Login/Logout

*
*  

Right after I graduated, I interned with the Arms Control Association. It was terrific.

– George Stephanopolous
Host of ABC's This Week
January 1, 2005
Events

Event Transcript: START Follow-On Treaty: Assessing Progress on Nuclear Risk Reduction

Sections:

Body: 

 

December 9, 2009 from 9:30-11:00 am


Press Contacts: Tom Z. Collina, Research Director (202) 463-8270 x104; Travis Sharp, (202) 543-4100 x2105

(Washington, D.C.): U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are expected to sign a major nuclear arms control agreement this month.   The two nations have been negotiating since April on a new treaty to replace the highly-successful 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired Dec. 5.

On Dec. 4 Presidents Medvedev and Obama issued a "bridging" statement, which says in part: "Recognizing our mutual determination to support strategic stability between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, we express our commitment, as a matter of principle, to continue to work together in the spirit of the START Treaty following its expiration, as well as our firm intention to ensure that a new treaty on strategic arms enter into force at the earliest possible date."

On Dec. 9, three leading U.S. experts on nuclear weapons policy and arms control will review the legacy of START, analyze the importance of a new follow-on agreement, review the key issues of contention, and describe the likely outcomes.


Event Transcript

ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
START FOLLOW-ON TREATY:
ASSESSING PROGRESS ON NUCLEAR RISK REDUCTION

WELCOME AND MODERATOR:
LEONOR TOMERO,
DIRECTOR, NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION,
CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION

SPEAKERS:
STEVEN PIFER,
SENIOR FOREIGN POLICY FELLOW,
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

LINTON BROOKS,
FORMER CHIEF U.S. NEGOTIATOR,
STRATEGIC ARMS REDUCTION TREATY

DARYL G. KIMBALL,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2009

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

LEONOR TOMERO:  Welcome everybody and good morning.  My name is Leonor Tomero.  I’m the director of nuclear nonproliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.  We’re a private, nonpartisan membership organization that supports prudent measures toward the elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

I’m very happy to be here this morning, co-hosting this event on the new START agreement with the Arms Control Association.  President Obama, on April 5, 2009, in Prague stated, “Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not.  In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”

Today, the president is receiving his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  So where are we headed in terms of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, which account for about 20,000 nuclear weapons, which is about 95 percent of the total nuclear weapons in the world?  

The 1991 START agreement, which mandated significant reductions from Cold War-era levels and mandated legally binding verification measures, expired on Saturday as negotiations for a new agreement between the United States and Russia, which began in April, go into the final stretch.  With only a few but difficult issues of contention remaining between the two sides, we are hopeful that a new agreement will be finalized and submitted to the Senate in the next few weeks.

This new agreement for reductions in nuclear weapons, promised by President Obama as a first and necessary step and supported by the Congressional Commission on Strategic Posture of the United States, remains extremely important for the United States and international security.

It is especially important in the context of U.S.-Russian relations, the current U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Much is at stake.  We have with us today three of the foremost leading experts on nuclear weapons and arms control to provide context, explain what we can expect from this new agreement, examine what’s at issue and what differences remain, and how the two sides may come together in a final agreement, and finally, why this agreement matters.

It’s my great pleasure to introduce Ambassador Steven Pifer, sitting in the middle.  He is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in their Center for the United States and Europe.  His expertise in nuclear arms control and U.S. relations with Russia and states of the former Soviet Union stems from his service over two decades as a Foreign Service Officer in capitals including Moscow, London, Warsaw and Kiev, and on the U.S. delegation to the negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces in Europe.  

He served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as well as deputy assistant secretary of state and also special assistant to the President and senior director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia on the National Security Council.  

We will then have the pleasure of hearing from Ambassador Linton Brooks.  Ambassador Brooks is a former Navy officer and has decades of experience on nuclear arms control, and served as the chief negotiator on the Strategic Arms Reduction, START, agreement.  Most recently, he served as under secretary of energy for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration in the last administration.  

Prior to joining NNSA, he was vice president and assistant to the president for policy analysis at the Center for Naval Analyses.  His decades of leadership in government include posts relevant to nuclear policy, military strategy, technology, submarine programs and arms control.  He is currently senior advisor in the project on nuclear issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

And third, we will hear from Daryl Kimball.  He is the executive director of the Arms Control Association, which is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to public education and support of effective arms control measures pertaining to nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional weapons and it also publishes Arms Control Today. 

Mr. Kimball has been a leading advocate on reducing the danger posed by nuclear weapons, having served at various nonprofit organizations and having headed several influential coalitions and campaigns, including for the testing moratorium in 1992, and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.  

We will hear from the three speakers and have them make their presentations and then once they have concluded their presentations, we will open it up for questions-and-answer session.  So without further ado, let me turn it over to Ambassador Pifer.

STEVEN PIFER:  Well, thank you very much.  It’s a pleasure for me to be here today and what I’m going to talk about are the prior agreements that governed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces and give you a bit of a sense for the size of those forces and also some of the issues that I think are key to the negotiations, and then set up my colleagues’ comments on options for resolving those problems.

And I’ll begin by talking a little bit about the 1991 Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty, or START.  The START agreement had limits on both launchers, heavy bombers, intercontinental ballistic missile launchers and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and warheads.

And I use the term “launcher” for ICBMs and SLBMs because the START treaty didn’t actually count missiles; it counted launchers.  So for an ICBM, it would count the silos that sit out in South Dakota and Wyoming and Montana.  And for a submarine-launched ballistic missile, it wouldn’t count the missile itself; it would count the tube on the submarine.  That was for ease-of-verification purposes but when you saw a silo or a tube on a submarine, you assumed a missile was in there.  And the main limitation here was that neither side could deploy more than 1600 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles, ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers.

The other set of limits applied to the number of warheads and they said that there could be no more than 6,000 warheads on those 1600 systems.  And within that 6,000, there were a set of various sublimitations.  But it’s important to note that here, the warheads were not counted directly, the START treaty used what was called an attribution rule.  

So for example, the Russian SS-18 missile was counted as carrying 10 warheads.  When you saw a silo that was designed for an SS-18, under the START rules, you’d assume there was an SS-18 and that then counted as 10 warheads.  So the 308 SS-18s that the Soviet Union had back in 1990 were attributed as carrying 3,080 warheads.  And that’s how you got the count towards the 6,000 warhead level.

The treaty was enforced from December 5 of 1994 until last Saturday.  It was a 15-year treaty.  The treaty also had very extensive verification measures.  First of all, there was a provision that prohibited interfering with national technical means, NTM, for verification.  And that’s a euphemism for things like surveillance satellites.  

You couldn’t interfere with the other guy’s ability to watch your implementation of the treaty.  It had a data exchange.  It prohibited encrypting telemetry.  This is the information that a missile broadcasts back to a ground station during a test shot.  And basically, it required you to share that information.  So the United States had a good understanding about Russian missile tests and the Russians had a good understanding about American tests.  

The agreement required lots of notifications.  You had to notify before you eliminated a system.  And it had 12 types of inspections, including a permanent inspection presence at Votkinsk, which is where Russia built the mobile ICBMs.

This here is actually the START treaty and it’s a book.  The treaty itself is only about 25 pages but most of this is the verification protocols, the notification requirements and the inspection requirements.  

Okay.  This is the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, large-type version.  It has a single limitation.  It requires no more than – the sides can deploy no more than 1700 to 2200 warheads on their strategic systems.  But it has no limits on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.  It has no counting rules.  It has no verification provisions.  It’s enforced until December 31 of 2012.  But on its own, it really can’t be verified, and I’ll get into some of the complications that poses in just a moment.  

This chart here shows how START-accountable strategic nuclear delivery vehicles were reduced over the last 20 years.  And there really are three data points here.  The red line there is the Soviet Union and then Russia.  The green line is the United States.

The first point is September of 1990, which is when the United States and the then-Soviet Union made their first data exchange.  The second data point is January of 2002.  That’s 7 years after the treaty entered into force and that’s a key point because the START treaty required that all of the reductions be implemented within 7 years of entry into force.

And then the last data point on the right is July of 2009.  That was the last data exchange that the United States and Russia conducted under the terms of the START treaty.  And what you see here is basically that already by 1997, 1998, the United States and Russia have reduced to below the level of nuclear delivery vehicles, ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers required in the treaty – that 1600 limit.

This gives the same information for START-accountable warheads.  And again, using those attribution rules, how many warheads do you attribute to those – intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and bombers.  And again the three data points, September 1990, January of 2002 and July of 2009.

And what you see is both the United States and Russia, as required by January of 2002, had reduced to below 6,000 warheads.  The Russians continued downward and today, they deploy about – or they had 4,000 accountable warheads under the treaty, whereas the United States stayed fairly close to the 6,000 number – although that’s an overstatement which I’ll explain right now.

Based on the data exchange that the United States gave to the Russians in July of this year and under that data exchange, the United States declared that it had 1,188 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and that they were capable of carrying 5,916 warheads.  

And this just gives you the breakdown by ICBMs, SLBMs and bombers.  The numbers on the left are the numbers of launchers, and the numbers here are the numbers of warheads attributed to those systems.  This right column here adds up to 5,916.  

Now, earlier this year, the Pentagon let it be known that, in fact, the U.S. strategic nuclear force had reduced to the level required by the strategic offensive reduction treaty.  It was less than 2200 warheads.

So how do we reconcile these two numbers?  Twenty-two hundred and 5,916.  And there are really three ways to do it.  First of all, most, if not all, American intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles had been down-loaded, in that warheads have been removed.

So for example, the Minuteman-III ICBM was designed to carry three warheads.  Many, if not most of them, have been down-loaded so they carry only a single warhead.  Likewise, a lot of American Trident D5 missiles, which can carry up to eight warheads, some of them may be carrying only one and two warheads.  So they’re carrying well below their maximum capacity.

A second difference is that a number of systems that were defined as strategic nuclear delivery vehicles by the START treaty have over the past 15 years been converted to conventional roles.  

So for example, the B-1 bomber force here on the top, that’s been removed from the nuclear force.  It now is converted to convention-only missions.  And four of the 18 Trident missile submarines have been converted such that they pull the Trident missiles out, and into the tube they’ve inserted a canister that carries seven conventional cruise missiles.  

So those systems still count under the START counting rules that were in existence until last Saturday because they had not been eliminated according to the very precise rules of START, even though they no longer had a part in the U.S. strategic nuclear plan.

And finally, there’s the issue of phantom systems, systems that have no military utility but still count under the agreement.  And I’ll show you a picture of B-52s, both phantom and eliminated.  These B-52s on the right, the ones that have had the fuselage cut into two places and then they’ve had their wings cut off, are eliminated.  These two B-52s on the left, even though they’re not flyable – they have no engines, they have no landing gear, they’re actually sitting on hard stands – are still counted under START as a strategic offensive nuclear delivery vehicle because they had not been chopped according to the very rigorous requirements of START.  

This is an MX silo out in Wyoming.  There were 50 of these.  The MX missiles were all pulled out in 2002 and 2003, and I’m told the only thing in there now is ground water that’s been seeping in over the last five or 6 years.  But because the silo – and remember, the silo was the unit of account under the START treaty – the silo has not been destroyed, it’s still considered to have the MX missile inside with the MX missiles’ 10 warheads.  There are 50 of these and that expands the U.S. count under START.  

This is a picture of what a destroyed or eliminated silo looks like.  There’s a very precise requirement in START to destroy the top 6-to-8 meters of the headwork, and it’s usually done explosively.  But until “these” silos look like “this,” they still count it into the START rules.

Russian START-accountable forces in July of 2009 came out to 809 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles capable of carrying just under 3900 warheads.  And while the Russians have not said where they are with regards to the SORT limit of 2200, I suspect that this number of warheads is probably an overestimate; that the Russian number is somewhat less than 3,000.  

And that’s in part because a large number of the submarine-launched ballistic missiles are on submarines that the Russians appear to have decommissioned.  They probably removed the missiles and the submarines are slated for dismantlement, but again, until those submarines have actually been physically dismantled or the missile tubes have been removed, they were still counting under the START books and therefore still had to be in this data exchange.  So we don’t know exactly what the Russian number is, but 3897 is probably significantly overstated.  

So just to sum up the START treaty which ended on Saturday – sort of what I would regard as three of its major contributions:  First of all, it was the first treaty to reduce strategic arms.  

The SALT agreements, the Strategic Arms Limitation signed back in the 1970s put a cap on launchers.  But because it didn’t limit warheads – in fact, the United States and the Soviet Union then piled lots of warheads on those launchers so you had a dramatic increase.  

In fact, under START, you’ve had a dramatic reduction in forces where both the United States and Russia had over 10,000 deployed warheads in 1989 and 1990, and that’s come down now to well below 6,000 – more, I think, in the range of 2200 to 3,000.

A second:  The START treaty had very significant verification and transparency measures.  As a result of this treaty, we knew and understood Russian strategic forces much better and that they had much more insight into our forces.  And this included intrusive measures including on-site inspection.

And finally, and sort of the most, I think, important result, was it provided for a very stable U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship over the last 15 years.  

Finally, just to set up the next talk, looking at what are probably the key issues that they’re grappling with now in Geneva in the context of the follow-on treaty, and these were the issues, as I understood to be at the beginning of the current round which began in November.

First of all, there was a difference between the sides on missile defense.  And that question was if you took the July joint understanding between Presidents Obama and Medvedev, how would you actually encapsulate their agreement that there would be some language on the interrelationship between strategic offense and strategic defense?

Second, while the agreement in July, there was a fairly narrow difference between 1500 and 1675 with regards to the number of permitted strategic warheads, there was a large difference with regards to the number of launchers.  The Russians proposed 500; the United States proposed 1100.

And I think if we can work out issues like those conventional systems that I mentioned – the B-1s and those four submarines – and treatment of the phantom systems, that probably reduces the U.S. requirement significantly below 1100 – maybe towards around 800, which might put us in range of the compromise.

Finally, the question, what about putting conventional warheads on ICBMs and SLBMs; there’s an American interest in this.  

And then, as I think always happens with arms control treaties at the end, verification questions – defining a regime that allows you, on the one hand, to understand what the other side is doing in terms of compliance with the treaty, but also in a way that doesn’t provide usually expensive requirements that require adjusting operational practices and such.

So with that background, I’ll turn it over to Ambassador Brooks to talk about where we think the current talks may be going.

LINTON BROOKS:  All right.  Let me outline for you where I think we will probably end up, and first let me make an important point.  The fact that the treaty wasn’t done on the 5th of December is a fact, but it’s not a problem.  They started in April; that’s eight months ago.  My treaty started 9 years before I watched it being signed.  

So while this is a less – I hope – complicated treaty, it is certainly not surprising that they haven’t finished things.  And you can see in the nature of the statement the two governments issued about continuity until it’s finished that this is going to be a fairly short period.  I don’t know what a fairly short period means – weeks, not months, not years.  

Now, what are the, sort of, plausible solutions for the problems that Steve has suggested?  Let’s take missile defense first because it’s the easiest.  

It is certainly not going to be a treaty which somehow falls back in significant limits on ballistic missile defense.  What the president said was that the treaty would acknowledge that there’s a relationship between defense and offense.  The easiest way to do that is in the preamble, as a fairly traditional arms control way.  You know, in the very beginning of the treaty – the part nobody ever reads – it goes through a litany of why we’re doing these things and recalls our obligations under the nonproliferation treaty.  And that’s the place where you might see it.  

You might see something in general provisions and, finally, you might just see something that’s in some kind of side statement.  I think it is very unlikely that this treaty will constrain in any way ballistic missile defenses, first because I think that would complicate ratification enormously in this country, but secondly, because I don’t think the Russians are interested in doing that at this stage.

The number of launchers – the SNDV limit that Steve mentioned.  My guess is that what we will have is we will have two limits in the treaty.  We will have a limit that will cover things that actually have the ability to be used for strategic forces.  And then we’ll have an additional limit for all these other things that will have relatively little operational meaning, but it will allow the Russians to say that they captured all of those systems and that the United States couldn’t go build a bunch more empty silos and somehow get a breakout capability.

The exact number in the middle will be somewhere between 700 and 800, and where it’ll be in there depends a little bit on what options the United States needs to preserve for force structure.  Nuclear posture review is not out yet; nuclear posture review could go in several directions.  If you keep all 450 of the current ICBM force, that puts you in one bunch.  If you reduce that, then you reduce total number of launchers, you keep all the submarines and simply remove warheads from missiles.  That puts you in one situation.  So more than 700, less than 800 and probably not a hard problem.  

My guess is that the conventional warheads issue is a strange issue because it has the Russians concerned about something we haven’t actually decided to do yet, which is to have a significant program that is called prompt global strike, the ability to deliver, within an hour, a conventional strike anywhere in the world.  It’s a very narrow but potentially very useful capability.  The last administration sought to embed that capability on ballistic missile submarines.  Congress was unimpressed.  There is now talk about embedding it in a newly designed missile.  

My guess is that the easiest way to handle this is to simply say that such missiles count against the launcher limit because it’d be pretty hard to sort out which ones do and don’t have conventional warheads.  

And then they’ll do something for the warhead limit.  It’s a relatively easy problem to solve because even if you are a strong supporter of the U.S. deploying such a system, the numbers will be very small.  

That leaves verification and I share Steve’s view that most of the time that my colleagues and friends in Geneva are spending, they’re spending on verification details.  To give you an example, the summit in 1987 agreed between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev on essentially all the numbers you saw in Steve’s first slide.  We signed the treaty 4 years later and essentially all of that time was verification.  Now, more complicated treaty, greater suspicion, scenarios we don’t worry about anymore – nonetheless, it suggests that what stretches this out is verification.

So what are the verification issues that are probably going to be difficult and how will they come out?  I would suggest to you that there are probably three that they’re working on.  One is telemetry.  An important way that we know about developments in Russian strategic ballistic missiles is that any missile test you take telemetry and you send it down.  It measures the pressure in the firing chamber.  It measures all the various signals to the control services.  And START requires that that be uninterrupted and that there be an exchange of information on how to interpret.  The Russians have argued that we’re not developing any new missiles so this is unfair because only they are developing new ballistic missiles.  It’s an interesting argument but it’s the argument they make.

My guess is that what we will do is continue the telemetry but probably simplify the exchange of interpretive data.  First of all, we’re less likely to need it because we’ve been interpreting this stuff for 15 years.  And secondly, START was written to be very precise, which means that it enshrines old technology and old ways of interpreting data.  My guess is that the Russians know this is important to the United States; it will be one of the last things agreed on, but it will be agreed with telemetry.  

Second issue, I don’t quite understand why people think it’s an issue.  Steve mentioned that one of the many types of inspections was the ability to monitor missiles – count missiles, essentially – as they came out of a production facility at a place called Votkinsk.  And there’s been some handwringing in various comments recently that that will probably not be preserved.  

And I agree that will not be preserved.  The Bush administration had decided it didn’t want to preserve it; it doesn’t serve any useful purpose.  I mean, the right way to do verification is figure out what the limits are and then see what you need to verify them.

The continuous monitoring at Votkinsk was done at a time when we were worried about large numbers of spare launchers and large numbers of spare missiles that could be brought together, and that has proven not to be a genuine worry.  The Russians have not done anything like the number of spares they were allowed under START-I.  Further, the whole philosophy under that was for enduring or continuing a protracted nuclear war, which to the best of my knowledge, nobody in the world believes in anymore.  So I don’t think that continuous monitoring will be in the final treaty and I don’t think that’s a very big deal.

Finally, one of the things that they are working on in verification, which is simple in principle, but probably complicated because it doesn’t draw directly on existing language, is numbers of warheads.  Steve told you that the way the START treaty works is you see a missile and you just assume how many warheads are on there because the START treaty was designed to limit the maximum capability of strategic forces.

This treaty, like the treaty of Moscow – the SORT treaty – is designed to measure what the actual forces are.  And as Steve told you, those can be quite different.  So either you have to have all new attribution rules or you have to say no, well, what we’re going to count is real, no-joke warheads, and then you have to have a way to verify that.

My guess is we’re going to count warheads and my guess is that the procedures for verifying that – it’s not that there’s any blinding new breakthrough that’s necessary – but drafting the procedures to verify not the maximum number, but the actual number will be time consuming.  

For security reasons, for example, we put a big shroud with a bunch of bumps in it so you can count how many warheads could be on that missile, but you don’t know how many really are.  Well, that won’t work if you’re actually interested in what’s really there.  So that is what I think.

Now, this is not a deal-breaker; this is not something, frankly, that will find its way into any story on START, but this is why it didn’t get finished by the 5th of December because working out these procedures, I think you can expect – Steve held up two treaties.  Look for this one to be somewhere between the two in size – I don’t know, 50, 60 pages – I made that up, but that’s a reasonable number.  

So that’s where I think we’re likely to come out.  None of the things that I have talked about strike me as particularly hard or particularly deal-breakers.  I share my colleague’s view that we’re within a couple of weeks from actually being able to read this thing.

MS. TOMERO:  Thank you.  So we’ll hear next from Daryl Kimball.

DARYL KIMBALL:  Thank you, Leonor, and thank you to Linton and Steve for being here and sharing their insights.  We really do have the two top people here on this subject.  And I just want to come back to something that Leonor said at the top.  

As we look at this new treaty, we have to keep in mind that we’re two decades beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall, and still, the United States and Russia deploy more than 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads, many of which are on a high-alert status.  And most of these weapons, the vast majority, exist simply to deter their use by the other country.

To their credit, Presidents Obama and Medvedev have recognized that the nuclear status quo is neither desirable nor is it sustainable, and they directed their negotiators to get to work, beginning last April, to try to conclude a new START deal by the end of the year.  

And as Linton just said, the deal is obviously not done.  I would agree that we are within days, if not a couple a weeks, of a conclusion.  It’s important for both sides to drive hard to reach the finish line before the U.S. and the Russian winter holidays set in.  And obviously, the deal should be done well, but it needs to be done.  This is a long overdue step, especially because START – the 1991 START treaty – expired and the verification provisions are technically no longer with us.  

Now, once this treaty is completed and delivered, there is going to be debate in the United States Senate.  It is going to consider whether to provide advice and consent for ratification.  And that debate needs to be thorough.  There’ll be a lot of good, legitimate questions, and there’ll be some others that are not so serious.  

And the debate has really already begun.  And so what I’m going to do for the next few minutes is to briefly review and respond to some of the most common criticisms and concerns that have come up.  Linton has indirectly addressed some of these that are coming up.  I’m not going to cover the same ground but focus on some others.  And I’d note that many of these are based on misinformation or a misperception about what this treaty is, and these are criticisms about what this treaty is not going to be.

So one of the criticisms that we’ve heard for some months now – and this was most recently expressed in a September 30 Senate Republican Policy Committee paper – is the idea that it is imprudent to agree to lower levels of strategic nuclear warheads unless Russia’s relatively larger stockpile of nonstrategic warheads is also reduced.  

Indeed, Russia is believed to have a larger and sizeable tactical warhead force, perhaps as many as 3,000 bombs; nobody knows exactly how many.  And it should be verifiably reduced – mainly to decrease the risk of terrorist acquisition in the future.  

But we also have to keep in mind as we look at Russia’s tactical force that, just like their strategic force, not all of these are deployed, not all of these are in top operational condition and independent experts believe that maybe only a few hundred are in any condition that could be utilized in a real-world military situation.  And even at lower strategic force levels – well below what the two countries are contemplating for this agreement – those tactical warheads do not give Russia any meaningful military advantage and should not be allowed to impede the modest but very important reductions in strategic arsenals under a new START treaty.  

