"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018

Global Cooperation in a Time of Contagion: Member Video Call



The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping thinking about national security and geopolitics Understanding these changes is crucial to how we—as advocates, analysts, educators, and concerned citizens—respond.

Arms Control Association members are invited to join a video briefing and discussion with Colin Kahl, former national security advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden, who is now co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, executive director of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) and Arms Control Association board member, will moderate.

All members will receive a separate email invitation to register for the Zoom meeting event. Current members who need assistance registering should contact us at [email protected].

If you are not currently a member and would like to join the video call, we invite you to become a member of the Arms Control Association.

Click Here to Become a Member and Join the Call

Here are recommended readings for the May 6 video call that have been authored by our speaker and moderator:

Questions? Please contact [email protected] or 202-463-8270 x105.


The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping thinking about national security and geopolitics Understanding these changes is crucial to how we—as advocates, analysts, educators, and engaged citizens—respond.

The Future of New START and U.S. National Security



Wednesday, April 29, 2020
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Eastern
via Zoom Webinar

With the expiration date for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) less than a year away, the Arms Control Association hosted a discussion with former senior officials on the national security case for the extension of New START, the costs of failing to do so, and why extension is the best next step toward more ambitious arms control talks with Russia and other nuclear-armed states.

Key quotes from the speakers and useful resources are listed below. Some answers to additional questions that participants submitted but that the speakers were unable to address due to time constraints can be found here.


Key Quotes

Admiral (ret.) Michael Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007-2011

“Put me down in the column of extension, and the reason for that is the clock is running. Certainly in my experience, getting to the right specifics in a very complex treaty takes a long time. And I would opine at this point we don’t have time to renegotiate—or to negotiate—a new treaty as an option.”

“One of the things that is incredibly important about this treaty is the details of verification, an aspect of which, in addition to national technical means, is spoken to by on-the-ground inspections. I come from a place where there is nothing better than being physically in place in time.”

"Trying to get something done with China between now and February is virtually impossible.”

Rose Gottemoeller, former NATO Deputy Secretary-General, former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and the lead negotiator for New START

“Nowhere is military predictability more important than in the nuclear realm. Our presidents can give a potent sign that they take this matter seriously by an early extension of New START. It would be an act of global leadership, reassuring our publics as they grapple with sickness and uncertainty.”

“Rapid fire negotiation of a follow on agreement was always a difficult proposition, especially the effort to engage the Chinese. Without the potential for hands-on diplomacy, I really think it’s become mission impossible. Extending New START would not only give time for all of the issues to be brought to the table and new actors to be engaged, but also would allow us to get through this pandemic.”

“The last point I would like to emphasize is the firm support for New START extension among U.S. allies, and not only our allies in Europe and North America, but also the ones in Asia. The allies are keen to see the last legally binding nuclear arms reduction treaty remain in force in order to ensure the continuation of a predictable nuclear environment in their regions and to give sufficient time for new negotiations to take place.”

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Frank Klotz, former U.S. Undersecretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration from 2014-2018, and commander of Air Force Global Strike Command from 2009-2011

“Although limiting the number and types of Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons would certainly benefit the security interests of the United States, as well as those of its European and Asian allies, it does not logically follow that the existing limits on longer-range systems imposed by New START should be allowed to lapse because an agreement on shorter-range nuclear weapons has not yet been reached. If that were to happen, there would be more rather than fewer categories and numbers of Russian nuclear weapons that would be unconstrained, including systems that could directly threaten the U.S. homeland. From a military perspective, that hardly makes any sense.”

“Rather than being relevant to the immediate debate on the treaty’s extension, the issue of Russia’s novel nuclear delivery systems is more a matter of those Russian capabilities that might need to be addressed in any follow-on nuclear arms control arrangements.”

“Allowing New START to lapse without replacement would be a grave mistake in terms of our national security.”



Special briefing with Admiral (ret.) Michael Mullen, Rose Gottemoeller, and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Frank Klotz

Country Resources:

POSTPONED: 2020 Arms Control Association Annual Meeting




Until Nov. 13 (tentative) due to Coronavirus

In the interest of public health, we all need to do our part to reduce the risks of infection by trying to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus.

This year’s Annual Meeting "Arms Control, Nonproliferation & Disarmament: Into the Next Decade,” originally scheduled for April 24, 2020, will be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

We look forward to seeing you and other colleagues on Nov. 13, which is the tentative new date for our Annual Meeting. We will share the updated program as the new meeting date approaches.

We thank those who have already registered for the meeting and those who have contributed with sponsorships. Your registration will be honored for the rescheduled meeting.

If you cannot attend the rescheduled meeting in November, we will be happy to give you a refund at your request. Please contact us at [email protected] if you wish to do so, or if you have further questions.

We look forward to seeing you later this year.

The Case for Extending New START



Tuesday, January 28, 2020
2:00 - 4:00pm
National Press Club
529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045

On February 5, 2021, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) will expire unless the U.S. and Russian presidents choose to extend it by up to five years.

New START, which has been in force since February 5, 2011, verifiably limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed missiles and heavy bombers, and 800 deployed and nondeployed missile launchers and bombers. Since February 2018, the United States and Russia have met and maintained their obligations under the treaty. Although Russia has indicated its support for a clean, unconditional extension, the Trump administration has yet to officially decide on the future of the treaty. Administration officials have said President Trump is seeking a “new era of arms control” that includes more types of Russian weapons as well as China. 

If New START expires without an extension or replacement, there will be no legally binding constraints on the world's two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time in half a century. The treaty’s rigorous monitoring and verification regime, which includes on-site inspections and the exchange of thousands of notifications, would also disappear.

Speakers outlined the case for extending New START and address frequently asked questions about the treaty and the future of arms control.

Key quotes from the speakers are listed here, with a full transcript below.

  • “Without New START extension, the two countries could be locked into a nuclear arms race that would exceed in expense and risk the arms race we saw at the height of the Cold War. Both sides would be able to quickly upload hundreds of additional warheads into existing missiles, which might preserve the important principle of numerical parity, but at the expense of stability.” —Thomas Countryman, chairman of the board of the Arms Control Association and former acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security
  • “[New START] is a treaty that does what it does very well: It limits strategic nuclear arms in a verifiable way so as to provide clarity and certainty in the respected strategic arms of each party, thereby preventing an uncontrolled strategic arms race fueled by uncertainty and instability. It allows each side to see the other side as it is, not 20 feet tall and not 2 feet tall.” —Madelyn Creedon, former principal deputy administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy
  • “It's significant that the Russians are in compliance with New START, and we ought to hang onto it…It's inherently valuable to have restrictions on the Russian stockpile, whether or not we are able to put restrictions on Chinese forces…I wouldn't want to pay the price of losing the restrictions on Russian forces in order to get restrictions on a Chinese force that's much smaller and less significant in the composition of its war fighting.” —Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • “Global security would be greatly enhanced by extending the New START agreement for another five years. Extension would preserve the last effective and verifiable agreement to limit strategic arms competition with Russia and make it easier to maintain deterrence and strategic stability. It would ensure a high degree of predictability, thanks to the intrusive verification and transparency regime in New START, by reducing uncertainty about Russia's future force size structure extension and would diminish the worst case assumptions that could drive up the cost of U.S. force modernization and create a lot of high anxiety in many of our allies. ” —Amb. Alexander Vershbow, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, and NATO deputy secretary general


THOMAS COUNTRYMAN: Good afternoon. If everybody would have a seat, we'll get started. Thank you very much for coming out on this brisk afternoon. I'm Tom Countryman. I'm the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association.

And the Association wants to welcome you today to our briefing on the case for extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Before we hear from our guest panelists who have extensive national security experience about their perspectives of the stakes in extension, I'm going to give you a little background -- and many of you already familiar with it -- about New START and outline the Arms Control Association's perspective.

New START limits the world's two largest and most deadly nuclear arsenals, the U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals, to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems, which includes as you know, missiles, bombers, and submarines.

Since it entered into force in 2011, the treaty has been working and both sides are in compliance. But just 12 months from now, on February 5th, 2021, New START is set to expire. Fortunately, New START is popular in both Washington and Moscow, and it contains a clause fairly unique among treaties in that it can be extended for an additional five years with only the signatures of President Trump and President Putin. That is without going back to either the Senate or the Duma.

From ACA's perspective, extending New START should be the easiest foreign policy decision that President Trump can make. And conversely, failure to extend the treaty would be one of the most dangerous decisions the president could make.

Without New START extension, the two countries could be locked into a nuclear arms race that would exceed in expense and risk the arms race we saw at the height of the Cold War.

Both sides would be able to quickly upload hundreds of additional warheads into existing missiles, which might preserve the important principle of numerical parity but at the expense of stability.

Military and intelligence officials have said they greatly value the monitoring and verification provisions of New START, which provide predictability and transparency and help promote a stable nuclear deterrence posture vis-a-vis Russia, and which cannot be easily or cheaply substituted by national technical means.

The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, testified about New START to the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently. He said, "It contributes substantially to U.S. national security by providing limits, robust verification, and predictability about Russia's strategic forces."

He said, "We have high confidence that Russia is in compliance, and without the treaty and its verification provisions we would be flying blind. It's strongly in the U.S. national interest," Mullen concluded, "to extend New START for five years so that the United States and Russia can continue to realize the mutual benefits and stability that it provides."

Now, as we'll hear in more detail from our panel, all U.S. allies -- in NATO and in East Asia -- support the treaty's extension. Members of Congress of both parties support extending it, as do 80 percent of the American public based on recent polls.

There is no other step that the President can make in foreign policy and certainly not with regard to Russia that would draw such strong bipartisan support as the extension of New START.

Unfortunately, this administration has failed to open discussions with Moscow on the extension. The president says he wants more. A bigger deal that covers not just U.S. and Russian strategic weapons but also tactical nuclear weapons, and more ambitiously he wants to bring China into a new trilateral treaty.

These are praiseworthy goals and I support them, but they are long-term goals that do not take account of the fact that concluding such an ambitious and expansive new agreement within the next year and before New START expires is virtually impossible.

As our panel will discuss, there is a better solution that is staring the administration right in the face: simply extending New START, lock in the current limits on the U.S. and Russian arsenals and build from that to more ambitious restraints, not only on Russia and the United States, but potentially on China as well.

So, that's just where the Arms Control Association stands -- the basics about it. We have a great panel to talk to you. We have a smaller panel than we anticipated. As you know, in Washington, circumstances don't always allow the schedule to go through.

So, we're missing General Weinstein and Congressman Fortenberry. But I think you'll hear some of the points they would have made. I especially regret not having Congressman Fortenberry here. He has been a genuine leader in the House of Representatives in raising awareness of all nuclear issues both arms control and nonproliferation. And I was really looking forward to having him here today.

But we -- it means we have enough time, not only for our speakers to go in-depth but to take all of your questions. So, with that let me hand it over to the executive director of ACA, Daryl Kimball.

DARYL KIMBALL: Well, thank you very much, Tom. And thanks to all of you for being here this afternoon. There are -- I hear from my staff a few competing news items up there. So it's very good to see so many of you here this afternoon.

But we believe that this is one of the most important foreign policy issues of 2020. And we hope that your work after this meeting, your presence will help elevate this issue and help inform the discussion in the weeks to come.

And to -- for our discussions today, we've got three very experienced thoughtful folks to dive into some of the issues that Tom had just touched upon. So we're going to hear it from each of them for about 10 minutes or so, and then we're going to take your questions, again, through discussion about some of the issues that they've raised and some of the others that they may not have raised.

And first we're going to hear from Ambassador Sandy Vershbow who, as his bio says, has extensive experience in the U.S. diplomatic corps, working in government since 1977. He has served at NATO as our ambassador and has a depth of experience and knowledge about the views of our allies on these issues. He's going to be talking about that as well the implications of the New START and our arms control breakdown with Russia on U.S.-Russian relations.

Then we're going to hear from Kori Schake who just 10 days ago came to Washington, D.C. for our lovely climate here from California to take over as the lead Defense Policy Director -- Foreign and Defense Policy Director at the American Enterprise Institute. She's going to share her perspectives on New START and the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control situation from her perspective and experience as a veteran of the Defense Department and the National Security Council.

And then last but not least we're going to here from Madelyn Creedon who is currently a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings Institution, but perhaps more importantly before that she served as the deputy administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration and was also the assistant secretary at the Defense Department for Global Strategic Affairs.

So she has extensive knowledge and experience about New START itself, about how it affects the U.S. planning for maintaining and structuring our nuclear forces in the years ahead. And Madelyn is going to discuss in more granularity some of the issues and concerns that have come up about extension of the treaty, what weapons systems it does and does not cover, the triangle, and perhaps some other things.

So with that, let me turn it over to Ambassador Vershbow to start us off. Thanks for being here.

AMB. ALEXANDER VERSHBOW: Thanks very much, Daryl. Thanks to all of you for coming. It's nice to see some former U.S. government colleagues out there because I appreciate the convergence. But first of all, let me start by echoing what we've already heard.

I think -- our allies think -- that global security will be greatly enhanced by extending the New START agreement for another five years. Extension would preserve the last effective and verifiable agreement to limit strategic arms competition with Russia and make it easier to maintain deterrence and strategic stability. As was said, it would ensure a high degree of predictability, thanks to the intrusive verification and transparency regime in New START, by reducing uncertainty about Russia's future force size structure extension and would diminish the worst case assumptions that could drive up the cost of U.S. force modernization and create a lot of high anxiety in many of our allies.

In fact, I think extending New START would actually help to strengthen the domestic and the allied political consensus in favor of both strategic force modernization and NATO's nuclear strategy and force posture.

We all remember the debate on the ratification of New START 10 years ago: the ratification was a precondition for Democrats for modernization and modernization was a precondition for some Republicans for New START. I think that remains the political reality today. Like many members of Congress, our NATO allies are also wedded to dual-track approaches to nuclear weapons and force modernization more generally, in which deterrence and dialogue with Russia go hand in hand. The force improvements -- the conventional force improvements that NATO has made since the Russian aggression against Ukraine -- those decisions were based on the consensus in favor of continuing dialogue with Russia as we develop our conventional forces. So a dialogue between NATO and Russia may not be very productive, but it's politically important nevertheless.

And I think the need for a dual-track approach is even more evident when it comes to the decision our allies might be asked to take in coming years to modernize and increase the readiness of NATO's nuclear deterrence capabilities, the allies have reaffirmed on numerous occasions that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance, but it's no secret that there is significant opposition in several basing countries to continue reliance on nuclear deterrence in maintaining NATO's longstanding nuclear sharing arrangements.

As you may have noticed, the Belgian parliament came close to ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons just two weeks ago. There is still considerable support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty in the Netherlands and other allied countries, Germany repeatedly postponed a decision on whether to incorporate a nuclear capability in the replacement for its Tornado dual-capable aircraft, and there are growing strains within the German coalition on this issue. So U.S. unwillingness to extend New START could strengthen anti-nuclear sentiments in these and other countries, jeopardizing the NATO consensus.

The same way as I think applies with respect to decisions that will be needed on measures the U.S. will be proposing to counter Russia's violation of the INF treaty -- decisions that I think will need to be based on consultations and agreement by potential basing countries. Allies would be more reluctant to endorse U.S. recommendations particularly, if they involve additional nuclear capabilities that are targeted on Russia, and will also be sensitive about reorganizing NATO missile defense away from Iran and Port Russia if these steps are being taken in the context of an unraveling New START regime and a new arms race.

Now, in saying this, I'm not suggesting New START is perfect or is of timeless value -- the strategic environment has changed in the past decade and the Trump administration has raised valid criticisms about the treaty's shortcomings that will need to be addressed in the future. The first is that New START doesn't cover all of Russia’s nuclear capabilities that threaten the U.S. and the allies, including not only strategic nuclear weapons, new intermediate-range systems as well as these exotic systems, which, I think Madelyn will tell us more about.

