in the mainstream and at the heart of this field. And if they're telling us that the field is stuck as you say, Joan, that's something we all need to listen to.
JENKINS: I guess for me, I mean, I've heard some—I think it's just a perception in a way of doing work that's been the way it's been for a long time. And I think that if you're not in that, you're not going to feel comfortable. So, that's true for women and that's true for men and that's true for people of color.
I know some young men of color who also feel very much like they can't figure it out and I'm not sure they want to figure it out. So, I think it's just a way in which it's been done that you fit in. And then if you're in, you're in the club and you stay there as long as you want to stay there. And other people have a difficult time figuring how to get in.
And it's very resistant to change. And I think that's the problem because as we need, if we talk about we need more diversity, the narrative, the key of the narrative, narrative being controlled by the history, the way it was done for many years.
HURLBURT: Just because I thought of an anecdote, at the event that we hosted 10 days ago, a young woman stood up in the Q&A period and said, "Hi, I'm an Army officer and I was picking my next job and I'm really interested in nuclear weapons and I was told don't go there, there's no future for you there."
And she went into procurement instead. And I think all of—I don't want to speak for Bonnie but I think we all wanted to jump off the panel and run into the audience and say, "No, no, let's find you a job."
BELL: I literally want to tell you, you should have told those guys to go kick rocks. That was a frustrating thing. The resistance to change as well I think, it's just throughout the field. I made a suggestion once at State and the response was oh, well, we tried that already.
And I was like oh, God, did I not realize that we had just done this. And it was like well, no, it was in 1997. And I was like '97, the year I graduated from high school, maybe we could try it again, just see how it goes. It turns out it was a viable thing.
Up here. Wait for them.
VARGAS (ph): Hi. I'm Dee Vargas. I'm a reporter with ThinkProgress government foreign policy. And I just want to point that from the media's perspective like I can't even imagine what I mean just be like to get where you are in your field.
But from the outside, I mean, it just seems like maybe some of your communications people could be better trained, because I think a lot of times it seems like they're very happy to sort of distribute your work when it's a nice, say, piece of paper somewhere on email. But when you call and you say, "Gee, I'd like to really speak to this woman about this subject," suddenly, they get, oh, she's not the best person. Oh, excuse me, but you just spammed me with 35 things she's written.
So, it does seem like, I mean, I've actually had conversations with—I've been interviewing experts, female experts, just as I simultaneously get an email from their PR person saying, yes, she doesn't know what she's talking about. We can find—how about Mr. so and so. And I'll tell the woman on the phone like this is—and they just laugh and I was like oh, ignore Bob (ph). But perhaps Bob (ph) needs training.
JENKINS: Well, first of all, it saddens me to hear that. But I think this also goes back to the point of when we're talking about a culture change in an organization, it has to go up and down. It's good to have a leader that is committed to it. It's good to have people who are in supervisory roles committed to it.
It's good to—and it has to be up and down the cycle. We talked about nuclear security culture, one of the big things they talk about is it has to be the entire organization. It can't just be—you can't just teach one person, everyone has to understand that.
It's the same thing. Everyone on the totem pole no matter where they fit, has to understand it and that's why it's good for organizations to have a strategy where they lay out exactly how they're going to do it and how they're going to get everyone on board so that you don't get the one person or maybe one of several people of the organization may not have been talked to by the supervisor saying oh, you don't need to be aware of this, you are doing communications or you're doing this. No, everyone needs to be aware and understand that because that's considered as not a good experience for you.
HURLBURT: And the other point just to dovetail with what Bonnie said is leadership means more than lip service. And I think we all are aware of organizations and situations where the top leadership says yes, diversity is really important and then nothing changes at the working level.
And I'd like to quote the General Vance who's the head of the Canadian Armed Forces who talked about their own gender integration process and he said sometimes people just have to get told. And there's a real visible difference between organizations that say that diversity is important and organizations that are actually sort of knowing that someone at the top cares whether it's happening or not.
JENKINS: And it's like I always say, the people who are not the dominant culture knows if they're not welcome. And I always say that to people because I want them to understand that you can't fake this. You can't make it like we're really trying.
No. People will know if they're included. They will know if it's real. They will know if you're serious and if you're finding people leaving then you got to ask yourself what am I doing wrong. Am I committed to this enough for people to really understand that we want to make that change? So, it has to be something that the organization is committed to.
BELL: We got time for one more. Let's go up on the stage there, black coat.
HARRISON: Mark Harrison with the United Methodist Church. I just want to say that the straitjacket issue is a major concern. But I just want to say I thought Arms Control Association made a big change when they chose Daryl. I was absolutely shocked that the Arms Control Association went that way.
But there are two people I want to raise up who I don't think we've given them their due—Ron Dellums and I'm trying to think of the woman from—Pat Schroeder.
HURLBURT : Schroeder.
HARRISON: And they were never given their due in this community. I don't know if they were ever asked to be on the Arms Control Association Board but that's just concerns that I want raise that we do have people, women and people of color who play leading roles and they weren't given their due because it didn't fit the straitjacket, I guess that's the concern.
JENKINS: Yes. I mean, actually I know Ron Dellums and he's done a lot and he's not gotten a lot of credit for it. And so, yes, thank you for raising that and also Pat Schroeder so thank you.
HURLBURT: Yes, two anecdotes to build on that which is a wonderful point. When we set out to do this study, we called up for advice some very prominent feminist academics of international theory (ph).
It's like I'm at a think-tank, I don't have a PhD, I want to make sure we do this right with all the requisite academic rigor. And a very prominent theorist who many of you have heard of said to me, "Oh, you can't do that because they aren't any women. You won't be able to find any."
And my team had to restrain me from cursing into the phone. It's like you didn't check my resume. I know these people. But there is even when people are there and doing the work, this comes back exactly to the point you just raised, this problem of invisibility.
And then just the very last point, when I think about, I mean, part of the reason I got started doing this work is that I was so stunned and shocked that younger women were reporting things that would have been outrageous when I got into this field and that I thought 30 years ago when one of my college classmates said, "Oh, women don't usually like arms control."
And I thought, yes, this is the last year that that's going to happen. And so, for those of you who might be sitting there and thinking yes, this is all fine but it's kind of all fine and it's all steadily going along and they don't understand how bad it used to be or what Pat Schroeder and Ron Dellums went through.
Your female colleagues and your colleagues of color are going through unacceptable things every day. And I really want to thank Daryl and Alex and the team here for doing this because I think we've had this kind of over the last two years but a lot of people looking around us saying oh, I had no idea. And we haven't taken on that piece this morning and that's great, I want to be positive and forward-looking just as on the previous panel.
But just in case you're sitting there thinking that maybe it's not that bad anymore, we interviewed two dozen women, it's that bad.
JENKINS: And I just want to add to that is the statement that we very often hear about the I don't know of a woman, I don't know of a person of color who could—you talked about that, one thing I did for my organization is I developed these expert pages where I've listed in all the different areas of peace and security, not just nuclear weapons, but peace and security and conflict, women who are working on these different issues.
Many of them are young women, mature (?) women so that there is a place to say I don't know of a woman at that does STEM. I don't know of a woman that does food security. I don't know of a woman that does infectious disease or nuclear.
And I think there are a number of other organizations that have done this and have started to say there are women out there that you can reach out to who are experts on these many issues. And so now, I have like 35 women in the area we are in who are young women who are getting into this field, mostly women of color.
And so, I want — I’d love to see that grow. But the point I'm trying to make is that there are women out there. And they are sources not just from my organization but there are other sources out there to locate people who are experts in these fields. So, I just wanted to make sure that people are aware of that.
And then I just want to once again say there are important people doing these things. And like I said, I'm really glad that Arms Control Association was able to do this event today, at this time of day that everybody can…
BELL: Not 7:15 in the morning. Yes. Thank you so much to Bonnie and to Heather and to Kelsey and to Daryl for making this a main stage event and for the two of you for having such a fascinating discussion today.
COUNTRYMAN: A real honor for—not me, for all of us—to have Mike Mullen here as our guest. We won't do the whole biography. It's almost unique that Admiral Mullen who is one of the very few military officers ever to hold four different four star assignments as vice chief of naval operations, as commander of European fleet in Naples (which is where I first got to know him while I was serving in Rome), then as chief of naval operations, and then four years as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
More important than the titles, Mike Mullen was already known, was always known as someone who cared about his people, about the servicemen and women serving under him and showed it in ways large and small. He played a crucial role as Chairman of the joint chiefs in opening up military service as an option to Americans who had formerly been excluded, improving the diversity and inclusivity and strengthen cohesion from our armed services and who also epitomized the term warrior diplomat, a partner with the State Department in negotiations with the Russians.
And while there are lots of things I'd love to ask you about whether it was growing up in Hollywood or your favorite restaurants in Naples, I think we're going to do nuclear weapons today. There's a lot of concern as we heard on an earlier panel about the overall state of U.S.-Russian relations and how it is affecting stability between our two countries, how it is impacting our dialogue and almost negating our dialogue with the Russian Federation.
So, maybe we could start there as both an arms control and a military issue with the INF Treaty about to go away in response to a new weapon that the Russians have deployed. What military steps makes sense to counter a new Russian capability aimed at European cities and is there a military value to the U.S. building intermediate range missiles for use either in Europe or in Asia.
MULLEN: Well, thanks, Tom, and thanks to you and all of you who are working on these issues. Tom made the point just before we started this afternoon that the room that used to house this association's annual meeting has gotten too small and you needed a bigger place.
And so, I appreciate all of you who are focused on this issue. A part of me wishes I didn't have to be here and part of me wishes that you didn't need a room this big. And I'll get to your question on the INF piece but what I worry about is we're sort of on this road now that I thought we had closed off.
And when you look at the issues as they are returning, INF is an example of that and then obviously first time I heard anything about INF recently tied to whether or not we'd stay with it, the first thing I thought about is New START coming up in its 10-year anniversary and whether that, too, was in jeopardy. And I would argue it seems as it is for whatever reason.
And so, it's this road that I thought we've kind of controlled, closed off, figured out, had a way of putting aside these strategic death weapons that would destroy all of us and now I worry that that's a road we're back on and it is opening up. And it's opening up for a number of reasons.
When I listen to people, there's plenty of blame to go around. But it's incredibly worrisome that we're even having this conversation. That said, one of my messages here is I hope that I guess it goes back for me to the 2005 timeframe when I took over the Navy and I had a group of mostly civilian volunteers who were great thinkers that would go off and work issues for me. And two of those thinkers were Paul Bracken (ph) and Jackie Davis (ph) who I in 2005 said I haven't heard a word about deterrence since 1989 or 1990.
`What is deterrence in this century? And Paul (ph) and Jackie (ph) went off and it was the first work I had actually seen. It doesn't mean nobody was working on it. But it was one of those things we thought had passed us and yet it was a new century.
There are other threats and so how do we think about deterrence now. I was actually thinking about it in other areas cyber being one as an example as opposed to back to this but back to this and here we are. And I hope that we can figure out how to move forward on that.
In 2005, I had no idea I'd be the Chairman and then clearly even when I became Chairman, I had no idea I'd be debating New START. I was talking to someone earlier today, I met my Russian counterpart on the phone in August of 2008 when the Russians went into Georgia. He had just been in the job a month. He hadn't been in Moscow in a long time so here he was in charge of a war, an invasion and he's trying to figure out his own world.
And ironically two years later I end up at a table with General Makarov negotiating the New START treaty and I have not spent a lot of time in it up to that point and obviously I immersed myself in it. And I thought we, as two countries, including the ambassador got that to a pretty good place. Difficult for lots of reasons, I won't go into that, but an extraordinarily important outcome. And I had hoped as we negotiated, set the 10 years that we would certainly carry it to the extension that we are now facing, it all happens pretty quickly.
And as I look around this room it's back to sort of experts, I don't know who the experts are anymore. I would only want everybody here who's been in this business a while, to find some young people to make them as smart as you are, to make that investment through fellowships and education, and I mean whatever it is because a lot of the experts from the Soviet days are no longer with us. Many of you are a product of them and we, I feel, have an obligation to make sure that we have a sustaining capability in this area, because it appears it's not going to go away.
When you ask me about the INF it's almost—I mean to some degree it's a tactical question for me, and by that I mean I have no doubt and I also want to caveat what I'm saying is, I will be out of the chairman's job eight years come October and it's not like I have an office in the Pentagon anymore. We have a way of dropping the formers off and never speaking to them again, and so I haven't been back much, so I'm not current particularly on the intelligence details here.
Although you can read the media pretty well and at least I can get it in the box about what's going on. It is natural for us that if we are going to, if we're going to counter a weapon if you will, we're going to develop a system to do that. That's what the military's going to do. We'll generate the threat requirements and do that, exactly whether it will be symmetrical or asymmetrical is a question and I don't have a good answer for that right now.
One of the things we've tried to get done in the New START treaty was have a discussion about the nuclear weapons in Europe, those that aren't there and those that are there, because the Russians have an overwhelming number nearby. That essentially became a non-starter in the discussion at the time, and given the focus on the strategic set, that's what we eventually both agreed that's what we'd cover. That didn't mean they're not dangerous or shouldn't somehow be contained.
I was struck a couple of years ago when I listened to the Russian Ambassador, I think it was to Denmark raised the issue of nuclear weapons and I said "Who is this guy and what is he talking about and it is in Europe?" I mean I've seen President Putin, he has talked about it seemingly more frequently and more frequently as time has gone on right up to this whole INF piece. And I'm both concerned and paranoid enough to know that when the president of Russia comes out publicly and starts talking about our command centers, the game is changing and it is really serious stuff.
And I guess another training moment for me because it was in early Bush Administration and I'm a missile defense guy by trade in the Navy, I'm an Aegis guy, so I've been around the development of missile defense for many, many decades, but when we similarly at some point early in that administration walked away from the ABM treaty. I wasn't involved in that but that really got my attention and so what are treaties for, who's going to believe? Who's going to stay with them? With a track record that sometimes we in the U.S. don't even look at ourselves in terms of our responsibility when something happens, and there are lot of reasons for it. I mean I remember reading about that back then.