Another thing to consider is that there has never been a U.S.-Russian treaty that addresses tactical warheads.  And given the short timetable the negotiators have had to deal with this new START agreement, taking on the challenge of tactical warheads in this round of talks, I think, was simply impractical.  And the best way to address this problem is to finish this agreement and to begin the next round of more comprehensive U.S.-Russian talks and to do, as the Obama administration has suggested – Hillary Clinton said this in her confirmation hearing testimony back in January – the next round of U.S.-Russian talks could and should address not just strategic but nonstrategic tactical warheads and not just deployed, but nondeployed warheads.  There’s something in that negotiation for both the United States and Russia.  And that is the best way to go forward to deal with tactical warheads.

Another frequently enunciated criticism is that lower U.S. strategic nuclear deployments will undermine U.S. deterrence capabilities and invite peer competition.  We saw this argument coming out of a resolution put forward by the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee just this week.  

In my view, these kinds of claims are counterfactual and they just don’t make sense.  I mean, first of all, U.S. security commitments to our NATO and Asian allies do not depend on maintaining more than 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads on more than 800 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.  Our allies support deeper, verifiable U.S.-Russian strategic reductions as a contribution to disarmament and strengthening the global nuclear risk reduction and nonproliferation effort.

And third, there is no other country aside from the United States and Russia that is believed to possess more than 300 nuclear warheads.  And that next country is France.  China, often cited as a potential peer competitor has, perhaps, up to 300 warheads.  But they only have 30 to 40, perhaps, deployed on long-range ballistic missiles.  So China has never sought to nor is it likely to even begin thinking about increasing its stockpile in the coming years if the United States and Russia make further verifiable, modest reductions in their still extremely large strategic arsenals.

And finally, as I said before, because the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals are still sized to deter one another, if the United States and Russia work in parallel to reduce their stockpiles together, it does not affect strategic stability, our alliance commitments and it is a net contribution to the global nonproliferation effort.  

Now, another argument that has come up is that given the short timetable for these talks, it would be imprudent to rush into a new agreement, and that in the haste to reach a new deal by the December 5 deadline, the Obama administration might make concessions to Russia that negatively affect U.S. security.  And those people who’ve argued that, including Sen. Jon Kyl on the Senate Republican Policy Committee, have argued that a simple extension of the 1991 START treaty would be in order.

The problem with that argument is that a simple extension of START is a non-starter.  That is not going to happen.  START formally expired on December 5.  Russia is not and has not been interested in a simple extension of START, in part because that would prohibit their ability to replace their older ICBM systems with newer systems and make it impossible for them to maintain a strategic force that is roughly equivalent in numbers to the United States, nor would the United States necessarily want to have all of the various limits and sublimits that START imposes continue for another 5 years.

And what’s more, if we simply extended START, the effect would be that Russia could and probably would try to maintain a larger, deployed strategic nuclear warhead force – above 2,000 warheads – on their 500, 600 strategic delivery vehicles, than they would under this new START treaty, which aims to bring down those deployed warhead numbers to 1500 to 1675.  

So finally, one of the arguments that has been brought up is that it would be imprudent for the United States to further reduce its strategic arsenal without a condition in the resolution or ratification to modernize U.S. strategic nuclear forces and warheads.

Now, we have to keep a couple of things in mind.  The United States’ strategic nuclear delivery force is modern, it is reliable and there are ongoing programs to maintain the Minuteman-III force as well as the D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile force.  And there are plans in the works to replace the submarines that carry those submarine-launched ballistic missiles.  

Finally, there have been a lot of debates about whether the United States needs to quote, unquote, “modernize” its nuclear warheads.  There is a bevy of scientific analysis – independent scientific analysis – about the success of the current program to life-extend existing nuclear warhead types.  

There is a recent report by the independent JASON Group that found that the lifetimes of today’s nuclear warheads could be extended for decades with no anticipated loss in confidence.  And that doesn’t mean that there don’t have to be targeted, focused investments in the right areas to maintain that capability, but the fact is that there is no modernization gap.  There is nothing that Russia is doing with its stockpile that necessitates a wholly different approach on the part of the United States to maintain existing missile, bomber and warheads.

So bottom line, from my perspective and I think from all of us here, is that the new START treaty, as we’re calling it – there still is no official name that I’m aware of, right?  We might have a contest later this week to figure out what the new name should be.  But the new START treaty is essential to maintaining U.S. and Russian strategic stability, to maintaining the essential verification provisions that Linton and his colleagues first worked out in the 1991 START Treaty, it is important for establishing new, lower limits on U.S. and Russian stockpiles which are still way out-of-line with current-day realities.  

And progress on the part of the United States and Russia on verifiable nuclear disarmament is going to help them win broader international support in the coming weeks and months, and especially at the May 2010 NPT Review Conference, for tougher measures to strengthen the beleaguered nonproliferation system with respect to safeguards and compliance and enforcement.  

So we look forward to your questions.  I think Leonor will be fielding your questions and telling us who might answer them.

MS. TOMERO:  Well, thank you so much.  I think we’ve heard what the major issues are going to be in this new agreement, and how these differences might be resolved.  And I think we’ve gotten a good overview of what the political pitfalls might be as the Senate takes up consideration for ratification of this agreement.  

Why don’t we jump right into questions and answers and – I see one right here – and also, before you ask your question if you could please identify yourself?  Thank you.

Q:  My name is John Barry from Newsweek.  Could I ask the two ambassadors what do they foresee as being the force modernization programs – I’m thinking in terms of delivery vehicles, bombers, submarines, missiles – that either side is likely to or wants to put in hand?

MR. BROOKS:  The treaty is going to be explicitly based on the July joint summit statement between the two presidents that each side will be free to shape its own forces.  Now, that sounds trivial but in fact for much of the Cold War, our goal in arms control was to nudge the Soviets away from land-based missiles with multiple warheads and toward what we perceived of as more stabilizing.  As Daryl says, Cold War’s been over for a long time and so those concessions are less important, and they never were attainable even in the Cold War.  So we will each decide for ourselves.  

I think it’s very clear in the United States that this treaty will allow us to preserve the so-called triad – there will be ICBMs, there will be submarine-launched ballistic missiles, there will be bombers.  Some of the reductions in this treaty will be taken by further lowering the number of warheads on submarines.  What we don’t know – and it won’t be the treaty that will tell us; it will be the nuclear posture review – we don’t know whether there will be reductions in numbers of launchers.  

There’s a lively debate, unrelated to the START treaty, about whether it would be prudent to reduce the number of ICBM launchers.  There will probably, driven by the START treaty, be a look at whether you should reduce by one or even two of the submarines.  So I think those are decisions we would make anyway.  The START treaty will legitimize, enforce, the total numbers but will not, I think, drive us in a force structure.  

With regard to the Russian Federation, they have set their modernization goals in progress but they are proceeding relatively slowly.  And it appears that their vision of their future forces, first, is a new submarine called the Borey class – of which the first is in the water – carrying a new missile which they have had a fair amount of trouble with the development.  

I assume that that’s a speed bump.  I mean, the one thing the Soviet Union certainly could do was make ballistic missiles that flew.  So I assume that they will work out these changes.  That they speak of sometimes six, sometimes eight of the Borey class, and only got two under construction – so this is a very long – I mean submarine construction, the one that’s getting ready to deploy the yuri – yuri drulagu—the one that’s getting ready to deploy – (laughter) – has been under construction since the early ’90s.  So I think it’s going to be a slow process.  So that’s one strand.

One strand is the deployment of a missile that we call the SS-27 but is more commonly referred as the Topol-M.  It’s a missile that comes in both a silo-based variant and a mobile variant.  They’ve been producing these at a rate of about – of single digits per year.  Not exactly sure whether that’s financial – there doesn’t seem to be any problem with the missiles – so they’re shifting to that missile.  

A variant of it which they have said they will produce will carry multiple warheads.  The numbers are not clear.  Some Russian press has suggested six, although the missile is the lineal descendent of some missiles that, historically, were designed to carry three warheads.  And one of the reasons that the Russian Federation would not have agreed to an extension of START is that they want to go ahead and produce this, and for complex rules that made sense at the time that don’t make sense now, that would have posed problems under START.  

So I think what we’re going to see is they’ll preserve a number of their existing systems as long as they can but that won’t be a lot longer because their missiles are old.  This family of missiles, the Topol-M, when in both a mobile and fixed variant will be much of what they will shift their ICBM force to, their submarine force will shift to the new Borey class and all of this will happen quite slowly based on what we see so far, although obviously, the Russian Federation, at one point, had a budget surplus that was greater than their defense budget.  So if they chose, in the absence of, oh, say, an arms control agreement, to sprint and make this happen faster, they could.

MS. TOMERO:  Mr. Pifer?

MR. PIFER:  I just had one observation which is I think there is – and it’s important to bear in mind – there’s a different design philosophy on the part of the United States and Russia.  The Russians tend to build a missile for 15, 20 years, the service life expires, and they replace it with a new missile.  

So on that chart of Russian SNDVs, the SS-18s and the SS-19s will go away as the new SS-27, the Topol-Ms, come online.  I think the U.S. philosophy is more – you build a basic missile frame and then you actually modernize it.  So the Minuteman-III, which was introduced into the force in the early 1970s, is scheduled to still be in the force in 2030.  And I think the Trident D5 which came on-line, I think, in the late 1970s, early 1980s, also to 2030.  

So we take a missile frame and we modernize it, and we refurbish it, whereas the Russian practice is to take a missile, they use it for 15 years and then they replace it completely.  So you’ll see new numbers coming up on the Russian side and you may think that, gosh, the Americans are still deploying these 1970s missiles.  I suspect when they retire the last Minuteman III in 2030, it may have three of the original bolts on it from 1970 but it’s going to be a very different missile.

MS. TOMERO:  A question here?

Q:  Barry Schweid of AP.  This may sound like a curious question but you’re an experienced negotiator and I’m asking particularly about current negotiations.  It is no longer one-on-one Cold War, East against West – no question who the perceived enemy was on both sides.  Do they ever in the course of these negotiations get into or dwell on what possible countries, what targets they need these missiles for?  Or is this sort of mechanical work?  It’s like redoing a kitchen; you assume it’s for food, for eating.  Do they ever get into the realistic world of – why do you need these missiles or these weapons?  Does a country have to defend itself, find itself pressed to explain why it needs multiple warhead missiles?

MR. BROOKS:  In my experience, both when I was negotiating and in some of the discussions with the Russians since, they tend not to get into the areas you’re thinking of.  Now, first of all, these are bilateral negotiations and there tends to be a mindset to look at the bilateral balance.  So the Russians will explain, for example, why they worry that a conventional strategic ballistic missile could somehow threaten them and the Americans will explain why it’s being designed for another purpose.  Same thing will be true for defenses.  So that at that level, there will be discussions.  

When I was doing it, there were some discussions early on about British and French systems.  I don’t think those have occurred, except perhaps in a little rhetoric since that’s really a settled issue that we negotiate our forces versus their forces and the British and French are independent.  

But in terms of what one might call the real nuclear issues of the day – what one does about Iran, what one does if there is a destabilization in Pakistan, what one does about nuclear terrorism – there are lots of discussions between the United States and the Russian Federation about those.  But both sides have an incentive to keep those out of the negotiations.  

One of my colleagues once said, think of negotiations like a giant contract law case.  It’s not your job to think about what kind of world I might have where I don’t need this massive contract; it’s your job to get the massive contract done in a way that protects your interests while still reaching agreement.  So I don’t think that you have very many of those.  

Now, my successor – this is Secretary Gottemoeller – has a long history of knowing many Russians well.  And I don’t rule out the possibility that at the end of sessions when you’re sort of decompressing and having a cup of coffee there are chats like that.  But they don’t play any significant role in the negotiations in my experience.

MS. TOMERO:  Yeah, Mr. Pifer.

MR. PIFER:  I’d just add two points.  I mean, certainly in the negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear force in the 1980s, originally the Russians pushed very hard – or the Soviets pushed very hard – to try to bring in British and French systems.  But after the walkout, and when the negotiations resumed again in 1985 and there was a more realistic approach, it was limited to U.S. and Soviet systems.  

I think, though, it probably – and I don’t think Linton would disagree with me on this – if, in fact, this process of reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces continues, at some point – and I can’t tell you whether it’s a U.S.-Russian deployment of a 1,000 warheads or 700 or what – at some point, I think, they will have to get into this discussion of third-country forces because there’ll just be some point where Washington and Moscow are not prepared to reduce further unless you begin to bring in the nuclear forces of other countries in some way.

MR. BROOKS:  I agree with that, and those are important decisions.  They aren’t likely to play much of a role in the discussions in Geneva because they’re not where the decisions will be made about things like that.

MR. KIMBALL:  Let me just quickly, I mean, just add – your question varies about, kind of, the broader question of why do we have these weapons and why do we have the kind of force we have?  

Q:  (Inaudible, off mike.)  Oh, sure.  It sort of would have helped – if you can take anybody’s (word in this world ?) – to lay out what it is you’re trying to do, and why?  Who is your target?  Who is your concern?

MR. KIMBALL:  Right.  Well, I think as my two friends here just said, I mean, that’s not typically what is being discussed in the negotiations.  But it is the issue that probably is – and if not, it has to be – part of the nuclear posture review discussions that are going on inside this administration right now.  

And I just wanted to use this as a jumping-off point to say that it is critical for the president to think about these questions:  Why do we have a force of this size given the threats that we perceive today, and is that force structure – those numbers – appropriate for today’s realities?  

And so what I think we have to look forward to is the Obama administration’s assessment of some of those issues and that may change the calculus, to some extent, between the U.S. and Russia in the next round of talks because this negotiation is based on current nuclear force requirements that were set years ago.  

And so that’s why I think some of the adjustments in the actual force levels are going to be relatively modest.  There will not be a steep drop in the United States’ strategic nuclear delivery force.  It’s not going to go much below 800 in my estimation.  Even though the number of strategic deployed warheads may be 30-percent lower, we’re still going to have most of those strategic delivery systems.  

So the fundamental questions need to be and should be addressed in this nuclear posture Review which is kind of the second chapter in the Obama administration’s agenda on nuclear weapons.

MR. BROOKS:  But it’s important to recognize that at least in principle, there will always be something that the United States wants to do – for reasons unrelated to Russia – that could conceptually be seen by the Russians – who do have a kind of a worst-case analytic methodology.  

And so how can arms control help in that?  Well, two administrations ago, the United States and Russian Federation agreed on something called the Joint Data Exchange Center.  The last administration tried to bring that into force but it ran into some stupid problems.  And this would be sharing early warning.  

If, in fact, there’s going to be any ballistic missile defense, it would be helpful if the Russians and the United States had a common understanding of where ballistic missiles might come from, and would avoid misinterpretation.  And so Daryl’s organization has chided us in the last administration, with some justification, for not getting that done.  And now he can chide the current administration.

It has not received the urgency it should because – I don’t care what the nuclear posture review says – just in principle, there’s always going to be something that a worst-case planner will say, oh, this is aimed at us.  And even if it’s not, you need mechanisms to help reinsure it.  So that’s where arms control would say, but we already got that agreement; that’s a question of actually getting it implemented.  

MS. TOMERO:  And I think also, I think the president has made clear that this is just a first step.  And, as the speakers mentioned, a nuclear posture review, I think, will provide more answers, and that will hopefully be able to look to further reductions – or at least the initiation of negotiations on further reductions, hopefully, soon after this new agreement is ratified.  Yeah, we had a question here in front.

Q:  Thanks.  My name is Andre Sitav Angustas (ph), the Russian News Agency.  Actually, to follow up on what Barry was asking and what you were discussing right now, I think the Russians have been saying this for years now, that we first need to discuss the nature of the threats.  We need to agree on the nature of the threats, especially on the missile defense issues.  And then, proceeding from there, we need to see what we can do separately or together.  But that’s an aside.

My question is about verification.  I don’t know anything about the subject, so it’s a layman’s question, obviously.  I just proceed from the layman’s logic that the Russians are in a weaker position at this point, and they should be more interested in stricter verification than the Americans; that they should be arguing for the right to come here and inspect everything you do.  

And yet, it seems like they are complaining that the Americans have this old thinking, as they say, and they want to retain the strict verification procedures of the treaty that expired on December 5th.  With all the intrusive measures and all of that with your Votkinsk, and they are not happy about that.  They say, let’s do something simple.  Why?  Well, why do you think the Russians want to simplify the procedures?

MR. BROOKS:  My experience in several arms control negotiations has been that detailed, verification ideas more often come from the U.S. side.  In the Cold War, that was because of suspicion.  I think now it’s just because of habit.  

My experience has been that the Russian security services are much more worried about American inspectors than the American security services are worried about Russian inspectors.  I don’t mean to say that both sides pay attention to meeting their obligations while not giving away secrets but if you look, for example, at the experience with the cooperative threat reduction program and the number of actually quite good projects that are in both sides’ interest that prove difficult to bring to fruition because of Russian unwillingness to have Americans in certain locations, I think it is simply a different security philosophy.

Finally, my experience with the Russians is that among the things they want to be equal is an equality of burden.  If they have to do something that is cumbersome, they want to see the United States have to do the same thing.  

An example from the START treaty that may or may not be carried forward in the new START:  there were a number of notifications that we asked for and received with regard to mobile ICBMs.  Because the United States didn’t have any mobile ICBMs, but because we moved bombers around much more than the Russians did, there are a parallel set of notifications about bomber movements.

If you sit down and say, what strategic purpose do those notifications serve, they don’t really serve much of a strategic purpose but they serve the broader purpose of the Russians being able to say to themselves, yes, some of this is a burden on us but it’s also a burden on America and that’s fair because it’s in the overall interest.  

So I can’t give you a better answer than that.  I think Americans wonder about that.  But it is certainly my experience that the Russians see the burdens of having foreigners in closed locations much more clearly than they see the benefits of being able to go to locations.

Now, Americans like to say that’s because we’re so open and they don’t need to go there, but in fact, most of the things you’re finding out in verification are not things you’d find out without going.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t have made the provision.

MR. KIMBALL:  Yes, very quickly, I mean, I think some of what Linton is describing with respect to Russia, my perception is that it’s also based on a sense of vulnerability to Western military capabilities.  And so a country that feels more vulnerable is often less interested in revealing its vulnerabilities.  

Second, I think we also have to remember that – and I say this with no disrespect to Linton, in particular – but with some criticism about the last administration, there was not an ongoing discussion between the United States and Russia about how to enhance and advance verification and monitoring over the past several years.  

The last administration correctly noted that some of these verification provisions were no longer necessary because we no longer fear an out-of-the-blue nuclear attack from Moscow.  But at the same time, they have provided predictability and transparency and confidence about future intentions.  

And many in the Russian military, in particular, I think, have gotten used to this American storyline that these verification-monitoring provisions are out-of-date, they’re a vestige of an earlier area and now there is, I think, a major – there has been a significant shift in the American position, but I think the Russian position, as a whole, has not adjusted quite as quickly over the last 12 months.

MS. TOMERO:  We have a couple of questions, so maybe we can get back to you after we’ve taken a few of the questions.  Elaine?

Q:  Hi, thanks.  Elaine Grossman from the National Journal Group.  I actually want to ask a question about verification, also.  I’m wondering what the panelists might imagine could be verification provisions that might be carried out to verify deployed warheads, and how they might address the security concerns on both sides about seeing the warhead loading and seeing the warheads themselves.

MR. BROOKS:  I think they’ll be drawn as closely as possible from START.  The issues will be numbers of inspections and what kind of – three issues:  How much detail do we exchange about loadings of individual missiles?  The United States wants to be able to preserve flexibility on the number of warheads it carries on missile, and it certainly does.  Then you’ll have to – if you go to an actual deployed standard, you’ll have to provide more detail than we have provided before.  And exactly how that works without getting you into things that would cause security concerns will be hard.

Secondly, you’ll do the same spot check we did, except you’ll probably have to do a different approach to shrouding because you’ll be demonstrating the actual number of warheads rather than that it’s no more than a certain number.  That’s fairly straightforward, I think.  

And more than that, I don’t know the problem will be made easier depending on the degree to which the sides choose to have a common loading on all missiles.  My guess is, for example, that the Minuteman-III will be an all single-warhead force by the time this treaty is implemented.  And so then that’ll be easier because you can sort of look at any of them.

MR. PIFER:  I’d just add a couple points on – under the START treaty, each side was allowed to do each year 10 warhead inspections where you could go to a submarine base and say, that submarine there, open up missile 2 number 17 and show me that there are no more than eight warheads on that submarine.  And you could also do it at ICBM bases.  I mean, that wasn’t enough to tell you the total number, but it was enough to create a significant risk that if you gambled and tried to put more warheads on there than you’d declared, you might get caught.  

Now, the American side, I think because it wants to put different numbers of warheads on the Trident missiles, wants to move from that attribution rule towards an actual count rule.  I’ve also heard from a number of people throughout the U.S. government that they understand that this may be more difficult to monitor and verify than using the attribute rule, and that they have said that they are prepared to accept more intrusive verification measures.  

So one back-of-the-envelope idea I came up with – they probably have other smarter people who have smarter ideas – but if a Russian inspection team, say, went to Kings Bay, Georgia, and you had a provision where they could choose a submarine, and if we were prepared to be more open, we could tell the Russians, for those 20 missile tubes, here are the number of warheads on each missile.  And then they could choose, you know, some number – three – maybe to inspect and confirm that.

Again, that creates a significant risk of being caught if you cheat.  You don’t have to show them what’s on every missile.  But it’s a mechanism, I think, that would allow you to have a workable monitoring regime.  It would be a bit more intrusive and it would be a bit more difficult than the attribution rule, but this is a soluble problem.  

And I think these are the sorts of things that they’re probably working on now, where it’s not so much an issue of principle; it’s just sort of getting that right balance between showing enough that allows you to monitor and verify the treaty while also not making it impossibly difficult for the submarine operators who have other things to do.

MS. TOMERO:  We have time for one more question.  

Q:  My name is – (inaudible) – and I am a correspondent from Japan’s newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun.  And I have also a verification question to Mr. Pifer.  And you pointed out five main factors of the START treaty, and what will be changed or what will not be changed in that new treaty, and what will be the merit or – (inaudible) – for the United States?

MS. TOMERO:  So a question for Professor Pifer.  I saw actually two other questions in the back, so let’s take those two, and get Professor Pifer to answer this first question and then maybe have each of the speakers answer the last question.

Q:  Hi, Matt Knight (sp) from the British Embassy.  Just in warhead verification, counting numbers, are decoys in or out?

MS. TOMERO:  And then you right here.

Q:  Jim Manion from Agence France Press.  Could you talk a little bit about potential obstacles to ratification of the treaty?  I know that you mentioned missile defense, but are there others?  

MR. PIFER:  Let me take the first – of the five sets of provisions I had there, I would guess – I would suspect that there will be some provision that says you can’t interfere with the other side’s national technical means.  That’s been fairly standard in arms controls treaties now, so that the other side is allowed to use its surveillance satellites in other ways for purposes of monitoring the treaty.  

With regards to the other provisions, I think it remains to be seen.  There was an agreement in principle by the sides that they would proceed – they would start with the basis of the START verification regime, but where possible, both sides wanted to simplify it and make it easier to implement.  