And the second concern is the treaty doesn't constrain any of China's growing nuclear capabilities, both strategic and intermediate-range that already threaten the U.S. forces and the U.S. mainland along with our Pacific allies. So the allies don't dispute any of these concerns, but I think they would agree that these are not as urgent as tending to the extension of New START. An extension would give us additional time to negotiate long term solutions to both sets of concerns the administration has raised, while preventing the Russians from launching a rapid build up of warheads and delivery systems in excess of the New START treaty.

While we can do some building up ourselves, I think given the asymmetry in the U.S. and Russian modernization cycles, Russia might be better positioned to break out of the treaty by uploading warheads or activating non-deployed systems to the United States. So as Rose Gottemoeller argued in her New York Times piece last year, we shouldn't give Russia the opportunity to outrun us.

Now, some of these new guidance systems are covered by the treaty, the Russians have said that, and the more exotic ones aren't going to be ready to be deployed in the next five years. So there's plenty of time to devise new ways to address these, figure out how to limit some of these new technologies and ensure sufficient verification. As that time develops, we need to develop an approach to dealing with non-strategic nuclear weapons, which in the past has been considered in the "too hard" category, and perhaps we can even come up with a successor to the INF treaty, although that might be too hopeful to complete.

Now on China, including China in future arms control agreements is certainly a worthwhile goal, but as I said, I don't think this is as urgent as extension to the New START treaty. China right now has a minimum strategic nuclear deterrent of about 300 warheads, which is roughly 5 percent of the numbers possessed by the United States and Russia with close to 700 INF range missiles. These forces don’t at the present time affect strategic stability or undermine the benefits of the bilateral New START treaty.

The question shouldn't be if China (inaudible). I think we should actually enlist the Russians in trying to engage with Beijing in some kind of strategic stability dialog to educate the Chinese about nuclear deterrence and show them that it's in their own interest to work with the other nuclear powers to strengthen stability and predictability.

We certainly shouldn't make New START extension hostage to Chinese agreements to join in trilateral negotiations. That may take years to accomplish and I think that if we were to forego five more years in New START just because of China, this could be seen by allies as a smoke screen for abandoning arms control altogether and certainly opening us to risk (inaudible) jeopardize force modernization.

Before I finish, let me just say a couple of words about the importance of New START in managing the increasingly nasty political relationship between the West and Putin's Russia that we've been dealing with especially since the invasion of Ukraine in 2014. I would say today's competition with Russia is in many ways riskier and less stable than the U.S.-Soviet relationship was in the last decades of the Cold War when we were able to kind of lower tensions through détente and actually agree on some rules of the road and the agreements like the Helsinki Final Act (inaudible) just to further reference to limit strategic and conventional arms and stabilize the potential military competition. We pushed it even further in the days of Gorbachev and Yeltsin but also in the early Putin administration and under Medvedev in agreeing on a more elaborate set of agreements and rules of the road to limit the competition.

As late as 2013 we were talking about potentially game-changing cooperation with Russia on missile defense against rogue states. But I think, to put it bluntly, today Russia has joined the ranks of rogue states, no longer special rules of the game I just mentioned, it's working to undermine the rules-based order, it's trying to block its neighbors' path toward NATO and the EU, working to destabilize Western societies, to discredit our democratic institutions. So this is a far more difficult environment than the period when we negotiated New START, and I think there's a real risk that a military incident could spiral out of control, that concern can no longer be dismissed. Maintaining stability through extension of New START could help reduce the chances that such an accidental conflict could go nuclear.

So this (inaudible) New START may be somewhat a more important politically than it was 10 years ago when it was (inaudible) in terms of keeping the competition with Russia within bounds. There's a lot of other areas where we need to compete with Russia. We should focus our resources and mobilize the allies on those fronts, such as strengthening conventional deterrence, strengthening resilience against cyber and hybrid threats, figuring out what is the right counter to the INF Treaty with our mission of supporting Ukraine and Georgia and the other neighboring states of Russia as to defend their sovereignty and opposing Putin’s ambitious agenda, and of course we should try to develop a coherent strategy to counter Putin’s growing influence in the Middle East and around the world. What we allowed (inaudible) managing relations with Russia, we focus our resources and political strength on these areas of competition rather than triggering an accelerated, costly arms competition with Russia (inaudible) collapse of New Start.

So looking at 2020, extend without preconditions. Russia has complied with New START. Its upheld its side of the verification and transparency regime. It is in a better place to break out of the treaty than we are, and so it would be wise to pocket Putin's offer and keep our allies with us and use the additional time to address the long-term challenges. Thanks.

KIMBALL: Thanks, Sandy. This is a very good and in-depth introduction. Kori, thanks for being with us, good to see you.

KORI SCHAKE: It's my pleasure. I mostly agree with everything Sandy just said, and so [inaudible] by reviewing and outlining for the (inaudible). But it seems to me that the value, for me, of this START treaty is first to limit the (inaudible) strategic warheads and that really matters and exactly for the reasons Sandy said because our -- well, New START was negotiated at a time when we were hopeful about the relationship with Russia. We're not hopeful about our relationship with Russia anymore for lots of good reasons.

And I favor sustaining the INF treaty, but I couldn't come up with a good answer of how to bring the Russians back into compliance. So it's significant that the Russians are in compliance with New START, and we ought to hang onto it (inaudible) keeping restraints on Russian strategic nuclear forces. Actually, I don't think the argument's any harder than that for New START, but two other reasons I favor the treaty, the second is that the counting rules in New START prejudice slow delivery systems, right? The return to the Reagan administration's bomber counting rules where the bomber counts as a single unit, not the weapons on the bomber.

And I think one of the real challenges that we have at hypersonic and a lot of the new innovations in conventional and nuclear delivery systems and suspicion are that they are going to speed up the pace of warfare such that it collapses decision time and that increases the likelihood of sloppy, dangerous, damaging mistakes.

And so, I think that counting rules are actually advantageous because they prejudice slow delivery platforms. And the third reason that I favor the treaty is that the onsite verification provisions that we don't have in any other medium to understand what's going on in Russia's strategic forces. I think that was hugely valuable.

For me, those three reasons are compelling about why to remain in the treaty. I take Sandy's point and Tom's point, I think it's a very valuable one that there is also reputational benefit to staying in the treaty, especially before we start to have a NATO conversation about modernizing NATO's nuclear forces. It’s well-nigh impossible to have a policy discussion among the NATO allies if we have just withdrawn from the START treaty. We are going to end up with a really bad outcome in NATO if that (inaudible) that kind of study.

And it may not be -- it may not advantage us much in the conversation about nuclear modernization to stay in the treaty, but leaving it will surely do some damage. And the administration I think is right in both of its complaints about the treaty. First, that it only captures strategic forces when the United States and its NATO allies have reduced our non-strategic nuclear forces by over 90 percent since the end of the Cold War and Russia has expanded theirs.

But that's not cheating on the treaty. That's smart work of the rule set, and so they are right that it would be wonderful to get the Russians engaged in meaningful non-strategic nuclear force restrictions. I personally favor the proposal that Ambassador Eric Edelman and Frank Miller made in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago, which is to have an oath to negotiate a treaty in the future that has an overall limit of nuclear weapons so that you can trade off between strategic and non-strategic, you get a limit on all of them and the parties to the treaty can determine what the balance of forces that they want. That strikes to me as a reasonable point.

But the administration is right that the Russians have expanded their non-strategic nuclear forces, that has increased the threat to America's NATO allies in Europe and it has created the potential for a widening the Atlantic in a crisis. So they're not wrong to be worried about that, it would be wonderful to capture that in the future. And the second thing they're not wrong about is that Chinese nuclear forces become increasingly important as the US and Russia stockpiles get drawn down.

But we're about a factor of four away from where that balance (inaudible) and we shouldn't lose perspective that it's inherently valuable to have restrictions on the Russian stockpile, whether or not we are able to put restrictions on Chinese forces. And so I agree with Sandy that I too would like to see restrictions on the Chinese forces. I wouldn't want to pay the price of losing the restrictions on Russian forces in order to get restrictions on a Chinese force that's much smaller and less significant in the composition of its war fighting.

Moreover, I agree with Sandy that time matters and I didn't know, Tom, until you said it but it was a simple signature from both the US and Russia heads of state that extended it for five years and I, again, I like the notion, I'm basically the poor man's Frank Miller. I like the notion that Frank and Eric pointed out that making the extension contingent on having an agreement that captures both non-strategic and strategic, but that part, that's five years for that conversation. And so extending the treaty while creating the expectation that within five years, we will want an overall nuclear limit seems to me a great direction to go.

And I'm not sure I agree with Sandy that Russia is better positioned to break out from the treaty, and the two data points I would offer to substantiate that are first, this is the only arms control treaty the Russians weren't cheating on, and there's a reason they're not cheating on it, because it's in their interest for it to remain in force, and it may even be asymmetrically in their interest for it to remain in force. The second thing is that Russia has nearly completed its cycle of nuclear modernization and the United States is just commencing ours, as Sandy said, it was part of the bargain to get Republican votes for ratification of the New START treaty, and it’s only just coming into being. Meanwhile, the Russians have increased and modernized their force and, as Sandy said, effected a lot of exotic new delivery systems.

Again, that's smart playing the rules in the way that the United States did their aircraft carrier development in the 1930s when we were signatories to the Washington Naval Accords. But that tells you how important it is to keep the rules in play so that you can, as my AEI colleague John Maurer argued, that arms control agreements should be worked to limit the things we're most scared of and to drive the competition into areas of either less importance or your greater asymmetric advantage, and we have lots of opportunities to do that and we should, but not as a substitute to keeping these valuable restrictions in place.

The last thing I'd like to mention is the effect on the national defense spending. I don't share with you, or at least I don’t share to the extent that Tom laid out, that if New START isn't extended, it would be an unlimited arms race between the U.S. and the Russians. I think the strategic balance is more stable than that, but we have a lot of big fish to fry, and even though 700 billion dollars and the eye popping size of the American defense budget, it nonetheless isn't exorbitant for the number of things we're trying to do with that budget. And limiting what we spend on our nuclear forces in order to enable, for example, our own development of exotic delivery systems is a judicious use of the taxpayer's money. And I think I will close with that.

KIMBALL: Great, thank you, and I'm not disagreeing with that last point, but I think, as I heard Tom say, the door would be opened to an unconstrained arms race -- that is the risk, it's not a certainty, but without the limits established by New START, the temptation will be there by both sides to upload, to increase...

SCHAKE: (inaudible) the temptation and tempering it.

KIMBALL: Okay, it may not be as enticing (inaudible). Madelyn, on to you.

MADELYN CREEDON: Okay. Thanks Daryl. And thanks to Kori and Sandy for laying out really most of the arguments on the treaty, but I want to reflect just for a moment on what we haven't talked about today, and that's about a strategic arms reduction treaty. So the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, which was signed in April of 2010 and entered into force on February 5th of 2011 and expires in February 5 of 2021. It's a treaty with which both Russia and the U.S. are complying and that point has been made, but that is an extraordinarily important point, and both met the central limits of the treaty on a friendly basis in February of 2018.

So New START replaced the previous 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which of course expired in December 2009. Like its predecessor treaties, START 1, START 2, the strategic arms limitation treaties, the SALT treaties, some of these of course entered into force and some didn't, but New START limits strategic nuclear arms of the U.S. and Russia. There's a decade in our history of strategic nuclear arms agreement between Russia and U.S. These treaties play with New START and played historically a large role in reducing the nuclear arsenals of the two countries from their peaks.

The U.S. peaked at 31,255 weapons in 1965, and Russia peaked in 1985 at about 38,000 weapons. Strategic nuclear arms of course include ICBMs, SLBMs and their launchers, ballistic missile submarines, long-range bombers and the nuclear warheads that all these systems carry. So did I mention that the New START treaty is a bilateral between the U.S. and Russia, strategic nuclear arms control treaty, designed to limit strategic nuclear arms. It is not a treaty that limits ballistic missiles, ballistic missile defense systems. It's not a treaty that limits non-strategic nuclear systems. It doesn't limit short to intermediate range ballistic missiles. It doesn't limit micro (inaudible). It doesn't cover anything except strategic nuclear arms, and it wasn't designed to.

It is what it is: it's an effective bilateral, verifiable strategic nuclear arms control treaty that is essential to our ability to provide an effective deterrent. Now the last words outlined, they actually belong to General John Hyten when he was commander of the U.S. Strategic Command. The treaty is a bilateral, verifiable agreement that gives us some predictability on what our potential adversaries look like. And those aren’t my words either, those are General Paul Selva’s when he was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The New START treaty contains verification and transparency measures such as data exchanges, periodic data updates, notifications, unique identifiers on strategic systems, some access to its monitoring and on-site inspections. That will give us important insights into Russian strategic nuclear forces and how they operate their forces.

We will understand Russian strategic forces much better with the treaty than would be the case without it. Now, so you might get the theme here, but it's not my words either, right? But the combined thoughts and views of seven former commanders of the U.S. Strategic Command expressed in a letter of support for the New START Treaty in July of 2010.

So when New START was signed, the idea was that the treaty would carry on the long heritage of mutually working to reduce strategic nuclear arms. The Obama administration certainly realized that non-strategic arms are also important and that their importance is in fact growing, but this treaty was a treaty covering and limiting strategic arms, and the next treaty would deal with non-strategic arms or even the whole nuclear stockpile and their delivery systems.

So Russia wasn't interested in pursuing a follow-on treaty as we all know during the Obama administration. In fact, they made it very clear that they were not interested in talking about a follow-on treaty until the central limits were met. Of course, those central limits were met as I mentioned in February of 2018 after the Obama administration had come to a close. And by then there was very little interest on either side working on a new treaty. Clearly the geo-politics had changed substantially.

And as both Kori and Sandy mentioned, the situation is probably even worse now than it was when the central of limits came into force.

Such a comprehensive treaty, a treaty that's covers non-strategics for all nuclear warheads and their delivery systems would be a much more difficult treaty to negotiate then, and it will be more difficult going forward. Among other things, such a treaty would have to cover a wide range of dual-use systems. It would be very challenging to verify, and it would ironically force Russia to admit that it had cheated on the INF Treaty in advance of the U.S. strategic withdrawal because you couldn't have a comprehensive treaty without bringing those systems in as well.

So the critics have complained as we all know that New START does not limit these Russian short-range nuclear systems and other non-strategic systems. And it's true, it doesn't, and the treaty wasn't designed to do that. So as we noted, the Russians have far too many short-range nuclear weapons for their own good, as well as instability along their borders, but this needs to be addressed in a separate negotiation. No single treaty provides a silver bullet to mitigate all the threats we face. And New START is no exception. Those words were actually penned by Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor to George H.W. Bush and Jake Garn, the former Republican senator from Utah in September of 2010 in an op-ed in the Washington Times.

So New START is not and was not intended to be a silver bullet. So it doesn't cover China, it doesn't cover other countries, and it doesn't cover nonstrategic nuclear weapons. These omissions do not make it a fatally flawed treaty, it is a treaty that does what it does very well: It limits strategic nuclear arms in a verifiable way so as to provide clarity and certainty in the respected strategic arms of each party, thereby preventing an uncontrolled strategic arms race fueled by uncertainty and instability. It allows each side to see the other side as it is, not 20 feet tall and not 2 feet tall.

Without the transparency provided by this treaty, there's no predictability, no transparency, no certainty, no stability, and distrust and suspicion will only grow over time as a result. So my advice to this administration or the next one, work on the treaty with China, find the incentive to get China to the table, they clearly are not interested now, but figure out what that is, work on a bilateral treaty with Russia that covers non-strategic arms for full stockpile size, work on a multi-lateral treaty that covers short to intermediate range missiles, work on a treaty that covers dual use systems, work on any treaty that provides benefit to the U.S. and ensures stability, predictability, transparency, and reduces threats of war be they direct, inadvertent, or accidental.