When I started to hear—when INF came up, that was literally for me, that was the first thing I thought of is we're going to walk away from another treaty and then yet again another one potentially. And to what end, to a better outcome, and what is that outcome and how do we get there? And particularly when I was in the chairman's job I oftentimes asked that question, where are we going here? How does it end? How are we going to get there? And why are we doing this? And so a lot of those questions for me right now aren't necessarily answered either in the INF debate or in the strategic debate with New START right around the corner, that we would be developing something to counter them, that certainly doesn't surprise me and that's given permission or given a threat.
And probably most significantly given the virtual, literal, and almost complete lack of a relationship with Russia, I think it is that much more dangerous. And that goes back to—I mean the empirical data now is, the Bush administration trying to develop a relationship with Putin, the Obama administration trying to develop a relationship with Putin and the current administration developing a relationship with Putin. And what does that mean and where are the communication links between our two countries militarily, diplomatically?
Actually I read in a paper this morning that Joe Dunford who's the current chairman sees his Russian counterpart. In fact it was said almost routinely like they've been going on a long time. That is not the case. I know Dunford well enough to know, it took him a while. I think it's Gerasimov, is that right, I think it took him a while to get to a point where—and both sides agreed that they could meet. Without, I'm fond of saying even in the darkest days of the Cold War we had lots of links with the Soviets.
We don't have them now. It's not even close. And when we're talking, we're not talking. We're talking past each other. So how do we create meaningful conversations, substantive conversations before we now have to meet at the table or maybe not, maybe we don't have to do that, but let's say meet at the table and renegotiate or discuss the extension of New START. And all that groundwork that is historically been laid, it's just not there, I don't think it's there.
So it's a huge concern. I'm more concerned about the INF breakdown right now in terms of it representing this road back if you will, sort of back to the future than the tactical piece of the weapons themselves. I don't want to discount that. The weapon side of this we can figure out. I would hope we wouldn't have to spend the time, and the money, and the effort to do that if we can figure out a way to get the countries to a point where we don't have to spend that money and make that investment.
COUNTRYMAN: Well, I appreciate that and you've already touched on a couple of the things I wanted to ask. In particular, New START, I am a little bit discouraged by both United States and Russian officials talking about things that have to be done first before we can get to New START extension. For a lot of us, in the absence of serious discussion the right thing to do is just sign the damn extension and then you can talk about things.
I take it from what you've said that you share the concern that New START might go away either because of apathy on the part of the U.S. administration, or because of overly hard bargaining and posture making by both sides. If we don't have New START two years from now, are there—how concerned will you be, are there other methods to try to preserve strategic stability?
MULLEN: One of the things as we, we may get into this, but as North Korea certainly came to the fore in the whole nuclear weapons issue with the North Koreans, one of my worries, and I call myself of age now, I'm a child of the '60s and I was here for the majority of the Cold War, in fact, that's where most of my military experience is. We talk about nuclear weapons and this is the issue with North Korea, we talk about nuclear weapons almost as if it's just a cartoon, that I mean I went to sea on ships, we tested nuclear weapon back then.
I carried them on my ship. My first job was as an anti-submarine warfare officer and the nuclear weapons officer to—and we had nuclear bombs if you will to go after Soviet submarines. And the training that we did, the movies that we used, the explosions that we saw out on the atolls much less what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it’s like we've forgotten what these weapons can do.
There's a great book, many of you all know it and I think it's The Last Train from Hiroshima or The Last Train to Nagasaki, I can't remember one of the two, but it's almost a medical compendium of the damage that these weapons inflict. And the massive scale that they achieve so, so quickly. And in fact, we talk about them as almost as if they don't have that capability. We've forgotten. And Americans are pretty good at forgetting history or not—it's somewhere some between forgetting it and not knowing it as we move forward. And I don't want to be overly critical, we should be mindful of history, but Americans are always moving forward and I commend that. But this is one we should not forget and we ought to understand the devastation levels that these weapons generate.
And no kidding, these weapons that we—and the numbers that we negotiated right down at New START more than ample to destroy the human race, as we speak. And we don't hear many people, much less political leaders talk about that. It's, to me, much more about the politics of it which is right at the center quite frankly of work in my view where INF is and where New START could go because of the political environment certainly in this country. And that has nothing to do quite frankly with Russia at this point.
Certainly there's politics associated with that, but I'm just talking about our own politics. So I don't know who rises up as the expert to get this to a place that it needs to be. This is obviously a presidential decision as it should be, and I hope we can get the right information in front of our president so that he can make the right decision and that it already hasn't been made it's just a matter of revealing it if you will. And I harken back to the ABM treaty, that it's part of the fabric of that view of both politics and capability if you will that we can overcome. I worry, the fact that we can just have—we're having a discussion about can we overcome these weapons which is fundamental yet, is really, really worrisome to me.
So I don't think we understand the weapons well enough. I think we need to refresh, remind ourselves how devastating these are and what they can do and align the seriousness of the discussion, the political debate, the resources, the people and the events to that serious devastating level of outcomes, and never get there, never get there.
COUNTRYMAN: Now, I certainly agree with you that the consciousness among the American public about the size of the weapons we're talking about, the fact that the standard weapon in the U.S. arsenal is 20 times the power of what destroyed Hiroshima. The idea that low yield nuclear weapons are less dangerous and less likely to lead to all-out nuclear warfare is questionable at best. I know that you followed as well the review, the release of the Nuclear Posture Review last year.
Its authors argued that it was not a radical change from the Obama Nuclear Posture Review eight years prior, it did propose the development of two additional sea-based low yield nuclear capabilities. I think some of us see it as driven by America's domestic politics, but also written in the framework of credible deterrence. Do you have an opinion as to whether the current U.S. nuclear capability even before these additional low-level weapons are added, do we have a credible nuclear deterrent that can prevent nuclear use against the United States?
MULLEN: The short answer of that is yes, we do before these additional weapons that you talk about. We have enough. There's also, let me give this, I think to me was very evident in the New START debate there, we have not invested in our arsenal to the degree that we need to, to make sure that the existing arsenal is functional, technically sound, will work if we ever have to, which is so fundamental to it being a deterrent. And we can't—and the number was hundreds of—it was billions and billions, and the Obama administration got into a big debate, in particular, I think Senator Kyl was on the other side of that.
In terms of making sure that the billions would be part of the Obama budget, and they made a deal at the end to generate that investment, which flat out we need as long as we have them. And I hope that that would continue. And given that that investment is being made, I think the arsenal that we have is more than adequate.
One thing about the Pentagon and weapons types, and I'm a weapons type, so you always want a better one, you always want more, you always want to generate, and I'm a requirements guy, a better solution. And so there's obviously a view that some of this may help in that regard. When I think about that, I think less about, back to my time as a kid as a young ensign and JG with these nuclear weapons on a ship going after submarines.
I think about that less now in terms of the Russian submarine Force than I do the Chinese Force. So there is a question and this was in my mind, part of New START as well. While we were negotiating with the Russians, one of the things once you get into this and many of you have lived this as we were reducing our numbers and China has, whatever the number is and it's no fur fuse, it's in itself, I get all that, but when do we get to a number that's low enough where China goes, "I wonder if I ought to get in this game now."
And you look what's happened with respect to Xi Jinping and where he seems to be taking his country in many areas, particular in the area of national security, where do they go and believe me, they're developing a lot of submarines, they're generating, building a lot of submarines. And so again it's sort of back to the future for me, is this what I was doing in the '60s, in the late '60s, a current version of that to get at this kind of threat as well, because long term I think China is the problem, China is the threat, China is going to be the aggressor and we're going to have to figure out how to push back on them pretty hard, hopefully before both of us have to make huge investments in this kind of capability with all that that entails.
I get that low yield, I get the tactical, but if we cross that Rubicon to use a nuclear weapon of any yield, we are in a place we've not been since 1945. And then what does that mean, what permission does that give to use other weapons of higher yield, whether they are still low or whether we take them to another level? And I'm not sure we've given that a lot of thought. I'm not sure we've figured out whether or not that's going to be worth it given the longer-term implications of heading in that direction.
And I know. I mean I got asked not to long after President Trump was—I was asked a lot when President Trump was elected. People didn't even know what the football was all of a sudden we're getting smart of the football and saying, "Walk me through. Would you walk me through what happens with the football?" And it was a bit of an on-off for me.
So I was there 2007 to 2011. I spent so little time on the nuclear weapons part of the portfolio, people were doing that and I was comfortable we were in the good place, that I mean literally had to walk my—I had to do the calculus to say, "okay, here's what happens with that," but it wasn't like I was doing this monthly or quarterly practicing as we did many years ago. Now, that's very much back, in trying to understand that first of all and also it has not been overly—it wasn't overly emphasized in my senior life even as I was chairman as we watched our Air Force go through the two big events that we had. One was shipping missiles from Minot to Barksdale. And the other was shipping parts to Taiwan which were much more indicative and reflective of the lack of attention to this as a priority as we were continuing to shift away from the Cold War.
Now all of that's got to be put back in play. And so for us in the military, that means you got to train people, hire them, pay them, keep them. Where's the technology, where's the expertise, how are we going to operate these really as a part of this deterrence package.
COUNTRYMAN: Let's switch topics a little bit, but stay on the subject of crossing a nuclear red line and what it means. A lot of us watched with great apprehension as India and Pakistan shot at each other across the border just two months ago. I know that you worked hard to build the best possible relationship between the U.S. military and the government and military of Pakistan.
How concerned where you as you watched this from a distance? Can the U.S. do more to draw down the tensions between two nuclear armed states?
MULLEN: I won't tell you how much of my life I've devoted to trying to draw, de-tension that issue between Pakistan and India. I'm still of a mind that with the nuclear weapons capability that Pakistan has and I've said these many times, I think while we focus on Iran, we focus on North Korea and a lot of other things, I think Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world, because they have this wicked brew of no economy, corrupt politicians. The military runs the place, certainly on the national security side.
The seemingly insoluble India-Pakistan relationship which I put at the core which is in Kashmir. So one of the interesting things that came out of the action in February was it's all about Kashmir. It took me a long time to come to believe that was the case. I was focused on many terrorist organizations that resided in the west of Pakistan and in their own way everybody in the Pakistani Military would look at me sideways and saying, "What is it you that don't understand about India?"
So it's all India. And I thought what Modi did—not Modi, sorry, what Singh did after Mumbai in 2008 which was not retaliate and what Khan did the other day by returning that Indian pilot just took the air out of it. And both of them, Singh in particular, because you may or may not remember, his party was coming up for reelection in the next few months.
And of course the drums we're beating because of what happened in Mumbai, and some would argue rightfully so. I was there shortly after that happened. And yet Singh called it off, and that was a bold political move as it was the other day when Khan did that.
I don't know how this comes out. It is something that has worried me a great deal. About a year ago or 18 months ago I got involved in a war game. I'm on the board of Sam Nunn's Nuclear Threat Initiative and Ernie Moniz is taking that over. And it's a very critical group from my point of view in this business, sometimes flying under the radar over a long period of time to sustain the kind of intellectual diplomatic personal engagement relationship exchange that needs to exist in this particular area. And we had a war game—that we ran a war game and what struck me was the number of Chinese that were at the table.
One of the costs of ignoring Pakistan is that unattended to and they have been for seven or eight years and they're not an easy customer believe me, but one of the costs of that is they drift under the umbrella of China. And I would much rather as in most decisions, I would much rather make a conscious decision because then I know where I stand, and I can sort of map out a strategy that, okay, we're going to just let that relationship evolve and we're going to not pay attention to Pakistan, when a lot of people in Pakistan still want to pay—to be paid attention to by the United States.
But a couple of years ago and I hadn't visited this issue in a long time, to go to this war game and to see it played by U.S. on one side and Pakistan on the—I'm sorry—and China on the other was really a validation of what I saw even when I was there a lot, that they have a relationship where China has never not been there for them.
And when I asked my staff to go to do, study what Pakistan strategy is, now this is 2008. They came back and essentially named the strategy the Fourth Betrayal because we weren't there in '65 for them, we weren't there in '71 for them. We left in '89 and they're just waiting for us to leave again.
Now that's empirical. I get that. I actually understand that. How do we overcome that, back to understanding history which is not our great strength again, but that's what they believe is going to happen. And so I worry a great deal that this is now going to be India and the U.S., Pakistan and China, and it is nukes. And whatever the ratio is, Pakistan doesn't have a chance against India just because of the conventional investment on the military side.
So it's all about nukes, it's all they've got, and it really is. While we may not be doing a lot about deterrence, believe me they are because they think that's the path of their survival, and they are a perfectly paranoid country from the day they were born about India. And so where are all the political leaders and diplomats there to try to help there, and I think a lot of that has to do again key is Kashmir and a lot of it has to do with economic development in Pakistan in addition to having a relationship from a security standpoint.
We are just one other anecdote, when we went to—they had the terrible earthquake in about the '04 timeframe, '04-'05, I knew that Navy one star that went, spent weeks there working in Pakistan to help, and we were doing all we could. And he said every single lieutenant colonel and above in the Pakistani Army had smiles on their faces when we showed up and they were easy to engage, and this right up to the 4 stars. And that's because everybody had been to our schools. They knew where Leavenworth was.
They knew where Carlyle was, they'd trained down at Langley, et cetera. Every major and below never smiled, they'd never been to the U.S. So all they got was the propaganda. And I gave, Anne Patterson was the ambassador early in my time who is a wonderful woman. She had me to the Embassy in one of my first trips to just talk to the war college, about 40 or 50 war college students, Pakistani war college students. So I talked for a few minutes and took questions, and there were two themes that jumped out of the questions.
One is what is it that you don't understand about India? These were all successful officers, and the ground types, the army types, and the airmen had all fought in Kashmir or on that border. And the other was there wasn't a Pakistani officer that didn't know, in the Pakistani military, that didn't know who Senator Pressler was. And there was not a single officer, young officer in United States military that had a clue who Senator Pressler was.
And for those of you that wouldn't know, the Pressler Amendment in I think '92 after Pakistan went nuke was the amendment that it cut it all off. In fact that my Navy counterpart came to see me in '05 or early '06 I think and the first thing he wanted to talk about were the—I think the number is right, the 14 F-16s the United States Navy was flying at our training command in Fallon, Nevada, I didn't even know they were there. They don't forget that. So we got a long road there.
They got a bunch of weapons, the trigger quite frankly and the controls worry me more than I'd want to say in terms of how you get to use them and it really is a military leadership, it's really the military leadership in that country. So it's a very, very dangerous part of the world.