And I suspect that over having now worked under this regime for 15 years, I think the United States has conducted, like, 600 inspections under it; the Russians have conducted over 400.  So there’s a lot of experience.  And I think one thing that the sides have been able to probably do is go and say, maybe these measures, we don’t really need.  

As Linton said, I think the Votkinsk provision – to have a permanent presence at Votkinsk – perhaps at this point, we no longer need that.  And so the verification provisions really need to be driven by the actual limitations that you agree to, and to the extent that you have different limitations than were in the START treaty, and I think in some ways this new agreement is going to be simpler than the START treaty.  That may impose, in some ways, less demanding verification requirements.  And that gives the side the opportunity, then, to eliminate the inspections if they make no contribution to the overall understanding of the other side’s compliance with the treaty.

MR. BROOKS:  With regard to ratification, I assume that defenses will be dealt with as I suggested earlier, which is in language that does not impose any restrictions.  Therefore, I think that defenses, which is one of the big deals for people who are worried about the treaty, will not be a bar to ratification.  

I think that there will be some rhetoric about nonstrategic, but since it’s been clear since the April statement that the treaty wasn’t about nonstrategic, since there’s a possibility for perfect negotiations to deal with that, since the treaty it’s replacing didn’t deal with it, it’s hard for me to see that that will be a significant bar to ratification.

If you look at the resolution that was introduced, it has some curious features.  It says that the intelligence community estimates that in 15 years, China could have 100 warheads capable of reaching the United States, and then, somehow seems to say that a treaty that has us with 1500 warheads now, that there’s an imbalance there.  I don’t understand that.  I think it’ll be a debate point because there’s a school of thought that is really worried about China, but there’s not a lot of data about a significant Chinese buildup.  

Daryl commented on the ratification issue about maintaining a nuclear enterprise.  In pure logic, that has nothing to do with this treaty.  I mean, whatever we ought to do to maintain the nuclear enterprise, we ought to do whether we have this treaty or no treaty or an extension of START.  I think that it is very clear that there’ll be an attempt to use START ratification to solidify some things, and exactly how that works, I don’t think it endangers ratification.  

I think there will be a fair amount of negotiation both within the Senate and between the Senate and the administration.  To some extent, you’ll have to see what’s in the nuclear posture review.  The nuclear posture review is perceived by skeptics as calling for significant intent to maintain a capable nuclear weapons enterprise, whatever you think that means, then I think it doesn’t become a ratification debate.

I frankly think that this treaty is so clearly in our overall interest that there’ll be a lot of rhetoric, but I’d be extremely surprised if this is not ratified with the kind of majorities that we’ve seen in the past.  

There are a couple of things we don’t know.  We don’t know how it’s going to handle conventional.  There are a handful of people for whom this conventional strike is very important, and they will be looking at that.  But if you look at the arguments that have been made so far, there are mostly cautions not to do things that I don’t think the administration has any intention of doing.  And so, I mean, if we banned ballistic missile defenses, that would hurt ratification, but since the administration has no intention of doing that, that’s not a terribly interesting worry.

MR. KIMBALL:  Well, I would agree with Linton’s overall assessment of the obstacles or the chances for the Senate providing advice and consent.  I mean, I would just add a couple additional things.  

As everyone can see, the Congress has a very full agenda and the administration has a very full agenda.  I mean, one of the key issues regarding when this treaty is going to be evaluated and approved is, okay, when is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee going to hold hearings; when is Harry Reid going to provide floor time?  It may not happen as fast as some of us think it ought to, but I think it will.

The administration, I would add, needs to put together a much more substantial, high-level effort to reach out to the Senate to talk about these issues because I think as you all recognize there hasn’t been much discussion about these nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons policy issues in many, many years.  And there is a steep learning curve in Congress on these issues.

And so I think many in the Senate may be susceptible to some of these arguments that Steve and Linton and I are casually dismissing here, but might gain some traction in the Senate.  So the administration is going to need to be very well-prepared in reaching out to the Senate.

And on one of those issues, I don’t think the key issue in this treaty ratification discussion is going to be about verification because there will be the superficial perception that this new START treaty is not like the last START treaty.  It doesn’t have as robust a verification system, and that must be bad, right?  

Well, as we’ve described, it is going to be a different verification system because this is a different time, there are going to be a more streamlined set of limits and requirements for each side and, ironically, some of those who right now are arguing and complaining about the loss of certain verification tools like Votkinsk – and this is Sen. Kyl – were the very ones who, in 2003, were criticizing START for being a 700-page behemoth that was out-of-step with current realities and they praised SORT for its brevity and its being streamlined.  Now, we’ve come full-circle here.  

I think we’ll see in the end that this is a treaty that – and the Senate will recognize – is a treaty that makes a lot of sense, it’s very modest in what it is actually reducing, it will provide continuity with the U.S.-Russian relationship, but it will also at the same time help move us towards much more rational limits on the two countries’ nuclear weapons arsenals.  And so I would agree that it’s going to, in the end, be approved but it might be a longer and slower slog than many of us would like.

MR. BROOKS:  Two other points –

MS. TOMERO:  (Inaudible, off mike) – and Ambassador Brooks to provide some closing comments in maybe 90 seconds so that we don’t run out of time.

MR. BROOKS:  Okay, and I’m going to use the first 30 of them for these two points.  There’s one other issue that people have raised, which is the Russians need this treaty and we don’t.  The basis for that argument is saying, look, the Russian forces are going to go down lower than their current level no matter what happens – probably true – and therefore, it’s not in our interest to have a treaty.  

But in fact, as Daryl has pointed out, the only reason we set the levels we have now were to assure our allies, and we assure our allies by a second to none standard.  So there’s no particular reason not to go forward with a treaty and it’s kind of facile to get into discussions about who needs it most in a technical sense.  Remember my previous comment about who has the budget surpluses and who doesn’t – so whether you want to encourage an arms race right now is interesting.

Finally, I would point out – and we should have pointed out earlier – Daryl’s right – when will the Foreign Relations Committee take up the treaty?  But don’t look for that to happen immediately because after the treaty is signed, there is a detailed article-by-article analysis that’s mechanical but burdensome because it becomes part of the shared understanding between the Senate and the administration.  And this is a long treaty, and it’s been a while since we’ve done an article-by-article analysis of a long treaty.  So if this treaty gets signed in the next two weeks, it still won’t get to the Hill until sometime in late February.  

And I guess in closing, when we have the treaty, you’ll be able to look at it.  I think that a lot of the reasons we did START-I don’t apply anymore.  But predictability, transparency and something that regulates the overall political relationship, those are important, and those alone are enough to justify ratifying the treaty.  

And then you add the questions about reclaiming our legitimate role as the leader in international nonproliferation, and so I think that – I am hopeful that this will be looked at thoroughly by the Senate because it ought to be looked at thoroughly by the Senate.  But I think it will be ratified.

MR. PIFER:  I would just second that comment.  I think based on what we understand the treaty, how it’s shaping up – and obviously we do have to look at the actual text when it comes out – but based on what we’ve heard, it’s going to be manifestly in America’s national interest to go ahead and ratify this treaty.  It will be good for having a stable nuclear relationship between the United States and Russia.  

But it’s also going to be important, as Linton just mentioned, that the United States and Russia, which between them control 95 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world, are acting to fulfill their requirements under the nonproliferation treaty to move towards lower levels of weapons.  That will be important when you have Washington trying to work next May at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to try to tighten up the NPT regime.

Second point I would make is that I do think one of the reasons why the treaty will happen – I think it’s probably a matter of days or weeks – is that the Russians do want the treaty, in part because their forces are being reduced.  But I think as Linton just said, we shouldn’t just assume that the Russians are going at any case.  

If you look at Russia today, it is very important, I think, to the Kremlin – and I use this, now, of the Kremlin to include the White House, which is where Prime Minister Putin now works – it’s important to Russia to have some vestige of great power status.  Strategic nuclear parity with the United States is really their major claim to being a superpower on par with the United States.  And so I think we should not doubt that if the Russians believe they have to invest more to maintain nuclear parity with us, they will.  And that will not be to the U.S. advantage.

The last observation I would make is to look at the Senate ratification debate, and I would recall that the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty signed in 2002 was ratified in the Senate by – I think it was a 95-to-0 vote.  

I think when you look at the limitations in the new treaty, they will be an improvement on the SORT treaty, but the reductions will be relatively modest – maybe a warhead limit of around 1600 in the new treaty as opposed to between 1700 to 2200 in the SORT treaty.  

But what you will have in this new treaty, though, are an array of verification measures, array of transparency measures, so you’re going to have SORT with a slight reduction, but the verification, which SORT did not have.  And I think it would be very hard for serious people who voted to ratify the SORT treaty in 2003 now to come around and say that this new treaty was somehow detrimental to American national security.

MS. TOMERO:  Any other last words?  I’d like to thank you for a very helpful and engaging discussion.  I think we’ve been able to benefit from several decades of unique experience on these issues, including at the highest levels of government, to deal with these issues before us as we expect a new treaty in the next few weeks, and consideration by the Senate in the next few months.  

I trust you grabbed a copy of the START briefing book.  It’s also available on the front page of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation at our START center.  The Web site is www.armscontrolcenter.org.  

I’d like to thank you very much for your questions and your interest, and I’d also particularly like to express my appreciation to the Arms Control Association, to Daryl and particularly also to Tom Collina.  And please join me in thanking our speakers.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  


For further information, see:

Description: 

Panelists: Linton Brooks, Steven Pifer, and Daryl Kimball

Country Resources:

On Eve of International Mine Ban Treaty Summit, Arms Control and Humanitarian Experts Urge U.S. to Join Treaty - Transcript Available

Sections:

Body: 

WHAT: Telephone Press Briefing
WHEN: Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, 10:00 - 11:00 A.M.

Click here for transcript of this event. Announcement of the event is immediately below.

(Washington, D.C., Nov. 17) - From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, representatives of the 156 states party to the Mine Ban Treaty will meet in Cartagena, Colombia, to review 10 years of progress under the accord. In a telephone press briefing Monday, Nov. 23, arms and humanitarian experts will provide perspectives and information on the Treaty, the upcoming review conference, and explain the case for a U.S. decision to join the treaty.

Despite being the world's largest donor to mine clearance and victim assistance, and complying with key provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States has not joined the treaty. The Clinton administration set the United States on a path to join the Mine Ban Treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration rejected that plan in 2004. In February of this year, 67 national organizations called on President Obama to review U.S. landmine and cluster munitions policy as a step toward joining the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The United States will be represented at the Cartagena Summit, marking the first official U.S. participation at a formal Mine Ban Treaty states-parties meeting.

"U.S. participation in the Cartagena review conference is a positive step, but it is unclear whether it signals a shift in the Obama administration's approach to the Mine Ban Treaty," said Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association.

"A commitment to join the Mine Ban Treaty would bring the United States in line with its key NATO allies and demonstrate again President Obama's dedication to multilateral diplomacy and international institutions which the Nobel Committee cited in selecting him for this year's Peace Prize," Abramson added.

"In the decade since the Mine Ban Treaty took effect, antipersonnel mines have been thoroughly stigmatized and relegated to the dustbin of history," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch.

"The United States has much to gain and nothing to lose by joining the treaty," Goose argued. He will attend the Cartagena Summit as Head of Delegation for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

Even though the United States is a global leader in providing victim assistance funding, the most recent Landmine Monitor report found that "victim assistance has made the least progress of all the major sectors of mine action, with funding and action falling far short of what was needed."

"A U.S. decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty would signal that significant work still needs to be done to aid those impacted by landmines and other war debris in the sector of victim assistance," noted Wendy Batson, executive director of Handicap International-U.S..

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the Cartagena Summit, and dozens of countries will be represented by their heads of state, or foreign or defense ministers.

Panelists:

Wendy Batson, Executive Director, Handicap International-U.S.

Steve Goose, Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch

Jeff Abramson (moderator), Deputy Director, Arms Control Association.


Additional resources:

Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World - http://www.cartagenasummit.gov.co/

Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World - http://lm.icbl.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2009/

Human Rights Watch Landmine Resource Page - http://www.hrw.org/en/category/topic/arms/landmines

Letter to Obama Administration from 67 national organizations requesting a review of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs - http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/Obama_sign-on_letter_FINAL.pdf

For more information on landmines and the Mine Ban Treaty, contact Jeff Abramson at [email protected] or (202) 463-8270 x 109.

Description: 

Panelists: Wendy Batson, Steve Goose, Jeff Abramson

Country Resources:

ACA Event - Iran's Nuclear Challenge: Where to Go From Here? Full transcript now available

Sections:

Body: 

Arms Control Association Press Briefing
Thursday, October 22, 2009
9:30 - 11:00 A.M.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC

For the first time in several years, serious multilateral discussions with Iran over its nuclear program were held on October 1. The outcome of that meeting was an agreement, "in principle" that Iran would send about 80 percent of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment, and then to France to fashion it into fuel for a safeguarded Iranian reactor. Another meeting is scheduled on October 19 to finalize the details of this arrangement. This tentative progress occurs in the context of revelations regarding a secret Iranian enrichment facility, which the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit for the first time on October 25. At this important juncture, ACA will host a panel of experts on Iran and its nuclear program to explain these developments, what they mean for efforts to address the Iranian nuclear challenge, and how to make progress moving forward.

Paul Pillar, Director of Graduate Studies, Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown University. Pillar served for three decades as an analyst in the U.S. intelligence community, including most recently as the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000-2005. He will discuss how current developments affect the U.S. intelligence community's assessments on Iran and the likely consequences of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow, the Arms Control Association. Thielmann was most recently a senior professional staffer of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and previously a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 25 years, last serving as Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He will address how recent events may impact the timeframe in which Iran could develop a nuclear weapon and the time available for a diplomatic strategy to make progress.

James Dobbins, Director, RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center. In addition to serving in several senior diplomatic posts in the White House and State Department, Dobbins was the U.S. representative to the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in 2001, which involved negotiating with Iranian officials on establishing the new Afghan government. Bringing his experience in negotiating with Iran, he will weigh in on what the initial talks have accomplished, what to expect from the Iranian negotiators, and where the U.S. diplomatic approach should go from here.

Peter Crail, Nonproliferation Analyst, Arms Control Association, Moderator

Description: 

Panelists: Paul Pillar, Greg Thielmann, and James Dobbins

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

ATT Roundtable Discussion - September 30, 2009

Sections:

Body: 

On September 30, 2009, representatives from U.S. and foreign defense industries, the U.S. government, Congressional offices, and non-governmental organizations and think tanks were invited to discuss a potential Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The roundtable was organized by the Arms Control Association, the Center for Industry and Security (CITS) at the University of Georgia, Oxfam America, and Saferworld.

See attached document for meeting report.

Description: 

On September 30, 2009, representatives from U.S. and foreign defense industries, the U.S. government, Congressional offices, and non-governmental organizations and think tanks were invited to discuss a potential Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

The New Nuclear Agenda: The Obama Administration and Arms Control

Sections:

Body: 

Remarks of Tom Z. Collina, Research Director
Confronting Global WMD Threats Conference sponsored by US Air Force, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Colonial Williamsburg
August 13-14, 2009


As the world's two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia must lead by example.
--President Barack Obama, Moscow, July 6, 2009


On behalf of the nonpartisan, independent Arms Control Association, I would like to commend the US Air Force, USAF Counterproliferation Center and Defense Threat Reduction Agency for hosting this important event and for inviting me to speak. It is an honor and privilege to be here.

I have no doubt that our next speaker Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller will do an excellent job describing the administration’s current positions on arms control. So as not to steal her thunder, I will try to give a different perspective and look further into the future as to where administration policy should go, and why.

But first, the present. On April 5 in Prague, President Obama delivered an electrifying speech on the future of nuclear weapons. In it, the president committed the United States to a bold new path on nuclear weapons and global security, including his now-famous pledge to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” President Obama made clear that he is seeking a nuclear-weapons free world not as an end in itself, but as a key part of a broader strategy to reduce the risk of nuclear war, contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons and prevent nuclear terrorism:

Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered on a global non-proliferation regime, but as more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point where the center cannot hold.

The president’s concern, widely shared by others, about a “nuclear tipping point” is fueled by recent events. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 (the first state ever to do so), conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and continues to produce nuclear materials and test its missiles. Iran is also testing missiles, developing a nuclear power program and is enriching uranium, which could potentially be used in nuclear weapons. At a time of justified concern about climate change, the spread of nuclear power to additional nations, including states in the Middle East, is a key proliferation concern. North Korea in particular seems intent on sharing its nuclear-knowhow, with frightening implications for proliferation and terrorism. Militant groups have reportedly attempted attacks on nuclear sites in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the United States and Russia continue to deploy thousands of nuclear weapons on active alert, far in excess of any justifiable mission other than keeping rough parity with the other. This overblown posture perpetuates the myth that such large arsenals are necessary to ensure US and Russian security, when in fact the opposite is true. Both countries are vulnerable to the accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons, to the loss of control of these weapons (as illustrated by the 2007 incident in which the Air Force mistakenly loaded nuclear weapons onto B52 bombers) and to nuclear materials falling into terrorists’ hands. Large nuclear arsenals are the root cause of these threats, not solutions to them.

The challenge now for the Obama administration is to strike a new balance between the often-competing priorities of deterrence and nonproliferation, such that the US nuclear force can be maintained at lower levels while at the same time fostering the international cooperation we need to meet today’s proliferation challenges. The need for a new approach is urgent, as nuclear dangers have been increasing just as US leadership was receding.

President Obama is now providing the new leadership we need. With his Prague speech, the July Moscow Summit, the G8 meeting in Italy and other efforts, the president has swiftly begun to reinvent US nuclear policy to address the threats we face today, and will likely face tomorrow. He has begun in earnest to refocusUS efforts on reducing Cold War arsenals and countering nuclear proliferation and terrorism by undertakingan integrated strategy:

1. Reestablishing US leadership on arms control. The Obama administration recognizes that proliferation is a global challenge that cannot be solved without US leadership and international support. The administration is seeking to earn that support by resuming talks with Russia on a binding, verifiable arms reduction agreement to replace START by the end of 2009. The President has also called for senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) to ban the production of fissile materials for weapons. The president also declared, significantly, an ultimate goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons. These important steps open the door for the US to resume its historic role as an effective leader on global efforts to stop the bomb’s spread.

2. Redefining the purpose of nuclear weapons. The administration’s arms control agenda must be supported by realistic missions for a reduced nuclear arsenal. If the United States were to adopt a policy that focuses the mission of nuclear weapons to preventing their use by others, then it could drastically reduce the nuclear inventory to a total of no more than 1,000 weapons of all types— strategic, tactical, deployed, and reserves. The ongoing Nuclear Posture Review must address this challenge and support the president’s goals.

3. Reinvesting in the Nonproliferation Treaty system. By making good on past arms control commitments and by working to improve the international inspections system, President Obama hopes to ensure a successful NPT review conference in 2010 and a stronger treaty thereafter. The president also plans to reenergize diplomatic efforts to restrain North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs. The administration plans to work for stronger measures to address noncompliance and withdrawals from the treaty and to prevent civil power programs from being used as fronts for weapons activities, such as by placing greater restrictions on the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Significantly, the president will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council in September on nuclear non- proliferation and disarmament.

4. Strengthening programs to thwart nuclear terrorism. In addition to the NPT and the nuclear inspection system, there is a growing web of multilateral agreements to thwart terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons and material, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, the Proliferation Security Initiative, UN Security Council Resolution 1540, and others. President Obama announced in Prague a new international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear materials within four years, break up black markets, intercept materials in transit, and use financial tool to disrupt illicit trade. To better coordinate and promote these efforts, the president also announced plans to host a Global Nuclear Security Summit in March 2010 in Washington, DC.

The Obama administration’s integrated strategy on nuclear security can be best understood as a target with concentric circles. The bull’s eye is securing nuclear materials and weapons that may be vulnerable to terrorists. The next circle out is the NPT regime, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states. The outer circle is the US-Russian arms reduction process, which is essential to reducing and securing nuclear arsenals in their own right and to creating international support for the NPT regime and other efforts.

New START and Beyond

The first step in the Obama administration’s nuclear agenda is to rebuild the US-Russian arms control process. This July in Moscow Presidents Obama and Medvedev made history by “resetting” US-Russian relations after years of decline. In particular, the two presidents agreed to replace the START treaty to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

The START follow-on agreement, or “New START,” is by necessity a limited effort as it must be concluded by the time START expires on December 5. Modest as it may be, New START is an essential down-payment toward further verifiable reductions in each side’s bloated nuclear arsenals. As the two presidents outlined, the new agreement will create 25% lower limits on strategic delivery systems (from START limits of 1,600 to 1,100) and on the number of warheads that may be deployed on those systems (from SORT limits of 2,200 to 1,675).

Given the December deadline, this new treaty will not be able to deal with some of the most important and difficult issues, such as deeper strategic reductions, tactical weapons, missile defense, and verified dismantlement of retired warheads. Yet these issues must be tackled if President Obama hopes to make progress toward his goal of a nuclear-free world. The heavy lifting is still to come.

Therefore, U.S. and Russian leaders should not stop with New START, but should expeditiously begin to outline the next agreement—I’ll call it “New START II.” Even as they work to wrap up the current round of negotiations, the two sides should prepare the way for a new round of talks on deeper reductions in 2010.

In this next phase, the two sides should aim to:

1. Reduce their respective arsenals to 1,000 total warheads or fewer, with verified dismantlement of retired warheads and disposal of fissile materials, and

2. Agree on limitations to strategic missile defenses that will give the United States the option of deploying a system to counter missile threats from Iran or North Korea, but that would not undermine Russia's confidence in its nuclear deterrent.

Arsenal Reductions: As part of the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, the United States should focus the mission of nuclear weapons to deterring their use by others. If it does, then it could drastically reduce its nuclear inventory to a total of no more than 1,000 weapons of all types—strategic, tactical, deployed, and reserves (compared to over 5,000 such weapons today).

Such a reduced force and revised targeting strategy would be more than enough to leave no doubt that the United States retains the ability to retaliate against any nuclear-armed state in the event they would initiate a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.

As for tactical weapons, some Russian military planners believe they are needed as an insurance policy against U.S. and NATO conventional forces, but the military value of these weapons is questionable. Not only is the chance of a direct conventional conflict between Russia and NATO remote, but the huge potential damage from tactical weapons makes their use inappropriate as a response to conventional attack. Hanging on to these weapons also perpetuates the risk that they may fall into the hands of terrorists.

It would be far better to retire these unnecessary weapons and have their dismantlement verified and their nuclear materials rendered unusable for military purposes. Verifiable dismantlement of all retired warheads and disposition of fissile materials would further reduce both sides’ capabilities to reconstitute a larger arsenal. U.S. leaders may be more likely to agree to verifiable dismantlement if Russia agrees to begin dismantling its outdated tactical arsenal.

To nudge Russia in this direction, NATO should be willing to consider giving up its tactical weapons as well. Bob Einhorn, State Department special advisor on nonproliferation and arms control, said in July that the need to reduce Russian tactical weapons "poses a question of whether the U.S., as an inducement to Russia to limit or consolidate its tactical weapons, should be prepared to reduce or eliminate the relatively small number of U.S. nuclear weapons that remain in Europe."