Work on agreements short of treaties, work on transparency agreements, work on ways to basically have baby steps in some instances where you might eventually get a treaty that would provide some sort of transparency and understanding and stability. This could include China. This could include India and Pakistan and the DPRK. The point is, continue to work on these things, but don't throw out a perfectly good treaty that is working well in the process. Extend the New START Treaty and use its flexibility to cover those new types of Russian strategic arms, Sarmat and Avangard.

KIMBALL: Thank you, everyone. And I would just note that New START doesn't cover migratory birds, but there is the Migratory Bird Act, so, start it off with migratory birds, there is a law at least on that.

We have some time for questions and discussion to explore these issues even further, and I just wanted to kick us off as you all contemplate your questions with a question for each of you, if you would like to address it.

And Madelyn, you started touching upon this at the very end, but the Trump administration has made a big issue of the importance of engaging China. It was about nine months ago that the president brought this up. In some form or other, there was reporting about this, and yet the Administration has not yet put forward any specifics of how it would like to engage China. Rumor has it that they may lay out some ideas soon.

I don't know if that's true, or exactly when, but my question to each of you is: what are some realistic options for engaging China at this stage, given, as you all have said, that China has never been part of a formal negotiation on nuclear arms control, given that China has a relatively smaller yet still deadly nuclear arsenal relative to the U.S. and Russia, given that they said, no, thank you, we don't want to be a part of a negotiation, so what kinds of steps -- and Madelyn, you were kicking off some ideas that I wanted to, as each of you to try to offer your suggestions, is it a numerical proposal? Is it common numerical limits? Is it about information sharing, about transparency?

What might it be and what could we offer that we'd be willing to offer in exchange to induce China to do this? Because as I think each of you mentioned, China does not have a strong incentive to do so.

Your thoughts, Kori, Sandy, or Madelyn?

SCHAKE: So I would start by having a public conversation about great powers who limit their nuclear forces in relation to one another and China clearly likes the vision of itself as the hegemon of the 21st century. And so, it’s a not inconsequential way of engaging with the Chinese, and I think that might be useful.

I also think you can have a conversation about confidence-building measures and transparency in the South China Sea that you -- so in broader conversation with the Chinese about military transparency, potential flashpoints and confidence building, that it could be rolled in.

Third, I also very much like the Edelman and Miller idea and a UN Security Council permanent five declaration of their forces that starts a process of socialization on those issues.

VERSHBOW: Thanks a lot. I would agree that the place to start is through some kind of dialogue to change the Chinese perspective, and they're quite adamant right now that they don't have any need to participate with a (inaudible) smaller than that of the United States and Russia. I think they need to understand that this is not only about size of forces, but about qualitative characteristics, about what's stabilizing, what's destabilizing, at least to get them to understand that it’s in their interest to participate in some kind of process.

It may start with the verification or transparency measures for information sharing. In terms of, we are saying that the strategic-only framework, it's hard to see what we would gain by adding a ceiling amount of Chinese warheads and delivery systems. It would probably be higher than they currently deploy, so, you know, we make them feel good that we're putting some kind of block on some (inaudible) build-up in the future, and that might be useful.

I think if there's an area where we actually have something to offer is that more in the INF deal where we could offer to talk about putting some kind of constraints both on the numbers and the locations, particularly of the missiles that we are contemplating deploying in the Asia-Pacific theater to induce China's (inaudible).

I do think something like the INF is something we should be thinking about, even though the Russians violated the old one, but I think there's still ways we could promote stability and predictability, in this case, perhaps, on a trilateral basis.

KIMBALL: Any other thoughts in addition to what you're...

CREEDON: I mean I'd certainly would agree on the idea that it has to be broader than nuclear, it can't just be nuclear, it probably is a non-starter, yes, even under New START it's 1,550 deployed strategics, obviously the U.S. arsenal is much larger; it's just under 4,000. But where there is some, is what Sandy said, I think maybe is in INF, like the systems China has maybe as many as 2,100 short, medium and intermediate range missiles. We have just started -- the U.S. has just started a series of tests in that, and maybe this is something. But I think the first step is to have a conversation with China and just see, what are the things that they’re interested in, what are the things that we’re interested in.

There may be some completely off-the-wall sorts of concepts that we might want to think about that have nothing to do with nuclear systems, such as if the U.S. were to ratify the Law of the Sea convention which China has ratified and the U.S. abides by but hasn't ratified, maybe this is something, right, so now there is a reciprocity with ratification of treaties.

There are a lot of other ideas that we might bring to the fore on this, but I think the first is just get to sit down and figure out what are the shared interests, where are the diversion strategies and are there incentives to bring those to the table?

KIMBALL: All right, thank you. We’re going to turn it over the audience here. So if you could just raise your hand and identify yourself, the microphone will come to you so that we can record. So if we could take the gentleman at the back with the handsome pinstripe suit, and so that we can get this on a microphone and record it for our transcript.

BRUCE MACDONALD: All right. First of all, thanks to the Arms Control Association and to our speakers for their great presentations. First, I’m (inaudible), I’m a (inaudible) quoted in the Strategic Posture Review Commission 10 years ago.

I have a comment and a question. And the comment is it's ironic that in the (inaudible) on the question of extending New START, the administration puts at risk a lot of its strategic priorities. The only way the ground-based strategic deterrent, i.e. the Minuteman replacement, makes sense is if you hit the tight limits on warheads, otherwise it becomes, simply just allocating the top two warheads that are paced to 400 silos.

Right now, for them to do that on a very fixed level, every warhead you'd use to destroy the Russians would actually end up using up more warheads than they would destroy or as (inaudible), if it’s unlimited, then it becomes easy, but then two single warheads (inaudible) make no sense at all. That's my comment.

My question is that -- and I've raised this in one or two other forums -- is given the amount of chaos there is in U.S. strategic thinking, mightn't it be time to have a big group of senior experts like the Strategic Posture Review Commission, what is it, 10 or 11 years ago to review the whole question of strategic stability and the U.S. strategic posture. Back then it was strictly nuclear weapons arms control and non-proliferation. Today you might well want to add cyber and space to that. But there is chaos right now in U.S. strategic thinking. There is, the biggest drawback to New START of course is that it was negotiated under President Obama and that makes it lethal I think in the mind of President Trump, but it's time, to I think, to reorient or to restabilize and talk about stability, stabilize thinking in U.S. strategic policy. It's something that our allies might very much appreciate...

KIMBALL: Let's let our speakers answer your question.

MACDONALD: So my question is what do you think about that re-engagement, something like the Strategic Posture Commission --

KIMBALL: Talk about that.

SCHAKE: I think that those kinds of commissions are most helpful at start of an administration, when you can use the time that an administration is starting up to help shape their agenda and offer good ideas, and it's not clear to me the Trump administration is permeable to that kind of thinking, especially at this point in time. And that -- our test case, if you'd ask me, which is, I understand, got into the National Defense Authorization Act a year or two ago, a Cyber Solarium Commission. Congressman Mike Gallagher is on it, several others -- so I think Senator Angus King is on it, several good people, and they’re about to come out with their recommendations on an important subject that needs that kind of careful strategic analysis, and so we'll have a data point about how the administration, how receptive they are to that kind of help.

CREEDON: You know, I would say, probably, that I start with a bit of bias against these commissions, but the particular one that you mentioned I think it impacts some very good purposes, but I completely agree with Kori, you've very much better off at the beginning of an administration. And there certainly would be time for some commission to both get stood up, funded, selected, formulated, studied with any sort of a response that would provide any insight into the New START Treaty, because you kind of have to do that in the next couple of months.

But maybe long term, maybe, you know, for much broader discussion about strategic stability and working much farther than just Russia or just China.

VERSHBOW: (inaudible) The longer I've been retired, the more I’ve been interested in these kinds of commissions.


VERSHBOW: But I agree with that. But I agree it probably makes more sense at the beginning of the administration. But I think there's plenty of room for track-two initiatives even now, maybe trilateral track-twos with the Russians and the Chinese, which may be easier to get started than official (inaudible) with China, at least in the short run.

What the administration has to its credit, I think, is reaching out to China, although I don’t know exactly what they are able to accomplish, but there is potential to at least prepare the ground for serious negotiation after the next election.

KIMBALL: But clearly, it's a long process that takes time, and planning and more than 12 months.

The gentleman who has the microphone, identify yourself and ask your question.

QUESTION: Chase Enright, researcher at Physicians for Social Responsibility. This is kind of a two-parter, but the NPT Review Conference is coming up very rapidly, what impact will probably the U.S. not renewing New START have upon, say, (inaudible) the NPT Conference?

And also have there been any motions for an all-five nuclear powers states multilateral treaty on arms control, getting China’s nuclear weapons to permanently (inaudible) that they have special different arsenal sizes, well, why wouldn’t the U.K. and France be involved?

KIMBALL: Why don't you take Alex Liebowitz’s question here in the front row, and then we'll address the questions.


KIMBALL: All right, we’ve got about three questions on the table. So, I invite you to address whichever ones you’d like.

VERSHBOW: OK. Well, clearly if we are rejecting the extension of the New START Treaty, it would probably put us in the doghouse in the NPT Review Conference. And I think it would cause at least some strains with our allies. It’s not that I don’t think it would reach the point of putting NATO’s nuclear strategy at risk, but it’s still a risk for our position.

I am not up to speed on the idea of a five nuclear-armed states agreement. I made the point that it has been, sort of, very difficult in the past to get a (inaudible) on strategic nuclear weapons, and the Russians have resisted any dialogue, even, that might provide some transparency in what they have, so we have, I think, considerable uncertainty about the actual numbers.

We had very little leverage to change their positions since we – remember when we unilaterally reduced most of ours. In a different time, in a more hopeful time, the president’s nuclear initiatives (inaudible) our unilateral protections. So inducing the Russians to put them into one basket (inaudible) isn’t going to be easy, but there's going to be some lessons from the New START verification regime of what the Russians have is that the intrusive inspections under the (inaudible) checking the right number of nuclear weapons there. That kind of very (inaudible) transparency can be (inaudible).

SCHAKE: So first to your question about the NPT review conference. I seem to recall the last NPT Review Conference, we were near a rebellion by the non-nuclear powers that the nuclear member states were not upholding their end of the bargain. And I think that's only picking up speed, and the withdrawal from the START Treaty was certainly gas going into that fire. So I think you are observing it right. I actually don't know the answer about the P5. Beyond what Edelman and Miller said in their Wall Street Journal piece, my guess is that the French will believe that the great glory of France is ill-suited by this.


SCHAKE: And yet they would gain from it as well. And that's (inaudible) to have the argument.

On the non-strategic, unquestionably true, extraordinarily difficult to verify, and yet in a day when Bellingcat can tell you who shot down an airliner by tracking social media and production codes, I just can't believe that the Madelyn Creedons of the world cannot find a way that we can do this.

Moreover, it seems to me -- I just read a little bit of (inaudible) of having no leverage over the Russians on this. I think we have an enormous amount of moral leverage by virtue of the fact that the NATO allies reduced their non-strategic nuclear forces by over 90 percent, and Russia's made no corresponding cut.

And so -- again, I feel like we underuse shame in the international politics, because but reputations matter, and the Russians have painted themselves into a reputational corner, being the people who bombed hospitals after the Syrian government uses chemical weapons. And if they ever want to be out of that penalty box, we can offer them a way to be a good international citizen, and I think we ought to find a creative way to have that discussion.


CREEDON: I completely agree on the comments about the NPT. I won't belabor those for -- uh, you know, P5 do talk about things, on occasion, but in terms of, in terms of where -- where we go next in Treaty Land, there probably is room for one more bilateral treaty with Russia before it -- before we expand to others, mostly because of the discrepancy of the pure numbers, I mean, we have much more parity with Russia across the board, and I just think that would also really be a test in terms of how you verify these things.

There is, I think, an advantage of having some further discussions with Russia on what the treaty would look like, because we tend to disagree with having these conversations with Russia. There's a lot to be said just for having the conversations. Historically, just the act of these conversations provided a lot of insight into what were real concerns or fears or desires in the Middle East to actually move forward with a treaty.

I know the administration has had, I think, at least two strategic stability discussions with Russia. Those are certainly good things. We've agreed it's going to prevent more (inaudible) than track twos. I know NTI has tried to do some track twos with Russia. I mean, those are the things that would keep this ball rolling and going forward. But I think we have a long way to before we actually get to the five-way, and on the five-way side is probably where you want to do non-treaty weapons and that gets us into the transparency, confidence-building measures and those sorts of things.

SCHAKE: For anybody talking to the folks in the administration who are frothing at the mouth in fury about Britain's 5G Huawei decision, it would be a great time to suggest that five -- five-power Security Council arms control treaty. That would give the administration something constructive to focus their ire on.


KIMBALL: Well, just a quick additional comment about this -- the Russian response to the Trump administration's proposal that there's a trilateral nuclear arms control negotiation with the Chinese is well, we should involve the British and the French arsenals into the conversation. To which I've not heard a Trump administration response, but this is just an example of what I think -- you know, the American policy with respect to what follows onto New START has to be thought through carefully. The planning in my estimation has not yet been done.

And this a long-term process, unfortunately, that is not going to bear fruit within 12 months, which is -- which brings me back to underscoring one of the main points of the discussion today, which is that none of these more ambitious options, however, whatever shape or form they take, at whatever pace, are not going to be possible in the absence of this foundational U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear arms control agreement without which all of these things become incredibly more complex.

So we had a couple other questions out there. Let's go to some of the good people in the middle and the back, with this gentleman right here in the middle. Please. Yes, stand up. Identify yourself and ask us your question.

QUESTION: Dave Crandall, retired from the Department of Energy, where Madelyn was my boss at one time, and independent consultant now. Just trying to keep up with things. My experience trying to work with trilaterals with UK, France, etc., was never going to work. And it feels to me like a trilateral with China and Russia would take as much as five years, assuming you get New START renewed. (inaudible) What's -- what is realistic? When you talk about bilaterals with China and Russia, you talk about trilaterals, you talk about (inaudible) Russia. What is your opinion about what's realistic?

KIMBALL: Hold that question in your mind, we're going to take two more questions. And why don't we go here, and then we have Greg in the back.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) international (inaudible). Could you make more comments on the impact of exotic hyper-velocity weapons? When will you start modernizations (inaudible)? (Inaudible) are all of you (inaudible)?

KIMBALL: Okay. All right. Let me take this two. What is realistic in terms of a follow on to New START, as I understand your question. And how do we deal with these Russian exotic systems that Vladimir Putin is scaring everybody about?

SCHAKE: So I want to take a shot at what is realistic. I am old enough to remember the NBFR negotiations and the PFB negotiations that had, definitely (inaudible).

So if you actually want to get something done, it is possible to get it done in large numbers. It requires leadership. It requires common purpose. It requires a whole bunch of time, but I don't share your view that the U.S. and two close allies are an impossible troika to get anything done with.

KIMBALL: OK. Other thoughts?


VERSHBOW: On the P5, what can be accomplished? I mean, you should be able to find a way to deal with our British and French allies, and I think the Russians are going to absolutely insist if we go to any kind of multilateral arrangements that would bring China in, the British and French would have to be brought in as well. And the French will resist, but I there are going to be ways, depending on us, how directly (inaudible) on limits, there may be technical limits on U.S. and Russia as the big boys, and some kind of no-increase (inaudible) transparency would apply to France or maybe China.

If they have a strategic modernization plan that people (inaudible) doubles (inaudible) that the Russians getting a no-increase commitment to this year's (inaudible) a few years ago might be better than seeing it just continue to grow.

But the Frank Miller-Eric Edelman idea, I think, might be adapted to also think about combined START-INF type of limits, that’s with the supplements (inaudible), makes verifications easier, and that may create some...

SCHAKE: (inaudible) Madelyn’s problem of acknowledging the cheating --

VERSHBOW: Well, they'd have to make the 9M729 subject to this agreement. But this would be reduced from actual symmetry, or closer to symmetry, because the Chinese have a lot of INFs, numerous strategic weapons, (inaudible) what’s in it for us. But there’s a kind of incentive in terms of, you know, the leverage points. We're threatening (inaudible) definitely on their corners, they might be willing to negotiate (inaudible).