COUNTRYMAN: We've got many more questions on my list including North Korea, but I promised that we would have time for some questions from the audience. So I hope our colleagues from ACA are ready with microphones, the floor is open. Let's start here with Alex is that.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you, admiral, that was really fascinating. We were talking earlier and you brought it up again that these issues largely seem to have disappeared from the U.S. political dialogue or discussion, and certainly we notice even among the democratic challengers, I don't know that anyone has raised these kind of issues at all.
I'm wondering from your long experience, do you see any way of sort of bringing this back of somewhat engaging the political dialogue in the United States to deal with these kinds of issues which I think we here all recognize are important, but the rest of the country maybe fortunately with the end of the Cold War doesn't anymore?
MULLEN: I think we're at a time in our politics that if they don't generate political advantages or numbers, they're not going to be talked about publicly first of all.
Secondly, I think and I'm not an historian or I'm not an expert in terms of this, but if you go back through the years, during election time, the vast majority of the issues are domestic issues. So along those lines and I try to stay out of that, I'm happy to talk to anybody from either side about these issues privately and offer counsel and thought in the for whatever they’re worth category.
But my overall sense is they just don't generate, the issues themselves don't generate enough positive political outcome for them to spend a lot of time on. That said, the irony is flip it to January 20th of whatever year you talk about, having a new president and they spend 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent of their life on these issues on, you know, what I would call foreign policy, diplomatic, global issues.
So it's important that they'd be smarter and what I would argue and I don't know if you do this, but I would argue for ACA and others that you make yourself available, known to be made available to everybody that's thrown their hat in the ring to say, "Be glad to discuss this with you." At some point in time you're going to need to have some expertise, we spend a lot of time on this and make that contact.
And these days, you can't go too early. Everybody else is going early, you ought to go early as well to try to help inform them.
COUNTRYMAN: All right. And to a question right in front here.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you. Admiral Mullen, you were a real pathfinder on the issue of U.S. Soviet, or Russian high level military to military contacts.
(UNKNOWN): You really opened that wide up. And that's not the case now as you mentioned. Given where we are, am I right to conclude that you would think if we reestablish that regular ongoing high level contact between the two militaries that that would have value even if there's not much in the way of a robust political strategic dialogue?
MULLEN: You know, I would not go so far as to say that one needs to precede the other. There is a lot of data historically that show that usually it does. I can do China with you for a long time here.
I mean, I worked pretty hard, so did my predecessor Pete Pace and Dick Myers to establish some kind of relationship with China. Those are fractious times and every time we’d have an incident, the first thing that Chinese would do is cut off mil to mil. I talked to my counterpart I said, "You got to stop doing that." I mean, we're going to have problems if we can't keep talking through this, we have no way to discuss it, we're never going to get to a point where we can have serious discussions about serious issues.
So one of the reasons I'm delighted that Dunford and Gerasimov are talking is that at least. So I wouldn't say it's a prerequisite, I think once relations get going with a country, it's clearly critical. We absolutely have to have that part of it. And right now I'd certainly like to see more of that than what we're seeing.
The reason I end up on the phone with Makarov when they go into Georgia is nobody was talking to anybody. I mean, the presidents wouldn't talk, the foreign minister and sec State were not talking, the national security advisors weren't talking, I get a call from Hadley going, "okay, pick up the phone. You're going to talk to the Russian CHOD," really?
And obviously the news was out that this was going on but it proved to be a very, very effective communication and it wasn't going to happen, one, without our president and his president saying this is okay at that particular time. And I just think it's vital to have these kind of critical links across our government, I don’t want to say having nothing to do with how we're getting along, we know we've got challenges.
We've had challenges for a long time. They're going to continue in the future. We're going to have growing challenges with China as they grow per se. So, we need to try to create and sustain those relationships, even if it is just to say, "I still don't understand you" or "I still don't agree with you.” But at least I would listen to what the concerns would be" as supposed to guess or read about it from the media on one side or another. Those are lacking right now in Russia.
COUNTRYMAN: I think in the very back over here we had a hand up. Further back. Did I see one? All right then, Ambassador Kennedy.
KENNEDY: Thank you, sir. I particular appreciated your comments about connecting up the dots between the American public foreign policy issues including arms control.
Another group I work with, Foreign Policy for America, is dedicated to indeed just that. But let me ask a question in the nuclear field, you referred to the president's decision-making power on the use of nuclear weapons. Congress, I'm thinking of Senator Markey, others indeed have legislation on no first use of nuclear weapons. And I wondered if you could talk about that, your views on that. Thank you.
MULLEN: I mean, it’s almost like what Tom said earlier when you said nuclear redline, there are certain words and phrases that I've came to believe from Washington, I don't even use anymore, red line being one as an example.
Climate change which, you know, is another one, that just so quickly get you into the political arena that you almost can't have the discussion. The whole issue of no first use and there are plenty of people that think that's where we should be, and I don't know the right answer to that quite frankly. I certainly think it's worth the debate, but my reaction would be immediately, you know, Markey is trying to get no first use policy in terms of which he believes in and is that the right answer, and is this the right vehicle? And I would argue it isn't, it's a vehicle per se.
So let’s have a debate about no first use and I think there are pros and cons to that, we've just never done it and I'm not smart enough to know how far away we've been from that forever, it's not been our policy for a long, long time.
So that piece of it, you know, I don't know. I think understanding, I mean the questions that came to me about that is the sense in some reporting, but this sense of this happens pretty quickly. While I indicated I didn't spend a ton of time on it, I spent enough time to know, it happens pretty quickly. If we get to a point and this is different, it's a first use versus a response, there's not a lot of time.
But to me, it was also immediately this political move to see if we could contain this president, to me that's not the time to change a policy, I don't think that's a time because it just gets so completely and instantly politicized, you almost can't have the debate or the discussion to get to a meaningful outcome.
COUNTRYMAN: I think we're out of time is what Daryl is trying to tell me because we…
MULLEN: One more.
COUNTRYMAN: I'm going to do one more. This gentleman has been very patient. Yes.
KIRK: My name is Don Kirk. I spent some time in Korea, Mr. Countryman was going to ask you about Korea. But I'd like to ask you about Korea now. What do you think of CVID as opposed to step by step by step by step, and where do you think we're going in this debate? Thank you.
MULLEN: I guess with the Koreans in particular, North Koreans, I am in the "do not trust them and verify world," and we'll stay there, first of all.
I am someone that and you would probably know, Sam Nunn and I worked our way through a North Korean strategy document for CFR about a year or so before the administration came in, and the whole idea of that was to at least lay it on the table, look options, look at the issues, et cetera, and we used a lot of North Korean and nuclear experts to put that together.
And going through that, if you asked me to pick a camp I would pick CVID as the goal. And so what I think the president's trying to achieve with respect to that is exactly right, and that gets back to how dangerous these weapons are. And I get, and Colin Powell and I don't necessarily agree on this because Colin says it would be suicide to use the weapon, I get that. Yet, I'm also struck by the complete lack of wisdom in 33-year-olds and I don't want to offend anybody here, I'm just old enough to know while I thought I had some wisdom at 33, I understand now I didn't as I've become older and so I've got a 33-year-old with this capability and I wouldn't trust them at all.
I am concerned, and part of this is, I actually admire President Trump for sitting down with the guy and this is not unusual for this president is, you know, all of the other conventions weren't looked at. Well, line up all the other conventions, all the other presidents and we're nowhere with North Korea.
So trying something different and it is different, I get that, I wasn't totally opposed to. It's just if in this difference and in this approach I think you got to get to that point. Now, CVID is a huge undertaking to get to per se and obviously there would be people that agree we ought to be happy with one step at a time.
I'm only going to be happy with this when this guy doesn't have his finger on that trigger, because I actually think of all the people I know or think I know, he's one given the potential of him not being there anymore, regime change or whatever it is, I think he'd pull that trigger.
COUNTRYMAN: Okay. Thank you very much, Mike.
MULLEN: You're welcome.
COUNTRYMAN: We really appreciate. We especially appreciate your efforts to keep the American public engaged to keep the discussion civilized and informed, and I think that's the goal of so many other people in this room as well. So, thank you for everything, not just that you did but that you're doing right now.
MULLEN: Thanks. Thanks a lot. Thank you.
“The Challenges of New Weapons Technologies and Strategic Stability"
Bonnie Docherty, Erin Dumbacher, Amy Woolf
KLARE: Welcome everyone. I'm Michael Klare, I am a senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association and a member of the board. And for the past eight months or so, I've been working at Daryl's behest and at the behest of the board to study the implications of emerging technologies, especially artificial intelligence, cyberweapons, hypersonic weapons on the future of war and arms control.
And this has been a remarkable journey for me, I've learned all kinds of extraordinary things, and what I've learned has been pretty terrifying as you’ll discover in this panel. I come to the conclusion that these new technologies will have a profound impact on war, on nuclear stability, and arms control, and that our thinking in these areas is going to have to change profoundly in response.
Everything I've learned has told me that the future of war will be profoundly altered as these new technologies come online, and one thing that's become very clear in studying this field, that the speed of development of the new technologies and their weaponization, their application to military use, is happening at a very rapid pace.
And by the way, the key word here is speed, the common denominator, I believe, and I've learned a great deal from our panelists and their work, the common denominator in all of this I find is speed, the acceleration of warfare. It's going to make the pace of combat much faster than it’s been in the past and this has obvious ramifications for nuclear stability.
How will this affect decision making—the decision to go to war, the decision to escalate conflict in a crisis, decisions regarding the use of nuclear weapons? All this is going to happen at a much faster pace than in the past. And our thinking is going to have to change in order to cope with this alteration in the nature of combat. And, unfortunately, until now I think thinking in the field, policymaking, has not kept up with the pace of the technological developments. So, it's essential that we begin to address the impacts of these new technologies.
Fortunately, we have an extremely knowledgeable group of panelists who I'll turn over to in a second. I've learned a great deal from their work and my own research into the field and we're very lucky that they're here today to inform us.
We will proceed first with Bonnie Docherty who is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch and also works with the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and is extremely knowledgeable about autonomous weapons and their significance for international law and international humanitarian law.
She will be followed by Amy Woolf who's a senior researcher at the Congressional Research Office, Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. She's a senior specialist on nuclear weapons and has written, from my perspective, the definitive study on hypersonic weapons and their impact on the battlefield.
And finally, Erin Dumbacher from the Nuclear Threat Initiative as a program officer there in nuclear weapons and Arms technology and a specialist on the impact of cyberweapons on nuclear stability.
So, again, we're very lucky to have these three highly knowledgeable experts to inform us about this new topic. So first, Bonnie.
DOCHERTY: Thank you Michael. And thank you to the Arms Control Association for inviting me to speak to your meeting today.
I'm going to change gears from what we've been talking about this morning and address an emerging technology that would revolutionize warfare in alarming ways. And particularly I'm talking about what we call fully autonomous weapons, also known as lethal autonomous weapon systems, killer robots; there are a number of names.
But by this, I'm referring to systems that would select and engage targets without meaningful human control. So that’s a step beyond existing armed drones because a human will not be making the ultimate decision to take a life.
The technology is moving rapidly in this direction as Michael indicated, and some scientists have said it could be deployed in years, not decades, unless something is done to preempt it.
So today, I'll talk about some of the challenges that fully autonomous weapons present, why we believe that the best response as a new legal instrument that would require the maintaining meaningful human control over the use of force and also provide an update on the current state of play.
So, fully autonomous weapons raise a host of moral, legal, accountability, and security concerns just to name a few, and we believe these outweigh any purported military advantage. With regard to the moral concerns, for many people including recently the UN secretary general, the use of fully autonomous weapons would be "morally repugnant."
These weapons would be inanimate machines that could not truly comprehend the value of a human life and thus should not be given the power to take it. In essence, they would be reducing human life to an algorithm which would deprive human targets of their dignity.
Legally, fully autonomous weapons raise significant challenges with compliance with international law, notably international humanitarian law or the law of armed conflict and international human rights law. For example, IHL's proportionality principle prohibits attacks in which the civilian harm outweighs the military advantage.
Balancing these factors requires the application of human reason and judgment to complex and dynamic situations on the battlefield. It would be very difficult for an autonomous weapon system to replicate these human qualities and it could not be programmed in advance to prepare for all the unforeseeable situations that it might encounter on the battlefield.
Another important provision of international humanitarian law I want to mention is the Martens Clause, this declares that in the absence of a specific treaty on a subject which is the case here, civilians and combatants are still protected by the principles of humanity and dictates of public conscience.
So, in essence it establishes legal requirement to take some moral concerns into account when developing and using new weapons. The principles of humanity require that people be treated humanely, which depends in part on the ability to apply compassion, something that fully autonomous weapons would lack, and a significant and growing opposition to these weapon systems show that they raise concerns under the dictates of public conscience.
There are numerous examples, but just to name a couple, a recent global poll found that 61 percent of respondents opposed the use of fully autonomous weapons, faith leaders, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and civil society organizations, including the Global Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, have all condemned these weapons, and more than 4,500 roboticists and AI experts from around the world have called for a ban on fully autonomous weapons.
I'll touch more briefly on two other concerns, first the accountability gap that these weapons could raise, there are significant obstacles to holding any individual responsible for the actions or for any harm caused by these weapons. For example, a commander would likely escape legal liability because he or she could not predict and prevent the unforeseeable actions of a robot, and they could not punish a robot after the fact. There would also be evidentiary and logistical challenges to bringing a manufacturer or programmer to account.
And then finally, security is a major issue. The development of this technology would proliferate likely to non-state armed groups as well as states with little regard for international law and it could also lead to an international arms race.
So, in response to these concerns, states and civil societies have argued for a new legally binding instrument that would create a clear global norm against fully autonomous weapons. Such an instrument would follow the precedent set by other treaties banning problematic weapons, chemical, biological, nuclear, as well as landmines and cluster munition. It would also follow the precedent of the 1995 protocol banning blinding lasers, another form of emerging technology which was prohibited preemptively.
In our view, the legally binding instrument should include either/or a positive obligation and a prohibition. The treaty could affirmatively oblige states to maintain meaningful human control over the use of force, and alternatively or in addition, it could prohibit the development, production, and use of these weapon systems that select and engage targets without meaningful human control.