Missile Defense: Neither the US nor Russia should allow the missile defense issue to impede progress toward deeper nuclear reductions. The Obama administration has reasonably delayed work on a third missile interceptor site in Europe, but it is unlikely to rule out additional interceptors until it completes its ongoing review of U.S. missile defense policy. Suggestions that the administration has “traded” European missile defense for Russian agreement to New START are mistaken.

The reality is that there is nothing to trade. The U.S. interceptors for Europe have not been tested and are years away from possible deployment. There is time for Moscow and Washington to explore and develop truly cooperative approaches to counter Iran’s potential long-range missile threat and agree to limits on strategic missile defenses. If the US and Russia can work together to contain Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, then there would less need for a European deployment.

Beyond New START, it is unlikely that Russia will agree to significantly lower levels of nuclear arms in the face of the possibility of unlimited US missile defense deployments. The time has come to set priorities, and the Obama administration should prioritize arsenal reductions. The security value of arms control is proven; strategic missile defense is not.

Ending Nuclear Testing, Fissile Material Production

In addition to New START, an important part of the administration’s nonproliferation agenda is ratification of CTBT and negotiation of a FMCT. Significant progress on these agreements will greatly aid efforts to strengthen the NPT at the May 2010 review conference and will enhance global nonproliferation efforts in general. In the words of Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security:

We are not so naïve as to believe that problem states will end their proliferation programs if the United States and Russia reduce our nuclear arsenals. But we are confident that progress in this area will reinforce the central role of the NPT and help us build support to sanction or engage states on favorable terms to us. Our collective ability to bring the weight of international pressure against proliferators would be undermined by a lack of effort towards disarmament.

US Senate ratification of CTBT is more important than ever, given the need to reestablish US leadership on arms control, strengthen the NPT, and constrain the development of advanced nuclear weapons by other states. Meanwhile, the treaty is effectively verifiable and will not undermine the US deterrent force; the United States can maintain a reliable arsenal under a CTBT. According to the bipartisan 2009 Council of Foreign Relations Report on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy co-chaired by Bill Perry and Brent Scowcroft:

While a state could develop a first-generation Hiroshima-type nuclear bomb without nuclear testing, the CTBT would prevent a state from gaining guaranteed technical assurance through nuclear testing that advanced nuclear weapons would work reliably. The political benefit of the CTBT is that it has been strongly linked to the vitality of the nonproliferation regime. The Task Force believes that the benefits outweigh the costs and that the CTBT is in U.S. national security interests.

As important as it is, the CTBT ratification effort is in danger of getting lost in the noise. The administration is understandably focusing first on New START, given that START will expire in four months. Ratification of New START is not expected until next spring, hopefully before the May NPT conference. It may not be possible to mount a successful CTBT ratification effort before the NPT meeting, although the administration should still seek to do so. At a minimum CTBT ratification should be well underway with the prospect for a vote in summer 2010, and by no means should this vote be delayed until the fall. To achieve this goal the Obama administration needs to launch a high profile campaign for CTBT ratification soon.

FMCT is essential to capping global stockpiles of weapons-usable fissile materials, and thus is an important part of a broader effort to reduce those stockpiles and prevent their transfer to other states or terrorist groups. But it will take time to negotiate this treaty at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. In the meantime, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France should announce moratoria on the production of fissile materials for weapons and seek agreement from China, India, Pakistan, and Israel to do the same.

By the May NPT meeting, the US and Russia should make every effort to ratify New START and announce plans to quickly move on to talks on New START II. By then, a high prolife CTBT ratification campaign should be well underway in Washington and the nuclear weapon states could announce joint plans to deposit their instruments of ratification and seek entry-into-force of the treaty. It would also be useful for the nuclear weapons states to declare joint moratoria on fissile material production for weapons, call for a global halt, and announce a timeframe for completing FMCT negotiations at the CD.

The Road to Zero

The Obama administration’s nuclear agenda is ambitious. Achieving it will take time and will make the world safer in the near-term, and help us toward the long-term vision of a nuclear weapons-free world. Once we complete this first phase, the world will be in a better position to determine the next steps. The United States and Russia, for example, will at some point need to bring China, the United Kingdom and France into talks. We will need to talk with India, Pakistan and Israel. Many tough questions remain. The map we have to a nuclear weapons free world--incomplete as it may be--is good enough to start the journey.

Thank you.

Description: 

Remarks of Tom Z. Collina, Research Director. Confronting Global WMD Threats Conference sponsored by US Air Force, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency

ACA Director Addresses STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium

Sections:

Body: 

What Are Nuclear Weapons For?
Reassessing and Reducing the Role of Nuclear Weapons in 21st Century U.S. Security Policy

Remarks of Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director
for the First Annual Strategic Deterrence Symposium
U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
July 29, 2009


On behalf of the nonpartisan, independent Arms Control Association, I want to commend U.S. Strategic Command and General Chilton in particular for creating this forum for discussion and for inviting nongovernmental experts to participate.

It is important because a reexamination and adjustment of the role of nuclear weapons in United States national security strategy is long overdue.

Although the U.S.-Soviet superpower competition that gave rise to the development, testing, and deployment of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear delivery systems ended nearly twenty years ago, many of the weapons and the policies developed to justify their possession and potential use persist.

U.S. nuclear weapons policy must be reoriented in order to help support and advance the comprehensive nuclear risk reduction agenda that has been outlined by President Barack Obama, which is urgently needed to address a wide range of proliferation challenges that are pushing the world close to a “nuclear tipping point.”

Current Roles and Missions are Anachronistic and Obsolete
Since the early 1960s, the primary military mission for U.S. nuclear weapons has been counterforce, that is, the attack of military, mostly nuclear, targets and the enemy’s leadership. The requirements for the counterforce mission perpetuate the most dangerous characteristics of nuclear forces, with weapons kept at high levels of alert, ready to launch upon warning of an enemy attack, and able to preemptively attack enemy forces.

U.S. nuclear weapons and the threat they might be used not only served to deter the Soviet Union and other Cold War adversaries from embarking on a course of action considered hostile or contrary to U.S. security interests, but they were also used to try to coerce Cold War era adversaries into taking more compliant diplomatic positions. In other words, U.S. policymakers viewed nuclear weapons as not only essential to a nuclear deterrence strategy but also a "compellence" strategy designed to coerce, or intimidate. Because policymakers and military planners considered the credibility and superiority of U.S. nuclear forces to be essential to these objectives, U.S. governments built up U.S. nuclear arsenals and delivery capabilities.

Unfortunately, even after two post-Cold War Nuclear Posture Reviews, the United States still has a nuclear force posture that calls for fewer operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons but still essentially retains the same basic roles and retains all of the essential characteristics it had during the Cold War. Current doctrine calls for:

  • a nuclear arsenal and readiness posture capable of delivering a devastating counterforce attack against Russia, China, and other potential regional nuclear-armed foes.
  • the possible use of nuclear weapons to defend U.S. forces and allies against massive conventional military attacks; and
  • the possible use of nuclear weapons to counter suspected chemical or biological weapons threats.

As a result the United States and Russia currently deploy more than 2,200 strategic warheads each on hundreds of strategic delivery systems. Many more strategic warheads are retained in reserve as a hedge against unspecified future security threats and the highly unlikely possibility of a catastrophic failure of one or more of the United States existing warhead types.

With the end of the Cold War and the development of new conventional technologies, the traditional purposes for U.S. nuclear weapons have become increasingly less relevant. It is also increasingly clear that yesterday's doctrines and the nuclear forces that derive from them make it more difficult to convince other states that nuclear weapons are a weapon of last resort that are not needed for their security.

However, justified U.S. fears of a bolt-from-the-blue Soviet nuclear attack once were, they no longer apply to our current world. Russia is seeking lower, verifiable ceilings on both deployed warheads and strategic delivery systems. Current and future U.S. conventional military power is more than sufficient to defeat any other conventional military aggressor.

Nor is there any conceivable circumstance that requires or could justify the use of U.S. nuclear weapons to deal with an unconventional chemical or biological weapons threat. As former Secretary of Defense William Perry said in April 1996 in reference to the suspected Libyan chemical weapons facility at Tarhunah, "[if] some nation were to attack the United States with chemical weapons … we could make a devastating response without the use of nuclear weapons.” Perry noted, "in every situation that I have seen so far, nuclear weapons would not be required for response."

U.S. nuclear doctrine should not treat nuclear weapons as a mere extension of the most powerful conventional forces. In the real world they are and must be treated separately. No U.S. President has seen fit to use nuclear weapons even in the midst of two protracted wars—Korea and Vietnam.

As General Colin Powell said in his 1995 autobiography: “No matter how small these nuclear payloads were, we would be crossing a threshold. Using nukes at this point would mark one of the most significant political decisions since Hiroshima.”

The Adverse Effects of Current U.S. Nuclear Force Posture
So long as the United States hangs on to these obsolete Cold War nuclear missions and counterforce strategy and implies the potential use of nuclear weapons in response to conventional, chemical, and biological threats, U.S. nuclear weapons will be more of a liability than an asset in addressing today’s highest national security priority: which is preventing the use of nuclear weapons and their proliferation to terrorists and additional states. Why is this the case?

A nuclear U.S. nuclear arsenal of many thousands of weapons does nothing to deter terrorists from using a nuclear bomb should they acquire one. Even with advances in nuclear forensics, attribution challenges make the threat of use of nuclear weapons against states that might in some way assist or facilitate nuclear terrorism impractical and imprudent.

In fact, the more nuclear weapons there are in the world, the more difficult it is to maintain adequate nuclear weapons security standards. Over time there is low-probability, but high-consequence risk that terrorists will get their hands on one.

Without significant reductions in the role and number of U.S. (and Russian) nuclear weapons, and without U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, our ability to harness the international support necessary to prevent nuclear terrorism and prevent new nuclear weapon states will be greatly diminished.

Without these reductions and the test ban, many non-nuclear-weapon states will become less willing to agree to more effective IAEA safeguards, tighter constraints on the spread of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technologies, tougher sanctions against violators, and improved interdiction efforts, among other steps.

There is another important reason for the United States to reduce its reliance and emphasis on nuclear weapons: so long as we do, other states with nuclear weapons—friends and foes alike— will or will be tempted to emphasize nuclear weapons into their own plans, policies, and practices, and seek to improve the capabilities and size of their nuclear forces and delivery systems. We should support measures, such as the CTBT, and pursue initiatives that would help prevent qualitative improvements in any nuclear arsenal—others or our own.

Quite simply, maintaining a large nuclear arsenal dedicated to perform a wide range of missions is unnecessary and contrary to the United States security interest. The number and role of U.S. nuclear weapons should be strictly limited to what is essential and unique.

Transforming U.S. Nuclear Policy: Moving to a "Core Nuclear Deterrence" Posture
In recent years, a growing number of national security experts and leaders, including President Barack Obama, have come to recognize the importance of dramatically changing the roles and missions of U.S. nuclear weapons in ways that:

  • minimize the salience and number of nuclear weapons;
  • advance concrete nuclear risk reduction steps consistent with the United States nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) disarmament obligations; and
  • reinforce our commitment to eventually achieve a world without of nuclear weapons.

We can and should limit the role of our nuclear weapons to a core deterrence mission: maintaining a sufficient, survivable nuclear force for the sole purpose of deterring the use of nuclear weapons by another country against the United States or its allies. With secure forces, deterring a nuclear strike requires far fewer nuclear warheads and delivery systems than the current counterforce-oriented nuclear arsenal.

Thus, if the United States were to adopt a policy that explicitly limits the purpose of nuclear weapons to preventing their use by others, then it could drastically reduce its nuclear inventory to a total of no more than 1,000 weapons of all types—strategic, non-strategic, deployed, and nondeployed—within the next few years. As outlined in a 2005 Arms Control Association report by Dr. Sidney Drell and Ambassador James Goodby, the United States could quickly downshift to a strategic triad of:

  • some 288 warheads on a fleet of three or more Trident submarines on patrol,
  • 100 warheads on 100 land-based Minuteman missiles, and
  • about two dozen nuclear-capable strategic bombers.

Comparable numbers of nondeployed warheads and delivery systems could serve as a "responsive" force.

Such a force and revised targeting strategy would be more than enough to leave no one in doubt that the United States retains the ability of devastating retaliation against any nuclear-armed state in the event they would initiate a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.

If the United States were to adopt a core deterrence strategy, it could and should eliminate the requirement and plans for rapid launch in response to a nuclear attack. Instead, the United States should adopt a posture that is geared to giving the commander-in-chief far more time to consider his response to a nuclear attack or provocation. We should notify Russia of this policy and urge it to make similar changes in its policy and practices. This would significantly reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized launch. It is reckless that we remain dependent on the effectiveness of Russian command and control systems 24/7, 365 days a year.

With a core deterrence posture, U.S. policymakers would no longer make ambiguous statements regarding the possible use of nuclear weapons except in the event of the use of nuclear weapons by others. In other words, the U.S. officials should end the practice of stating that “all options are on the table” in response to lesser threats.

A core deterrence strategy would not require new types of nuclear warheads. To reinforce the United States commitment to reducing the role and missions of U.S. nuclear weapons, the United States should also declare that it will not develop or produce new design warheads or modified warheads for the purpose of creating new military capabilities.

Adoption of a core nuclear deterrence policy and deeper, verifiable U.S. and Russian nuclear force reductions would also open the way for President Obama to fulfill his goal of initiating "a high-level dialogue among all the declared nuclear-weapon states on how to...move toward meaningful reductions and the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons."

A core deterrence approach would also reinforce existing U.S. negative security assurances vis-à-vis nonnuclear weapon states and support our positive security assurances to allies in the event of nuclear attack upon them.

Those who suggest that deep U.S. nuclear weapons reductions would lead certain U.S. allies to consider building their own nuclear arsenals exaggerate the role of “extended nuclear deterrence” today and ignore the risks and costs of going nuclear. Many factors beyond sheer numbers of nuclear weapons mitigate against a decision by a U.S. ally to go nuclear, not the least of which is the diplomatic and conventional military support the United States can and would provide.

Implications for Maintaining a Smaller Nuclear Stockpile
So long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will and can maintain its arsenal in a safe, secure, and reliable fashion. Contrary to the suggestions of some, the United States is NOT on the brink of losing the capability to maintain its nuclear weapons and political support for core stockpile stewardship activities is strong. In fact, the United States’ current capability to maintain its existing stockpile warheads is more than adequate and does not depend on a program of nuclear test explosions.

With sufficient multiyear funding the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal has been—and can continue to be—maintained and modernized through non-nuclear tests and evaluations, and as necessary, the replacement or remanufacture of key components to previous design specifications.

Since 1994, a rigorous certification process has determined each warhead type in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal to be safe and reliable. Life Extension Programs have successfully modernized major warhead types in the arsenal and stretched out their effective service life for decades to come.

Future year budget requests should focus the resources of the nuclear weapons laboratories and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on core tasks, and the weapons labs must avoid unnecessary alterations to existing weapons through warhead life extension refurbishment. New evidence on the longevity of weapons plutonium has removed any urgency to engineer and manufacture new design replacement warheads.

A clear “no new nuclear weapons” policy, as outlined above, would help counter possible perceptions that an augmented stockpile stewardship program will lead to qualitative improvements in the military capabilities that could undermine a principle benefit of the CTBT to disarmament and the NPT, which is preventing the development of new and more deadly nuclear weapons.

Bottom Line
Yesterday’s nuclear doctrines and arsenals do not fit today’s realities. All of us here have a responsibility and duty help implement the steps necessary to dramatically reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons by shifting to a "core nuclear deterrence" posture," restore U.S. credibility on disarmament, maintain our enduring nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear test explosions, and open a conversation with the world's other nuclear-armed states on joint measures to reduce and eventually eliminate global stockpiles.

As President Obama said in a speech on Monday July 27, “… together, we must strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by renewing its basic bargain: countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy. A balance of terror cannot hold. In the 21st century, a strong and global regime is the only basis for security from the world's deadliest weapons.”

Finally, as I advocate for a shrinking of our nuclear arsenal and the role of nuclear weapons in our military strategy, I want to express my respect and appreciation for those who serve the Strategic Forces Command. STRATCOM serves with dedication and distinction in carrying out the policy directions of civilian authority. If we are to succeed in moving to a safer world, your continuing high quality service will be critical.

Description: 

Remarks by ACA Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball at the First Annual Strategic Deterrence Symposium on July 29, 2009.

ACA Missile Defense Briefings - Powerpoint by Philip Coyle and Remarks by Greg Thielmann

Sections:

Body: 

The Arms Control Association Presents

Policy Briefing on Missile Defense

July 21, 2009

 

Ballistic missile defense has long been one of the most contentious issues in U.S.-Russian relations. At the July 6 Moscow Summit, the two sides found agreement on many START-related issues but continued to differ on missile defense. President Obama recently announced that a U.S. review of plans to build a missile defense system in Europe will be completed by the end of the summer. Meanwhile, North Korea and Iran continue efforts to develop and deploy ballistic missiles. ACA will offer widely recognized experts to brief on the nature of the emerging missile threat, on the status of U.S. programs to counter that threat, and on the broader implications for U.S. national security.

When: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 10:00am to 11:30am
Where: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Choate Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC

Panelists:

Steven Hildreth, Specialist in Missile Defense and Nonproliferation, Congressional Research Service

Philip E. Coyle, III, Former Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Department of Defense; Senior Advisor, World Security Institute

Greg Thielmann, Former Office Director, State Department Intelligence Bureau (INR); Former Senior Staff Member, Senate Intelligence Committee; Senior Fellow, Arms Control Association

Moderator: Tom Z. Collina, Research Director, Arms Control Association

 


 

For more information on missile defense, please download Greg Thielmann's Threat Assessment Briefing "Strategic Missile Defense: A Reality Check (PDF)

 


 

Policy Briefing on Missile Defense Implications
Greg Thielmann
Carnegie Endowment
July 21, 2009

My research project at ACA deals with assessing threats realistically and proposing appropriate policy responses.

Today I will be laying out my conclusion that:

  • Our strategic missile defense efforts have actually increased the military threats we face
  • The only way for strategic missile defenses to decrease the threat is to find cooperative solutions with Russia and China.

Let me suggest an insurance metaphor for the U.S. missile defense program.

  • With insurance, we regularly pay a known price to avoid the uncertain possibility of paying a much higher price for a catastrophic event.Long-range ballistic missile defense is a form of insurance or risk management, hedging against the risk of catastrophic losses from a nuclear missile attack on the United States.
  • Long-range ballistic missile defense is a form of insurance or risk management, hedging against the risk of catastrophic losses from a nuclear missile attack on the United States.
  • For more than twenty years, the U.S. has been buying missile defense insurance to mitigate this risk – paying a very high premium for very restricted coverage.
    • Steven Hildreth has described the two emerging offensive threats, which shape our current strategic missile defense efforts.
    • Phillip Coyle has described the kind of restricted coverage we currently enjoy.

I will describe real world impacts and policy implications.

  • I won’t dwell on the direct costs of these programs, except to note that sunk costs since the launch of SDI are well in excess of 100 billion dollars.

“Opportunity costs” is the term economists use for measuring the things we have to give up in deciding to pursue a certain action; we have given up a lot already.

  • I won’t try to list all of the historic opportunity costs, but I’ll mention a couple of programmatic costs, which affect the here and now.
    • The billions spent annually on strategic missile defenses are not available to help pay the costs of two ongoing wars.
    • Strategic missile defense detracts from national efforts to defend against more likely vectors of nuclear attack through our ports and across our land borders from non-state actors.
      • Groups like al-Qaida are not going to be launching ICBMs at the United States.

Let me explain how long-range ballistic missile defenses have actually increased the threats we face – threats from our most powerful potential adversaries and from hostile proliferant states.

First point: Strategic missile defense has worsened the threat from
Russia and China...


-- the only countries, which can jeopardize our survival as a nation:

  • At different times during the Cold War, each was the principal target of U.S. strategic missile defenses; and in each case we eventually decided that such defenses could not be effective.
  • Now neither nation is considered an enemy. During the last decade, it has been U.S. policy to deploy an effective missile defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack – not against the arsenals of Russia and China.
  • The problem is that we have not been able to figure out a way to build limited territorial defenses without causing Russia and China to worry that their own deterrent capabilities could be threatened.
    • So far, U.S. determination to deploy territorial missile defenses has at least twice prevented stabilizing agreements with Moscow on strategic offensive arms control.
      • As a consequence, Russia has ended up with more capable systems than it would otherwise have had in order to ensure that it could penetrate U.S. defenses.
    • U.S. missile defenses have also given Beijing strong incentives to improve the quality and quantity of China’s strategic forces.
      • China is today the only one of the five NPT nuclear weapons states that is increasing rather than decreasing the size of its nuclear missile force over the last decade.

Second point: Deployment of U.S. strategic missile defenses actually
encourages rogue state missile programs.

  • Missile defense proponents continue to argue the opposite case – that U.S. missile defense deployments will dissuade rogue nations from pursuing missiles and nuclear weapons.
  • There is no evidence that deployments of missile defenses discourage deployments of missile offenses – none.
    • We see instead the opposite dynamic between defenses and offenses:
      • Russian ABM deployment—U.S. MIRVing
      • Israeli Arrow ATBM deployment—Continuing expansion of Iranian missile program
      • Indian strategic defense program initiated—Continuing expansion of Pakistani nuclear/missile programs
      • Taiwan deployment of Patriot ATBM—Chinese augmentation of missile forces across the straits, now over 1,000.
  • You have heard Steven describe how vigorous North Korean and Iranian missile efforts have been, in spite of massive U.S. investments in missile defense during the last decade.

Clearly, missile defenses don’t dissuade the North Koreans and Iranians—but do they really encourage them?

  • I concede we don’t know for sure what the “Supreme Leader” or the “Dear Leader” are thinking. But consider my hypothesis, which is at least consistent with what we do know.
  • Both North Korea and Iran want to gain prestige and power from their missile and nuclear programs.
    • For the U.S. to act as if its nuclear deterrent is insufficient to deter Pyongyang and Tehran from launching missile attacks against the United States is to credit these small nuclear/missile programs with enormous power – beyond that of the Soviet Union in its heyday.
      • Hardliners in these countries can argue that their missiles have succeeded in spreading fear in the United States and its allies; they have made the enemies of Iran and North Korea cower.
        • They can claim vindication for their policies, arguing: “The massive U.S. missile defense effort is proof that our nuclear and missile programs are potent.”

Moreover, missile defense not only encourages proliferation; it facilitates it.

  • Instead of strengthening non-proliferation efforts, U.S. missile defenses and the proliferation of related technology to friendly governments outside the NPT weakens non-proliferation regimes like the MTCR.
    • Most ballistic missile defense technology cannot be distinguished from ballistic missile offense technology.
    • So transfers of U.S. missile defense technology to non-NPT signatories fosters missile proliferation:
      • The U.S. helps Israel build missile defense systems; Israel offers to sell Arrow ballistic missile interceptors and their associated Green Pine radar to India. (Neither state is a signatory to the NPT.) Non-proliferation norms are violated and other non-proliferation efforts become more difficult.

To return to my insurance metaphor, paying our premiums is actually contributing to the risks that we’re trying to insure against.

-- And the coverage provided by the U.S. strategic ballistic missile defense insurance has a long list of restrictions.