KIMBALL: And what is this -- let me push you on, what is this -- what is in this discussion for the Chinese, for instance? I mean, I would think that if I were a Chinese negotiator, I might say, not only am I concerned about U.S. conventional forces in the South China Sea, but with this missile defense system that threatens our retaliatory capabilities. So...

VERSHBOW: They think it does.

KIMBALL: Well, whether they think it does or not, it actually does -- that's another conversation. But I think it's quite likely, they're going to ask for something. That's my point. So far none of you have addressed the question, what is in it for the Chinese? What could we give to induce them to...

VERSHBOW: The Russians have always said they're going to bring up missile defense again, if we ask them to go one warhead lower than the New START requires.

KIMBALL: Okay. All right.

SCHAKE: I like Madelyn's idea as an asymmetric treaty acknowledgment and participation. I mean, the U.S. should ratify a lot of this (inaudible) anyway. Not only do we comply with it, we enforce it on other people, and the other administration had just been willing to roll our sleeves up and get the congressional votes, my own Republicans as well as Democrats.

So we should try to do that. It's a good thing. We're going to want it a lot more. You don't want to be in a position the Lincoln administration was in during the Civil War, where all of a sudden you desperately want compliance, where everybody (inaudible) this treaty you've been unwilling to ratify.

So it is really (inaudible) as the Chinese threat continues to increase in the South China Sea, that we embrace the treaty that we led, we signed, and we are compliant with, and we enforce the terms of that, and anything that you get from the Chinese, so that would be fabulous.

Then I am a lot less skeptical than you, that there are things China wants that the United States has in (inaudible), transparency on freedom of navigation, schedules, the prospects for a mutual and balanced force reductions between China and the United States, they're all there. So if we could persuade them that if you would make the time and effort, that it would require patience, that it requires to make progress on this. But as you said, they're just not even trying.

KIMBALL: Madelyn, the hypersonic systems.

CREEDON: Before I get to those, you know, even things like crisis stability mechanisms with China. I mean we don't have a real hotline with China. You know, even some very basic things that we might want to talk about that would seem to be of mutual -- of mutual benefit going forward. I guess -- you know, I guess my problem is realistically, all of this is going to be extraordinarily difficult and none of them will be easy. And it will take leadership. I mean it will just take leadership to figure out what -- what it is that we would like to pursue.

On the -- on the other Russian systems, so Sergey Lavrov has, of course, recently said that the Sarmat, which is the heavy ICBM, and Avangard, which is the hypersonic system which apparently was, could be launched on an ICBM, just because of those relationships as to ICBMs, they would naturally fall under New START and they would be in types, so there really is flexibility on the new types to preempt these sorts of systems. The ones that are way more problematic, of course, are the nuclear -- nuclear torpedo and the nuclear cruise missile. They both feel -- even though they have great distance, they certainly both feel like things that we would bring on to strategic systems historically, but it's a good place to start in terms of what the intentions could be, how their doctrine applies to them, these would be sort of the transparency discussions that one would want to have on these systems.

And I think with time, we will continue to have -- I think in time we will have more leverage with respect to Russia as our -- as the U.S. modernization program progresses, I think we’ll actually get leverage at the moment. Obviously, Russia is -- of course, is winding up their modernization but they still have production lines, they still have the ability to make warheads. Things that we don't have at the moment. So as we move forward on our modernization programs and we get back into the business of making things again, certainly the new submarine is up front, but when we -- and when we get progress on the -- on the new ICBM, when we get more progress on the bomber, when we have more than one warhead life extended, if we ever get the capability back, these are all the things that will now enable us to have serious leverage over Russia, all of which argues that we need to maintain the stability between now and then, whenever then is. So, you know, it's just a -- it's just a stronger argument for getting New START extended right now.

KIMBALL: All right. We're going to take one final question before we conclude. Let me ask the... (inaudible) Greg, why don't we take Greg Thielmann’s question?


KIMBALL: OK. And then -- OK, go ahead Greg and then we'll take...

QUESTION: Greg Thielmann, board member of the Arms Control Association.

Through the years strategic arms control between the U.S. and Soviet Union, Russia, included both offensive and defensive systems. Russia still maintains that this is a very important part of the equation. In fact, implies that it cannot lower its number of offensive ordnance once the U.S. purses (inaudible) training the defenses. And even explicitly cites U.S. chief missile defenses as a reason for Putin's wunderwaffe.

So my question is, is this something that we will continue to be able to stiff the Russians on, or is there created space that somehow involves the transit system?

CREEDON: Well, right now, they're just -- I mean, I would say, there has to be some way to have these discussions, but there are a lot of statutory impediments right now to having these discussions. And I think one of the first steps is to get rid of some of these statutory impediments to these discussions, but somehow we have to -- we have to be able to talk about this.

SCHAKE: So the last 87 or so time (inaudible) that we’ve tried to have conversations with the Russians to reach agreement on something that is patently obvious, which is that limited ballistic missile defense systems are easily overwhelmed by ballistic missiles, by decoys, by chaff -- the Russians don’t believe it, and the Russians don't want to believe it, and I am a lot less sympathetic to the -- we all need to remain un-dependent in order to have strategic stability. I think strategic stability is more stable than the suggestion that limited missile defenses would unbalance it the amount that Russia may suggest.

VERSHBOW: I think the Russians are worried that some technological breakthrough that is not actually on the horizon, that somehow we might achieve that would give us a credible defense of the U.S. homeland of missile defense. I don't think that's attainable, and even with the technologies that we're looking ahead to in the next 10 or 15 years. And I think at the end of the day, they use this as a cudgel and a propaganda tool. At the end of the day, it's not a New START agreement without any constraints on missile defense. And their preambular language about the offense-defense relationship. I think they'll make that calculus again if we negotiate another agreement. But I think the limits provide the balance and if they still see U.S. as (inaudible) against the ones and twos and threes of (inaudible) large Russian (inaudible), next time we (inaudible).

KIMBALL: I want to thank all of our speakers for their insights and their comments. We're going to have to end it there. I want to thank all of you for being with us. The Arms Control Association is going to be posting in the next three or four days a transcript of today's discussion. We're going to have more on the future of the New START Treaty in the months ahead, as we discussed today, and the day's not over.

Congress is looking at this, and looking for discussion about the NPT Review Conference which begins April 27 on disarmament treaties, including New START. So thanks for being with us, and (inaudible).


We're adjourned.


Former officials from the U.S. government outline the case for extending New START and address frequently asked questions about the treaty and the future of arms control.

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The Forum on the Arms Trade Conference
Beyond the Headlines: Redefining Responsibility in the Arms Trade

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 · 11:30am-5:30pm
Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20036

In the wake of continued U.S. arms provision to Saudi Arabia after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, in impeachment investigations of security assistance initially withheld for Ukraine, and in the withdrawal of support to the Kurds in Syria, the arms trade has been at the center of the news in recent months. Missing at times, however, has been a deeper discussion of what is responsible arms trade moving forward.

The second Forum on the Arms Trade annual conference,  “Beyond the Headlines: Redefining Responsibility in the Arms Trade,” is a half-day event taking place Tuesday, January 14 that will feature leading Congressional and civil society voices in conversation with audience participants. RSVP soon to examine in-depth why arms trade issues are in the spotlight and for insights into making that trade more responsible in 2020, and the decade ahead.  

This event is co-sponsored by the Arms Control Association, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Security Assistance Monitor at the Center for International Policy, the Stimson Center, and Win Without War


(As of 1/07/2020)

11:30am-12:00pm Lunch available
12:00-12:40pm "The Need for Arms Trade Responsibility"
Keynote Address by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)
12:45-2:00pm Panel: Going Beyond the Headlines - Understanding The Longer Term Dynamics of Today’s News
  • Adam Isacson, Director for Defense Oversight, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
  • Andrew Miller, Deputy Director for Policy, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
  • Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Rachel Stohl, Vice President, Stimson Center (moderator)
2:15-3:30pm Panel: Redefining Responsibility in the Arms Trade
  • Daniel Mahanty, Director, US Program, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
  • Diana Ohlbaum, Senior Strategist and Legislative Director for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
  • Kate Kizer, Policy Director, Win Without War
  • Jeff Abramson, Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association (moderator)
3:30-4:45pm Panel: Arms Trade in Popular Drama—Madam Secretary and the "Strategic Ambiguity"
  • David Grae, Executive Producer, Madam Secretary (CBS)
  • Brittany Benowitz, Chief Counsel, American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights
  • Colby Goodman, Senior Consultant, Transparency International Defence and Security
Additional participant to be named.
4:45-5:30pm Closing Remarks and Reception


Meeting Challenges and Finding Opportunities: 2020 Arms Control Association Members Briefing



Thank you for your support as a member of the Arms Control Association.

We invite you to join a conversation with executive director Daryl Kimball and board member Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins as we review our accomplishments in 2019 and make plans for 2020.

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director

This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the dawn of the nuclear age, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  We will also mark five decades since the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force.

It is an important year for us to look back at accomplishments, measure progress and move forward.

We enter 2020 with foundational arms control and disarmament treaties eroding and tensions between major powers rising.  In 2020, U.S. presidential and congressional candidates will have to address these dangers.

Please bring your questions and join us to discuss moving forward to a safer world in 2020.


  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director
  • Amb. Bonnie Jenkins, ACA Board of Directors; and Founder, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation
  • Kathy Crandall-Robinson, chief operations officer, moderating

Join or renew your membership today to receive the registration link by email. (If you believe you are a current member but do not receive this email in the near future, please call us at 202-463-8270 ext 105.)


Join us for a conversation with executive director Daryl Kimball and board member Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins as we review our accomplishments in 2019 and make plans for 2020.

Urgent Appeal for a Nuclear Weapon Free World



"Urgent Appeal for a Nuclear Weapon Free World"
Thomas Countryman, board chairman
The Hague Peace Palace Conference
November 26, 2019

It is an undeserved honor for me to be here with such distinguished women and men, not because they are distinguished, which they are, but because they are passionate and active.

Our previous speaker, Dr. Ira Helfand gave us a clear diagnosis: nuclear weapons present a fatal, catastrophic threat to human civilization. The human cost of nuclear weapons is unconscionable, and a world without nuclear weapons is a world that we must all actively pursue. This is the reason that we must constantly repeat the words of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev who said: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

To be brief, the prognosis is grim. The risk that the world will stumble into nuclear war is higher than it has been since the end of the Cold War, and I will try to explain why.

I am not a physician, but I think I am correct in saying that the prognosis is not helped when the patient is unable to acknowledge that he is at risk. The human capacity for denial, and for generational amnesia, is nearly limitless. After 74 years during which nuclear war has not occurred, too many humans assume that something that hasn’t happened in their lifetime will never happen, whether it is a flood, an earthquake, or nuclear war.

People are not reminded of the risk of nuclear war on a daily basis, as they were during the Cold War, nor are mass media covering the risk with the seriousness it deserves. It is positive that so many people are concerned about the more visible effects of climate change, but to an extent, it diverts public attention from the issue of nuclear conflict, which would amount to climate change at supersonic speed. Without detracting from the world’s focus on climate change, we must do more to raise public consciousness about the nuclear risk, to make the patient aware of the true prognosis.

Let me highlight four particular reasons that contribute to a higher risk of nuclear conflict.

First, we live in a time in which there are a number of potential geographic flashpoints at which a conventional conflict could escalate rapidly into a nuclear confrontation:

  • North Korea and Iran attract the most attention from the U.S. administration, but they are not what Concern me the most. Despite its worrying actions, Iran remains years away from a weapons capability. And while the US and DPRK seem incapable of advancing peace, they have at least backed off their mutual threats of fire and fury.
  • Of greater concern is the risk of nuclear war between India and Pakistan, which I consider the most likely arena to see the first use of nuclear weapons since 1945. In February we saw the first case in modern history of two nuclear-armed states flying combat missions over each other’s territory. Even worse, journalists, social media and officials considered to be ‘responsible’ on both sides were publicly advocating the use of nuclear weapons. And in the weeks following, India’s defense minister seemed to reverse the country’s no first use policy.
  • The risk of nuclear conflict between Russia and the United States is, in my opinion, lower than it is between Pakistan and India, but it is still higher than it has been since the end of the Cold War, and perhaps the highest it has been since 1962. And of course, an all-out Nuclear confrontation between the US and Russia would be virtually certain to spell the end of our civilization. The U.S.-Russian arms control relationship is severely fractured, with the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in August and no clear prospect for a five-year extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START. The treaty is scheduled to expire on February 5, 2021 but can be extended if the U.S. and Russian presidents both agree.

Moscow has expressed its willingness to extend the treaty, but Washington has failed to engage. If New START does expire, the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals will be without limits for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Russia’s continued military occupation of two of its neighbors, and its interference in other countries, must raise concerns about a conventional military confrontation in Europe. And the military doctrine of both nations makes it quite possible that a conventional conflict can escalate in a series of steps to an all-out nuclear exchange. A new simulation developed by Princeton University estimates that if, in a NATO.-Russian confrontation in the Baltics, one side resorts to the “tactical” use of nuclear weapons and the other responds, their current war plans could lead to an escalatory exchange involving 1,700 nuclear detonations against military and civilian targets. Within just the first five hours, nearly 100 million people would be killed or injured. (I urge you to watch the video simulation created by the Princeton Program on Science and Global Security titled: “Plan A.”)

Second, words matter. Rhetoric matters. Doctrine matters. For twenty years after the Cold War, most national leaders avoided talking about nuclear weapons as what made their country ‘great’. But more recently, first the Russian President and now the American President have reverted to the kind of language we once heard mainly from North Korea.

More worrying is that military leaders in both countries have gone back to the Cold War practice of imagining that a nuclear war can be ‘limited’ ‘contained’ or ‘won’. Russia maintains a stockpile of 2000 non-strategic nuclear warheads, a number that is impossible to reconcile with its declared nuclear doctrine. And the US is expanding its delivery options for so-called ‘low-yield’ warheads. Planning for the unthinkable has long been the job of military planners. But the current discussion in Moscow and Washington is not just about sustaining deterrence in extreme situations – it is actually making the unthinkable more likely to occur.

Most experts agree that it would be stabilizing if states in possession of nuclear weapons would declare a ‘No First Use’ policy and adapt a posture consistent with that policy. Unfortunately, neither Russia nor the US have declared such a policy, nor have most of the other nuclear-capable states. What these countries refuse to acknowledge is that there is absolutely no guarantee that a nuclear war can be controlled. There is no such thing as a “limited” nuclear war.

Third, the nuclear strategies that could lead to the firing of hundreds of nuclear weapons remain susceptible to false alarms. This risk has not diminished with the passing years. Others have documented the several cases in which human error caused national alerts and brought leaders in Moscow or Washington within minutes of making a civilization-ending decision.

Consider just one such event. In 1995, the Russian early warning system interpreted the launch of a scientific rocket from Norway as a nuclear missile from an American submarine. In the absence of any tension between Russia and the US, President Yeltsin did activate the mobile nuclear command center, but did not authorize a launch of Russian weapons. In 2019, with the current deep distrust in the great power relations, can we have any confidence that the current leaders would react as calmly and deliberately?

As argued convincingly by former Secretary of Defense William Perry, the continued reliance by both major nuclear powers on intercontinental missiles for the bulk of their deterrent is a major factor in the hair-trigger nature of their nuclear postures. The pressure of ‘use it or lose it’ is what causes both to consider that they have only a few minutes to distinguish between an actual attack and a false alarm.

And fourth, new and emerging technologies offer some potential for reducing the risk of accidental nuclear war. But the downside risk is greater. Hypersonic vehicles, cyber technology, artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons systems all could upset the delicate assumptions upon which bilateral stability has rested. To take just one example, cyber ‘probing’ by one nation against another nation’s military command and control systems could be interpreted as a prelude to a nuclear attack, and lead to a pre-emptive launch of nuclear weapons.