The positive obligation is more future proof, the prohibition addresses the development in production as well as use, and as I said they're not mutually exclusive.
And just a few words about the state of play, international discussions so far had taken place specifically under the offices of the Convention on Conventional Weapons which is a framework convention that has protocols that regulates and prohibits certain problematic weapons.
I was at the last month’s meeting in Geneva and there were some encouraging signs. The majority of states there are calling for a new legally binding instrument that prohibit or regulate this technology. there's widespread convergence among almost all states that human control is necessary over the use of force. States may differ on exactly the terminologies they use or exactly what the content of human control would mean but it in my mind provides a basis for negotiation of a new treaty or protocol.
So, challenges do exist, of course. We are calling for CCW states parties to adopt a mandate to negotiate a new protocol in November so that they would negotiate it next year. But we recognize it will be difficult because CCW operates on a consensus basis, meaning that any one country can prevent the body from taking the next step.
Nevertheless, momentum is growing and if states fail at CCW to take action, they should strongly consider—and these discussions are already under way—the option of going outside of that body to either the UN General Assembly or an independent forum.
So, in inclusion, I would just urge those of you who are concerned about minimizing humanitarian and security concerns associated with armed conflict to support this push for a legally binding instrument and fully autonomous weapons. And most of today's conference has dealt with ways to address the last revolution of warfare which was nuclear weapons, and I encourage you to seize the opportunity to take steps to prevent the next revolution before we go down another long and dangerous path. So, thank you very much.
KLARE: Thank you Bonnie. And Amy, please.
WOOLF: Thank you, Michael. Thank you for the Arms Control Association for inviting me today. It is a little unusual to be sitting at an Arms Control Association meeting and not talking about nuclear weapons.
But for those of you who think hypersonic weapons are something new and scary, I've been covering this program, at least in the Pentagon, since 2003, and the fact that most people in this room, in this country, weren't even aware that hypersonic weapons were an issue until the last year or two tells you a bit about the fundamental problem with the discussion of these weapons.
We know about them, you know about them now, because we're worried Russia and China are acquiring them, and that brings about concerns about the interaction between several nations having hypersonic weapons. Yet, I've been following this since 2003. So, pardon me, I don't have depth of knowledge, I have in length of time.
I'm generally going to address two questions here today. The first is what do we mean by hypersonic weapons? And I'm going to try and limit the scope of that discussion, and then if we're looking for ways to use arms control mechanisms to address our concerns about hypersonic weapons, I'm going to ask what do we mean by arms control? And I'm going to try and expand the scope of that discussion and really get to the point that Michael raised that the concern here is speed.
And if I don't remember to mention that several times, the concern here is speed. So, starting with what do we mean by hypersonic weapons? Hypersonic weapons usually refers to either hypersonic cruise missiles or boost glide vehicles, a weapon where you use a rocket launcher booster with a hypersonic glide vehicle on the front end that travels at more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). They can be long-range systems, they can be intermediate-range systems, they can be short-range systems. So, to limit the scope of the discussion, I'm going to talk primarily about longer-range systems, but I will incorporate some discussion about shorter and intermediate-range systems after I focus on the long-range systems.
And with these limits, that means I'm basically going to be talking about the U.S. program which for years was known as conventional prompt global strike, but it has morphed into a sea-based intermediate-range missile with a conventionally armed hypersonic glider.
The Russian Avangard system which has been launched on an SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile—which means it's a long-range system equipped with a nuclear warhead—and the Chinese WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle—you can read a lot about the Chinese system; I don't have a lot of expertise here—but the guessing is that it's an intermediate-range system and we just don't know yet if it's nuclear or conventionally armed.
But those are the three key systems if you're looking at a competition amongst nations in hypersonics. That's where the debate tends to fall. So, in limiting the scope here, we'll go to those. So, why do we consider these weapons to be a problem?
Bottom-line, they are very fast and they are maneuverable. If you think about a regular conventional nuclear armed but conventional ballistic missile, it launches on a parabolic trajectory. It looks like an arrow going through the air. You can predict where it's going. It doesn't maneuver at the end. And if you had missile defenses, you might be able to figure out how to shoot it down.
But hypersonic glide vehicles are maneuverable. So, once they separate from the booster, they can change direction cross range and down range. You can't predict where they're going and they can possibly increase their accuracy by maneuvering on to the target. They are very fast. That shortens decision time which can lead to crisis instabilities, and that's particularly true if you’re talking about shorter-range systems used in theatre of conflict, which is why I'll come back to those in a minute.
And even those armed with conventional warheads can pose an escalation threat if they are used against strategic targets. There is some thinking that if their maneuverability improves their accuracy, you can use them to take out hardened targets that used to be subject only to nuclear attack. And therefore, you can start a war that is strategic with a conventional weapon, and that war might escalate to nuclear use.
There's also the concern that not knowing whether the warhead is nuclear or conventional, the adversary might just assume it's nuclear and you have an escalation risk due to this perception. Then, there's this bottom line, as I said, the reason we the United States or some people in the United States are so worried about hypersonics right now, is the bad guys have them. Bad guys have bad stuff; we need to be worried.
I just gave you four reasons that people raise for being concerned about hypersonics. I'm really only concerned about the second one, the speed one, and it's not that the other concerns aren't real analytic concerns, but I don't think they play yet. We can't defend against hypersonic glide vehicles because they're maneuverable. We can't defend against regular ballistic missile warheads right now either.
So, there's nothing…if I'm worried about Russia deploying a hypersonic glide vehicle in the next year or two on the front end of its ballistic missiles, which seems like a likely path, I am no more worried about that warhead than the non-maneuverable warhead it already has on the SS-19 missile. I can't shoot that down either. That doesn't mean I should be comfortable in that position, but the hypersonic glide vehicle doesn't add anything to my discomfort.
I personally believe that the misperception problem is overstated. And since there's a camera back there recording, I shouldn't offer you my opinion, but I personally believe it's overstated because there really aren't that many missiles in concern here or warheads in concern. We are assuming the Russian Avangard is nuclear-armed. We are asserting repeatedly that U.S. system is not. We're not sure yet about the Chinese system, but when the Russians and the Chinese complain about the U.S. hypersonic glide vehicles on conventional prompt global strike, they don't care about them because they think they might be nuclear. They care about them because they're certain they’re conventional and they're certain we will use them in a strategic way. So, yes, they are escalatory not because of misperception but because we might actually use them against strategic targets. So, I tend to not be as concerned about the misperception problem being escalatory than just about the capability being escalatory.
On the issue of "bad guys have bad stuff, so we need it, too", pardon me, but I think we should acquire weapons because we have a mission need for them, not because somebody else has them. And that's been the U.S. approach with hypersonic glide vehicles since I've started tracking this in 2013. We have been looking at the Pentagon, in Congress, at the need for U.S. hypersonic weapons to meet mission needs.
What's been interesting—because I've been tracking this since 2003—is we've yet to quite settle on a mission—and it’s shifted a bit over the years and I could give you an hour of history about how the mission has shifted—but we have been looking at this from a mission need perspective. And while we were doing that, the Pentagon and Congress were willing to spend about $100 million a year on hypersonics.
In the last couple of years, we've started worrying about the bad guys having bad stuff and this year in the FY2020 budget, there's $2.6 billion for hypersonics in one form or another. So, apparently, mission need is not as compelling as bad guys have bad stuff. I'm not sure that's the way we should be doing our military planning. But it seems that's where we are.
So, then, you hear often that we're having an arms race in hypersonic weapons: "The Russians are doing it. The Chinese are doing it. We need to keep up." I don't think we're having an arms race. There's a technology competition, no doubt. We obviously do not want to fall behind and be surprised by technological developments. We have the technological base. We didn't have the financial or priority system set up to pursue it when we were offering $100 million a year, but it is a technology competition more than an arms race.
And primarily countries—United States, Russia, China—we are not acquiring hypersonic weapons to offset the capabilities of the other countries' hypersonic weapons. And when I think of an arms race, I think, "They have it. We need to get it to stop theirs." It's an interaction within that trade space and that's not what's going on here. We are not… none of these three countries are acquiring hypersonic weapons to offset hypersonic weapons.
The United States is doing it seeking to bolster its long-range strike capability so that early in a conflict, if critical targets need to be attacked early in the conflict, we have the capability to reach out and do so. The Pentagon for years has referred to this as a niche capability or a leading-edge capability where we would use it early in a conflict to achieve results against critical targets like Chinese anti-access/area denial capabilities, air defenses, anti-ship defenses. We would use it to take—to suppress their defenses.
By the way, that's why Russia and China want them too, to suppress our missile defenses which we don't have yet but that's what they're worried about. And Admiral Mullen mentioned the turning point of the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty. You can track the Russian Avangard system. It started in the '80s when there was SDI but pretty much due to the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty, Russia was worried the United States is about to deploy major ballistic missile defenses so that we won't be able to take out their regular warheads and they developed maneuvering systems to impede our missile defenses.
China is the same way, more in a regional sense than a global sense, but there too, we're looking at a region where we have missile defenses, anti-ship missiles, there are other land-based missiles to defend our forces in the region and we are in a region and they would like to push us back and that may be the source for their hypersonics.
Absent an arms race because we want to get at each other's hypersonics, it really isn't a trade space for arms control either. So, if your question is "Can we use arms control to stop this technology competition with these very fast weapons that can be destabilizing, it depends on what you mean by arms control. So, here, I'd like to broaden the aperture a bit.
A lot of people have suggested we should just have a test down on hypersonics, freeze everybody in place or we should ban the weapons altogether because these things, "bad guys, bad stuff" we don't want these, or we should at least limit them so that we know what we are dealing with and that we can effect some kind of workaround if the numbers are smaller.
But that assumes that each side fears the other's hypersonic weapons more than it desires its own to achieve its military objectives. And since our military objectives and the other countries’ military objectives are not related to our hypersonics, your arms control agree can't simply limit hypersonics. We might be able to have a conversation with Russia about limiting hypersonics if we were willing to limit missile defenses. Anybody thinks we're going to do that? I don't.
So, we might be able to have a conversation with China about limiting their hypersonics if we limit our presence in the Asia Pacific region. Anybody think we're going to… I don't think we're going to do that. So, it's not a trade space for a standard style arms control agreement that limits, restricts, or ban the technology simply because the technology is frightening.
That's what we heard about with autonomous systems. That's something you can do. Everybody is equally scared of those. It doesn't work that way for hypersonics. These are real military tools responding to real military threats for each of the three countries developing them.
So, what's the real problem here? As I said, and I'm going repeat what Michael said, the problem is speed. The real problem is the speed of hypersonic weapons, particularly in a military conflict theater environment. It can lead to crisis instabilities and inadvertent escalation. This has always been a problem with this concept.
The initial U.S. concept as I said was to have a leading-edge capability so that early in a conflict, we can suppress defenses or take out critical targets. Well, if you're the adversary and you know the United States can get a weapon there in an hour or less, you're launching out from under it in 30 minutes or less. That's the classic definition of crisis instability that those of us in a nuclear weapons world are very comfortable with—very uncomfortable with it. You're more familiar with it.
When I talk to people on the conventional side of the ledger about long-range strike and hypersonic weapons, they've never heard of that. Going first and going fast is how you win the war. They don't think about what the other side might do in response the potential that you can go first and go fast.
So, here we are with 15 years of research into hypersonics and no priority, no champions in Congress, and all of a sudden, the Russians and the Chinese start doing it and now, everybody is trying to go fast, to get these weapons that are crisis destabilizing early in the conflict. And this to me becomes a signaling and messaging issue. If we have the capability to launch quickly at the start of a conflict and suppress China's ability to defend its airspace or defend at sea lanes, they're going to start shooting first.
So, you go from what we had considered a leading-edge capability to shoot promptly at the start of a conflict to something that inspires preemption during the crisis, and that to me is really worrisome. Is there an arms control solution to that? Well, really only if we broaden the aperture for arms control and I know the phrase has been thrown around here today…strategic stability talks, anybody? That's kind of what I'm getting at.
When you have two or three nations with capabilities that in worst case analysis could lead to preventive strikes or preemption early or even pump strikes early in a conflict, you don't want anybody to think they have to go first because they're just too worried to wait. And that may require some level of cooperation, consultation, crisis communications, to make sure that conflicts don't arise out of crises that turn into these preemptive crisis destabilizing opportunities.
KLARE: Thank you. Thank you. And now, Erin, please.
DUMBACHER: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here and thank you, Michael, and thank you to the whole Arms Control Association team for inviting me.
What I thought I would talk about today, sort of what we worry about when it comes to really a trifecta of information, communications technology or cyberthreats that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons and when I say, "we", I'm thinking of me and my colleagues at Nuclear Threat Initiative. And then, I'm also happy to talk a little bit about some potential ways we might sort of resolve or begin to mitigate those consequences.
So, on the first, there's sort of this trifecta of cyberthreats that we see could lead to more likely—increased likelihood for nuclear use. The first of course is cyberthreats to the nuclear weapons themselves. So, with the nuclear modernization drive underway here in the United States, to what extent are our command-and-control systems and all of the related systems thereof increasingly eligible or somehow vulnerable to attack. The U.S. Department of Defense's track record on cybersecurity here is not exactly stellar although senior leaders are definitely conscious of the risks. (I could go into more depth there.)
At NTI, we hosted a few years back a cyber nuclear weapon study group who sort of thought through four what I'll call demonstrative scenarios through which cyberattacks could somehow jeopardize our nuclear command-and-control systems or nuclear weapons themselves, things like spoofing of an early warning system that could lead to sort of false warning and nuclear launch as a result.
Cyber attacks on a communication system that could be as simple as something that's disruptive or disabling that could lead to of course misinterpretation of information, inability to de-escalate in a crisis situation, or loss of confidence that your launch order got to the person who needed it.
We are concerned of course also about malicious code or malware somehow being introduced into a nuclear weapons component itself—that's the supply chain risk that you've heard a lot about; that of course could also lead to loss of confidence—and then there's the cyberattack that disables some sort of physical security barrier or measure to getting at that nuclear weapon.
So, that's the threats that we're concerned about to the weapons themselves. The next piece here is much more policy related, and that is the expanding definition of threats including cyberattacks and other nonnuclear attacks that could somehow necessitate a U.S. government response that would include nuclear use. So, here, I'm referring to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.