  • If you read the fine print, you realize that it may not cover multiple launches or warheads using simple decoys or chaff or night shots with cooled warheads, etc.
    • Consequently, the policy holder has no guarantee in a crisis that his insurance would prevent North Korean or Iranian nuclear missiles from landing in the United States.
  • The fine print also includes another disclaimer: the insurance policy doesn’t apply to the most likely nuclear threat the U.S. will face – from non-state terrorist groups.

I will leave you with the words of the distinguished scientist, Dr. Richard Garwin, who previously served the United States first as a designer of nuclear weapons and a designer of penetration aids to accompany them:

“Our best defense against states that might fire ICBMs against the United States is still the commitment to a massively destructive retaliatory strike against the military of the country. We should not weaken that deterrence in our enthusiasm to replace it with a system to destroy the warhead in flight.”

--Richard L. Garwin
IBM Fellow Emeritus
IBM Thomas J. Watson
Research Center
June 3, 2009



Description: 

Panelists: Steven Hildreth, Philip E. Coyle III, and Greg Thielmann

Subject Resources:

ACA Moscow Summit Press Conference Broadcast Live on C-Span 1

Sections:

Body: 

To watch a video of this event, please click here.

A transcript of this event can be downloaded below.

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director (202) 463-8270 x107; and
Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow (202) 463-8270 x103

(Washington, D.C.): From July 6-8, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev will meet in Moscow. A top goal will be to evaluate and advance progress on the negotiation of a new agreement to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is due to expire on December 5. Talks on the follow-on agreement began in April.

At the end of the first day of the summit in Moscow, two leading U.S. experts on nuclear weapons policy and arms control will analyze the status of the START follow-on talks, review the key issues of contention (including missile defense), describe likely outcomes, and discuss the importance of further nuclear reductions.



TIME: Monday July 6 from 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT
LOCATION: 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Choate Room
(Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Building)

Morton Halperin is a senior advisor at the Open Society Institute and was a member of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, which released its report in May. He also served in the Clinton, Nixon, and Johnson administrations working on nuclear policy and arms control.

Daryl G. Kimball
is executive director of the Association and publisher of ACA's journal Arms Control Today. He has written extensively on nuclear arms control and nonproliferation for twenty years and has led major public policy advocacy campaigns to reduce the threats posed by nuclear weapons.

For further information, see:

Description: 

(Washington, D.C.): From July 6-8, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev will meet in Moscow. A top goal will be to evaluate and advance progress on the negotiation of a new agreement to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is due to expire on December 5. Talks on the follow-on agreement began in April.

Country Resources:

TRANSCRIPT: Arms Control Association Annual Meeting - Morning Panel

Sections:

Body: 


ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

"ADVANCING U.S. NONPROLIFERATION
AND DISARMAMENT LEADERSHIP - MORNING PANEL"

WELCOME/MODERATOR:
DARYL KIMBALL,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

SPEAKERS:
THOMAS PICKERING,
FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS

JOE CIRINCIONE,
PRESIDENT,
THE PLOUGHSHARES FUND

JOAN ROHLFING,
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR PROGRAMS AND OPERATIONS,
NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2009



DARYL KIMBALL: All right, good morning, my friends. Welcome. If everyone could take a seat, find a seat, there is overflow space in the back. Please turn off you cell phones, put them on vibrate. So good morning, I'm Daryl Kimball, I'm the executive director of the Arms Control Association, and on behalf of the staff, the board of directors, I want to thank you all for being here. I want to welcome our members, our supporters, friends, associates, perhaps some of our enemies - but we all welcome you here this morning.

Let me just explain a little bit about what we're going to be doing through the course of the day - it's described in your program after this morning's panel discussion which I'll turn to in just a moment. We'll have our luncheon address, we'll hear from Gary Samore, special assistant to the president and Senior director for counter-proliferation policy. That will begin around noontime. We are full up for the lunch, so if you have not registered I don't think we've got additional space, but you can check with my assistant and the meeting organizer, Dan Arnaudo.

Following the luncheon, those of you who are Arms Control Association members and those of you who have the stamina for yet another session, you're welcome to join me, our board chairman John Steinbruner, other board members in the Butler Room, which is immediately behind this room in the rear on this floor, for our formal board election for a brief update and discussion on the association's program in finances in 2009 and going into 2010 - which are going to be two exciting years for us, and for all of us.

Now, our morning panel discussion this morning is titled "New Opportunities on Iran, Arms Control and Disarmament in U.S. Nuclear Policy" - a rather broad title, a rather vague title - but it will begin to take shape as you hear from our three excellent speakers. With every new presidential administration there are adjustments in our nation's foreign policies, but the administration of President Barack Obama promises to usher in a new, energetic and overdue period of renewed nonproliferation and disarmament diplomacy that I don't think was seen in decades. You can judge for yourself how many decades, but we haven't seen it in a long time.

In sum, arms control as a vital U.S. and global security tool is back. And as he, the president, outlined in his speech on April 5, in Prague, the president recognizes what many of you in this room, what the Arms Control Association and our community have been arguing for quite some time, which is that American leadership on nonproliferation disarmament and arms control is critical to building the necessary international support to repair and enforce the global nonproliferation system.

He put it very well: He said, and I quote, "As a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it." So as I'm sure you'll agree, that speech is a great start, but the hard work of building support for and implementing the plan of action that he outlined is still before us. There is a lot of work that we all need to engage in.

So our expert panel this morning is going to be discussing some of those future decisions and issues and opportunities. And to begin, we're going to hear from Ambassador Thomas Pickering about the diplomacy that's going to be necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As we all know - or many of us might think - the previous administration's efforts, however well-intentioned, vis-à-vis Iran have simply not been working. The sanctions-focused policy did not succeed as Iran has continued to slowly build up its uranium enrichment capacity and string out the IAEA inspections.

In response to the situation, President Obama's secretary of state has promised to engage with Tehran's leaders in a dialogue to try to deal with the problem. Now what does the administration need to do to maximize the chances for success, and what pitfalls should be avoided? Those are some of the questions that Ambassador Pickering is here to share his thoughts about. He's got a long and distinguished bio. As you can see, he's got experience in the region. He is also the principal co-author of the April 2009 white paper by the Iran policy group of the American Foreign Policy Project - which I recommend to you; there are some copies of that outside.

Now, another issue that we're going to be talking about is the long list - the ambitious list - of arms control and disarmament initiatives that the president outlined in Prague, including a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia, ratification of the CTB here in the U.S., a new treaty on ending fissile production - all of which is designed to, in part, strengthen U.S. security and to strengthen the Nonproliferation Treaty as a whole, going into the 2010 Review Conference.

Joe Cirincione, who many of you know, who is the president of the Ploughshares Fund and leading expert in the field - he is going to describe and explain what he sees as the growing support for this agenda; what he sees as the new realism of arms control, which was the title of one of your blog posts; and what the Obama administration - and I hope Joe you'll say what our community needs to do to keep moving forward.

And then finally and perhaps most importantly Obama's pledge to put an end to Cold War thinking, and to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and to urge others to do the same - promising words. I think the test of whether he accomplishes that will be known over the next few months as we see the outcome of the nuclear posture review which is due to be completed at years end.

And on that topic - Joan Rohlfing is going to address that topic. Joan is the senior vice president for programs and operations with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and she's got a great deal of experience on the Hill, in the executive branch, and, over the past few years, with Senator Nunn in the NGO community. So we're very glad you could be here with us, especially after yesterday's dramatic events - the meeting at the White House between the four statesmen, including Senator Nunn, with president Obama. So, with that I'm going to turn to Joe - I'm sorry, Ambassador Pickering, to begin. And after each of them speaks we'll take your questions and I'm sure we'll have a vigorous discussion. So, with that, Ambassador Pickering, the podium is yours.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS R. PICKERING: Thank you very much, and thank you for the opportunity to come by and talk about a subject that's been on my mind for a long time. I'd like to begin with at least four simple confessions. One is, as a product of Washington, I am very much in the thrall of what I used to call the curse of the Congress: Everything has been said, but not everybody has said it yet. (Laughter.) So if you hear things that are familiar, you'll excuse me.

And, secondly, not only is this excellent paper in which Richard Parker played a tremendous role in putting together available, but over the last couple of years, with two other colleagues, Jim Walsh at MIT and Bill Luers in New York, we have written some thoughts about how to deal with Iran in the future on the nuclear question. And I certainly would commend that series to you because the latest paper by Richard I think brings it up to date and I hope answers a number of the continuing questions that have come up.

And then I would say, just finally, that there is an old French proverb, or at least question, that constantly assails us here in Washington: It's working okay in practice, but will it work in theory? (Laughter.) And so I'm going to try to stay away from that and continue in the line of what I think is the process and the product of good ideas. I'm going to talk very briefly about Iran as much as I can, a little bit about some ideas on dealing with the Iran nuclear program, and then talk a little bit without, I hope, tramping too hard on Joe's feet, a little about how Russia, in my view, fits into this and how, indeed, what I think Joe's going to talk about helps us with Russia to fit into this.

To begin, there are lots of experts on Iran, and I have had the opportunity to speak at length with a number of Americans and a number of Iranian experts on Iran, and one of the most startling things I found early on, particularly speaking with Iranians who would often appear in group sessions, that they would all start explaining Iran at that particular point in time, from the same copybook, and as they got into their discussions, each would diverge into different directions.

And so, at the end of the day you were left with a confusing welter of contrary information about Iranian internal politics. My view was that nobody really knows for sure, perhaps even the supreme leader, and that it is therefore a serious mistake to base one's policies highly or totally on an analysis of what you believe may be going on internally in Iran, as beguiling, as interesting, and maybe as logical as that might be.

That's difficult, obviously, for all of us who have been brought up on other systems of analysis and other ways of dealing with logic, but you could understand a little bit about the perspective on Iran if you were to put yourself, say, in a remote island in the Pacific and had to interpret American events from slow newspapers and vicarious television. Some of the same would certainly be the truth.

It is, therefore, I think, very difficult to rely on that, and one of the early advices that we offered freely to the new administration was that there is very little value to be gained in trying to pick the negotiators on the other side as much as you would like to, which is a kind of offshoot, if you could put it that way, from my central thesis about Iranian internal politics, that you really have to play, to use the Rumsfeld quotation in a different context, with the hand with which you're dealt rather than to try to change the way in which the hand slides the cards onto the table. It is quite a different set of activities.

I think the third thing that is important for us in looking at Iran is that, as terrible a tantrum-giver as Ahmadinejad is, he is both important politically in Iran and, in hierarchical and in government terms, a great deal less that his title would signify. And we do know and understand in fact that Iran has a supreme leader but it also has a collectivity or a non-collectivity of advisory functions that reach out in one way or another to the supreme leader, and that it remains difficult.

And then I think the final - if you call these home truths or market truths - is that Iran is a great society with its own language, with its own great history, and to go along with it, 2,500 years of bazaar - not bizarre, bazaar - and bazaar is what helps you to understand how you give and take in the marketplace. And to underestimate Iranian capacities for dealing with negotiations, perhaps in their own terms, is a serious mistake on our part.

So let me just take that mistake and begin the second part of my talk and say that with respect to that, there is, in my view, no real substitute in dealing with Iran in the current period to the notion that we have to become diplomatically engaged and that we have to do that without preconditions, because the preconditions are usually the show-stoppers, and people as experienced in bazaar trading as the Iranians know and understand, in fact, that they will not get very far toward their objectives, and that for many reasons that we could examine in greater difficulty, patience is a virtue which at the moment works on their side and not on ours.

But we have to counter, I think, with I would call offers and opportunities and recognize that it will still take some patience to move the question ahead. And indeed, I think that while in fact the meeting on Monday at the White House between the prime minister of Israel and the president of the United States indicated a time schedule which, I am convinced, from Iranian perspectives, is vastly optimistic, nevertheless, we are once again folded into the question of time schedules.

We do know that the history of Israeli analysis of the Iranian problem, not to put too fine a point on it, has been for the last six years, Iran has been only a year away from a nuclear weapon. At some point, obviously, like a stopped clock, that will be right. At the moment we have difficulties, obviously, in contending with that question. And I heard this morning on the radio that a group of experts - I don't know who they were, maybe some in this room - decided that we have a five-year window, which may or may not be optimistic at all. We have to wait and see. The DNI has continued to talk about the potential for something happening in the next five years without, I think, a great deal of certainty as to what the near term or the far term is.

I think, secondly, my colleagues and I, who have written on the subject, have quite strongly recommended that we at least offer to open conversations with Iran without those preconditions, and I believe the administration has made it clear that it is in that position. The other two things that we offered are not, in my view, totally appetizing, either to the arms control or the nonproliferation community, nor to the current leadership in that community in places of significant importance in making policy, including your speaker at lunch. But they involve a two-part related approach to Iran on the question of enrichment, which I still believe is important and I'll do my best to try to explain why.

The first part of that, the unappetizing part, is that we ought to think about laying on the table for the Iranians a multinational proposal for enrichment for their civil nuclear activities, but that we ought to couple that and make it inextricably linked with a proposal which also demands the most thorough and obviously complete inspection system we can devise to deal with Iran. My problem at the moment is not, frankly, that somehow the Iranians are incapable of understanding how to enrich with centrifuges, or even, in the long term, somehow genetically incapable of managing cascades, as much as we would like to think that that is something that works very much in our favor.

So if the problem is not that the Iranians can find a way to enrich and enrich to higher levels, and to do so perhaps with trial and error; our problem is basically, I think, either we find a way all over Iran to be sure, in fact, that they aren't doing this, or we in fact give up and accept the fact that they will move ahead to a weapon, certainly something that I'm not prepared to agree to.

I also think, in a kind of typical American diplomatic way, that we have a great deal more leverage with Iran in getting the inspection system we would like if we do a couple of things, and one of those couple of things is to in fact basically say we hear what you say and we're giving you everything you say you want, but we're creating the best firewall we can against everything we say we don't want.

And this obviously would mean putting forward the kind of proposal I have talked about, but filling in all the blanks and the details, not all of which have been filled in, in order, in fact, to make that both what I would call the most generous offer we could make to Iran in light of Iran's profession of non-interest in nuclear weapons but interest in civil nuclear activities on the one hand, and, secondly, in light of our deep concern that either directly or clandestinely they will move ahead.

We have a serious problem, obviously, of breakout. We have that problem under any circumstances, whether in fact we were to succeed in getting Iran to freeze or stop enrichment permanently, even with an effective inspection program, and there I think we have to come to some conclusion at some point in light of this as to whether breakout would produce a military reaction, increased sanctions, or indeed pure acquiescence on our part. But there is no easy way to avoid that, and the proposal I make has no easy answer to that question, nor does the administration proposal have an easy answer to the question.

The difficulty I have with the administration proposal is that freezing, or indeed a permanent commitment not to enrich, aside from the fact of being historically, in my view, unrealizable, but even if you set that aside, has no real quid pro quo for getting the kind of inspection system that you and I believe, I hope, that we need to have in place to prevent a clandestine reproduction of its enrichment capacity and obviously moving toward a weapon.

In any event, I'll leave that point there and say that the other question that I wish to raise, which will help me to segue a little bit toward the Russian piece, because I think the Russians are important here, has to do with the potential now for taking this construct, which we have postulated will have real relevance to Iran, and see whether in fact this construct couldn't be relevant to civil enrichment everywhere, all around the world. In fact, I think it could be.

I think it could be coupled with, as well, a serious effort to phase out reprocessing for civil purposes, which I think you will all understand the importance of. But in fact, if we were then, the United States, perhaps coupled with our friends in Moscow, to take the lead and to say there are two things that have to attach to enrichment for civil purposes which we have been slothful about and somewhat lackadaisical.

One, international involvement, so in fact we - if I could put it this way - de-nationalize the kind of jihadi notion that the Iranians have that this is the sum and substance of their total national being and represents for them the historical future as great people on this earth. And, secondly that we introduce in that process the transparency that ownership and operation on a multinational basis can bring. I'm not a great one for transferring a lot of extra technology under multinational ownership. We'll have to address that question, obviously, if it has any legs, as a proposal, but I think that part is important.

I also think that the inspection systems should be pretty much the same. They should be devoted to dealing with non-recognized non-nuclear powers - recognized non-nuclear powers - with what I have postulated is important with Iran: preventing clandestine replication and other methods to lead toward a breakout.

And the other side, for the weapons countries, because I would strongly propose that the recognized nuclear weapons countries also adopt this proposal, is that there would be a clear inspection system to prevent diversion into military programs, something that is already covered by the moratorium and I hope will be followed by the kind of rapid action that the president at least talks about on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

So I see this multilateral approach as having three purposes: one, to put on the table something that is generic that Iran in fact can be asked to comply with; secondly, putting on something that begins in a more serious way to close the loophole in the NPT for enrichment and reprocessing; and, thirdly, to be an initial down payment on taking the moratorium and moving it toward an FMCT, which is fully verified. So I think it has some significance as well.

We all know, in fact, that as this process goes ahead, we may well come, given Iranian attitudes toward negotiations, to a need for additional sanctions to encourage them to move toward what I consider to be a fair proposal on the table, were that proposal to eventuate. We also know that we need, at least in the U.N. context for multilateral sanctions, the Russians and the Chinese, and perhaps also to make a series of unilateral sanctions effective. How and in what way we go about this is difficult.

What has been, I think, important, is that over the last three or four months we have begun to see a change in the Russian-U.S. relationship. It is no longer a relationship, as it had been for the last six or eight years, characterized by a series of negative actions one against the other - ankle-kicking going forward to kicking each other at higher levels when the time came. And this has been, I think, the product of a lack of one simple question between the two of us: Where is it that the U.S. and Russia have a common national interest in working together, and how can we find a way to emphasize that as part and parcel of our going ahead?

Many people make fun of our relationship in the Clinton-Yeltsin period, but indeed it had at least some modicum of that kind of an approach, and having watched that first hand, I believe it did change attitudes on both sides and produced what I would call a mutual investment in some success in the areas that are of mutual interest on both sides. And we can take that back to the Soviet period. And, indeed, disarmament is the centerpiece of that, perhaps beginning with nuclear disarmament. Joe will discuss this in detail, but obviously addressing the START treaty and the talks that Rose and others are engaged in now in Moscow as we speak are the first down payments, we hope, in a process to move ahead.

It's my hope, and only my hope, that two things could begin to help enlist the Russians in dealing with Iran in a situation where they did not believe that the frustration of next American steps, however carefully conceived of on the sanctions side, was a key element of a successful Russian foreign policy. One of those is obviously the one that I've just mentioned, that we are putting on the table and we are actively engaging ourselves for the first time in a proposal that may have a chance of actually working.

And the second piece is that overall, the U.S.-Russian relationship, not just in the disarmament area but being carried forward in things like membership in the World Trade Organization, and serious discussions over the questions of how to deal with near abroads and other things can add a new quotient to that relationship, within which the proliferation piece can be discussed and seen on a much clearer basis as a win-win in our mutual interest.

And while it would be impossible, in my view, to secure a Russian prior commitment to support additional sanctions on Iran at any time, one could, I think, begin to lay out in common a plan of approach which after - in fact is expected by some - Iran were to frustrate talks on these issues against the backdrop of the kinds of thoughts and proposals I put on the table, we would get as much of a commitment as one can get by both Russia - and I think if Russia comes along, China will - and China, to take a serious look at how to, if I could put it this way, incentivize that process through sanctions.

In any event, those are my thoughts. I'd be delighted, when the time comes, to talk to you about questions and issues that you have. No proposal is sufficient unto itself unless it is tested in the marketplace, and I'm delighted to do that. And thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Tom, for that comprehensive and masterful overview. Joe?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Thank you very much, Daryl, and thank you for your dedication and leadership, and thank you all, members of the Arms Control Association - oh, I forgot my check. I meant to renew my membership. I promise I will do it later today.

MR. KIMBALL: There's a form on every chair.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Oh, thank you very much.

MR. KIMBALL: We can get you one.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Thank you very much. Can I have that glass of water, please? I'm delighted to be here. I'm delighted to see all of you. And I'm particularly honored that the chairman of the Ploughshares Fund board, Roger Hale, has joined us today, along with the inexhaustible executive director, Naila Bolus, so I have to be very careful of what I say here today. (Laughter.)

On April 5th Barack Obama gave the first full foreign policy speech of his presidency. It was devoted to nuclear policy and was one of the most comprehensive, progressive, and ambitious arms control and disarmament agendas ever detailed by a U.S. president. With this address, President Barack Obama began the transformation of U.S. nuclear policy. The question is, can he finish the job? I see four main obstacles.

First, the global economic crisis, which, if it worsens, threatens to swallow any transformational agenda, including on nuclear policy. Second, the nuclear Neanderthals, those with financial or ideological ties to the existing nuclear bureaucracy and posture. No matter how hard they beat the drums, however, this is a tribe in decline, clinging to tired doctrines and obsolete weapons.

Third is a more serious problem: the divisions within the administration itself. The tensions between the transformationalists, who share the president's vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and the incrementalists, who do not believe elimination possible or proliferation reversible will likely increase. Though all are good people, the half steps favored by the incrementalists will not give us full security.

Going slowly when we must go boldly risks the failure of the president's agenda. Still, with skill, presidential leadership, and the active participation of organizations like the Arms Control Association, I believe these divisions can be softened, coalitions forged, and the forces of reaction defeated. The last obstacle is cynicism. This is perhaps the most serious and deserves a bit more attention. Washington is the perfect place to talk about cynicism. You want to talk about sin, go to Vegas - (laughter) - vanity, L.A. - (laughter) - greed, where else, New York - (laughter).

But Washington - Washington is the capital of cynicism. It is here in all types and flavors. We have right cynicism that holds that nuclear disarmament is undesirable. The arrogance, insults and falsehoods of this tendency are on display most every week on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Moderate cynicism holds that nuclear disarmament is unachievable. That is the pose of many editors and journalists. It argues with vapid phrases, little knowledge, and nonsensical assertions that eliminating nuclear weapons is as futile as eliminating gunpowder. It is the pose of those who wish to appear worldly and wise with little actual effort.

We also have the left cynicism of those who believe disarmament is both desirable and achievable but who do not believe this president is up to the task. They disparage the appointments that are not good enough, the reports that do not go far enough, and a president who does not believe deeply enough. Overcoming this pervasive cynicism will be our greatest challenge, for it can sap the will of officials, filling them with a fear of appearing weak or foolish, and demoralize proponents, who will shrink from commitment to an apparently hopeless cause.

Cynicism is sometimes justified - this is Washington - but it should never substitute for research or reason. We cannot let attitude replace analysis. Obama understands this. In his Prague speech he says, "Such fatalism is our deadly adversary." He says, "There are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it's worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve."

And, speaking directly to our experience, he says, "I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. That is why the voices of peace and progress must be raised together." I share this belief, not just ideologically, not just philosophically, but from a calm analysis of the political and historical trends now in motion. I see the arrows moving in our direction.

I see the threats increasing, having developed a fierce momentum over the past eight years, but also a growing consensus that the policies of the past administration have failed and they are joined with a new consensus that sees disarmament and nonproliferation as two sides of the same coin, and an historic shift of the center of America's security elite to a renewed embrace of disarmament and arms control, as demonstrated just yesterday by the White House visit of Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Bill Perry and Sam Nunn. Indeed, arms control has become the new realism. There is a global sense of urgency that is fueling new efforts, new alliances, new progress. I don't have time for a full analysis here today, but let me provide two examples to demonstrate that.