Others will discuss the appropriate therapy to address this risky situation but let me offer a few quick thoughts on the way forward.

The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a powerful moral statement and – we can hope – will be seen by historians as a crucial ethical turning point for humanity, worthy of a Nobel prize. In my view, the more urgent need now is for leading nuclear and non-nuclear states to halt and reverse the arms race, reduce the salience of nuclear weapons, and eliminate the most destabilizing types of weapons.

This means that decisions that can make nuclear war more or less likely cannot be left only to Presidents Trump and Putin. NATO members must show leadership in implementing the alliance’s declared policy of reducing reliance on nuclear deterrence and moving toward a nuclear-free world. I especially welcome the fact that the parliaments of the Netherlands and Canada have actively pushed their governments to articulate and press for policies in this direction, and that those governments have responded.

In the environmental movement, we say “Act locally, think globally”. What I hope to see from Netherlands and other Allies is that they work within NATO, but that they not limit their creative thinking and policy initiatives to the strictures of NATO doctrine.

Specifically, NATO members must use summit-level contacts, such as the NATO Summit next week in London, to convince the US President of the importance to the Alliance of New Start extension. And if we are to avoid a repetition of the nuclear Euromissile race of the 1980s, practical ideas will not come from Washington or Moscow – they must come from Europe.

And non-nuclear states must speak clearly: that they do not accept the efforts by Washington and Moscow to RE-define and walk away from their legal obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament. If great powers will not lead, others must.

Furthermore, genuine strategic stability talks between the United States and Russia are urgently needed, with the main point of conversation being the extension of New START. The lapse of this treaty would potentially spark a new global arms race and increase the chances of a nuclear war—whether that war is on purpose or accidentally.

After all, the Cold War had a handful of close calls, incidents in which the United States or the Soviet Union believed the other had launched a nuclear attack only for it to turn out to be a false alarm. More recently, there was an incident in Hawaii in January 2018, when an alert went across the state warning of an impending ballistic missile attack only to be revoked nearly 40 minutes later. Though the alert was not for a nuclear attack specifically, it nevertheless reminded us all that the real risk of a war with devastating weapons remains to this day, and there is a true possibility of a so-called “limited” war escalating to include the use of nuclear weapons. Such a situation, as I said before, cannot be controlled and will only lead to absolute devastation.

And the last suggestion for informing our approach is for allies, in particular the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to play a more active and nuanced role in reducing the role of nuclear weapons in war plans and moving towards a world free from nuclear weapons.

NATO supported the United States’ withdrawal from the INF Treaty, but has expressed support for New START, highlighting that the treaty makes the world a safer place. Such statements now demand action, as the future of New START becomes increasingly ill-fated every passing day.

The prognosis is that a full-scale nuclear confrontation—given the current potential hot flashpoints, risky doctrines governing nuclear use, the continued possibility of false alarms in early warning systems, and emerging game-changing technologies – remains a distinct possibility.

As I have outlined, however, there are steps to be taken by both nuclear and non-nuclear powers and by allies. But the task of building a world without nuclear weapons is not limited to governments and national leaders.

As Pope Francis stated this week in Japan, when he reiterated the immorality of the possession of nuclear weapons: “Turning this ideal into reality requires the participation of all: people, religious communities, civil society, states that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not possess them, military and private sectors, and international organizations.”

Now, the Holy Father did not specifically mention doctors, so let me thank the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Medische Polemologie for organizing this event, and say that it is the activism of doctors focused on the health and survival of the human species, of educators teaching the hard realities to the next generation, of elder statesmen, of civil society activists, of pragmatists, of radicals, and of pragmatic radicals. These are the ones who inspire each of us to teach individuals, to motivate society and to move governments to a more peaceful path.

Thank you, and God bless.


Remarks by Board Chairman Thomas Countryman at The Hague Peace Palace Conference on “Urgent Appeal for a Nuclear Weapon Free World"

Remarks to the 24th CWC Conference of States Parties



Dr. Paul F. Walker
International Program Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability
Green Cross International

Remarks to the 24th CWC Conference of States Parties (CSP-24)
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
The Hague, The Netherlands
November 25-29, 2019

Mr. Chairman, Director-General, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I welcome the opportunity to speak briefly before this important 24th meeting of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and wish to associate my remarks with the statement of Ambassador Kevin Kelly from Ireland and the many other States Parties which joined his call for the importance of civil society, industry, academia, and non-government organizations participating in the CWC and working closely with the OPCW and States Parties. I would also cite the timely and helpful remarks of the European Ambassador Markus Leinonen.

The one main point I would like to add to the many excellent remarks of my NGO colleagues is the continued importance of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), and other timely efforts of the OPCW to fully implement the CWC and strengthen the global norm against chemical weapons. Only with such persistent follow-through to investigate any alleged use of chemical weapons and violations of the CWC, and to refer any and all perpetrators, whether state or non-state actors, to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, will this historic abolition treaty help build a more safe, secure, healthy, and sustainable planet.

Mr. Chairman,

We must leave no stone unturned in protecting the global norm of the Convention; in ensuring that all violations will be thoroughly, professionally, and fairly investigated; in establishing a world free of chemical weapons; and in preventing chemical weapons from reemerging. The role of civil society will remain very important, and I am pleased that we have now been able, with the help of the CWC Coalition, to increase annual registration to close to 300 NGO representatives, well over ten times our CSP registration from a decade ago.

We will continue to actively support the OPCW and CWC, and look forward to helping all States Parties to fully implement this historic model arms control treaty.

Thank you for your kind attention, and I wish for this statement to be made part of the final CSP record and posted on the OPCW website.


Dr. Paul F. Walker, international program director with Green Cross International (and vice chair of the Arms Control Association board of directors) offered the following comments to the CSP-24 in November.

Subject Resources:

Members Briefing on the Future of New START



October 1, 2019
3:00pm Eastern U.S. time

The New START agreement between the United States and Russia—now the only agreement limiting the world’s two largest nuclear weapons arsenals following termination of the INF Treaty—is scheduled to expire in February 2021 unless Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin mutually agree to extend it by five years.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton was a harsh critic of extending New START. What does Bolton's departure from the administration in September mean for the future of the treaty?

Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction, and Thomas Countryman, board chair and former acting undersecretary of state for arms control, briefed members on what could be the most important national security decision in a generation.

These calls are open to members of the Arms Control Association. Audio recordings of the call may be made available for nonmembers at some point following the call. Join or renew your membership today to receive details on how to join us for our next members call and be part of the conversation. 

AUDIO RECORDING: The Future of New START, October 1 Members Call


Join Kingston Reif and Thomas Countryman for a members-only briefing on the future of the New START agreement between the United States and Russia.

Country Resources:

A Critical Evaluation of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Weapons Policies



Monday, July 29, 2019
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 


Since taking office in January 2017, the Trump administration’s strategy to reduce nuclear weapons risks has been marked by significant controversy. The administration has withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, began high-stakes nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, proposed to develop new low-yield nuclear capabilities and is pressing forward on a $1.7 trillion plan to maintain and upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal, announced its intent to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on August 2, and has yet to make a decision on whether to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). 

These actions have prompted numerous questions. Is the administration’s maximalist approach to nuclear negotiations with Iran, North Korea, and Russia practical or achievable? Are the administration’s costly plans to replace the U.S. nuclear arsenal necessary or sustainable? What is the administration’s strategy to prevent a new missile race in Europe in the absence of the INF Treaty? What would be the implications for U.S. security if the President decides to allow New START to expire in 2021 with nothing to replace it? 

Speakers assessed the Trump administration’s policies on nuclear weapons spending, U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and nuclear diplomacy with North Korea—and offered recommendations for a more responsible and effective approach.

Speakers included:

  • Lt. Gen. (ret.) Frank Klotz, former administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration and former commander of Air Force Global Strike Command;
  • Corey Hinderstein, vice president of international fuel cycle strategies at the Nuclear Threat Initiative; 
  • Kingston Reif, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association; 
  • Thomas Countryman, chairman of the board at the Arms Control Association; and
  • Lara Seligman, Pentagon correspondent at Foreign Policy; will moderate.

The event is open to the public and the press and will be on-the-record.

Due to a technical problem with the audio recording equipment, only a partial recording was captured. The transcript reflected prepared notes and the available audio.

LARA SELIGMAN: First, I’d just like to set the table for our discussion today. Nuclear weapons have been in the news a lot more in the last two years since President Trump came into office. In fact, the Trump administration has been accused of kicking off a new arms race with calls for new missiles and warheads, and withdrawing from key arms control treaties - and this event is very timely because it looks like the US is going to formally pull out of the INF Treaty on Friday.

I’ve been watching the nuclear issue for years from the perspective of the US military, which is in the process of modernizing its entire nuclear triad. President Obama, in fact, kicked off the recapitalization effort – I was covering the Air Force for Defense News in October of 2015 when the Pentagon announced that Northrop Grumman had won the bomber competition. For four years, it was radio silence on that program. But just last week, the Air Force announced the B-21, as it is now called, will have its first flight in 2021. It kind of feels like we’ve come full circle.

Meanwhile, the contests for some of the other legs of the triad are heating up. Boeing just dropped out of the running to replace the land-based leg, the ground-based strategic deterrent, leaving Northrop the only contender and possibly heading toward a monopoly on the triad. Boeing’s withdrawal also raises questions about how the Pentagon is handling the procurement, which will be worth tens of billions of dollars over the next several decades.

While I was working in the trade media, I had a very narrow focus on the programmatics of the modernization effort. From this perspective, it makes sense that the US military would want to recapitalize since some of the existing weapons were built in the 1960s. Objectively, these weapons are aging, and cannot last forever. And yes, Russia is ahead of us in terms of their own nuclear modernization.

But now at Foreign Policy, I have to think about the bigger policy questions. Of course, if we could snap our fingers and get rid of all nuclear weapons, I think most people would say we should. But unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. If you ask me, If those who could threaten us and our allies have nuclear weapons, we need to ensure ours are the best they can be, in order to deter a nuclear conflict. This has been the guiding principle of U.S. nuclear policy since the Cold War.

But there has been a definite shift in tone since Trump took office. While Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review emphasized reducing nuclear stockpiles worldwide, Trump’s 2018 version focused on the need to deter and match Russia and China. And while the new guiding document reiterates that nuclear weapons should only be used in extreme circumstances, it seems to broaden the definition of extreme circumstances to include wide-scale, non-nuclear attacks on civilians, or attacks on our nuclear forces.

The most interesting and controversial piece to me is the introduction of two new low-yield or tactical nukes to the US arsenal. Opponents say this addition is unnecessary and increases the risk of nuclear war—a nuke is a nuke, after all. But the administration argues that tactical nukes will make nuclear war less likely, not more. They often point to Russia’s large arsenal of tactical nukes – the worry is they could use them in a more limited strike, and the US would not be able to proportionately respond. Personally, I think the devil will be in the details.

So what am I watching most closely over the next year? Of course, the B-21. Also, what happens with GBSD – will the Pentagon now have to start over from scratch, adding years and millions of dollars to the modernization effort? Or will it continue, knowing it has much less negotiating power to get a good deal with just one competitor?

More immediately, I’m watching the negotiations over the defense policy bill, particularly the fight over low-yield nukes, which will largely determine whether the Trump administration can pursue its agenda.

On the international front, I’ll be keeping an eye on whether we do in fact pull out of the INF Treaty on August 1, and whether that leads Europe to change its posture with new missiles or defenses. China, meanwhile, seems to be taking a different route – it certainly has nukes, but more concerning is its buildup of conventional missiles in the Pacific. Is there any hope of an arms deal between the world’s three superpowers that covers both nuclear and conventional missiles? That, I think, is the most interesting policy question going forward.

I’ll stop there because our panelists can go more into depth on what we are seeing from Russia, Iran, and North Korea. So let me now turn it over to Kingston.

KINGSTON REIF: Thank you, Lara, and thank you, everyone, for coming today.

In December 2016, then President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” and later told MSNBC that he would “outmatch” and “outlast” other potential competitors in a nuclear arms race. The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released in February 2018, comports with this objective by calling for a significant expansion of the role and capability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In addition to continuing full speed ahead with its predecessor’s plans to replace the nuclear triad and its associated warheads and supporting infrastructure on largely a like-for-like basis, the administration is proposing to develop two new sea-based, low-yield nuclear options, broaden the circumstances under which the United States would consider the first use of nuclear weapons, and lay the groundwork to grow the size of the arsenal.

At the same time, key U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreements are in now in serious doubt. The United States will leave the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on Friday and the Trump administration has shown little interest in extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The administration’s cold shoulder to arms control increases the risks – and could greatly increase the cost – of its approach to sustaining the arsenal.

President Trump has suggested that he wants some sort of grand, new arms control deal with Russia and China. But it remains to be seen whether this gambit is serious, or a poison pill designed to justify walking away from New START after having already walked away from the INF Treaty.

In short, the Trump administration is preparing to compete in a new nuclear arms race while simultaneously increasing the likelihood of a such a contest.

The projected cost of this approach is staggering and it is growing. The United States currently plans to spend nearly $500 billion dollars, after including the effects of inflation, to maintain and replace its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). This is an increase of nearly $100 billion, or about 23 percent, above the already enormous projected cost as of the end of the Obama administration.

Taken together, the changes being pursued by the administration are unnecessary, set the stage for an even greater and more unsustainable rate of spending on nuclear weapons, and threaten to accelerate global nuclear competition.

Key leaders in Congress, particularly in the Democratic-led House, are increasingly concerned about the administration’s approach and have begun to heavily scrutinize the nuclear recapitalization programs, their rationale, their cost, and policy alternatives.

In April, with the generous support of the Charles Koch Institute, the Arms Control Association released a report detailing our assessment of the costs of, risks of, and alternatives to the administration’s nuclear weapons spending plans. You can find copies of the report outside. As part of the project, we have also built a new website, USNuclearExcess.org, highlighting several themes in the report and to illustrate the costs and compare them to spending on other priorities. We are launching that site today and you can get a look at the home page above.

The NPR contains elements of continuity with long-standing U.S. nuclear policy, many of which would have likely featured in a review conducted by a Hilary Clinton administration and deserve support.

These include an emphasis on reducing the risk of nuclear weapons use, maintaining the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, continuing to pursue the political and security conditions to enable further nuclear reductions, overcoming the technical challenges of verifying nuclear reductions, strengthening alliances, and upgrading U.S. nuclear command, control, communications, and early-warning capabilities.

But there are several significant proposed changes to U.S. policy in the review and its subsequent implementation.

According to Trump NPR, the world is a far more dangerous place than it was at the time the Obama administration conducted its NPR in 2010.

It is true that the international security environment is less favorable than it was a decade ago. Technology is advancing in new and unpredictable ways. And the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal – much of which was originally built during the Cold War-era and refurbished since – is aging.

But the NPR does not provide any conclusive or compelling evidence that these challenges will be addressed or overcome by the review’s strategy.

For example, there are several problems with the NPR’s rationale for developing a third and fourth low-yield nuclear option. These additional options are the near-term deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and, in the longer term, development of a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM).

The NPR claims that a low-yield SLBM option would provide the United States with a proportional, prompt, and assured response option that it currently lacks. But the United States already possesses hundreds of low-yield warheads as part of the air-leg of the triad and plans to invest over $150 billion in then-year dollars in the coming decades to ensure these warheads can penetrate the most advanced air defenses. If these new systems can’t reliably reach their targets, it’s reasonable to ask why taxpayers are being asked to invest so heavily in them.

In addition, the belief that a nuclear conflict could be controlled is dangerous thinking. The fog of war is thick; the fog of nuclear war would be even thicker. A low-yield SLBM warhead could increase the risk of unintended nuclear escalation. Given that U.S. strategic submarines currently carry SLBMs armed with higher-yield warheads, how would Russia be able to tell whether an incoming missile was carrying low- or high-yield warheads? Even if it could, how would it know that such limited use would not be the leading edge of a massive attack? In fact, Russia would not know.

A low-yield SLBM also is not necessary to promptly strike time-perishable targets. If military action has already started in the European theater and Russia uses a low-yield nuclear weapon to seek to end a conflict it believes NATO would win conventionally, it is likely that the United States would have had sufficient time to forward deploy forces, including conventional and nuclear fighters and bombers, to provide a prompt response. Regardless, it’s far from clear why the United States would need or want to respond to Russian limited nuclear use in minutes, rather than hours or even days.


Meanwhile, the claim that a new SLCM is necessary to provide an assured theater strike option and serve as a hedge against Russian or Chinese advances in antisubmarine warfare capabilities is unconvincing. The United States is already planning to invest scores of billions of dollars in existing weapons to address the air defense challenge. ICBMs and bombers exist in part to guard against a major, unforeseen breakthrough in anti-submarine warfare capabilities. In addition, the Navy is unlikely to be pleased with the additional operational and financial burdens that would come with re-nuclearizing the surface or attack submarine fleet. Arming attack submarines with nuclear SLCMs would also reduce the number of conventional Tomahawk SLCMs each submarine could carry. In other words, a new SLCM would be a costly hedge on a hedge.

Arguably the most consequential part of the NPR that has received the least attention is the proposal to lay the groundwork to significantly expand the number of U.S. nuclear warheads. One measure of the scale of this plan is to produce at least 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030.

But a recent report by the Institute for Defense Analyses concluded that none of the options analyzed by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) can be expected to provide 80 pits per year by 2030.

Furthermore, the need to drastically expand plutonium pit production is highly questionable. The capability to build even 30 pits by 2030 would be an enormous achievement. Once NNSA demonstrates the capability to manufacture 30 pits per year, it can reevaluate the need for additional pits based on the anticipated aging of existing pits, the size of total warhead stockpile at that time, and the international security environment.

Now, the Trump NPR's proposals to develop new nuclear capabilities and infrastructure will pose significant affordability and execution challenges. The possible demise of New START could make the problem even worse. A reckoning is coming, the result of a massive disconnect at the Pentagon and NNSA between budgetary expectations and fiscal reality.

The Pentagon has reoriented its thinking toward long-term strategic competition with Russia and China, thereby elevating the relevance of conventional modernization. The nuclear recapitalization projects cannot be sustained without significant and sustained increases to defense spending, which are unlikely to be forthcoming, or cuts to other military priorities.

Of course, pressure on the defense budget can't be relieved solely by reducing nuclear weapons spending. A significant portion of the overall cost of nuclear weapons is fixed. That said, changes to the nuclear replacement program could make it easier to execute and ease some of the hard choices facing the overall defense enterprise while still leaving a force more than capable of deterring nuclear attacks against the United States or its alliance partners.

It is not too late to pursue a different path. As our report describes, the United States could save nearly 150 billion alone in fiscal year 2017 dollars over the next 30 years while still retaining a triad and deploying a New START limit of 1550 deployed strategic warheads. What could such savings buy? Well, one thing would be nearly the entire additional acquisition cost over the next 30 years to grow the Navy to 355 ships by the late 2030s.

Among the triad modernization projects that should be scaled back is the Air Force's plan to replace the Minuteman III ICBM with a new fleet of missiles. The Air Force has yet to demonstrate that sustaining the Minuteman III, in my view, beyond the missiles expected at retirement in the 2020-2030 timeframe is not a viable or more cost-effective near-term option.

The news last week, as Lara mentioned, that Boeing does not plan to submit a proposal for the GBSD program engineering and manufacturing development contract is a large red flag and reinforces the rationale, in my view, for deferring GBSD. Now, you may hear a different view on this question from Gen. Klotz. You will.

Let me end with the role of Congress. Over the past several years, Congress has largely backed both the Obama and Trump administration's proposals to replace the arsenal, though not without controversy. Now, the majority in the House following the 2018 mid-term elections, Democrats have conducted more aggressive oversight of the administration's nuclear policy and spending proposals.

The recently passed House versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA and the Defense and Energy and Water Appropriations bills would, among other changes, prohibit the deployment of the low yield SLBM warhead, express support for extending New START, reduce funding to build a new fleet of ICBMs and expand the production of plutonium pits, and mandate a study of options to scale back planned nuclear modernization programs.

Whether any of these changes will be adopted remains to be seen given the opposition to them in the Republican-controlled Senate. But it is clear that this - that there is significant unease in Congress about the administration's approach. As the costs continue to rise, the trade-offs become starker and the administration's disdain for negotiated arms control non-proliferation agreements claims other victims, that unease is likely to grow. Thank you.

FRANK KLOTZ: Well, thank you, Lara, for that very kind introduction and for volunteering to moderate this panel. Thanks also to the Arms Control Association for arranging this morning's event and for Carnegie Endowment for hosting it in their facilities.

As Tom mentioned, I think it's vitally important for our nation and for our future that we have an informed, robust, civil, and ongoing national discourse on nuclear weapons and nuclear arms control policy. As Tom pointed out, some of us remember the days when these topics were widely studied and debated. That all changed with the Cold War ending. Unfortunately, many in academia, many in the press, many in the policy community, and even many in the military stopped thinking about nuclear matters, especially as our nation's attention was increasingly drawn to countering the threats posed by terrorism. So, kudos to both organizations for the important work they do to inform the public on key nuclear policy issues.

I'm especially delighted to share this rostrum and to be in the same room with so many good friends and former colleagues. Let me say right up front, as will become apparent in the course of remarks, I strongly support a good deal of what Kingston just said, specifically his views on the wisdom and urgency of extending the New START agreement.

On the other hand, I strongly disagree with some of what he said, specifically his comments on the nuclear modernization program. A modernization program, by the way, that was begun and accelerated in the Obama administration and is being continued by the Trump administration. More particularly, contrary to what the report argues, I believe it's vitally important to replace the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system now as well as to restore our nation's ability to manufacture plutonium pits.

Thus, when the House-Senate conferees meet in late August, if I were advising them as they take up the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, I would personally urge them to adopt the House language on New START, but adopt the Senate language on the ground-based strategic deterrent and plutonium pit production. Now, some may think that these two views, support for a comprehensive nuclear modernization program and support for nuclear arms control, are incompatible, or at least work at cross purposes.

Let me explain why I believe this is not the case. As President Reagan famously said, a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. What's often left out is the next sentence to that statement where he added, "The only value in possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used."

Now, the policy of the United States for achieving this objective, followed by both Democrat and Republican presidential administrations, followed by both Democrat and Republican-controlled Congresses, has been to maintain a safe, secure, survivable, and effective nuclear force to deter nuclear attack against the United States and its allies and to reduce the likelihood of large-scale conventional warfare between nuclear-armed states.

At the same time, the United States has also negotiated arms control agreements with Russia to limit the number, types, and in some cases even the capabilities of nuclear weapon systems deployed by both sides. And it has pursued agreements with the broader international community to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to prevent special nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Now, as a career but now-retired Air Force officer and as a former administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, it's probably no surprise–it's certainly not a surprise to Tom or to Kingston–that I fully subscribe to this longstanding dual-track approach and believe it is absolutely essential to ensuring our safety and security for the foreseeable future. So, since this is about the present and the near future, what specific steps should the current and future presidential administrations–as well as the Congress–take now to implement this approach?

First, as I indicated at the outset, it's essential to maintain and modernize all three legs of the so-called nuclear triad. The delivery systems, the warheads, the command and control systems associated with the current triad continue to constitute a powerful and effective deterrent force, but they are well past their designed service lives and will eventually age out.

For example, the youngest B-52 bomber in the Air Force inventory is now 56 years old. It will still be flying for at least another 30 years, so it needs new engines and updated electronics to remain an effective long-range strike platform for both conventional and nuclear operations. The air-launched cruise missile first entered service in 1982. We've had an air-launched cruise missile that long and it also needs to be replaced.

The LRSO (Long Range Strike) program–and W80-4 Life Extension Program are the programs of record to do just that. And the Minuteman III missile. It was first deployed in the late 1970s into silos that were constructed in the 1960s. I can attest from long, personal, and recent experience that every element of the Minuteman III system, from the missile to the guidance set, to the tools, handling gear, test equipment used by maintenance technicians, are showing serious signs of aging, signs that cannot be remedied by the Band-Aid fix of yet another life extension program. We've already been through one, yet another will not do it. And I'd welcome the opportunity to say more about that particular point in the Q&A session.

The second thing that ought to be done. Current and future administrations should continue to update our nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure including the National Nuclear Security Administration's national laboratories, production facilities, and test sites. Many of these facilities were constructed during the early days of the Cold War. Some were even constructed during the Manhattan Project of the Second World War.

During my nearly four years at NNSA, we routinely had to contend with collapsing roofs, corroded pipes, and other age-related problems that posed safety risks to our workers and, in some cases, shut down certain operations for weeks. In addition, our capability to manufacture and certify the basic materials, as well as the thousands of pieces and parts that make up a nuclear weapon, has atrophied and must be restored, including the ability to manufacture plutonium pits.

Finally, the ability to annually certify to the president and to the Congress that the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe, secure, and reliable without conducting nuclear explosive tests depends upon the continuous improvement of sophisticated scientific instruments and high-performance computing platforms to better understand the impact of weapons aging and the effectiveness of life extension programs.

The nuclear modernization program begun in the Obama administration and continued under the current administration addresses all of these issues. Moreover, it's worth recalling that, for over a decade, it has been supported by a broad consensus at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, on both sides of Capitol Hill, and on both sides of the aisle.

The third step the Trump administration should take to ensure the long-term effectiveness of nuclear deterrence capabilities is to resume arms control dialogue with Russia, the dialogue that was a central feature of our nuclear policy even during the darkest days of the Cold War. It's been said the landmark INF Treaty will be formally relegated to the history books in less than a week. Its demise leaves only one bilateral arms control agreement that mutually constrains the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or New START.

That treaty is due to expire in February 2021, 10 years after it entered into force and only 3 years after the U.S. and Russia reduced their forces to the central limits mandated by the treaty. New START can, however, be extended for up to five years by agreement of the American and the Russian presidents. Importantly, this action does not have to be ratified by the legislative bodies of either country. The current administration has been very non-committal, at least publicly, about its intentions with respect to New START. And quite frankly, recent statements attributed to some senior administration officials have been troubling.

On the other hand, past and current senior military leaders have been, and I think continue to be, very supportive of New START, because of the military benefits that it confers. What are some of these? Well, first, it caps Russia's baseline strategic nuclear force at known and predictable levels. I would suggest that one of the reasons for the enormous buildup of nuclear weaponry during the Cold War stemmed from a concern and uncertainty about what adversaries might be doing both now and in the future. So, to the extent that you reduce that uncertainty, you reduce part of the incentive for large-scale buildups of nuclear capabilities.

Secondly, through its verification provisions, including data exchanges, routine notifications, and onsite inspections, the treaty offers important insights, allows us to gain important insights into the size and capabilities and disposition of Russia's nuclear forces beyond that provided by more traditional intelligence collection and assessment methods.

Third, by reducing uncertainty and enhancing predictability, it affords us greater confidence in the plans for the size and structure of our own nuclear deterrent force including the current US. nuclear modernization program.

Now, as I said, New START is currently due to expire in February 2021. A year and a half or so may seem like a long time to deal with the matter, but no one - no one should underestimate how long it would take to broker an extension, much less any other type of agreement that attempted to break new ground such as adding new parties to the treaty like China or broadening the scope of the types of forces that are captured by the treaty like non-strategic nuclear forces or Russia's so-called novel or exotic systems as some have recently suggested.

Broadening the participants and scope of nuclear arms control is certainly a worthy goal, one which I have personally and will continue to support, but it will take careful thought and detailed planning, close consultation and coordination with our allies and painstaking negotiation to achieve any meaningful outcome. So I can only conclude that the wisest and most prudent course of action at this point would be to take proactive steps now to extend New START before it expires in 2021, and thereby gain the time needed to carefully consider the options for a successor agreement or a series of agreements.

That, in my opinion, will be essential to ensuring the sufficiency of our current modernization programs and sustaining the political consensus and support necessary to keep them on track. I see that my time is up. There's certainly a lot more I could say and would like to say about New START and nuclear arms control and would welcome the opportunity to do so but will leave it to you all to bring it up in the Q&A session.

COREY HINDERSTEIN: Okay. Well, it's my job to be the last speaker here on the panel and hopefully, I will raise the same kinds of interesting points worthy of follow-up as my previous speakers. Let me start by thanking Kingston and the Arms Control Association for putting the panel together and Lara and Gen. Klotz for sharing the broad podium with me today. My job is pretty simple. It's to talk about Iran and North Korea in approximately 12 minutes. And I'm going to start my timer now so I know where I am.

I'm actually going to make my job even harder than that with permission because I'm going to talk about Iran and North Korea and then I want to talk about a couple of other points that are kind of floating out there because I think too often we speak about Iran and North Korea in isolation. We also–to the extent we link them, we actually link them together, just the two issues and I think it's valuable to think about how our approaches right now to each of these problem sets are actually the same or different from or have some similarities kind of constitutionally with the–some of the other challenges that we're facing.

So let me start with Iran and I'm going to start with a–maybe what's a controversial statement for folks in the non-proliferation community right now by saying, I think reasonable people can disagree on whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, was the right deal to be made when it was made in 2015. I have heard arguments about, in particular, looking at whether doing a nuclear-only deal at that time was the right approach.

Now, I say reasonable people can disagree, but I'm clearly on the side that it was the right deal to be made. And in fact, it was the only deal to be made at the time. And I don't say that because it was such a hard negotiating environment, which it was, or that we got everything we could get as far as concessions from the Iranians, which I believe we did. But I say it because I think it demonstrated that when we're dealing with a complex non-proliferation or in this case, proliferation problem, sometimes the way to get at an appropriate set of actions is to focus on the biggest problem with the nearest term consequences.

And I don't want to minimize Iran's activities regionally, which I will get to in a moment, but not only–certainly were concerning then and in some ways are even more concerning now. Their activity with ballistic missiles, their activity in support for terrorism, those are all things that Iran did and continues to do, but–and this is–has become a cliché, but I think it's a cliché worth repeating. The reason that the nuclear deal was so important is because every single one of those problems becomes more complicated if you layer nuclear weapons on top of it.

And so, I really do believe that that was the right deal to be made at the time and it was never made in–with the idea that it would be the end of the conversation with Iran. And that's another point I'll get back to. So, I stipulate that Iran did pose serious nuclear risk before the JCPOA and they continue to pose some risk today. I would also argue that one of the greatest risks is actually back to a point that General Klotz made about the value of New START is that it introduced predictability and reduced uncertainty.

And I think that's an undervalued characteristic of the JCPOA. In the years leading up to that agreement, we were dealing with a rapidly changing situation with rapidly changing timelines to the kind of–the–our worst-case scenario. And even if you argue that the JCPOA didn't take all that risk off the table, which is true, what it did was introduce some predictability and reduced uncertainty.

And it did that by setting particular timelines and limits and by introducing on the ground verification of the sort that has never existed anywhere else in the world and continues to this day in a way that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world.

So right now, what I see troubling is that we seem to have backed out of the JCPOA without having a better path to follow. Iran is now, as a result, and in direct response to the position that the United States has taken by removing itself from the Iran Nuclear Deal, it's exceeding some of its limits. It's doing so in ways that are certainly reversible and certainly only slowly change that broader timeline dynamic, you know, the often-quoted breakout timeline or the time for that first bomb's worth of material to be produced if Iran were to decide to go full bore towards it.

We're hearing mixed information about other actions and plans, and we certainly need clarification. Just in the last 24 hours, we've heard some mixed information about what they intend to do with the–their research reactor which had been designed to produce a lot of really nice plutonium and is being in the process–is in the process of being redesigned so that it can't produce that quantity or that type of plutonium.

We also heard some interesting numbers about how much enriched uranium they've produced since they had–have stepped back from their JCPOA-mandated limits. Now, neither of these pieces of information are very well characterized, and they've come secondhand by somebody within the Iranian Parliament who is reporting what they heard from somebody with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. So, I don't want to jump to major conclusions, but the fact is, we're on the wrong trajectory when it comes to understanding what Iran is doing and what they're doing in response to our actions.

The good thing is that these steps are reversible and they're reversible relatively quickly. And I think there are some other things Iran could do that still fall in that line. Unfortunately, if this pattern keeps coming–keeps going further, we're going to get to actions that not only would cut into that breakout timeline more significantly, but that would be harder and take longer to reverse.

The Joint Commission meeting yesterday when the Joint Commission is the kind of management body of the Iran Nuclear Deal, where all of the parties to the deal meet approximately quarterly with that and they meet at ministerial level periodically. They met yesterday in Vienna. All the parties were there. And I think it showed something really important. It showed that there is still something to preserve when it comes to the JCPOA.

The official chair's statement coming out of the European Union who chairs the meeting indicated that it was a productive dialogue with no kind of concrete outcomes and the Iranians said the same thing in nearly the same words when they ended. So there–in the face of many obstacles and with options narrowing, I think we do still see that the members of the deal are committed to preserving its value and I feel like the United States should now be in a position to really think about whether our actions are narrowing their options, because the statement from the administration so far has been that even without us in the deal, we want Iran to comply.

Now it takes a lot of guts to say something like that, but in the end, I think it is true. We do still want Iran to comply because the limits that were invoked by the deal are limits that make the region safer. So, we also are hearing thoughts about whether there is an opening for a renewal of diplomatic dialogue. Obviously, if this is a door that's open, we should walk through it. I would say that there's been a lot of discussion about whether the right approach is a more-for-more approach or a less-for-less approach. And do we open the aperture of what we should be discussing, or do we narrow it back down?

And I am very concerned that some of the statements indicate that we might be on a more-for-less pathway. And I certainly don't want to get less than we got for the JCPOA and have the world making even more concessions, or even frankly the same concessions for less commitment.

I would finally say that this deal never got its sea legs, and I think that's really to me one of the saddest outcomes, which is, it may not have succeeded. Iran may have violated in the future. They may have pursued some sort of breakout timeline or at the very least tried to break down the coalition that was holding very firm in light of constant and sometimes daily pushback from Iran as to how they were going to choose to interpret the words of the deal and how they were going to implement.

We, on a constant basis, when I was at the Department of Energy and partially responsible for implementing the nuclear-related commitments, we were constantly saying, you know, at some point we are going to get into the everyday new normal of implementation of the deal. And we never quite got there, and that's for lots of reasons. And the sad part is we still haven't got there.

You know, I joked for a while, I can't wait for the day where I literally don't carry the deal around in my purse every day, but I am not there yet. And so, I do think, we don't know if it would have succeeded. I can't say, give any guarantee that it would have. But I think it had a really good chance to succeed and it only would have succeeded if it was allowed to create its new normal. And since that didn't happen, I think it's one of the, an interesting kind of points that we'll all be sitting around these tables and debating in the future.

I will say there are a couple of positives out of the current administration approach. Given the big negative, which is I don't think we should have left the deal, what are a couple of the positives?

One is that, so far, the administration has maintained the constraints on the most technically significant proliferation activities. Now you might say, what does that mean?

Well, I choose those words rather than to say that they are maintaining waivers because I think these non-proliferation waivers as they have been discussed, it's an easy thing to say, and I think it puts the weight on the wrong thing. We are not waiving anything. What we are doing is we are allowing China and Russia to continue with the technical conversion projects that are ongoing on the ground, that would make some of the most proliferation-significant activities irreversible. And so, I think as long as we continue to support those proliferating restraints going forward, that's a good step.

It also continues to keep the cost high on Iran if they would choose to step back from those activities. One of the actions that they may choose to do, for example, is to resume some uranium enrichment in their hardened site at Fordo. Part of what the waivers or these proliferation constraints are allowing is the conversion of activities there, and that makes it not only harder and, in some cases, irreversible, because once you introduce certain gas into those centrifuges, you can't put uranium gas in it later.

But it also increases the cost for Iran to have to back out of and in some cases kick out their Russian and Chinese partners on some of these activities. And I think that's a cost we want to continue to have invoked if they would make those sorts of decisions.

The other thing is that, so far, the IAEA, the International Verification Mission is being strongly supported and this is really important because the best thing we can do is know what's happening on the ground. And the way we do that is by having the international inspections there. And so far the provision of resources, including backstopping since so much of the International Atomic Energy Agency Inspection Group has had to go work on Iran, the United States has been able to backfill that by saying, OK, we'll help provide people and resources to do the everyday job of the agency. And by providing the technical expertise that backstops here at home.

And that comes to a point on the national labs which I will get back to, Frank.

So, let me turn to North Korea briefly and say this is an area where I think that there’s a slightly better report card, but I will say it's still an incomplete.

If we can say that the Iran approach was one that was working, was continuing to work, the North Korea approach was not working. And so, it did need a big change. And I think that, in this case, we had seen a steady increase of nuclear and missile capability in North Korea. And we weren't on a path towards diverting that path.

In North Korea, very different from Iran, the top-down approach is the absolute only way that you will get anything done, so I commend the administration for having decided, in the face of a lot of kind of political pushback including from a lot of the North Korea watchers, saying, you know, saying we shouldn't reward North Korea with a presidential contact.

Yes, in a perfect world I agree with that, but in this case, I do think something new was needed and it had to come top-down. So, I think that the only approach, in this case, was a Hail Mary.

Now as with any Hail Mary pass in American football, sometimes it drops to the ground. And you don't complete it and you don't win the game. But if you are running behind as far as we were, I think it might have been one of the only chances.

Now there is a really important risk you have to manage with that. This is not easier a risk strategy. And one is that if you are going to create a process, you need to have a counterpart on that process. And right now, it doesn't feel like we have a willing counterpart.

The United States has stocked up. It’s done its homework and it's been bringing these teams of experts for a negotiation and they just don't have counterparts to negotiate with. So, when we have our national lab experts, we don't see them on the other side. When we have our military experts, we don't see them on the other side. So, I do think we need to make sure that we are negotiating in the right environment.

I also think we have to capitalize on our current environment of decreased tension, which I believe is real, to actually make some progress, to prepare. And if anybody is a chef, or at least watches chef shows on television, you know, you talk about your mise en place, you know, get everything lined up and in small bowls so you are ready to put it together. We can't use this time for nothing and then get to the point where we might have the possibility for a strong negotiation and then have to start thinking about things then. And I do believe that that's happening on our side. I don't know if it's happening on theirs.

And finally, I think we need to be realistic. We can't delude ourselves to think that some sort of magical progress is happening in the background. I've seen some headlines—North Korea is continuing its missile program, it's continuing its nuclear program, it's producing more nuclear material, it's building a new submarine.

We have seen these. And unfortunately, none of that runs counter to anything that they've actually committed to us so far. So, we can't hold North Korea to a commitment that doesn't exist, and I think that, in this case, we need to be realistic about what constraints are on them. But I support that progress.

And similarly too, the point I made on the International Atomic Energy Agency I support the administration continuing to provide resources for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization and their nuclear test monitoring capability because this is one of the best ways that we know what has happened in North Korea over time.

So, I will end with those comments on North Korea and Iran, and just say a couple of things about some other things that are happening that I think are connected and important. One is in the non-proliferation space, the initiative to create the environment for nuclear disarmament that's being led out of the State Department in support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Now some have viewed this initiative cynically. That this is a way for the United States and in particular the Trump administration to try to say it's doing something when really it's not doing anything that will practically help the situation.

And my response to that is I don't know. I believe that there are people who, for a very good reason, want the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review process to go in a positive direction. But I believe the best way to react to something that may or may not be cynical is to treat it un-cynically and dare it to work.

So, I wish this initiative every success, because if we can actually do something where we create a much more unified international community working on elements that can help the implementation of the NPT, we will all be better off. And some of the partisanship that we have seen explode in the United States has actually been happening in the international community along its partisan lines, you know, possessor states, nuclear possessor states, nuclear non-possessor states, north, south, east, west. So, let's bring people together and give it a shot.

One element that is related to the CEND is the International Partnership on Nuclear Disarmament Verification. And here I am completely biased because we at NTI are a partner with the State Department on this project and I want to be straightforward on that. But it's a project that started back in 2014 and has continued. And it's a group of more than 25 countries who get together three times a year, have an intersessional technical engagement and are making actual progress on developing and defining verification approaches for the next rounds of arms control and for disarmament.

And it's substantive and it's practical. And I think it's a really good example of how we can continue to work together.

So, what are some common themes here? I think the U.S. is most effective when we work with our allies and partners and work collectively. In Iran, we are destroying that community that worked together and created the success of the agreement. And it's going to be very hard to rebuild it.

On North Korea, we are trying hard to keep a regional coalition together. And on the NPT issues, we are trying to rebuild it. So, I do think that these are areas where we can do better.

And finally, I think we do have to invest in and support both the international institutions and the domestic infrastructure that allows this work to be successful. And here I would just back up entirely. I think our national laboratories and, in particular, the NNSA laboratories are the nation's best dual-use asset.

There's a reason they are so good at non-proliferation, nuclear security, reactor conversion, disarmament verification and it's because they had this history. And we can't lose that history because we'll lose a great resource in helping to solve our problems in the future.

I will end there. Thank you.

SELIGMAN: Well, thank you all so much. Wow, that was a lot of information to take in. We really covered the world. So, I do want to get to Q&A, but I had a couple of follow-up questions.

First of all, for Corey, there's been some question about whether the Iranian regime really wants a nuclear weapon, or whether it's really in their interest to acquire a nuclear weapon. So, I am wondering if you could maybe address that point. And, sort of related: if they do acquire a nuclear weapon, what happens then? Is there concern that it proliferates? is there concern that the situation in the Middle East kind of, explodes, I guess?

So, yes, if you could us an insight?

HINDERSTEIN:Sure. I think the short answer is we don't know what Iran really wants. We know that in the past they did have the intention to at least build a nuclear weapons capability. And there has been some discussion over the "archive material." This is the material that Israeli Special Forces seized from Iran and had the paper history of their nuclear program.

We can get into what more of that means, but I will say that it doesn't change what our understanding was in 2014 because all of the information that has come out publicly about that archive, all of that stops in the early to mid-2000s. So, we know that at one point in the past they had the interest in getting a nuclear weapons capability.

We also know that in various points later than that, they have identified getting that nuclear weapons capability as a strategic disadvantage for them, because the international pressure had become so great. And so, it was an economic and a strategic disadvantage. And so, they've clearly shown the ability to change their intention with regard to a nuclear weapon over time.

Where do they sit right now in July of 2019? I don't know. All I know is we don't have to worry about intent if they don't have capability. And so, the important thing about the JCPOA is it takes capability off the table.

You can want, I want to ride a rainbow-colored unicorn, but if one doesn't exist, I am never going to reach my dream. And so, I think that's really important.

And then the final thing is, why is it important that we keep that capability off the table? And I think it's exactly your final point because there are a lot of different ways that we could see it negatively impacting globally and regionally. Certainly, whether it would make them more bullet-proof in some of their regional provocations, it's possible.

One of the things, I've never been a nuclear domino player. I don't believe that states just automatically go nuclear because somebody else did. And I think that East Asia is a perfect example of that. But I think each state evaluates their own strategic objectives when deciding whether they would pursue a nuclear weapons program or capability. But in this case, I believe that Saudi Arabia would be a very dangerous domino. And I think that if you allow, not automatically, but I think if you follow their line of thinking and some of their rhetoric that supports it, that you would put Saudi Arabia in a very dangerous situation. And if you had that dynamic in the region, that's not one I think that we could easily manage.

SELIGMAN:Thanks. And there's many ways we could take that conversation, but I also wanted to ask General Klotz a follow-up question as well on negotiations with Russia.

Can you perhaps draw a contrast between the INF Treaty on the one hand and New START? So, I think there's a much stronger case to be made that the INF Treaty is a bad deal and we should withdraw from it, but New START perhaps not so much. So, what is Russia's thinking in complying with one and not complying with the other? And what is the Trump Administration thinking in response?

KLOTZ:No. I think that a very important question, Lara. On the INF Treaty, the United States had, at least since 2013, raised concerns with Russia about compliance with the central provisions of the treaty. And despite repeated demarches and conversations, it was clear that the Russians had no intention of addressing the issue, specific issue, which the United States was concerned about. So that left the U.S. government with deliberations that started in the last administration and carried over into this administration - what do you do with a party that has entered into an agreement and is violating its obligations under that? Do you continue to stay in the treaty or do you, while one side is not following or abiding by it, or do you withdraw from the treaty?

So, this was, ultimately it led to a DOS decision to suspend its obligations and ultimately withdraw from the treaty.

The significant difference between the INF Treaty and the New START Treaty is there are still very active measures that are taken by both Russia and the United States in the area of verification, exchanges of data, notification of movements of delivery systems from depots and from production facilities to operational bases and back. In fact, I think the latest number of something like 18,000 notifications have gone back and forth between the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center in the State Department and the Nuclear Reduction Center that is located in the Ministry of Defense in the Arbatskaya, which provides unprecedented insight into what the other side is doing.

And then, you know, each side gets to perform 18 on-site inspections every year in the other country, boots on the ground, looking around. I was a wing commander at Minot Air Force Base when the Russians came for a reentry vehicle onsite inspection under a previous treaty, but I will tell you they were very, very, very thorough investigations or inspections.

So, as a result of all of that, the U.S. government in compliance with the resolutions of ratification of New START has certified every year that Russia is in compliance with the New START Treaty. So that's a fundamentally different issue than we had with INF in which the onsite inspection and the other verification aspect of that had lapsed due to time.

SELIGMAN:Great. Well, let's open it up to some Q and A. A hand over there.


THIELMANN: Greg Thielmann, board member of the Arms Control Association. Both Russia and China have cited U.S. strategic ballistic missile defenses as a reason for their refusal to enter into deep discussions of further arms control cuts.

And we have seen—at least if I can believe Arms Control Today—that the U.S. Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense Program is having serious technological problems. So, my question is why is the U.S. Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense Program not a part of this discussion? Is it because we don't believe Russia and China, even though Putin has said very explicitly that all of these exotic new nuclear weapons that he has paraded out are a result of the U.S. leaving the ABM Treaty in 2002, or is it because $7 billion or $8 billion a year is pocket change on this subject, or is it because we are expecting Trump to transfer the funds from ballistic missile defense to the border wall on Mexico?

REIF:I can take a stab at that one to start, right, and be interested in General Klotz's take on this as well.

I mean as you noted the Russians have made it pretty clear, and, at least in my view, that going beyond New START extension in terms of further negotiated arms control between the United States and Russia is not going to make very much progress unless ballistic missile defense is on the table.

As you noted, the Russians have long expressed concerns about our missile defenses. And I would say the United States rightly has some concerns about the trajectory that Russia's missile defense program is headed as well. But obviously, the big concern has been Russia's concerns about U.S. missile defense programs.

And so, one of the big questions I think about this broader, more comprehensive arms control proposal that the White House has been pursuing is what is the United States willing to put on the table in return for limits on Russian tactical nuclear weapons, in return for China's participation in some kind of trilateral agreement? And the administration has been noticeably silent on that score.

I mean, if we are interested in the Russians limiting non-strategic weapons in some way, is the United States and NATO going to be willing to address U.S. forward-deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Europe? I think the answer should be yes but is the administration willing to do that?

And then on the missile defense issue, is the administration going to be willing to entertain capturing missile defense in some way. I think some interesting ideas have been put forward for how you might do that, for example, adaptive limits. So, if you can imagine an agreement that further limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons, how do you deal with missile defense?

Well, one way to deal would be that for every additional missile defense interceptor of a certain burn-out velocity or capability that each side wants to deploy, the other side would be allowed to deploy, say, two, three, four, five, or maybe even larger times as many offensive interceptors.

So, I think there's a conversation that can be had and should be had about missile defense if we are actually interested in further limiting Russian strategic and non-strategic nuclear forces, which I think we should be. Obviously, the political environment to do that is difficult in this country, but if we want to make further progress, I think it's got to be on the table.

And finally, I think there are unilateral steps that the United States ought to take or not to take when it comes to missile defense that would put further strain on strategic stability and make further arms measures even more difficult. So, one of those is we are not putting missile defense interceptors in space. That's just -- and we can seek to try and get Russia's agreement not to do the same. I think that would be worthwhile, but the United States as just an independent matter should not put interceptors in space, kinetic or non-kinetic.

And then, I think the other step we should not take is to test the most advanced SM-3 interceptor, the SM-3 IIA against an ICBM-class target which—at least until the House marked up the NDA and defense appropriations bills—was the Missile Defense Agency's plan to do actually some time in fiscal year 2020, given the number of interceptors (several hundred) that we're planning to field if those are demonstrated to be ICBM-capable, that's going to further raise concerns in both Moscow and Beijing about the open-ended and unlimited nature of the U.S. missile defense program.

So, that's another step I think that ought to be taken–well, in this case, not taken—to preserve the options for future arms reductions and arms control with Russia and, hopefully down the road, China.

KLOTZ:Well, I'll just add three thoughts. The first thought is I'm glad Kingston mentioned it. The Russians are investing very heavily—and they've said this publicly or they certainly said it in publications by non-governmental organizations and in track two dialogues—are investing very heavily in air defenses and missile defenses and this has been part of the Russian military culture since at least the end of the Second World War.

So,—and other countries are investing in missile defenses—so, clearly, there are military and strategic rationales for continuing to invest in missile defense. That's the first point.

The second point is missile defense is a political talisman. And at least since the Reagan administration, it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to place constraints and limits on the U.S. missile defense program politically. So then that leads to the third point, what is the…what sort of measures could be potentially negotiated with another nation—Russia, China, whoever the case may be—on the issues of missile defense from a technical verification, confidence-building approach to alleviate undue concerns over a potential destabilizing or alleged destabilizing nature of missile defense.

They're out there, but I would just circle back to the point I made earlier. They're very technically complex. They're going to take a long time to negotiate. They will be part of, I think, a Russian ask, a Chinese ask for any substantive change to the basic outlines of -- and central limits of -- a New START Treaty or a successor to a New START treaty which just argues again for the importance of , while we work through those possibilities, those potential approaches to a mutual agreement, that we extend this particular treaty. So, we have five years to do that.

GARD: Robert Gard. Critics of the Iran Nuclear Agreement tell me that, despite the verification regime, Iran has refused to allow inspections of facilities that we have asked them to look at. Is this correct?

HINDERSTEIN:So, the short answer I would say is no. The longer answer is, as always, more nuanced, right? So, the first point is that the IAEA has not just the right but the obligation to resolve any issues related to whether there are activities conducted that are counter to the deal.

That may or may not always result in an onsite inspection for a location that is not specifically called out as having onsite inspection obligations, which primarily in terms of the nuclear deal, is any facility that could produce any nuclear material. So, there certainly… any question could be raised by any member state to say, "Hey, there is something suspicious going on" and the IAEA has an obligation to first figure out if that information is credible and if there is something to follow up, they can follow up with the Iranians.

And if they are not satisfied with that follow up through exchange of letters, personal official conversations, et cetera, they can ask for an onsite inspection. So, I don't know if there has been any site that any member state -- because you use the word "we" and I don't know who the "we" is in that case—any member state has said, "Hey, we want you to go there." I can't say for sure that the IAEA has gone to any site because that's not their job.

But I can say that there have been sites that have been raised either through their own work in Iran where they've had a question that's been raised or through something that's been brought to them by a member state that is not part of the traditional regular onsite inspection process, that they have asked for special access and they've received it.

So, that is how the process is supposed to work and I would say that in this case, the IAEA has had access to every site that they have determined that they needed access to.

SELIGMAN:A couple of questions, so, let's take a couple at a time. Let's do here and back there first.

RADOVIC: Katarina Radovic from VOA, and I would like to thank the panel for about this very informative discussion. My question pertains to the… why the ramifications of departure from the Iranian deal. Lieutenant General Klotz mentioned earlier that it is very important to coordinate and consult with the allies. But, the U.S. had a proposal for maritime patrols in the Gulf that its European allies declined to join. On the other hand, there were recent Australian and British initiatives that exclude U.S., namely Australia establishing expeditionary training force and U.K. wants to create multinational force to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

Does this mean that American friends are choosing to disassociate themselves from Washington and its strength because they are strenuously disagree with Washington on Iran deal? And what does this all mean and what does it all do to American power and moral leadership?

SELIGMAN:And if you can hand the mic back just so we can -- this gentleman can ask another question. Thanks.

WIER: Hi, Anthony Wier, with the Friends Committee on National Legislation. General Klotz, this question is for you. I assume your time in government, right, you had to make decisions about the U.S. and allied nuclear arsenals and strategic posture based on assessment of the Russian nuclear weapons arsenal, both those weapons that were covered by delivery systems covered under START or New START treaties like that, of course, also those nuclear weapons delivered on systems not cover by this (we often refer to those as tactical). I'm going to make an assumption that the United States government had lower confidence in its assessment of the Russian arsenal on the non-covered tactical side of the ledger, that it was harder to develop precision and confidence in that assessment of what actually Russia has.

I'm wondering from your perspective, especially from kind of the military vantage point, do you think Russia perceives a certain advantage in having their adversary have a lower level of confidence in their understanding and assessment of their arsenal, that is the lack of clarity on the tactical side. And then, it would seem to me, if that's so, if you were to lose the New START treaty, you would be effectively taking this large number of the Russian nuclear arsenal and moving it over to the less clear side of the ledger.

And so, from that perspective, would you see an advantage or some in Russia might perceive an advantage of gaining, in a sense, lack of clarity on the part of the American side over what assets they have to bring to bear to affect their strategic aims.

HINDERSTEIN:Sure. I'm going to answer the first question by not really answering —classic Washington approach—only because I'm just by far not an expert in all the Gulf and in particular, the navigational issues, freedom of navigation, protection of shipping lanes, et cetera, so, I don't want to speak to whether the U.S. approach that has not gained allied support or the allied approaches that have not gained U.S. support are indicative of a larger problem or consistent with how these countries have historically viewed managing issues of freedom of navigation. I just don't know.

What I will say though is we are seeing a much harder dynamic with the allies when it comes to Iran because the United States actions have put them in a very hard position. Our decision about our own compliance has made more difficult other countries to adhere to their own obligations and that's a really hard position to put an ally in.

It's one thing for the United States to say, "We don't think this is the right thing to do for us and we're stepping back," but the role of secondary sanctions has basically meant that some of our friends and allies as well as our not-so-friendly not-allies have had their options quite narrowed. And one of the things I really I think is too bad is that we did use to have through the joint commission of the JCPOA a really good channel to counterparts on all sorts of levels—sanctions, procurement, nuclear experts, all sorts of issues— that we might want to consult amongst ourselves before we addressed back to Iran. And the United States not being in that room anymore means that we have a harder time.

So, even if any of these proposals were credible from either side, and I just don't know the answer to that, we've lost at least one channel to not just kind of litigate that, but also to connect it to our overall strategic and tactical objectives with regard to Iran.

SELIGMAN:And if I could actually just add to that because I've written a lot about these coalition proposals that have been taking form. I do think that that European-led proposal was a bit of a rebuke to the Trump administration because the administration had put forward separately a U.S.-led coalition, and then the U.K. government went ahead and said, "Actually, let's do our own European thing." So, I don't think that can be read without a little bit of perhaps that's a rebuke to the Trump administration.

However, I do think there's a lot going on here because Britain is dealing with its own issues. They just turned over their new government. They're dealing with Brexit and I think they feel a little bit like they have to stick up for themselves and manage their own problems. So, I think this proposal was on the one hand, a rebuke of the Trump administration, on the other hand, as you mentioned, reflective of the allies and the U.K. not wanting to be part of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign, but then also it was the U.K. sort of stepping out and saying, "We're going to take the lead on this problem in a part of the world that is very close to us."

KLOTZ:Well, on Anthony's question about strategic nuclear weapons and nonstrategic nuclear weapons and the challenges of verifying either, obviously, it's much easier to verify strategic nuclear weapons, numbers, disposition, because they're large—submarines, holes in the ground if they're silos, operational bases—than it is to count weapons that may be stored in a bunker at some place in a very large area.

Having said that, while we have—both sides I assume—have very exquisite, so-called, national technical means to verify things like strategic arms agreements like New START, as I mentioned earlier, the number of data exchanges, notifications, and onsite inspections certainly add to that. I wonder as a country if we have become very dependent upon that in terms of assessing what the Russians are doing and what kind of adjustments we would have to make in monitoring Russian capabilities over the longer term if we didn't have that information coming in. So, again I think that's another argument for maintaining those types of agreements.

Nonstrategic nuclear weapons or weapons held in reserve presents a much greater challenge for the reason I just pointed out. It has bedeviled administrations ever since the so-called Presidential Nuclear Initiatives in which President H. W. Bush in 1991 unilaterally decided to significantly reduce and in some cases eliminate altogether nonstrategic weapons. There is debate about what the Russians at the time may have committed to do either publicly or privately, but, the fact is there's a large disparity in the number of nonstrategic nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia, and the Obama administration tried very hard—in part to the respond to the Senate's resolution of ratification, which clearly you know a lot about—to open negotiations on that. They didn't get anywhere, largely because, as Kingston's pointed out, there is a Russian ask that has to do with missile defense with at the time concerns about prompt global strike on the U.S. side and then of course subsequently the relationship continued to worsen with things like the invasion of Crimea and its occupation, et cetera, et cetera.

So, however, this is clearly something the United States—at least for those administration officials who have talked either privately or publicly about the next arms control series of negotiations—that the U.S. would like to circle back and deal with the Russians on. It's going to be a far more challenging issue associated with verification and transparency than is the case with strategic systems.

And within Russia itself, I suspect that depending on which organ of state you go to, to ask what their views are on that, you're going to get different views in terms of the merits of being more open, or the costs and risks of being more open about the disposition and numbers of nonstrategic nuclear weapons.

SELIGMAN:I think we're running out of time, but let's try to get at least one more from this side over here, with the laptop.

GOLD: Thank you. My name is Shabtai Gold. I just wanted to circle back to the INF for a second. What would you actually expect would be the security aspects of the deployments in the European theater or elsewhere as the result of the INF actually coming to an end this week as expected?

And secondly, China's rise, how did that really in your opinion affect the INF and how would that really affect the New START negotiations going at it. I know the Chinese have said that they're not really interested in trilateral, but the President's brought that into it. So, how is China playing into both the INF and the New START? Thanks.

SELIGMAN:OK, sure, one more question.

(UNKNOWN): Replacing the nuclear arsenal, can we adequately test a new arsenal?

REIF:So, let me start with INF and I wanted to quickly respond to a question that Lara raised earlier to General Klotz.

So, was Russia's violation of the INF treaty unacceptable and does it require a serious response? Yes.

Was withdrawal justifiable in some way? Yes. Was actually withdrawing from the treaty particularly in the way that the administration went about it smart? Absolutely not.

I mean, for starters, it was announced on the sidelines of a campaign rally last October. The administration is yet to articulate a viable strategy for preventing Russia from fielding additional types of illegal missiles that it's already deployed as well as new types of INF Treaty-range missiles. There really wasn't a real diplomatic effort made by the Trump administration nor Russia for that matter to try and save the treaty.

Yes, we should not allow Russia to gain a military advantage by its deployment of the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile. But in my view, there are plenty of even military options available to us that are compliant with the treaty and less risky than pursuing research and development, testing, and ultimately trying to field ground-launched missiles with a range prohibited by the treaty at least for the next few days.

So, I think we lost a lot of leverage by withdrawing from the treaty. It was an incredibly powerful cudgel with which to criticize and put pressure on Russia for violating the agreement. And in a few short days, all of the Russian missiles that for, at least the last five years have been illegal, will be legal.

Back to your question about the security implications particularly in Europe of INF going away, I mean, our big concern is that the end of the treaty could reignite a new Euro missile race. Now, the Pentagon is engaging in research and development on, as I mentioned, INF-range missile systems—conventional only INF-range missile systems—requested in the 2020 budget request about $100 million for this effort. It was a subject of significant debate in the House over the last few months, and ultimately the House cut funding and prohibited funding, conditioned funding at several conditions for those missile systems.

So, I think Russia given NATO's expansion eastward, those missiles would likely to be deployed in eastern Europe. Obviously, Russia is going to be concerned about that. It's likely to respond to that in negative ways including by fielding additional 9M729s and perhaps additional types of new INF-range missiles.

And a big question and one that raises, I think… well, the big question is where you're going to put these systems as well. I mean, no European member of NATO is exactly rushing forward to host these missiles. They can't be deployed in the United States to have any meaningful military impact. At least in the European theater, they need to be deployed in Europe. And several NATO allies including Poland have said that any decision to field these systems has to be the result of a NATO-wide decision, a consensus among alliance members. I think at this point, it's hard to imagine that such a consensus would exist, given how controversial even placing conventional missiles would be in Europe.

And then, on your question with respect to China, yes, I think it's playing a big role in how the administration is thinking about arms control. It no doubt played a role in the decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty even if it wasn't the primary role, and lots of concerns have been raised about the fact that China has hundreds, if not, thousands of INF-range missiles. China is not a party to the INF treaty. Why would the United States not want to develop its own systems in Asia Pacific given especially the fact that the distances there are much larger? So, that certainly played a role in the administration's thinking.

And then, on New START strategic arms control, yes, as we've discussed, the administration appears to be saying that China needs to participate in a future arms control arrangement and that is in effect the condition for New START extension, wants to see how it plays out, but that appears to be what the position is at this stage.

KLOTZ:Very quickly because I know, the answer to your question is yes, we can carry out the modernization program as laid out by the Obama and now the Trump administration without explosive nuclear testing.

First of all, a great part of the modernization program is replacing the delivery systems. There's no limit on testing the launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, of bombers, or of sea-launched ballistic missiles, or of submarines.

On the warheads and weapons that are associated with those modernized legs of the triad, we're not building… we're not creating new nuclear weapons. What we're doing is extending the life and updating existing weapons.

Since the United States voluntarily entered into an explosive nuclear test moratorium—I believe in 1992 in the Clinton administration and it has been observing ever since—we have developed an entire suite of tools known as the scientific stockpile stewardship program where through doing tests of individual components, comparing data with the nuclear tests we did conduct when we were conducting explosive nuclear testing and running through those through very high-performance computers to understand the effects of aging and to understand the effects of any adjustments that are made to extend the life of a weapon, the National Laboratory Directors are able to certify every year that we're satisfied with the safety, security, reliability of the nuclear weapon stockpile including those changes that are being made in the life extension program.

So, again, no, I don't think it requires—I'm quite confident that it does not require—nuclear explosive testing to continue with the modernization program.

SELIGMAN:Well, thank you so much to all of our panelists. This is a great discussion and obviously, we could talk about this for many, many more hours. Thanks so much.

THOMAS COUNTRYMAN: OK. And let me also thank General Klotz and Ms. Hinderstein and Mr. Reif, and thank Ms. Seligman for the moderation today.

There's much more information available at the website, armscontrol.org. I urge you not only to inform yourself but to participate in the decisions that your Congress, your government will be making on these issues. So, thank you. Have a beautiful Monday.


Corey Hinderstein (NTI), Lt. Gen. (ret) Frank Klotz, and ACA's Kingston Reif assessed on the Trump administration’s policies on nuclear weapons spending, U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and nuclear diplomacy with North Korea—and offered recommendations for a more responsible and effective approach.


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