And then, the third is a little bit of a broader category, something that maybe historically we haven't thought about when it comes to nuclear weapons. But that is the information or the influence operations, disinformation, "deep fakes" that can create somehow a misinterpretation of facts on the ground and the reality that ultimately leads to confusion, miscalculation, which in turn of course we worry could lead to nuclear use.
So, this is a new and, again here, the speed theme is here again. This is a new possibly sort of accelerated risk or means for bringing about the nuclear war by blunder that many have been concerned about for a long time.
So, what could we potentially do about it? So, some strategies for mitigating the risks, I mean, here, it's tricky. There are emerging challenges, many of which require some degree of international or cooperative efforts to mitigate and reduce, and I think here we need to be conscious that it's time to look not just at our old toolset, but any potential new tools that we could develop.
So, for the academics in the room, I might be able to give you a few research agenda pieces here. But we also have to acknowledge here that technical fixes will be insufficient. Senator Nunn and Secretary Moniz wrote not long ago about how we deceive ourselves into thinking we can solve the problem with technology and training. We cannot solve these problems with technology and training.
There are also U.S. policy changes that we can consider, and then areas where as I said sort of more research agenda-like, more sort of further innovation and new ideas frankly are really necessary.
So, I'll start with the U.S. policy changes.
We need to prioritize addressing cyber and information security risks in our modernization plans, full stop. That means doing things like enhancing survivability and resilience of nuclear systems and command-and-control systems. That means enhancing the security of nuclear weapons and reviewing those vulnerabilities throughout the system—not just to the sort of standard cyberattack that you might think of a hacker perpetrating, but also sort of nation-state-backed team of hackers perpetrating, but also the information and the influence operations.
We need to develop more options—this is on the policy side—to increase decision times to try to slow down the increased speed accounting for the threats to the early warning systems and ideally reduce the risks of false warning. And we need a declaratory policy here in the U.S. that is clear, but is consistent, that is intended to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and reduce our reliance on them for U.S. national security.
On the multilateral side, we need to reinvigorate dialogue between U.S. and Russia and, of course, extend New START. We need to be preserving all mechanisms that we have that enhance strategic stability. We need to be establishing norms that discourage cyberweapons use against nuclear weapon systems explicitly. There's a lot of work being done on cybernorms generally, not a lot that has focused exclusively on sort of the risk to nuclear systems.
And then, we need to be maintaining a cadre of experts and building a cadre of experts, folks who understand the technology here as well as the policy side and can help bridge that divide.
Now, here is the list of where it gets a little bit trickier and where we need new ideas and actions.
It's, of course, a perennial policy challenge to stay up to date and ahead of the risks of new technologies while we still come up with the ways to reap sort of the benefits of those technologies, right? I'm not saying anything new here; that's been true for decades before.
But we still need new tools to really manage this and we need to get better at responding more quickly because the technologies themselves are taking us there. We need crisis management mechanisms that are concrete, that are practical, that are near-term, that build trust, and reduce the risks of conflicts and escalation. We need to build and strengthen what I'll call "cyber-secure cultures" throughout the nuclear weapons complex. I think that extends to us in the room even, right?
So, each contractor, each node, and each network needs to be reviewed not only for the benefits that can be gained—from sort of digitizing or modernizing in some way—but also the risks of relying on a much more complex or interconnected nuclear weapon system for deterrence purposes.
The larger, more systemic issue is how we cope with sort of deceptive information and influence operations among all levels of government and I'll extend that to society just because it's a big problem anyway. We want to think about it in big ways. Technologists need to be working with governments as it's often happening—more and more happening I think on the autonomous weapons side. To some extent, also true on the sort of IT and cyber side, technologists need to be working with governments to find out and sort out what those reasonable guardrails could potentially be.
We need to be thinking about ways to limit sort of the potential for "deep fakes" and other digital tools that breed deception all the time, but especially at times of crisis, the same tools that drive clicks and repeat visitors to a website can accelerate nuclear risks in national security and we need to be thoughtful of that.
Governments can, of course, work actively to be the fair arbiter of what's real and what's fake. And then, here's the sort of cyber-secure culture piece of this that we can all play a role in. We need to be thoughtful not just about where did that USB drive come from that we're considering putting in our computers—spoiler alert: don't put it in your computers—but, we need to be mindful about each bit of information that we consume or share and we need to be as media consumers, we can sort of speak with our views and speak with our attention spans and send signals about the type of content that we want to see and trust and that we want to sort of proliferate our national security environment generally. So, at a minimum, we can avoid succumbing to propaganda and contributing to environments more generally full of disinformation.
I'll stop there.
KLARE: Great. Let's give them all a round of applause.
KLARE: I'm sure you found this as informative and stimulating as I did. Before I open it for questions, I want to ask each of you one basic question. In my research, which depends a lot on your work, I find that these technologies interact with one another and converge and have reinforcing effects.
I wonder if each of you could speak to that if you would.
DOCHERTY: Well, I thought your point about the—I think they're converging. I mean, there's the technological convergence but there's also the convergence in response and I thought your point about technologists taking stands against some of this development was a really good one. Sorry to steal your point, but it got me thinking, and I think that's one place they overlap in terms of like the Arms Control Association tonight is honoring—tonight honoring Google employees, Google tech workers who took a stand against Google's involvement in Project Maven because it would potentially improve the targeting, drones targeting.
And so, that's not as necessarily directly related to fully autonomous weapons, but it's related to that broader idea of weaponizing AI. And so, I think that getting the response as well the technology overlap is an important thing to consider.
WOOLF: The idea that the quicker the conflict gets started, the less time there is for human decision making, the higher the probability that the military or the decision makers will build in autonomous decision making, that's a snowball. When you're dealing with hypersonic weapons in a theater—and one thing I didn't mention is in that $2.6 billion in this year's budget, each of the services, not just the Navy, but the Air Force, the Army, each is developing its own hypersonic boost glide system because everybody thinks this is the great way to fight the war because you can go fast—but human decision makers cannot go as fast to some of these technologies can and you're risking putting an autonomous launcher in there that just makes the whole crisis instability problem worse.
KLARE: Yes. That's what I knew you were going to say.
WOOLF: Yes. I would echo that. I would just say it's very difficult in my view to actually take them apart and discuss them all separately in some of these ways because there's a lot of… so, there's of course the distinction between whether or not you automate a decision path versus whether or not something is autonomous and whether or not even further it’s artificially intelligent in some way.
But it's very difficult to disaggregate some automated decision making that we have already throughout a number of conventional systems and when we think about cyberdefense, for example, it's very difficult to do without any automation. So, it's almost impossible to sort of pull these out.
I think the speed issue is paramount but that also comes down to policy decisions that we choose to make about how we choose to slow down those decision paths.
KLARE: Yes, all right.
Well, thank you for that. I wanted to bring out this because our thinking about arms control is going to not be able to—as Amy suggested—separate these out weapon system by weapon system, but to look at this whole combination of systems and how they affect one another.
I don't know how much time we have. But I'm sure you have questions that you want to ask our panelists. So, if you'll raise your hand, I'll try to get people and we have some microphones available for people who wish to raise questions. So, please, if you have a question please raise your hand.
Is that you, Daryl, with a question?
KIMBALL: We have like 10 minutes left, Michael. I wanted to ask a question of Erin and of Amy about process and how this discussion on the impacts of these technologies might go forward.
So, first, for Amy, you alluded to the fact that there are members of Congress who are interested in keeping pace with the Russians and the Chinese on hypersonics. Where, if anywhere, in Congress is there a systematic discussion about the implications of these technologies, what needs to be done to help foster the right kind of discussion that is maybe scientifically grounded.
And then, Erin, in your view, how can first of all the United States and Russia best come to understandings about intersection of nuclear weapons and cybersecurity and cyberattacks. In the morning session today, we just touched upon the lack of a structured dialogue between the United States and Russia on a number of strategic issues. There have been attempts to get a structured, strategic stability talks forum going. What are your recommendations specifically about this issue fits into that dialogue?
WOOLF: In Congress, there have been over the years discussions within the Armed Services Committee when the developing the NDAA, the [National] Defense Authorization Act, about hypersonic programs, not so much from the technological risk—well, actually even from the technological risk perspective. Back in about 10 years ago when Navy was thinking of putting conventional warheads on D-5 missiles. Congress said no, and withheld the money for it, on the basis of a strategic stability type of argument. So, those would be the places where the questions would come up and the committees and the staff have been aware over the years and have raised the issues.
In the last few years, however, the discussion has not been about whether our systems impose risks on stability, but whether we need to accelerate our systems to respond to the threats from other nations. And there's plenty of room for a broader discussion, but with all the other issues and timing on the agenda, I am not aware of any amendments or legislation in the last couple of years that people have sought to put forward. I can't speak to this year, but in the past, it's been more about doing more to catch up rather than paying better attention to slow down.
KLARE: A sort of question there and then over there.
DUMBACHER: Should I also respond?
KLARE: I'm sorry, please.
DUMBACHER: So more directly. I mean I would endorse what, you know, Joan and many others have said, as the need for structured strategic stability talks between the U.S. and the Russia. Of course, this information and communications technology, just even the definition of what some of those mean for the U.S. and Russian societies, differs on some levels. We've seen that play out in the United Nations groups of governmental experts who have discussed cyber generally not specific to nuclear weapons systems.
And so, I think that there is probably some good strategizing to be done to think through the question of whether or not it's more beneficial to start with or actually, yes, start thinking through the nuclear weapons side of the coin, and then sort of how cyber affects that rather than start with cyber and then think about the implications to nuclear weapons.
But I think we should use every tool that has worked in the past, as I said, so there are crisis management mechanisms through some international organizations. OSCE is thinking about cybernorms and some lines of communication that could be used in crisis cyber related. We need to be using… Admiral Mullen mentioned military to military talks, having an understanding to be able to de-escalate in a crisis situation when necessary even if it's cyber mediated. I don't think we need to throw away those tools by any means, we need to reinvest in them.
But then there are these other much more tricky questions that, and especially as you get into the sort of information and influence operations side of this. Of course, that will play a role and we need to, I think, prioritize and think through those bits of strategic conundrums.
KLARE: Do you want to—please, this gentleman. Wait one second. Yes, go ahead.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER): How we can solve this dilemma of, one part, on one side you have new weapons, you know, manufactured, you know. We can't anticipate them. There are factors, there are artists behind them. We all remember what you have said (inaudible) about the industrial military complex, you have also the military, you have also the national strategic national interest of states, you know, in one part.
In the other part you have the interest of the international community because we must liquidate these weapons, because they are very dangerous, specifically the nuclear arms, you know, this is the dilemma. And also, the panelists have said about or spoken about international military law.
International military law as we know, you know, through the world, all over the world, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and other wars in Africa, generally they are not applied, they are not fulfilled, they are not implemented. Most of the rules of the international humanitarian laws are not fulfilled. How we can solve this dilemma because we can't know, we can't anticipate the new weapons.
For example, also, I want here to the definition of the United Nations, the United Nations say about the absolute weapons destruction—in 1948 they said weapons of mass destruction has the effect of nuke weapons or similar, because we can't know, you understand. After that, after this definition we have the new weapons of armed destruction, and this continues. How we can solve this problem?
I don't know if you have the same opinion like me. I think the only way is that we come back to the collective security system. Thank you.
KLARE: Do you want to respond to that?
DOCHERTY: Sure. A second. I will take a first crack at some of those issues. I think first of all in terms of dealing with national security interests, and you mentioned also development in a private sector, I think in the private sector there is a large number of entities that, some corporations, some heads of, CEOs and founders of AI companies have come out against, at least I can speak to fully autonomous weapons, or autonomous weapons systems.
And I think that they, and many of them see and they don't want their technology contaminated by the fact that it might be used in ways that many people consider unacceptable. And the same could be said of scientists. It's like scientists don't want—chemists don't want their technology being used for chemical weapons, the same could be said for AI. So, I think there's some incentive there to restrict development without restricting the development of AI for good purposes.
I think national security interests, I mean, listening over and over again to states of all who may have very different ideas of how to resolve the problem, who insist that human control of some sort is essential over the use of force. There's some common ground there, and I don't think—I think that that will help restrict development in a problematic way.
And I just sort of, I guess, I would disagree… yes, IHL is violated. All laws are violated to a certain degree. I'd hesitate to say that it's never applied and never implemented. I think you can make… people always ask me, "Well, people violate IHL, why do you even international law?" And one of my responses will be, "Well, people murder, and we still have laws against murder." I mean these things create stigmas and standards that even if not applied everywhere and at all times, they are still important to set a standard on the battlefield. So, I think that international law is very valuable in this forum.
KLARE: I recognize this gentleman and then you'll be this next if there's time, but please, this gentleman?
(AUDIENCE MEMBER): Thank you. Bonnie, I want to take up that very question up because it seems like the effort to outlaw, let's say, lethal autonomous weapon systems under international law is an effort to make sure that there is accountability for decisions about the lethal use of force. And yet I wonder if there is meaningful accountability for the use of lethal force currently when humans are all making the decisions, and when you have systems like signature strikes where meta-data is used, sort of in lieu of intelligence to make decisions about who to target, why not just, you know, the president is going to sign off on the list, the computer can be pre-authorized to just go down the list.
So how would the accountability that you are trying to hold to actually be implemented, carried out?
DOCHERTY: So, thanks for the question. A couple of responses. I think first of all, I mean, yes, the accountability gap is one of the motivations for taking a stand against fully autonomous weapons and developments in that direction. I think that there is… just because there…I mean, like you used the signature strike example, just because there are accountability of issues there it doesn't mean that those shouldn't be resolved. I don't think that's a reason not to resolve in the other situation.
But I think that, I think existing law has mechanisms for which to provide accountability for existing weapons systems. The question there is a matter of implementation. And I think with fully autonomous weapons where there's no human control over, no meaningful human control over the use of force you run the risk that the international law cannot handle this. It's not designed to deal with this kind of situation. So, it's less the question of implementation that the mechanism isn't a good fit because the weapon itself is doing the, making the determination, so it's sort of a step removed.