Conservatives, who, just a few years ago, condemned treaties as the illusion of security, are now embracing agreements to reduce nuclear arms. Exhibit A is James Schlesinger, former Republican secretary of defense and energy, who just endorsed a new treaty with Russia. Quote, "The moment appears ripe for a renewal of arms control with Russia, and this bodes well for continued reductions in nuclear arsenals," said the U.S. Strategic Commission he co-chairs.

Schlesinger once led the charge against further reductions and helped frame the Bush administration's alternative approach. He wrote in his 2000 article, "The Demise of Arms Control," quote, "The necessary target for arms control is to constrain those who desire to acquire nuclear weapons. In this view, the threat comes from other states and a large, robust U.S. nuclear arsenal was needed to counter this proliferation."

But two weeks ago, Schlesinger switched. The commission, whose leadership he chairs with former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, reported to Congress that, quote, "The United States must seek additional cooperative measures of a political kind, including, for example, arms control and nonproliferation." Exhibit B is Brent Scowcroft, a perennial realist and a representative of a different wing of the Republican Party. He was never ideologically opposed to negotiated reductions with the Russians. However, in 1999 he opposed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Two weeks ago Brent Scowcroft also shifted. The Council on Foreign Relations task force he co-chaired with the ubiquitous Bill Perry recommended that the Senate ratify the nuclear test ban he once opposed. He also agreed that the U.S.-Russian relationship is ripe for a new formal arms control agreement, one that would reflect current defense needs and realities and would result in deeper reductions.

Charlie Curtis at the Nuclear Threat Initiative describes the effect of these shifts and other changes as the thawing of frozen seas. Each day we see new passages opening to Europe, Russia and Asia. Some routes, like those to North Korea, remain blocked. I don't want to overstate this. Secretary Schlesinger is still opposed to nuclear disarmament. Scowcroft still favors a large U.S. nuclear arsenal, but both, and many of their colleagues, have shifted significantly. While not endorsing Obama's ultimate goal, they support several of his preliminary steps. That is enough for now.

The key is to forge broad agreement on the immediate policies whose fulfillment can build confidence in the realism of nuclear disarmament and the logic of zero. If Obama holds firmly to his ultimate goal, it appears that prospects are improving for building this bipartisan consensus on the actions that can help realize his vision. I believe there is a reasonably good chance of achieving, in the next 12 months, a number of critical threat reduction agreements whose victories can unlock the broader strategic agenda.

These include a follow-on treaty to START, with a further lowering of the number of strategic nuclear weapons allowed under the SORT treaty; negotiations underway for a new treaty to limit total U.S. and Russian forces to 1,000 or fewer weapons each; U.S. Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; a new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review that will reduce the role of nuclear weapons and security policy and begin the transformation of nuclear forces to the 21st century threats; a successful 2010 NPT review conference that will increase the barriers to proliferation and revitalize the grand bargains.

Negotiations are well underway for a verifiable ban on the production of nuclear weapons material; the containment and possible rollback of the North Korea nuclear program; negotiations for the containment of the Iranian program with some tangible signs of progress; finally, an accelerated program for securing and eliminating, where possible, all loose nuclear materials and weapons propelled by an historic global summit here in Washington.

This will be real progress, making our world more secure, but tough problems will remain, most importantly Pakistan, which will remain the most dangerous country on earth for some time and the greatest threat to the United States, Israel and other nations.

The hard work will not be over. It will never be over. But I and the leaders of the Ploughshares Fund believe that, given adequate resources, unselfish collaboration and the skill and determination we know are present in the arms control and security organizations, we can, working with the administration and Congress, achieve these substantial victories in the next 12 months. We have no choice. We have to. Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Joe. Joan, that's a hard act to follow, but I think you're up to it. Joan Rohlfing.

JOAN ROHLFING: Thank you, Daryl. It's a pleasure to be here today and to see so many familiar and friendly faces. It is a tough act to follow. It's always tough to go third, in part because some of the same lines I was planning to use have now been stolen. (Laughter.) But I too am going to talk about opportunities as well as challenges facing our community today and advancing the ambitious agenda outlined by President Obama, and in particular looking at the Nuclear Posture Review.

We do have a significant opportunity to reshape the very framework of United States nuclear weapons policy, posture and operations through the nuclear posture review in the coming year. As Joe mentioned, this is really kind of a strategic opportunity, not in a generation at least and, I would argue, probably not since the beginning of the nuclear age has there been so much political space to really fundamentally rethink our nuclear policy and posture.

With respect to the Nuclear Posture Review, what does it mean to get it right? I'm sure there are many definitions in this room of what we would call getting it right, and many different visions of what we would like to see coming out of that review. Let's talk about first why it matters. It matters because it will set the stage for the most important operational steps that President Obama must take during his administration to reduce the nuclear threat. It will lay the foundation for all of the key initiatives that he has already outlined as his administration's priorities in this arena; for example, the START follow-on treaty, CTBT, fissile material control - or cut-off treaty, excuse me, and also strengthening the Nonproliferation Treaty.

And ultimately what comes out of this posture review is going to help reshape our global norms, practices and the legal context in which not just the United States but our allies and the rest of the world develop their own thinking and approaches to reducing the nuclear threat. So the stakes are high. The NPR really, really matters. And this president will probably have one shot at getting it right, certainly in the first term.

So what does it look like to get it right? Let me lay out six elements that I think are important to come out of the back end of this review. And this is not meant to be comprehensive, but I think these would be my six priorities.

The first is with respect to declaratory policy. Declaratory policy is essential for communicating the strategic purposes of our nuclear arsenal. There was a nice - I'd like to take a quote, actually, from the Perry-Schlesinger Commission. In the very beginning of their discussion about the nuclear posture they say - and this is fundamental - "The design of the nuclear posture must follow from an understanding of the strategic purposes it is intended to serve." This is pretty basic and fundamentally important.

"The Nuclear Posture Review, in my view, should support a declaratory policy that meets the president's objective of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy." Those were his words from the Prague speech. "Such a policy should make clear that nuclear weapons have no military war-fighting purpose, but for as long as they remain in our arsenal, they will be used only to deter."

Declaratory policy is also important for its implications for targeting policy, and ultimately for the number of weapons that the U.S. judges it needs to fulfill this basic mission. The Perry-Schlesinger Commission goes on to define a very broad definition of what it takes to deter. There's a lot of room for debate here and it's not necessarily a helpful debate, in my judgment.

Among other things, the commission report notes that it's important to be able to provide assurance to our allies, dissuasion of potential competitors, strategic equivalency with Russia, the maintenance of calculated ambiguity with respect to our use policy, and even to provide for damage limitation capacity.

I would submit that such a broad definition of deterrence in fact does not advance the ball at all. It's an old definition of deterrence and it gets us to maintaining the same numbers and the same type of posture that we've lived with for the past many decades. In my view, to be consistent with the president's vision and to really reduce the salience of nuclear weapons, we need a tighter definition of deterrence, one that would say something like this, that nuclear weapons are legitimate for only one purpose: deterring their use.

We also ought to seriously be examining, throughout this posture review, the option of a no-first-use policy. This would obviously require careful allied diplomacy before going there. But I do think it's something that the review ought to look at. So that's the first element: declaratory policy.

The second element that an NPR should include, it ought to look at the operational status of our forces. We ought to look at, how can we work to create a global norm against launch-ready nuclear forces? In order to create such a global norm, we ourselves would first have to adopt such a posture. We ought to seriously examine how we might go about taking forces off of their launch-ready or high-alert status.

The third element: I think the review must obviously look at how many weapons do we need, must examine the numbers. It needs to provide a basis for a deep reduction in numbers. This may require some clarification that strategic parity with Russia, or for that matter any state, is not necessary. The fourth element, the review ought to clarify that there are no new military requirements that might lead to the need for a new nuclear weapon type. There's a linkage here obviously to a need for testing, and in order to support the president's objective of ratifying a comprehensive test ban, I think having an unequivocal statement about our military requirements vis-à-vis new weapon types would be important.

That having been said, I do think it's important that we understand that for as long as we maintain weapons in our arsenal, they will need to be maintained in a safe, secure and reliable manner, and it is important for us - it will be required to make prudent and reasonable investments in the nuclear science, engineering and production base necessary to maintain those weapons.

The next element - and I've lost track of where I am; I think it's five - is to provide a strategic basis for the withdrawal of forward-deployed weapons in Europe. Again, this would also need to be managed very carefully from a diplomatic standpoint and should only happen after a consultative process with our allies, but I think the groundwork for this with respect to U.S. requirements must be laid in the Nuclear Posture Review itself.

And the sixth element has to do with the role of ballistic missile defense. It needs to be examined as a strategic component of our nuclear arsenal and our strategic requirements, and we ought to - I would hope that coming out of this review there would be an affirmation of the importance of cooperating, not just with allies but also with the Russians on ballistic missile defense.

In other words, coming out of this posture review, there needs to be very clear and unambiguous signals that the U.S. is serious about the vision and the steps outlined by President Obama in meeting its NPT Article VI obligation. The good news is that we have an opportunity to do just that. Prague gives us an excellent framework, the Prague speech, and that speech, together with other statements already made by President Obama, provide the necessary frame in which these kinds of elements can be driven out of a review.

But is the speech, in and of itself, a sufficient scoping document? I would submit it is not. It's going to be essential that there be a guiding document coming out of the National Security Council in order to really drive this process from a presidential standpoint. And I'll say just another word on that in a moment.

So what are the challenges to getting there? And there are some very serious challenges. And let me just talk briefly about three. Number one is the bureaucracy, and some of this overlaps with what Joe said. Number two are the people we need. Number three is the process that needs to be established. And I'll say a further word about each of those.

It's clear that the bureaucracy - our governmental bureaucracy, the pieces that connect to this issue, have vested interests in the status quo. Within the last two weeks we saw, I think, an unfortunate statement by the commander of Strategic Command, where he mentioned that the president ought to keep all options, including the nuclear option, on the table in response to a cyber attack.

It's clear that there are people who still think very differently about the possible use of a nuclear weapon and the role and purpose of nuclear weapons. We have the DOE nuclear weapons complex and the laboratories. They clearly have a vested interest in continuing to work on new weapon types and not just to maintain the old weapon types.

This is one of the biggest challenges I think this new administration is going to face is getting it right, making sure we have the right balance, that we're making appropriate investments in that infrastructure, but not keeping our father's Oldsmobile around, if that's even possible these days. (Laughter.)

Let's talk about people. We need staff in key positions and staff that personally support the president's stated agenda. A number of positions, as this community knows, have been slow to fill, and many of the key staff - I mean, I look at the folks in this audience and all of us who have been working on this issue for decades, we've come up through the Cold War paradigm. Shifting to a new way of thinking is not easy. It's going to take vision, it's going to take leadership, and it's going to take people with vision and leadership in the right positions.

And on the third challenge, that of process, this is perhaps the most fundamental point: The process of the Nuclear Posture Review must be driven by the president and his staff. There must be a presidential - or should be a presidential study directive that lays out both the policy parameters and clearly articulates the options that the president would like to have examined.

This should not be left solely to the Department of Defense. There are some very good people at the Department of Defense, but again, because of the bureaucratic inertia, it's not clear that a process that is exclusively DOD driven will end up in the right place, even if they have people from other agencies at the working level plugged into their working groups, which I know they do. But in the end, these are the president's weapons and it's going to take presidential leadership for him to move this forward, and it's going to take a centrally managed process, through the NSC, to make this happen.

Do we have all of these ingredients today? Not clear to me, and it's not clear to me - not for want of trying to figure out the answers to that but, you know, I fear that we don't quite have all of the right elements in place, so we need to, as a community, pay close attention to this and encourage our colleagues and the senior officials in the White House to do what I would call the right thing, to come out of the back end of this where we need to be to support the president's vision. I will conclude with that. Thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you very much to all of our speakers. You have served up a very full plate of ideas and suggestions. It is now your turn, and we will let the people in the overflow room have a chance too to ask your questions. This is our discussion time.

There are two handsome, good analysts here from the Arms Control Association who will bring you a microphone. Please state your name and your question, and who you would like to try to answer it. So why don't we start over there with Howard, I believe.

Q: Howard Morland. If Iran does indeed aspire to a nuclear arsenal, I would assume that the existence of Israel's nuclear arsenal is a factor in their thinking. What impact would it have on the conflict between Iran and the West if Israel did not have nuclear weapons?

AMB. PICKERING: I think that your conclusion is kind of hard to controvert. I also think that Pakistani weapons play a role. So I think that de-nuclearizing Israel, if it was conceivable, as a single, isolated act at the stroke of some kind of pen, would not in the long run make a difference.

Many have analyzed reasons why Iran would like to have a nuclear weapon. Some of them relate to threats in the region. Some of them relate to feelings about their inevitable important role in the Middle East. Some of them relate to the fact that unfortunately now all of the big powers who are now represented in the Security Council have nuclear weapons, and some of the aspirants seem to be there or headed in that direction. So my feeling is, yeah, but not conclusively so.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Can I just add to that briefly?

MR. KIMBALL: Sure. Joe?

MR. CIRINCIONE: There is a new report out from the East-West Institute. You may have seen a mention of it in the Washington Post yesterday. The Ploughshares fund was pleased to support that report. It was a team effort done by U.S. and Russian experts over the course of the last year that concluded that Iran is indeed capable of building a nuclear weapon within approximately one or two years but it would take another five years or so to fashion that weapon into a deliverable warhead, and during that time they'd have to develop a long-range weapon that could actually hit Israel. They're some time away from that.

They also noted an often-overlooked fact that of course such an attack would be suicidal. People tend to forget about the role of deterrence in nuclear weapons. It is alive and well and it affects Israel just as it affected most nuclear powers during the nuclear age. I encourage you to go to the East-West Institute Web site and download that report. It's the best, most thorough independent analysis I've seen. And Ted Postol, one of the authors of the report, along with Richard Garwin and Phil Coyle and others, was going to be at the AAAS tomorrow, giving a talk on the Iranian and North-Korean ballistic missile capabilities, based in part on the work he did on that report.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, why don't we go up here? Peter, if you'd bring it up - I'm sorry, Paul. Yes.

Q: Herbert Levin (sp). I wanted to ask you to go back to the American domestic side. Is there a thought of we need to revive ACDA? We've seen, just since President Obama came in, that if you need money or acquiescence from the House, you're not going to get assistance from the House Republicans, and in the last couple of days we have seen, and not to our surprise, that the senators all have their own interests on everything from gun control to the environment.

Which committees are going to take this - Foreign Relations, Defense, Energy? We've had a lot of these wonderful schemes and we've been convinced of them and then they've died in the Congress, going back to the League of Nations. So tell us where is your support to carry these things forward in the Congress, or are we just talking about what's true and beautiful and good?

(Laughter.)

MR. KIMBALL: All right, Joe, Joan perhaps?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me start. Did I detect a trace of cynicism - (laughter) - in that remark? Quickly, ACDA never should have been dismantled. This was a serious mistake on the part of the Clinton administration and part of an ill-considered compromise with Jesse Helms.

The purpose, of course, was to not only destroy the mechanism, but when they appointed John Bolton to sow the SALT on the earth so that it would never rise again. Wrong. Arms control is back. The State Department is back. It's got some of the most dynamic and powerful leadership I have ever seen assembled at the State Department.

And might I point out it's an all-female power team - (laughter) - ranging from Secretary Hillary Clinton, to soon-to-be Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher, to our chief negotiator, Rose Gottemoeller, to our NPT representative, Susan Burk, to our director of policy planning, Anne-Marie Slaughter.

This is a powerful, thoughtful, intelligent team. I think they can do the job. In fact, I actually believe the State Department will likely emerge as the lead on this set of issues. I actually don't see a team at the other agencies or departments that can actually withstand the combined talents of what's being put together at the State Department. But they need help, and Rose Gottemoeller has talked publicly about the need to recruit the best and brightest. One of the counters to cynicism is youth, people who haven't quite yet experienced it. We experience that in our lives when we have children. Well, now it's time to put those children to work. (Laughter.)

So there is a rebuilding process underway at the State Department that I think shows great, great promise and support across the agencies, including from the secretary of defense, who argues passionately about the need to increase our donations, our funding for - sorry, Ploughshares Fund - include our funding for diplomacy, and even if that means taking some from the military side of the budget.

Q: What about the Congress?

MR. KIMBALL: Joan, the Congress.

AMB. PICKERING: I can answer that.

MR. KIMBALL: Joan, try the Congress. Let's have Joan.

MS. ROHLFING: Fine, leave the hard question for me. (Laughter.) All joking aside, though, I think, you know, as with the agencies, we've also seen, over the last decade or so, that we've lost a lot of capacity in the Congress in terms of not only the staff expertise on these issues, but also member expertise and attention to these issues.

And so there's got to be a process of rebuilding, but I think the events of the day - I mean, the fact that the administration has made nonproliferation and disarmament a priority will, of necessity, get members to refocus on this issue, and we already see some signs that the Congress itself is beginning to figure out that they need to create some mechanisms for focusing on these issues.

They've reenergized something called the nuclear - excuse me, the National Security Working Group on the Senate side. And so we - you know, we hope that we'll see some renewed energy, renewed attention, and some new policies coming a result of that. I did just also want to echo the importance of building capacity, not just in the agencies but across the board. We need to work as a community to bring younger people into this community. As I look out at the sea of faces in this room, I see only a few people who are below the age of 30, so this is something we need to tackle on a class action basis.

MR. : Does that include you too, Joan?

(Laughter.)

MS. ROHLFING: Definitely not.

AMB. PICKERING: Daryl -

MR. KIMBALL: Tom?

AMB. PICKERING: - could I mention just a few pieces that I think Herb's question raises? I'm not sure that executive branch organizational tinkering makes a huge difference on the Hill. What makes a difference on the Hill is what Joe and Joan have described, a commitment at very senior levels in the executive branch to get the job done.

I have had a feeling for a long period of time, since I started in ACDA at the day of its birth, that there is an important role to be filled by an organization like ACDA, which is a unique way to catalyze the people in this room around a particular objective to fund, where we need it, R&D and other kinds of activities, and obviously to help to bring together the interagency.

I'm not sure that it necessarily has to be stand-alone if you have got a Secretary of State and a State Department that's willing - as it appears to me now - to get behind this. But I've always favored where you had programmatic activities, particularly in AID and in public diplomacy, to use a Defense Department model, which is to create within the State Department a kind of stand-alone agency that can bring together more of the resources and much of the synergy and a lot of the program direction and program management experience, which doesn't exist normally in the State Department, to that end.

And that couples two things: one, a committed secretary and a committed department behind the budgetary aspects, and the synergies and indeed the R&D capacity, if it's necessary, and other kinds of programmatic activities, if they are necessary, to come out of the process.

I have a question mark over whether that kind of a future approach to arms control in the State Department is necessary, only because I'm not sure that all those needs have not yet been successfully met. I do think, however, that Congresswoman Tauscher will have that capacity, either virtually or if she wishes to proceed in a more formal way, perhaps organizationally, to make that happen if that seemed to be necessary.

I think the cluster of bureaus that in fact resulted from ACDA in a marriage with OPM is pretty good, but I don't know yet whether in fact the programmatic requirements and a significant budget for R&D are requirements that in the future need to be provided by somebody. In my view, they ought to be provided by an agency in State if that's the case.

MR. KIMBALL: And just quickly, I mean, a final thought on Congress and what this community needs to do. I mean, I think Joan is right that, you know, we have - there are gaps that have developed over time in terms of the staff expertise, the member expertise on these issues over time, the same kinds of problems that we have in the executive branch that need to be filled with good people.

So, I mean, when I said in my introduction there's a lot of hard work ahead of us, I mean, part of that hard work is explaining to folks - I mean, it's kind of remarkable - what was the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty? It is explaining to reporters, and reporters are smart people but they've got a lot of things on their minds, okay? What are these issues about, et cetera, et cetera. So, I mean, this is a challenge not just for the executive branch and the leadership, but it's a challenge for the nongovernmental and academic communities, who need to fill in this gap in public and expert knowledge that has crept in.

We have several more hands up. We're going to go over to this side of the room here, in the middle - Cole (sp) - and then we're going to take one from the back in the next round, so be prepared.

Q: Good morning. Paul Hughes, U.S. Institute of Peace. A lot of the discussions that we have heard today revolve around the United States dealing with state issues relative to Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, notably lacking China. But my question is really about nuclear terrorism, the non-state perspective on this, and your thoughts on how the United States government should prepare or deal with this particular issue.

One of the buzzwords we hear today is whole-of-government efforts, and I'd be interested in your perspectives on what obstacles and opportunities might present themselves with that. And I would also like to see where you would think the National Security Labs would fit into that whole of government solution.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me just tee this up for Joan - (laughter) - and just on the threat. I have said for years that nuclear terrorism is the gravest threat to U.S. national security, that the Bush analysis that the main threat came from a few hostile states whose - and the answer to this was to overthrow the regimes in those states, is fundamentally wrong and has led to the acceleration of the threats, not their diminution.

Two, I think Obama gets this. They say it repeatedly, that the gravest threat to U.S. national security comes from nuclear terrorism. And it is during the campaign and now in his program it's one of his most urgent actions, and you say it on day four of the administration when he created the office for the coordination and the prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism, and then later appointed Gary Samore to head that office and is staffing it up with 10 people.

So this is not like the old days where there was just a senior director for nuclear policy. No, now we have an office in the White House to coordinate this. That's what experts have long recommended and that's some of the institutional change that can help bring about the whole government. Two, I think it's urgent that we communicate this to our allies. Let me give you one specific and pointed example. I think Israel is dead wrong that Iran is its major nuclear threat. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, is not likely to have a nuclear weapon for some years, and if it does, will be deterred from using that weapon by the threat of instant and overwhelming devastation.

This is not true for Osama bin Laden, a sworn enemy of Israel who is in Pakistan, kilometers away from nuclear weapons. That is the most urgent threat facing Israel, and the sooner that state realizes it, the better our alliance will be and the more whole governments approach will be able to take. I believe it's imperative for analysts in America, at the government level and in the private sphere to be articulating this analysis, to be developing this, and to counter the kind of easy, lazy analysis that seems to dominate the press that every time a state does something, that that is our most urgent threat. We have to get away from this idea that North Korea and Iran, however serious, represent existential threats to us. They do not.

MS. ROHLFING: Thank you, Joe. (Laughter.)

Let me take another cut on the question, some of which will amplify what Joe just said, certainly consistent with it but maybe a little bit different perspective. And I think it's a really excellent question, Paul, because so much of what we think about and talk about with respect to the near-term arms control agenda, does connect to states. But in my view, the whole reason we have laid out the agenda we have is precisely to try and get our arms around the much harder and more urgent problem of stemming the proliferation into the hands of terrorist organizations.

And, you know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a lot about getting control of materials. It's materials, materials, materials - locking those materials down, creating a new global architecture for the commerce in those materials, namely the fuel cycle, both the front and the back end of the fuel cycle. And just those two things alone - you know fissile material cut-off treaty, enhanced inspections and safeguards - a lot of things connect to how do we secure materials and create a new global architecture for how they're managed?

This is going to be, you know, a long process of creating norms, practices, legal constraints for doing that, and I think, you know, the president's got it right to be focusing on securing materials as part of his near-term agenda. He's planning to conduct a nuclear security summit, likely early next year, we hear, to engage other states in the world that have nuclear materials that - fissile materials that could be used to make a nuclear weapon. So, you know, this does require broad input from many elements of the government. There is a big diplomatic agenda. There is a big technical agenda.

Here is where it connects to the labs, to answer your other question. In fact, I think that job is so big and the nonproliferation components that connect to the lockdown agenda create an opportunity for our labs to build a new research agenda, an R&D agenda in service of the nonproliferation mission, a new organizing principle for our laboratories that can go a long way in substituting for the work they're no longer likely to be doing on building new weapon types, and I think our government ought to invest some serious effort in trying to refocus the research agenda that way.

MR. KIMBALL: Great.

MS. ROHLFING: Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: Ambassador Pickering.

AMB. PICKERING: As a former - let me just try to moderate a little between Joe's, I think, well-taken but extreme statements - (laughter) - and Joan's highly rational focus on material because I think the two come together.

I tend to agree with Joe on the over-exaggeration of the Iranian problem. I cannot agree, however, that there is only one source of material for terrorist groups and that's homegrown. We have, in a sense, the possibility - I think remote but not totally impossible - of stealing a whole weapon, and we have the possibility, as Joan has quite rightly brought out, of having loose material.

And we need to guard against that, and I think that the Israelis do see the potential for Iran, and maybe even North Korea, although I haven't said much about North Korea because it's a long way away, and Russia and others being sources of loose material. Whether in fact we have enough capacity totally and radically and rapidly to identify the source of material for any explosion this country remains a difficult problem to answer.

I, finally, agree totally with Joan that I think the labs could play a huge role in all areas of this - everything from being more helpful at identifying material to finding new and very careful ways to deal with material and finding new and better ways to identify when people are moving material up the range of enrichment, or whatever, as the process goes ahead.

And I would strongly urge that the administration, if it hasn't done already, seek to put a permanent interagency operation in shape, led by somebody like Gary, who is very significant, who can't do it in his 10-man office alone, who has to have the full resources of the major Cabinet departments and who have to operate, in my view, with a heavy dose of significant expertise as opposed to merely the turf representatives of the agencies, a kind of mixture of this particular approach.

And my feeling is that that kind of effort in permanent existence, with one other ingredient - and many of these were identified by the Project on National Security Reform, where I have spent a little bit of time - the funding. In effect, if this funding is all going to be drawn out of the existing budgets, we know that that's a two-year process before any dollar appears.

If, in fact, we're either prepared to order new funding or, in effect, to include it in supplementals, if we have anymore of those, we will be a lot better off. But there has to be some kind of funding source. My view is this is so important that we ought to capture funds in some of the large departments and then replenish those as we go ahead on a regular rolling basis to make this kind of thing happen because we know the labs don't do research for free.

MR. KIMBALL: And if you haven't already read it, there is a great article in the latest Arms Control Today by Ken Luango on the next generation of threat reduction that addresses many of these questions, and he tries to put forward some forward-looking ideas. We're going to - Cole is going to ask those of you in the back to raise your hand. He is going to select someone in the overflow area.

You're going to stand up with a microphone and come into this little gap and ask your question, please, so that we can include those in the back. Are we almost there? Okay, I meant the back, back, Cole, but, okay, let's go from the back, back, all right? Peter, with alacrity, please. No one wants to ask you a question. Oh, my god. Okay, then we'll do it over here. Rebecca Johnson. Cole, could you bring the microphone over to this -

Q: Thank you very much, and thank you to the panel. This is very, very interesting. My question really is, President Obama's election and the Prague speech were very, very widely welcomed around the world, so I'd like your views on what other countries could do that would support these initiatives for disarmament, for progressive disarmament, and also perhaps what should be avoided.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, anyone want to take that one?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Let me start. The United Kingdom is already doing it. Gordon Brown has said that he wants the United Kingdom to be in the forefront of a global campaign for nuclear disarmament and he wants the U.K. to be a disarmament laboratory, and how exactly we do this. I think those kind of statements and efforts have to be encouraged and given the funding and attention that can make them serious.

The government of Norway is providing funding for a number of conferences, initiatives, studies, and using their convening power to bring together experts from around the world. The government of Sweden is doing something on a smaller scale but somewhat similar. Italy is the chairperson of the G-8 this year and make nonproliferation one of its priority agenda items and is moving out smartly on this, including sponsoring a conference just a couple of months ago with the "four horsemen" in -

MS. ROHLFING: Just a couple of weeks ago.

MR. CIRINCIONE: A couple of weeks ago in Rome. I wasn't invited, Joan. (Laughter.) I'd like to correct that.

MR. KIMBALL: There will be another one.

MR. CIRINCIONE: There will be another one. So that's some examples of the sort of convening and diplomatic support for this process. There must be others.

MR. KIMBALL: Ambassador Pickering. Yes?

AMB. PICKERING: Yeah, I would say that what's to be avoided is the famous Nancy Reagan statement about drugs, "Just say no." What's to be encouraged, obviously, is to find positive ways to say yes, but that's a philosophical attitude and we all know that probably there is more interest in this and more willingness to make positive contributions to it, with exception of two or three places where I think things are still scratchy.

One of the issues that's scratchy is of course what threshold do we reach to bring in others on nuclear disarmament? And that will be debated and discussed, and we need to prepare and condition others to do it. And while the U.K. is volunteering to be a laboratory and has basically said it wants to go to zero, it hasn't yet named the level or the date at which it will become involved with the reduction of its weapons, and for some good reason. They want to see where the 90-percenters go and how and what way they determine it.

I think that there are other pieces of arms control and disarmament that we tend, in our mesmerization with weapons of mass destruction, to put aside, but will become increasingly important as we go to lower levels, and indeed may provide some deterrent mechanisms as well as be the source of some very difficult problems. And of course we know that every war since 1945 has happily not involved crossing the nuclear threshold. So we have serious problems on the conventional side. The Russians, in the midst of what I would call the high dudgeon set of arrangements and relationships have gotten out of CFE, at least in part. We need to think about that.

I think we need to think seriously, with our European friends, which we seem incapable of doing right now, of taking President Medvedev up on his notion that it would be a good idea to sit down and talk about European security. It doesn't mean you have to scrap NATO and destroy the EU, or do anything else. And, in fact, President Medvedev, as far as I know, has invited the U.S. to join, so it isn't Europe and Russia against the U.S. anymore.

And this is, I think, an interesting and important challenge and could lead to some very useful and constructive thinking about a number of these problems as we go ahead. We need to think very much about failed states, which are not purely a question of arms, although arms happen to be a major lubricant that leads to significant difficulty. Very few failed states have become problems without arms.

And so it is a very important thing that we begin to look at. Not that I think we are yet in a position to control the question, but I'll give you one more example. Mexico is driven nuts by the fact that 95 percent of the weapons now being involved in the war against the government by the drug and criminal cartels in Mexico come regularly from the United States. And it is part of the two-way traffic we want to stop.

And in many ways, President Obama has moved out on this. This is not popular, as you know, by the NRA community, but in some sense it is yet another indication of the fact that at the low end we have to think as much as we have to think at the high end.

MS. ROHLFING: Can I -

MR. KIMBALL: Go ahead, Joan.

MS. ROHLFING: Can I add to that? And this builds, I guess, on Ambassador Pickering's point. Other countries are going to need to recognize that to advance this agenda seriously is going to require more than just the U.S. and Russia building their arsenals down. I think there is some sense that other nations can hang back and wait until significant reductions have been achieved by the U.S. and Russia before they need to take seriously their own Article VI obligations.

And I think one of the things that we need to do as a community over the next year and beyond is to clarify that it's not just the nuclear weapons states that have an obligation to work to achieve the Article VI goals. There needs to be constructive engagement of all nations of the world, and there needs to be - we've been talking within our nuclear security project, coming out of the two Wall Street Journal op-eds, about the importance of creating a joint enterprise, an enterprise that includes both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states.

You know, a number of things simply can't be done only by the nuclear weapons states. We can engineer a new architecture for the fuel cycle just among the nuclear weapons states. We can only accomplish nuclear material security by working with all states that harbor nuclear materials today, some 40-plus nations.

We could use the help of other states in working with - working to bring into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty the other outlier states who are necessary for CTBT to enter into force, and it ought not just to be U.S. diplomacy working to convince India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the treaty - among others, by the way.

And, finally, this shouldn't also be an effort only funded by, or predominantly funded by, the United States and a couple of other nations. There must be some financial contribution in order to fund the costs associated with this ambitious agenda, and I think we may have an opportunity, looking forward all the way to next year's G-8, when the Canadians again assume the presidency. I think there is an expectation in that there is an opportunity to invest in a renewed global partnership and to up the financial contribution of the G-8 for that purpose. So there's actually quite a healthy agenda for others to assume.

MR. KIMBALL: Great. We just have time for a couple more questions. We'll have Ambassador Wolf here, in the handsome gold tie, and ask - and then if the respondents could be as brief as they can, that would be helpful.

Q: Norman Wolf. I will try to be very brief. I don't want to get into a discussion of whether there should be an act or not. I would like to make a quick observation. My own sense is that the State Department remains a very unfavorable environment for specialists - great for generalists, not great for specialists. The second observation I would make is I think the experience of the last eight years demonstrates that if you want to have a robust bureaucracy in place, you need legislation. It cannot be simply left to administrative determinations.

My question, however, is for Joan, and it's a very - perhaps one that answers itself. I don't know. But you mentioned the need to examine carefully, in the Nuclear Posture Review, the role of missile defense and, given the power of the military industrial complex, the fact that the missile defense people seem to have a constituent in every congressional district, in every state in the United States. How do you see, or do you see a way forward to address missile defense on the merits as opposed to as part of the military industrial equation?

MS. ROHLFING: Sure. The answer is yes. And I think it comes back to the point I made in my conclusion about the importance of presidential leadership. I think for me the question is not whether or not we should have ballistic missile defense; it's what kind of ballistic missile defense can we have?

We need a system that is not threatening to other countries, that is perceived to contribute to not just our security but the security of other nations around the world that might be threatened by a ballistic missile strike of some sort. And this is why it needs to be a cooperative system. So I think, though, the fundamental point is really the president's vision and direction on guiding his bureaucracy toward the right answer is going to be essential, on that and every other issue covered by the review.

MR. KIMBALL: Well, and he has already said that he is not going to pursue a strategic ballistic missile system that's not been proven, that's not cost-effective. And, quite clearly, to anybody who has been reading Arms Control Today or even the Washington Post, the European missile defense proposal is not proven. It's not cost-effective. And as several of you have pointed out, the Iranian ballistic missile threat has not yet emerged and will not likely emerge for quite some time. So, I mean, in the short term, that particular aspect I think - I mean, the issue has been addressed. There still will be that constituency, but as Joan says, we need to think about what kind and how does it work in practice? All right, over here, Elaine Grossman. And Peter has your microphone.

Q: Elaine Grossman with Global Security Newswire. We haven't heard a lot from the Obama administration yet about de-alerting the U.S. nuclear arsenal. And I'm wondering if the panel might address what the significance of that quietude might be at this point. Is there fighting behind the scenes? We did hear a little bit from General Chilton that he's opposed to de-alerting since Obama has come on as president. So if you could address that, it would be great.

MR. KIMBALL: Joan?

MS. ROHLFING: Let me take a stab at that first. I think it's certainly emblematic of the controversy surrounding the notion of de-alerting, even the terminology itself is quite controversial. You have a number of people in the military and the administration, this and previous ones, who say, you know, we're not on hair-trigger alert. This is a definitional question. I think we're certain - certainly our forces are postured to be launch-ready. Whether you consider that a hair trigger or not is just a definitional issue.

You know, I think the other reason is that, frankly, to reach some conclusions on how one might go about taking forces off of their launch-ready status in order to increase warning time is something that needs to be carefully examined through the course of the Nuclear Posture Review. And so, you know, my view is it wouldn't have been prudent for the president to prejudge where that examination comes out, but he ought to make sure that it's included in the review. But I recognize it's controversial, even though I don't honestly understand why.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, with that, I'm sorry; I think we're going to have to cut short this discussion. I know there is much, much more we could explore, but there is lunch awaiting many of you upstairs. We'll be joined in approximately 25, 30 minutes by Gary Samore. I want to ask you to join me in thanking our panelists for their great presentations. (Applause.) Thank you all, and we'll see you in a few minutes.

(END)

 


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

Description: 

Morning Panel: "Advancing U.S. Nonproliferation and Disarmament Leadership" featuring ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball, Thomas Pickering, Joe Cirincione, and Joan Rohlfing (Continue)

Country Resources:

TRANSCRIPT: Arms Control Association Annual Meeting - Speaker Luncheon with Gary Samore

Sections:

Body: 

ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

"ADVANCING U.S. NONPROLIFERATION
AND DISARMAMENT LEADERSHIP - SPEAKER LUNCHEON"

WELCOME/MODERATOR:
DARYL KIMBALL,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION

SPEAKER:
GARY SAMORE,
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA AND WHITE HOUSE COORDINATOR FOR ARMS CONTROL AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND TERRORISM,
U.S. GOVERNMENT

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2009



DARYL KIMBALL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I could please have your attention for just a moment? Thank you all for being here this afternoon. Is the microphone working? Yes, all right. I want to thank everyone for being here today. I'm Daryl Kimball with the Arms Control Association and, on behalf of our board of directors, our staff, I want to welcome our many members and friends, associates, who are here. As we await the arrival of our keynote speaker who is on his way from Capitol Hill, where he had a meeting this morning, I wanted to just take a moment to remind everyone of some of the exciting things that are happening here at the Arms Control Association as we try to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity that exists - that we were just discussing a little bit about this morning in our session.

With strong support from all of our individual members, our major foundation supporters, we're moving ahead as best as we can to increase our capacity, to increase our expertise, so that we can be more effective over the next several years. We have benefited over the last several months from you and larger grants from some of our key foundation supporters - such as the Ploughshares Fund, who is well-represented here today with Joe Cirincione this morning, Naila Bolus, executive director, and two of their key board members, Roger Hale, the chairman, and Michael Douglas, who's joined us here for lunch today.

We also have received some renewed support from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Connect-U.S. Fund for work on the conference of the test ban treaty, the Hewlett Foundation and others. And so, this is allowing us to build our capacity, to move ahead. Just let me tick off a few of the things that we're doing that many of you might not realize as you get your "Arms Control Today" and you look at that little section at the beginning, "The Masthead," that describes our staff.

In March, we just benefited from the arrival of a State Department and INR veteran Greg Thielmann, who's now working with us as a senior fellow on a new project - a realistic threat assessments and policy responses project - which is there, due in large part, to additional support from the Ploughshares Fund. Greg is going to be helping us to deal with some of the important questions and issues that we were talking about this morning about as properly and realistically assessing the threats - missiles, nuclear - regarding North Korea, Iran and others - so that we can come up with the right policy solutions.

In December, we launched a new project for the CTBT, working with our fellow NGOs and expert community members to bring together the energy and the expertise that we're going to need to build the case for the conference of test ban treaty to support the president's initiative to immediately and aggressively get the CTB over the finish line. And next month, we're going to have more about that with our new Web site. We have the arrival of a new editorial team, Miles Pomper, our long-time editor, has moved on to greener pastures and a new career at the Monterrey Institute for Nonproliferation Studies.

We're glad, however, to have Dan Horner, veteran journalist, who's joined us as our new "Arms Control Today" editor. And to help me manage all of this, we have a new deputy director position that we created just this spring. I'm surprised to see Jeff Abramson, our former managing editor and new deputy director, here, because I thought you'd have better things to do today. He and his wife, Beth, are the proud new parents of a baby girl, Kalliope, who was just born yesterday. Congratulations! (Laughter, applause.) On Monday. And so these ACA lunches are so exciting that he just had to ...

But that's a reminder of why we're here. It is something of a cliché, but it is really true. As I look into the face of my young daughter, Nola, and, you know - you all have your own sons and daughters and loved ones - it is for them and the future generations that we're working so hard now to make sure that we can move towards and realize a world free of nuclear weapons and build a safer planet for all.

I want to thank everybody for their support over the past year, which has, of course, been a difficult one from an economic standpoint. We, at the same time however, are living through a very certain time in terms of the historic opportunity we have to move ahead. So I want to ask you all to please consider making yet another contribution to ACA. There are a number of the "Yes We Can Do" little fliers that were on your chairs this morning - and I think they should be on your table now - if they're not, we will make them available on your table - that outlines our priorities and very much the community's priorities on these issues over the next couple years.

So, we're glad to have Gary Samore here with us. Where did Gary go? There he is. And Gary is, of course, a special assistant to the president and senior director for counter-proliferation strategy - otherwise known on the streets of Washington as the "WMD czar." Let me just say a couple words before I bring him up here and he'll give his remarks. You'll have a chance to ask him some questions.

Gary's resume is so long; it is quite remarkable. I mean, he has experience in the NGO sector, at the Council on Foreign Relations, the MacArthur Foundation, The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. From '96 to 2000, he was the special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for nonproliferation at the NSC. All these things make him the obvious choice for this key position at the White House at this historic juncture.

So we're glad you're here, Gary. More importantly, I think we're all extremely delighted that the president has assigned the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issue as one of his top issues just in the first - I think within the first hundred days - that April 5th speech took place. And let me just also say, we talked a little bit in the morning, Joe Cirincione did about the dangers of cynicism here in Washington.

And it's clear that while some of the cynics and supporters of the nuclear status quo over the past few weeks have tried to dismiss the president's call for achieving a world free of nuclear weapons an exercise in wishful thinking, they're of course wrong and the real fantasy is to expect that nuclear restraint and greater commitment to nonproliferation from other states in the absence of bold U.S. action on disarmament and nonproliferation diplomacy.

So, we're eager to work together with you, Gary. John Wolfstall in the vice president's office is also here - of course, a former ACA staff alum that we are very, very proud of. I've asked Gary to describe, in further detail, to the extent that he can, the administration's approach and rational on reducing and eliminating the nuclear offense threat, and we will have the chance to ask a few questions before he has to leave later on. Gary, the podium is yours.

(Applause.)

GARY SAMORE: Thank you very much, Daryl. I've always admired the work of the Arms Control Association and, in particular, I actually have a pretty good collection of "Arms Control Today," which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues, and I think it's very important to keep that alive. I think our community has gone through a difficult period, and now I think we may have an opportunity for a renaissance - and it's extremely important I think that we encourage younger people to try to make a career working on arms control and nonproliferation issues. \

As much as I share the president's vision that we need to work toward a nuclear-free world, I also suspect that there's going to be career opportunities in this business for some time. Let me say that I've been - as Daryl mentioned - I've been working on these issues for some time now. I think President Obama is the fifth president that I've worked for. And I am really impressed, genuinely impressed with his interest and knowledge on arms control on nonproliferation issues.

And having spent a fair amount of time with him now, with other people of course, talking about these issues, he really gets it. He really has internalized the essential message and strategy that he is trying to pursue, which was captured in the Prague speech. He really understands that you need to have both the vision of moving toward a nuclear-free world, and also practical steps. The vision without the practical steps is rhetoric, and the practical steps without the vision really doesn't have the same political punch.

And what the president gets is that the overall strategy toward arms control has to meet the national security needs of the United States, both in terms of maintaining an effective nuclear arsenal - as long as we have nuclear weapons - but also in terms of the arms control strategy helping us to deal with real national security threats like Iran and North Korea pursuing nuclear weapons and the danger that terrorists will seek to acquire nuclear weapons.

And to me, that's the way to make the political case for arms control and disarmament and nonproliferation. If, of course, has value in itself - it has merit in itself - but you've got to show how it deals with real national security threats that the U.S. and our allies are facing. So what I'd like to do is review, very briefly with you, the main elements of the Prague speech and sort of where we are.

Of course, it hasn't been very much time, but we've already seen some progress and it's my job as the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction and terrorism to try to pull together these different strands in a way that makes for a comprehensive game plan. You'll recall the three pillars in the Prague speech: first of all, arms control and disarmament - that is to say, dealing with countries that have nuclear weapons, limiting and trying to move toward elimination of those nuclear weapons - secondly, nonproliferation - preventing other countries from acquiring nuclear weapons - and third is the basket of nuclear cooperation and security - trying to encourage the growth of nuclear power while keeping the risk to proliferation as low as possible and making sure that nuclear materials are safe and secure and not vulnerable to theft.

On the arms control front, we've moved out on each of the main elements that the president talked about in his Prague speech. The president, as well as Russian President Medvedev announced in London at their meeting that they had reached agreement, in principle, on seeking a successor to the START treaty, which you all know expires in early December. And this would be a legally binding treaty; it would control - it would have limits on nuclear capabilities below the Moscow Treaty and the START treaty.

Rose Gottemoeller has formed her team. She's in Moscow even as we speak meeting with the Russians, and she has a very intense schedule planned for her negotiations with the Russians that will lead up to the president's trip to Moscow in early July, and we hope at that point, we would be able to announce at least some more details of what we've agreed to. There are a number of contentious issues.

These arms control treaties are always difficult, and you know, they deal with some very fundamental national security issues, both on the Russian and the American side, so we're very realistic about understanding how much we can achieve in this immediate arms control agreement for this year, in terms of preserving some of the central verification provisions of START, in terms of making some further reductions below the Moscow numbers.

But I think we have to consider this initial treaty to be a first step, and that there will be additional negotiations, which are likely to take longer periods of time, in which we'll look at deeper cuts and we'll be informed by the results of the nuclear posture review, which is taking place this year and will be finished at the end of the year and which will present the president with a much broader range of options to choose from in considering the U.S. nuclear strategy and targeting issues.

The second issue the president mentioned in the arms control basket was the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which, as you all know, there's been a paralysis at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for 10 years, and I, frankly, have been astonished at how the president's speech seems to have really made some very substantial process in terms of unsticking that stalemate. Just today, the Algerian president of the Conference on Disarmament has tabled a compromise work plan, which would include the start of negotiations on a verifiable FMCT.

And I'm sensing that we could very easily reach a consensus on that document and we would be able, then, to see the FMCT negotiations begin quite soon, although it's clearly going to take some time for governments to get themselves organized. It's been 10 years since people have really focused on this, and I would expect that the serious negotiations probably wouldn't get underway until at the end of the this year or early next year, if the CD reaches agreement on a work plan.

And I think we also all have to be realistic that this treaty is not likely to be concluded in the near future; there are a, again, a number of very contentious issues, which you're all familiar with and which were certainly exposed in the course of the discussions back in the mid-'90s, and none of them have been resolved. So you know, this is important to get this started, but I think we should be realistic that it's not likely to be - that we're not likely to see agreement on a treaty right away.

And lastly, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty - the president pledged to move ahead with U.S. ratification, which we hope will create a positive momentum and bring other countries onboard so that the CTBT can enter into force. Of all the things the president talked about in the Prague speech, this is the one that's probably the most controversial from a domestic U.S. standpoint. There seems to be very strong consensus on a post-START agreement and on FMCT, as well as the nonproliferation and nuclear security elements of the president's speech, but CTBT is still a very controversial issue and it's been 10 years, of course, since the Senate dealt with it.

So we're moving very deliberately in terms of doing the necessary technical and intelligence work to look at the important questions of verification, questions of American stockpile stewardship - can we be sure that our forces will remain reliable and effective under a long-term nuclear testing ban? And again, the nuclear posture review, I think, will help us address that question. So my anticipation is that we'll spend this year building support for the treaty and looking at the important issues so that we can present our best case to the Senate for their advice and consent.

In the nonproliferation basket, our hope is that by moving ahead on these arms control issues, we'll be in a very strong position, at the NPT Review Conference to lead a coalition of countries to strengthen the NPT. The NPT, as you all know, has a number of structural flaws; some of them can be fixed - some of them can't be - but we want to be very ambitious as the president laid out in the Prague speech, in terms of looking at ways to strengthen IAEA inspections, to strengthen enforcement and compliance measures, as well as steps to make it more difficult for countries to withdraw from the treaty.

And all of these reforms that we would like to put forward obviously have a direct bearing on countries like Iran and North Korea. And so from our standpoint, strengthening the NPT is directly relevant to dealing with those issues as part of an overall strategy. The other thing we would hope to achieve at the NPT Review Conference - and this relates to the third basket of nuclear cooperation and security - we think it's important that we try to develop a new global architecture for nuclear cooperation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

There are lots of ideas out there, like fuel banks and international fuel centers, which would obviate the need for countries to develop their own fuel-cycle capabilities, and as we expect nuclear power will expand, including to countries that don't currently have nuclear power facilities, it's important that we develop a system that will make it possible for nuclear power to spread without fuel-cycle capability spreading as well. And that also can provide a positive model for countries like Iran. If they wish to resolve the nuclear issue, they can have access to assured fuel supplies without feeling the need to develop their own enrichment capacity.

And the last piece, just to mention briefly, the president pledged that we would seek to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials over the course of the next four years, and as an important step to achieve that, we're planning to have a global nuclear summit sometime next year, and that would hopefully be a meeting of key leaders on this issue, which could pledge support to work together. As you all know, the nuclear security issue is one that requires cooperation among a fairly large number of countries; it can't be dealt with just on a U.S.-Russia basis or a G-8 basis. It's going to require a much larger group.

And I think that cooperation on nuclear security among this larger group can help to support cooperation on other nonproliferation and arms control objectives as well. So from our standpoint, we see these three pillars as an integrated package, and it's important to move together on all three of them; we're not going to be able to make progress on one in the absence of making progress on the other two, so from our standpoint, this has to be done in a systematic way. And I want to thank all of you and look forward to asking your support as we move forward in all of this, and I'd be happy to answer some questions.

(Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL: All right, thank you very much, Gary. Why don't we start the questions with some newspaper and other reporters we have here. Mary - maybe Mary Beth can start us.

Q: Thank you. Mary Beth Sheridan from the Washington Post. I'm wondering if you could tell us your impressions of the significance of the Iranian missile test today.

MR. SAMORE: Well, I think it's a significant technical development. Up to now, the Iranian missile force has been based on liquid-fueled systems, which they obtained from North Korea. And the Ashura system that they tested is a solid-propellant system, which apparently, they developed on their own. And from a military standpoint, it's a significant advantage over liquid-fueled systems - much easier to move around, as a mobile system and can be launched on much shorter warning.

Of course, this is just a test. I mean, obviously, there's still much more work to be done before it could be built and deployed, but I see it as a significant step forward in terms of Iran's, you know, capability to deliver weapons. And I think it actually helps us in terms of making the case to countries like Russia, which have been skeptical in the past about whether Iran really poses a threat. This is a very clear demonstration that Iran is moving in the direction of longer-range and more capable missile systems and I am hopeful that we'll be able to capitalize on the test in order to strengthen the coalition that we already have to try to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

MR. KIMBALL: All right, thank you. Over here? (Inaudible, off mike.)

Q: Michael Adler from the Wilson Center. Hi, Gary. Just wondering, it seems that there's some kind of - even the president said he hoped to know by the end of the year whether there would be progress in talking to Iran and some diplomats put the "deadline" - in quotes - as much earlier, perhaps as early as the third week in September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. And it seems that you're hoping to get some kind of freeze of Iranian enrichment - even a suspension, or even the application of the additional protocol. Realistically, given the past of this whole diplomacy and the Iranian nuclear crisis, what do you think are the chances that you can make progress with Iran?

MR. SAMORE: It's a very good question, and we all know the history of the negotiations, which have been very frustrating, and I imagine, will continue to be quite frustrating. However, I do think the Obama administration brings some additional assets to the table. First of all, I do think the president is genuinely interested in engaging Iran and in improving U.S.-Iranian relations and finding a way for Iran to have a place in the world that is respected and responsible. And I think that, actually, provides very powerful leverage, because I think there will be a number of people inside Iran who will be attracted to that vision and who will want to see the nuclear issue resolved so that it can be realized.

Secondly, on a more practical level, I think the collapse in oil prices has made the Iranian regime more sensitive to the threat of economic sanctions, and therefore more likely to look for a compromise that will avoid the risk of greater sanctions. And third, I think President Obama - and we've tried very hard to strengthen the international coalition so that if our overture to Iran is not successful, we'll be in a stronger position to take other action, to increase pressure. And our strategy towards Russia in terms of resetting the button and working on the nuclear issues, our strategy toward our allies - all of this is intended to create a stronger bargaining position. So I think we have a better chance of success now than we have in the last couple of - than we've been able to achieve in the last couple of years of negotiations. And as the president said, we should know by the end of this year - we should have some indications by the end of this year whether we're making progress.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. Right over here. Elaine?

Q: Elaine Grossman from the National Journal Group. I wonder if you might elaborate a little bit on what your plans are for this global nuclear summit next year. What countries do you want to see included in that, and what would your objectives be, coming out of it? Thank you.

MR. SAMORE: To be honest, I'm going to have to duck your question, because we really haven't been able to figure that out. I mean, and I don't want to sort of do it in a press statement until we really have our plan all together. But I think it will be, you know, a very important event and something that I'm - actually, sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and think, how are we going to do this? I mean, it's an awful lot of work to be done, especially when you're out - but I'm sorry, I just can't answer the question now.

We're thinking very hard - in fact, we've got meetings today to talk about exactly this issue, and you know, once we have an agreement in the government, then I think it will become - I mean, we'll be very transparent; it will become very obvious what we're doing and who's invited an so forth, but we're not quite there, yet.

Q: Is there some disagreement, then?

MR. SAMORE: No, no, there's no disagreement. It's just everybody's very busy and, you know, the Prague speech laid out an incredibly ambitious agenda, and in fact, when I was listening to the speech, I thought, boy, this is an awful lot to do! (Laughter.) So you know, the speech was great to start things off, but the implementation, of course, can sometimes take an awful lot of work.

MR. KIMBALL: So the challenge is so big even the WMD czar lays awake at night thinking about how we're going to solve these things. We have a question right here - Nicholas.

Q: Nicholas Kralev of the Washington Times. I'm very glad, Gary, that you managed to get out of that hotel in Mumbai, in November. I want to take you to North Korea. We know where we were in October-November, with Yongbyon mostly disabled, with the cooling tower blown up, but there's been nothing happening - even, there's been some reversal since then. What are your concerns about how far this reversal could go, and is there danger, today, in the next few months, of the North Koreans actually producing plutonium?

MR. SAMORE: Well, I think there is. I think the North Koreans have made a very deliberate, conscious decision to walk away from the agreements they made with the Bush administration, including to reverse the steps that they took to disable the Yongbyon facilities. And of course, they've publicly threatened that they will not only produce plutonium; they will also proceed with an enrichment program and test nuclear devices. I think the North Koreans have decided that they would try to kill the Six Party Talks and to pursue the nuclear issue in a purely bilateral relationship with the United States.

Now, how much of this reflects internal developments in North Korea, I really don't think we know. But in terms of our policy, we've made it clear that we are not prepared to engage on a purely bilateral basis. We will insist upon the preservation of the Six Party Talks as the framework for dealing with the issue - for disarming North Korea - and we will insist on North Korean nuclear disarmament as our objective. I think the North Koreans would like to be recognized or accepted as a nuclear weapons state and we're not going to do that; we've made that very clear.

Now, the North Koreans will take their measures. I mean, they will take the escalatory steps that they have decided to take. We will respond, with our allies and our partners, in terms of taking, you know, actions in response, as we did after their satellite launch in terms of additional U.N. sanctions. My prediction is, at the end of the day, the North Koreans will find that they have no choice but to engage in the Six Party Talks again, because there's no other alternative. But it may take some time before we get there; it may take months before we get there.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. We have a question right here.

Q: First, congratulations on the effective, within the first week of the NPT PrepCom last week, an agenda was set for the Review Conference, in no small measure because of your hitting the right note. And I think that the press has not properly given credit to the administration for that. My question relates to - two - they go hand-in-hand. This leap forward could be set back by the kinds of things that have come out of General Chilton, where he recently said that we would reserve the use of nuclear weapons against a cyber attack.

And he added that he saw no impediments to that, and the rest of the world heard a rejection of negative security assurances, a rejection of the doctrine of proportionality. The other is the modernization - the discussion of modernization in exchange for a CTBT. And I would hope that if there's any discussion of modernization, it's modernization of the Pantex dismantlement facility, which recent press reports have said are 15 years behind schedule. That would be a modernization that would do wonder in moving the nonproliferation/disarmament regime ahead - (inaudible, off mike). Could you comment on General Chilton and modernization of disarmament?

MR. SAMORE: Well thank you Jonathan. I should have mentioned the NPT PrepCom, because it was quite remarkable that there was agreement on an agenda, whereas in 2005, you know, disagreement over the agenda certainly substantially contributed to the failure of the conference. And I do think that - and it's not just me; a number of countries have said to us that President Obama's Prague speech really did mobilize a sense of confidence and optimism at the conference and no country wanted to be the one responsible for imposing procedural obstacles and delays. So it really did make a difference; I think you're right - there's a directly translatable effect.

On negative security issues, this is - I think it's a very difficult issue for all the nuclear weapons states, except, perhaps, for China, which has a clear no-first-use position. There's a lot of history here, there's a lot of theology, there's a lot of legalism. The nuclear posture review will look at questions of doctrine - of declaratory doctrine. And I think it's premature for me to comment on that now, but this is obviously one of the issues that we will want to look at. President Obama said, in his Prague speech, that we want to reduce the importance of nuclear weapons for U.S. security strategy, and that has implications for negative security assurances and our statements about use doctrine, but we're still working on that and I'm not in a position to comment further.

In terms of modernization, I think we have to balance, on one hand, our desire to take steps toward, you know, limiting and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons, but on the other hand, the need to make sure that our arsenal - as long as we have an arsenal - is effective and reliable. And I'm trying to get smart and I'm looking at the stockpile stewardship program, which I think has been quite successful over the last decade, and I think there's a lot of credit to be given to DOE for the work they've done to make this into a very strong, scientific-based program.

Whether we can continue that indefinitely - whether we have to look at other options, you know, to maintain reliability and effectiveness, whether we need more funding to keep that program going, those are all things that will be looked at as part of the nuclear posture review, and again, I think it's better to wait for that work to be completed rather than to have me speak about it now.

MR. KIMBALL: And a key question, of course, is what does the word modernization mean? It can mean many different things to many different people in many different contexts. Okay, we have a question here in the middle - the bearded gentleman known as David Culp with the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Thank you.

Q: Hi, Gary. David Culp with the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Big congratulations on the Prague speech. I think that really is going to be seen as a historic speech. But on your goal of securing all nuclear material in four years, which probably everybody in this room supports, you actually cut the budget for the program that's doing the work at the Energy Department. Now, this is a program that has had strong bipartisan support, where they have, for the last several years, been regularly increasing the budget, and your budget submission cut the budget.

Now, I know you're going to tell me you have plans to do all this stuff in the out-years, and that's true, you show very large increases in the out-years. But frankly, the budget profile makes no sense. You're cutting the budget and then you're dramatically increasing it, and I would encourage you to work with the Congress over the next few months to come up with a more coherent budget profile.

MR. SAMORE: Well, part of what we're doing is, we've asked both Energy and the other departments to develop a plan for this four-year plan to secure all vulnerable nuclear material - I emphasize vulnerable. And that will certainly include questions of resources and budget. That work hasn't been finished yet, but I do think we will be seeking the necessary funds from Congress in order to carry that out. But right now, we don't actually have a plan, and that's something that people are working very hard on.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. Right over here, behind the cameras. Thank you, Murray (sp).

Q: Thank you, Gary. My name is Jiang (sp) from Radio Free Asia. On North Korea, I would like to ask you what's your view and the information about the possibility of the second nuclear test, and what's the Obama administration's plan regarding this?

MR. SAMORE: Well, the North Koreans have threatened that they may conduct a second nuclear test, and they may do it. The best we can do is to try to persuade them that that would be a mistake, and we will work with our allies in the Six Party Talks to try to convince the North Koreans not to do that. And if they do it, then we'll take appropriate measures, just as we did in response to the satellite test.

MR. KIMBALL: Okay. In the back there, in the middle - Peter - thank you. Mr. Sanger, yes.

Q: Hi, Gary, David Sanger from the New York Times. You have a pretty full agenda with the Pakistanis right now, but when you left office in the end of the Clinton administration, the official position was still to try to walk back their nuclear program. We now see significant evidence that they're expanding at a pretty good pace. Could you talk a little bit about that, and whether or not the Obama administration has begun to discuss with Pakistan slowing down or reversing their current build-rate, in addition to the nuclear security issues you've spoken on before?

MR. KIMBALL: And, I mean, one other corollary is, what else can be done ahead of the conclusion of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, with respect to other nations, beyond Pakistan?

MR. SAMORE: Well certainly, the elements of the arms control approach, both FMCT and CTBT, would obviously have a direct bearing on countries like Pakistan that are not constrained by the NPT. So I think one way we get at the issue is by pursuing these new international instruments. And certainly, in the past, while there have been negotiations, we have encouraged that there be a moratorium on activities that would be contrary to the treaty.

Of course, in the case of the CTBT, there's been a test moratorium that's been observed by all countries except North Korea, even though the treaty is not enforced. And from our standpoint, it would be very desirable to have a similar kind of arrangement with the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. So I think that is one approach that we would take to try to address that issue.

In the past - and I've dealt with the South Asian nuclear issue since the Reagan administration - it is one of the most difficult issues, because the steps that we would like Pakistan to take in terms of restraining and limiting their nuclear program, the Pakistani government has always said they will do that in conjunction with India. The Indians have always said we can't take steps unless similar steps are taken by China and the other nuclear weapons states, and very quickly, you end up with a situation where it's hard to make progress. And I think we have to think of dealing with the South Asian problem not on a purely regional basis, but in the context of a more global approach.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. Right here, please. And then, Bruce, we'll go to you.

Q: Gary, Cooper Levin (ph). Gary, after our complete capitulation to the Indians in the previous administration - (laughter, applause) - that is, maybe I should stop right there. (Laughter.) That is, where they can build as many nukes and tests and so forth with no real disadvantages. Why shouldn't other countries just assume that if they ignore the United States long enough, they, too, will be blessed? In other words, we've said we'll interdict North Korean vessels; no ship has been stopped, et cetera, et cetera. How are you going to get people to be less determined and successful in defeating us in this area than the Indians have been?

MR. SAMORE: You know, I think it's a risk and I think that the only way to convince countries is to demonstrate, through success, that we are going to be able to stop nuclear weapons activities. It's been a while since we've had a success. I mean, if you look back over the last 30 years, we've had quite a few successes in terms of countries deciding not to pursue nuclear weapons, whether it's Argentina or Brazil or Ukraine or the South Africans giving up their nuclear weapons - I guess Libya is the most recent success story.

And so we need to look at Iran - to me, Iran is a critical tipping point for the whole regime. If we lose on Iran, I think it raises questions about the viability of the NPT within the Middle East. I think there's a great danger that it would trigger an arms race in the region. On the other hand, if we're successful with Iran - if we're able to restrain their nuclear activities and limit their acquisition of nuclear weapons capability, I think that sends a virtuous message.

So I think the only way to influence other countries' perceptions is through actions. I mean, words are fine, but what really counts are actions. And so for me, Iran has got to be at the top of the agenda for the future of, you know, our effort. If we fail with Iran, the message of seeking a nuclear-free world is going to be very significantly undercut.

MR. KIMBALL: Okay. Bruce MacDonald right here and then we'll go to the rear.

Q: Hi, Bruce MacDonald with the Strategic Posture Review Commission at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Gary, you may sleep less well, given the agenda you've got, but a lot of us sleep better knowing that you're where you are. (Laughter.) I wanted to ask, in the Strategic Posture Review Commission Report - the Perry-Schlesinger Report that was just issued a couple of weeks ago - in relation to the CTBT, which it could not reach consensus on, but it did point out there was a consensus on several steps the administration should take as the Senate reviews the treaty as it comes up again.

One is to conduct a broad assessment of benefits, costs and risks; second, to seek agreement on a specific definition of what is meant by a nuclear test - there have been questions raised there; a credible diplomatic strategy for moving from U.S. ratification to actual entry into force; commit to some progress of periodic review of the national security consequences of continued CTBT adherence; and then finally, some demonstration by the administration and the Congress that there will be some follow-through on the safeguards program. I mean, a bit of a laundry list, but I wanted to ask you, in light of those recommendations, what you think the Obama administration's response to that might be.

MR. SAMORE: Well, that's very much along the lines of our own thinking. And you know, the commission report has helped to reinforce our approach toward CTBT in terms of the recognition that we need to very deliberately and carefully lay the groundwork by doing exactly the kinds of studies and reviews that you've considered before we think it's right to have this issue addressed by the Senate. So we're, I think, acting very much in accord with what the commission has recommended.

MR. KIMBALL: And I just need to interject and add - the administration's going to have to answer this question itself - but the question, the assertion that the treaty does not make it clear what is banned is an issue that personally think the commission did a terrible job in addressing. And we've been through this before, Bruce. But the record is very clear from the negotiations from '94-'96, that the treaty bans all nuclear test explosions. It is also clear from the testimony of Stephen Ledogar in 1999 that Russia agrees that hydro-nuclear test are prohibited, that hydrodynamic tests are allowed. So we'll go through that again, but that's one, I think, severe flaw in this report that we should just be conscious of. We have a question in the rear. Paul, thank you.

Q: Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, formerly SANE/FREEZE. The nuclear posture review - how do you envision it reflecting President Obama's vision of a world free of nuclear weapons? More specifically, how is that process going to differ from the previous two administrations, and has the president given directions on what he would like to see, or will he give it back if it's not what he likes to see?

MR. SAMORE: Well, I think it will be much more effective if the nuclear posture review takes place in a collaborative way, and we have set up a system so that the nuclear posture review, which is headed by the Department of Defense, will be in collaboration with the State Department, with the Department of Energy, and finally, overseen by the National Security Council. So I'm very confident that the NPR will present the president with a very broad range of options.

The point of the NPR is not to come back with a single proposed strategy and nuclear requirements; the point is to come back with a range of different options and give the president the opportunity to consider those. And I think we have superb colleagues in the Department of Defense, State and Energy and I'm very confident that the review will give the president a broad range of options in terms of numbers and doctrine and so forth.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. I think we had a couple of questions in the middle. We'll go, first, with Tom Cochran over there by the window and then back to Rebecca.

Q: Tom Cochran with NRDC. Gary, does the U.S. government have any evidence that Iran has resumed weaponization portion of its nuclear program that would counter the NIE finding previously that they had ceased weaponization?

MR. SAMORE: It's a good question, but I'm afraid I'm not in a position to answer it. I'm sorry.

(Laughter.)

MR. KIMBALL: All-right. That will have to be it on that one. Rebecca?

Q: Hi, Gary. Just to confirm what Daryl said, just last week at the U.N., when my book on the CTB was being launched, Ambassador Ledogar, whom many of you know - very, very tough Republican negotiator - chief negotiator of the CTBT confirmed that everybody - all the P-5 - knew exactly what they were signing up to when they signed the CTBT, and I think that any suggestion that they didn't just needs to be swept away - it's swept away by the negotiating record.

But my question to you is - first of all, congratulations on President Obama's Prague speech, which has been welcomed throughout the world. So my question is, in what ways, and particularly in relation to the CTBT and the progressive steps on disarmament - in what way can the rest of the world support and reinforce the positive impact that we're seeing coming from the Obama administration, both on the NPT and the Conference on Disarmament, but more widely?

MR. SAMORE: Well, obviously, we would want to - we need to work together with a lot of other countries - with a range of countries in order to achieve the objectives that the president laid out. So we see this as a collaborative effort. This is not something the U.S. can do by itself; it's not something we can do with Russia; it's not something we can do with the G-8 or even the G-20. And I think, you know, we've got a year now before the NPT Review Conference, and we're going to be very active in terms of trying to build a coalition of support for a balanced outcome of the Review Conference.

In my experience in the past, very often, people don't pay very much attention to the NPT Review Conference document until the last 24 hours of the meeting, which is not a very good way to have a constructive outcome. So we'd like to start much earlier, in terms of getting these issues out. And I thought the PrepCom meeting last week in New York was a very good start. I think when we have our full team in place, we'll be in a much better position to carry out those kinds of consultations that we'll need in order to make the Review Conference a success.

And just to mention, I think it's important that we engage other governments, not only at the foreign ministry level, but also, you know, the energy departments or the energy commissions, the defense people, as well as the leadership level. Again, in the past sometimes, I think the NPT has been treated as something just for diplomats, and I frankly think it's too important just for diplomats. I think it's important that, you know, the generals and the presidents and kings, and scientists also, should be part of the process.

MR. KIMBALL: Great. Last, final, brief question, right here, please.

Q: Thanks Paul Lettow from the Council on Foreign Relations. Gary, thank you for your service and for being with us today; we appreciate it. In terms of restrictions on enrichment and reprocessing, have we reached a point where a year-on-year moratorium is kind of officially seen as dead, and will the U.S. continue to support a criteria-based system in the Nuclear Suppliers Group?

MR. SAMORE: Yes, I think that a criteria-based system is a very effective way to proceed, because I think it avoids the ideological problem of appearing to be denying countries their, quote, unquote, "rights," under the NPT, however you interpret Article IV. There's a strong view there that - and we would get strong resistance if we tried to formally ban or limit people's access to fuel-cycle technology for civil purposes. And it would be, frankly, counterproductive; we would not be able to get the support we need on other elements of the agenda if we tried to pursue that.

So I think a criteria-based approach is the best approach and, you know, the fact is, if you look at the economic and technological need for fuel cycle, there's only a few countries in the world that have an actual requirement for having their own fuel cycle, given the nature of their nuclear power industries. And there are many countries that have, as you know, very extensive nuclear power programs that rely on foreign fuel and enrichment services and it works just fine. So I think that that's the best approach we can take, and my understanding is that the NSG is very close to agreement on a criteria-based system.

MR. KIMBALL: Well, thank you very much for being with us today. (Applause.) You've been extremely generous with your time, masterful in answering these tough - and some easy - questions. And all of use are ready to work with you and the president on this great endeavor. Just like President Kennedy called upon society with the Limited Test Ban Treaty, we're all ready to work hard in a - as Secretary Schultz said - a non-partisan fashion. All right, thank you.

MR. SAMORE: Thank you all very much. Keep up the good work.

(Applause.)

MR. KIMBALL: All right. I would encourage you to take your time, finish your desserts that may be in front of you. We are going to be picking up on the member's meeting in the Butler Room downstairs at roughly 1:00 p.m. Thank you all.

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

Description: 

Speaker Luncheon - "Advancing U.S. Nonproliferation and Disarmament Leadership" with Gary Samore, Special Assistant to President Obama and White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism

Country Resources:

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Events