So that would be one response. And then just also to note that one thing to me it's always very compelling about this issue is that the range of concerns that people have. For some people … people are attracted to different ones, but for some it's the accountability issue, for some it's the moral issue, for some it's the security issues, technological issues, et cetera. So, one thing that I find compelling is that even if any one of those are resolved you still have 10 more that are a problem, so I think the accountability is certainly an important one, but I think that's also not the only issue on the table.
KLARE: I think we have time for one more question and I recognize this woman.
(AUDIENCE MEMBER): Thank you. I just want to confirm or at least speak about the United States capability, ballistic missile interceptor, which is developed by Aegis. This capability capable to encounter Chinese hypersonic DF-17—that's what the source said—so I want to make sure that it is, we are on the top of the capability in counter hypersonic? Thank you.
DOCHERTY: I am not the person to ask. I don't cover missile defense issues to enough to know which systems are capable against which missiles, but it is absolutely clear that we do not have either enough or enough capability in our long-ranged interceptors to counter China's long-range missiles.
At the theater level with Aegis and other shorter-ranged systems there is more capability and more numbers of interceptors, but I am not familiar with which weapons are actually on the list.
KLARE: We have run out of time, but before we thank our panelists, I just want to comment that all of them have raised the fundamental point that as weaponry evolves and new technology is introduced, that arms control is going to have to evolve, and we in the Arms Control Association are dedicated to continue to evolve our thinking in that way, and we'll continue to do that.
So please thank our panelists again. Thank you all.
“Next Steps Toward Denuclearization and Peace on the Korean Peninsula”
Suzanne DiMaggio, Frank Aum, Kelsey Davenport
DAVENPORT:Great. Thank you, Daryl and thanks to all of you for coming today. We are now going to turn the conversation to North Korea and the looming question of what comes next in the negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
And I am thrilled today to have an expert panel to discuss this. We have Suzanne DiMaggio. She is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. There is more of her bio in your program, but I would just note for the purpose of this panel that she also directs a dialogue between the United States and North Korea.
We are also very lucky to have Frank Aum with us. Frank is a senior export of North Korea at the United States Institute of Peace, and prior to that he was a senior advisor for North Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
So, it's been a very eventful month in North Korea policy. We saw Kim Jong-un and President Trump meet in Hanoi for a summit that ended abruptly, and it's still not entirely clear what happened during that meeting, but coming out there was no plan for negotiations to continue, and we do know that there was some disagreement over how talks on de-nuclearization in particular should continue.
President Trump said he wants a big deal. That he urged Kim Jong-un to go all in and Kim was not ready to do that, and that's why the talks stopped. And on the other hand, we saw Kim Jong-un say that they put an offer on the table, dismantlement of facilities at Yongbyon in exchange for relief from sectoral sanctions imposed by the U.N. But the U.S. wanted more and that wasn't acceptable to them.
So, the state of negotiations is quite unclear. Last week President Moon from South Korea came to Washington to meet with Trump, and we also saw some developments in North Korea.
The Supreme People's Assembly met and we heard Kim Jong-un talking about negotiations again, really for the first time since the Hanoi summit. There has been some radio silence in North Korea regarding the process going forward. So, that's really where I want to start today's discussions, and looking at these developments last week and what they mean for the future of talks going forward.
So, Suzanne, perhaps I could start with you and you could just give us your impression of the Moon visit, the developments in North Korea and what you think that might signal for the prospects of negotiations moving forward?
DIMAGGIO: Thanks so much, Kelsey.
First, let me thank the Arms Control Association for having me here today. I especially would like to thank Daryl, Kelsey and Kingston for their leadership on this broad range of important issues.
In my home there are only a few publications now that we actually get hard copies of, we read everything digitally, but the Arms Control Association monthly book is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first. And he's a musician, so you’re doing something right.
DAVENPORT:And I would say that I didn't ask her to say that. That was completely spontaneous.
DIMAGGIO: And it's a true story. I am not making that up.
So, what comes next? I think, like Admiral Mullen said before, I'd like to join him in noting that President Trump's, we can call it unorthodox personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un is a welcome development. I would call it a breakthrough. I think it's the right approach given the personalities that are involved, namely his and Kim Jong-un's. The leader to leader approach hasn't been tried this way and I think in this particular setting it is the right one.
And it's brought about a dramatic reduction in tensions. If you remember, just late 2017 we were on the verge of fire and fury. And I think what many of us thought then, and still believe, was it brought us very close to a potential military conflict. But I think that the limits of this approach are becoming clearer, particularly after Hanoi.
This breakthrough is only going to get us so far. The summitteering I think is only going to get us so far and it's clear now we need a coherent strategy in order to move forward, a coherent strategy and pragmatic goals. Those are the two things that I would stress in order to make lasting progress.
And even though the tensions have been reduced, the fact remains that North Korea's program is more advanced today than it was two summits ago. That is a fact.
Both sides in order to get to this point of progress, I think both sides have been making mistakes, and need to make some adjustments in order to move forward.
Let me start with the North Koreans. I think that they need to change up their approach.
Madam Choe, one of the leading negotiators on the North Korean side, Choe Sun-hui said after the summit that the full blame for the impasse should be placed on Bolton and Pompeo. And she called the chemistry between Trump and Kim mysteriously wonderful. So, that's a good sign. They want to keep the door open to the leader to leader approach.
But what I would say to her is that their lack of interest in meeting with anyone but the president is understandable. But how is it working for you? It's not really working, is it? And I think that's why it needs to be changed.
And with President Trump, I think the North Koreans need to understand that they are facing challenges that maybe they haven't faced before interacting with U.S. officials. But first I think we have to be frank. He has a limited knowledge of these issues.
He doesn't understand the details, the complexities, few would actually, or the history or the context, so the notion of him being able to negotiate these very complex set of issues at the table I think is unrealistic.
The second is he is easily distracted. So, while they were in Hanoi, what was happening here in Washington, Michael Cohen was testifying and it was clear he spent probably most of the night before the meeting watching television and the hearings.
And then I would also add that he is a bit undisciplined. I don't think anyone would argue with me on that. And Madam Choe herself in her statement called attention to the fact, she said that it was their understanding that the U.S. did not ready itself, she said, to sit face to face with us.
So, I think that makes it—these points taken together I think it would be in North Korea's interest to stop playing so hard to get. Sit down with American negotiators and work things out before the summit happens.
And Steve Biegun, the U.S. representative to North Korea, he's a very able, agile, smart interlocutor. And instead of giving him the runaround, let's be frank, they should be meeting regularly in Pyongyang, other capitals, to get the work done that needs to happen before the two leaders meet.
Before the next, there's a lot of talk now about a third summit and that seems to be all the emphasis is organizing a third summit. And I think we need to gain much-needed traction at the working level before we even think about another summit. So, that would be my message to the North Koreans if they are watching.
The U.S. also made some critical mistakes. I think before the summit, we heard a very comprehensive address by Steve Biegun at Stanford. And in my estimation this was the first time I've heard even what I would call the outline of a U.S. strategy towards North Korea. It still wasn't perfect. There were still a lot of gaps, but I think it at least showed a way forward that was, as I said before, clear, comprehensive, but also had pragmatic goals.
But what happened in Manila is somehow the script was changed when they got to the table. And what we've now learned is that at the last minute, President Trump handed Kim Jong-un a piece of paper that said we are going for a big deal. As Kelsey said, not only do we want your full nuclear program, we want your missile capabilities, your biological and chemical weapons, and a full inventory of your program now.
And that was completely unrealistic. In the North Koreans' mind, as I've had many conversations with them about this, they see this as the Libya model. It is unacceptable to them.
And I just want to make this point, that the leader to leader approach, I fully endorse it. One of the things I like about it is that it really—President Trump's instinct that in order to make progress we have to change the fundamental nature of the relationship between Pyongyang and Washington. And in that way, I think we have to recognize and the Administration needs to recognize that Kim Jong-un is not going to make any significant moves to reduce or reign in his program unless and until he feels his regime is safe and that he sees there is a clear path towards economic modernization ahead. And we are so far from that right now.
The good news is that the items left at the table in Hanoi I think are the makings of a very good interim deal. And I should say that there is a clear middle way between what the North Koreans said they wanted in Hanoi and what the U.S. said they wanted. And that middle way is to reach agreement on the overarching goal. For the U.S. of course this would be denuclearization, but also manage to put forward a path of interim agreements in order to get there.
What is the way forward? This is the work of diplomacy that needs to be done. And as I said, these items were left on the table. Kelsey mentioned a couple of them. I would call this a very strong interim deal as a first step. One is the fact that the North Koreans offered to permanently end testing of their nuclear program and their missile program, and codify it. I think it was a very good offer that we probably should have accepted. I think it's significant and I think that the next step for the U.S. is to follow up on this and insist that this include inspectors on the ground to codify that indeed testing has been suspended.
I think the offer on Yongbyon was also significant. Yongbyon is a very big facility. They produce their plutonium and tritium there. It's also their main centrifuge facility. And I think the fact that they put this on the table and offered to open it up to U.N. experts and inspectors was also quite significant. I think a very important step for us to get going right away is to get inspectors back on the ground ASAP.
As we saw during the framework agreement, when we had inspectors on the ground the North Koreans' program did not advance. That's a fact. And we need to get back there.
And the third thing that was on the table was opening a liaison office in Pyongyang. I also think this is something, this is not a concession. This is something that would really give us on the ground access to North Korean officials 24/7. Can you imagine that job? But I think it’s important that we move forward there.
So, the two things I would emphasize just to conclude are, we need to get clear channels of communication up and running. And we also need to clear, sustained diplomatic process as a priority. And in exchange, I should say the, I didnít bring this up but I should have, is the issue of sanctions. I really believe that we have to get to the place where a limited reduction of sanctions has to be part of this package and it has to happen, part of it has to happen early.
In particular, what the North Koreans seem to be interested in especially is things that would need, move the inter-Korean economic projects, joint economic projects forward. Things like the Kaesong Industrial Complex and some joint tourism projects. We should not look at this as a concession either. This is what sanctions are meant to do.
You slap them on a country that’s not behaving well to get them to change their behavior. They’re not punitive measures. So, this is what sanctions are meant to do. So, we should move forward on that carefully with our eyes open and in a limited way. And finally, let me just say the path I’ve put forward I know probably could take years, but we have to get to the place where we’re meeting with North Koreans on a regular basis, not just during the pageantry of summits.
My fear is that we’re now stuck in cycle of summits, where there are just limited bursts of diplomacy in between, and if that is the way we’re going to do this, I think maybe the reduction in tensions will continue but we will not make any progress on all of these other goals. I’ll stop there.
DAVENPORT:Thanks, Suzanne. There’s a lot of threads there that I hope we can pick up on in the conversation, but before that, I’d like to turn to you, Frank, if you could give us your impressions from the meetings last week with Moon, the meetings with North Korea, and where you think we stand moving forward. And anything, you know, you’d like to add about what the process should look like.
AUM:Sure. So, again, thank you, Kelsey and Daryl, for having me. It’s a privilege to be here and also a privilege to be with Suzanne. I feel like every time I read one of her op eds and listen on the radio, I'm always in strong agreement, I find myself nodding. So, it’s good to be here with Suzanne.
So, I think Suzanne was very comprehensive, so I don’t want to add too much more because there’s probably other interesting questions, but in general, I would say from the Trump-Moon summit last week as well as the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly last week as well, two very important events. I'm not if I heard anything new. I think I basically heard those sides doubling down.
So, we had President Trump reaffirming that he wants a big comprehensive deal, he wats to maintain sanctions until North Korea denuclearizes. He seemed to express some flexibility on accepting a smaller deal but this is also dependent on, you know, what kind of deal is it, he needs to see it. And so it has to be a good deal for the U.S. And it’s hard for me to think of North Korea offering some good deal for the U.S. that small. So, I just don’t think that’s very likely.
On the North Korean side, based on the same thing, too, you know, they don’t want to be a part of a process where they’re taking unilateral actions where the U.S. continues this hostile policy, but at the same time both sides expressed willingness to engage in a third summit, so that’s the positive, right?
I think the negative is that for both sides to really get there, I think there’s probably a better understanding that they need to have far greater assurance of some sort of, if not final, near final outcome that can be basically signed off by the heads of state at the summit, so a lot more preparation than happened before Hanoi.
I think both leaders overestimated their ability to persuade the other. I think Kim Jong-un thought he’d go in, meet with Trump directly, take advantage of Trump’s, you know, excitedness about trying to achieve this great deal and he thought he could basically get Trump to give away the store and provide huge relief on sectoral sanctions that have been hampering North Korea’s economy.
Likewise, I think President Trump met with Kim Jong-un and he thought if he does directly, he can use his great negotiating abilities to get North Korea to give up its entire program, go big and even give up his WMD. So, both sides are wrong obviously but again, as Suzanne outlined, there are a lot of agreements that were, or a lot of progress that were made on some of the issues like the exchange of liaison offices and the war declaration, economic humanitarian assistance, the continuation of remains recovery operations, so that all can serve as a foundation for the next summit.
I think the concern is that time is running out, and if there’s a third summit, that is pretty much the last shot I think, because after that I think both sides would kind of retreat to their corners and North Korea will play the waiting game waiting for the elections.
DAVENPORT:Going to this question of time running out, reportedly Kim Jong-un said last week that he’s going to give President Trump a year to become more flexible. So, Frank, what was your interpretation of that statement? Was that rhetoric designed for a domestic audience? Was that a message to Trump? And then what do you think he’s really looking for when he says more flexibility?
AUM:Well, like I said, again, there’s only less than two years left in Trump’s administration and so I think Kim Jong-un is basically signaling that, you know, by the time it gets to next year, there’s, that’s not enough time to really reach a deal and then take any significant implementation steps.
So, right now, we’re at this point where both sides are signaling that they’re interested in this third summit, but they both expect the other side to make the first move. And so my—my favorite is actually Ambassador (inaudible) analogy but it’s, this is like high school dating where two sides are both kind of like, Should I make first, should I call first? Should I call first?
And so this is where President Moon of South Korea can play a huge role. I think he got what he needed from President Trump last week in terms of the sign of some flexibility. Those public comments all happened in that photo spread in the Oval Office before the two-hour meeting so I am hoping that there was actually more tangible discussions during the meeting which you can now take back, you know, whether it’s a phone call with Kim Jong-un or they decide to have another inter-Korean summit, sell them on the idea of flexibility hopefully Kim Jong-un is flexible as well and then we start with the working of the discussions.
The problem there is I feel like North Korea doesn’t really respect Special Representative Biegun. They feel like Trump’s the person to go talk to. And they also are very skeptical of Pompeo and Bolton. So, what is the right level, if they’re not going to really engage with Biegun with at the special representative working level, it’s too early to jump right into a third summit. It pretty much leaves that sort of ad hoc diplomacy where, you know, we’ll hear in the news, Oh, Pompeo is going to Pyongyang again, or Kim Yong-chol is coming to D.C. again. I feel like that’s probably the next step over the next couple months.
DAVENPORT:So, you brought up President Moon and his meeting with Trump and that he may have come away with some of the leverage that he needed to continue the conversation and, we shouldn’t forget that alongside the U.S.-North Korea negotiations, we also have the inter-Korean process. And that has made significant strides in reducing tensions between North Korea and South Korea.
But I think there is some concern that the lack of progress on the U.S.-North Korean front could impede or slow down progress on the inter-Korean dialogue. So, as Moon now starts to talk about another summit with Kim Jong-un, what should we be looking for in the inter-Korean process, how can the United States be supporting the inter-Korean process and how might that relate to hopefully getting U.S.-North Korean negotiations back on track? So, Suzanne, if we could start with you on that.
DIMAGGIO: Well, I think, first of all, we should, I think there’s some that look at this North-South Korea reconciliation process as a sideshow and it isn’t. It is in and of itself very important and that’s I think concluding peace declaration as soon as possible is so important. It’s time to have a peace declaration. Now, keep in mind that’s different than a peace agreement which would require intensive negotiations on a whole range of issues, but I do think we should be doing more to make sure that the process of peace and reconciliation between Seoul and Pyongyang continues.
And it has been going at an impressive pace, unlike the U.S. and North Koreans, the South Koreans and North Koreans are meeting quite regularly. I think it stopped a little bit, there’s a bit of a low, which I think should worry us but comparatively over since Singapore, North and South Korean officials have been meeting hundreds of times at various levels, high level but also working level. And I think we should recognize that progress for what it is.
So, in my mind, I think moving forward with the peace declaration in exchange for something like Yongbyong-plus would be a very good deal particularly having, as I said, inspectors on the ground would really put it over to the edge for me. And also, moving forward, on the sanctions, I think encouraging these economic joint projects to move forward would help solidify that peace process, that reconciliation process.
So, that’s the way we should be thinking, but my main point here is this is not a sideshow. There is something real happening on the Korean Peninsula. It is remarkable what is happening on the Korean Peninsula, and we really need to appreciate that and to make sure it continues to move forward and do everything we can to help move that along.
DAVENPORT:Frank, is there anything you’d like to add on the inter-Korean process?
AUM:Yes, I think as Suzanne said there’s been a lot of progress on Inter-Korean side, the moving back of the guard posts, the de-mining of the joint security area, the establishment of the joint military committee. So, there’s a lot of the reduction of tensions air, land, and sea in the around the demarcation line, but I think the concern is that the South Korean side is basically running out of road, meaning they’ve done a lot of what they can do but at a certain point, they need the sanctions relief to do a little bit more.
Sure, they can sort of institutionalize this joint military committee, they can work a little bit more on peace activities in the West Sea area, but there’s not a whole lot more space to go until they start getting the sanctions relief. And so I feel like that’s why South Korea is in a very tough position. I think if we can get some sanctions relief measures on the Joint Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Mount Kumgang Tourism Project, Inter-Korean Railway Cooperation, that would be very helpful for spurring U.S.-DPRK diplomacy but also Inter-Korean Engagement as well.
DAVENPORT:So, you both have talked a little bit about options for getting the process back on track and what the United States and North Korea could do to be more flexible to advance an agreement. But there’s still a great deal of skepticism here in Washington about whether or not Kim Jong-un is actually sincere about negotiations and there’s talk both in the administration and in parts of Congress that now is actually the time to be putting additional pressure on North Korea. That if we slap additional sanctions on, then we can try and sort of force them back to the table.
So, Frank, you know, what is your opinion on this, is this the time for additional sanctions? And given that this is kind of coming particularly from Congress right now, what would you be telling Congress that an appropriate role for them is within this diplomatic process?
AUM:Now is not the time for new sanctions. Now, I want to clarify. Well, so first of all, I would say that so new significant sanctions will completely scuttle diplomacy and then we’re back to 2017 or very close to I think. I will say that there is a difference between new sanctions legislation or UN Security Council resolutions and stronger enforcement of current sanctions, which I think depending on what exactly we’re talking about could be helpful.
I know that Treasury probably has a huge tranche of additional designations that they want to make on third party entities. That may be okay is sort of creating additional pressure, but I think right now we need to let diplomacy work. There’s not much time anyways. And so I think if it gets to the next year and nothing has happened then I think you’ll start to see the administration moving forward with additional tranches of designations as well as Congress moving forward with, there’s the Lead act, the Brink act, additional ways to really tying down North Korea and we’ll start seeing those move forward.
DIMAGGIO: I just want to add something about Congress. I had the opportunities to meet with representatives of Congress and their staff also on the Senate side and sometimes I'm just appalled frankly by how anti-diplomacy they are on this issue for different reasons. Some are against it because how can you trust someone like Kim Jong-un? We’ve been down this road before, very self-defeating.
But others, we can't hand a win to Trump. I think both sides are equally asinine if I should, can say so. And I think in this regard, yes, there’s reason to be skeptical, we don’t know what Kim Jong-un, his level of seriousness. That’s what diplomacy is for, is to test it. And we need to continually test it, but also that’s why I'm supportive of the step-by-step approach because it is a way to test it.
They do something, we do something. I mean this is very basic, fundamental, but it’s a way, if we’re really going to change the contentious nature of our relationship between Washington and Pyongyang, we have to start somewhere, and I think this is a process given the mutual distrust that exists and all the psychological baggage over decades of failed negotiations, we have to try.
So, I think for Congress, they need to put aside both those reasons and support the process of diplomacy. And yes, Congress should be in a position of oversight. I think the first two years of this administration, there’s been no oversight on this process since it started so that needs to be changed, so oversight, but not an obstacle to diplomacy.
And one of the things that I think we need more of are hearings, bringing in experts to testify on a range of issues of importance to this negotiation. And also getting Pompeo to be there to give regular updates on the Congress on what’s happening. I think a lot of us have been in the dark and there needs to be a bit more transparency to the extent that it doesn’t derail the process I should say.
DAVENPORT:So, sometimes these additional calls for sanctions, the calls for additional pressure are in response to North Korean statements or North Korean events. And since the Hanoi Summit, we saw Madam Choe say North Korea may return to testing, you know, if the dialogue doesn’t continue. Satellite imagery has suggested that North Korea is reconstituting some of the Sohae satellite launch sites.
So, when North Korea is taking these actions that may seem kind of counter to diplomacy, how would you advise both the administration and Congress to react to those types of actions? Suzanne, would you like to start?
DIMAGGIO: Oh, can you just sum it up again?
DAVENPORT:Frank could start and then...
AUM:Yes. So, I think, and that is the concern because today, April 15, is actually the, today is the anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birthday and so this is when people are thinking were thinking, Oh, this might be a time when North Korea might conduct some provocative action. But I think the administration is taking the right approach, that they are closely watching the situation, they’re monitoring to see what will happen and they are warning against any missile tests or satellite launches because that would be very destabilizing for the current diplomatic process.
If a satellite launch does occur, then I think President Trump has a very hard decision to make because on one hand while a satellite launch is prohibited by international law, it’s not so provocative of action that it should derail diplomacy. On the other hand, if you just accept it and continue along the path, then maybe you’re sort of accepting North Korea’s brinkmanship behavior. So, fortunately, nothing has happened today, I hope it doesn’t but it’d be a tough situation if it something does happen.
DAVENPORT:Well, I checked Twitter right before I came up here and there doesn’t seem to be anything yet, so fingers crossed.
DIMAGGIO: So, on this point, this is another reason why the North Koreans and Americans should be having regular meetings, because then we could talk about the fact that they shouldn’t be launching a satellite, that derailed diplomacy before in the past, the leap day agreement and we’d hate to see that happen again.
But on the point of what Kim Jong-un is thinking in terms of whether or not he’ll test. At this point, I don’t think so, because President Trump has been very clear on this point and I'm going to use the word Admiral Mullen said he hated in terms of “the red line”. He made it very clear that testing is his red line.
And I think he is serious about that. So, I don’t think at this point the North Koreans would risk blowing negotiations out of the water by pushing that issue. And getting to Kim Jong-un in terms of one of the things that has really fascinated me about this whole process and his whole coming out party on the world stage is how much he and those around him in the ruling class have communicated to the people of North Korea that they have a new strategic line and it is economic development.
It’s not just us and the international audience that are hearing this or in the elites, this is being broadcast on the news, it’s in billboards from what I can see around Pyongyang. So, I think it is, I don’t want to say transparent because I think that’s going too far, but I think in a way it is Kim Jong-un putting himself out there that this is their strategic goal right now, is to shift the focus of the country to economic development and modernization.
So, in a way, he has staked his legitimacy on fulfilling that just the same way he fulfilled Byong-Jung and the nuclear program advancing to this point. So, that’s been fascinating to watch and I think we should take it very seriously, and take it seriously but also pursue it seriously because that gives us leverage if indeed he is staking his credibility on economic development, then we have a lot of leverage.
DAVENPORT:Oh, and it certainly helps signal what North Korea is looking for and prioritizing. So, I'm going to turn it over to audience questions in just a minute, but first we have to remember also that negotiations with North Korea are not happening in a vacuum and as Daryl mentioned I work on Iran. I know Suzanne does also and we haven't talked much about Iran, so I have to squeeze this in just a little bit.
The current controversy over the nuclear deal with Iran, the uncertain future after the United States withdrew from that deal, do you see that at all as impacting North Korea’s thinking about how they’re approaching these negotiations and has that impacted U.S. credibility on these talks?
DIMAGGIO: It’s no question in my mind that the North Koreans are thinking about this. They’ve been studying it. First, they studied how the negotiations happened to get to the deal, and now they’ve been studying how it has disintegrated with the withdrawal of the U.S. It’s still in place but it’s a different situation now that we’re out of the deal.
Let me focus on two ways that I think the North Koreans have learned a terrible lesson from the U.S. reneging on its commitments to the Iran Nuclear Deal. First is at the very heart of the nuclear deal with Iran was a very basic bargain, you do this and we lift sanctions. And now, the Iranians ñ I think the IAEA has confirmed for the 14th consecutive time or is it 15 now...
DAVENPORT:I'm losing count.
DIMAGGIO: Somewhere. I know. We’re starting to lose count that the Iranians are complying with their commitments to this deal. So, it sends the signal to the North Koreans that even if you comply with your, with your, what you’ve agreed to do, we still may not lift these sanctions. You may not get the benefits that we agreed to. That’s a terrible message to be sending, especially to a country where the Iranians never had any nuclear weapons—single nuclear weapon, but especially to a country where they do.
It provides very little incentive to move forward. And the second area, there are many, many areas. I’ve thought about this long and hard, but I’ll limit it to one more and that is the issue of irreversibility, and I think getting to the point, Kelsey, about the earlier question. I think one of the reasons after Hanoi, the North Koreans put back up the missile site that they had already decommissioned was to show us that nothing they have done yet is irreversible.
And unlike the Iranians who poured concrete into their plutonium facility in Arak, not quite irreversible but pretty darn close for the Iranians to come back on a plutonium path. They would probably cost millions but also take years, an estimated five years to bring that back up. That’s pretty irreversible and I think the North Koreans have seen what the Iranians have done to their program and here they are now, stuck.
And I don’t think the North Koreans want to do that. So, getting back to my earlier point, I really firmly believe North Koreans are not going to do anything significant, certainly nothing close to irreversible, before they feel the regime is safe and that there’s a clear path to economic development and modernization.
DAVENPORT:Great. Questions from the floor. Yes. Over here in the center. Oh, if you could wait for the mic please.
KIM: Thank you. My name is Connie. I'm a reporter for Voice of America. I just want to touch upon North Korea's People's Supreme Assembly that we briefly mentioned in the beginning. One of the key messages from Kim Jong-un was his push to change the U.S.'s political calculations such as the U.S.'s position on sanctions and the denuclearization process. How do you think this stance of North Korea is going to affect the negotiations?
And also, how do you assess President Moon's role as a mediator based on Kim Jong-un's speech at the Supreme People's Assembly?
AUM:So, when North Korea talks about the hostile U.S. policy, that was kind of vague about what does that mean, hostile U.S. policy. Well, it runs across the diplomatic, economic, military sphere. So, all of the exercises and the strategic assets on the peninsula, the lack of normalized relations, but on the economic side, a hostile U.S. policy is the sanction.
So, that is North Korea's goal, to break that sanctions regime and the overall global pressure campaign that the U.S. has been implementing. Kim Jong-un has doubled down on that. I think what President Moon can do is basically try to offer suggestions for ways that both sides can be flexible.
One idea that came out again suggested in the press conference remarks that Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made was that the possibility of the snapback provisions, right, what we saw in Iran. So, I feel like we have this diverging gap between the approaches of both sides, big comprehensive deal upfront on one hand. For North Korea, it's incremental step-by-step reciprocal actions.
So, how do you converge those two policies? Again, one idea might be trying to agree to a comprehensive deal on paper, but then have the implementation process being more step-by-step and then also include the snapback provisions.
DIMAGGIO: And even if they agree to the big deal, you would need a process in place. We can't snap our fingers and it's going to happen overnight. So, I agree with you on that.
DAVENPORT:Great. Yes. There in the back.
(UNKNOWN): Katherine Calow (ph) Ploughshares Fund. I'm very curious about the recent developments in North Korea with the leadership reshuffling and specifically as some experts have noted, it's interesting that several foreign ministry officials have been elevated in a way we haven't seen under Kim Jong-il.
So, could you speak to what that means if anything? Is that a signal to the U.S.? How should we be reading it and what does it mean for future negotiations with Madam Choe in an elevated position. Thanks.
DIMAGGIO: I think many people were surprised. I think it was three foreign ministry officials who were involved and received very substantial promotions. I think the conventional wisdom had been that the foreign ministry—sorry.
I think the conventional wisdom has been that the foreign ministry had been sidelined and Kim Jong-chul was taking the lead. And I even think that the United States government itself has been waiting and hoping that this portfolio for taking the lead on the negotiations would shift from Kim Jong-chul to the foreign ministry.
I mean, at the end of the day, we really don't know what these changes mean. But I do think that the North Koreans may be readying to move the portfolio more towards the foreign ministry as negotiations, if they get off the ground. I think that might be a sign that they're ready to do that. But it's so opaque. We really don't know what any of these changes mean, this is a lot of tea leaf reading.
DAVENPORT:Frank, do you want to add anything on that or—good, great.
We'll take this question here in front.
TERRY: Gillian Terry (ph) with the National Association of Evangelicals. So, this is an arms control meeting. So, I think everyone here would be thrilled if the nuclear threat were to be taken off the table in the Korean peninsula.
But what about the human rights of the North Korean people? Is there any indication that if sanctions are lifted that that would actually lead to concrete improvements for North Koreans? And if not, what else could be done about that?
AUM:Well, I don't think there's any indication just because you lift sanctions, all of a sudden the human rights situation improves. I think the administration and this is sort of a fine line it has to tread here, but it has to make human rights a part of the negotiations for it to be something that's negotiated.
I'm a little torn on this one, because on hand, there are, human rights plays an important role in the security process including, for example, human rights violations with forced labor abroad and that continues to fund in North Korea's WMD program. So, there is a linkage between those two issues.
What I will say is that we need to be creative about thinking about how human rights can be helpful in this process. So, one idea that I would sort of turn to is thinking about the Helsinki process and basically we had a situation where we were giving the Soviet Bloc exactly what it wanted in terms of security conference, economic cooperation, and in return, we have to put in that human rights basket, right?
And so, I think if we can think about something similar to that where we make it a comprehensive deal, raise the human rights issue, it doesn't have to be where it's so provocative where we're talking about Kim Jong-un being trialed before the ICJ, but really just elevating the human rights concerns. There's probably a way to introduce that that might be helpful to the discussion.
DIMAGGIO: Yes. I think I was very dismayed when I heard that during the Singapore summit the U.S. team did not raise human rights at all. I understand that in order to get negotiations going and we've made denuclearization our top priority, we cannot add human rights as a negotiating item at this stage. But I think at the very least, American officials meeting with North Koreans need to raise these issues in an aspirational way, not in a demanding way, in an aspirational way. So, I'm hoping that that happened in Hanoi.
The other thing is we have to—our own credibility, here we are the U.S. had disallowed humanitarian NGOs from entering North Korea to do very important work on food security, health, et cetera. And I think that that was a big mistake and I think the administration is slowly coming around to realize that and now they're letting a few humanitarian NGOs back in to do this work.
I think in order for us to be able to sit down and talk to the North Koreans about human rights with credibility, we need to be able to say that we are permitting these organizations to do this important work, because after all, it affects the North Korean people and that's really what we want to reach.
I feel very strongly about that. We should let the humanitarian NGOs back in.
DAVENPORT:Mark, there in the back.
(UNKNOWN): Thanks very much. I'm sorry. I got the mic. This is a great panel.
Suzanne, I would agree that a declaration ending the war is sort of an easy card that the United States could play in. I'm not sure exactly what it would be at Yongbyong, whether closing all of it or allowing in inspections. Last August, I thought that the North Koreans placed more emphasis on that. Today, they're talking more about sanctions relief.
Frank stressed the importance of implementing sanctions. You suggested one step-by-step would be to allow inter-Korean cooperation. My question is, is there a way to allow such relaxation of the South-North Korean sanctions that doesn't pull the plug from implementing sanctions elsewhere?
Wouldn't it—I'm afraid it might—and I'll give other countries a signal that they can take their foot off the gas or maybe China and Russia already have I guess.
DIMAGGIO: Great question. Thank you. I'm not a sanctions expert. So, I'm going to thread carefully here.
But my understanding is for some of their activity to be allowed to move forward, it wouldn't require a full lifting of these sanctions. It could be done through exemptions and also could be done through special mechanisms that are set up to facilitate activity like Kaesong and so forth.
I think where there's a will, there's a way and we can think creatively on how to get this done without throwing out all of the sanctions at once. And again, our goal is to use sanctions how they're meant, to change behavior, to move things forward, and we really need to be able to do this. I feel we the United States have become so dependent on sanctions as a weapon of foreign policy to punish and to fault.
And, yes, there's an element of that that has to happen. But here we are at the cusp of a breakthrough and I don't think we should be so unwilling to use sanctions how they ideally are meant to be used. And in terms of the peace agreement, I think you're absolutely right. In my discussions with the North Koreans dating back to 2016 and even 2017, they put the peace agreement at the top of their list as a priority of what they wanted to have in exchange.
That boat has sailed. There's no question about it. These days I remember meeting with North Koreans a year ago and they didn't even bring up the peace declaration. I had to bring it up in our conversations. You're right. It's sanctions now. It's all about the sanctions, and I also think changing the nature of the relationship that I talked about earlier.
AUM:Yes. I'll just add really quickly that I'm not a sanctions expert either but, yes, there are wavers of sanctions or permissions given by the '17, '18 sanctions committee that would allow for ways to get around the prohibition on both cash transfers and joint economic commercial ventures. That doesn't dismantle the entire regime or that specific resolution, but (inaudible) one-off waiver.
And I agree with Suzanne as well. In my discussions with North Korean officials and in track 1.5 dialogues, they've moved off of the end of war declaration. What they said to me is basically that we thought it'd be sort of a nice thing for the U.S. to do, but the U.S. side seem to be hemming and hawing on it, which it was because it was probably introduced around the summer of last year. And for about three or four months, there was a lot of discussion about what that means.
The U.S. side was getting confused. What's the end of war declaration and peace agreement? The Defense Department was concerned about what that means for our security architecture in the region and at that point, North was like if the U.S. side doesn't want it then we don't want it either. What's the point here?
DIMAGGIO: But I still think we should move forward because it's important to the Korean people on both sides of the divide. And I think that means something.
DAVENPORT:We have time for one last question from the gentleman here at the middle table.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you. Thank you for this discussion.
Someone else said personnel makes policy, my question—my comment I guess is the national security advisor opposed the Iran deal. He opposed the Libya deal. He's opposed virtually every arms control agreement that’s ever come down the pike. He opposed the agreed framework.
So, I don't think there's too much reason for optimism about where we might go in the future, the United States might go during this administration. A quick question regarding the peace treaty if I could, historically, autocrats have oftentimes used the external enemy as the justification for their power. If you did that in North Korea, if you had a peace treaty with North Korea, what do you think Kim would have to have as his justification to remain in power? Thank you.
DIMAGGIO: So, in terms of a peace treaty, I think one of the important elements to Kim would be security guarantees and perhaps even a full normalization of relations with us. And in terms of the security guarantees, that of course would have to include the regional players especially Beijing would have to be a big part of that conversation.
And getting to your point about the national security advisor, he who shall not be named, I’ve tweeted about this and had been very clear that I'm confused, if Trump is a dealmaker, he wants to make deals, he wants to reach diplomatic agreements. Why does he have this person on his team? You said he was against the agreed framework, it was more than that. To use his own words, he was the hammer that smashed the agreed framework.
So, let me just make one more point that might be a little, pushing it hard. When I looked at the photos from Hanoi, I was very confused. On the North Korean side, I saw seasoned diplomats who have been, some of whom have been working this file for decades. On our side, I had to be frank. I didn't see a single diplomat. I didn't see a single negotiator.
I’m going to be a little harsh. I don't think President Trump is a negotiator. He's a brander. Secretary Pompeo is not a negotiator. He's a politician. Nick Mulvaney, I don't really know much about him, so I can't say. But I don't think he has experience negotiating on these issues.
And then, finally, he who shall not be named is not a negotiator that builds agreements. He is an official who tears down agreements. So, I think you put your finger on a very big program—personnel. Needs to be changed.
AUM:So, I think you made an excellent point. North Korea certainly speaks to its domestic audience and I've heard both arguments. On one hand North Korea needs to continue the war footing and in order to do that, it needs that external enemy, right? So, if you have a peace treaty, then, how do you maintain the legitimacy of the regime when there's peace, right?
On the other hand, I've also heard the argument that there are various constituencies within the North Korea regime. Kim Jong-un needs to make this argument to them to convince them that their security is assured and one way is through a peace treaty. We've seen the harsh rhetoric against the U.S. diminish in North Korea over the last year or so. We've had President Moon go to Pyongyang, speak before 150,000 North Koreans in the May Day stadium and talk about denuclearization.
That is an incredible shift I think just in the last year and a half. So, I think what we can do is test that hypothesis and see where that process leads us.
DAVENPORT:So, unfortunately, that's all the time we have today for the panel. Needless to say, I would feel much more comfortable if Suzanne and Frank were leading the U.S. delegation and negotiations with North Korea.
But, we appreciate all of the ideas that you put out about the process moving forward, what more flexibility looks like on both sides, the actual role that sanctions should play in the negotiations, and your comments on the role of Congress. I think it was a very rich discussion. I appreciate that. And please join me in thanking our panel.
KIMBALL: I just have a few closing remarks to make and inspired partly by Suzanne's comments. I think we might think of ourselves as Dumbledore's Army, spent a day in a room of requirement, and now we have to head out and do our work.
But, seriously speaking, we've had an incredibly rich conversation through the course of the day, thanks to our excellent speakers, our moderators. I hope it's stimulated your thinking. These are difficult issues. But—and Kelsey and I and Kingston, we all go through this every day and we're paid to work on these things, and I know many of you are retired or say you're retired. Some of you are students. Some of you are current diplomats and practitioners. We all in our different ways I think can take some of the ideas and information from this meeting and go out and help advance progress in these areas.
I just want to note that we will have video and audio of today's proceedings available on our website within the next couple of days, www.armscontrol.org, of course. We'll also have a transcript of today's event available online later this week. It will take a few more days. And I want to thank a number of people who made today's event a big success. Something like this takes a team.
And my name gets invoked many times, but it's the people that I work with, the board of directors, that guide the organization that make it all possible. And so, I just want to thank a few people here especially the sponsors, the key sponsors of today's event.
As you've heard a few times, we moved to a bigger space to accommodate the growing interest in our annual meeting and that was only possible because we have an even larger number of event, reception, table, and individual sponsors. I want to especially thank our event sponsors, Russ Colvin, our table sponsors, David Bernstein, Martin Hellman, Leslie Witt, Deborah Gordon, Catherine Kelleher, Laura Kennedy, Michael Klare, Tori Holt (who just left), Edward Levine, Jan Lodal, Terri Lodge, Tom Grimm, Culmen International, Evangelical For Peace, and the National Association of Evangelicals, and a number of other individuals who made additional contributions in addition to their registration today.
And of course, we couldn't do the work of the Arms Control Association without the ongoing and loyal support of our institutional supporters through the years, not the least of which is the Ploughshares Fund which has been supporting work of the Arms Control Association since well before I became the Executive Director in 2001, long before Joe Cirincione was at Ploughshares. We thank the Ploughshares Fund, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the McArthur Foundation, and many others listed in the program for making our overall work possible, and it's that ongoing support that really enables us to continue the work year-after-after, because as you can tell from today's discussion, we've got years of work ahead of us.
But especially I want to thank our Arms Control Association staff team for putting this event together and so well especially our meeting coordinator, Elana Simon, and our communications and operations director, Tony Fleming. (I think Elana is outside.)
And thanks a lot to our in-house graphic designer, Allen Harris who put together the program for today's conference along with the advertising materials. He's the guy who's been carrying the camera around… there is Allen, who also makes Arms Control Today look beautiful. So, thank you the three of you in particular. And thank to Kelsey, to Kingston Rief, Shervin Taheran, Alicia Sanders-Zackre, and our new Arms Control Today editor, Greg Webb. If you haven't met Greg, check him out at the reception which will come in just a few minutes.
And of course, as I said before, our senior fellow, Michael Klare, who I think is safe to say he's feeling younger again being at the Arms Control Association office and we feel more energized because of his energy and wisdom.
So, these folks are the best in the business and it's an honor to work with them. And also, because we're not just grooming the next generation of arms control leaders, we're trying to benefit from their productivity, our team of interns and volunteers today, Izabella, Cole, Tienchi, and Sasha, who make today's even go smoothly, thanks to the guys, too. And to our board of directors, thank you all for your support.
I wanted to ask everybody who I named or mentioned to just rise and let's everybody a round of applause.
And as I said, this work depends on your support and almost all of you are already members in the Arms Control Association. We really do appreciate it. We have a small, but loyal following and in your contributions, help us respond to the topsy-turvy of the Trump era in particular and there are other ways that you can help as ambassadors of the organization, some of which are listed in the back of the program.
Spread the word. Ask your institutions to subscribe to Arms Control today. Give a friend, a college student a gift subscription. Think about how you can take action by contacting your elected leaders. We have a new action alert component to our outreach efforts. And be an ambassador by sharing the resources that we provide and there's a list of materials that we produce in addition to Arms Control Today and the best way that we can spread the word is through our friends, our members, and our allies who share that on through their social and professional networks.
So, whether we succeed of course depends not just on what we do in this room, but whether we can build that support beyond this room. And I want to just invoke Larry Weiler again (who's very much on my mind), one our longest serving members, one of the original members of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association who wrote back in 1983, which is a year that really got me thinking about these issues when I was a freshman in college, another dark time in the nuclear era.
And at that time, Larry wrote in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, "If nuclear policy is to be changed either fundamentally or with conditions and step-by-step, those outside of bureaucracies must become involved. This assertion rests on a central, historical fact: the postwar arms control efforts, significant restrains in the arms control field have been achieved only when the public became involved."
So, that is in part our mission. I invite you to help with that. And I thank everyone for being here today. We will begin as I said before with our reception in just about five minutes, it is open to everybody who has registered. The first drink is on us. Please be sure to pick up a little blue ticket when you go in. Show them your badge.
And we will expect Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, your senator for many of you. He'll be arriving a little bit before 4:30. In the meantime, enjoy a drink. Enjoy some hors d’ouvres, and decompress from today's discussions. Thank you all. We are adjourned.
Reception for Meeting Attendees
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland)