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Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018

Disarming Iraq: How Weapons Inspections Can Work



An ACA Press Conference

On October 7, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the capability of United Nations inspections to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Panelists spoke on the successes and difficulties of previous inspections, which ended in 1998, and offered suggestions for strengthening future inspections. The briefing came amid debate in the UN Security Council and the United States regarding potential U.S.-led military action against Iraq.

The panelists were Robert Gallucci, dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and former deputy executive chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM); Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which recently produced a report on “coercive inspections” called “Iraq: A New Approach”; and Jonathan B. Tucker, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a former UNSCOM inspector in Iraq. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, moderated the briefing.

The following is an edited version of the panelists’ remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl G. Kimball

Despite the overall success of the nonproliferation regime, a small number of states threaten to undermine the norm against the development, possession, and use of weapons of mass destruction. Among them is Iraq, which has violated nonproliferation treaties and resisted UN Security Council mandates for the disarmament of its proscribed weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Even without full Iraqi cooperation and Security Council support over the last decade, the UN Special Commission on Iraq [UNSCOM] and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] succeeded in ridding Iraq of most of its prohibited weapons capabilities. But with the absence of inspectors since 1998, the United Nations, the Bush administration, and the Congress are once again debating the nature of the threat posed by Iraq, its unfulfilled disarmament obligations, and what actions are most appropriate and effective to deal with that threat. Central to that debate is whether and how weapons inspections can be effective in disarming Iraq. This is the main subject of this morning’s press briefing.

Just a few weeks ago, it was not clear whether President Bush would pursue renewed UN weapons inspections in Iraq at all or whether he would attempt a pre-emptive, unilateral military strike against Iraq. But for now the president appears to have made the common sense choice to work through the Security Council to reach agreement on a strengthened inspections regime. Also significant is the fact that Iraq, under pressure from the international community, has expressed its willingness to allow unfettered access to its facilities, including the presidential sites, which had been off limits in 1998.

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, the sincerity of President Bush’s appeal to the UN, the will of the Security Council’s support to uphold nonproliferation norms, and Iraq’s willingness to cooperate with the United Nations will all be tested. Top-level Bush administration officials continue to assert that strengthened inspections are bound to fail and that pre-emptive military invasion is necessary. In fact, the stated goal of the administration is the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Such talk suggests to many that the administration supports the new and extremely tough new resolution at the United Nations only to provide a convenient trigger and justification for all-out military action against Baghdad. This should not be the purpose of renewed and strengthened UN inspections. Instead, the Arms Control Association and the expert panelists we have here today all agree that for now the most prudent and feasible means to deny Saddam Hussein access to weapons of mass destruction is a strategy of multilateral prevention through effective UN weapons inspections.

To explain, we have three panelists with substantial experience on Iraq and weapons inspections. First, we’re going to hear from Bob Gallucci, who’s currently dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He’s a former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, and in 1991 he was appointed deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM. Then we’ll hear from Jonathan Tucker, currently a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, who served as an UNSCOM biological weapons inspector in Iraq in 1995. Finally, we’ll hear from Jessica Mathews, who is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and who is responsible for the Carnegie Endowment’s recent report, “Iraq: A New Approach.”

Robert Gallucci

It seems to me that U.S. policy has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. We have come from a situation in which regime change was essential to a situation in which regime change in Iraq is still desirable but not necessarily essential in order—to use the administration’s phrase—to separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Secretary [of State Colin] Powell seems to be saying that, if Iraq accepts the intrusive inspections that are described in the American draft UN resolution, it will have effectively changed the regime. I like that.

The United States is now pressing for a new inspection regime that, among other things, would eliminate any sanctuaries, would do away with any requirement for advance notice of inspections, would be guided by intelligence, would be permissive of interviews with Iraqi experts, would be accompanied by an armed military unit of some kind, would follow Iraq’s full and complete declarations, and would require Iraqi cooperation in the logistics of an inspection.

This type of inspections regime, it seems to me, can indeed work if Iraq understands two things: one, that rejecting the regime will mean that it will have to suffer an invasion and two, that acceptance of the regime will mean that it does not have to suffer an invasion. Both of those must be true. The question then becomes whether an inspection regime will ensure our security in the face of the threat from Iraq.

A few observations about the inspections. First, the threat derives from Iraqi capabilities in weapons of mass destruction. There are some uncertainties, but we have high confidence that Iraq has a chemical weapons capability in mustard and nerve agents, and a biological weapons capability in toxins and bacteriological weapons. There are uncertainties beyond that, and there are questions with respect to when Iraq might have a nuclear weapons capability.

Second, the threat is urgent in Iraq to the extent that the transfer of this capability to a terrorist group like al Qaeda is perceived to be imminent. Al Qaeda or another terrorist group, one could well argue, is open to neither defense nor deterrence by the United States and therefore cannot be tolerated with that capability. There is at the same time, to the best of my knowledge, no good evidence that Iraq would transfer such a capability to such a group.

Third, Iraq itself, even with weapons of mass destruction, could be open to deterrence and therefore be a manageable threat. But over time, it seems to me, it’s an unacceptable threat. Over time, Iraq will improve its capabilities and add a nuclear weapons capability. Given its past violation of UN Security Council resolutions, its invasion of Kuwait, and other indications that it is a rogue-like regime, deterrence and containment are too passive a response to the Iraqi threat over time. By saying that, however, I don’t mean to endorse the strategy of preventive war described in the new National Security Strategy.

The fourth point I’d like to make is that we should have confidence in the effectiveness of an inspection regime in a reasonable way, which is to say that we ought to compare an inspection regime to realistic alternatives—an invasion, for example. If the United States does eventually resort to military force, hopefully in coalition with its allies, an Iraqi threat could arise again a year after that or five years after that because we could not be absolutely sure that the regime that we initially installed would remain and because the capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction could always be rebuilt. The technology is not reversible. We must, I think, look at Iraq the way we look at other states with emerging weapons capabilities and ask how we deal with them. We have concerns about Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and other countries, but it is not a good idea to plan on invading all of them.

Finally, then, we are at a moment when we have an opportunity to use diplomacy to broaden the consensus on the nature of the threat and the need to respond with UN Security Council allies and those in the region. We are also at a point where we have an opportunity to let arms control work—and by arms control, I mean an intrusive set of inspections that will give us high confidence that we can separate Saddam from his weapons. This is not the instinct of this administration—at least it has not been up until now. So, the Iraqi case could well be the administration’s first test-case in its new strategy of pre-emptive war, or it could be a counterpoint to that strategy in which diplomacy and arms control prove to be effective. I hope it is the latter.

Jonathan B. Tucker

In assessing the successes and shortcomings of the UNSCOM inspection regime, it’s important to recall its main objectives. There were three phases of the inspection process. First was the discovery phase, in which the inspectors tried to obtain a full accounting of Iraq’s past programs and supplier networks and to compile a comprehensive inventory of its dual-use facilities—that is, factories that were ostensibly engaged in legitimate commercial production but could be easily diverted to weapons production. Second was the destruction phase, in which the UN agencies, both UNSCOM and the IAEA, sought to eliminate Iraq’s stockpile of prohibited weapons, to the extent they could be found, as well as facilities that were specifically involved in weapons of mass destruction programs. And finally, there was the ongoing monitoring and verification phase, during which the inspectors kept a close watch on Iraq’s dual-capable facilities and tracked its imports and exports of sensitive technologies, with the aim of preventing Baghdad from reconstituting its weapons programs in the future. In practice, the three phases of the UNSCOM operation overlapped extensively.

What can one say about the accomplishments of the inspection regime and how well it worked? Well, first, it was clear from the outset that Iraq was not going to cooperate fully with UNSCOM. Iraq’s declarations of its weapons and facilities were incomplete and contained numerous false statements and distortions. When confronted with contradictory evidence, Iraqi authorities typically responded with partial admissions, indicating at each stage they were making a full disclosure, but each “full, final, and complete” declaration was far from full, final, or complete.

The Iraqi authorities tried to lead the inspectors away from sensitive sites, and they developed elaborate and sometimes preposterous cover stories to protect their clandestine programs. They also conducted counterintelligence operations, infiltrated the inspection system, destroyed evidence, used various means to impede and delay inspections, confronted and intimidated inspectors, and employed what are called “deception and denial” techniques. Deception involves the use of active or passive measures to convey a false or inaccurate picture of a clandestine activity, such as disguising a biological weapons facility as a vaccine plant, whereas denial involves the use of active measures to conceal the very existence of a clandestine activity. Iraq became quite skilled at these techniques, which included camouflage, control of electronic emissions and chemical pollution from weapons plants, and various forms of personnel and communications security.

Nevertheless, the Iraqi declarations were useful as a point of departure and provided a basis for planning and carrying out the initial inspections. Discrepancies between the declarations and other evidence often gave the inspectors valuable leads. Despite pervasive Iraqi noncooperation, UNSCOM’s detective work and dogged persistence produced a broad overview, if not every last detail, of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs. UNSCOM inspectors, who had initially told the Iraqis what they knew, soon learned to make it harder for Baghdad to tailor its declarations by withholding some of their information. They placed greater emphasis on technical means of verification, including the use of a U-2 aircraft provided by the United States and other forms of aerial surveillance, and they conducted no-notice inspections of undeclared sites. So in response to Iraq’s noncooperation, the inspectors became more aggressive and used more intrusive techniques.

UNSCOM analysts also learned how to piece together bits of information from a wide range of sources, including aerial and satellite imagery, confidential trade data from Western companies that had supplied dual-use materials and equipment to Iraq before the Gulf War, ongoing monitoring of Iraq’s imports of sensitive technologies, and reports by Iraqi defectors.

In particular, UNSCOM inspectors made excellent use of what are called “mass-balance” calculations. They determined the amounts of raw materials Iraq had imported, compared this information with the quantities of biowarfare agents Iraq had admitted to having produced, and then calculated the differences to obtain estimates of undeclared production. For example, UNSCOM learned from Western suppliers that during 1988 alone, Iraq had imported nearly 39 tons of complex growth media suitable for cultivating large quantities of bacteria such as anthrax, as well as for culturing patient specimens for hospital use. So, this was a dual-use material. UNSCOM could only account for 22 tons of the media imported by Iraq, leaving 17 tons unexplained. That’s a huge quantity of material.

When confronted with this evidence, the Iraqi authorities stated that the missing media had been imported for medical diagnostics and had been destroyed in riots affecting health clinics in the aftermath of the Gulf War. There were three problems with this explanation. First, Iraq’s total hospital consumption of diagnostic media from 1987 to 1994 had been less than 200 kilograms per year, yet 17 tons of media were unaccounted for. Second, the imported media did not include the types most often used for hospital diagnosis, but they were suitable for culturing agents such as anthrax. Third, since culture media spoils rapidly once a package has been opened, hospitals typically use small packages of a tenth of a kilogram to a kilogram, yet Iraq had imported the media in large drums of 25-100 kilograms.

These discrepancies made it clear that the official Iraqi cover story was false and provided strong circumstantial evidence for large-scale production of anthrax, botulinum toxin, and other biological agents. When the Iraqi authorities were confronted with this information, they ultimately admitted to large-scale production. So, that’s an example of how UNSCOM’s use of analysis forced the Iraqis to acknowledge prohibited activities.

At the end of the day, was the glass half full or half empty? Different analysts have come to different conclusions about the effectiveness of the inspection regime. I would argue that the glass was at least half full. UNSCOM’s successful detective work, as in the case of the culture media story I just told you, persuaded the Security Council to maintain economic sanctions on Iraq despite political pressures from France and Russia to lift them.

The new revelations also put senior Iraqi officials in the increasingly untenable position of getting caught telling outright lies, creating serious tensions within the Iraqi regime. Arguably, those tensions contributed to the defection to Jordan in August 1995 of the mastermind of the Iraqi weapons programs, Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel. Kamel’s defection proved to be a key break in the UNSCOM investigation because he revealed that, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had loaded biological agents into aerial bombs and Scud missile warheads.

The UN inspection regime was also successful in eliminating major elements of Iraq’s weapons programs, setting them back several years. Tens of thousands of chemical munitions were destroyed, as well as key facilities involved in the nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile production complexes.

In addition, ongoing monitoring and verification at dual-capable facilities, including the installation of closed-circuit video cameras and air-sampling devices, helped to increase the difficulty, expense, and political cost to Iraq of attempting to reacquire weapons of mass destruction, serving to deter further violations. And monitoring of Iraqi imports of sensitive dual-use technologies made it more difficult for Iraq to reconstitute its weapons programs.

On the negative side, UNSCOM could not account for major historical gaps in the chemical and biological weapons programs and never found Iraq’s stockpile of VX, the most deadly type of chemical nerve agent, or any filled biological munitions. Although ongoing monitoring and verification prevented Iraq from using its dual-use facilities to reconstitute its chemical and biological programs, the monitoring continued only as long as the inspectors were on the ground.

It’s also important to point out that the inspectors were unarmed and that their authority derived from a united Security Council and the implicit threat of military action if Iraq did not comply. The political foundation of the inspection regime was gradually weakened, however, as Iraq shrewdly played the permanent members of the Security Council against one another. Iraq also managed to negotiate directly with the UN secretary-general over special inspection procedures for so-called presidential sites, such as Saddam’s palaces, seriously undermining UNSCOM’s authority and credibility.

Finally, the revelation that the United States was piggybacking on UNSCOM to conduct its own intelligence operations, and reports that UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler was working closely with the Clinton administration, lost the public relations war for UNSCOM.

In terms of lessons learned for a future inspection regime under UNMOVIC, it’s clear that the inspectors must have access to all facilities of interest throughout Iraq and that presidential and “sensitive” sites (such as government ministries) must not be subject to less intrusive inspection procedures, as they were under UNSCOM. Of course, even with an “anywhere, anytime” inspection system, Iraq will be able to constrain the timeliness of inspections to some extent by means of logistical delays. But there should be a general principle that any suspect site in Iraq can be subjected to immediate inspection on demand.

Also, it’s important that UNMOVIC have the authority to interview Iraqi weapons scientists without the presence of Iraqi officials. During the UNSCOM period, Iraqi government “observers” sat in on all such interviews, which had an intimidating effect and prevented cooperative sources from revealing much of what they knew.

Some carrots as well as sticks will be required to secure Iraqi cooperation. As Bob Gallucci pointed out, the Security Council should make it clear that the Iraqi regime will be allowed to remain in power if—and only if—it cooperates fully in eliminating its stocks of weapons of mass destruction and submits to ongoing monitoring and verification for a period of years. Absent an assurance of regime survival as a quid pro quo, Saddam Hussein has no long-term incentive to cooperate.

Another key factor is that UNMOVIC can be effective only to the extent that the inspectors know where to look. Iraq is a large country, about the size of California, with many places to hide weapons and clandestine production facilities, so the inspection process must be supported with accurate and timely intelligence. This need will require the United States and like-minded countries to share sensitive data on clandestine Iraqi weapons production and storage sites. UNMOVIC must also have, as UNSCOM did, intelligence-gathering assets such as U-2 aircraft and its own analytical unit.

Short-notice inspections can increase the likelihood that Iraq will make mistakes and leave behind telltale indicators of illicit activity. In addition, the combined use of various tools, such as overhead surveillance, trade flow monitoring, visual inspection, sampling and analysis, and other techniques, can yield valuable synergies. Overhead surveillance can serve both to cue onsite inspections and to monitor the Iraqi response while an inspection is underway—observing, for example, if Iraqi officials are trying to remove sensitive documents or materials out the back door.

In conclusion, a realistic goal of the UN inspection regime is not to eliminate every last weapon, which is probably impossible, but to deny Iraq a militarily significant mass-destruction capability. I believe that goal is probably achievable if UNMOVIC is given full access to relevant facilities throughout Iraq, supplied with accurate and timely intelligence, and supported by a united Security Council.

Jessica T. Mathews

I agree with virtually everything my colleagues have said, but I have a few additional thoughts. Let me describe some of the crucial elements behind the concept of coercive inspections and then give you a sense of where I think we are in terms of policies in the administration.

The Carnegie Endowment’s study on coercive inspections began with the belief that, among all the grievances the United States has against Saddam Hussein, his weapons of mass destruction are the only aspect of his regime that pose a threat to us. We therefore began with the premise that U.S. policy ought to be aimed at weapons of mass destruction rather than at regime change per se. At that time, that was a very radical belief.

Having determined that, we then asked the question of whether there was any policy that could get us beyond the more than half- decade of impotence in the face of Iraqi behavior, that could deal effectively with its weapons of mass destruction short of regime change, and we came to the conclusion that the answer was yes. In our view, however, such a policy required a radically different inspection regime than either UNSCOM or UNMOVIC.

We looked at the history of Iraqi behavior, the technical successes and failures of UNSCOM, and the political successes and failures of the Security Council, and we concluded that three factors accounted for the success of UNSCOM in its first five years. The first of these was the credible and immediate threat of force that began with the presence of U.S. Desert Storm forces in the region when UNSCOM was formed. The second was unity among the permanent five members of the Security Council, which persisted, I think, until the United States undermined it, beginning in about 1995, by equivocating about whether its goal was disarmament or regime change. After that, Iraq became increasingly confident and increasingly successful at the techniques of divide and conquer in the Security Council. And the third was Saddam Hussein’s belief, which he held at the outset of inspections, that he could successfully hide what he had.

Now, all three of those conditions for success are currently gone, but we believe the first two could be reconstituted—the third is obviously gone for good. We felt that because of Saddam Hussein’s political success over the past five years and also the relative painlessness and ineffectiveness of pinprick bombing against his weapons of mass destruction, the new inspection regime had to be more than just marginally strengthened. And we came to the conclusion that the tougher the inspection regime, the tougher the initial resolution under which inspectors begin their work, the more likely we will be able to avoid war.

The report therefore proposed not only strengthening UNMOVIC’s mandate, but a good deal more—namely, having inspectors accompanied by an armed force that would provide security for the inspectors themselves, major technological resources, and the ability to determine the pace of inspections and achieve go-anywhere, go-anytime inspections.

This is a regime we call “comply or else” inspections, and the “or else” is obviously an invasion, which is where I think we are at this point. It’s a regime that depends a great deal less on Iraqi cooperation but rather more simply on Iraqi compliance, and it was designed not to be negotiated but to be presented as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. I still believe, as I think most of us who worked on this do, that that is the only way to approach Iraq—that the only thing that will separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction is the immediate threat of the end of his regime, but that faced with that choice, he will choose even this inspections regime. Nobody knows whether we’re correct or not, but I believe that if you look at the record of his behavior over the last 15 years, there are solid reasons for believing that the man is not insane and will make the rational choice.

We also agreed that inspections can be successful in the way they have been in the past. So, why a military requirement now? First, the current situation is much more dicey and could end, if challenged, in failure, and therefore there is a much higher risk of hostage-taking. This force is designed to prevent, if it should come to that, any hostage-taking of inspectors. Second, we also feel that a military force is required to get Saddam Hussein’s attention and change his mindset. Third, it is designed to prevent Iraq from causing delays that affect what the inspectors can find and to provide the elements of really strong operational and communications security that we believe are essential.

The core of this plan is the ability to impose both no-fly zones, which we have used before and currently have in effect over part of Iraq, and military no-drive zones. For example, with little advance notice, Iraq would be told that in this broad region all day tomorrow there is both a no-fly and a military no-drive zone. The region would be large enough that the Iraqis would not know exactly where the inspectors intended to go.

Where are we now? Well, last week two core beliefs of administration policy changed, at least for the time being, and that is of enormous importance. The first is that inspections cannot effectively disarm Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction, and the second is that even if they could that would not be enough, that it was necessary to get rid of him. Instead, we heard a statement by Minority Leader Trent Lott as he left the White House and several statements by Secretary Powell that, if Saddam Hussein could be divested of his weapons of mass destruction, that would be “ideal.”

This is a hugely important change, which I think the press largely missed in its attention to two secondary issues. One is this obsession about one resolution versus two, when what matters is not how many there are but what they say. And the second is the full coverage of what the Iraqis say, which matters not at all because whatever it is they say on day one will be different on day two and day three. This we know. So really, there should be no attention paid to that.

And that last comment encapsulates the spirit behind the proposal for coercive inspections: it is feckless to give Iraq another chance to prove its bona fides on inspections. We know that Saddam Hussein views inspections as the continuation of war by other means, so if we’re going to conduct inspections, we’ve got to do them in a way that really accomplishes their objective. Inspections under the old regime or the old regime-plus are almost certain to lead both to the embarrassment of the United Nations and ultimately to war.

I am not really clear where the administration stands right now. There are elements in what we know of the draft UN resolution that are very encouraging. There is no evidence, however, that the Pentagon is doing planning on the kind of coercive inspection regime that I believe is necessary, and of course, none of us knows what elements of the resolution are bargaining chips and what elements are bottom line, although we can make some inferences.

Finally, I want to just point out that it’s hard to look beyond Iraq right now, but this situation has broader implications for arms control and for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If war proves to be necessary to control weapons of mass destruction, that will almost certainly be a very heavy blow—perhaps somewhat paradoxically—to the strength and resilience and effectiveness of the nonproliferation regime because the United States is not going to go to war with country after country after country. If, on the other hand, the international community proves it is possible to levy a dire threat with determination and persistence and unity over time, that sends a very, very different message to current and possibly future proliferators.

Questions and Answers:

Question: Given UNSCOM’s experience with the technical aspects of inspections—like using the U-2 aircraft—what additional intelligence assets might be required for the new inspections regime?

Tucker: I think basically the same assets should be provided to UNMOVIC, although some new technologies could be applied—for example, rapid detection techniques for biological agents, which were not available 10 years ago. More broadly, it is essential not only for UNMOVIC to have its own analytic and intelligence-collection capabilities but for like-minded countries to provide information on suspect sites in Iraq because, of course, the intelligence-gathering resources of the United States and other countries are vastly greater than UNMOVIC’s. And just to reiterate, Iraq is a large country. There are many possible hiding places. It’s also likely that Iraq has built underground facilities, which are difficult to detect without advanced-technology systems. So sharing of national intelligence with UNMOVIC is really critical if the inspectors are to be effective.

Mathews: We have urged the deployment not just of U-2s but AWACS, JSTARS, Global Hawks, Predator—the whole panoply of the top of the line U.S. intelligence collection, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities—as being vital to the success of this effort.

Gallucci: When we talk about this range of intelligence collection, it can sound awfully intrusive, which makes some people uncomfortable. But it needs to be understood that this is a very special case. I direct this comment mostly to those in Paris and Moscow who are contemplating this new resolution. It should go without saying, but apparently it doesn’t, that this is not a cooperative arrangement. The Iraqis have established themselves as hostile to inspections. This is not a game, but it certainly is a contest where an inspection regime is trying to find things that the Iraqis are trying to hide. So, there should be no arguments about Iraqi sovereignty being compromised because Iraq compromised Kuwait’s sovereignty when it invaded it in 1990.

The intrusiveness of the inspection regime and the intelligence that must go along with it should not be thought of as compromising an international organization—this is the argument about whether there are spies associated with the regime. We have to understand that the inspection teams are not simply looking to hire chemists or biologists or nuclear engineers; they’re looking for experts in chemical weapons and biological weapons and nuclear weapons. These people come from the governments of various countries and sometimes from intelligence communities. A certain amount of maturity about this is absolutely essential.

So, using intelligence from various governments is not compromising an international organization; it is supporting an international organization in conducting inspections against a member state that has violated international rules and laws. If it’s understood that way, I think it should be more acceptable in those capitals that appear to be having some difficulty with the intrusiveness of the regime.

Question: Will the Security Council, particularly the Russians and the French, agree to such a tough new resolution for inspections?

Gallucci: First, to underline what Jessica said, that’s the right question. The question is not what Iraqis will accept. Second, I think that the decision for countries on the Security Council has to be put in terms of “compared to what?” The United States has been very clear in saying that the alternative will be military action, so that should provide an incentive. I can’t say whether they’ll end up doing the right thing, but it seems to me that this is a way to have an inspection regime in which you can have reasonably high confidence of separating Saddam from his weapons.

Mathews: I think the elements of a compromise are clearly on the table. That is one of the reasons that I mentioned how major the U.S. shift was last week and how underplayed I think media reports of this have been. The French and the Russians both have, in effect, won a major victory in the shift of the administration’s position from defining regime change as the removal of Saddam Hussein to defining it as a change in his behavior. That is a huge reversal. And it is exactly what the other permanent five members of the Security Council were arguing for in August.

Even this hang-up on the question of whether military action would be automatic if the inspections fail has the elements of compromise. It is essential to the success of inspections that the link to war is explicit. It’s essential for the Iraqis to believe that the choice is totally unfettered inspections or invasion for regime change. That’s absolutely essential. It is also essential, as Bob said, that they have to believe that if they do comply we won’t invade, or else there’s no reason for them to comply.

The French don’t mind that link being made in the first resolution, but they don’t want military action to be triggered by violation of that resolution. In other words, they want some kind of second action to approve military action, and now they are suggesting that it doesn’t have to be a formal Security Council resolution. So, a compromise is to leave the linkage in the resolution but not include the actual trigger, which is what the United States has been rightly insisting on. You have to spell out the consequences.

Of course, there are a million ways this could fail between now and whenever a vote takes place, but the elements of a compromise are clearly there.

Question: The inspections, at least initially, were predicated on a cooperative Iraqi regime, which might have allowed us to be certain that Iraq had disarmed. But clearly, Iraq did not cooperate and, even with a coercive arrangement, how do you get around the fact that the inspectors would still be in a position of trying to prove a negative—that is, that Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction?

Gallucci: I would disagree with the premise that when we began inspections we thought that were working with a cooperative state. We didn’t. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which was implementing a part of Resolution 687, I think had an ethic of cooperation with the host government, but that fell away very quickly. Within the first two inspections, the IAEA team that was working with UNSCOM was extremely aggressive. So, I don’t really think that we proceeded on any assumption of cooperation.

With respect to the proposition that inspectors are trying to prove a negative, that there’s nothing there, I’m not sure I consider that the political challenge to the inspection regime. It seems to me that what they need to do is to find what’s there that is not supposed to be there and to continue the inspection process, which makes it very difficult—hopefully nearly impossible—for Iraq to regenerate militarily significant programs in any of the weapons areas. The idea that they’re trying to prove that nothing is there may, in fact, be captured in some of the language of the resolution, but it is not the political charge of the inspection regime.

Question: But you’re still left with a predicament, are you not, of proving the negative? If Saddam Hussein doesn’t tell you where the bodies are buried, so to speak, how can you certify that the country is disarmed?

Tucker: Well, for one thing the United States and the British governments have claimed recently that Iraq retains significant capabilities in the chemical, biological, and missile disciplines. It is to be hoped that both governments will provide some or all of their information to UNMOVIC for the inspectors to track down.

Second, the inspection regime, as I mentioned, is not focused exclusively on finding weapons and destroying them but also on preventing reconstitution of the various weapons programs through ongoing monitoring and verification of dual-use facilities, which presumably will continue for a period of years. That element of preventing Iraq from reacquiring its mass-destruction capabilities in the coming years is complementary to efforts to ferret out whatever weapons Iraq may currently possess.

Kimball: This is a question that comes up in arms control all the time: how do you verify with 100 percent confidence that a particular state is not violating a particular legal obligation? One hundred percent confidence is impossible, but one of the chief advantages of a strengthened inspections regime is that it can provide high confidence that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs are contained and do not pose a threat.

Mathews: I think Jonathan Tucker gave a nice feel for how this thing proceeds. It is a huge puzzle, and when you start it, it’s kind of like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. At first you think it’s impossible, that you’ll never get through this, but the more pieces you put in place, the smaller the number of unknowns that remain. It is true that Saddam Hussein has had a number of years to alter records, to hide things, to move things, to improve his capabilities. But the UNMOVIC team has had a lot of time to learn what we do know and, as Jonathan has said, there’s a lot more intelligence that they can get access to.

Another key point is that a lot of what inspectors do is interview people. And while there are an awful lot of places in a country the size of California, there are fewer people that are key to the success of these weapons programs. So, one can look at where those people are, where they were trained, where they work, what trucks go to and fro. There are a thousand pieces to put together, but over time you can zero in with higher and higher confidence on what’s around.

Question: The president has focused national and world attention on Iraq as an imminent threat, but aren’t there other, similar threats? Is this the most important one? Why go to war at this moment?

Gallucci: I think the most salient threat posed to the security of this country is al Qaeda, and as a citizen I hope, expect, and believe that the Bush administration is doing everything it can to deal with that threat. I know that there are those who have suggested that a military engagement with Iraq might distract us from the war against terrorism broadly and al Qaeda specifically, but I rather think we can, in fact, do both, particularly if we judge that the Iraqi threat is getting worse with each passing day.

I don’t think that you can say that a switch has been thrown that has made the threat from Iraq catastrophic today where it wasn’t six months ago. But there haven’t been inspectors in Iraq since 1998, and we have good evidence that the Iraqis have been working to regenerate programs in the nuclear, chemical, and biological areas, as well as their ballistic missile program. So, the threat is getting worse over time, and it will not simply grow incrementally. When Iraq does enrich uranium to high levels or acquire plutonium or highly enriched uranium, the threat will all of a sudden jump in seriousness, and that will be an enormous concern. And we don’t want to get to that point, given Iraq’s past behavior.

I understand the administration has been making an effort to link Iraq to al Qaeda specifically, and what I have heard has not been overwhelmingly persuasive to me. But from my perspective, absent that, there is still a good reason for concluding that passively containing Iraq is not a prudent, durable policy for the United States and that we have been driven to our current course of action by the Iraqi resistance of inspections over time. Containment has failed as a policy. The situation is worsening, and I think the administration and the international community does have an obligation to deal with it.

Tucker: I would just add that Iraq is a special case because it is a country that invaded its neighbors, both Iran and Kuwait, and lost the Gulf War. It was the object of a series of Security Council resolutions that it then proceeded to violate. So, I think that the Security Council does have an obligation to enforce those resolutions, to make sure that other countries are not emboldened by Iraqi noncompliance to acquire weapons of mass destruction or to invade their neighbors. A general principle of international law is at stake here.

Kimball: Let me add a different facet to the answer. Although quick action is needed, as many experts and observers have pointed out, the administration has not been able to present evidence about Iraq’s program that is particularly new. Nevertheless, action is needed to move weapons inspectors back in there under more effective rules.

I want to go back to one thing that Jessica Mathews said earlier about the administration’s shift toward embracing the idea that strengthened weapons inspections can work. I would just point out that the administration is not simply doing what its allies want, but that this approach is also clearly in the interest of the United States and the Bush administration because a war with Iraq could involve weapons of mass destruction. If the Iraqis do indeed have chemical and biological weapons capabilities, Saddam Hussein might use those weapons in a last attempt to stave off attack. That could have very serious consequences, of course, for U.S. troops and countries in the region. Israel, for one, has nuclear weapons and might respond. So, an all-out war to disarm Saddam Hussein could produce the very effect that we’re all so concerned about.

Question: There are stories where UNSCOM inspectors would enter an Iraqi facility and the Iraqis would simply go out the back door. How do you prevent that from happening again? And if you need to use force, how do you do that without putting the inspectors in danger?

Tucker: I’m uncomfortable with the idea of inspectors being accompanied by armed troops because I think it could put the inspectors in jeopardy. It would also make their work more difficult because the inspectors need to talk to Iraqi scientists, technicians, and plant managers, and people generally won’t talk with a gun pointed at their head, at least not freely.
So, I think there should be a credible threat of military force if Iraq refuses to comply, but the forces should not be right there on the scene. They should perhaps be deployed nearby in the region, but it would be highly problematic for troops and inspectors to be intermingled.

Gallucci: There’s a nice contrast here that can be built between what we had in UNSCOM in one of our more aggressive inspections that was successful and what we could have had if we’d had more aggressive inspections. If you remember in September of 1991, we had what inspectors called the “parking lot tour,” where we spent four days in a parking lot because we wouldn’t give up some documents on the design of Iraqi nuclear weapons.

Now, what people have forgotten is that the day before the parking lot standoff happened, we were at another building where we tried to do without any military capability what the Carnegie report recommends with coercive inspections. We had inspectors armed only with little Sony Handycams, and we arrived at o-dark-thirty and surrounded the building before we started to search. The idea was to contain the situation and then launch a thorough search of the building. In the course of that, there was an awful lot of movement by the Iraqis as they began to figure out that we had actually come upon the right place.

When the end of the day came and we had actually found nuclear weapons design information, the Iraqis took a lot of the material from us. They physically just took it away from us. We had boxed it up and put it in our vehicle. They shoved us aside and they took the material from us. The next day, we were a little smarter and we put the material on our bodies to raise the level that the Iraqis would have to go to to seize the material that we had found. They decided not to strip search 41 UN inspectors, so that led to the parking lot situation.

What we were trying to do was raise the threshold in a small way—and that could be done in a much more demonstrative way. There’s a proposal for a no-fly, no-drive zone so that you have military capability to contain an area for an inspection. Then you can make sure that, if the Iraqis want to prevent an inspection team from a successful inspection, they have to use force greater than the force that’s deployed, in which case they have tripped a wire, which unambiguously leads to an invasion, and that’s the whole point.

ACA Press Conference

Country Resources:

Moving Beyond "MAD"? A Briefing on Nuclear Arms Control and the Bush-Putin Summit



Rush Transcript

Wednesday, May 15, 2002
National Press Club, Zenger Room
9:30 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.


John D. Holum
Vice President for International and Governmental Affairs, Atlas Air, Inc.; Former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Former Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth
Senior Adviser, Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign; Former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs; Former U.S. Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations

Ambassador James E. Goodby
Senior Research Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Nonresident Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution; Former Special Representative of President Bill Clinton for Nuclear Security and Dismantlement; Former Chief Negotiator for Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreements

Daryl G. Kimball
Executive Director, Arms Control Association

A question-and-answer session followed the panelists' remarks.

DARYL G. KIMBALL: Good morning. Welcome to the Arms Control Association's briefing on nuclear arms control and the Bush-Putin summit. I congratulate those of you who have trooped out here and find this a little bit more interesting than Paul Wolfowitz along the way. I think we'll be able to provide you with some information that's going to be useful over the next few days as the summit approaches.

I'm Daryl Kimball. I'm the executive director of the Arms Control Association. We're a private non-profit research and public education organization that's been around since 1971. We have organized this press briefing today to clarify some of the facts regarding the expected signing of a new U.S.-Russian arms control agreement this coming week in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and to provide what we think is a clear-eyed assessment of the value of this treaty in the years ahead.

Now, before I introduce our distinguished panel, let me briefly outline some of the essential facts that we're dealing with in connection with this agreement, and offer a few comments on behalf of the Arms Control Association about the agreement as we know it at this time.

The agreement will take the form of a treaty, requiring two-thirds approval by the United States Senate and approval by the Russian Duma. Previously, President Bush, and especially the Pentagon, had wanted a handshake agreement; a political agreement that stated each nation's intention to make these reductions, but President Putin and many other observers, including the Arms Control Association and members of Congress, were concerned that that kind of agreement might not outlast the two presidents' terms in office. So it is a treaty.

Though the form of agreement is more to the liking of Russia and to the Senate, the content is much more consistent with the United States' position that has been pushed over the last five or six months in these negotiations, and it is very consistent with the nuclear posture review which came out earlier this year. It is consistent with the nuclear posture review and the Bush administration's goal of maintaining maximum strategic flexibility with respect to strategic nuclear offenses and strategic missile defenses. The agreement only requires the two sides to reduce operationally deployed strategic warheads from today's 5,000 to 6,000 levels, to 2,200 to 1,700 by the year 2012 when the agreement will also expire.

Now, what does this mean? Let me just roughly outline a little bit of what this will mean. This agreement would allow each side to maintain existing strategic bombers, submarine-launched missiles and land-based intercontinental missiles, as well as the downloaded warheads, leaving each side with the capability of quickly uploading or re-deploying these retired warheads out of storage. For instance, the United States will be able to re-deploy as many as 2,400 warheads from its active reserves, which the Bush administration is calling "the responsive force," within three years of the conclusion of this agreement, giving the U.S. the capacity to deploy at least 4,600 strategic nuclear warheads by the year 2015. In addition, the United States will keep several thousand more warheads at lower stages of readiness that could also be re-deployed over a longer period of time.

The ongoing and excessive U.S. "hedge" arsenal, this reserve arsenal, creates a strong disincentive for Russia to implement even deeper cost-saving nuclear reductions. So, in effect, this is a strategic arms rearrangement treaty. It's a START treaty, but it's not so much a reduction treaty but a rearrangement treaty.

Is this agreement a step in the right direction? Yes, of course it is, even if it is long overdue and could be effected much more rapidly than the 10-year period that we're talking about. But clearly it falls well short of the greater degree of stability and security that verifiable dismantlement of delivery systems and warheads would accomplish. Nor does it provide the new transparency measures and data exchanges that the United States and Russia have been exploring for quite some time, which some of our panelists have been working on, which would better baseline for tracking the U.S. and Russian arsenals and eventually eliminating their strategic and nuclear weapons systems.

Now, another issue that I think needs to be addressed is the question of whether this agreement "liquidates the legacy of the Cold War," as President Bush said on Monday morning when he announced that this agreement would be concluded. He apparently believes this will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War. Does it move us beyond the condition of mutual assured destruction, as President Bush has said he wants to do? Absolutely not. The Bush administration's actions and laudable rhetoric do not match the actions over the last several months in his negotiations and the outlines of this agreement.

Consistent with the nuclear posture review, this agreement, as I said before, would allow each side to maintain approximately 2,000 deployed strategic nuclear warheads until 2012, many of which are going to be available on ready-launch status, which could create the possibility of-which will perpetuate the possibility of accidental or inadvertent nuclear war, and it will guarantee that the United States and Russia will be able to hold each other at risk by 2012 and beyond, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. and Russia may be friends, but friends shouldn't target friends with thousands of nuclear weapons.

Now, to help us explore some of these issues in greater depth and to talk about how this agreement fits into the larger U.S.-Russian relationship which will be explored and perhaps furthered at this summit next week, we have three speakers with substantial in-depth experience on strategic nuclear arms negotiations and U.S.-Russian relations.

First we'll hear from John Holum, who was the undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, and therefore the chief U.S. strategic arms negotiator for the later years in the Clinton administration, and he was also the former director the U.S. Arms Control Disarmament Agency. He's currently vice president for International and Governmental Affairs at Atlas Air. John is going to comment on how this agreement fits into the Bush administration's overall approach to arms control and international security, and perhaps he can size up how this agreement compares to the START process-the arms reduction process that had been pursued previously.

Then we'll hear from Ambassador Inderfurth, who is senior advisor with the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign and who was former assistant secretary of State for South Asian Affairs. Among other points, Rick is going to discuss how this agreement affects implementation of programs to safeguard nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union.

And then finally we're going to hear from Ambassador Jim Goodby, who is now senior research fellow at MIT and a fellow at Brookings Institution. And he was former special representative for President Clinton for Nuclear Security and Dismantlement, and the former chief negotiator on the Cooperative Threat Reduction agreements. And Jim is going to discuss how this agreement fits into the other issues that are going to be addressed at this summit, including NATO-related issues.

And then following each of the panelists' opening remarks, we'll take questions from you.

So, John, the floor is yours.

JOHN D. HOLUM: Thank you, Daryl.

First, I want to congratulate the Bush administration, the president and his team, for accomplishing an arms control treaty, and for doing so in a timely way prior to an important summit between President Bush and President Putin, and a month before the United States is scheduled to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. The treaty, announced on Monday, as well as President Bush's descriptions of it, defines further an important truth: that the Cold War is long over and that the United States and Russia are not adversaries.

Now, recognizing that there are still some specific details to emerge, what I thought I'd do, as Daryl said, is try to put this agreement in the broader context of the Bush administration's overall approach toward arms control and weapons of mass destruction, and then briefly assess what it does for each side, and finally, raise a concern relating to the issues of proliferation and terrorism.

First, on context. As compared to previous administrations, including those of President Reagan and the first President Bush, this one, it's fair to say, is not generally enamored of formal arms control, whether multilateral or bilateral. That's not an attack; it's simply an observation that I don't think anyone in the administration would dispute. It's reflected in the approach to the Biological Weapons Convention Protocol, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and in U.N. efforts to control small arms, as well as the most prominent case of the ABM Treaty.

It was also reflected in the original approach on strategic offensive arms to reduce the number of deployed offensive arms, but essentially by unilateral decisions, confirmed by a handshake rather than a legally binding agreement. As reflected in January's nuclear posture review, the administration also apparently sees a larger and more durable role for nuclear weapons in international affairs; for example, more explicitly suggesting their use in response to non-nuclear attacks.

In that context, this treaty represents, to some extent, a reversal of the basic approach. At the insistence of President Putin, as you know, it is a legally binding agreement, a treaty. It's a short one, to be sure -- something less than three pages, we're told -- but that's possible in large part because it imports verification provisions from START I, which goes on at some length in that area.

But it's not such a major reversal. Aside from warheads and delivery vehicles actually deployed, the treaty essentially regards each side's nuclear posture as its own business. Whether or not any of the nuclear weapons removed from deployment will actually be eliminated is also up to each side. It also sets aside some earlier gains. The START II treaty would have eliminated all remaining land-based missiles with multiple warheads. It focused mainly on the remaining Russian SS-18 heavy missiles. With START II now abandoned, that limit is also gone.

And because of the 2012 timetable for getting down to the 1,700 to 2,200 range, even the deployed numbers through the balance of President' Bush's administration -- assuming he has a second term -- the deployed numbers are likely to be higher than they would have been under START II. START II, as extended, would have taken us down to 3,500 warheads by 2007, and the relevant delivery vehicles would have been deactivated by 2003. Under this treaty's timetable and the nuclear posture review, we'll have some 3,800 warheads by 2008, so more warheads at an even later date.

So, arms controllers should welcome this step, but will not likely be transported by elation. The advantages for the United States are primarily in predictable lower numbers and greater flexibility in planning forces without the need to meet detailed treaty limitations, and of course the omission of any constraints on missile defenses. It's a disappointment that apparently in the closing days of the discussions, efforts to adopt new transparency measures that may have gone to getting a handle on large numbers of Russian tactical nuclear weapons were apparently dropped.

Now, how will the treaty go down in Russia? I think fairly well. President Putin came to the table with virtually no leverage. His ability to hold up amendments to the ABM Treaty evaporated when President Bush gave notice in December that the United States would withdraw from the treaty. And on offense, of course, Russia has been continuously pushing for lower numbers for years because it can't afford to maintain the forces it has now. But in the end Putin got, first, a legally binding agreement; second, a U.S. legal obligation to come down to the deployed numbers Russia will have to go down to for economic reasons; third, the ability to meet that number by keeping land-based MIRV missiles-and the SS-18s could account for more than 1,500 warheads by themselves-and fourth, compared to START II, savings from the cost of eliminating systems that are now not controlled.

So, despite some early criticism, I would expect in the end a relatively smooth path to confirmation by both the Senate and the Duma. What we should consider closely however is the impact elsewhere, and more specifically on what all agree is the much greater worry than an arms race or military conflict with Russia, and that is the spread of weapons and technology to rogue states and potentially to terrorists.

There are two general areas of concern I see here. First is the practical one. To the extent both we and Russia presumably keep large numbers of extra warheads and bombs around, there's a greater risk that dangerous materials will fall into the wrong hands. Jim Goodby of course is the world's greatest expert on this, having negotiated the Cooperative Threat Reduction agreements. Now, though they don't have to be interdependent, formal arms control has been an important channel to press Russia in those areas, and also to live up to other binding arms control obligations, including the ones not to assist countries like Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and to stop proliferating missile technology.

The second concern is political. The international community, I suspect, will have a hard time figuring out why we need to keep so many weapons on the shelf. If Russia is not our adversary, the next highest number is in China, and they have far fewer weapons, and less than two dozen that can reach the United States. The non-nuclear weapons states see the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a bargain under which they agree to forgo nuclear weapons entirely and the nuclear weapons states agree to negotiate toward their elimination. An arms reduction agreement under which most of the weapons will be kept around could be a hard sell. Now, of course the treaty does not require us to keep the weapons, and I expect actual performance will be closely watched.

In the same vein, going back to 1978 and also when the NPT was permanently extended in 1995, non-nuclear countries have relied on the so-called negative security assurances that nuclear weapons would not be used against them, essentially, unless they attacked a nuclear country in alliance with another nuclear weapons state. Now, together with a nuclear posture review that undercuts those assurances, a treaty that allows retention of thousands of weapons will be questioned as other countries consider how serious they should be about the NPT, the chemical and biological weapons conventions, and other measures that constrain them. Terrorists, of course, don't join these regimes, but to the extent the regimes are weakened or undercut and the atmosphere is permissive, terrorists have an easier time gaining access.

In the end, therefore, perhaps the biggest open question about this agreement must be, will it help or could it hurt in addressing that dominant security challenge of proliferation? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR KARL F. INDERFURTH: I think I'll just stay seated if that would be acceptable to everyone.

Let me pick up on some of the things that John has already referred to and broaden out what we'd like to see occur at the summit about to take place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. First of all, though, a comment about the announcement of the agreed treaty.

President Bush has said that the treaty will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War. Well, not exactly. It will eliminate part of the legacy of the Cold War, but many more steps will be necessary. This is indeed an important first step; I think we all agree on that. But if this is the last step by this administration, then we have, I think, some serious issues to continue discussing with the Bush administration.

Secretary Powell has said-and he said this in testimony before the Senate-he said that, "The philosophy of the Bush administration is to continue driving down the number of nuclear weapons." Well, this treaty does that, but they should continue driving down the numbers of nuclear weapons. We do not need the thousands that will still remain, either on a deployed status or in reserve, that is envisioned in this agreement. So if this is the beginning, it's a great step. If it's the end, I think we have serious, serious problems in doing what President Bush has said repeatedly, even as a candidate for this office, that he wanted to remove the legacy and the Cold War relics that he said we still have.

So, a comment about the treaty, and I think that Ambassador Goodby will make others as well, and then we'll answer your questions there.

I want to take you back just for a moment to the last summit between the two leaders, in Washington and in Crawford. At their press conference at the end of their summit, President Bush, speaking, said, "Our highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction." While these numbers in the treaty are important, I think we have to keep our focus on the issue of nuclear terrorism. That is the issue of greatest urgency that we're facing.

All of you, and members of the press, are certainly well aware of this; that Time magazine had this account on March 11, "Can We Stop the Next 9-11?" The centerpiece of that report was that a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon was out there and could be making its way to New York City. Now, had that happened, obviously this would have made the tragedy of 9-11 pale in comparison to the numbers of people that would have been killed as a result of that.

We've also seen reports of the interrogation of the al Qaeda leader, Abu Zubaydah, who has said, apparently to those that have been interrogating him, that they have come close to-I think actually the words are that, "close to building a crude nuclear device and may try to smuggle it into the United States." Now, I don't know if Abu Zubaydah has actually said those things; I certainly have not been part of the interrogation. I don't know if he is doing a little bit of disinformation, but the fact that al Qaeda and bin Laden have wanted to acquire a nuclear weapon or nuclear materials for a radiological weapon, a dirty bomb, all that we know very well. And that is what I hope at the summit President Bush and President Putin will devote a great deal of attention to.

Now, part of that relates to what John has already said: tactical nuclear weapons. This is an issue that is in the forefront of the work that I'm doing with the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign, working with members of Congress in this regard to try to get a handle-a comprehensive inventory of not only weapons but materials that would see that these things are safely secured and don't disburse either through theft or diversion or anything of that nature.

Tactical nuclear weapons is an issue that does need, at this time, greater attention, and I hope that there will be that attention at the summit in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We simply do not know how many tactical nuclear weapons the Russians have. Important initiatives were taken in 1991 and '92 with the first President Bush and President Gorbachev and then Yeltsin, to try to reduce these numbers. The United States did. We're down to about 1,650. The Russians say they did, but we do not know. There was no agreement. That's why many of us have been saying that a formally binding agreement -- legally binding agreement was important. And I'm glad to see that this has now been agreed to by the administration with respect to this treaty. But we need to do something to capture and to learn about the size of that Russian tactical nuclear arsenal. It could be anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 on the low end and to up to 15,000 to 17,000 on the high end. We simply do not know.

Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith has stated, in response to a question back in February on the issue of tactical nuclear weapons, he says-in answer to a question from the press, he says, "You're correct. It gets very little attention. The Russians have lot of tactical nuclear weapons. We view them at this point not as a big military headache for us but more to the point of view of the danger of nuclear proliferation. It is a very large arsenal, and your general point that it's not paid enough attention to is true." It's time to pay attention to tactical nuclear weapons.

So, it's time to pay attention to tactical nuclear weapons. It's also time to do more-and again, this is something that, with the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign, we are working on: do more to strengthen the Cooperative Threat Reduction and nonproliferation cooperation with the Russians. This is a terribly important and timely issue for the two presidents to work on.

As Senator Nunn has recently said, the administration's request this year for Cooperative Threat Reduction and related programs is the same as it was last year. We think that more should be done in this regard in terms of funding. The administration did come around from its initial decision when it came into office to cut these programs, then they heard a lot from Congress, including the members that we're working with-d Congressman Spratt and Tauscher and Senator Landrieu, and now we're working with Representative Curt Weldon and Senator Gordon Smith. Congressman McHugh and Tauscher have a bill that has been introduced on these issues.

More needs to be done, and Congress, we hope, will take steps to actually move the funding more in the direction of what came through in the Baker-Cutler report of Senator Howard Baker and former White House counsel, Lloyd Cutler, where they said $30 billion over 10 years would be their recommended funding levels. We're well below that now, and so more should be done there. Again, this is something that the two presidents recognized when they met the last time, and I hope that they will reaffirm that in their upcoming meeting.

Let me mention just two other items. One has to do with the issue of missile defense, not really discussed so much at this point. There is some question about whether or not there will be more said at the summit, but let me just call your attention to something that Ambassador Sandy Vershbow, our ambassador to Russia, said in a speech in St. Petersburg in February of this year, where he said-and I think this is-we need to be working with the Russians on all of these issues; on reductions, on Cooperative Threat Reduction, nonproliferation. We need to be working with them also on missile defense. The treaty which the administration has formally withdrawn from will end in June. We need to find a way to work cooperatively with Russia on this as well. And Ambassador Vershbow has said that, in his view, "Missile defense," and this is a quote, "is another potentially fruitful area for NATO-Russia cooperation. All of our nations must face the fact that efforts to prevent the proliferation of technology for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction have not been fully successful."

What Ambassador Vershbow was suggesting in this speech was that there should be cooperation among all these parties on joint Early Warning, joint exercises, and even joint industrial development of missile defense systems. Let's see how we can work with the Russians: theater missile defense. Let's do what, actually at one point, President Reagan said, that we will pursue missile defense but we will share the technology. Let's see what we can do in a cooperative way with the Russians.

Finally, another issue that should be, at some point, readdressed, and that has to do with nuclear testing. We have recently seen reports, which the Russians have said are untrue, of possible preparations to resume nuclear testing at the Russian nuclear test site. Apparently there was some concern in the administration that these reports were accurate. Of course, there have also been issues raised about a resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. The nuclear posture review, which John referred to, raised some questions in that regard.

If you read the article about the Russian nuclear testing preparations-reports of-if you went down to the very end of that article you'll see there was a reference to debate within the Bush administration about un-signing the CTBT. Now, as you know, the administration recently did that with respect to the International Criminal Court: unsigned a treaty that President Clinton had signed, and not sent for ratification but had done that. This debate, if there is a debate about un-signing, is a very serious matter, and I would hope that since we do not want Russia to resume testing, which could lead to a China resuming testing and could lead to, therefore, an India resuming testing, could lead to a Pakistan-this is not the world I think we want to see. These are Cold War relics as well, and we should put them in those categories.

So I would hope that at some point the issue of the CTBT could be revisited, and do it by, you know, looking on the shelf with what General Shalikashvili did after the Senate defeated that treaty in terms of ratification. General Shalikashvili was asked to work with Senate leaders to start saying, what could be done to address concerns about this treaty, what are the concerns that led to this defeat, and what might be done by the United States to meet those concerns? We might need to look again at the Shalikashvili report and start working on that because we do not want to see Russia resume testing, or other countries. And in that case, the moratorium that's in place by President Bush should be continued, but we should certainly not be thinking about un-signing comprehensive nuclear test ban treaties. Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you. Our next speaker is Jim Goodby, who happened to work with General Shalikashvili on that report. Welcome, Jim.

AMBASSADOR JAMES E. GOODBY: Thank you very much. And let me try to be very brief so we can get on to the discussions and questions.

My bottom line here is that I think the month of May is going to turn out to be a very good month, politically and in many other ways, for President Bush and President Putin, and potentially-potentially a very good month for Russia, the United States and Europe. The reason I use the word potential is that I think everything depends on the follow up to these agreements that have been predicted and no doubt will occur later this month. Some of them already have occurred.

First, I think that one has to look at the success of an American policy towards Russia and towards Europe in terms of the contribution that policy makes to the development of democracy and of constitutional liberalism in Russia. If the experiment with democracy in Russia works, security for Europe will be much, much improved, as for us as well.

How do I rate these agreements that have taken place or will take place soon? I would put in first place the agreement reached yesterday on "NATO at 20." I think that is of tremendous value, and not simply because it engages Russia in discussions about European security issues on a par with other NATO members, but even more importantly because it contributes to the feeling that they are a part of Europe and a part of the West. And it's that sense of being excluded that has been one of the most damaging things in terms of progress towards democracy in Russia. So I think that we need to give a vote of thanks to those in this country and overseas who also wanted that kind of a relationship with Russia; that is to say inclusion rather than exclusion.

Second, I think that the agreement we haven't heard much about yet, namely the new strategic framework-which is the second of the two documents that I gather will be announced and agreed to later on in Moscow this month-I think potentially that also is a major contribution to Russian-U.S. relations. I say that on a basis of only hearing a little bit about it, but it does seem to include one of the points that Rick just made, namely the idea that we should be able to cooperate with Russia in ballistic missile defense. And my feeling there is that if we could work out a joint NATO-Russia program-which is already, by the way, on the agenda for NATO at 20 as well as in this document that will be agreed at Moscow-if we can do that I think we will have made a tremendous step forward in practical military cooperation with Russia because it would include development and possible deployment probably of a theater missile defense to begin with. That would make the prospect of an arms race very much less than would be the case if they seemed, again, to feel they were being excluded.

In third place in the contribution that these agreements this month will make to democracy in Russia I would have to put the treaty that we have been talking about. And there, I think the main contribution it makes is frankly to strengthen Putin's hand. I noticed the Washington Times has a story saying that he's being attacked domestically in Russia. I think in the end what Putin will be seen to have achieved this month will make him even more popular in Russia. This agreement with NATO is a very positive thing for them. The new strategic framework, again, potentially is a very positive thing. And I think in the end this new treaty will be seen, by many sectors at least in Russian opinion, as positive for them too.

I might add that in some respects this is not for reasons that I would welcome, because what I'm suggesting to you is that perhaps the Russian military will find this treaty more interesting and reasonable for them than START II would have been. There were many in the Russian military who felt START II was a very unfair kind of treaty. They no longer have to worry about that. Instead they have a treaty that allows them to keep SS-18s, that allows them to MIRV, allows them to keep their missiles rather than destroy them. And so, from the military standpoint in Russia, this is not a bad deal for them. And I think they will support this treaty, and I think it will be ratified handily.

The question of what the treaty does for us otherwise in terms of nonproliferation, in terms of its enabling Russia to make a transition to a democracy, is a little open to question because I think there are now left on the table some what I would call enticements to competition. I imagine that it will not be too long before people in this country begin to worry about the SS-18s still MIRVed, perhaps some of them downloaded but easily uploaded. I imagine that some in Russia will begin to worry about the potential we have for rapid breakout, based on the idea of this responsive nuclear force. And those are, I think, enticements to move away from the cooperative spirit that this month seems to be engendering and towards a kind of competition that we really don't want to have.

Now what I would recommend in terms of a future-and I do hope this is the beginning and not the end, as Rick mentioned, I think there are-I would say there are 3 Ds, as I call them. One is deduct. We need to lower the number of deployed warheads from the 1,700-2,200 range to something more like 1,000-1,500. I think that would be a much more reasonable kind of contribution for these countries to make in terms of nonproliferation and the impact on other countries, including China by the way.

Second is deactivate. We have experience with early deactivation. That is to say, one method would be to remove warheads from missiles so there could not be a launch quite so readily. This was foreseen also in the Helsinki Agreement that Clinton reached with Yeltsin. It apparently is not foreseen in this treaty, and it seems to me that it ought to be looked at. Early deactivation would mean that you don't have to wait all these many years, 10 years, to get down to the number of active ready-to-launch weapons that we have.

And the final thing is dismantling. Like other people that have spoken about the issue, I really do think that some transparency on dismantling-which I think is apparently going to be built into this in some fashion-is very important. I think that the idea that you would retain a responsive force able to break out at a moment's notice is something that generates instabilities and suspicions. It does not contribute to the kind of cooperation we ought to have.

So if I were amending this treaty, I would urge that those would be the three things to do. And the treaty actually couldn't be amended fairly easily, it sounds like.

Finally, this new strategic framework. If I'm led to believe it, it constitutes an agenda that I think is important for both Russia and the United States. What I'm concerned about is, frankly, accountability. I have suggested in the past that there ought to be a high-level commission responsible directly to Putin and to President Bush that would work on issues like this; that would be charged with the day-to-day responsibility for making sure those things happen, because nothing is easier than to come up with a wonderful document on how we ought to cooperate in this, that and the other area, and then nobody's responsible for it. And I think somebody ought to be named, perhaps even Vice President Cheney, to see that something happens day by day, year by year, so that all of the ideas that are in the strategic framework actually do happen.

I will conclude simply by saying that I think, above and beyond the things we are talking about today, our relations with Russia and with Western Europe require a very broad strategy, and one not limited to security issues. And therefore, what I hope this summit will also achieve is a somewhat broader agenda in the field of economics, in the field of healthcare, in a number of other areas where really a grassroots support for democracy could be greatly enhanced by things that really don't cost us very much.

So I'll conclude there so we can get on to a discussion. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

MR. KIMBALL: Thank you, Jim. We'll now take your questions. Right here, Mr. Schweiss (ph).

QUESTION: I've long since given up trying to get an answer from the administration why it would let such a lopsided, favorable-to-the-U.S. treaty like START II go by the boards. In fact, almost a year ago-maybe a year ago I asked somebody in the administration, "Why?" and he looked at me and he said, "Because it's an arms control agreement." That was all he had to say.

I wonder, maybe you know why we would allow something so much in the U.S.' favor go by. But more to the point, if the administration retains at least-I think the fact that it is a treaty is probably Powell's influence as much as anyone, but he's not the whole administration. The administration still has this suspicion of arms control. Where are all these wonderful things going to germinate? I mean, how would you expect them to consider trying to do something about START II, tactical weapons-I mean, the strategic statement-I mean, apparently you at least, Ambassador, expect something to come out of it. Where is it going to germinate? Where is it going to-is this an administration suddenly that likes arms control?

MR. KIMBALL: Jim, do you want to take a first shot, then John?

QUESTION: I mean, this was a no-brainer, this treaty. How about real arms control? Where is it going to come from?

AMB. GOODBY: Well, I can't answer your question because I don't know what the administration is thinking or will do, but clearly they see a new relationship with Russia which they describe as one of almost alliance. And their feeling therefore is that all of the elaborate limits that were in START II are not required when you have two friends.

Now, the fact of the matter is we haven't quite gotten to that point. The nuclear posture review itself says that the Russian nuclear forces are "a matter of concern," and that's a quote. And a lot of the reason for the responsive force, the ability of building up very rapidly, is because we're concerned about Russia. Russia is not yet like Germany or France or Great Britain, in our view. And it's going to take a long transition before we get to that stage. That's why I emphasize democracy so much, because not until we get to that political point will we actually be able to put mutual assured destruction behind us.

But I think the administration has lost something in giving up START II. It's gained something too in trying to create a new relationship, and the balance that we strike will not be really known until history writes the book on this subject.

MR. KIMBALL: John, do you want to take a shot? And we need the microphone over here, please.

MR. HOLUM: Just to amplify slightly on the notion that-I agree with the proposition that the-as I said earlier that the main concern here is not an arms race or a military conflict with Russian. That possibility is exceedingly remote. But the areas where we still have differences and where we still need to do an enormous amount of work is on the proliferation-related concerns.

Now, one way you can get to those is through formal arms control, and by extending, as we were attempting to do, the formal agreements on strategic reductions to include warhead transparency and to include things beyond that, including dismantlement and elimination of the materials in the end. Now, I don't say it's impossible to do that without formal arms control, without continuing the START process. You can do it with a gap: you'd start at the other end and work those issues.

My concern is that if you take a negative attitude more broadly toward multilateral as well as bilateral arms control, you leave out an important part of the equation. Arms control isn't going to do it by itself, but prevention, to the extent it succeeds, simplifies the defensive requirements and reduces their costs and makes them more practical.

So, I think it's important to emphasize both sides, and I hope the administration will do more of that, both bilaterally with Russia on the proliferation-related questions, and more broadly.

MR. KIMBALL: Let me just also point out a couple of facts about Russia's future perspectives on this agreement; that we might be announcing Russia's acceptance of this a little bit soon. I think I would agree with my colleagues that eventually this agreement will be approved by the respective legislatures, but it was just on Monday, a few hours before President Bush came out on the South Lawn to announce the agreement would be concluded and that a deal had been reached, the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said, "Stockpiling the warheads is not equal to their reduction." Russia may still consider some of the issues that have been at the heart of these negotiations over the last five months still to be open.

My reading of this agreement is that the two sides have agreed to agree on what they can agree on, and they have left issues which they cannot agree on to the sides, perhaps to be dealt with in the future, perhaps not to be dealt with in the future.

QUESTION: They're going to agree to disagree and let it go at that?

MR. KIMBALL: I think that's yet to be seen. I think we need to see how this plays out over the next several days. We are still several days away from the summit itself.

AMB. GOODBY: Daryl, if I could just inject-I mean, the one thing they've done is establish a-

MR. KIMBALL: Microphone please.

AMB. GOODBY: The one thing they've done is establish a bilateral commission to help manage this treaty. And it seems to me that a lot of the kinds of questions that we're talking about now are actually going to be referred to that commission, which is going to have a very tough job on its hands.

And I think for example that this SS-18 is a real potential for bad feelings because since it is, as we've always thought of it, a kind of a first-strike weapon, they are going to have to keep this on high alert, so the idea of somehow getting down to lower-alert status, which many people advocate, is going to be very, very difficult to do under the circumstances. And that in turn is going to feed worries about what the Russians are up to and, you know, the kind of suspicions that have surfaced regarding what's happening in-(unintelligible). It's still there. So all of these worries are going to still be there. And this commission, unless it operates at a much higher level than I think it's going to, is going to have a tough problem.

MR. KIMBALL: Rick, did you want to take a cut at Barry's question?

AMB. INDERFURTH: Yeah. Barry, I think that you're right about the dismissive quality by many in the administration about arms control, about the formal arms control process, and indeed about the nature of the Soviet arsenal, now Russian threat. If you look at the NIPP report of January 2001, that was really a precursor to what we now see in terms of the form of this agreement, if there would be any agreement at all; whether it should be legally binding. In fact, this report suggested that legally binding agreements were not necessarily important any longer, as well as issues of uses of nuclear weapons and adaptability to go up and down depending on the nature of the threat.

So, yes, there is that, but at the same time I do believe that the administration-and this is where you do get an opportunity to make progress. If you're not going to look at this through the prism of arms control then look at this through the prism of non-proliferation. And I think there that the administration has a solid core of those wanting, including the president, to address this. And trying to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists will allow you to obviously pursue cooperative threat reduction programs and Nunn-Lugar related programs; will allow you to address the question of the storage of nuclear warheads that the Russians will be doing as opposed to the elimination. Perhaps that will open the opportunity later for more decisive measures with respect to elimination.

It may also allow you over time to address the timetable. Now, many people feel that 10 years is too long to see this agreement put into effect. Why 10 years? Members of Congress are saying, why not eight years, why not six years? Maybe at some point that can be looked at again through the prism of nonproliferation and say, why should we have these weapons and delivery systems sort of hanging around? Do we really need them? That's one way to get at the problem.

MR. KIMBALL: Okay. Other questions? We've answered all your questions.

Yes, sir? If you could identify yourself and take the microphone. Thank you.

QUESTION: I'm John Parker from The Economist magazine.

I take all the point you have to make, as it were, about third parties and the proliferation issue. But just on the purely Russia-U.S. bilateral relationship, you're fairly critical of the treaty. Aren't you being sort of more Catholic than the Pope here? I mean, it was the Russians that wanted the treaty. They've got a treaty. They say they're happy with it. I accept the reservation of the Defense minister, but by and large they like what they've got. And, as you've said, they've got good reason for liking what they've got.

So given that, I'm not quite clear why you're so strongly stressing, as it were, the reservations you have with the treaty, which, you know, the main party that was looking for it likes.

MR. KIMBALL: Well, let me take a quick cut and then perhaps others have some comments.

In my opening remarks, I pointed out that this is clearly a step in the right direction. This reflects the direction that both sides have been going in, reducing operationally deployed warheads. But I think it's very important that the public is aware, allies are aware of what this is not. And I think one of our chief roles here is to point out that this is not, as the president is under the allusion of, a liquidation of the legacy of the Cold War.

And as our panelists have pointed out, there remain a number of key issues on the bilateral agenda and the international nonproliferation agenda that are left to be addressed. And this also allows for the potential of future tension between the two countries, and this is an enormous missed opportunity to lock-in, through verifiable dismantlement of delivery systems and warheads, this much better relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Others, please.

AMB. INDERFURTH: The most important thing about this treaty-and that's why I think that actually we have said more positive than negative about it-the most important thing about this treaty is it demonstrates that the United States and Russia are working together. That is a key, whether it be with respect to this treaty or with respect to NATO in the future. To work together with the Russians is a key to further progress. And again, my comment was this is an excellent first step, but it should not be the last step in terms of reducing the legacy of the-and eliminating-liquidating the legacy of the Cold War.

I also think another step that could be taken to further this concern about nonproliferation is to do what many have suggested: that at the summit that President Bush propose to President Putin that we initiate a swap of their long-standing debt to the Paris Club of $45 billion for their dedicating that to nonproliferation activities within Russia. Now, the United States has a smaller part of that debt than, for instance, the Germans. I think that the Germans have the largest part. But to take those funds, that would help the economic concerns of President Putin and also go into non-proliferation.

I mentioned earlier that Congressman McHugh and Congresswoman Tauscher in the House, and Senators Biden and Lugar in the Senate, have introduced legislation to do that. I hope President Bush will take that idea and run with it. It would be an important step to take.

MR. KIMBALL: Okay. Other questions please? Yes, sir?

QUESTION: (Unintelligible)-with Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.

I'd like to ask the number-what's the rationale-what base for the number-the range 1,700 to the 2,200? Do you know or can you guess why the Bush administration came up with this particular number? Does this have something to do with the number of targets Russia has in terms of military, or any other political reasons?

MR. KIMBALL: John, I think that's a fairly familiar number to you.

MR. HOLUM: It's probably more inertia than anything else, but that requires an explanation.

Remember that the Clinton administration had agreed with President Putin, or I guess previously with President Yeltsin, on a number of 2,000-2,500. There had also been further deliberations in the administration about the possibility of a lower number. The number tends to be dictated by a target-set related to fighting a war with Russia. And that's one of the reasons why many people who have analyzed this have been saying it doesn't eliminate the legacy of the Cold War because the basis for the number is still Russia. It's certainly not China, certainly not any other country.

But I don't think it's quite that nefarious. I think it's basically inertia. That's a number that is out there that has been in the planning process and they haven't come up with a new process to replace it.

Now, why the difference between 2,000-2,500 and 1,700-2,200? It's basically, as I understand it, that this agreement changes the counting rules; that it doesn't count-at least this is what the Posture Review aimed for-it doesn't count weapons, for example, on submarines that are in overhaul or aren't on-station. And if you subtract those, or account for that difference, you come up with almost identical numbers between what had previously been agreed and this one.

MR. KIMBALL: Other questions? Yes, sir?

QUESTION: I'm a correspondent for a Chinese newspaper, China East Daily. I just have a quick question. The U.S. and Russia will sign an agreement, and the U.S.-Russia relationship is warming up again. Do you think this situation will have implications, negative or positive, toward China? Thank you.

MR. KIMBALL: John? Rick?

AMB. INDERFURTH: I think we would all certainly hope so. I think that the steps being taken by the United States and Russia should be reassuring to China in terms of its status as a nuclear power. What we have also referred to in terms of missile defense, I think that there should be cooperation with China on that issue so that China is not put in a position of not understanding fully what that missile defense is designed to counter and what it's not designed to counter.

So I hope that as this treaty goes forward and relations improve, numbers go down, greater transparency, greater cooperation on all strategic-related issues. I would hope that China would be reassured and the beneficiary of that, and that the United States and China could also engage in these discussions and this dialogue.

MR. HOLUM: Let me just add on point. I think it's very important for the United States and China to have a regular dialogue on strategic issues. We started something like that in 1994. It was interrupted over the bombing of the embassy, the tragedy in Belgrade, and resumed in 2000.

I think that kind of discussion, the ability to clarify issues, explain positions, understand each other's strategic doctrines, is extremely important and I hope that will be continued.

MR. KIMBALL: All right. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Adam Herbert (ph) with Inside Defense.

I'd have to assume that if strategic nuclear weapons are being cut by two-thirds over the next 10 years that there will be some cuts to tactical nuclear weapons as well, even though this isn't really being discussed. I'd like to hear your thoughts on what are the prospects for cutting tactical nuclear force levels and what are also the prospects for getting these incorporated into some sort of future negotiated agreement with the Russians?

AMB. INDERFURTH: Well, I think that, again, the United States has brought its tactical arsenal down substantially over the last decade. The numbers now are around 1,650. Actually, it was then-General Powell who was very much in the forefront of saying that the military did not need nor want these weapons in its arsenal. He indeed spoke about this action in his autobiography if you want to check out what General Powell said about that then.

I think that again the concern right now has to do with the nature of the Russian tactical nuclear arsenal: how many, where are they, are they under sound lock and key? And I think that one can get at that through a number of ways; not necessarily through a treaty but through an agreement to conduct a comprehensive inventory of nuclear weapons and materials, transparency, and then to talk to them about ways to bring these numbers down. But, Jim, as a treaty measure, as an agreement measure, how would you deal with the tactical nukes?

AMB. GOODBY: I would pick up where the first President Bush left off and try to add something to the statements that were made at that time, which would provide greater transparency, as Rick has said.

What is needed is some kind of assurance that the weapons which were supposed to be destroyed-and some doubt that they have been completely-in some way has to be found to measure-get a handle on the number of remaining tactical nuclear weapons on both sides. Exchanging data that requires, and probably some degree of on-site inspection. And you have to do that by having at least some limited access to the places where these tactical nuclear weapons are stored. That will not be easy to achieve, but perhaps in the new euphoria that we have, maybe something that can be done about that.

But you're quite right, something should be done because the numbers of tactical nuclear weapons seem to be far larger than the number of strategic weapons, and they are vulnerable in many ways, including to theft, so we want to do something about that.

MR. KIMBALL: If I might add, I don't think it is safe to assume that if there are strategic reductions in operationally deployed warheads that there will be progress on tactical nuclear weapons at all. These are some useful steps that have been outlined here, but this requires political will and attention, and it appears as though the Bush administration is interested in signing this agreement and turning its attention to other issues.

In February, when our Arms Control Today editor interviewed John Bolton, who is the current undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, he said, "We are willing to discuss tactical nukes, but they are not a top priority." They should be a top priority, particularly after this meeting. And I think the problem of tactical nuclear weapons, which is also described in a feature article in this month's Arms Control Today, illustrates the problem of informal arms control. As Jim Goodby mentioned, in 1991 Presidents Bush and Gorbachev unilaterally drew down the tactical nuclear weapons deployments to improve security in the aftermath-the immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, but there has been scant progress since then. And as a result we did not have good information on the location and the number of Russia's tactical nuclear weapons.

So this is something that should be on the regular agenda and needs more attention.

Others, please.

QUESTION: Yes, I was wondering if the panelists could discuss the possible dangers of an agreement, in a little bit more detail, of having the Russians store rather than destroy warheads.


MR. HOLUM: Let me first of all put that in a sort of a continuum of concerns. If I were a terrorist and wanted access to or wanted to make nuclear weapons, the most remote thing -- the least attractive thing to me would be a warhead mounted on a missile; I couldn't get to it. Probably the next least attractive would be an actual warhead because it would likely have devices attached to it which would make it impossible for me to take it apart or make it work. What I'd really want to get is the material that's in the warhead that I could make my own crude device out of. The bomb itself is surrounded with high explosives and difficult to transport and relatively heavy. To the extent that there is a risk of someone extracting the materials out of a weapon, a tactical nuclear weapon is the most likely because they are smaller and there are more of them; they are stored in a variety of places that we don't have access to, that we don't have a good understanding of.

So I think the risk is mainly in the tactical nuclear area, which this treaty doesn't cover and which we've been discussing, and also in the next steps beyond that: how do you extract-dismantle the weapon, store the physical material ultimately, dispose of the HEU or the plutonium? So that's the sort of realm of concern I've been talking about, at least.

AMB. INDERFURTH: Could I just add to that just to say, and it only takes one. Last night-maybe some of you were there as well-there was a preview of the new film, "The Sum of All Fears," and it was all fears. It was about nuclear terrorism, and it was about the possibility of the United States and Russia going to the brink of a massive nuclear exchange, and well after the Cold War is over, because of the-well, I will not reveal the plot of Tom Clancy's book, but everything we're talking about here, nuclear terrorism, materials, Russian scientists-that's another nonproliferation concern: those who have knowledge of how to build or to put these things together, perhaps finding that it is more important for their families' security to go somewhere else to make money where they can't do it-all of these things sort of come together in a way that sort of raises all of the concerns and all the fears that I think that we've been expressing here about the need to address the nuclear issue in all its dimensions, from nonproliferation to reductions to tactical nukes to doing something about this inertia of the Cold War which does leave a targeting strategy where, despite the fact that we are now good friends with Russia, our targeting strategy is still based upon that scenario. We've got to move away from it and do it quickly.

AMB. GOODBY: Could I just add two points? First is that we have spent I think at least $200 million of the taxpayers' money helping the Russians to build a facility in the Ural Mountains where they would store dismantled nuclear warheads under joint custody of the U.S. and Russia. That would be a fairly safe thing to do. In contrast, we've been trying to encourage the Russian military to consolidate its nuclear weapons stockpiles in fewer locations than now they are stored in, and we haven't had all that much success, partly because it costs them a lot of money and partly because access to such a facility, in their view, has to be very, very limited.

So we are on the one hand facing an opportunity that we created, namely a good, safe place to store dismantled warheads, and on the other facing the problem that is more of these warheads are taken off missiles and put in these many, many locations around the country. They may in fact be less secure. We should be worried about that.

MR. KIMBALL: Other questions?

Let me just expand upon a point that Ambassador Inderfurth raised earlier, related to nuclear testing and new nuclear weapons. As he said, the Sunday New York Times article described U.S. intelligence reports that raise concerns about Russian test site preparations. This is, in my view, another illustration of the ongoing suspicions between the United States and Russia that should be addressed in proactive ways.

One of the other issues that ought to be on the U.S.-Russian bilateral nuclear risk reduction agenda is to pursue measures to increase transparency at the test sites. This is a proposal that Republican Congressman Curt Weldon made on the floor last week. It's a proposal that Russia made formally in November at the New York conference on accelerating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty entry into force. Russia suggested that test site transparency measures be implemented following the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which this administration, the Bush administration, refuses to ask the Senate to reconsider, and which also would provide for short notice on-site inspections that would clarify these kinds of concerns.

So, this is yet I think another area where the two sides ought to make some good faith efforts to resolve these issues, and the Bush administration in particular should take a common sense approach to this and drop its, I would say, rather ideological opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and ideas related.

If there are no other questions -- and one last question before we close. Yes, sir? And then we will conclude.

QUESTION: Hello, this is-(unintelligible) -Japan. Quickly, do you agree with the notion that President Bush has gotten a boost by this agreement as he pursued the prior missile defense program? And also, will you elaborate: what kind of NATO-U.S. or mainly Russia-U.S. cooperation can be anticipated in the development of missile defense?

MR. KIMBALL: Could you just repeat the last part of your question, please?

QUESTION: Would you elaborate what kind of cooperation can be anticipated between Russia and the U.S. in developing the missile defense system?

AMB. GOODBY: Well, first, I don't think anybody has defined the type of cooperation. There's been a lot of back and forth between Russian experts and U.S. experts. So far as I know, there hasn't been any understanding reached about exactly what might be done.

What I think should be done is that the NATO at 20, the NATO-Russia Council, just established yesterday, which has this item on its agenda, should establish a working group to actually devise a program. Now, that will require a certain exchange of information that perhaps some in this country or elsewhere would not like to see exchanged. That will be the first hurdle. But I think there is a vast potential there that ought to be looked at very seriously. And one of the reasons I'm pleased by the new strategic framework document is that that item is also enshrined there. Again, it's the follow up that I think is important.

MR. KIMBALL: And while joint missile defense-theater missile defense cooperation between the United States and Russia might help smooth U.S.-Russian relations, if the two sides are really serious about dealing with the global missile proliferation problem, they also need to work together, and with China, on strengthening the missile technology control regime, on dealing with the regional missile proliferation problem areas in the Middle East, South Asia and especially Northeast Asia with North Korea, where there is an opportunity to permanently freeze North Korea's missile program if the U.S. and Russia and China can work together on that goal.

AMB. INDERFURTH: Daryl, you mentioned South Asia. It is an area of the world I was formerly responsible for at the State Department. I will just put a plug in for today's Washington Post. There was an article on the front page about the Cargill crisis of 1999. If you go to the-I sound like a Washington Post promoter here-if you go to The Washington Post Web site you can actually download the entire report that was written by Bruce Reidel of the National Security Council on that, which has a very significant nuclear dimension to that crisis. So I commend the report to you.

MR. KIMBALL: All right.

Well, thank you gentlemen, and thank you audience for your attention. We're going to be continuing to follow the course of the agreement that is likely going to be signed in Moscow, with also the Senate ratification debate in the next few months. Thank you for coming this morning.

ACA Press Conference

Country Resources:

Progress and Challenges in Denuclearizing North Korea



An ACA Press Conference

On April 10, the Arms Control Association held a press conference after the Bush administration decided that it would not certify North Korea’s compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework, which requires North Korea to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for two light-water nuclear power reactors.

The panelists were Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association; Robert Gallucci, dean of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service; Marc Vogelaar, director of the Public and External Promotion and Support Division at the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization; and Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council.

The following is an edited version of the panelists’ remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl G. Kimball

Welcome to this morning’s Arms Control Association briefing. We have organized this meeting to provide what we believe is some much needed information and analysis on the challenges facing continued progress toward implementing the Agreed Framework of 1994. Before I introduce our expert panelists, let me briefly outline the background of the issues that we are going to be discussing.

As most of you know, the Agreed Framework calls upon North Korea to freeze the operation and construction of its nuclear reactors and plutonium separation facilities that were part of its covert nuclear weapons program in exchange for energy support, including the construction of two light-water reactors [LWRs] for energy production. The deal drew the region back from an 18-month-long standoff over the North’s weapons programs and its threat to pull out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT].

So far, the deal has effectively frozen North Korea’s program, but difficulties clearly lie ahead. The Agreed Framework calls upon North Korea to comply with all International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] safeguards, which prohibit civil nuclear programs from undertaking military activities and include on-site inspections. North Korea must be in compliance, according to the Agreed Framework, when a significant portion of the two light-water power reactors are completed but before delivery of key nuclear components. When a significant portion of the construction is completed is a key issue here.

The Bush administration is now asserting that North Korea must agree to these inspections very soon because it asserts that the reactors will be completed in approximately three to four years and that IAEA inspections of declared and undeclared facilities could take up to three to four years. To underscore this message and to appease hard-line members of Congress, the administration recently announced that it cannot certify compliance by North Korea with all of the provisions of the Agreed Framework. Now, the North Koreans—who are still a bit stung by President Bush’s “axis of evil” remark in January and by reports about the U.S. nuclear posture review [NPR]—cite delays in the reactors’ construction and signals that Washington may be seeking to end the deal.

Now, the more we’re concerned about the threat posed by North Korea, the more important it seems to us at the Arms Control Association to maintain the freeze that currently exists on the North Korean weapons program. Though the North Korean regime is difficult, undemocratic, and uninterested in its people’s welfare, recent history shows that pragmatic and principled engagement can yield results that enhance U.S. and regional security. Timely initiation of inspections and progress toward construction of the reactors are both important for the Agreed Framework’s implementation. And with a U.S. envoy, Ambassador Jack Pritchard, headed to Seoul shortly and with the prospect of talks with the North restarting in the near future, the question now is how to move ahead to make sure that the Agreed Framework continues to be implemented by both sides.

To help us explore these and other related issues, we have three speakers with substantial hands-on experience on these matters. First, we’ll hear from Ambassador Bob Gallucci, who will provide us with his unique perspective on the agreement itself, its contributions, the undertakings of the parties to the agreement, and how the Bush administration is apparently interpreting the Agreed Framework.

Following Bob, we’re going to hear from Marc Vogelaar, who will update us on the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization’s [KEDO] progress. Finally, we’ll hear from Lee Sigal, who’s going to outline the issues in the agreement that the Bush administration must take into account if it seeks to keep the North on track with the framework and prevent a re-emergence of the nuclear crisis that gripped the region in the 1990s.

Robert Gallucci

I think it’s useful to first note where we’ve come from, what the past is. When I was an assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration in the early 1990s, we were concerned about a nuclear weapons program in North Korea, and when I was assistant secretary in the Clinton administration, we were still concerned about a nuclear weapons program in North Korea, but we were getting to know substantially more about it. In fact, there was a significant nuclear weapons program in North Korea that we estimated would, in five to seven years, be producing around 150 kilograms or so of plutonium a year, which is on the order of 30 nuclear weapons’ worth of plutonium. So, that’s a serious nuclear weapons program to worry about.

There was also a crisis that had emerged from a North Korean refusal to accept what the IAEA calls special inspections, and it was a crisis that involved the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and, of course, access to two North Korean radioactive-waste storage sites.

Furthermore, there was concern about a ballistic missile program in North Korea that included medium-range ballistic missiles, the Nodong, and longer-range, potentially intercontinental-range, Taepo Dong variations. We were concerned about what they were building in North Korea and what they were exporting to the Middle East and South Asia. We were concerned about the forward deployment of their conventional forces along the Demilitarized Zone [DMZ]: roughly a million-man army, a lot of it forward deployed, plus artillery that could reach Seoul and therefore hold that city, in a sense, hostage. We were also concerned about volatile relations between North and South Korea and between North Korea and the United States, which were manifested intermittently by incidents at sea and along the DMZ.

So, a very bad atmosphere in the early 1990s was the backdrop to the negotiations that produced the Agreed Framework. And by the way, during the course of those negotiations, while I would not claim that we reached the brink of war in 1994, I would certainly say we were on the road to war in 1994, before we produced a negotiated settlement.

Since then, I would say that the Agreed Framework has addressed but not resolved the problem of the known North Korean nuclear weapons program. That was the program I just mentioned to you: a five-megawatt research reactor, a 50-megawatt reactor, a 200-megawatt nuclear reactor, and a reprocessing plant. It addressed the threat posed by that program by stopping and freezing it and holding out the prospect of ultimately having it dismantled. It ended the crisis by offering some benefits to both North Korea and the United States immediately. But North Korea would only receive the big benefit, the light-water reactors, after it had satisfied the IAEA.

North-South relations improved, and so did North Korean-U.S. relations. Kim Dae Jung, the president of South Korea, made a historic visit north. Not quite as historic, but certainly important, Vice Marshal Jo came to the United States and the secretary of state of the United States went to Pyongyang. Pretty significant. And regarding the North’s ballistic missile program, well, there was a freeze put in place unilaterally by the North Koreans on testing. But missile exports continued and still continue; we have no reason to believe there’s been any halt to ballistic missile development; and conventional forces are still a problem.

So, against this backdrop the Bush administration comes to office, and initially it had a rocky start. Kim Dae Jung, who has championed a policy of engagement with the North, came to the United States. The day before Kim met with President Bush, Secretary of State Powell seemed to indicate that the administration would follow the same direction as the Clinton administration. But the very next day, the president himself, in a sense, says “not” and stakes out a different, tougher line that opens up the possibility of a disagreement between Seoul and Washington. This is the reverse of what we have experienced during the negotiation of the framework; now the South is actively enthusiastic about engagement and the United States is more resistant.

But within a matter of months, a policy review by the Bush administration concluded that it would be desirable to have an improved Agreed Framework and a posture to go with its willingness to have negotiations. Since that point a little more than a year ago, I would say the music has not supported the lyrics very well. We’ve had statements by the administration, particularly the president, indicating a lack of trust of the North. We’ve had the president’s comments about an evil axis that includes North Korea and Iran, as well as Iraq. We’ve had press reports about a nuclear posture review that indicates the United States would contemplate nuclear weapons strikes in a pre-emptive mode and that mentions North Korea in that context. And most recently, as Daryl noted, we’ve had the decision not to certify North Korea’s compliance with the Agreed Framework but instead to waive the requirements for compliance. In each of these points that the administration made, there is a fair amount of honesty, but this honesty provided a relatively poor backdrop for the conduct of negotiations, as honesty might in many human interactions.

Since I’m often asked to explain what’s happening in North Korea and what the North Koreans are thinking, I must tell you that I often say “I don’t know” because I don’t know. Moreover, I don’t have a lot of faith or high confidence that the experts know either. What’s odd now is that I feel comparably confused about what this administration is thinking now, and that’s not a good thing for me, and that’s what I really want to focus upon.

It is possible that the North Koreans are looking at the very tough posture the administration has adopted—no carrots and possible sticks—and have a certain amount of concern, given the robust character of American military capability, and are finding themselves in a position of desperation. Put these things together and they’ve decided that, under these circumstances, they will talk to the United States and to South Korea. But even if that is a correct characterization—which would present an arguable case that the administration is on the right track—I still wonder, without real negotiation, how we can deal with the problems that we have: the problem of gaining greater transparency into the North Korean nuclear program, dealing with ballistic missiles, and dealing with the conventional forces. These are all issues that the last administration had on its agenda at its end and that this administration still has on its agenda.

So, what is U.S. policy? Early on, some were suspicious that the administration’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for real negotiations with North Korea was connected in some way with identifying North Korea as the principal threat to which America’s ballistic missile defense would respond. In other words, this was a method of preserving that threat. I’m not embracing that myself, but that certainly was a frequently heard criticism. That seems to me less likely to be the case, partially because we hear these days less about national missile defense than we did a year ago.

We also have the administration’s decision not to certify on Pyongyang’s compliance with the Agreed Framework. I think, although I’m not certain of this, that the American decision to waive rather than certify embraces an argument that I think is captured by the phrase “anticipatory breach.” I am aware that at least two well-known analysts, Henry Sokolski, who is here, and Victor Galinsky, have made this argument.

The anticipatory breach argument is an interesting one, and I will try to shorthand it. It holds that the Agreed Framework requires North Korea to come into full compliance with its IAEA obligations before the shipment of nuclear components for the nuclear reactor takes place. Since we can anticipate the pace of delivery and can see that, within a few years, we’ll be at the point when nuclear components would be delivered, if the North Koreans do not start cooperating now with the IAEA to come into full compliance, since it will take some years to do that, they will not be in full compliance by the time it will be appropriate to begin delivering those nuclear components. Therefore, they are in anticipatory breach.

Well, with that argument, the North Koreans would have to start cooperating with the IAEA now on special inspections, or at least not put it off for years. This is a way, I would suspect, of improving the Agreed Framework, which is something the administration said it wishes to do. My problem with it is that this is the kind of improvement that drives a stake through the framework’s heart, which could be an objective for some. The point is that it is a unilateral reinterpretation of the Agreed Framework that is not supported by the framework’s language or any reading of the negotiating history.

The Agreed Framework essentially provides, together with its confidential minute, for the delivery of a nuclear power project, which will have components that are both non-nuclear and nuclear. The non-nuclear, conventional portion of the project would be delivered first, then the nuclear portion. The nuclear portion consists of items listed on the trigger list of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and these can only be delivered after IAEA safeguards requirements permit.

In the language of the Agreed Framework, it says, “When a significant portion of the LWR project is completed, but before delivery of key nuclear components, the D.P.R.K. will come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA.” Now, a significant portion of the reactor could be completed and then the delivery of the nuclear components could commence immediately, or there could be a delay before nuclear components are delivered while the IAEA completes its work. The language does not specify either scenario and, I would say, therefore does not support an argument for the concept of anticipatory breach.

Then, there is over a year of negotiating record here, if for some reason you can’t understand the language. It is very clear what went on in these negotiations. Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Gu told me he didn’t trust the United States, and I of course told him that we didn’t trust the D.P.R.K. So how do we have this deal? Well, that’s what the framework is. The framework is not an agreement; it’s a set of steps that one side takes and the other side takes. It’s reciprocal, sometimes in parallel. And the North Koreans said quite clearly that compliance with the IAEA, particularly special inspections, is an act of transparency. That was the word Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Gu used. That is, they were granting us transparency over their program. And he said quite clearly that the promise of transparency was an incentive for the United States to deliver that first part of the reactor project. And when Washington does that, it will get the transparency; that will be its reward. No suggestion was ever made that North Korea was going to start giving the transparency earlier so that they can have a smoothly flowing construction of the light-water reactor project. It was to come afterwards.

However, at one point I did suggest that the North could start early and show their goodwill right away; in 1994, they could start the negotiations with the IAEA. He said, in effect, “Thank you very much for that suggestion of how we could show our goodwill. When you complete the first part of the project, then the transparency that we promised will take place.” I never had any question about this. I’ve been asked whether I knew how many years it would take for the IAEA to bring the North Koreans into full compliance, and the answer is, no, I didn’t. I knew it would take time. I don’t think anybody knows for sure right now, but it will take time. So, I find, first in the framework’s language and second in negotiating history, no support for this argument of anticipatory breach.

I am not a lawyer, but the whole idea of an anticipatory breach of a framework strikes me as odd. The Agreed Framework is not an agreement. Our lawyers were very clear about this; I testified on this. We are not legally bound by it; they are not legally bound by it. This is a framework for both sides to take action on. If we want to get up one morning and say, “We’re not going to deliver the reactors,” we will not have violated anything. We would not be acting consistent with the framework, but if we decide it’s in our interest not to, we can do that without violating any international agreement. They can do the same. We signed the framework document because we thought it was in both of our interests to do so; but if the administration should decide the framework was no longer consistent with the international security interests of the United States, I don’t think it needs to do anything in terms of explaining anticipatory breaches. So, I don’t understand the use of that phrase in this context.

However, I would note that President Clinton gave the North a side letter representing a political commitment to complete the LWR project and provide heavy-fuel oil, even without the assistance of other countries, if necessary. But the language of the letter makes the assurance contingent on a U.S. assessment that the North has acted consistently with the framework.

There is another reason, of course, why one might find North Korea acting inconsistently with the framework. If North Korea had a secret nuclear program of any kind, that would be inconsistent with the framework and the confidential minute. Is this the reason the administration waived rather than certified North Korea’s compliance with the framework? I have no idea. I would, however, observe that if it was, we would be back to 1998, when the Clinton administration was concerned about a secret nuclear program in North Korea, used the negotiations we were in to tell them so, implicitly and explicitly putting the Agreed Framework and the light-water reactor project and the 500,000 tons of heavy-fuel oil on the table, and we got access, twice, to the site of concern. That sounds like the framework’s working, even when it doesn’t have a specific provision for inspection.

So, when I look to the future, I’m concerned. If there is a secret program or we have concerns about a secret program, I’d like to be in negotiations with the North Koreans so we can resolve it. Ballistic missiles are also an enormous problem for us, as are conventional forces. And of course, the alliance with the Republic of Korea is an issue for us, one that we must continue to tend. I worry about all of these.

In sum, my concern is that an ideology is getting in the way of common sense and has the potential to undercut national security. Abba Eban is given credit for that short line, “You can’t make peace if you only talk with your friends.” Thank you.

Marc Vogelaar

In this rather august company, I’ll do my best to clarify to you some elements of the implementation of the Agreed Framework, part of which has been entrusted to us at KEDO.

The political landscape in which KEDO is implementing the light-water reactor project is, as you just heard, constantly changing and has been changing from the start. The prophets of doom have had a field day as of late. The D.P.R.K. has been called a part of an “axis of evil,” and critics of the Agreed Framework have predicted its imminent demise. Some have even been so cynical as to pretend that the United States never even intended to provide the North with two light-water reactors but that the project only served as a ploy to keep Pyongyang away from developing a nuclear weapon, pending the regime’s collapse.

The last fortnight and the last few days provide encouraging signs, heralding a renewed chance for engagement and sunshine on the Korean Peninsula. And let me add that even the occasional cloud on the Agreed Framework’s horizon doesn’t always mean that stormy weather is ahead. KEDO’s record, now seven years old, illustrates that implementing the Agreed Framework has never been and will never be plain sailing. KEDO’s mission is a political one, and the construction of a multibillion dollar project in a remote part of any country that lacks skilled labor and essential infrastructure is no easy task. In addition, carrying out such a task under the taxing political conditions that have prevailed on the Korean Peninsula for half a century makes this an uphill struggle.

I would like to give you a balanced assessment of our progress at KEDO along the winding road to security on the Korean Peninsula. This will not be a forecast; this is an in-flight report. I will argue that KEDO is on course and that the point of no return has passed, that our expected arrival time may be somewhat delayed, but that weather conditions are brightening.

There is, not only in this country, a sometimes heated debate on what policies should be pursued toward the D.P.R.K. In this atmosphere, it is well to remember that the nuclear power project undertaken by KEDO is a practical approach to removing the threat of a D.P.R.K. nuclear arsenal. KEDO’s objective goes beyond the rehabilitation of the North Korean energy sector. Its objective is political. The reports of delays of construction of the LWR project have fed the misconception that the project is treading water, that it will, at best, prove to be a white elephant, or worse, that it may never be completed.

If you go to Kumho on North Korea’s east coast and visit the KEDO construction site, you would quickly come to the opposite conclusion. An entire mountain has been removed to prepare a solid bedrock foundation for the reactor buildings. Geological surveys have been carried out to establish scientifically the suitability of the location. A complete harbor has been constructed to provide direct access to the site for the delivery of heavy equipment for the project. That harbor is actually about to be opened sometime next week. A whole village has been built to accommodate the thousands of expected workers employed at the site. We have built roads, health clinics, training centers, et cetera. Since the beginning, $750 million has now been disbursed to achieve all of this. In addition, $350 million has been spent on heavy-fuel oil supplies to the D.P.R.K. since the heavy-fuel oil program began in 1995. In other words, the KEDO project is real, and it is serious. The Agreed Framework is neither a pipe dream nor a Trojan horse.

But what about those delays? There have been delays, mainly caused by political complications that Ambassador Gallucci already referred to and that have occurred during the implementation of the project. Think of the test launch in 1998 of the multistage missile fired by the D.P.R.K. over Japan and other security-related incidents that have cast a shadow over the prospects for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. But perhaps the greatest challenge in the KEDO process has been, and is likely to continue to be, the time that we need to convince the D.P.R.K. of the need to accept its international obligations connected with the LWR project. This process is sometimes at the expense of efficiency, but at the same time it represents an opportunity for the D.P.R.K. to familiarize itself with international legal concepts and arrangements.

I’ll give you an example: nuclear liability. There is a need for a satisfactory legal framework protecting both North Korea and its neighbors against liability in case of a major nuclear accident. Pyongyang must adopt national legislation in this field and adhere to certain international conventions on nuclear liability. And another example of this process of familiarization is the training of future North Korean regulators and operators to meet international safety standards. For obvious reasons, it is vital that the D.P.R.K. develop a nuclear safety culture that will allow it to take full international responsibility after it takes possession of the plants. Under KEDO’s auspices, a group of North Korean nuclear experts recently visited Sweden and Spain to study safety procedures at nuclear plants in those two countries.

The best illustration, however, of how the Agreed Framework has jump-started beneficial interactions between the D.P.R.K. and the outside world is that the framework requires the D.P.R.K. to come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA when a significant portion of the project is completed but before delivery of key nuclear components, as Ambassador Gallucci has already said. KEDO is not responsible for the establishment of such compliance nor for the acceptance of inspections by Pyongyang, but the issue is obviously of direct concern to us because failure by the D.P.R.K. to comply with this requirement would stop the light-water reactor project in its tracks. No key nuclear components will be shipped unless International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors report satisfactory findings at the end of their inspections of the relevant North Korean facilities. So far, the D.P.R.K. has been reluctant to accept IAEA inspections, but, as Ambassador Gallucci has argued, we should not abandon hope.

It is widely assumed that Pyongyang believes that the inspections do not need to begin until several years from now, when shipment of the key nuclear components would be imminent. However, there is no evidence for this assumption. The IAEA, on its part, has made it abundantly clear that it will need somewhere between three to four years to complete the inspections, assuming that the North Korean authorities cooperate with them. KEDO expects that a significant portion of the reactor project will be completed within a few years; therefore, the inspections must begin without further ado. The resumption of the North-South dialogue and the prospects of resumed talks between Pyongyang and Washington may increase the chances of North Korean acceptance of IAEA inspections.

Now, what does all this portend for KEDO? Because KEDO’s mandate is no more and no less than implementing part of the 1994 Framework, the answer depends on many political variables. As long as its mandate remains unchanged, KEDO will continue to support its twin obligations: the LWR project and heavy-fuel oil supply. This won’t be easy, as I have explained. There are numerous pitfalls on the road to completion, and there are years of intensive negotiations ahead of us, both with the North Koreans and among ourselves. We should keep in mind that KEDO is given the task of implementing the LWR project, but it is not its job to overcome political hurdles. KEDO must leave that to the members of its Executive Board: the United States, South Korea, Japan, and the EU.

I believe that questioning the Agreed Framework is questioning engagement. In the ongoing political debate, some have referred to engagement as a dovish approach that has become obsolete, a view that has been reinforced by the State of the Union speech in January. Others believe the Agreed Framework has effectively served as a linchpin for security on the Korean Peninsula and that it has prevented recurrence of the crisis of 1993, when the United States demonstrated its willingness to go to war over evidence that North Korea might be diverting plutonium to make a nuclear bomb.

Of higher relevance than such speculations, however, are the official statements by the two parties to the Agreed Framework. The D.P.R.K., while continuing to accuse the United States of walking away from its obligations under the Agreed Framework, repeatedly reconfirmed the framework’s importance during the past few weeks through official radio broadcasts. And, in response to questions about the administration’s recent waiver of certification requirements for North Korea, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed, “We will continue to adhere to the Agreed Framework.” So, paraphrasing Mark Twain, I daresay that reports of the Agreed Framework’s death are exaggerated.

Whether or not one likes the Agreed Framework, it proves to be too valuable a tool to be thrown on the scrap heap of history. Before doing so, it is worthwhile to remember this: The Agreed Framework is the only existing international arrangement with North Korea offering a real alternative that prevents the D.P.R.K. from becoming a nuclear power. And KEDO is the only show in town offering economic interdependence on the divided Korean Peninsula. As a European, I’m convinced that ideological divides on any land can be overcome by creating common interests and goals. As in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, the emerging détente between South and North may be a prelude to cooperation and ultimately unification. I’m very proud that KEDO stimulates this process. Thank you.

Leon Sigal

As you all know, [South Korean special envoy] Lim Dong-won came back from Pyongyang with word that the North is willing to resume talks with the United States. And you also know that the administration’s position is, “We’re prepared to talk anytime, anywhere.” The issue is not whether or when the D.P.R.K. will resume talks with the United States; the issue is whether the talks will go anywhere when they do resume.

It seems to me that no progress is likely while the Bush administration reneges on past commitments to North Korea and seeks to redraw the agenda unilaterally. Unless it shifts out of campaign gear, where the answer to everything is, “We’re not the Clinton administration, stupid,” and lives up to the word of the United States of America, we are headed for trouble on the Korean Peninsula. To understand why, let me offer two astounding propositions. First, it occasionally pays to listen to what others outside of Washington are saying. Second, negotiating tables have two sides, not one, and deals require diplomatic give-and-take. The United States cannot get something for nothing.

North Korea has been willing to cooperate. It seeks an end to its lifelong enmity with the United States. In return, it has shown willingness to give up its nuclear and missile programs. It may eventually even be ready to end its artillery threat to Seoul, but it will not do so unless it gets what it wants in return. The way to reduce the nuclear, missile, and conventional threats from North Korea is to put an end to enmity.

At the same time, the North has kept its nuclear and missile options open as leverage on Washington to live up to its end of the bargain. It has also demonstrated its displeasure in very nasty ways. Now, the administration is absolutely correct to say that it won’t yield to North Korean threats, but it is wrong to see Pyongyang as engaging in blackmail to get economic aid without giving up anything in return. It is not. It is playing tit for tat, cooperating whenever the United States cooperates and retaliating when the United States reneges. That is why it is prudent for us to keep our word.

Four accords matter to Pyongyang: the U.S.-D.P.R.K. joint statement of June 11, 1993; the Agreed Framework of October 21, 1994; the October 6, 2000, joint U.S.-D.P.R.K. statement on international terrorism; and the U.S.-D.P.R.K. joint communiqué of October 12, 2000. The Bush administration has called each of these into question, and that’s why we have a problem now.

First, in the joint statement of June 11, 1993, the D.P.R.K. and the United States agreed to a number of principles. With respect to the first principle, “assurance against threat and use of force, including nuclear weapons,” the U.S. nuclear posture review refers to requirements for use of nuclear arms in “unexpected contingencies,” such as “an opponent’s surprise unveiling of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities.” Note that WMD is not simply nuclear, and North Korea is the first country listed among those who “could be involved” in such a contingency.

Apart from raising doubts about the 1993 joint statement, the NPR also appears to contradict the negative security assurance given by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to the UN Special Session on Disarmament in June 1978. On March 14, a D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry spokesman reacted with a moderate warning, saying, “In case the U.S. plan for a nuclear attack on the D.P.R.K. turns out to be true, the D.P.R.K. will have no option but to take a substantial countermeasure against it, not bound by any D.P.R.K.-U.S. agreement.” That’s what I call tit for tat.

In the 1993 statement, the two sides also agreed to the principle of “peace and security in a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, including impartial application of full-scope safeguards, mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, and noninterference in each other’s internal affairs.” These are mostly words taken from the UN Charter. They’re pretty anodyne. But here are the president’s words in his February press conference with Kim Dae Jung in Seoul, which spell trouble: “I will not change my opinion on Kim Jong-Il until he frees his people.” He went on, “My comment about evil was toward a regime, toward a government, not toward the North Korean people....We want them to have food. And at the same time, we want them to have freedom, and we will work in a peaceful way to achieve that objective.”

The D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry spokesman responded two days later. “Bush made clearer the U.S. intention to violate the sovereignty of the D.P.R.K., openly interfere in its internal affairs and stifle it by force…. He talked about ‘change’ of its system and, furthermore, outrageously slandered the supreme headquarters during his current trip…. We are not willing to have contact with his clan which is trying to change by force of arms the system chosen by the Korean people. Useless is such dialogue advocated by the U.S. to find a pretext for invasion, not admitting the D.P.R.K. system.” That’s how the North is reading Bush’s statement.

Finally, the third principle of June 11 pledges “support for the peaceful reunification of Korea.” Here, the administration is inviting trouble with South Korea as much as with North Korea. Impeding reconciliation between the North and the South by discouraging the South from negotiating a peace agreement with the North or providing electricity I think will jeopardize eventually the American presence on the peninsula. Over a decade ago, when governments in Paris and London tried to keep the two Germanys from getting back together, a prudent George Bush knew better than to stand in their way. Another George Bush needs to do the same in the Koreas.

With respect to the Agreed Framework of October 1994, a number of reciprocal commitments were made, including delivery of heavy-fuel oil, which “will reach a rate of 500,000 tons annually, in accordance with an agreed schedule of deliveries.” That schedule has not been met, most recently this year.

Second, “the D.P.R.K. will engage in North-South dialogue, as this Agreed Framework will help create an atmosphere that promotes such dialogue.” Note that the commitment is not binding on the D.P.R.K. alone. It is also absurd for the administration to accuse the North of violating that provision when the North and South have been engaged in high-level talks since last fall. Just because some of those rounds have been held in secret doesn’t mean they weren’t held.

Finally, it provides that, “as progress is made on issues of concern to each side, the U.S. and D.P.R.K. will upgrade bilateral relations to the Ambassadorial level.” The phrase “issues of concern” refers to missiles, among other things.

Bob has talked to you about anticipatory breach. Let me go on to the joint U.S.-D.P.R.K. statement on international terrorism, in which the two sides “underscored their commitment to support the international legal regime combating international terrorism and to cooperate with each other in taking effective measures to fight against terrorism,” specifically “to exchange information regarding international terrorism.” It’s an interesting commitment, and there is at least some evidence the North has been living up to it. It has signed two international accords, and it has hinted it is willing to share information, although that doesn’t mean it has done so.

Finally, the U.S.-D.P.R.K. joint communiqué of October 12, 2000, which was issued on the occasion of Vice Marshal Jo’s visit, stated that “neither government would have hostile intent toward the other.” In plain English, this says that we are not enemies. The declared end to enmity opened the way to the missile deal and to conventional force talks once a missile deal is concluded and implemented. The joint communiqué addressed both matters.

The joint communiqué says, “The two sides agreed on the desirability of greater transparency in carrying out their respective obligations under the Agreed Framework. In this regard, they noted the value of the access which removed U.S. concerns about the underground site at Kumchang-ri.” Remember that the Agreed Framework is not simply about nuclear issues, but also about “other matters,” namely missiles. So, this is a very interesting statement about verification that the North issued in a joint communiqué with the United States.

Two weeks later, as you all know, Secretary of State Albright went to the North and met with head of state Kim Jong-Il. In the course of their talks, he offered to end exports of all missile technology, including under existing contracts, and to freeze testing, production, and deployment of all missiles with a range of 500 kilometers or more. That covers Nodong, Taepo Dong-1, Taepo Dong-2, and arguably the Scud C. Now, to turn that freeze into a verifiable ban, significant issues remain to be explored and resolved, including on-site monitoring to verify the freeze on missile production and deployment. We can monitor testing on our own.

In return, you all know that the D.P.R.K. wanted President Clinton to come to Pyongyang to seal the deal, but with the election hanging like a chad on the Florida ballot, the president got cold feet. Without his commitment to come, the talks stalled. But instead of picking up the ball where Clinton dropped it, Bush has moved the goal posts.

Now, first and foremost, no administration official has ever reaffirmed the October 2000 joint communiqué and its pledge of no hostile intent. And with the “axis of evil” speech, President Bush has repudiated it. Second, the president said in June 2001 that he seeks improved implementation of the Agreed Framework but offered nothing in return; in effect, he wants to rewrite it unilaterally.
People here have not paid enough attention to the North Korean response to that June White House statement. The first response came from the foreign ministry spokesman on June 18, calling on Washington to implement “the provisions of the D.P.R.K.-U.S. agreed framework and the D.P.R.K.-U.S. joint communiqué as agreed upon.” That’s what the North says matters.

North Korea followed that with an interesting statement on June 28, which linked the U.S. demand for nuclear inspections with its own demand for electricity as compensation for the delay in constructing the first reactor under the Agreed Framework. It was hinting at a deal: trading electricity for expedited compliance. That is something worth taking up in negotiations. The June 28 statement also warned of tit for tat: “If no measure is taken for the compensation for the loss of electricity the D.P.R.K. can no longer keep its nuclear activities in a state of freeze and implement the AF [Agreed Framework.]”

The administration has done nothing to pick up Kim Jong-Il’s offer of a negotiated freeze and the end of exports. John Bolton recently told Arms Control Today, “It’s not a deal that we would have agreed to…. And I don’t think they were close anyway.” Someone should ask him if he has personally read the record of Albright’s talks in Pyongyang. It’s absurd for the Bush administration to claim that the North is not complying with the Agreed Framework when it comes to other issues of concern, mainly missiles, while it avoids negotiating a missile deal with the North. It’s absurd that they are still doing bad things without trying to negotiate with them. The North Koreans are under no international or legal obligation of any kind with respect to missiles, but they’ve made an offer. The administration might want to see if they’re serious. That’s called diplomatic give-and-take, and until we seriously engage in it we’ll never know whether we can end the missile threat.

Convinced that it was getting nowhere with Washington, the North changed course last September and resumed ministerial-level talks with the South, which opens the way to a return visit to Seoul by Kim Jong-Il this year. That is an important shift for Pyongyang, which for the past decade has engaged seriously with Seoul only when it was sure Washington was cooperating as well. So, I would pay attention very closely to the North-South dialogue. Whether there are talks with the United States doesn’t matter much. They’re not likely to get anywhere, for the reasons I’ve suggested. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Question: What has happened to the implementation of the Perry report?

Gallucci: I would say that the diplomacy that Lee referred to at the end of the Clinton administration was a manifestation of the implementation of the Perry report. The Bush administration came in and did its own policy review. My recollection is that the outcome of that review is not that the Agreed Framework ought to be put aside but that it ought to be improved, and the administration was planning and interested in engagement to do this. So, it seems like the Bush review was consistent with the Perry report. Now, I don’t know that I would say that the report was put aside, but neither would I say that the prescription of the Perry report has been implemented by this administration. I would say certainly the Perry report was closely reviewed in the course of this administration’s policy review. I remember hearing one of those involved in the policy review in an open session saying that they had looked at the Perry report very closely.

Question: There seems to be a dichotomy in Washington, using harsh language and then using diplomatic language on joint communication. What is the Bush administration’s policy? What are they trying to do? Are they trying to push the D.P.R.K. over the edge?

Gallucci: I myself feel uncertain about the direction that the administration wishes to go with North Korea. The administration seems to have an ideological posture, and the honesty that it has used in its language about the North Korean regime is consistent with it, which does not create the setting for diplomacy that I might hope for. That concerns me because I don’t know of another way to deal with this problem, short of the use of force. But I have not heard the administration suggest that it’s about to use force.

So, I’m unclear about this. But I would also note that this administration is filled with experts. I mean, these folks did not just arrive in town from no place. They are well familiar with political-military matters. They’re well familiar with the connection between diplomacy and the use of force. I can only conclude that as much as their emphasis is focused elsewhere in the world, that what they are doing is considered. I, however, don’t understand it entirely.

Sigal: A couple of things on that. First of all, on whether there is a policy behind the words, I have a sneaking suspicion that there isn’t. And that is even more troubling than the words. I think we are watching officials talk about their own ideological predispositions in public without an appreciation of how they sound both to North Korea and to South Korea and Japan. And I think most of the words have been unfortunate because they don’t help the United States preserve its alliances or negotiate further constraints on the North Korean threat.

Also, different administration officials may say very different things, but the president’s words matter a lot. And when the president says things that seem to be totally inconsistent with past words that the United States has used jointly with North Korea, I think that’s a problem. And I think we have to be careful with what we say if we want to move ahead on the Korean Peninsula in a way that might end up with no missiles and no nuclear weapons in North Korea.

I cannot understand the administration’s current tack because I do not believe it has a military plan that it’s serious about. In 1994 we nearly stumbled into a war in Korea, and I think we do not want to go back to the brink because that won’t work with South Korea or Japan, as we learned in 1994. We should not go that route, certainly not until we’ve explored negotiating options fully, which we have not done.

But this is not the first administration to start its term in office by rejecting cooperation for the shortsighted but superficially satisfying alternative of demonizing North Korea and trying to compel its collapse. Every administration has then gone through a period of benign neglect, only to experience a rude awakening. Maybe this administration won’t get to the brink of war before it wakes up and realizes there is a possibility of a serious set of deals: improved implementation of the Agreed Framework, for which the North has suggested a way; getting rid of all North Korean missile exports; and moving beyond a freeze to what we really need, which is a verifiable ban of missile deployment, production, and testing. It seems to me we should try that route and see how far we can get.

Question: Will the United States continue to provide heavy-fuel oil if North Korea doesn’t admit the IAEA inspectors, and is there some way that the United States should respond in that situation?

Gallucci: This is a complete hypothetical, right? We are now a couple of years down the road, and KEDO is ready to deliver the nuclear components that would be controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group trigger list and can’t do it because North Korea hasn’t yet accepted the full-scope safeguards. What is the United States supposed to do? Well, if the North Koreans were otherwise acting consistently with the framework—i.e., we didn’t think or have reason to believe there was a secret nuclear program somewhere and the IAEA was still inspecting and confirming a freeze on the known nuclear weapons program—it would seem to me that it would be a good idea for us to continue with the delivery of heavy-fuel oil if that was the price of stopping 150 kilograms of plutonium from being produced every year.

Now, I think that the light-water reactor project was not the best outcome that could be imagined. I think, at the time, it was the best outcome that could be negotiated. What I’m saying is that it would be better if we weren’t delivering two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors to North Korea. It would be better if we were delivering something else that didn’t have potential security implications. Suppose we had made a deal in which KEDO delivered a couple of thousand megawatts of conventionally fueled energy. That would be better. It would be better for the North Koreans because they could have gotten it sooner and better for us because there would be no nuclear power and accumulation of plutonium involved. That is not as bad as what the gas-graphite system, which the North Koreans were building, would have produced, but it is still not ideal.

So, in your hypothetical, I would not be unhappy if the nuclear reactor project did not proceed. That would be okay with me. My perspective here is security.

Now, might we have to manage our alliance relations pretty well? Yes, but I’d be making the argument that everybody is well served as long as we’ve stopped that nuclear weapons program. Would it be better if we also engaged and stopped the missile program and the forward deployment of conventional forces? Sure. But the crisis was over a nuclear weapons program.

Question: Over the weekend, Japan’s opposition Liberal Democratic leader Ichiro Ozawa said that it would be “so easy” to convert Japan’s civil plutonium into thousands of nuclear weapons. North Korea has pointed to the Japanese nuclear program as a threat. How does this resonate in the context of the Agreed Framework?

Gallucci: I don’t believe that this directly bears upon the U.S. relationship with North Korea, South Korea, and even Japan, which we’ve been discussing here. I recognize it could and that there are connections that analysts may wish to draw, but I don’t think it is part of the political dialogue these days, nor do I think it ought to be.

Sigal: I think the more significant development is that when President Bush was in Tokyo, Prime Minister Koizumi, with Bush standing at his side, said, “On North Korea, Japan, through cooperation and coordination with the United States and the Republic of Korea, would like to work on the normalization of relations with North Korea.” This was a very polite, Japanese way of saying we’re not playing your “axis of evil” game; we want to resume normalization talks with the North.

I believe the North Koreans heard Koizumi and read him correctly because, since then, the North has resumed its search for missing persons that Tokyo suspects it kidnapped a couple of decades ago, released a journalist it accused of spying, and it’s about to resume Red Cross talks on missing persons. I think these moves could lead, in the very near term, to the resumption of normalization talks between the D.P.R.K. and Japan.

So, again, I would note that on a political track, the North has not only moved with the South but also with Japan and that it is not assuming that it’s going to get very far with the United States. However, officials in the North are smart enough to know that the politics of this issue in Seoul and Tokyo are such that they’re better off being at the table with the Americans, and I think that’s what we’re seeing. My guess is it will culminate in some very far-reaching news on the Korean Peninsula between the North and South.

Kimball: I think, as our panelists have explained to us very well, it is a time of important choices for the Bush administration and North Korea. We look forward to informing you on future events and appreciate your attendance this morning. Thank you.

ACA Press Conference

Country Resources:

Parsing the Nuclear Posture Review



An ACA Panel Discussion

Before its annual luncheon and membership meeting on January 22, the Arms Control Association held a panel discussion to examine the Bush administration’s nuclear posture review, which was first outlined in a Pentagon briefing January 9. The discussion addressed the results of the review, the differences between this review and the one the Clinton administration conducted in 1994, and the review’s impact on the Bush administration’s negotiations with Russia on strategic nuclear reductions.

The panelists were Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association; Janne E. Nolan, senior fellow at the Eisenhower Institute; Rose Gottemoeller, senior associate with the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Morton H. Halperin, head of the Washington office of the Open Society Institute and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The following is an edited version of the panelists’ remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl G. Kimball

Good morning, and welcome to this morning’s panel briefing on the nuclear posture review [NPR] and the prospects for U.S.-Russian arms reductions. Before I introduce our expert panelists, I would like to put the topic in the proper context. In December, President Bush broke his campaign pledge to “offer Russia the necessary amendments to the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty” and abruptly announced his intention to withdraw from the treaty in June to develop, test, and deploy “limited” anti-ballistic missile systems to defend the United States and its allies.

But even without the ABM Treaty, missile defense testing cannot be significantly accelerated, and deployment of strategic missile defenses is many years away. Further, because it is too soon to tell whether the United States will deploy effective strategic missile defenses, it is too soon to conclude whether and how China and Russia may respond to them. Russia’s relatively subdued initial response was based, in part, on the expectation that deep nuclear force reductions might be codified in a legal agreement rather than through unilateral declarations.

It is important to remember that the ABM Treaty was based on the premise that limitations on anti-ballistic missile systems create more favorable conditions for agreements to limit and eliminate strategic nuclear weapons. Despite a number of missed opportunities on the part of U.S. and Russian leaders over the last three decades to reduce and eliminate offensive nuclear weapons, the ABM Treaty did create the predictability and confidence that allowed for important limitations and reductions in superpower arsenals that have benefited the United States and international security.

Along with the likely—though unnecessary and imprudent—withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, President Bush appears to have abandoned the goal of formal implementation of START II—a major accomplishment of his father’s administration—and the follow-on START III framework of 1997. It therefore becomes incumbent upon President Bush to demonstrate that he can succeed in achieving a new, effective, legally binding nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia in the absence of the ABM Treaty.

The negotiation of formal agreements can be time consuming. But then again, the president’s proposed reductions would not be fully implemented until 2012. The president still has an excellent opportunity to lock in U.S. and Russian reductions and secure the detailed understandings, verification procedures, and warhead dismantlement procedures that the START process promised. Even with the prospect of U.S. strategic missile defenses, Russia is keen to secure an agreement codifying verifiable, irreversible strategic nuclear reductions in the range of 1,500-2,000 warheads.

Unfortunately, the president’s preference for unilateral, voluntary transfers of operationally deployed strategic warheads to a reserve force and the Pentagon’s nuclear posture review may have already poisoned the well. Though Bush’s goal of 1,700-2,200 deployed strategic warheads is welcome, the nuclear posture review would continue the policy developed in the early 1990s of maintaining a substantial “hedge” force that could be quickly redeployed to counter a resurgent Russia or another nuclear adversary. Not surprisingly, the official Russian reaction to this plan has been very negative so far.

Talks with Russia on strategic reductions have already begun. In a departure from usual practice, the Pentagon and the State Department are sharing the lead on the discussions. It is unclear at this stage whether President Bush will seek an executive understanding with President Putin that does not require formal legislative approval or whether he will opt for a legally binding treaty.

To help us explore these and other issues in greater detail, we have three speakers with substantial expertise on the nuclear posture review and U.S.-Russian nuclear reductions. First, we will hear from Janne Nolan, who will tell us how this nuclear posture review compares to the last one, which was conducted in 1994. After Janne concludes, we will hear from Rose Gottemoeller on how the posture review will likely impact the talks between the United States and Russia on the new strategic framework. I hope that Rose will also describe how the Bush proposal on arms cuts compares to the 1997 START III framework and review the thinking behind START III that she helped develop as a deputy undersecretary in the Energy Department. Finally, Mort Halperin will outline his vision of what an appropriate nuclear posture review in the post-Cold War era should look like and why. Following the panelists’ remarks, we will take questions from the audience.

Janne E. Nolan

Thank you. I spent part of this morning talking to some people who were directly involved in the drafting of this latest nuclear posture review, which still has not been released in an unclassified version. Just for historical context, there’s a long history of nuclear doctrinal innovations that come about as a result of mainly civilian thoughts about what should or might be done to change the nuclear posture, going back even before the Kennedy administration.

These episodes—and this is a gross overgeneralization—tend to involve civilian conceptions of nuclear doctrine that are superimposed on the resilient bedrock of operational realities. It is the requirements of the operational world—the plans and the targeting assumptions for nuclear war-fighting in case deterrence fails—that underlie the reasons that we have “x” numbers of nuclear weapons and how they will be used in crisis. Although political authorities are responsible for giving guidance to operational planners, it is operational plans that have a profound influence over how forces are structured.

This recent nuclear review differs from the 1994 Clinton review in several respects. Let me start with a quick comparison. First, the current review was congressionally mandated and inherited by this administration from the previous administration. In 1994, by contrast, there was an explicit commitment among the civilians in the Department of Defense to conduct a wholesale review—a new look, if you will—at the role of nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War.

A second difference is that, during the 1994 review, there was no high-level, sustained commitment given to considering, let alone implementing, fundamental change. It started out as a very ambitious effort to scrub all of the assumptions of both declaratory and operational doctrine, to examine whether we needed a triad, why we needed to continue to rely on prompt counterforce, and so on. For many reasons, the review ended up as a pallid, little document that was not briefed around for very long and that essentially ratified the status quo. However, it did commit the United States to one “innovation”: establishing a hedge force. Whatever reductions were to be taken in the nuclear arsenal, according to this policy, we would have to have the ability to reload up to 100 percent of the downloaded force in the event that Russia returned to adversarial status or in the event that there was the ascendance of other so-called peer competitors.

When you look at the latest review, it suggests that there be a replacement of the current triad of forces—the traditional land-, air-, and sea-based forces that have long made up the U.S. deterrent—with a “new triad.” In this formulation, there is to be less reliance on strategic forces for massive attack. One element allows for the replacement of nuclear missions at some point with long-range, precision-guided munitions. A second emphasizes the introduction of defenses to further reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. And third is a plan for significant investment in the nuclear infrastructure, including to allow for some still-unspecified number of warheads that will become part of a reduced force to be held in a so-called responsive reserve. This third piece, the responsive reserve, is actually just one piece of a broader commitment to a serious investment in upgrading and revitalizing the nuclear infrastructure.

At any rate, these three components are seen by the authors to be very radical, even revolutionary, as I just heard this morning, and it’s important to try to understand what’s going on here. The review commits the United States to a really serious investment in nuclear capabilities. Now, the idea of maintaining the ability to wage nuclear war as the basis of deterrence is not new. The idea that you can derive deterrence from an infrastructure that can adapt by size and by capability according to the threat is an adaptation of that basic tenet. Rather than being seen as a new strategy, the so-called responsive reserve, which is what most people have paid attention to, is seen by critics not as actual reductions but simply taking weapons and putting them aside—with an emphasis on being able to redeploy them on relatively rapid notice.

One of the people I talked to this morning said, “Well, what’s the difference between what you’re doing and de-alerting?” And this participant responded facetiously, “Well, we didn’t want to give [Center for Defense Information President] Bruce Blair any credit.” And I actually think, to some degree, that that’s correct, that there was no consensus among the political authorities involved in this review on implementing deep reductions to the level that the president was talking about or on what is essentially a form of de-alerting, if these objectives had been stated explicitly.

Another important distinction between the Clinton administration’s review and this latest review is that there is no commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. The Clinton review didn’t succeed in achieving any such goal, but the Bush review had no such focus from the outset.
It is nevertheless notable that this is the first statement of nuclear policy that acknowledges that conventional weapons could take the place of nuclear missions. What is not clear is to what effect, for what missions, and when. But the fact that that was stated is notable. It was explicitly rejected in the Clinton review.

The Bush review also has an explicit commitment to linking nuclear weapons targeting with deterring the use of other weapons of mass destruction. This was avoided in the first Clinton administration because the United States did not want to state explicitly that it would target non-nuclear-weapon states, with the Nonproliferation Treaty review conference around the corner in 1995. Once the conference was behind us, there was a lot of discussion about linking nuclear deterrence to non-nuclear contingencies. Over time, this has evolved into something short of a declaratory policy to use nuclear weapons for all kinds of contingencies.

One way to understand this recent review—and I think it’s an important way—is in the historical context of what happens to stated innovations and their actual translation into operational reality. Whatever one thinks about the statements of objectives in the current nuclear review, it’s important to remember that there’s a huge gap between what’s stated and its translation into policy change, for good or ill. The idea of having a responsive force and of using precision-guided munitions and moving to a “capability based” nuclear arsenal goes back to ideas of the 1970s. However, such objectives have proven elusive when it comes to actually planning strategic options.

We don’t have the precision-guided munitions to even begin to think about substituting conventional forces for nuclear weapons. The commitment to defenses, similarly, is nowhere near an operationally tested reality, and it will be, in my mind, a long time before the Joint Chiefs and STRATCOM [Strategic Command] believe that defenses can take the place of prompt response, to put it politely.

To sum, I think that this initiative fits into the context of a triumph of civilian bureaucracy, where there is a little bit of something to satisfy most constituencies, but it doesn’t amount yet to a military strategy in a way that you might otherwise be much more concerned about. Thank you.

Rose Gottemoeller

I will begin by making a few comments on the nuclear posture review itself, although the bulk of my remarks will be on the nuclear arms control relationship between the United States and Russia and, specifically, on the recent history of that relationship as it relates to limitations on warheads. I will also talk about how we might draw on that history in the coming months, as the two countries try to negotiate a new framework for strategic cooperation.

My first and strongest comment on the NPR is that it places too much emphasis on the utility of nuclear weapons in U.S. military doctrine and strategy. That, in my view, is the most negative aspect of the review, and it in fact reveals the underlying meaning of the hedge strategy: nuclear weapons are important for a whole host of reasons, and we have to keep them around on that account. This emphasis is strong in the NPR, despite the fact, as Janne Nolan has recounted, that the review also stresses shifting certain missions to advanced precision-guided conventional weapons.

My second comment is that among the reasons the hedge strategy is being maintained is the possibility that Russia will re-emerge as a threat to the United States, despite President Bush’s declaration that the Cold War is over. Although it’s not stated in written nuclear posture review briefing materials, as they were released to the public, this concept is very present in the way that the posture review was briefed: both Russia and China are noted as continuing possible resurgent threats and peer competitors of the future. To me, this concept profoundly undermines the new relationship with Putin that President Bush says he is trying to establish. Such an outlook could result in a lost opportunity for the Bush administration to build a new partnership with Russia, unless, in the next six months, it can negotiate a new strategic framework agreement, as the president has stated repeatedly he would like to do.

Given the NPR’s emphasis on this hedging strategy against Russia as well as against other, more inchoate threats, I believe that it is enormously important over the next six months to give Putin the one thing that he wants: a legally binding strategic framework. Certainly, that was the quid pro quo, in my view, for President Putin’s acquiescence to Bush’s announcement of the U.S. intent to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. He felt he got one thing, and one thing alone, that he needed: an agreement from Bush to move forward with some kind of legally binding document by the next summit, which will be held in the early summer in Russia.

With that in mind, I’d like to make a few remarks about how I think we can get out of the situation the United States is in now, where, the Russians are very strongly complaining about what they call the “irreversibility problem” emerging from the NPR. That is, the U.S. hedge strategy and the large number of warheads Washington plans to maintain on the shelf will, in essence, create a situation where Russia will not get any true reductions out of the strategic arms reduction process promised and previously announced by the two presidents.

So, I will first talk a little bit about the history from the last few years and then talk about a way forward. By the time Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin met in Helsinki in 1997, there was a clear consensus between the United States and Russia that it was time to begin to address warheads in the bilateral strategic arms reduction process. But I want to emphasize the word “begin.”

Warheads are among the most sensitive technologies that the two countries possess, and the two countries recognized that they would not, for many years, be on a path toward irreversibility in arms control that emphasized warheads alone. But they did recognize that they would be able to begin to develop procedures and techniques for warhead monitoring and controls, although these methods would have a somewhat experimental nature to them, and that the two sides would continue to depend on launcher elimination for progress on irreversibility in the strategic arms reduction process. The Helsinki statement, which emerged from that meeting in 1997 and set the framework for START III, took exactly this approach toward warheads.

Actually, during the Clinton administration, there were three forums that sought to work on issues related to irreversibility of warhead reduction. The first was START III and the Helsinki statement. The second was talks to bring about reciprocal monitoring of fissile material removed from nuclear warheads. If you haven’t seen it, there was a very good letter by Ambassador Jim Goodby in The Washington Post yesterday recalling those negotiations in the 1996 time period and talking about how they would have played a role in this particular problem area. And the third area, one that this audience may be less familiar with, was the so-called Warhead Safety & Security Exchange Agreement, or WSSX agreement, which has been in existence since the mid-1990s and was renewed for an additional five years in 2000. I will talk about each of these in turn, but before I do, I’d like to emphasize two points.

First, all U.S.-Russian efforts recognized that they were a long way from a comprehensive, verifiable, and irreversible warhead reduction regime. We have to bear this in mind now as the Russians are fulminating over this nuclear posture review and the hedge strategy.

The second point is related to this: the Russians themselves were the ones who walked away from two of these three forums that I have laid out. At the time we tabled and discussed a draft with them in 2000, they could not accept a warhead protocol in START III. Nor could they accept a reciprocal monitoring of fissile materials, which had been suggested earlier. And again, Ambassador Goodby raised this point in his letter to the Post yesterday. So, we are now trying to recover momentum that the Russians themselves had a hand in disrupting in the mid-to-late 1990s and 2000. And now the administration has changed, and the Bush team is clearly less interested in monitoring warheads and including them in the arms control and arms reduction process. The United States’ interest in the arms reduction process itself has diminished.

People ask me, why do I think the Russians were less able to grapple with these issues during the late 1990s and 2000? I have one answer: the Yeltsin administration was weak. President Yeltsin himself was weak. The bureaucracy was leaderless and was not able to engage the United States usefully during that period. I went to Geneva many times and was involved in those talks and just felt that there was no “there” there on the Russian side. They were not able to engage. They were not able to get their positions together during that period.

Now, let me say a few words in detail about the START III warhead protocol draft. It was, as I mentioned, discussed in several high-level visits to Geneva in 2000. I would say it has a typical structure for a monitoring regime. It included an information exchange; baseline inspections; and some early demonstrations of monitoring technologies, techniques, and procedures. But it did not include, as I mentioned, an ambitious effort to fully put in place a chain of custody verification and inspection regime for warhead elimination because that would take time to develop. But we tried to put a developmental process in place that would, over time, evolve into a more ambitious warhead elimination and verification regime.

Regarding the talks on monitoring fissile materials removed from warheads, the Russians suspended these talks in January 1996. Again, the weakened state of Yeltsin was at fault; there was no support in the Russian bureaucracy. Time and time again, in many different forums during that period, we heard complaints about the expense of undertaking these kinds of more ambitious monitoring efforts regarding fissile material and warheads, although the Russians were quite enthusiastic about our willingness to pay for launcher elimination through the Nunn-Lugar program. Indeed, even now we see this in the proposals laid out by [First Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Yuri] Baluyevsky last week here in Washington. Despite their concerns about what’s going on with the NPR, the Russians have again expressed hope that the United States can establish some continuing cooperative financing for eliminating launchers.

So, that is something that is well established now as a way for the Russians to finance their arms control efforts, and their concerns about the expense of warhead transparency and fissile material controls I took to be a bureaucratic block rather than anything that, in the end, would prevent something from happening.

But a key point that I want to make is that while we talked about these fissile-material measures, in addition to the draft START III warhead protocol, we tried to take a comprehensive approach to nuclear warheads. We want to establish them, over time, as an element of an irreversible strategic arms reduction process, ensuring that warheads were tracked from cradle to grave—from their creation, through their operational deployment, through their elimination process, to their storage as fissile material and related components. So, it was a kind of comprehensive concept, and I would certainly hope that we can get back to that kind of comprehensive approach in the future.

The final forum that I wanted to talk about is the Warhead Safety & Security Exchange Agreement. This is a lab-to-lab agreement between Department of Energy laboratories and Ministry of Atomic Energy laboratories in Russia, but it also involves Ministry of Defense and Defense Department cooperation in the working groups that make up the overall forum. These groups do a lot of things to try to enhance the safety and security of warheads themselves. In other words, they are not only important to our material and warhead protection, control, and accounting but also to work on new technologies and procedures for warhead monitoring—transparency measures, in other words.

As I mentioned, WSSX was renewed in 2000 after five successful years. The financing of projects under the group has been somewhat weak in recent years, and I would like to see financing built up. But it is an extant, active process that continues to work on these problems, regardless of the level of enthusiasm in the current administration for negotiating active warhead measures.

So I would like to emphasize that, in terms of a way forward, a great deal of groundwork on warhead transparency has already been laid, at a policy level and at an ongoing technical level, which we should try to take full advantage of.

And an interesting point that I think is lost in the current debate is that the United States and Russia also have very similar views on the overall structure of the monitoring that would be part of this new strategic framework agreement. They both agree that a foundation should remain in place from the START I verification protocol, and they have both agreed that they should engage in a process to develop new transparency measures, as needed, to support the new framework agreement. So, there’s basic conceptual agreement between the two sides that could be built upon if we can get beyond the current tensions over the NPR.

I see two possible ways forward on warheads, two ways on trying to deal with this issue of irreversibility concerning warheads in the NPR. One way forward—and this is the easy way out—is to continue to engage in technical development of new techniques and procedures, depending on the extant process, and calling it a preparatory period for future, more ambitious efforts in the realm of warhead transparency.

The second way forward is slightly more ambitious. That is, we should seek to develop new techniques and procedures for the transparency of warheads in storage. We should not look forward to the elimination stage and should instead try to establish a chain-of-custody type of approach. And I have reason to believe that both the Russians and the Americans might be willing to move forward to that more ambitious stage, beyond a simple preparatory period. Thank you.

Morton H. Halperin

I want to talk a little bit about what a serious nuclear posture review would look like, conceding that that was certainly not done in the Clinton administration, just as I think that it has not been done in the Bush administration. Let me start with three of the criticisms that have been made of the Bush review and its conclusions. These criticisms are, in my view, valid. But even if the administration is correct, it still could have developed a fundamentally different nuclear posture.

The first criticism has to do with the notion that nuclear weapons have utility. I think they do not, and I think that the effort to find uses for them is extraordinarily counterproductive in terms of dealing with issues of nonproliferation. But in terms of the design of the nuclear posture, I think it is in fact, as I’ll suggest, irrelevant whether nuclear weapons have some utility or not.

Second, there is the question of replacing nuclear weapons with conventional warheads. And since I believe there are no nuclear missions, I find this quite extraordinary. It is not at all clear to me what anybody means by this because it assumes that there were or are or could be military purposes for the use of nuclear weapons.

This is a proposition that has continually been put forward but in my view has always been shown to be false. And I think one of the best discussions of this is in Colin Powell’s memoirs, which describe how people came to him during the Persian Gulf War and said, “We have uses for nuclear weapons.” And he said, “Go try.” You can also go back and read discussions from the 1958 Quemoy crisis, where once again people said, “There’s utility for nuclear weapons.” There is no such thing. There has never been such a thing. And so replacing nuclear weapons with conventional weapons is either impossible or easy, depending on how you want to think about it. But the notion that we could somehow come up with a better, more accurate, deeper-digging conventional weapon and that that would then change the need for nuclear weapons I think profoundly misunderstands what nuclear weapons have been useful for and might be useful for.

The third criticism is the notion that the posture review hedges against a revival of Russia or China. Now, it has already been suggested that establishing a hedge could be taken to mean de-alerting, which many people urged the Pentagon to do and which we’ve now criticized this administration for doing. I think the issue is not hedging. I think hedging is, in fact, the right thing to do. The issue is the size of the hedge—how many forces we need in the hedge. But I think we ought to grab at the hedging and say, “This is exactly right.”

Now, if you began with the assumption—which the president has assured us is his fundamental view of the world—that Russia is not a strategic enemy, at least at the moment, Washington should think of the Russian nuclear posture the way it thinks of the British and the French nuclear postures. Now, one could spend a lot of time talking about what we think of those, but basically it means, as the president and the secretary of defense have both said, that they don’t go to bed at night worrying that the Russians will fire large numbers of nuclear weapons at the United States before they wake up.

The nuclear posture of the United States has always been and, in fact, continues to be based on that fear—one that was relevant and important in an earlier period but that is now totally and completely absurd. No serious nuclear posture can continue to maintain that hypothesis, but the current posture will clearly not lead to any change from that.

Now, even if you believe in a hedge, even if you believe in the utility of nuclear weapons in a wide variety of circumstances, you could still have a very different and a much less dangerous American nuclear posture. Let me suggest quickly what that would look like.

The first and most important element is for the president to tell the military that he does not want the capacity to launch and has no intention of firing nuclear weapons quickly—either in response to a fear of an attack or an actual attack, whether that attack is nuclear, conventional, or biological—and that, therefore, the ability to fire quickly is something that should not be and need not be built into the nuclear posture.

Second, the president needs to tell the military that they need not fear a large-scale, out-of-the-blue attack on the American nuclear forces; that if such a capability and such an intention ever is to develop again, we would have very substantial notice—months and years—that it was coming; and that, in the meantime, they need not design the posture out of the fear that the force might be subject to a sudden, large-scale attack.

Then the question is, how many nuclear weapons does the president want to have the ability to use in a given period? Here, I would divide the question into hours and days versus weeks and months, if not years. And in the first category, the question is, even if you assume that nuclear weapons had to be used to deter or to retaliate against conventional, chemical, or biological attacks—none of which, I think, is what we should do—I would argue that it is impossible to come up with a scenario in which we would want to fire anything like 100 nuclear warheads. Therefore, a posture that gives us the capacity to fire up to 100 warheads, at a range of targets to be determined by the president, is a sufficient number of warheads to have in a posture where the missiles could be fired in hours or days.

Now, I would also hedge against the re-emergence of a large Russian, Chinese, British, or French nuclear posture by having another 900 warheads, so that we get to 1,000. These would be in a standby posture of the kind that the administration seems to be contemplating for a much larger force—a set of nuclear warheads that are protected and kept in functioning shape but where the notion of linking them to delivery systems is measured in weeks, months, or years rather than in hours or days.

Finally, I think the president needs to tell the military that there is no requirement to be able to destroy some fraction of a conceivable enemy’s military capability—the bridges, the industrial capacity—and that having 100 nuclear warheads and a range of military and other targets that the president might threaten to attack or might actually authorize an attack on will deter others from using nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or from even engaging in conventional attacks.

So, the debate about whether the United States can go below 1,000 warheads needs to be settled, in my view, by the president simply by taking it off the table—by, in fact, doing what the Bush people have always said they wanted to do, which is to move away from assured destruction. And the way you move away from assured destruction is by precisely telling the military that deterrence does not require the certainty of surviving an attack—remember, we told them no attack is coming—and then launching a strike that destroys some predetermined percentage of a hypothetical enemy’s industrial capability or conventional or nuclear capability.

If you take those factors off the table, I think that you will end up with a nuclear posture that is much less likely to trigger accidental or inadvertent launches by the Russians. Such a posture also would be much less likely to trigger inadvertent use by the United States but still maintains the capacity to deter others from doing things that even the authors of the current nuclear posture would like to do. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Question: I have gathered from your comments that you feel that the administration considers Russia a strategic threat, but what proof do you have of that? In its policy documents, the administration claims that that’s not the case and that it plans to keep these weapons to counter some unforeseeable future threat.

Halperin: What I have been driving at is that there is an extraordinary gap between the assertion that the administration no longer consider Russia an enemy, at least in the short run, and the directives that it has given to the military for the design of the nuclear posture. After all, I know nobody who believes that Britain, France, Iraq, or China could launch a surprise nuclear attack at the United States that would take out a large part of its nuclear force. So, if we continue to expect the military to have a nuclear force that is on high alert, ready to survive a large-scale attack, I guess it’s logical to say it must be from Russia, unless they know something about a threat from outer space that the rest of us don’t know.

And similarly, the numbers make no sense unless you are either talking about surviving a Russian attack and destroying Russia. There is no other purpose for which you would conceivably use anything like the numbers that the military apparently keeps telling the civilians it needs, and the military only gives these numbers because the civilians have not told them, “Assume this is not about Russia.”

Nolan: Again, this apparent disconnect is consistent with a long-standing history of presidential inattention to the details of reviews and, in most cases, operational plans. But evidently, the effort by political appointees was really to try to accommodate what Bush had already publicly stated to Putin while also taking into account the views of the office of the secretary of defense, the Department of Energy, and STRATCOM. One of the participants said to me that if the cuts outlined by Bush had been final and not linked to the notion of a flexible infrastructure that can be built up, that the group would have found Bush’s policy “unacceptable.”

So, this is definitely a metaphor for the absence of presidential authority in these matters. So, Mort, with whom I agree with on almost all things, when you talk about, “The president should say this and that,” note that no president has ever done that successfully. It’s like the Beach Boys’ song, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”

Question: Assume for a moment that the Bush administration is re-elected. At the end of eight years, will we see the development of a new nuclear weapon, and will we see the resumption of underground testing?

Gottemoeller: I think there’s no question from the briefing materials we’ve seen and the presentation of the nuclear posture review that there is a certain enthusiasm for moving in that direction among the high-level political appointees in this administration. But I would note that [Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy J.D.] Crouch again and again said, “We have no plans at this time to proceed in that direction.” But that little phrase, “at this time,” gave me considerable pause, I must say.

However, I believe that, if the administration is beginning to act on those enthusiasms, it perhaps hasn’t yet taken into account how difficult it will be domestically to restore those efforts. I particularly am thinking about what has been happening recently with Yucca Mountain in Nevada and the governor of Nevada being extraordinarily negative about moving forward on the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository. I think the administration will have heavy lifting to do if it wants to reopen the Nevada Test Site against public opinion in Nevada.

So, it may try to push in that direction, but I believe that it will have some barriers to jump over to accomplish it. I’m not saying that, in the end, those would be decisive barriers, but I consider them significant.

Kimball: Let me just add two quick points. I agree with what Rose said. But it was also clear from Crouch’s press briefing a couple of weeks ago that there still is no new military requirement for a new nuclear weapon. The administration will be pursuing an investigation of whether a modification of existing designs is desirable. There is already the B-61 Mod-11 earth penetrator. It is going to be undertaking a study beginning in April 2002 on further modifying existing weapons.

An additional barrier to resuming testing is the fact that the United States, despite the Bush administration’s policy on a test ban, is still a signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The president could notify the treaty’s depository, the UN secretary-general, that the United States has no intention of ratifying the treaty and thereby free the United States of its obligation under the Vienna Convention on Treaties not to violate the intent or purpose of the treaty. But if he were to take that action, I think that there would be a negative international and domestic reaction that far surpasses the reaction to the United States’ notification of its intent to withdraw from the ABM Treaty because the CTBT is a multilateral treaty and is very much a part of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Question: Given that the test ban was rejected and that the posture review points at least in the possibility of resuming testing, do you think that supporters of the Stockpile Stewardship Program might now be more critical of that program? Also, how much do you think the Stockpile Stewardship Program should invest in things like plutonium production and tritium production?

Gottemoeller: Many working on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex would like to resume testing, not to produce a new weapon but because some of them are concerned that they are not able to maintain the weapons with the degree of certainty that they would like to have. So, I think there is a certain feeling inside the complex now that stockpile stewardship should be sustained at a high level and that we should prepare the infrastructure for testing. Certainly, that was a part of the nuclear posture review.

But I would like to stress that the emphasis in the posture review on improving the infrastructure—and that includes being able to reopen the Nevada Test Site more quickly—has to do with this question of whether the stockpile is in fact a stockpile in which the president can have high confidence. There is a small band of people at the political level in the administration who are very interested in developing new, small, “usable” weapons. But I would say the great majority of people in the weapons complex are more concerned about maintaining the current stockpile.

Question: What do you think the Russians expect to get, in terms of content, out of a legally binding document? If anybody expects any limits on the deployment of offensive weapons, I think they don’t understand the current administration.

Gottemoeller: No, they don’t. I can tell you what the Russians have told me, and that is that they require only a very simple, straightforward, perhaps two-page document that would have a minimum of three points: One, a restatement of the unilateral reduction announcements that Presidents Putin and Bush have already made. Second, some kind of statement that the national missile defense system the United States is constructing and any missile defense system that Russia would construct would not be designed in such a way as to remove the viability of the other side’s offensive deterrent. The third point is that the two sides will engage in a continuing process to develop the transparency measures that will be required to build confidence in the implementation of the reductions that the presidents have promised.

What the Russians envision is not a legally binding verification measure to verify that reductions have taken place but a transparency measure to increase confidence that reductions are moving forward as promised by the president. So, they have a very minimalist approach as to what they need, and some other things are being embroidered into it. Many of you have probably seen Baluyevsky’s press conference in which he mentioned some other things like Nunn-Lugar.

Nolan: I agree with everything Rose said; it’s very astute. I just want to suggest that there’s a good possibility that, by the end of this year, the necessity of calibrating this relationship will require discussions that are formalized at least in an executive agreement.

Gottemoeller: If I could just add one point—and I maybe was a bit unclear—the document I’m talking about, two to three pages, must be a legally binding document. So, Janne is absolutely right. But I wouldn’t give the administration until the end of this calendar year. In my view, this legally binding document must be ready by the time the presidents meet again at the next summit, which is tentatively scheduled for May. President Putin made it very clear at Crawford that he does not want to have any more picture tours of the White House. He wants an agreement to sign the next time around, and I think that that will be an absolute necessity for their next meeting.

Question: I’ve heard that the administration’s planned reductions are no more than what the Clinton administration was proposing because the weapons in submarines that are being refitted, in part, aren’t counted. Is that true?

Gottemoeller: Yes.

Nolan: I believe the administration had to fight with certain parts of the Pentagon, not only with Strategic Command, about going below 2,000 for the first time. And frankly, I think that these large reserve numbers that we’re seeing now was part of the compromise that had to be crafted in order to enable Bush to make that rhetorical announcement.

I’m the world’s biggest optimist, but I also think that it is worthwhile paying attention to what the Bush administration has said about reviewing these numbers every two years. I think that this policy community, and others, perhaps on the Hill, might be able to push them to look more seriously at accelerating reductions.

Question: At the 2000 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference, a political commitment was made by the United States to an unequivocal undertaking to totally eliminate nuclear weapons. How do you believe the administration is going to square the nuclear posture review with this solemn undertaking to the international community?

Halperin: No senior official of the Clinton administration thought there was such a solemn commitment, and no official of the Bush administration thinks there’s such a commitment. So, I think they will not have trouble walking away from it because they don’t believe they made it, and they certainly were not told by their predecessors that they had made it, because they didn’t believe it either.

Nolan: Sadly, the worlds of diplomacy and nuclear planning are as far apart as you can possibly imagine. As was discovered clearly in the Clinton administration during discussions of the African nuclear-weapons-free zone protocol when there was reluctance on the part of the United States to sign, it became clear that few in the defense planning side believe that any of these agreements are binding. The view was, “They’re just policy.”

Kimball: Well, thank you everyone for your interest and attention. This will not be the last time that the Arms Control Association and, I’m sure, others of us here in this room will address this topic.

ACA Panel Discussion

Subject Resources:

The Impact of September 11 on Multilateral Arms Control



On January 22, Jayantha Dhanapala, the United Nations undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs, delivered the keynote address at the Arms Control Association’s annual luncheon. In his speech, Dhanapala discussed the span of multilateral initiatives to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and addressed how the importance and the viability of those efforts have changed since the terrorist attacks of September 11.

A career diplomat with extensive arms control experience, Dhanapala was a member of the Sri Lankan foreign service from 1965 to 1997. He served as ambassador to the United Nations, ambassador to the United States, and additional foreign secretary. In 1995, he chaired the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review and extension conference, which resulted in unanimous support for indefinite extension of the treaty. He has held his current post since 1998.

The following is the text of Dhanapala’s remarks and an edited version of the question-and-answer session that followed.


I would like to begin by thanking the Arms Control Association for honoring me as the speaker at your annual luncheon—my first chance to address the Association since my remarks at your annual dinner in 1996. I predicted then that the prospects for nuclear disarmament—despite the success of the NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] review and extension conference and the imminent conclusion of the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty]—were “not good.” Looking around at the debris of multilateral disarmament endeavors, I am surprised to be invited again! But I must congratulate Daryl Kimball upon his assumption of the position of executive director of this highly respected institution and do predict confidently that the prospects today for the Association are good. I also pay tribute to the many years of service rendered by Spurgeon Keeny, who helped lay a solid foundation.

Daryl noted in his introduction that the world will soon mark the 56th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of its very first resolution, which aimed at the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. Yet, two other anniversaries also deserve some note on this occasion. Today, 63 years ago, a cyclotron at Columbia University split a uranium atom, heralding the world’s first fission experiment. And a week from today will mark the 38th anniversary of the world premiere of the classic film “Dr. Strangelove,” a film some of you here today might recognize more by its subtitle—“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” All these events illustrate the issues on which ACA and its supporters have worked over the years—issues that remain with us and have acquired even greater urgency after September 11, 2001.

The Historical Significance of September 11

The historical significance of September 11, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, will be debated for years to come. Was it the end of history? Was it our entry into the 21st century through a “gate of fire,” as my secretary-general has put it? That it brought the issue of terrorism into the forefront of the global agenda—far from being a purely national or regional concern—is indisputable.

And yet, the rest of the global agenda before September 11 remains with us. That includes the problems posed by weapons of mass destruction [WMD] to international peace and security. The United Nations “Millennium Declaration” pledged to eliminate the dangers posed by such weapons. These dangers are accentuated by the efforts reportedly made by al Qaeda to acquire WMD. Yet, there are also other extremist groups in all regions who, in their blinkered vision, can only see civilizations clashing, not coexisting, and who are prepared to use unthinkable methods to bring about the crash of civilization in its entirety.

In the backlash to the events of September 11, my distinguished colleague, Mary Robinson, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, along with other human rights bodies, has warned that human rights should not be sacrificed as we deal with terrorists. Secretary-General Kofi Annan put it unambiguously when he said, “There is no trade-off between effective action against terrorism and the protection of human rights.”

Seeing the escalation of global military expenditure, I must myself warn against the sacrifice of disarmament and arms control norms in the battle against terrorism. While some prefer paperless disarmament, that is surely no reason to jettison the treaties and conventions that do act as a legal barrier to the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation of their delivery systems. Our need to prevent terrorist groups from obtaining WMD material and technology demands the strengthening of existing norms and greater efforts to implement them.

Multilateral Efforts Against WMD

Prior to September 11, it was already evident that global military expenditure—after its decade-long decline following the end of the Cold War—had begun to rise ominously. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has recently reported that world military expenditure in 2000 was about $798 billion in current dollars and that the largest volume increases were in Russia and the United States. The regions showing the steepest increases in military spending were Africa with 37 percent, and South Asia was not far behind with a 23 percent increase.

Since September 11, we have seen that both the United States and Russia have announced increases in their military budgets. Many other countries have cited terrorism as a reason to increase military budgets, although there is no correlation between such investments and counterterrorism. One U.S. commentator pointed out that the United States spends $20 billion annually on preparing to fight a large-scale nuclear war with Russia while spending less than $2 billion annually on homeland defense. News reports also show that the bombing in Afghanistan cost $1 billion per day. Yesterday, participants at an international meeting in Tokyo identified $15 billion in immediate needs for the rebuilding of Afghanistan over the next five years. That is equivalent to 15 days of bombing—surely an insurance premium for never having to bomb that country again and surely a better investment in preventing Afghanistan from becoming an incubator of deadly terrorism ever again.

The events of September 11 should be moving the international community toward a culture of prevention instead of toward a culture of reaction. The secretary-general’s report on the prevention of conflict, issued three months before that tragic date, identified disarmament as one of the key tools in achieving this new culture of prevention.

The United Nations and other multilateral organizations working on disarmament and nonproliferation goals are doing all they can to contribute to this goal, and they are doing so through concrete deeds, not just words. All of the UN’s efforts in this field should be considered within the context of the dozen international conventions that have been negotiated over the years to strengthen international cooperation against the scourge of terrorism. These treaties, combined with the treaty regimes for the elimination and nonproliferation of all WMD, offer the basic architecture for the world’s coordinated, global response to the gravest threats to international peace and security in the new century ahead.

The United Nations is no stranger to the issue of terrorism. Its various resolutions and declarations extend back several decades. The key to the fate of these efforts remains, as it always has, with the resources and the political will of its member states. The UN response to the attacks of September 11 was swift and is continuing to unfold in several important ways. Consider for a moment the following recent activities.

The UN General Assembly and the Security Council adopted resolutions denouncing the attacks the day after they took place. On September 28, the Security Council then adopted Resolution 1373, which aimed at targeting terrorists and those who harbor, aid, or support them. Through this resolution, the Security Council also established a new subsidiary organ called the Counter-Terrorism Committee [CTC], which is working with international, regional, and subregional organizations to find ways of expanding assistance to states on a host of financial, regulatory, and legislative issues. The resolution calls upon all UN member states to report to the CTC on the specific steps they are taking to implement Resolution 1373.

From October 1 to 5, the General Assembly held a special debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, when addressing the General Assembly on October 1, called for developing a broad, comprehensive, and sustained strategy to combat terrorism. He specifically stressed the need to strengthen the global norm against the use or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He emphasized, for example, the need to redouble efforts to ensure universality, verification, and full implementation of key treaties; to promote cooperation among international organizations dealing with these weapons; and to tighten national legislation over exports of technologies needed to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

From October 15 to 26, a United Nations working group on measures to eliminate international terrorism met to continue the elaboration of an overarching draft convention on international terrorism. Efforts are continuing to reach consensus on such a convention as well as on a separate convention on nuclear terrorism.

Also, in October the secretary-general established a policy working group on the UN and terrorism to identify longer-term implications and broad policy steps the UN system might make in the collective international effort against terrorism. This group, composed of many offices and departments inside the UN system, will produce a report by next June containing its recommendations on specific contributions the United Nations can make in addressing this global threat.

On November 29, the General Assembly re-emphasized the importance of multilateral responses to terrorism, disarmament, and proliferation challenges by adopting without a vote Resolution 56/54T, which reaffirmed multilateralism as a “core principle” in disarmament and nonproliferation negotiations. The resolution emphasized that “progress is urgently needed” in the area of disarmament and nonproliferation in order to help maintain international peace and security and to contribute to global efforts against terrorism, and it called upon all member states “to renew and fulfil” their commitments to multilateral cooperation in these areas.

On January 18, the Security Council had an open meeting on terrorism. The secretary-general called on the CTC to develop a long-term strategy that would enable all states to undertake the steps needed to defeat terrorism. The chairman of the committee, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, stated that the council’s aim was to improve the average performance level of governments against terrorism across the globe by upgrading the capacity of each nation’s legislation and executive machinery to fight terrorism. Speakers also called for more attention to be given to issues that fueled terrorism, including poverty, intolerance, regional conflicts, denial of human rights, environmental degradation, lack of access to justice and equal protection under the law, as well the lack of sustainable development.

This collective effort treats terrorism as a multidimensional subject, requiring diverse, synergistic contributions throughout the UN system. There are very strong reasons indeed for one to believe that the events of September 11, while not directly involving what are classically termed “weapons of mass destruction,” will lead to the strengthening of global disarmament norms. Multilateral efforts are already underway to create, maintain, implement, and extend such norms in a variety of global arenas.

With respect to nuclear weapons, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] called the September 11 events a “wake-up call” for new efforts to enhance controls over security of nuclear materials. After having been handicapped by a zero-growth budget for many years, the IAEA is finally starting to get some of the additional funds it needs to confront new safeguards and physical security threats seriously.

In an effort to rekindle international efforts to enhance the physical security of fissile nuclear materials and other radioactive substances, the General Conference of the IAEA adopted a resolution on September 21 requesting the director-general to review the agency’s activities to strengthen its work relevant to acts of terrorism that involve such materials.

In late October, the IAEA organized an international symposium on nuclear verification and security of material, involving the participation of more than 500 national and international experts in the fields of nuclear safeguards, nonproliferation, security, and safety. The agency is looking closely at the adequacy of controls under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material to see what more can be done to enhance these controls. Specifically, the director-general has decided to convene a group of legal and technical experts to draft an amendment aimed at strengthening the convention. The IAEA is also working hard to strengthen nuclear safeguards through its efforts to promote international acceptance of the Additional Protocol. The success of the IAEA’s multilateral efforts in all these fields will be not only laudable but also absolutely essential if there is any hope whatsoever for progress in eliminating the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Multilateral efforts against the possession or proliferation of chemical weapons are another intense focus of ongoing multilateral efforts. In response to two UN Security Council anti-terrorism resolutions last September, the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] specifically addressed the issue of chemical terrorism in its autumn session. The council has stressed the need to focus on achieving universal adherence to the convention, enacting national implementing legislation, and ensuring the OPCW’s ability to respond to a request for assistance and protection in the event of the use or the threat of use of chemical weapons. The council also established a working group to develop recommendations for OPCW’s contribution to the global anti-terrorism effort. The working group will propose specific measures to the next session of the council, which will be held from March 19 to 22 this year.

Worldwide, 70,000 tons of chemical agents have been declared to the OPCW. These stockpiles have been completely inventoried, inspected, and reinspected. Furthermore, all the declared chemical weapons production facilities have been deactivated. The global chemical industry is subject to inspection by the OPCW. Dual-use chemicals, which could be misused as precursors of chemical weapons, are carefully monitored, and the trade in the most dangerous chemicals is limited to member states.

With respect to biological weapons, despite the inability of the states party to the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention] to reach a consensus on a verification protocol after many years of effort, efforts will continue at the treaty’s resumed review conference later this year to reach agreement on a common multilateral approach to reinforce the global ban on biological weapons. I hope that the growing public awareness of the threats associated with such weapons will inspire greater progress in this area, notwithstanding the absence of an organization to implement this norm.

For its part, the World Health Organization has compiled a final draft of international guidelines on responding to terrorist attacks using biological and chemical weapons. The draft emphasizes international cooperation, including through the OPCW, to prepare for possible terrorist attacks.

Historically speaking, the United States has played key roles in fostering multilateral approaches to alleviate these threats, particularly those arising from the global spread of weapons of mass destruction. With respect to nuclear threats, the United States recognized even before the end of the Second World War that efforts to address such threats would require extensive international cooperation. This led to the Baruch Plan, the Atoms for Peace program, the creation of the IAEA and its system of nuclear safeguards, and numerous other initiatives and agreements. Together, these led to the accretion of a body of international law founded both on numerous multilateral treaties and on the customary practices of states. In many cases, these multilateral control efforts originated in unilateral proposals by leaders of countries, and it is surely fair to say that the leadership of the United States has often been crucial in the success of these efforts. This leadership will continue to be vitally important in contributing to the success of multilateral organizations like the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the IAEA, whose efforts will also substantially reduce the risks of possible use of chemical or nuclear weapons not just by states, but also by terrorists.

Similarly, the successful conclusion of an international convention against nuclear terrorism—a goal that has eluded an international consensus for too long—would help significantly in confronting this enormous challenge. There is also a compelling need to upgrade physical security at facilities that produce, store, or use a wide variety of controlled radioactive substances—especially those of the fissile variety—and to re-examine internationally the adequacy of controls currently prescribed by the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Strong U.S. leadership on behalf of these two important conventions would undoubtedly serve the interests of international peace and security.

The problem of nuclear terrorism was anticipated long ago. On April 25, 1945, a mere fortnight after the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry Stimson wrote a memorandum to the new president warning that “the future may see a time when such a weapon may be constructed in secret and used suddenly and effectively with devastating power by a willful nation or group against an unsuspecting nation or group of much greater size and material power.” Yet, most of the early postwar efforts to address the global nuclear threat focused exclusively on nation-states as their primary subjects. Nuclear terrorism became a popular topic in the professional arms control literature in the mid- to late-1970s, though the urgency and global scope of this threat has only recently started to receive the attention it so richly deserves.

This important leadership role for the United States is not limited to initiatives of its government. Since its founding in 1971, the Arms Control Association has pursued the fundamental goal of promoting public understanding of effective policies and programs in arms control, a role it has fulfilled well over the years. The United Nations also appreciates the importance of such activities by numerous other academic and other nongovernmental groups in civil society around the world. In response to a General Assembly resolution, the United Nations itself has underway an experts study on disarmament and nonproliferation education. The group has already met twice and plans to submit its report later this year to the 57th session of the United Nations General Assembly. With public understanding and support as a foundation and strong multilateral norms and institutions to advance such norms, the world will have every reason to expect a significant reduction in both the threats posed by all weapons of mass destruction, including terrorist threats.

The terrorist acts of September 11 have shaken the world out of a dangerous complacency. The public, concerned groups, and legislators are now starting to take much more seriously not only the threat of terrorism but also the danger that WMD may actually be used against military or civilian targets. In this sense, the sarin nerve gas attack in Japan in 1995 and the anthrax incidents in the United States and elsewhere in recent months have encouraged leaders everywhere to reconsider old assumptions, reassess old policies, and explore new collaborative international ways and means of alleviating genuine common threats.

Longer-Term Implications of September 11 for Disarmament

It is, of course, premature to predict the specific, long-term impacts of the events of September 11 upon the prospects for nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, disarmament, and their common denominator—international peace and security. One can safely say, however, that the tragedy is already leading to calls for a profound reassessment of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence and for an entirely new approach to the whole notion of weapons-based approaches to defense.

It is regrettable, but surely indisputable, that the states that possess nuclear weapons remain quite unprepared to give them up anytime soon despite repeated formal and informal commitments, most recently their unequivocal undertaking at the May 2000 review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. There certainly has been some progress to note in recent years, including efforts by some nuclear-weapon states to declare publicly their holdings of fissile nuclear materials, to declare limitations or reductions in the size of their arsenals, to halt the production of new fissile materials, and in some cases to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

We hear of a reduced dependency on nuclear weapons but of a continuing need for a strategic “triad” that includes nonnuclear means of deterrence—recognizing that a country’s vast superiority in highly capable conventional weapons can conceivably inspire other states to seek WMD as an asymmetrical response. We hear reaffirmations of the doctrine of the first use of nuclear weapons and, from some nuclear-weapon states, words on behalf of the continuing value of tactical nuclear weapons. We hear of reductions in deployed, operational weapons but also of transfers of operational weapons to various reserve categories rather than to facilities for their verified physical destruction. We also hear that these reductions will occur unilaterally, outside of any binding treaty framework, and hence will be reversible and free from any bilateral or international verification. One senior U.S. official recently stated that “we are currently projecting to keep the nuclear forces that we have to 2020 and beyond—and longer and beyond.”

The NPT’s strengthened review process, however, will play an important role in holding all the treaty’s nuclear-weapon states accountable for their past commitments to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles. The first preparatory committee meeting of the states party to the treaty will get underway in April, and there will be two additional sessions before the 2005 NPT review conference. The fate of this ongoing process will provide some solid indicators of the future of both nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation.

Another area for potential progress in the years ahead lies in the field of controlling the dangers inherent in long-range ballistic missiles, though global multilateral disarmament efforts in this field are unfortunately still nonexistent. In April 1999, the secretary-general issued a statement noting with concern the lack of multilateral norms with respect to both missiles and missile defenses. A year later, the General Assembly asked the secretary-general to establish an experts group to examine the question of missiles in all its aspects. I hope that the events of September 11 will lend some new urgency to efforts to establish such norms, though I do not underestimate the difficulties ahead in achieving such a goal.

There are solid technical and economic grounds for doubting that terrorist groups will themselves acquire ICBMs anytime soon. In terms of nonstate actors, the missile “genie” is still inside its bottle. With sufficient political will, strengthened by the heightened public sensitivity to international threats, it is possible that the states that possess such weapons may in the years ahead be willing to conclude some new multilateral agreements to reduce substantially the dangers of such missiles. The MTCR’s [Missile Technology Control Regime] draft “code of conduct” and the Russian Federation’s Global Control System are examples of such proposals that are now under consideration. Multilateral progress in this area can build upon unilateral actions or agreements among specific countries.

Global missile and WMD threats can also be reduced via greater multilateral cooperation in export controls to ensure that the most sensitive components and technologies, as well as related dual-use goods, do not end up creating new risks to international peace and security. Such an effort, however, must be global and nondiscriminatory or it will have little chance of long-term success. The global goal, however distant it may now appear, of eliminating long-range missile delivery systems has some profound advantages over halfway measures that focus exclusively on nonproliferation, missile defenses, deterrence, or simply enhancing confidence in existing missile stockpiles. These advantages relate specifically to the basic fairness and equity of a nondiscriminatory disarmament goal and the practical advantages in verifying compliance with a global ICBM ban rather than arrangements that simply aim at regulating the development, stockpiling, and use of missiles.

It is vital, therefore, that these incremental steps in the field of missiles occur not just to stabilize the global missile status quo but also to serve a longer-term purpose—namely, the ultimate elimination of such missiles. The preamble of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty envisages the goal of the elimination from national stockpiles of all delivery vehicles for weapons of mass destruction, and I believe that incremental steps in this direction would undoubtedly serve the interests of international peace and security.

Toward a New Multilateral Approach to Security

What is perhaps most striking about many responses to the threats posed by both terrorism and weapons of mass destruction is the extent to which these responses rely upon weapons. What is missing from this weapons-based approach to security is an emphasis on the need for deeper multilateral cooperation rooted in binding legal norms that are implemented with the assistance of global international organizations.

The late Paul Warnke once referred to the nuclear arms race as a process much akin to “apes on a treadmill.” It is perhaps more apparent today than ever that real change, when it comes to thinking about nuclear weapons, is slow in coming and slower yet in implementation. Extensive international cooperation and public participation from civil society is needed to ensure that counterterrorism efforts will escape this familiar syndrome.

Effective measures against WMD terrorism and on the behalf of WMD disarmament simply cannot be accomplished by any single country acting alone. No one country controls all global exports, monitors all transfers of technology, and enforces all legal obligations. Certain dangerous weapons materials like plutonium, highly enriched uranium, and many strains of deadly bacteria and toxins are hazardous to whomever possesses them, given at the very least the risks of accidents, thefts, and sabotage. These materials are born dangerous. They are dangerous to produce, store, transport, or use even for ostensibly peaceful purposes. They are not dangerous simply when located inside so-called rogue states. They are dangerous everywhere and always.

For this reason, multilateral treaty regimes like the BWC, CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention], and NPT serve a triple security purpose: they serve to prevent the proliferation of such weapons to states; they make it much more difficult for terrorists to acquire significant WMD capabilities; and they promote an equitable, fair, and global public good called disarmament. While subject to improvement, they also serve these ends better than any single state, acting alone, can hope to achieve, and they surely serve these ends better than competitive arms races undertaken in the name of achieving or preserving military supremacy.

The United States, with all its material and intellectual resources, is destined to play a leadership role in world affairs. Of this, there can be no doubt. Whether this leadership will inspire the global elimination of WMD returns to the issue of political will, the same issue that inspired the creation of this Association over three decades ago. As the Arms Control Association, located in the most powerful country on Earth, you have a heavy burden to ensure that this leadership moves the world in the right direction.

In his Nobel lecture of December 10 last year, Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke of three priorities of the United Nations in the century ahead: eradicating poverty, preventing conflict, and promoting democracy. This is the “triad” that will genuinely serve the interests of international peace and security. And in the realm of preventing conflict, the goals of disarmament, arms control, and the peaceful settlement of disputes must remain the triad within the triad. Let the United States put an end to the debate whether arms cause conflicts or vice versa and recognize that each continues to affect the other, as they have from time immemorial. Let the United States dedicate our triads to productive, not destructive, uses.

You have my very best wishes and my full support in all your efforts to bring the United States closer to a world free of all weapons of mass destruction—a world able to grow and prosper in peace, with security for all.

Questions and Answers

Question: What are the consequences of not having a legally binding verification mechanism for the BWC in place, and can the alternatives that the United States put forward serve as a viable alternative?

Dhanapala: I don’t think it was ever advocated by the strongest proponents of a BWC verification system that we could have a perfect verification system. However, the protocol would have strengthened the treaty with greater transparency, with greater cooperation, and with a greater ability of the states party to this convention to be able to have assurances that the BWC is, in fact, being implemented.

Now, we do not, at this point in time, have any process leading toward the protocol because the process was, as you know, abruptly ended in July of last year. And the review conference, at which many agreed on some intermediary measures, has also been adjourned. I hope that states party to the convention will spend the time between now and the convening of the review conference in November of this year developing arrangements that could help bring a greater sense of confidence that the convention is, in fact, being implemented.

We also need to universalize the convention. We only have something like 144 parties to the treaty. So, we need to have many more parties sign up and, of course, thereafter make the treaty as implementable as possible.

Question: You spoke at some length about all the agreements covering weapons of mass destruction. I didn’t hear you say much about the small arms and light weapons conference last summer, which was the pinnacle of several years’ worth of organizing by governments and nongovernmental organizations and just barely pulled out a statement of agreement. What are the next steps that are possible in that arena, given that the next review conference is many years in the future?

Dhanapala: Well, I confined myself deliberately to the weapons that fall within the classical definition of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and their delivery systems. It is true that small arms have been recently referred to as having the impact of weapons of mass destruction because of the colossal number of deaths they have caused, particularly since the end of the Cold War, and because they are widely used. We have an estimated 500 million of these small arms and light weapons in circulation.

The UN has been a pioneer in bringing this issue onto the global agenda. There were two very important, groundbreaking expert studies in 1997 and 1999 that were issued. And amongst them was a recommendation that we should convene an international conference on the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. That conference was held in July of last year in New York, and after a great deal of negotiations that went on until the small hours of the morning, we were able to come out with a consensus document—a program of action.

This program of action sets out a series of measures at the national level, the regional level, and the global level; and we are in the process of implementing those measures. We have convened a number of workshops. This is a program of action whose implementation does not rest on the shoulders of the UN alone. A number of regional organizations like the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], the African Union in Africa, the OAS [Organization of American States] in Latin America, and several other subregional organizations are organizing efforts to try to bring these measures into action.

The 2001 program of action also calls for us to conduct a feasibility study, which will begin next year, on trying to have some kind of a global norm on marking and tracing weapons. This was an initiative by France and Switzerland, and we are in the process of identifying a group of experts that will undertake this feasibility study.

Question: What is the prospect of a UN forum more conducive to exploring ideas than the present, very large forum in Geneva being developed?

Dhanapala: Well, we have two groups of fora in the UN, and they owe their existence essentially to the 1978 Special Session on Disarmament. There are the deliberative fora, as you know: the First Committee and the Disarmament Commission. There is no dearth of ideas there. These ideas are discussed regularly—in the case of the Disarmament Commission, in a much more focused way. There are two agenda items that are discussed over a cycle of three years.

In the 66-member Conference on Disarmament, which is the negotiating forum to which you referred, they have not adopted a program of work for four years. Here again, it is not for want of ideas, but because those delegations represent the political will of governments. They have not been able to even agree on an agenda because there is no agreement on, for example, the establishment of an ad hoc committee to discuss the ban on a production of fissile material because others want, at the same time, two other committees established, on nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

I know that the committee is resuming today for its new session. But I see no prospect of any work being done on the negotiation of fresh agreements.

Question: You mentioned the importance of establishing legal norms on disarmament. Morton Halperin responded to a question this morning about undertakings taken by the states party to the Nonproliferation Treaty in 2000 on meeting their Article VI commitments. His statement was, to paraphrase, that the leaders of the United States—the Clinton administration and the Bush administration—may not have taken those undertakings seriously. Could you share with us your perspective, based on where you sit and your experience, about how other states perceive their NPT Article VI commitments on disarmament and how the Bush administration’s current approach might affect other states’ views about the value of the NPT itself?

Dhanapala: Well, certainly it was a disappointing statement to hear this morning, but I have heard it from other diplomats as well, both from the United States and from other nuclear-weapon states, so it was not a total surprise. But it will stand in the way of our asking other member states of the United Nations who are party to treaties to honor their legal commitments if nuclear-weapon states consider commitments made in declarations to be ones that they can walk away from. So, we need to reassess the way in which treaties are implemented.

I myself presided over the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s review and extension conference in 1995. The only reason that we were able to have an indefinite extension of that treaty without a vote was because there was a clear prospect of a CTBT being achieved in the near term and because we had a set of decisions that strengthened the review process; a resolution on the Middle East; and a series of benchmarks against which the accountability of nuclear-weapon states could be measured at future review conferences.

Unfortunately, the experience of the treaty’s parties after 1995 has not given them the confidence that those commitments have been implemented. I fear that there may come a time in which we reach a threshold of tolerance on the part of treaty parties, and, with the kind of problems that we see developing in various regions, there may be strong pressures for countries to move away from their commitments to the NPT. This is a situation I think we should never reach. We should try very hard to implement the treaty in all its aspects, not merely Articles I and II.

Question: I wonder if you would carry that theme a little bit further. The commitments made in the final document in 2000 were political commitments. The commitments made in the Statement of Principles at the 1995 review conference were also political commitments, but they were linked to the legal decision to indefinitely extend the Nonproliferation Treaty. Would you talk a little further about the effect on the NPT’s status if the political commitments set forth in the Statement of Principles are not observed by relevant states, principally the nuclear-weapon states?

Dhanapala: You are quite right in making a distinction between the political commitments of the 2000 final declaration and the package of decisions that were adopted in 1995. However, I think a lot of countries will look upon the interplay of the political commitments and the legally binding aspects of the treaty as being very, very closely linked.

When, as you know, the 1995 conference took place, there was a very vocal minority of states who disagreed with the indefinite extension decision, but went along with the “no vote” formula that we were able to design. I fear that—depending of course on international circumstances and the evolution of global politics, in particular in regions where we know conflicts prevail—there may be pressures for neutralizing the advantage nuclear-weapon states have. There may be dissatisfaction with the way in which there has been an imbalanced implementation of the NPT.

I don’t want to be a predictor of bad events, but we have to be very, very conscious of the fact that various countries may not tolerate what they see as double standards, and this is not only a situation in the area of disarmament, but also in other areas as well. And this is why the UN has approached the whole issue of terrorism as a multidisciplinary issue. We need to ensure that we have strong norms in all countries that are linked to the legal treaties that we have, particularly on WMD, and this will enable those countries who are parties to the treaties to abide by the obligations, preventing WMD material or technology from falling into the hands of terrorists as well.

ACA Annual Membership Luncheon with Jayantha Dhanapala

ABM Treaty Withdrawal Neither Necessary nor Prudent



An ACA Press Conference

On December 13, as President George W. Bush announced that the United States would pull out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the ramifications of the U.S. withdrawal.

The speakers were Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association; Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Lisbeth Gronlund, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists; and John Rhinelander, a legal adviser to the ABM Treaty and SALT I delegation.

The following is an edited transcript of their remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl G. Kimball

Today, President George W. Bush is expected to formally notify Russia that the United States intends to unilaterally withdraw from the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile [ABM] Treaty in six months. He is basing the withdrawal on his claim that the treaty blocks necessary testing of strategic anti-missile technologies and the eventual development of land-, sea-, and space-based strategic missile defenses.

From my perspective, this decision is unnecessary, unwarranted, and unwise. It will negatively affect long-term U.S.-Chinese relations, U.S.-Russian relations, and U.S. relations with its allies, as well as undermine efforts to curb the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons—work that has become more urgent since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

We will hear from three expert speakers who have long been involved in missile defense and ABM Treaty issues, and then we will entertain questions. But first I will make a few remarks to put this matter in a proper context, because we’re dealing with more than one treaty here, which is no small matter.

Bush’s intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty is not all that surprising. After all, the president is on record supporting national missile defense [NMD] deployment. Withdrawal from the treaty is but the latest in a series of moves that reflect the Bush administration’s policy of unilateralist nonengagement with U.S. allies, partners, and erstwhile adversaries. And it marks the resumption of the Bush administration’s strategy—which it was pursuing before September 11—of dismantling and discarding proven arms control strategies and international efforts to prevent the acquisition, development, and potential use of weapon of mass destruction. In fact, in recent weeks the administration blocked progress on an international agreement to enforce the Biological Weapons Convention and boycotted international consultations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Although not surprising, President Bush’s withdrawal notification is the administration’s most blatant and radical departure to date from three decades of U.S. support for multilateral and bilateral arms control and nonproliferation measures. Arms control and nonproliferation were valuable during the Cold War. And they will continue to be valuable in the post-Cold War, post-September 11 environment by providing confidence, transparency, and predictability, especially between the United States and Russia.

Bush argues that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is a Cold War relic that preserves mutual assured destruction policies. But so long as thousands of deployed and nondeployed strategic and tactical nuclear weapons remain, it will be necessary to have clear limits on strategic offenses and defenses to help establish lasting confidence and stability between the United States and Russia—two states with a long history of adversarial relations.

Another important point is that Bush’s withdrawal decision may set a very dangerous precedent for other countries’ adherence to and willingness to participate in multilateral arms control regimes. What message does this send when the world’s pre-eminent military, economic, and cultural power believes that it must be unconstrained by international rules of conduct to protect its security? This could tempt other states to pursue destabilizing weapon systems or to refuse to agree to limits on other military capabilities that they might wish to pursue. The Arms Control Association strongly urges Russia, which has warned that it would pull out of various arms control agreements related to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, not to respond in kind to President Bush’s announcement by withdrawing from START I, the implementation for which was just recently completed.

As Joe Cirincione will detail further, President Bush’s apparent decision to abandon the ABM Treaty will likely weaken U.S. efforts to win support for the paramount goal of stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, particularly from Russia and China. When coupled with the president’s dismissal of formal strategic arms reductions with Russia, U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty will likely inhibit Moscow’s willingness to implement deep, verifiable reductions in its nuclear stockpile. It will also likely complicate the already difficult task of securing and safeguarding Russian nuclear weapons and materials. So, Bush’s overall approach is also dangerous, especially in the aftermath of September 11 and news of al Qaeda’s quest for weapons of mass destruction. Bush’s decision may also encourage China to accelerate its nuclear weapons modernization program and increase its relatively small strategic force, and it could set off a dangerous arms race involving China, India, and Pakistan.

Lisbeth Gronlund will make the case that withdrawal from the ABM Treaty is, at least in the near future, an unnecessary move, given the immature state of the Pentagon’s national missile defense program. Bush and his advisers insist that the ABM Treaty must be discarded because it stands in the way of a robust testing program and eventual deployment. But as Lisbeth and her colleagues from the Union of Concerned Scientists have documented in a new report, these technologies will require many more years of treaty-compliant developmental testing before operational testing—some of which may not be permitted by the treaty—can even begin.

And as John Rhinelander will describe, President Bush has thus far bypassed opportunities to reach an understanding with Russia that would allow for a more robust national missile defense testing program while preserving the ABM Treaty’s basic framework. I should note that, as we all know, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated his country’s opposition to scrapping the ABM Treaty, but President Bush has not come halfway with Putin in trying to reach an understanding on this issue. As a presidential candidate in September 2000, George Bush promised to “offer Russia the necessary amendments to the ABM Treaty so as to make our deployment of effective missile defenses consistent with the treaty.” However, since taking office Bush officials have refused to offer or even consider any such amendments.

Joseph Cirincione

I will play the role of Chicken Little and tell you what parts of the sky are going to fall and when. U.S. withdrawal from or abrogation of the ABM Treaty is not a helpful step at this point. It is bad news. You can tell how unpopular Bush’s decision will be around the world by its timing. It comes while a war is going on and we have lots of other things to talk about. It comes during a holiday season when people are distracted. You have to admire the administration’s skill in timing and executing this plan, however ugly the policy may be.

The consequences of U.S. withdrawal will be in four different areas: the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship, the U.S.-Chinese strategic relationship, U.S. relationships with its allies, and the overall nonproliferation regime.

First, I wouldn’t expect any nation to react immediately to this for three reasons. One, this is just an announcement of an action that is going to take place six months from now. So, we have a timeline of six months or more when it’s possible the president may reverse his decision. Two, the administration has signaled for some time its intention to do this. So, it has softened the ground. And three, most of the nations involved will want to see what happens next. It’s not just the withdrawal that matters; it is also important to find out what the United States intends to do afterward and whether it is possible to preserve some of the benefits of the treaty.

But if everything proceeds according to Bush’s plan, in six months the United States will become the first nation since World War II to withdraw from a major international security agreement. No country has done anything like this before. The closest example is North Korea’s announcement in 1993 that it was going to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That provoked an international crisis, and we almost went to war. But fortunately, conflict was averted at the last moment when North Korea changed its mind. It’s possible the president will change his mind if the international reaction is as harsh as expected, but I believe that the administration seems intent on tearing down the international regime that its predecessors labored for many decades to construct.

What exactly will this mean for Russia? First, it undermines President Putin. There’s no question that this is a slap in his face. I don’t expect Putin to protest too loudly. He can’t admit defeat. He will express disappointment, concern, and Russian resolve. The real criticism will come from others, and we’re already seeing that in some of the papers—not just from the hardliners in the military and security establishment who have not been persuaded by Putin’s pro-Western tilt, but by members of Putin’s own alliance in the Duma.

For example, you may have seen quotes in The Washington Post today from Vladimir Lukin, a Duma leader, expressing concern that Russia went out of its way to cooperate with the United States in the war in Afghanistan and gave the United States everything it needed—logistical support and intelligence support—and as soon as the war appears to be over, this is how the United States repays Russia.

Take Lukin’s quote and multiply it several thousand times, and then you’ll have some idea of what the Russian reaction is going to be. They will feel betrayed and embittered. There will also be a feeling that President Putin has been played for a sucker, particularly over the way the United States orchestrated this with a period of phony negotiations. Washington had no intention of compromising with Russia, as The Washington Post reported today.

The irony is that Secretary of State Colin Powell, who maybe the only leading administration official who favored a compromise, turned out to be the bagman for the deal. He was sent over not to do negotiations but to deliver the news—here is how and when it’s going to happen. This will embitter the Russians.

What else does this mean for Russia? It means that Moscow is now likely to maintain a higher level of nuclear forces than it would have otherwise. That is, Russian nuclear forces are coming down. Nothing is going to stop that. Russia faces bloc obsolescence of its Soviet-era weapons, and it doesn’t have the money to replace old weapons at the rate that they are being retired. In fact, our projections indicate that, by the end of this decade, we expect the Russian force to be about 1,000 deployed strategic warheads.

But without the ABM Treaty and START II limitations that ban land-based MIRVed missiles, Russia could maintain a much larger force. Just by having MIRVs alone, it could maintain about 2,000 weapons. If U.S.-Russian relations deteriorate and Moscow devotes more resources to its strategic force, we calculate that, by the end of this decade, it could have as many as 4,000 deployed strategic warheads in its arsenal, rather than 1,000.

This matters for three reasons. First, no matter what some people may tell you, each side’s nuclear force is based primarily on calculations of the other side’s force. The reluctance of U.S. Strategic Command, for example, to go much below 2,500 deployed warheads is primarily based on a calculation of the number of warheads it needs to assure the destruction of the Russian arsenal. So, if Russia maintains more warheads, the United States will have to maintain more warheads.

Second, there are questions about the physical security of Russia’s nuclear forces. With a larger number of nuclear weapons, Moscow must maintain a larger production and maintenance complex, increasing the risk that its materials, weapons, and experts could leave for other countries or other groups.

Third, if the U.S.-Russian relationship deteriorates and we no longer have a safety net of treaties that is designed to regulate that relationship in bad times, it’s quite possible that Congress or the administration would seek to cut funds from threat reduction programs, which aid the destruction of Russia’s nuclear materials and safeguards those materials that exist. You can imagine the argument: “Why should we give Russia funding if they’re spending money to increase the number of nuclear weapons that they will aim at us?”

As for China, Beijing is perhaps most directly affected by Bush’s decision, even though it has played no part in the ABM Treaty negotiations. China must now calculate that the United States will deploy an anti-ballistic missile system that, by its very size and characteristics, is designed primarily for use against the Chinese nuclear force. Washington is designing an ABM force that can intercept 20 to 100 warheads. Since China is the only country that has 20 to 100 warheads, Beijing sees this system as an anti-Chinese system.

No Chinese leader can allow the Chinese nuclear force to be neutralized by the United States. China is already engaged in strategic modernization. No matter what the relationship with the United States is over the next 10 years, Beijing will have to consider the U.S. defensive system. This means that it will likely increase its pace of modernization, place multiple warheads on its missiles, and probably deploy countermeasures with those missiles. It may even sell countermeasures to other countries.

Regarding U.S. allies, I expect most of the allied reaction to range from disbelief to bitter disappointment. I don’t expect there to be many outright statements of condemnation or outrage. After all, there is a war going on. Our alliance partners are loyal. However, none of the allies see either the threat or the technology that the president imagines. They rely heavily on the international framework of treaties and arrangements that has kept the peace so successfully over the last 56 years, and they will see U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty as a threat to that framework.

Moreover, U.S. allies will be disappointed that the United States is not turning around and embracing multilateralism, as it appeared it would after September 11. Instead, the United States appears to be pursuing what I call “unilateral multilateralism.” That is, Washington wants international cooperation on its terms. You can see this policy in the way the United States dealt with its allies when it torpedoed the talks on the Biological Weapons Convention last week. You can see it in the way the United States has conducted the war. Allied support was requested, but very little cooperation was accepted to help conduct the war, much to the regret of the Germans, French, and others. This will mean that, in the future, U.S. allies will be a little more reluctant to offer their unconditioned cooperation with the United States. They will be more suspect of U.S. motives and less trusting of the United States’ vision.

Finally, for the nonproliferation regime, this is a body blow. It was bad enough that Washington rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, scuttled the verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, rejected negotiations on small arms, and hasn’t signed the landmines treaty. It now appears that the United States is intent on tearing down the strategic arms treaties as well.

This sends the wrong message to other countries. If the world’s most powerful country feels that it can withdraw from an international agreement because it finds it inconvenient, why can’t other nations? For example, why can’t Iran decide that it needs weapons, not pieces of paper, to protect its security? Why can’t Iraq withdraw from a treaty that it no longer finds convenient?

International disenchantment with international nonproliferation regimes, when combined with Russian embitterment and China’s increased pace of strategic modernization, could lead to a new wave of proliferation—where countries withdraw from control regimes and seek their individual national interests instead of placing their faith in international cooperation.

Finally, as if this wasn’t bad enough, Bush’s decision undermines the domestic cooperation that has characterized life in Washington since September 11. After the terrorist attacks, Democratic congressional leaders suspended planned budgetary cuts to and restraints on the missile defense program. They took this action not because they agreed with missile defense after September 11 but because they sought to preserve national unity. However, the president apparently feels no such obligation. Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty will not go down well in Congress. I expect the debate on missile defense to pick up again in January with more vigor than ever. That’s my summary of the situation.

Lisbeth Gronlund

I want to talk a little bit about the rationale that the Bush administration has given for withdrawing from the treaty sooner rather than later. As previous speakers have noted, the administration has said it needs to withdraw from the ABM Treaty because the treaty prevents it from testing missile defense systems and finding out which technologies are suitable for deployment. In fact, the administration has indicated that there are several near-term activities that it wants to conduct that could run afoul of the treaty. However, the kinds of tests that the United States needs to conduct now are not restricted by the ABM Treaty, so the administration’s argument for withdrawal is specious.

The first of the administration’s near-term activities is a series of so-called tracking tests that would involve using a SPY radar on an Aegis ship to track an intercept test of the ground-based missile defense system that the Pentagon is developing, which would violate the treaty. The SPY radar is intended for use in two missile defense systems that are under development—but have not yet been deployed—to defend against short-range missiles. The administration has not been very clear about the purpose of using the SPY radar to track the launch of a long-range test missile and interceptor, but Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said this summer that these tests would enable the Pentagon to gather some basic data on the radar’s capability to track long-range missiles.

Well, this is something that the United States already has a lot of information on. The SPY radar is not new. The United States already has all kinds of tracking data for this radar. And the basic capability of a radar to track various kinds of objects is something that you can calculate using computer programs. In fact, the United States has presumably already done this because it has concluded in numerous fora that this radar is not suitable for tracking long-range missiles. The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization did a study in 1998 in which it looked at the utility of sea-based assets for national missile defense. In that study, it said that the Aegis SPY radar is not capable of supporting national missile defense-type engagements due to limited detection and tracking ranges for long-range ballistic missiles and their re-entry vehicles. A report last year by the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation echoed that sentiment.

The results of these studies are not surprising. If you look at the characteristics of the radar, it was designed to track large objects, such as airplanes that are fairly close. It doesn’t have the power to track smaller objects, such as re-entry vehicles, that are far away. So, the utility of testing these radars in this way is, at best, marginal, and I would argue is zero. As the Pentagon itself has indicated, it already understands the radar’s capabilities quite well.

The second rationale that the Pentagon has given for needing near-term relief from ABM Treaty limitations is that it is planning to add a new set of so-called testing facilities, in particular at Fort Greely, Alaska. These facilities would include five interceptor silos as well as some battle management nodes and an in-flight interceptor communication system. The Pentagon claims that this is part of a new “test bed” that will allow it to test the ground-based midcourse missile defense system more fully.

However, if you look closely at these plans, you will find that the United States can’t actually test-fire interceptors from Fort Greely because it’s an inland site and there are safety concerns. So, the Pentagon is building these five interceptor silos and planning to put five interceptors there, but it has acknowledged that it cannot actually test-fire the interceptors from this site. So the site will have no utility in the ongoing ground-based midcourse system flight-test program.

Well, the administration says, “Okay, that’s true, but there are other things we can do. There are other kinds of testing, other things that we can test if we build these silos. We can test whether the fuels in the missile interceptor will degrade in the cold Arctic environment.” Well, the Pentagon could test that without building five missile silos. And if it really has these concerns, the last thing it should be doing is building five missile silos if it doesn’t know whether the fuel is going to be able to withstand the temperatures at Fort Greely. So, if you look closely at the arguments that the Pentagon has given for why it needs to build these silos at Fort Greely, they fall apart.

Now, the Pentagon also says that it intends to have this missile defense site operational by 2004, in which case, it could serve as an “emergency defense.” So, in a sense, it is acknowledging that Fort Greely is a deployment site, not a testing site. And, of course, the ABM Treaty prohibits deployment in Alaska.

The Pentagon wants to start building these silos this summer. The six-month ABM Treaty withdrawal notice would allow it to begin construction and have construction finished by 2004, which is the next presidential election. So, in a sense, President Bush wants to put silos somewhere so that he can say that the United States has deployed a very rudimentary missile defense system. Ironically, the capability of this missile defense system will be extremely marginal because the interceptors will not have been tested and no adequate sensors will have been deployed to go along with the interceptors.

So, if you look at the two reasons that President Bush has given for needing to withdraw from the treaty soon—conducting SPY radar tracking tests and building facilities at Fort Greely—you will see that they are not a sound rationale.

Of course we can then ask, “Certainly, if these are not things that need to be done now, sooner or later, the U.S. development program will bump up against the ABM Treaty.” So the question is, how soon will the United States need to withdraw from the ABM Treaty if it wants to continue with a robust research and development program?

Well, despite Bush’s restructuring of the whole U.S. missile defense program since taking office, most of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s efforts remain devoted to the system President Bill Clinton began to develop—the ground-based midcourse system. If you take a look at last year’s budget and President Bush’s proposed budget for this year, you will see that this system will receive $3.2 billion in the next year. Now, there are three other programs devoted to intercepting long-range missiles—one is based on an idea to have a space-based kill vehicle that intercepts during boost phase; another idea is to have hit-to-kill interceptors launched from ships; and there is a notion to put an orbiting laser in space. President Bush’s request for the first program was $15 million; the second was $50 million, and the third was $175 million.

So, the ground-based midcourse system is receiving 20 to 200 times more funding than these other programs. That gives you a sense of how far along the other programs are. They are in the very early stages of research and development, and it will be years before the United States tests them against long-range missiles, which would be prohibited by the ABM Treaty.

The system that the United States is spending most of its money on and that is the furthest along in development is the Clinton ground-based midcourse system. The ABM Treaty permits the Pentagon to fully test that system; there are no treaty restrictions. The Pentagon has imposed lots of limitations while testing this system, but none of those are due to the ABM Treaty. They’re due to technology.

Finally, there are two theater missile defense systems that the United States is developing that might have some utility for defense against long-range missiles. The first is the Airborne Laser program, which would basically deploy a laser on an airplane. The idea behind it would be to fire a laser beam at a missile during the missile’s boost phase and weaken the booster so that it stops boosting. The intended result is for the warhead to fall short of its target. But there are basic technical questions that are unanswered for this program—the Pentagon doesn’t really know what will happen when it tries to fire the laser through the atmosphere.

The Defense Department is on schedule to conduct its first Airborne Laser intercept test against a short-range Scud-type missile in 2003. Assuming that the program remains on schedule, which is probably an optimistic assumption, and that these tests against short-range missiles are successful, the United States could not schedule a test against long-range missiles, which would not be permitted under the ABM Treaty, until after 2003. So, Washington has several years before it would want to conduct treaty-prohibited tests.

The other system the Pentagon is developing is the Navy Theater Wide system, which is a midcourse system. The Pentagon is hoping to deploy by 2006 the first phase of that system, which is intended to shoot down relatively short-range missiles. In the longer term, it is planning to upgrade the interceptor and perhaps the sensors, but that is not something that is scheduled to take place until the end of the decade.

So again, if you look at the programs the United States is working on, you will see that there is no justification to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for several years for testing purposes.

John Rhinelander

I’d like to cover three points. The first is that there is absolutely no compelling reason for the United States to withdraw from the treaty. The second point covers why are we withdrawing. Third, I want to talk about whether there is any legal way to challenge the president on his power to withdraw the United States from a treaty. The answer is no, and I’ll tell you why.

With respect to the treaty, there are three legal issues that must be dealt with that the White House fuzzes up. The first is the legality of the Alaska test range that the Pentagon intends to build. The test range would have three ABM components: five launchers at Fort Greely, two launchers at Kodiak Island, and an upgrade to a radar on Shemya Island to give it some ABM potential.

Under the treaty, the United States and Russia each have two test ranges. The U.S. sites are located at White Sands in New Mexico and Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. A 1978 agreed statement permits each country to establish additional test ranges, consistent with other treaty provisions, simply upon notification to the other side.

The Alaska test range would be permitted under the treaty if the United States submits one simple sentence notifying Russia that, pursuant to Article IV of the treaty and paragraph 5 of the 1978 agreed statement, it intends to establish a test range in Alaska. That’s all it takes. The Russians may not like it. They can complain about it. But, in fact, that’s all it takes. So answering the Alaska test range problem is simple: one sentence will take care of it. And I’m personally convinced—having talked to a number of Russians about this myself—that Moscow would accept it. Russia would raise questions and object to it but would accept it in the end.

The second issue is using the Aegis radar—designed for surface-to-air missile and theater missile defense purposes—concurrently with long-range missile defense tests. This would violate the explicit ban on concurrent tests of ABM and non-ABM systems at a test range. The simple answer to this issue is to stop using these Aegis radars. There is no technical reason whatsoever for using these radars to try to advance a national missile defense. The real problem is that the United States doesn’t have the interceptors or the radars for a true national missile defense. The Aegis radar is a surface-to-air missile system upgraded to be a missile defense system, but these tests are designed to violate the treaty rather than to advance an effective national defense.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cancelled the Aegis radar test scheduled for October. There’s another one scheduled for February, but there’s no reason in the world to go through with it. But if the Pentagon really wants to test the Aegis radar against an ICBM-capable missile, all it has to do is wait until the United States launches a satellite, which it does both from California and Florida. The Pentagon could then turn the radar on and get the same kind of readings.

Now, the third issue and only serious question involves Article V of the treaty, which prohibits the development, testing, and deployment of mobile ABM systems. As Lisbeth pointed out, the treaty makes absolutely clear that you can test ABM components as long as they are part of fixed land-based systems, as we’re doing right now out of Kwajalein. The United States is currently considering sea- and air-based mobile systems for boost-phase intercepts. There are three answers to this problem. First, air- and sea-based systems are years away from being ready for testing that would violate the treaty. I don’t know how many years because it depends on the pace at which Congress funds the programs. But it will be years before the Pentagon even arguably would come up against treaty limitations on what it can do with these systems.

Second, where does the treaty language draw the line on prohibiting development and tests of mobile-type systems? The fact is, in the almost 30 years that the treaty has been in effect, the United States hasn’t sought specific agreement with the Soviets or Russians on this issue. When the United States took the treaty before the Senate in 1972, based on discussions with the Soviets during the negotiations, the executive branch stated that the ABM Treaty ban begins at the field-testing phase. However, the parties have never sought to pin down this understanding in explicit language, leaving the Russians room to challenge U.S. activities. So again, another one-sentence solution would help fix the problem: “The United States and Russia agree that the ban in Article V begins at the field-testing phase.” That takes care of it for at least three to five years, again, depending on the pace of funding of actual tests approved by Congress.

Third, the more complete and permanent way to deal with this problem is to amend the treaty to suspend the ban on development and testing of air- and sea-based systems for a fixed period, such as 10 years. It would be a simple amendment but would, of course, have to go before the Senate. The first two solutions I talked about earlier, a sentence on the Alaska test range and a second sentence on testing, wouldn’t have to go to the Hill for approval. The Senate would be notified. But if the United States were to amend the treaty, which I think is the better long-term way to do it, the Senate would be involved.

When I was involved in the 1970s, the difficult issues were based 60 percent on technology and 40 percent on politics. At present, keys issues are decided 100 percent on politics and zero percent on technology.

Basically, the stage was set for withdrawal when Bush campaigned in favor of effective missile defense and getting rid of the treaty. And the final nail was put in the coffin November 9, when nine Senate Republicans delivered a letter to Bush saying, “You’ve got to get rid of that treaty.” If there was any possibility of a deal being cut with Russia, I think that letter ended it. Bush realized that, if he was going strike a deal with Moscow, the Senate might have to approve it, but it would be over the dead bodies of the senators who wrote that letter, plus a few more. Personally, I think the Senate would have approved an amendment if the president were behind it by a vote of roughly 80 to 20. But I think the president remembers, rightly or wrongly, that his father lost his re-election campaign because he lost the support of the right. Bush is determined not to lose the right’s support, and on this one, he’s not only not losing support, but he’s also giving red meat to the right wing. So I think this is politics pure and simple, and withdrawal is going to go forward.

On the third point, whether the president can withdraw the United States from the ABM Treaty, in my judgment, this is an issue for the president alone. Under the Constitution, Congress has no role whatsoever. They can complain about it and pass resolutions against it, but it will have no legal effect.

Furthermore, the federal courts will stay out of it. The last time this came up with an important treaty was in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter withdrew from the mutual defense treaty with Taiwan. Senator Barry Goldwater led a band of Republicans against Carter’s action. The Republican’s challenge went up to the Supreme Court, which threw the case out. The courts will have no role; that’s the precedent. Of course, now you have the political parties’ roles reversed. It will be the conservatives talking about the unlimited power of the president. If there’s any kind of legal challenge—which I don’t think there should be because it would be foolish—it would come from the Democrats.

The final irony here is that the withdrawal clause was first put in a treaty at the insistence of the United States to limit Moscow’s freedom of action. That happened in 1963 during the Limited Test Ban Treaty negotiations. At that time, Andrei Gromyko, foreign minister of the Soviet Union, was taking the position that the Soviets could withdraw from a treaty at any time for any reason that they wanted. That line of reasoning didn’t give the Americans much comfort, so the United States persuaded the Soviets to accept a formal withdrawal process, which, incidentally, would help get the treaty through the Senate. No country has withdrawn from a post-World War II arms control agreement to date. As Joe indicated, the North Koreans are the only ones who have ever given notice under a treaty, and even they suspended their withdrawal the day before it became effective.

Let me conclude with a couple of comments. First, Congress will become the replacement for the ABM Treaty. From now on, we’re going to have a fight in the fall over funding for ballistic missile defense, and Congress will assume prime responsibility for the pacing and shaping of ABM developments. This year, Congress let it go, given the situation in Afghanistan.

I would also like to remind you that Washington has twice deployed systems against strategic threats to the continental United States. The first was the Nike system from the 1950s, which had conventionally armed missiles and later nuclear-armed missiles to protect against long-range Soviet heavy bombers. The more than 200 Nike sites were basically disbanded after 20 years because they were totally ineffective in the missile age. The second system was the Safeguard ABM system, which the United States had up in North Dakota and operated for four months before shutting it down because it was ineffective.

Finally, I predict that, by the end of the Bush administration, whether it’s January 2005 or January 2009, we will have no ABM Treaty and no deployed ABM defense. Technically, there simply isn’t anything close to being proven effective for deployment. The good thing I can say about what Bush and Rumsfeld have done is that they didn’t follow Clinton’s plan of deploying something that was just foolish. They’re going to conduct tests first, but a deployable system is a long way off, and, as has been testified before the Senate, it will be at least a decade before the Pentagon knows whether it can build anything that is effective.

Questions and Answers

Question: How will U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty affect the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT]? Will non-nuclear-weapon states be more likely to pull out?

Rhinelander: I think no one is going to withdraw immediately from the NPT. A step before withdrawal could simply be to suspend performance and lay some conditions out for continued participation. It’s much more likely that the nonproliferation regime will just dribble away in terms of effectiveness and that the withdrawal from the ABM Treaty will prevent the United States from effectively saying, “Look, treaty constraints are the norm we all have to live up to.”

So I think the degradation of the regime is going to be a slow process. It’s not going to be a dramatic one. There are countries you could easily identify that are the leading candidates to go nuclear, some already parties to the NPT, others not. But I think the main point is that, in the end, we’ll be in a world without effective legal constraints. In terms of nuclear nonproliferation, we’ll have some constraints—the Nuclear Suppliers Group and things like that—but I think more and more we will not have effective legal constraints on proliferation.

In the final analysis, that’s the most serious thing of all, and I would just conclude by saying I think the biggest threat obviously from proliferation is from Russia. We’re not funding the Nunn-Lugar threat reduction programs the way we should, and that’s where the biggest threat of all of proliferation is. But I think proliferation threats are also going to come from other countries, and proliferation is going to be slow, but I think withdrawal from the ABM Treaty is really a fatal blow over the long term to the NPT regime.

Question: What about India and Pakistan specifically? Do you see any direct effect on those countries?

Rhinelander: Well, India and Pakistan haven’t joined the NPT and they cannot join it as it’s presently written if they keep their nuclear weapons capability. The treaty permits in that club only the five countries that had tested nuclear weapons before 1967. The fact that India and Pakistan have tested nuclear weapons and that the United States is now lifting the sanctions against them has adversely affected the nonproliferation regime. Decisions to go nuclear have a lot of factors involved. Obviously the NPT is only one, but I think undermining the NPT removes from our arsenal a tool for persuading countries not to go nuclear, something which is very important. Over the longer term, you’ll see more countries deciding to develop nuclear weapons, and we’ll have to deal with that.

Cirincione: The president’s actions cheapen the currency of international agreements. It makes it more likely that other nations will withdraw from their international obligations should they find them inconvenient.

I agree with John: deterioration of treaty restraints is a slow but steady process. The direction is very disturbing. Treaties are inanimate objects. They don’t enforce themselves. They reflect the will of the international community. They reflect the power of the countries that have established the treaties. They require leadership to continue to live and to be enforced. The leadership from this administration is moving in exactly the opposite direction. The administration is moving away from treaty-based international security toward international security based on preponderance of arms.

The regimes that the Bush team seems to favor hearken back to the strategies of the Eisenhower administration, when we thought we could control proliferation by controlling the technologies and establishing export control regimes. So the administration favors things like the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty makes it less likely that India and Pakistan will join any international agreement, although the administration still may hope to draw them into arrangements like the Missile Technology Control Regime.

If U.S. relations with China develop in the way I indicated and China increases the pace of its modernization, India will certainly take note of that and operationalize its nuclear force. Pakistan will then be forced to operationalize its nuclear force. An increasingly nuclearized Asia will have serious implications for Japan’s international security, and Iran will, of course, take notice.

So the nuclear reaction chain could lead to the emergence of many more nuclear nations by the end of this decade. I’m afraid that the United States may have just lit the fuse.

Question: The administration has talked about the need for a new structure of international security, mixing offensive and defensive systems, and they’ve had some months to develop their thinking. Is there anything to their thinking, or is the “new strategic framework” a phony argument that they were making to us?

Cirincione: I think the strategic framework is a concept, but it remains an empty shell. The administration has not filled it in. In part, the events of September 11 may have disrupted any plan they had in mind and taken them off in new directions. But there’s no there there. There is no replacement course for the ABM Treaty regime. I think the best definition of the strategic framework consists of U.S. military and diplomatic leadership in the world, ad hoc international coalitions formed around specific events or specific regions that are then disbanded, control of technologies, and harsh punishment for those who violate the U.S. led norms.

But the treaties that the administration envisions are mostly bilateral. It believes that international security is guaranteed through strong alliance relationships, not the swamp of multilateral negotiations. But so far, you haven’t seen any of those other instruments strengthened or replaced. There’s nothing there yet.

Question: Earlier, you mentioned a period of “phony negotiations” with the Russians. Could you elaborate on that?

Kimball: We’ve heard for weeks and months from Bush administration officials that they have been engaged in a productive dialogue with their Russian counterparts. In reality—and if you ask them this directly, I think they will admit it—defense officials in the United States have mainly just conducted a series of briefings for Russian officials on the general outline of the planned test program for the U.S. missile defense system. What the Bush administration says it’s trying to do is regularize these discussions, much as our defense consultations with NATO are.

Up until as recently as just a few days ago when Secretary Powell met with Foreign Minister Ivanov, there had been no exchange of proposals as to how the ABM Treaty might be modified or amended to accommodate the United States’ more robust plans, if you will, for missile defense testing over the next two to three years.

What President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld have gone to Moscow and offered was a pretty tough choice for the Russians: unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty or joint withdrawal. These are options that the Russians, given their situation, have clearly not been interested in accepting, and they have apparently made it clear that they would be willing to entertain proposals for amendments to the treaty to allow additional testing.

The president, as I said before, has turned down that option, and it is very much I think a repudiation of the history of bilateral discussions between the United States and Russia and something of a snub to our newest and closest ally in the war on terrorism.

Cirincione: I agree with that assessment.

Rhinelander: Let me add one comment on this. The essence of a treaty is a mutuality of obligations. Many in the administration oppose any treaty on any subject dealing with security. But to the extent they’re willing to deal at all with treaties in this field, it’s only in terms of providing some information at some point in time. They simply say “absolutely no” to the kinds of treaties we’ve had since World War II, which have prohibitions or limitations on acts, including prohibitions applicable to us. They want an absolutely free hand where no document and nobody tells them what they can do, although they don’t mind restrictions on others. So treaties, in the way the arms control community has thought of them since World War II, are simply unacceptable to them.

Question: I’d like to follow up on Joe’s point about lighting the fuse for the nuclear buildup in Asia. China already has intermediate-range missiles that could hit India. If China builds more intercontinental ballistic missiles to counter a U.S. missile shield, why would that necessarily trigger a buildup in India?

Cirincione: Two things. First, none of the dire possibilities I’ve outlined may come to pass. It’s quite possible that U.S. relations will be very good with Russia and China for the next decade and that missile defenses will be deployed in small numbers in a cooperative fashion, or will be deployed and then withdrawn, or not deployed at all. So none of this necessarily needs to take place. I’m just laying out some of the possibilities and arguing that there’s no reason to run the risk, there’s no reason to get into a situation where those worst cases may unfold for all the reasons that Lisbeth articulated. We can do plenty of testing over the next four or five years within the ABM Treaty.

Second, on China, you have to look at this from India’s point of view. The Indians already see themselves in a rivalry with China. Their nuclear tests were not aimed primarily at Pakistan, whom they consider to be an annoyance and an unstable state that will soon pass from the scene. They’re concerned about their rival to the north. So their nuclear tests were aimed at China and at establishing India’s rightful place in the world.

China is in a modernization drive. It has 20 ICBMs that can reach the United States. It has 20 intermediate-range missiles that can reach India, plus shorter-range missiles. Even though China’s modernization is aimed primarily at the United States, India won’t necessarily see it that way. They have a very Indo-centric view of the world. They will think of China’s modernization as a challenge to them.They see themselves as a competitor in Asia in the world with China. They want to assert their role in the world, and they will feel compelled to keep pace, to modernize and operationalize their force and not leave it the way it is. Currently, India basically has unassembled components that could be put together quickly, but none of its weapons, as far as we know, are operationally deployed. India could change its posture and deploy assembled weapons. The arguments in the Indian nuclear community will have more force. The Indian politicians will feel more threats from this Indian-Chinese challenge.

China will assure India that its nuclear improvements aren’t aimed at them. India will respond very nicely, “Yes, we know that, and so our modernization isn’t aimed at you either.” But that dynamic is already in place. It’s already engaged. Any acceleration on either side will certainly lead to an acceleration on the other side.

Gronlund: I would like to add that in the near term there may be another treaty casualty that will come before the NPT: the fissile material cutoff treaty, which has been under preliminary discussions in the Conference on Disarmament and could offer a way to constrain India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programs, short of them giving up nuclear weapons.

But one thing that China has made fairly clear in those talks is, if the U.S. goes forward with missile defenses, it is not willing to cut off its future production because it wants to reserve the option of building up its forces. And if China won’t play, then India and Pakistan won’t play that game either.
So the effect of U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty may be something less draconian than a massive buildup; it may be the loss of an ability to constrain things.

Cirincione: And needless to say all this happens slowly. None of these are going to look like the Cold War buildup, where suddenly we were pumping out hundreds of missiles a year. This all happens much more slowly in Asia. It’s the direction that you have to worry about.

Gronlund: Right. The tragedy is really that U.S. withdrawal will probably prevent things from getting a lot better. Even if they don’t get a lot worse, the current situation—10 years after the end of the Cold War—is not very good.

Question: For the past year, the focal point of the debate in Congress has been adherence to the treaty. What is the congressional role in missile defense now, and how will missile defenses balance against other defense priorities?

Kimball: Prior to September 11, the Democrats in the Senate were pushing the administration quite hard on the rationale for the test program—for the reasons why the Bush administration wanted to or thought it needed to pull out of the ABM Treaty. I think those questions and those concerns continue to be there, despite the fact that Senator Carl Levin, for instance, withdrew his language that would have required congressional approval for any administration action that was inconsistent with the ABM Treaty.

Now, there still may be no action that is inconsistent with the ABM Treaty over the next fiscal year, but as John Rhinelander said, it is the president’s prerogative to withdraw from this treaty.

But in the final analysis, we are not going to have a missile defense system for many, many years. The technological problems are substantial. The financial problems are enormous when you take into consideration the additional expenditures that the United States has just made in the war on terrorism, which we’ve not yet reckoned with. We’ve not really seen how this is going to affect the overall budget balance and other priorities. Add on top of that the Bush administration’s plan for a layered missile defense system, which I think by most conservative estimates can be said to cost in the range of $150-250 billion over the next decade.

So it’s difficult to calculate, but my prediction is that in the end we’re not going to have a missile defense system that is effective, that fulfills the promise that the Bush administration is advertising, and the United States will not in the end be more secure but will be less secure because we are not making forward progress in the effort to stop the spread of weapon of mass destruction.

Rhinelander: Let me add a comment on the budget and on China. On the budget, the first Republicans I think who will fall off this whole thing are those in the House dealing with appropriations. They’re going to be the ones where fiscal tightness is going to be overriding some of the interests of others in terms of defense. In the past, it’s been those Republicans on the appropriations committee or allied with them who have been resistant to large expenditures. That’s going to come up again.

Just take one facet of this program, which is the space-based infrared system [SBIRS-low]. The current budget estimates range from $10 billion to $23 billion. The schedule is slipping and slipping and slipping. This was a program designed to take the place of the X-band radars, which we were going to put in Greenland and the United Kingdom and a few other places. If SBIRS-low doesn’t fly, then we’re going to be back to that problem of getting allies to agree to put big radars on their turf.

The history of all missile defense programs is that the actual costs are way, way above the estimates. In the end, it’s going to be the failure of the technology to do what the enthusiasts expect, and it’s going to be the budget overruns that are going to be the two fatal blows to missile defense. It’s going to take time. You never know what’s going to happen in the near term. This year was a free ride on the budget. In the end, Carl Levin pulled back his action in the Senate. But the idea that there will be unlimited money to do whatever the Pentagon wants in this field is not in the cards.

But let me go to one comment made earlier on China. I think what China is going to fear, among other things from this, is all of a sudden the constraints on weaponization of space—the development and testing of offensive and defensive space weapons—are out because that goes down with the ABM Treaty.

Now, we’ve got no space weapons ready to go as far as I know. I don’t think there have been any hard proposals, but certainly Donald Rumsfeld in his prior capacity just before he came in was a strong advocate of space weapons, and if we begin to make noises on aggressively testing and then deploying assets in space, I think that’s going to be a real tripwire with the Chinese.

Kimball: Let me make a couple of final comments. Article XV of the ABM Treaty does allow the United States to withdraw “if extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests.”

Now, we need to contemplate what that meant in 1972, and we need to ask the question—and I think President Bush needs to make the case—why we must pull out of this treaty to deal with supreme national interests.

In our view, withdrawal is neither necessary or prudent, given the nature of the long-range ballistic missile threat, which is low; the technological state of the NMD program; and Russia’s willingness to modify the treaty to allow the further testing that is necessary to find out if national missile defense can be effective some day in the future in a real world environment. So I think this decision to withdraw does not meet the Article XV standard.

ACA Press Conference

The BWC After the Protocol: Previewing the Review Conference



On November 16, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the November 19-December 7 review conference of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva. Speakers addressed the role of the convention in fighting the spread of germ weapons and the likely outcome of the review conference. They also evaluated U.S. proposals to strengthen the convention.

The panelists were James F. Leonard, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Conference on Disarmament, who served as the lead U.S. negotiator for the Biological Weapons Convention; Michael Moodie, president of the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute and former assistant director for multilateral affairs at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; and Elisa Harris, research fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland and former director for non-proliferation and export controls at the National Security Council. The briefing was moderated by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The following is an edited transcript of their remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl Kimball

Welcome to the Arms Control Association’s press briefing on the Biological Weapons Convention [BWC] review conference, which begins in Geneva this coming Monday, November 19, and ends December 7. This conference takes place every five years to assess and try to improve upon the convention’s implementation. At the top of the agenda will be efforts to put teeth into the convention, which outlaws germ weapons development and possession but contains no provisions to make sure countries are abiding by its terms.

Now, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the recent anthrax letter crisis, I think it is clear to everyone across the political spectrum and around the world that we must improve emergency and public health preparedness. But it’s also more obvious than ever that the best cure for bioterrorism is prevention: making it more difficult for states or parties hostile to the United States or others to have access to biological weapons [BW]. That makes it important to broaden and strengthen our first line of defense—arms control and non-proliferation.

However, as our panelists will discuss, there’s not yet sufficient international consensus on this point. The upcoming Biological Weapons Convention conference will likely see heated debate, and its outcome is uncertain. The chief reason for this is the Bush administration’s rejection in July of a draft compliance protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention—which a majority of the United States’ closest allies and partners supported—that aimed to make it harder for states to cheat on the convention. Upon rejecting the draft protocol, Washington promised to put forward alternative proposals to strengthen compliance with the convention and to combat the biological weapons problem. The Bush administration and other states are expected to formally present their alternatives packages at the conference over the next couple of weeks.

So, in the interest of promoting better understanding and debate on this important and timely topic, we’ve assembled a panel of three of the foremost experts in this field who will address the role of the convention in fighting the spread of germ weapons and likely outcomes of the review conference, as best we can tell at this stage. They’re also going to evaluate U.S. proposals to strengthen the convention and discuss what can be done following this conference to build international support and consensus on this topic. We will lead off with James Leonard.

James Leonard

Thank you. I’m going to try to say where we are and how we got here. Right after World War II, it was widely expected that the major powers would start a disarmament process and that they would give priority to weapons of mass destruction. In fact, this was the subject of the first resolution that the UN General Assembly ever took, in 1946. But nothing happened. The Cold War came along, and there was nothing really of significance done on arms control until the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. That treaty, as many people have pointed out, was driven as much or more by environmental concerns as by security concerns.

Then, from 1965 to 1968, negotiations on the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] dominated. There was also talk about doing something on chemical and biological arms. These weapons had been treated jointly in the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibited countries from using them but did not ban their possession, development, or research. But there were obvious problems in dealing with chemical and biological weapons together, and toward the end of the NPT negotiations, the United Kingdom suggested that the problem of biological weapons should be split off from the problem of chemical weapons.

When the Nixon administration came in, it did a comprehensive review of where things stood and what should be done about it, and it decided to support the British proposal for a separate treaty on biological weapons. I’d been in Geneva for some months at that time, and our delegation got instructions from Washington, “Go out there and sell the idea of a separate BW treaty.” We did, and we got the treaty. It was completed late in 1971, signed early in 1972, and brought into force during the next administration, in 1975.

The treaty granted member states the right to appeal matters to the UN Security Council and to ask other parties to clarify situations, but it had absolutely nothing in the way of verification or enforcement provisions. Everybody recognized that this was a grave deficiency, but I make no apology for the treaty. We really had a choice of concluding a treaty without any verification measures or having no treaty at all. I think that, in spite of the Soviet Union’s absolutely atrocious violation of the treaty, we were right to conclude the treaty, get a norm on the books, and to deal with the problems of verification later.

The attempt to deal with verification began very shortly after the treaty was brought into force. Member states have held treaty review conferences about every five years, during which they developed some ideas for verification. Some of these ideas have been put forward as nonbinding or politically binding confidence-building measures. The idea that there should maybe be something mandatory was there in the background, and that instinct was strengthened as the Soviet Union began to come apart. First, the Soviet Union softened its attitude on on-site inspections, which it had absolutely opposed. And, of course, the Soviet Union itself softened up and then split into pieces.

So, starting in 1991, we had a new situation, which allowed for things to proceed in a new manner. First, the 1991 review conference asked to have a group of scientific experts get together and look and see what could be done in the way of verification measures. The experts met for a couple of years and produced a report, which was given to a special treaty conference held in 1994. That conference produced a mandate for an Ad Hoc Group to sit down and develop a legally binding protocol to the treaty that would include whatever verification measures could be agreed upon.

The Ad Hoc Group began meeting in 1995 under the chairmanship of a Hungarian ambassador, Tibor Tóth, who has tirelessly chaired the group ever since. Last fall, Tóth took ideas that had emerged to date, which had been compiled into an enormous “rolling text,” and began working on his own compromise text. In April, he put his text on the table, and the other members of the Ad Hoc Group began forming opinions on it.

That text was what the Bush administration faced as it came into office, and that text was the focus of a BWC policy review the administration conducted over its first couple of months. The review culminated in a statement by the U.S. representative to the Ad Hoc Group in July, who said that Tóth’s text had such serious defects that it could not be cured, no matter what changes might be considered. In fact, it said the text’s basic approach was simply wrong.

That brought to an end the negotiations that had gone on for the previous six years, and the parties adjourned to consider what they would do in the light of this U.S. position. We will see what they have come up with next week at the review conference. At the conference, the United States, it is presumed, will be putting forward in a more formal way the new ideas that it promised in July, which have appeared only in press leaks so far. We’re expecting those, and I hope that Mike Moodie will be able to give you some idea of what these are and provide some comments on them.

Michael Moodie

Thank you. Much of what you hear about the BWC and the way to improve it has to do with transparency and openness. In the spirit of transparency and openness, let me begin by saying that I agreed with the administration’s conclusion that the protocol couldn’t be supported. But I’m not really going to talk about that decision, other than to say that it is important to understand some of the administration’s reasoning because that shaped the way it has thought about the way forward.

When the United States announced its decision on the protocol in July, it elaborated to some extent on the reasons why it couldn’t support the product of the Ad Hoc Group. First of all, from the administration’s point of view, the protocol doesn’t focus on the real problem. The problem as they see it are states that are party to the treaty but about which there may be serious compliance concerns. From their point of view, the protocol’s procedures do not really do enough to focus on that issue. Instead, the protocol calls for a lot of activity that is, in essence, peripheral to that central concern.

Second, the administration argues that the protocol does not strike an acceptable balance between the risks resulting from some of the protocol’s activities and the benefits to be gained from doing those things. These are issues about which people have disagreed for some time, and I expect that that disagreement is likely to continue.

Third, as Ambassador Leonard suggested, the administration concluded that the protocol was based on an approach that—given the unique combination of politics, treaty language, and science and technology that surrounds biological weapons and the BWC—would not work. It maintained that nothing was really to be gained from further attempts to tinker with the language because the protocol’s basic approach would not lead to productive conclusions.

At the same time, the administration has consistently reiterated, especially after the events of September 11, that it is committed to the fight against biological weapons proliferation. It has said that the BWC is an important tool, but not the only tool—and maybe not the most important tool—in that fight. It has also reiterated its recognition that the convention needs to be strengthened and that the protocol is not the way to accomplish that goal. Therefore, there is a need for a new approach. It is this viewpoint that has informed U.S. efforts to develop some measures to be able to put on the table when the review conference begins next week.

What the administration has tried to do with its new approach is define more broadly both the threat and ways to address that threat. As part of this, the administration wants to create an environment that minimizes the opportunities for misuse of the life sciences—whether misuse is accidental or deliberate. This is a task that is especially important in light of the incredible speed at which science and technology and our understanding of the life sciences is advancing. This is something that is only expected to accelerate as we enter what some people are calling the “Century of Biology.”

So, the administration has identified a series of measures that it thinks will contribute to the creation of this kind of environment. As a consequence, not all of the measures that it suggests would be considered classic arms control. The administration is also very clear that it views these measures only as a beginning on which the international community can build.

These measures are organized into three sets related to various provisions of the BWC. First, there are measures directed toward strengthening Article IV of the BWC, which deals with national implementation of the treaty. In this regard, the administration is going to be calling for legislation that each country could pass domestically to criminalize activities prohibited by the treaty. This has been a long-standing objective of the United States. It sought to get a commitment from treaty states-parties to do this very thing at the 1991 review conference. The fact that, 10 years later, it is still pushing this initiative suggests how much success it has had selling its idea.

The United States is also going to emphasize the development and adoption of standards for the security of pathogenic microorganisms. It will be stressing greater oversight of activities involving genetic engineering, and it will seek the development of professional codes of conduct for those working with such pathogenic microorganisms through national and international societies.

The second set of measures the administration will suggest is oriented toward strengthening Article V of the treaty, which addresses cooperation and consultation mechanisms. In this area, it is going to propose mechanisms to investigate suspicious outbreaks of disease or allegations of biological weapons use. This provision was also included in the protocol, and the administration thinks that it is a good idea and wants to carry it forward.

The United States did not include in its proposals the protocol measures for investigating facilities that may not be in compliance with the treaty. That being the case, the administration is also proposing a mechanism for addressing compliance concerns that would allow one state to engage in a bilateral, or perhaps multilateral, exploration of compliance concerns. This would be based on a voluntary exchange of information, visits, or other procedures.

The third set of measures is oriented toward BWC Article VII, which deals with assistance to victims of a biological attack, and Article X, which addresses technical and scientific cooperation. In this regard, the administration proposes emphasizing states-parties’ commitment to promoting better global disease surveillance activities, creating an international rapid-response team that would provide medical assistance in the event of a serious outbreak of infectious disease, and developing biosafety standards that would govern the activity of biotechnology industries.

Will this set of proposals be accepted at the review conference as the basis for moving forward in the fight against biological weapons proliferation? In my view, the review conference’s success really depends on two factors. One is the willingness of other states-parties to engage on this set of issues. Some countries have already demonstrated that they view the U.S. proposals as the basis for further work, especially if the measures can be supplemented by additional ideas.

But there are other countries that, for a number of reasons, I’m not sure will support the U.S. approach. First, I think there is a degree of bitterness toward the United States for undermining six years of negotiations, and there appears to be willingness on the part of some states-parties to stick it to the United States for doing what it did. Therefore, these states are not going to go along with the U.S. approach.

Countries committed to the protocol’s measures might not support the U.S. proposals either. They don’t want to give up the product of six years of negotiations, and they still see the protocol as the best way forward. Similarly, there are states that are committed to a multilateral process and want to see the mandate of the Ad Hoc Group reaffirmed so it can conclude an internationally negotiated agreement.

Countries with interests other than non-proliferation also may not support the U.S. approach. There was a group of countries during the protocol negotiations and all along—going back a decade or more—that made no secret of the fact that they were involved because they wanted to benefit from the scientific and technical cooperation that the treaty obligates states-parties to promote. Much of this debate dealt with the role of export controls in the protocol regime, and if these states don’t get what they want in this regard, I don’t think that they will be particularly willing to go along with the United States.

The second condition that bears on the success of the review conference is the willingness of the United States to engage on the interests of the others. As I said, some countries feel very strongly that the Ad Hoc Group continue and that negotiations take place. The United States has already expressed its preference for politically binding commitments that individual governments can undertake without legally binding, multilaterally negotiated international agreements, although it has left the door open for that. But how willing the administration will be to go down that road, I think, is open to question.

Similarly, the extent to which the United States will entertain additional measures to those that it puts on the table is also open to question. But there is also the prospect that, during the review conference, a number of countries will go back to the measures in the protocol, either in part or in whole. If that becomes the case, we have the basis for the conference’s breakdown.

So, on the one hand, I think we have to see the extent to which others are willing to go along with the U.S. approach, which reflects a fundamental change in thinking. This is something that governments do not always do very easily. On the other hand, I think the question will be whether the United States is willing to take steps in the direction of what some other countries want, if not in substance then at least in process. So, I wouldn’t lay money on whether this is going to be a success or failure.

Elisa Harris

I think I’ll use Mike Moodie’s example, and, in the interest of openness and transparency, say that I disagree fundamentally with the Bush administration’s decision to oppose the protocol. Clearly the protocol, in and of itself, would not solve the entire biological weapons problem. But it would establish legally binding procedures for pursuing evidence that other countries are developing or producing biological weapons—something we lack today. It would also clearly provide new data that would enhance our ability to detect and respond to foreign biological weapons programs. In that way, it would complement the other elements of our biological weapons non-proliferation policy, such as export controls, biodefense efforts, and intelligence collection. Moreover, because the protocol has provisions to protect sensitive national security and commercial information—which are the same as or, in some cases, exceed similar provisions in the Chemical Weapons Convention—we in the Clinton administration were convinced that the protocol could achieve these important objectives without jeopardizing other U.S. interests. So, I think the protocol—or something like it with legally binding obligations—is an important part of the overall response to the biological weapons problem and that the Bush administration has made a very serious mistake in rejecting it.

Let me now say a few words about the Bush administration’s proposals and what I believe is needed to deal with the biological weapons problem. As Mike said, most of the items in the Bush package take the form of recommendations for states-parties to enact. These measures aim to increase national controls over activities that could be misused by individuals or subnational groups, including terrorists. Many of these national measures represent a useful first step toward erecting stronger barriers against the acquisition or use of biological agents by terrorists, but they can and should be made more robust. Let me give you two examples.

Mike mentioned the U.S. proposal for national legislation to criminalize illegal biological weapons activities, which includes requirements for the extradition of criminals involved in biological weapons crimes. This is potentially important, but Article IV of the BWC already addresses the issue of parties taking national steps to implement the obligations of the convention. If we’re serious about advancing things beyond what the BWC already does, the administration should be proposing an international treaty that would make it a crime for individuals to engage in prohibited activity. I don’t see how their proposal in this particular area moves us very far beyond what the convention already offers.

The administration’s proposals to establish national oversight of high-risk genetic engineering experiments and to develop a code of conduct for scientists working with pathogens also are very important. But again, if we’re serious about preventing the hostile use of biotechnology, we should be seeking internationally agreed standards, backed up by auditing arrangements. Apparently, that’s not what the administration has in mind.

Regarding international mechanisms, as Mike has indicated, the administration is proposing measures for clarifying compliance concerns and for investigating suspicious disease outbreaks or alleged biological weapons use. Here, too, I think the U.S. package falls seriously short of what is needed.

For clarifying compliance concerns, the United States will propose a voluntary cooperative mechanism, including exchanges of information or on-site visits by mutual consent. This doesn’t move us forward at all. Article V of the BWC already says the states-parties should consult and cooperate with one another to resolve problems, and previous review conferences have agreed on consultative procedures to implement that part of the convention. So it’s difficult for me to see how the administration has moved the ball forward on this issue.

For investigating outbreaks of disease or alleged use of biological weapons, the administration is going to call for investigations by international experts upon determination by the UN secretary-general. But such an arrangement already exists. In 1987, the UN General Assembly called upon the secretary-general to carry out investigations in response to reports by any UN member state concerning the use of chemical or biological weapons. The resolution also asked the secretary-general to convene a group of qualified experts to develop guidelines and procedures and to identify laboratories that could be used for these investigations—all that work was completed in 1989. So it’s hard for me to see how the U.S. proposal on investigations moves us beyond what we already have in place.

What is needed, in my view? I would argue that, given the threat posed by national biological weapons programs—both in and of themselves and as a potential source of assistance to aspiring biological terrorists—we clearly need stronger international measures. I am not prepared to rely upon states that sponsor terrorism to take criminal action against terrorists on their territory, to enforce national regulations on access to pathogens, or to participate in voluntary clarification efforts.

I’m also not comfortable waiting to call on the secretary-general after biological weapons have been used or released into the environment. Biological weapons in the hands of terrorists or states represent such a serious threat to our security and to international security that we must focus on prevention. That must be our first goal. In my mind, this requires effective measures for enforcing the BWC’s ban on the development and production of biological weapons.

To this end, I believe a variety of legally binding—not voluntary or nationally decided—information exchanges and on-site measures should be adopted. This would include the disclosure of information on activities and facilities relevant to the BWC. It would also include provisions to investigate not only the alleged use of biological weapons but also facilities suspected of developing or producing such weapons. To make sure that these measures are implemented, we need institutional arrangements. The need for both of these elements—legally binding measures and institutional arrangements—is clearly demonstrated by the experience with the voluntary confidence-building information exchanges that have been in place since 1986. The record of participation in these exchanges is extremely poor, and there has been no follow-up or review of the information gathered. The exchanges have been a failure. That is one of the reasons why the international community embarked in 1991 on the path that ultimately led to the protocol negotiations.

Finally, given the importance of an effective biological weapons ban to our security, we should view the BWC review conference not as the end but as the beginning of a process. I share Mike’s uncertainty as to whether the administration will indeed do that. We clearly cannot afford to wait another five years until the next review conference to talk about ways of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention. The minimum that we need to see come out of the review conference is an agreement among all parties for an ongoing, multilateral forum in which all of the various proposals that are on the table—the U.S. proposals as well as other proposals for stronger, international measures—can be discussed. Hopefully, this type of arrangement would allow an acceptable solution to evolve over time.

Questions and Answers

Question: How does one measure the success or failure of the conference, and what role does a final document play in this?

Moodie: Well, in situations like this, the international community tends to define the success or failure of a review conference by its ability to announce at the conclusion of the allotted time period that there is a final declaration that is approved by all of the states-parties that participated in the conference. It’s amazing how matters of major principle can turn on one or two words in a final declaration. So, although the debate at the review conference will be over single words, there is a lot more at stake than just language in some of these situations.

I think the issue at the review conference will be whether the states-parties will be able to reconcile their different interests and priorities. Right now, I’m not sure that they will be able to do this, but I think that’s one measure that we would look at.

If there is no final declaration, a second measure is the reasons for such an outcome. If this turns out to be a slugging match between the United States and the protocol supporters that deteriorates into name-calling and recrimination, that’s obviously not going to be a success. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily think that it is an unsuccessful outcome if some countries of concern are put on the spot in the final declaration and are not willing to support it, thereby breaking consensus. I think that kind of situation turns attention to those countries and highlights the nature of the problem in a very dramatic way.

But I think the first measure of success will be whether there is a final declaration that bridges states’ differences. A potential problem here is the tendency for final declarations to merely reflect the least common denominator. However, in this case I don’t think that anybody going to Geneva, especially the Bush team, is going to find that an acceptable outcome. September 11 has created a new context within which the international community has to once again put itself on record as underlining the need to strengthen the fight against biological weapons.

Harris: I agree with Mike. If there is no final declaration and the review conference ends with no tangible decisions to help address the biological weapons problem, it would clearly have been not only a failure, but would also represent a very serious blow to the whole regime prohibiting biological weapons. Such a result would send a very bad signal to proliferators that the international community lacks the will to enforce compliance with BWC.

I think that one of the most critical issues that is going to decide whether there is a final declaration is whether parties can come to agreement on a process for moving forward, specifically, whether they can agree to an ongoing multilateral process. It is my sense that the United States opposes the idea of an ongoing process among all BWC states-parties to discuss, evaluate, and reach agreement on measures to strengthen the regime. Washington may be willing to countenance a meeting or two in the future. Many other countries, however, Western as well as nonaligned, feel very strongly about the need for such a process after the review conference. This process would not take up the protocol—it is understood that that is not feasible for the time being—but would discuss U.S. and other proposals for strengthening the regime.

Question: What do we know about the views of U.S. allies, particularly countries like the United Kingdom, with regard to the upcoming conference and their reaction to some of the U.S. proposals, which they have been briefed on in the past couple of weeks?

Harris: I think it is fairly widely known that the countries that have been consulted by Washington view the U.S. proposals as a useful first step but not enough. There is a clear interest on their part in getting agreement at the review conference on a process that would allow not only discussion of the U.S. proposals but also would take up more robust ideas for strengthening the regime. So I think they will be coming to the review conference to press for agreement on an ongoing multilateral process, and I think they’re absolutely right.

Moodie: Looking forward, most of our European allies have regrets about the U.S. decision not to support the protocol, and willingness to engage the United States varies from country to country. But, with the Europeans, Washington has another problem. The members of the European Union [EU] get together and put together their position before meetings, and to a greater or lesser extent, they feel bound by the agreed EU position. That may limit the flexibility each EU country has to do things that it might be interested in doing. This creates a problem for the U.S. delegation because it is sometimes confronted with a European fait accompli: “This is it. We’ve negotiated it all among the countries of the EU. We can’t go beyond this.”

Negotiations need flexibility, and a lack of flexibility in the EU position is going to make it more difficult for the U.S. delegation. If there is a group within the EU that has successfully insisted on protocol-like measures being part of the follow-on package, that’s going to create a very difficult problem. If they have more flexibility, then maybe Washington can also be accommodating.

Obviously there are also other players beyond the Europeans and the United States. You’ve got the large nonaligned block, which brings to this a very different set of interests that is going to come into play as well.

Leonard: I want to add to what Mike said. After the United States delivered its decision to reject the protocol, there was a great deal of anger, particularly within the European group. The Europeans had really led that negotiation. But that all changed after September 11. There was an enormous wave of sympathy for the United States following the attacks. Any inclination on the part of our friends and allies to, as Mike said, “stick it to us” vanished at that point.

Of course, the United States still has enemies, including some governments participating in the Geneva negotiations. But I think that, if the United States approaches this review conference with any sort of openness and willingness to listen to the concerns of others, then there is the possibility of a rather successful outcome.

Question: If most of what the administration is proposing now is already in the Biological Weapons Convention, why is the United States making these proposals? What is the reason for coming back with these particular proposals at this time? Do you think that these ideas do nothing more than the convention does?

Moodie: To say that some of these elements are in the convention already doesn’t mean that they are working effectively. For example, Article IV of the convention says states will commit themselves to taking national measures to implement the treaty. This is a general obligation, but there is no agreement on what the nature of that obligation really entails. By suggesting that countries criminalize treaty-prohibited activities, the United States is rightly attempting to give that commitment some content beyond procedural legislation that allows the treaty to have the force of domestic law.

Regarding the suggestion for investigations of suspicious outbreaks of disease, the UN secretary-general has had the authority to look into an outbreak but has never invoked it. The U.S. proposal intends to give that process some more detail and make it something that actually works. So, general commitments and opportunities may exist, but the content of those obligations and detailed processes for executing them don’t appear to be there. As a consequence, the administration is drawn to these areas when making specific proposals to strengthen the convention.

Harris: On the issue of investigating outbreaks and alleged use, Mike says that the administration is going to add more detail to the procedures that have already been developed, which are very detailed and include lists of experts, laboratories, and so forth. But is the administration prepared to go the next logical step and make participation in these investigation procedures legally binding? Are they prepared to extend them to not just biological weapons use or disease outbreaks but to facilities suspected of harboring efforts to produce or develop biological weapons?

If the administration is prepared to make this voluntary arrangement for investigations legally binding and to extend it to investigating suspect facilities, then I think it will be doing something extremely valuable. But, thus far, we haven’t seen any indications that the administration is willing to do this.

Question: Is there any chance that other nations would come up with plans and just move ahead without the United States à la the global warming treaty?

Moodie: I think it’s an option. But I have the sense that many of the participants, even those who are most disappointed with the United States, are not overly interested in that option. Given the role of the United States in the fight against biological weapons proliferation and as the leader in biotechnology, moving this forward without the United States doesn’t make sense in this case.
Leonard: I would put it more strongly. The option was briefly considered in July after the United States came out against the protocol, and it was rejected, almost without discussion. Even in the heat of the moment, there was a feeling that moving forward in this area without the United States was simply out of the question.

Question: Let me just return to the question that was asked before. What is the motivating factor behind the Bush administration’s reticence to pursue more expansive, legally binding instruments? Do the United States’ biodefense programs have something to do with this?

Harris: I think the administration’s approach here is consistent with its approach toward multilateral agreements and actions more broadly. Richard Haass, the director of policy planning at the State Department, described it as “à la carte multilateralism.” When it suits our interests, we see value in multilateral action. Witness the multilateral coalition that has been put together to deal with the terrorism problem and to conduct the campaign in Afghanistan. But the administration would clearly prefer avoiding any sort of legally binding arrangements that limit its flexibility and freedom to pursue particular courses of action.

Moodie: I don’t accept an argument that says the United States rejected the protocol as part of the long litany of multilateral things it doesn’t like. I think, in this case, the administration took a very careful look at the protocol and said, “We don’t like this protocol because it doesn’t do the job.” Concern about U.S. biodefense activities was part of that decision. It also incorporated concerns about the security of commercial activities. But that was only part of the analysis. The administration did not think that the protocol would have focused attention on countries of concern, put pressure on those countries, or give priority to advancing the international community’s ability to deal with those countries.

To overstate the case, there was a view that looked at the protocol as creating an international organization that was going to spend the bulk of its time looking at declarations and making visits to facilities that were not relevant to the central problem of biological weapons proliferation. The organization would have spent a lot of time and resources on technological and cooperation assistance issues. It wouldn’t have focused on countries of concern and biological weapons proliferation, which would have been its central job. That is the conclusion, in terms of costs and benefits, that the administration associated with the protocol.

At the review conference, if other states-parties say we need a combination of legally binding declarations, on-site activities, and an international organization, they are going to get basically the same response from the administration as they did for the protocol. In its view, that sounds very much like the approach taken in the protocol. The motivation behind some of the U.S. measures is a sense that the old way of doing business is not sufficient: we’ve got to define the problem differently; we’ve got to define the context differently, and if we do that, we may be able to identify some very useful, but different, approaches to dealing with the problem.

Harris: I have certainly heard administration officials make the arguments Mike has made here today, particularly the point that the protocol would not have focused adequately on countries of concern. But it is difficult for me to see how the administration’s proposals, which are predominantly national measures, would address the problem of countries of concern. Are voluntary visits or exchanges going to get at the problem of countries of concern? So, I take the point that this reasoning is part of what was behind the administration’s rejection of the protocol, but the administration has not come up with a package that addresses the problem it raises.
ACA Press Conference

Subject Resources:

Bush’s Deferral of Missile Negotiations With North Korea: A Missed Opportunity


Friday, March 23, 2001
8:30 – 10:00 A.M.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Root Room

Following a meeting with visiting South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, President George W. Bush announced March 7 that his administration would not immediately pursue negotiations begun by the Clinton administration to constrain North Korea's ballistic missile development and exports. Bush's remarks differed dramatically from Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement a day earlier that the administration would pick up where the Clinton administration had left off. U.S. negotiators had reportedly been close to finalizing a deal under which North Korea would have stopped its missile development in exchange for satellite-launch services and would have halted missile exports in exchange for nonmonetary compensation. (See Bush Puts N. Korea Negotiations on Hold, Stresses Verification.)

On March 23, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the ramifications of the president's decision. The speakers were Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., president and executive director of the Arms Control Association; Morton H. Halperin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and director of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department from 1998 to 2001; and Robert Gallucci, the dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and the chief U.S. negotiator of the 1994 Agreed Framework, which ended North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The following is an edited transcript of their remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

Good morning and welcome to the Arms Control Association's press conference on President Bush's decision to defer negotiations to curb the North Korean ballistic missile program. We called this press conference because we thought the implications of this decision were so serious that they deserved further attention. I'm sure this issue will be with us for some time.

I believe that President Bush's handling of this affair in the recent meeting with President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea was one of the most serious diplomatic blunders of the post-Cold War era. When Bush announced that the United States had no plans to resume the far-advanced negotiations with North Korea to curb or eliminate the North Korean ballistic missile program, he failed to pursue a major opportunity to improve U.S. security. He compounded this diplomatic blunder by repudiating the position that his own secretary of state had set forth the day before: that the United States would pursue the negotiations initiated under the Clinton administration. Furthermore, he chose to make this announcement after a meeting with President Kim, who has made a major policy effort to achieve reconciliation and resolution to the very difficult North Korean situation. Bush clearly blindsided President Kim and put him in an extremely embarrassing position.

The United States, through long and very difficult negotiations, managed in 1994 to achieve an understanding with North Korea on the so-called Agreed Framework, which stopped an unambiguous and substantial North Korean effort to develop nuclear weapons. Without the Agreed Framework, today we would be facing a North Korea that had several tens of nuclear weapons in hand and was not so far away from having hundreds of nuclear weapons. That is assuming that military activity did not occur in the interim. Let me remind you that in 1993 and 1994 the situation appeared so serious that usually cautious observers Brent Scowcroft and Arnold Kanter went so far as to publicly propose that unless the North Korean nuclear program could be stopped, we should undertake pre-emptive action against North Korea and its nuclear facilities. I think it would have been quite remarkable if such action had not resulted in North Korean action against Seoul and, very likely, a war on the Korean Peninsula, which could have easily resulted in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.

With the apparent resolution of the nuclear situation, attention turned to the North Korean ballistic missile program, and we have struggled with this for the last six years. As you know, many observers, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, consider this program a near-term threat, not only to the security of the region, but also to the security of the United States itself. After a slow start and with the help of former Secretary of Defense William Perry, the negotiations finally got on track, and in the past year or so considerable progress was made, causing Ambassador Wendy Sherman to write recently that we were "tantalizingly close" to an agreement.

In rejecting Colin Powell's statement that this administration would pick up where the Clinton administration left off, Bush gave as his explanation that North Korea was untrustworthy and that efforts to curb the ballistic missile development program were unverifiable. I believe that, as difficult as North Korea has been, its record on implementing the Agreed Framework has been quite good—probably as good as that of the United States. I also believe that efforts to control the North Korean ballistic missile threat are certainly verifiable. Developments in North Korea's longer-range missile program, which is not far advanced, require testing, which can easily be verified by national technical means. The export of North Korean missiles on any scale that had significant consequences to U.S. security would certainly also be clearly apparent. To deal in depth with all aspects of the missile program is indeed more difficult, but understanding the final details of North Korea's program is not relevant to U.S. or even regional security.

If one thinks the North Korean ballistic missile program is a threat to the United States, one has not only an opportunity but really an obligation to pursue the negotiations which seemed to be on track toward eliminating this threat at the source. The alternative of rejecting this diplomatic track in favor of building a national missile defense—which would not be operational for more than a decade and which, in the form the Bush administration appears to be envisaging, would cost hundreds of billions of dollars—is a very poor trade-off. Doing so would essentially allow North Korea a decade of opportunity to pursue whatever ballistic missile program it may have in mind.

Failure to pursue these negotiations will certainly be widely perceived in this country and throughout the world as a cynical effort on the part of the United States to maintain North Korea as a clear and present danger to the United States and thus as a rationale for pursuing a national missile defense. This is hardly a posture the United States should seek as leader of the free world in efforts to control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

On a more optimistic note, I hope that Bush's performance reflected a lack of decision within the administration of what to do about North Korea and that this policy issue is a work in progress. And in the process of formulating a policy, hopefully Colin Powell and other people in the administration who understand the necessity of a diplomatic approach on this issue will eventually win the day.

Morton H. Halperin

Let me begin by describing briefly what has come to be called the "Perry process," which developed out of the recommendations in a report by former Secretary of Defense Perry; what the Clinton administration was trying to accomplish; how far it had gotten before the end of the administration; and then what the implications of that are.

The Perry process was begun out of a debate within the country about whether the Agreed Framework was working and also whether we needed more, since the Agreed Framework covered only a part of North Korea's nuclear program and did not at all limit its missile program. The debate was given impetus by the testing by the North Koreans of a longer-range missile, which roused concern not only in the United States but also in Japan that the North Koreans might be trying to develop longer-range missiles and to mate them to nuclear weapons.

The decision was made, without any dissent in the administration, to focus on the nuclear weapons and the missiles, notwithstanding the fact that the Korean Peninsula is the scene of the most intense conventional confrontation that remains in the world and that there is therefore a constant danger of war breaking out. It was decided that the question of changing the conventional balance would be dealt with afterward in the context of a comprehensive peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula. And so the administration approached the North Koreans with the proposal that we discuss further limits on their nuclear program and limits on their missile program, both their indigenous production and their exports.

The North Korean position initially was that they were prepared to talk about further limits on nuclear weapons, but only in the context of full observation of the Agreed Framework. Further, they were prepared to limit and indeed eliminate their missile exports. For them the issue was only money—if we wanted to buy them instead of having others buy them, that was fine. It was not a matter of principle, it was just a matter of how much the exports were worth. But on their indigenous missile capability, the North Koreans began with the proposition that their testing, development, and deployment violated no existing international treaties, that they were not under any obligation not to test or develop missiles, and that this was a matter of their national security and not something they were prepared to discuss.

The United States made it clear that for us any movement toward a change in the relationship between the United States and North Korea, a movement away from belligerency and confrontation, required that the North Koreans be willing in principle to give up further development, at least, of their missile program. And after several rounds of discussions at various technical and political levels, a meeting by the secretary of state with the North Korean foreign minister, a high-level visit of a North Korean official to the United States, and then, finally, a visit by the secretary of state to Pyongyang, the North Koreans clearly accepted that they would be willing to put limits on their ballistic missile program—both their indigenous program and their exports—and further limits on their nuclear program in exchange for what they called compensation and what we called further steps to deal with humanitarian problems in North Korea and to move away from belligerency.

Now, there have been various reports about just how far along we were, and I do not want to get into the precise details; but it was clear, I think, beyond any doubt, that the North Koreans were prepared to forgo additional tests of long-range missiles, and that they were prepared to agree not to develop or deploy longer-range missiles. There were questions of how much verification they would accept. There were also questions about whether they would put limits on the shorter-range missiles that they have had for many years and further questions about whether they would be willing even to eliminate those missiles. As you all know, President Clinton made a decision at the end of the administration not to go to North Korea to try to close this deal. It is these negotiations that remain and that the Bush administration, one hopes only temporarily, has decided to postpone.

Let me say a few words about which agreements I think are possible and which are in our interests. It seems clear to me that how much verification we need and how much assistance we should be prepared to provide to the North Koreans depends very much on how much of a limit they are prepared to accept on their program.

It is important to remember that we started negotiations with the urgent need to prevent the North Koreans from conducting further tests of a long-range missile. That need was based on the estimate of the intelligence community that the North Koreans were going to test and that the purpose of the tests was to develop long-range ballistic missiles, including ICBMs, that would be mated with nuclear weapons and that would be capable of reaching the United States. It was this estimate of the North Korean program that led the Clinton administration to move toward deployment of a national missile defense.

If the North Koreans are prepared to forgo further tests in return for the launching by the international community of some North Korean satellites, without any transfer of technology, then it seems to me clear beyond any doubt that this agreement is in our interest, whether we get any other agreements or not. It is certainly completely verifiable, and the cost of putting up their satellites is well worth having the North Koreans not further test ballistic missiles. If one moves beyond that to trying to get agreements on production and on various kinds of testing of the components of a longer-range missile, then clearly that would require some degree of verification. But the degree of verification required, at least for limits on testing, seems perfectly reachable even in a closed society like North Korea, and such an agreement therefore is also clearly in the interests of the United States.

Whatever one thinks about national missile defense, it seems clear that the North Koreans are much less likely to fire an ICBM at the United States if they do not have one and that it must be in our interest to try to reach an agreement which prevents them from building such an ICBM. The alternative of simply watching them build it, watching them mate it to a nuclear weapon, watching them fire it at the United States, and then trying to shoot it down cannot be the best way to protect the national security interests of the United States. So, even if one thinks that the capacity to shoot down missiles is something we need to develop, it cannot be that, if we are worried about the missile threat, we are not interested in negotiating an agreement that would prevent the North Koreans from developing an ICBM.

If you try to move further to a freeze on existing shorter-range missiles, or even dismantling those missiles, then that clearly requires a much greater degree of verification and clearly will require a greater degree of compensation. There is also the question of whether the North Koreans are actually willing to do that, whether they are willing to accept the degree of verification that would be required to do that, and whether in fact we would be willing and should be willing to pay the cost of dismantling a system that has been in place for many years and that is really part of the conventional military balance. But it cannot be the case that, because such an agreement is either not attainable or not attainable at a price we want to pay, that we should not seek agreements that would deal with longer-range missiles that threaten the United States and Japan.

In addition to the demands for intrusive verification, which I've already discussed, we are also hearing that we should not accept an agreement of any kind with the North Koreans unless the North Koreans also agree to changes in the conventional military balance. That is an irresponsible position because it says that we will not try to constrain nuclear weapons and missiles because we cannot at the same moment also get limits on conventional forces. It is important to remember that the decision not to put conventional forces on the table was one that was made by the U.S. government in approaching the North Koreans. To now turn around and say to the North Koreans, "We will not do this unless you agree to agreements on conventional forces," is irresponsible. We can reach agreements on conventional forces, but only in the context of a comprehensive political settlement on the Korean Peninsula, and a political settlement on the Korean Peninsula requires improved relations between the United States and North Korea. A missile agreement would make a major contribution toward that.

I think we also need to understand that, if this administration is serious about improving relations with our allies, then the path that it has embarked on is an extraordinarily dangerous one. For one, it risks undercutting the South Korean "sunshine policy" because I think it is very likely that the North Koreans will not go much further in terms of improving bilateral North-South relations unless they see it as also bringing improvements in U.S.-North Korean relations, which I think is their primary objective. Second, I think that our relations with Japan and the very important trilateral relationship that we built to deal with the North Koreans will be placed in jeopardy if we simply refuse to negotiate with the North Koreans because at some point one of the consequences of that is almost certainly going to be a further North Korean missile test.

The North Koreans agreed to a moratorium on testing while the negotiations were underway. If the position of the administration turns out to be that we cannot negotiate with the North Koreans because in the future they might violate agreements that have not yet been negotiated or signed, then we have to expect that at some point the North Koreans will say that their unilateral commitment to a moratorium while negotiations are going on is no longer valid. And if there are tests, this will have important implications in Japan, especially if it appears that the testing occurred because of U.S. unwillingness to negotiate.

So, in terms of our own security interests in preventing North Korean weapons from attacking Americans and in terms of our relations with Japan and South Korea, I think it is important that the administration complete whatever review it is undertaking, go back to the negotiating table, and be prepared to seek to negotiate various levels of limits based upon the degree of intrusive inspection that we can get for those agreements.

Robert Gallucci

I want to start by asking why we're all here this morning. This is easy to answer: I'm here because Spurgeon asked me to be here, and whenever Spurgeon Keeny has asked me to do something in the last 20 or 30 years, I've tried to do it. It's usually right, and I think it is in this case.

Beyond that, we're here because the stakes in this particular issue area are very high. While there are other challenging foreign policy issues that the new administration needs to get a grip on where the stakes are high as well, there's something different about North Korean policy, and that is that there seems to be a fairly clear policy course that one could set that would be successful. I don't think that is necessarily true with the other foreign policy challenges, such as Iraq.

At the beginning of the Clinton administration in 1993, we were already in crisis with North Korea, which had taken steps with respect to the International Atomic Energy Agency and announced it was going to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]. We concluded that North Korea had a small research reactor that was operational, a somewhat larger 50-megawatt reactor being built, and a much larger 200-megawatt reactor under construction, together with a chemical separation plant. We calculated these would be finished in three to five years and would produce about 150 kilograms of plutonium each year.

Depending on a lot of things, 150 kilograms of plutonium a year is about 30 nuclear weapons each year. That is a large nuclear weapons program, and there were no ambiguities—or not many—about North Korea's capability to complete the program. After all, the small research reactor had been completed and was operating, and it had already produced enough plutonium—about 30 kilograms contained in spent fuel—for maybe five nuclear weapons. So North Korea had a real nuclear weapons program that needed to be stopped.

In addition, we were concerned about the impact that North Korean withdrawal from the NPT would have on the international non-proliferation regime. At the same time, we were watching a ballistic missile program that we had every reason to believe would be mated with the nuclear weapons program, making the United States as well as our allies vulnerable to attack by ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. Needless to say, the South Koreans and the Japanese were very concerned about what the United States would do to deal with this problem.

Finally, underlying all of this, was the conventional military situation: North Korea had more than one million men forward-deployed and hundreds of artillery tubes within range of Seoul; we had 37,000 American men and women forward-deployed in South Korea, and we had a treaty commitment to defend the South. So if we managed the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program poorly, we had the prospect of a major conventional war on the Korean Peninsula, which, in the words of Gary Luck, who was the force commander, would not look like the Gulf War. He said, "I'll be able to win that one for you, but not right away."

So the stakes were very high then and they're very high now. That means one has to be very careful in how one manages this particular security problem.

How do you stop a country, which you've already identified as a rogue, that has a nuclear weapons program and a ballistic missile program? Well, the last administration decided the best way to do that was to engage it in negotiations, which led to the Agreed Framework. For that, it was accused by some of allowing the United States to be blackmailed, of giving good things to bad people, of rewarding bad behavior, of sustaining a totalitarian regime, and of other catchy phrases. But the Agreed Framework was sustained year after year by appropriations from a Republican Congress. Why, if it was such a reprehensible agreement? It was sustained because it gave the United States and its allies real benefits, and it was certainly better than any other agreement that could have been negotiated or any other solution to the problem of North Korean ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Could we have stopped the North Korean program with sanctions? Nobody inside or outside of the administration thought we could then or thinks we can now. Could we have stopped it with military force? Yes, we thought, but we didn't think we could do it without conducting a war on the Korean Peninsula. Could we adopt a strong defense and deterrent posture instead of negotiations, demonstrating that we will not negotiate with rogues? Yes, that would mean containing North Korea, and that's a good, solid position. But the vulnerability of that position is that it means accepting North Korea as a nuclear-weapon state armed with ballistic missiles. Containment does not stop the programs. The alternative was negotiations.

I go through that with you because I think we confront something similar, though not identical, with the ballistic missile problem. The second Clinton administration launched a policy review led by former Secretary of Defense Perry, and one way of characterizing what that review concluded is that the best course was indeed to engage the North in negotiations to see whether the North could be persuaded to give up its ballistic missile program, whether the cost of persuading the North to do that was acceptable to us, and whether we could do that and have high confidence that we had achieved the objective.

I rather liked Secretary Powell's statement that they would follow up where the Clinton administration left off, and I was disappointed, frankly, to see the president pull back the next day and express skepticism about negotiating with North Korea. This will make life a bit harder for the Kim Dae Jung government in South Korea, harder for him to pursue the sunshine policy, and I think that's regrettable.

My own view is that Kim Dae Jung's visit was, in retrospect, perhaps a little premature, certainly from Kim's perspective. It is not, however, terribly surprising that the new administration wants to review policy. I'm not here to criticize the new administration's policy because I don't know what it is yet, and they ought to be given a chance to develop it, in my view. I've expressed some concern about how it develops, but I'll wait and see more myself. At this point, I think a policy review is certainly in order; it's a new administration. I hope they will get on with it.

But I also hope that, in the course of getting on with reviewing our policy to North Korea, the administration remembers that they are now in office and they do not need to run against the last administration any longer. They do not need to criticize Clinton administration policy. They need to set their own policy. And, I'm fairly confident that if they do a policy review, much as Secretary Perry did for the Clinton administration, they will find the prudent course is indeed one which explores negotiations. We shouldn't fail to pursue them because North Korea is a rogue state by some definition.

Finally, on the question of national missile defense, North Korean ballistic missiles, and how these things fit together, it has never seemed to me that any administration does anything with absolute unity of thought among all its members, and I do not know what's in the minds of the senior people in this administration. If anybody's thinking it is a good idea to preserve the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles, I would think that is an idea that was not consistent with American national security interests and I would hope that they would put it aside.

Question and Answer

Question: There has been some discussion of revising the Agreed Framework in order to replace the light-water reactors with a coal-fired plant. Is that a good idea?

Gallucci: The question of reopening the Agreed Framework in order to see whether the North Koreans could be persuaded to accept conventionally fueled plants rather than nuclear-powered plants has been discussed for some years. My own view is that it would be a good idea to continue to explore with the North Koreans—after consulting closely with the South Koreans and the Japanese—any interest they might have in substituting fossil-fueled plants for the two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors that are envisioned in the Agreed Framework.

The benefits could be substantial to all. I say could be—it depends on a lot of things. Units of smaller size would make more sense given the rudimentary character of the electrical grid in the North. Fossil-fueled plants could also be introduced sooner than the first light-water reactors could possibly come online, and this would be of benefit to the North. From our perspective, those who are involved in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization [KEDO] would not have to worry about the plutonium that would be produced in those light-water reactors if they were replaced with conventionally powered plants, and that would be a plus.

Let me digress for a moment here before any of you have palpitations of the heart. The plutonium produced in a light-water reactor can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons—we certainly knew that when we made the deal. We made the deal because in real life things are measured as in terms of "as compared to what," and a light-water reactor is preferable to a gas graphite reactor system, which we were trying to convince the North Koreans to abandon and we did. But still, from the perspective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, in a country like North Korea, I prefer a conventionally powered plant to a nuclear plant.

So, I'm sympathetic to and supportive of exploring the idea with these two huge provisos: one, that first we consult with our allies and make sure the South Koreans and the Japanese are supportive of this idea; and, two, that we do it with the approach that it is a substitute and ask the North Koreans, in essence, whether this is of interest to them and then we explore the terms. So, I'm arguing that it may be a good idea to reopen and look at some of the terms of the Agreed Framework, not—I repeat not—to abandon the Agreed Framework.

Question: Dean Gallucci, as you were the chief negotiator for the Agreed Framework, I find what you're recommending at this time, revising the Agreed Framework, very provocative. What has made you change your mind? What makes you think that the agreement should be reopened now?

Gallucci: Don't find this provocative. I'm not trying to make news. Remember that the negotiations were not a one-day affair. They were quite protracted, beginning roughly in June 1993 and ending in October 1994. During the negotiations, it was not possible to persuade the North Koreans to accept conventionally powered plants as a method of achieving their energy objectives and as the benefit that was in the Agreed Framework. They would not then have agreed to that. They said if they were going to give up their gas-graphite technology—which consisted of three reactors at that point (two under construction and one completed) and a chemical separation plant—they wanted the very best nuclear technology. And the very best nuclear technology, they thought, was modern, light-water reactors.

So you can analyze what was going on in the North Korean calculations in terms of their bureaucracy and their energy needs and come to your own conclusions, but we were not able to persuade them away from that position. And it was not a close call for me to decide which was the better outcome. The choices were a North Korea with two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors, which they can't fuel without external assistance and where there is no need to reprocess and separate plutonium, or a gas-graphite system that produces weapons-grade plutonium that will, out of necessity, be separated at a plant. There's no contest. So light-water reactors were a good idea. If at any point we could have persuaded them otherwise, I think it would have been a good idea. We were not able to then.

Since that time, any number of people have had a light bulb go on over their head and said, "Gee, 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors. Boy, that doesn't fit very well with the North Korean grid." Yes, we know that. "But they can't be run safely." Yes, and something will have to be done before those reactors come online safely. We understand all that. We are trying to deal with a problem which threatens the security of South Korea, Japan, the United States, and the international community, and we will have to work toward dealing with that problem. We would prefer to have conventionally powered plants. If at some point the North Koreans decide they would agree to that and our allies are comfortable with the transition—because up to now they have been planning to fulfill the provisions of the Agreed Framework through KEDO—then it's a good idea. It always was a good idea.

Question: What is your expectation that the North Koreans would agree to do this? And what about the Japanese and the South Koreans?

Gallucci: Well, I don't know. I have not talked to the North Koreans about this since 1994, and that's getting to be a long time ago. I don't know where the North Koreans are on this, and I don't even know where my colleagues who were in the last administration were on this idea. It is to me an important but second-order issue.

Keeny: I'd like to add a point from someone who wasn't involved in these negotiations. At this point, given the Bush administration's apparent approach to the North Korean situation, it would be disastrous to come in and suggest that we want to revise the Agreed Framework. If it is even brought up on the margins of discussion as something advantageous to North Korea, it will have to be done in the most cautious and sensitive way because they will look on it as the beginning of the end of the Agreed Framework and start paying more attention to how they resume their nuclear weapons program along with their ballistic missile program. So, to say something is somewhat better is a far cry from saying that this is something one should actively pursue at this time.

Gallucci: Spurgeon, I would of course assume that, if the administration explored this, that they would do it cautiously and sensitively.

Keeny: Well, of course, we see the evidence is that the administration is very adept at cautious and sensitive approaches.

Question: What does the North Korean case suggest about the administration's general approach to non-proliferation?

Halperin: I think it's too soon to tell, and I don't think that one should jump to conclusions. I think as the administration works its way through these issues it will inevitably come to see that negotiations and efforts to prevent proliferation have to be made key components of any serious policy to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Gallucci: I think it's too early to tell.

Keeny: It's too early to tell, but the indicators are not encouraging.

Question: President Bush sounded very skeptical regarding North Korean compliance with the Agreed Framework. What is your assessment of North Korea's compliance?

Halperin: Well, if you read the rather tortured background press briefing that followed Bush's statement, it turns out that it depends on what the meaning of "is" is. "Is" turns out to mean "will." What the administration seems to be saying is that there is no doubt that the Agreed Framework is still being observed, but that the president is skeptical whether, if there were a future agreement, the North Koreans would observe it and whether we would be able to verify it completely, given the closed nature of their society.

And I think that, as I tried to say in my opening remarks, depends on what the agreement is. If the agreement is that the North Koreans will not test-fire a long-range missile, then we will be able to verify that. Korea is a very small country; one cannot test-fire a long-range missile within North Korea. If their agreement is not to export, I believe we will have a high degree of ability to verify that. As you get into agreements to dismantle missiles or not to produce missile components, then obviously the verification becomes more difficult.

But the question one always has to ask is, "Is getting an agreement with some confidence of verification worth it?" And that depends on what you pay to get that agreement. The president's remarks sound like the debate we had about the Soviet Union in the early 1960s when people said, "It's a closed, totalitarian society. We can't verify agreements." And we discovered, in fact, that we could negotiate agreements which were verifiable, which were verified, and which were observed. And I think everyone now agrees that the Agreed Framework with the North Koreans is observed.

Gallucci: I think you have to be fairly careful on this issue of verification and trust. When we negotiated the Agreed Framework, we were confident that we could tell whether or not the North Koreans were doing what they said they were going to do at the facilities we were concerned about. We identified particularly a small five-megawatt research reactor, a chemical separation plant that was being expanded into a larger reprocessing facility, a 50-megawatt reactor under construction, and a 200-megawatt reactor under construction somewhere else. That wasn't everything, but it was clear it was virtually everything. And we had high confidence we could tell when those facilities were being mothballed, frozen in place, and when the fuel was going to be recanned, if it was already separated in the pond, because we were going to do the recanning.

Now, critics said, "But wait a minute. They could have a secret program. You've just done a deal with North Korea, and they could be cheating. Don't you know that North Koreans cheat? Don't you know that they could hide things? Don't you know that North Koreans dig tunnels and they can put these secret facilities in the tunnels? So what are you doing an agreement with North Korea for?" Excuse me, but remember the proposition "as compared to what?" Are you better off stopping with high confidence a known nuclear weapons program that has already produced 30 kilograms of plutonium and promises to be producing 150 kilograms a year, or not?

If you decide you are better without an agreement because they might also have a secret program, what are you accomplishing? Indeed, with an agreement, you are better off not only in stopping the known program, but when you develop a suspicion that there is a secret program, as we did in 1998, you can act on it. Had we had no Agreed Framework with the North Koreans, do you really think the North Koreans would have said "Come on in" when we said we want to go look inside that cavern? I don't think so. The only reason we got access to what we thought might be a secret nuclear weapons program was the Agreed Framework and the benefits it contains that the North Koreans wished to protect.

So, be careful here. Make sure that you are considering the real world in which you have to compare real possibilities and outcomes. The Agreed Framework does not automatically give us access to North Korea to check on secret nuclear weapons programs. We have to do that ourselves. Fine. If there was no Agreed Framework, we'd still have to use all our assets to monitor North Korea and see whether they are doing things which we believe are threatening to ourselves or our allies. We'd have to do that anyway. The Agreed Framework gives us better access to deal with the problem if we discover it.

Keeny: I'd like to add just two points. First, when the U.S. government became concerned about what was going on in those underground cavities, the North Koreans agreed to let us take a look. They didn't have to do that. So they've gone further than they had to in facilitating the verification process to the extent we have evidence to go on. And, second, I want to underscore again that, in a case of a ballistic missile agreement, it would be easy to verify the development through testing, which would be absolutely necessary for more advanced ballistic missiles, and also the problem of exporting complete systems. That would be the most important part of an agreement because that is what really threatens the region and what might threaten the United States. Those are verifiable with a great degree of confidence. The other things that may be desirable, which require more complicated verification, are not central to what we're trying to accomplish in curbing North Korea's ballistic missile program.

Question: I have trouble believing that the administration is using North Korea as a tool to support their missile defense program because, if you ask them about it, they see threats everyplace—next door, across the street—they don't need North Korea to spend billions of dollars on a missile defense. So, what's behind this? Why is this administration turning its back on these negotiations? Is it not isolationism, pure and simple?

Keeny: As I said at the beginning, I am afraid the administration may not want negotiations, both because the threat provides a rationale for going ahead with a national missile defense and because they simply don't like agreements and negotiations. But we've seen lots of changes in administrations in the past. I point in particular to President Nixon's positive approach to arms control, which came as a pleasant surprise to many of us as time went on. I think in this business one cannot abandon hope. And the effort to cut off a major threat to the United States—a threat recognized by the administration—through negotiations seems such an overwhelmingly rational and desirable activity that one can only hope that, when it examines the alternatives, the administration may moderate its position.

Halperin: I don't think it is isolationism. I think it is a deep skepticism about negotiating with closed regimes. This is not something that's peculiar to this administration. There were many people in the Clinton administration who were skeptical about whether engaging North Korea made sense or not.

But I think that the facts of this situation lead one to a more sober conclusion. The strongest supporters of doing something by agreement is the American military because, as they say, we could defeat the North Koreans in a war, but that defeat will not come anything like in the Gulf War—the casualties will be very substantial and the cost in many ways will be very great. So simply saying we can deal with this militarily is not really an option. And as Bob pointed out, containment is not really an option, because containment means sitting there and watching the North Koreans develop nuclear weapons and missiles. Even if one thinks ballistic missile defense could shoot down a lot of them, that is a very dangerous way to live.

So you end up, I think, having to overcome your own skepticism, your own visceral dislike of dealing with totalitarian regimes and people who you think you can't trust, and say, "Let's see if we can't negotiate something that advances our interests." One can only hope that, as the president's advisers work him through this issue, he will come to the conclusion that, even if you don't like the North Koreans, even if you don't think that you can trust the North Koreans, you can work out agreements that are verifiable and that are clearly in our interests.

Gallucci: There is a good quote—I think from Abba Eban—that you can't make peace by negotiating only with your friends. And there's a lot to that. This is hard work. I really want to wait and see what happens. This administration has very experienced professionals in national security issues, and I don't know that they all think exactly alike. So I think it is prudent for anybody who is looking to support good policy to wait and see if good policy evolves.

Question: What is the risk of sending a message to North Korea that negotiations are going to be put off?

Halperin: Well, I think the risk here is very simple. The North Koreans have demonstrated to us over the years that they think the way to get our attention is to do something provocative, like starting to produce plutonium or testing a long-range missile. And when they get our attention, they then try to negotiate an agreement. But when they think they have lost our interest, they do something provocative again, and the North Koreans have told us exactly what the provocative thing is: it's another ballistic missile test. They have said that they stopped testing at our request while the negotiations were going on, and that there has to be a limit on how long this moratorium remains in effect.

What I fear is that at some point the North Koreans will decide the only way to get the attention of this administration is to do another missile test. That will get the attention of the administration, but in exactly the wrong way. It will persuade people in the administration that the North Koreans cannot be trusted when, in fact, it demonstrates the reverse, that they can be trusted to do what they say they will do. The administration will then say, "See, we told you these guys can't be trusted." That will lead them to a further unwillingness to talk, so the North Koreans will think, "Ah, we will have do something more to get their attention." They will fire another missile, and we will then be in a spiral of sending bad signals which ultimately could then call into question the Agreed Framework and lead us to a much more dangerous situation.

So, I think it is incumbent on the administration to say very clearly and reasonably soon where it wants to go, how it wants to proceed with this issue, and to accept that, if it's not willing to talk, it's going to get missile tests.

Gallucci: I think there are two themes here. One is how the North behaves, and in my experience it behaves the way Mort described. It behaves that way tactically in the context of negotiations, and it behaves that way strategically in terms of the way it relates to South Korea and the United States. And we have seen the North Koreans already begin to exercise that one bit of leverage they have. I mean, they have no real assets other than the ability to cause trouble and pain and raise concerns, and what they are doing is suggesting that is what they'll do. We want to avoid precisely the spiral that Mort describes.

The second theme is that I would not like to see us snatch defeat from the jaws of victory here. It doesn't seem to me that we have to go down that road. The road we previously defined is not a nice smooth road—it will be frustrating and bumpy—but we'll keep the North Korean situation from being a problem of foreign policy and prevent it from becoming a crisis for us. It seems to me that there's a course that will do that. And there's another course that may have some rhetorical appeal but that is less prudent.

Question: Congress is a player that is often influential early in an administration. Just before the Kim Dae Jung visit, there were a couple of letters from members of Congress to the administration—one from the senior Democrats expressing interest in continuing the dialogue on the missile freeze and one from Henry Hyde and a couple of others expressing some concern about the Agreed Framework. Dr. Halperin, in your experiences working at the State Department during the last three or four years, how would you characterize the concerns that you were hearing from members of Congress about this? Are there partisan views on the approach to North Korea, or is there some sort of bipartisan agreement about at least some aspects of this U.S.-North Korean dialogue and relationship?

Halperin: Well, I think by the end there was bipartisan agreement on the Agreed Framework. There are always some members of Congress who think we're paying too much for it, but I think in the end most Republicans on the Hill and most Republicans from outside, many of whom are now in the administration, ended up agreeing that the Agreed Framework is a good agreement, that the North Koreans were observing it, and that it is clearly in our interests to continue with it.

I do not think that the administration's action here was based on congressional pressure or public pressure. I think there was in fact much less criticism of the Clinton administration's move toward North Korea than many people in the administration feared. People kept waiting for the attack on it, but it never came. And so I think this administration has a lot more running room to do it. I think the decision to put off negotiations is a result of the administration's own internal views and the worldview of the president and his advisers more than it is a calculation about domestic politics or congressional roles.

Question: North Korea has said on a number of occasions that the United States has not kept up its end of the Agreed Framework, particularly on the economic exchanges, and that contention has been repeated by observers here. What is your opinion?

Halperin: Well, we promised the North Koreans that we would eliminate the sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act, I think, three times. And then we finally did do it. We have certainly been behind schedule in providing the heavy fuel that we promised them, and we are behind schedule in building the reactors. Now I think that a lot of that is inadvertent: it's the result of bureaucratic delays and various kinds of problems. I don't think that there's been any intentional or systematic violation of the agreement on the American side, but certainly if you look at the record with punctilious observation, you have to conclude that we reacted more slowly than in fact we were committed to do. But I think the North Koreans, on balance, accept the fact that both sides are proceeding in a way that is consistent with the basic agreement.

Gallucci: The fundamental obligation of the North Koreans was first cooperating in the canning of spent fuel that was in the pond and had plutonium in it, and then the freezing of all activity at the other nuclear facilities. They did that. The other thing that they were supposed to do was a lot less clear in the language of the Agreed Framework, which is tortured on this point, but generally we intended the language to put a burden on the North to engage the South directly in discussions that would reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. This they were slow to do. Of course, in recent times it has not been an issue because there has been very remarkable dialogue between the North and the South.

For our part, the North has complained that we did not remove the limits on economic contacts between the United States and North Korea and that we have not generally been as forthcoming as the Agreed Framework, they believe, would have us be. I was not for a long time sympathetic to that and I am not now because we had our own complaint about North Korea's failure with respect to their obligations to engage the South.

As to the two substantive commitments we have, one is the delivery of the heavy-fuel oil, and the scheduling of the heavy-fuel oil is not what we had told the North Koreans we would try to do in terms of the amount of tons of heavy-fuel oil per unit of time. But it has gotten delivered. The second is with respect to the reactors. I've always been a little unhappy with the suggestion that we are behind schedule. When the North wanted a schedule, I resisted because I knew, based upon what I had been told, that it was going to be very hard to clearly predict how long it was going to take to build two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors in North Korea. We have a pretty good idea how long it would take in South Korea (and we can still get that wrong) because we've built—with the help of various others—reactors in the South, but no one has built a large reactor in the North. So even apart from the political issues surrounding this, the technical issues can be quite significant. However, we did provide the North a notion of how long it would take, and we're not moving as quickly as we would like with the construction of the reactors.

But I would not want to characterize any of this as failure to take the steps envisioned in the Agreed Framework. These things are complicated—sometimes the language is soft, sometimes the technical obstacles are significant, sometimes the politics causes delays in implementation—but generally we have been proceeding according to the steps envisioned in the Agreed Framework pretty well.

ACA Press Conference

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Secretary Albright's Visit to North Korea



ACA Press Conference

Background Information:

One week after Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, the second most senior official in North Korea, concluded an unprecedented visit to Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to Pyongyang as the highest-level U.S. official ever to visit North Korea. On October 20, two days before Albright departed, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the purpose of the secretary's trip, the potential for progress on nuclear and missile issues, and the possibility of a future visit by President Bill Clinton. (For news coverage of Jo's visit and Albright's subsequent trip, see news story)

Conference panelists were Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., president and executive director of the Arms Control Association; Alan Romberg, a former State Department official, now a senior fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center; David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security and editor of Solving the North Korean Nuclear Puzzle; Joel Wit, former State Department coordinator for the 1994 Agreed Framework, now a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution; and Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The following is an edited version of their remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

Welcome to today's press briefing, sponsored by the Arms Control Association, on Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang. This meeting, which has largely been ignored by U.S. media, operating under the shadow of the presidential campaign, signals a potential major breakthrough in U.S.-North Korean stormy relations.

Ten days ago, Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, second in command to Chairman Kim, had a meeting with President Clinton that ended in a communiqué, which struck a very optimistic note and emphasized efforts to assure a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and to solve the ballistic missile problem. The communiqué concluded with a statement that the secretary of state would be visiting North Korea shortly to meet with Chairman Kim to directly relay the president's views on how to proceed with the North Korean issue. It went on to say that she would also make preparations for a possible presidential visit to North Korea in the near future.

This was indeed a major and largely unexpected development. When they said the secretary would visit "in the near future," I did not anticipate it would be within 10 days, and I think that even though the president's visit was described as a "possible visit," the tone suggests that the visit will probably take place, which is indeed remarkable. When you consider that the two countries have been facing each other for the last 47 years across the DMZ [Demilitarized Zone] as serious adversaries since the end of the Korean War, without a peace agreement, the decision of the president to make a visit is indeed a major development.

The last 10 years of the relationship have been quite stormy, with the focus of attention at the end of the Cold War on the problem of North Korea's apparent intention to develop a relatively substantial nuclear weapons capability. While I think, all things considered, that substantial progress has been made in containing this threat, the problem is far from resolved. In more recent years, the major issue has been the North Korean ballistic missile program—both its development and its export of ballistic missiles and technology to other countries that have all been classified as "rogues," and now "of concern."

Last year, in his review of U.S.-North Korean policy, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry came up with a proposed plan of action for future relations. In it, he emphasized the centrality of resolving the problem of North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, which he believed had to be essentially eliminated. I think the Perry plan of action has played a central role in the discussions that are ongoing with North Korea and will be pursued at the highest level in the immediate future.

The success of this current effort, which of course cannot be guaranteed, will prove to be extremely important. It not only would be a major step toward achieving stability and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia in general, it would also be a tremendous accomplishment in strengthening the nuclear and ballistic missile non-proliferation regimes. And finally, it would be a major contribution in eliminating the rationale for a U.S. national missile defense. In the version that the Clinton administration is pursuing, national missile defense would be a $60 billion investment, and the version that appears to be advocated by George W. Bush would cost a couple hundred billion dollars. But I think the even greater cost would be the negative impact this would have on our relations with Russia, China, and other countries. So resolution of these problems with North Korea could largely eliminate the need or rationale for a national missile defense.

Finally, I would add that when the Arms Control Association asked presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush a dozen questions on arms control this summer, they differed on many things, but while expressing appropriate caution, both indicated support and encouragement for improvement in U.S.-North Korean relations. Those of you who are interested in what they said about this question and the other 11 questions can pick up copies of the September issue of Arms Control Today, which features the candidates' responses.

Alan Romberg

I want to talk a little bit about the context of Secretary Albright's visit—about why it is happening, why it is happening now, and what we can expect to get out of it.

Taken simplistically perhaps, one might say that the North Koreans are doing this because they took a lesson from the Clinton campaign book of 1992—that is, it's the economy, stupid.

Obviously, the North Koreans have received a lot of emergency food aid and other assistance, and their domestic economic situation is reportedly somewhat better than it was. But it's painfully obvious that they need deeper economic relations and trade and investment if they're going to move ahead. I think it would be a mistake to assume that North Korea's recent diplomatic initiatives, which are quite striking, somehow reflect a decision to reform the domestic economic system, much less the political system. Nonetheless, if North Korea really is to gain the benefits of involvement with the outside world—that is, trade and investment—it will have to create a more conducive regulatory and legal environment and make it attractive for foreign firms to come and participate in the North.

Now, some would dismiss the recent diplomatic moves as therefore meaningless, maintaining that if you're not going to change the society, you're not really doing anything that's worthwhile. I join Spurgeon in saying I don't agree with that. Not everything has been nailed down yet—indeed, I think the purpose of the secretary's trip is to do that as much as possible—but I don't think the North can have any illusions about its need to alter its positions on some key defense and foreign policy issues if it is going to maintain a high level of engagement with the United States or others. I note that when the Germans recently indicated that they are considering establishing relations with Pyongyang, they identified North Korea's defense posture as one of the benchmarks that they would be looking at when deciding whether, in fact, to normalize relations.

While the United States would obviously welcome a transformation of North Korean society to an open, humane, democratic, free-market society, deciding to act only if that were possible would be both unrealistic and, in a very real sense, self-defeating. We would forego opportunities to achieve things that are important, particularly from a national security point of view. What we care about right now is the North's external behavior, the threat that it presents to peace and stability.

It is not realistic to expect a rapid pullback of North Korean forces from their forward-deployed positions near the DMZ, nor is it realistic to expect rapid changes in deployments of U.S. and R.O.K. forces. But there may be some realistic steps that could address our concerns—and those of South Korea and Japan—on other programs, such as North Korea's longer-range missile program. We'll have to see, but it seems to me that if the North can feel satisfied that it has received some assurances, as Vice Marshal Jo put it during his visit, regarding the D.P.R.K.'s security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, then there may be a willingness within North Korea to accept and move ahead on some of the changes that we're looking for.

A key factor in all of this has been the policy of South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and the success he has achieved to date, most spectacularly, of course, the North-South summit in June in Pyongyang. President Kim has given active encouragement to the United States and others to move ahead with the North because he understands and accepts that such progress is in the South's fundamental interests. Frankly, if it were not for that policy and, I would argue, for the achievements of that policy so far, we would not be in a position to take the kind of initiatives we're talking about today.

As those of you who follow Korean events well know, there's a certain amount of nervousness in South Korea about whether the North will once again seek to bypass the South in dealing with the United States. I understand that concern, and based on history, one can't simply dismiss it. We're going to need to make clear to the North that that isn't going to work. We took some tentative steps in our relations with North Korea as long ago as 1988, but they didn't go very far, in part because the North limited its engagement with the South.

Even though we did take the lead for a time, particularly on the nuclear issue in the early 1990s, progress on the larger agenda that was identified in the Agreed Framework of October 1994 has been slow, in part because of the lack of balance regarding progress on the North-South front. Among other things, support in this country for movement with North Korea is related to how South Korea views it. If South Korea is reluctant and unhappy and feels that it is threatened, the support in this country wanes. If South Korea, as it is currently doing, encourages us in that respect, it certainly contributes to support here. Without encouragement, it would be extremely difficult for us to maintain progress on the larger agenda with Pyongyang.

A related lesson of the last year is the critical nature of the close cooperation and consultation we've had trilaterally among the United States, the R.O.K., and Japan. I think this model has shown its value as an essential element under the so-called Perry process. I'm quite confident it will continue, and without it, in fact, I would argue we would lack the necessary cohesion to move ahead. Keep in mind also—if I'm right that economics are an important part of the motivation for North Korea's new posture—that Pyongyang needs to remain engaged with the South and perhaps with Japan as well because, as Willie Sutton would say, that's where the money is.

Now, is all of this reversible? In one sense, sure it's reversible. Kim Jong-Il could wake up tomorrow morning and issue an order to stop or reverse the process. But in a very real sense, I would argue, Kim Jong-Il personally and his regime generally are increasingly invested in this new involvement in the world. Having welcomed Kim Dae Jung in a very public manner to Pyongyang and now having Secretary Albright, probably President Clinton, and doubtless other leaders as well come to North Korea, it becomes increasingly costly for him to say, "Well, this was all a mistake, and we're going to go back to the old ways."

That doesn't mean that this is a "gimme," that it's just an easy thing that we can assume will happen. There are doubtless those in the North Korean system who are very skeptical of all of this. But I would argue the dynamics are working in favor of a continuation. Again, it isn't going to lead, in the short term at least, to a change in the system—in fact, one might argue that the whole idea of this is to preserve the system—and what happens over the longer term is a matter of speculation and highly debated.

Finally, I'd like to make a couple of points about the "why now." As you're all aware, the United States had been looking to a high-level visit from North Korea for some time. It had been on hold because the North had not chosen to follow through, but now it has in a very dramatic way, by sending a man of the rank of Vice Marshal Jo—the second- or third-, depending on your estimate, most powerful leader in North Korea. Some people have suggested that the United States should play a little harder to get, that we shouldn't just run back with a return visit by the secretary and by the president. They argue that we should demand more on domestic development and change in North Korea as a price for such visits, or that we should make sure before the secretary even goes that there are agreements to do this, that, or the other thing.

Frankly, I think that letting the momentum die, as that would do, would be a mistake, and I don't see a lot of risk to what we're about to undertake. Making it not a risk, however, involves an essential point, which is that it should be clear to everybody that the U.S. commitment to the R.O.K., as well as to Japan, is firm and unchanging. But within that context, and given the strong backing of President Kim Dae Jung, I think these next steps are logical and sensible.

David Albright

Trying to ensure that North Korea is free of nuclear weapons has been a long and difficult road, and the end of the road, I must say, is not yet in sight. Uncertainty about what North Korea has achieved with regard to nuclear weapons and their delivery systems has plagued this journey. One sobering lesson is that peace on the Korean Peninsula can't be achieved without verified assurance that North Korea is free of nuclear weapons.

I would like to quickly review some of the history of the nuclear issues. In the late 1980s, North Korea had already signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], and people were somewhat confident that North Korea was not pursuing nuclear weapons. However, in 1987, evidence emerged that North Korea was pursuing nuclear weapons when satellite surveillance of North Korea's nuclear site at Yongbyon indicated that the North Koreans were building a facility to separate plutonium. However, as is the case with many satellite images, there was a great deal of controversy about what was actually going on, and there was no consensus about what North Korea had planned. There was therefore a great deal of relief when the North Koreans agreed to let the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] come in and inspect their facilities in 1992. The NPT requires states-parties to submit to IAEA inspections, but North Korea had stalled for years on allowing this to happen.

However, the first visit by Hans Blix, then the director-general of the IAEA, in May 1992 was quite reassuring. North Korea was open. The inspectors asked to go to places that they had not been invited to, and North Korea let them in. The North Koreans admitted that they had built a large reprocessing facility, and they also admitted that they had separated some plutonium. And they allowed their nuclear facilities to be placed under inspections.

But as the inspection effort proceeded through the summer and fall and as the IAEA deployed more sophisticated inspection methods than it had ever deployed in such a state, discrepancies began to appear about what North Korea had said. Unfortunately, the evidence was not sufficient to resolve the questions the IAEA had—namely how much plutonium North Korea had actually produced and separated—but the IAEA did conclude that North Korea had certainly produced more than it had declared. To this day, we do not know how much more. The CIA, for example, has consistently argued that North Korea has enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons. Many others have argued that it is not enough for a single nuclear weapon, but the bottom line remains that there's not enough evidence to decide definitely either way.

This confrontation between the IAEA and North Korea reached a climax in February 1993 when the agency called for special inspections to help clear up the inconsistencies in North Korea's statements and official declarations. But North Korea adamantly refused to allow these inspections to take place. From that point on, the situation only hardened. The crisis escalated dramatically in the spring of 1994 when North Korea started to unload its small gas-graphite reactor. The spent fuel that the North Koreans were unloading contained enough plutonium for five or six nuclear weapons, and they refused to allow the IAEA to inspect that unloading. During this period, many people felt that we were stampeding to war—that negotiations were not working (in fact they had ended after North Korea moved to unload the reactor) and that there was no way to resolve this crisis.

I think it was the growing realization of the cost of a war that led people to re-evaluate. There had to be a shift in mindset from a focus on the past production of plutonium and its potential use in nuclear weapons to how many nuclear weapons North Korea could make in the future. And so what developed was a view that it was more important to prevent North Korea from making five or six nuclear weapons than to try to understand whether it had made one or two earlier.

In this process, former President Carter's visit in June 1994 to North Korea was extremely important because, in a sense, it burst the balloon of those marching toward war. After his visit, negotiations resumed, and within a few months, the United States and North Korea negotiated the Agreed Framework, which froze plutonium production and therefore prevented more nuclear weapons from being built. In exchange, North Korea would receive two light-water reactors.

Again, I want to emphasize that North Korea had a large nuclear weapons program. It was building two additional gas-graphite reactors that were well suited to make weapons-grade plutonium in large quantities. Had the North Koreans continued, by now they could have had enough plutonium separated for 60 to 80 nuclear weapons. And if all three of North Korea's reactors had been dedicated to making weapons-grade plutonium, then North Korea would have been able to produce about 40 to 50 nuclear weapons per year. Even if only the two smaller reactors were dedicated to making weapons-grade plutonium, North Korea still would have been able to make about 10 nuclear weapons per year.

Trying to prevent this from happening was the right policy. However, it doesn't mean we can turn our back on what happened in the past. A single nuclear weapon could cause tremendous havoc to Seoul or to any of our diplomatic efforts to try to resolve the situation or achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula. So it was right that the Agreed Framework required North Korea to come clean in the future and permit the IAEA to verify that North Korea does not have nuclear weapons or unsafeguarded plutonium. Of all the tasks in the Agreed Framework, however, this is the one that, from our point of view, has the least certainty of success.

So far, North Korea has not cooperated sufficiently with the International Atomic Energy Agency—for example, on the key question of preserving essential information. The IAEA will have a very hard job in the future. Not only will it have to establish what happened in the past in terms of plutonium production, but because of the requirements of the NPT, it also is going to have to ensure that North Korea is free of undeclared nuclear activities. And as you all know, there have been many reports of undeclared enrichment activities and undeclared reprocessing activities at places other than Yongbyon. Those reports will have to be investigated, and the IAEA will have to establish sufficient confidence that there are no undeclared activities in North Korea.

If this effort is to succeed, North Korea must concretely demonstrate its commitment to transparency—the sooner the better. It's often very time-consuming to do these kinds of inspections, particularly in a country with a large nuclear program. In South Africa, it took about two years to go through this exercise, and South Africa was fully cooperating. It produced people in the bomb program to talk to the inspectors and showed them its main nuclear weapons facilities. Plus, whenever inspectors asked to see other facilities that they had learned about through intelligence information given to them by member states, the South Africans took them there immediately.

So far, the United States and South Korea have been reluctant to encumber their direct negotiations with North Korea by raising verification issues. I think continued delay is risky. These issues need to be put on the agenda as soon as possible. And again, I believe that the most important thing is for North Korea to take concrete steps to show it intends to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Joel Wit

I'd like to first give a quick overview of the situation and then discuss the nuclear component and my personal experiences with that working at the State Department over the past seven years.

A few months ago, all the experts were saying that there was not going to be any more progress in U.S.-North Korean relations. Everyone thought it was over for this administration, and now, all of a sudden, we have this sudden spurt of progress. So the issue is, what happened in the past few months?

The sudden spurt is not the result of any changes in U.S. policy. It's a result of changes in North Korean policy. It is very clear that North Korea has made a conscious decision to move forward now, even though it is the end of the Clinton administration. There were signs during the summer that this might happen. For example, Kim Jong-Il gave an interview with a Korean-American journalist and said he was going to send a high-level emissary to the United States if the United States stopped treating North Korea like an abnormal country. And that's what happened. Vice Marshal Jo's visit was, I think, a surprise to most people in the U.S. government. The administration itself has been leaning forward, and as I said, it's positioned to take advantage of a possible opening, but it really hasn't been the initiator of the events of the past few months. It continues to lean forward now by holding out the prospect of a visit by President Clinton. I say "holding out" because I don't think that's a done deal yet.

The theory behind all of this, on both sides, is that establishing the proper political foundation in the relationship between the United States and North Korea will make it a lot easier to move forward on some of the tougher issues confronting the two countries, such as security issues. This is a very typical way for the North Koreans to operate: they first establish this kind of broad construct, in this case a better political relationship, which then makes it a lot easier in theory to move forward on some of the tougher security issues.

I think Secretary Albright's visit is an attempt to test this approach. There's already been some substantive progress on issues such as removing North Korea from the terrorism list. There may be some progress on establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. It is unclear, at least to me, what's going on concerning security issues, and I would go so far as to say that the administration isn't yet in a position to move forward rapidly on security issues even if the North Koreans said they wanted to do so tomorrow. The administration would, of course, turn around and try to move forward quickly, but these are very complicated issues. For example, on the missile issue, even if Kim Jong-Il said tomorrow, "Yes, my offer to President Putin was serious, I do want to stop long-range missile tests if you can get me foreign space-launch rights," the administration would have to put together a multilateral effort, and I am not sure that's been done yet. On conventional forces also, the United States is just starting to study what the future of its conventional force posture on the peninsula should be. Any conventional arms control progress would have to be built around the results of that kind of study, which has not been completed yet.

The last overview point I would like to make is with regard to the Clinton visit, which I don't think is a done deal yet. The Clinton administration is trying to use the possibility of the visit as leverage over the North Koreans because the North Koreans really do want the visit to happen. So part of what Secretary Albright will be doing during her visit is to see how far she can push the envelope in terms of making some substantive progress, and based on the results of her visit, I think the administration will make a final decision about whether President Clinton should go.

Let me say a few words on the nuclear component of this equation. I've had a lot of experience dealing with this, but I don't want to get into a lot of detail about the Agreed Framework or problems with implementation of the Agreed Framework because I think most people are pretty familiar with that. The main point is that implementation is behind schedule. The reactor project is, I think, about five years behind schedule, and it is the central part of the Agreed Framework. The tradeoff was the North Koreans get reactors and we get an end to their nuclear program. Their nuclear program is frozen now, but it hasn't been dismantled. That's important, and the IAEA examination of North Korea is probably the only way we have of learning what North Korea did in the past.

But I would like to make a comment here about the North's nuclear weapons program based on my experience. There are a number of scenarios out there about what North Korea may be doing in terms of its nuclear weapons program. One scenario, which we saw play out in 1999 with the whole experience of the suspect nuclear site at Kumchang-ni, was that there are people in the U.S. government and in other places who think that North Korea is churning out nuclear weapons in some mountain somewhere. That's what Kumchang-ni was all about. People thought there was a reactor and a reprocessing plant buried in a hill in northwest North Korea. Well, it turns out there was nothing there. I went there, I saw it. There was nothing there. Our best experts looked at it, and we were wrong. So although we don't know for sure, this scenario is probably the least likely.

In my mind, the most likely scenario is that North Korea is probably continuing to do research and development on nuclear weapons-related issues. It may have enough material for a few weapons. David has already talked a little about that, and there are uncertainties in U.S. estimates on how much material it may have. But, if you are a prudent decision-maker in the U.S. government, you have to assume that North Korea has enough for one or two nuclear weapons. In my mind, it is still unclear whether it can actually build a nuclear weapon or not. I don't know whether it has a design, and I would venture to say there's probably no one who knows whether it does, except maybe a few people in North Korea. So I think we have to keep it in that perspective. Getting the IAEA examination is very important, but if I had to rank the security issues I am most concerned about, I would actually put conventional weapons in front of nuclear weapons, and I think missiles would be at the top of the list.

One last point I'd like to make concerns a debate that periodically crops up, and I think it has started to crop up again—that is, whether it makes any sense for the Agreed Framework to provide North Korea with nuclear reactors. There are a lot of arguments on both sides of this issue that have been going on for a while, but I think what makes it more interesting recently is that the changes in U.S.-North Korean relations and in the relationship between South Korea and North Korea are bringing out these arguments again. People are saying that building conventional power plants makes more economic sense because the D.P.R.K. needs energy and the improving political relationship makes it possible to renegotiate the Agreed Framework.

So, all of these things have led to some discussion inside the governments involved, and certainly outside of the governments, about what we can do—should we change this or shouldn't we change this? But there are some important points here, and I think they have to do more with the practical issues involved. Granted, all of the arguments the advocates of changing the Agreed Framework are making may make sense, but the fact is that there are already millions of dollars of costs sunk into the reactor project. Also, it takes a long time to build the plants that might be substituted for the nuclear reactors, so you wouldn't save much time. The fact is that doing business with North Korea is very difficult. Even when the North Koreans are cooperating, it is very difficult. So if tomorrow I said, "Hey let's get rid of these nuclear reactors, we are going to build you 10 thermal power plants around your country," drawing up the plans for the project and drawing up the contracts would take time. The best calculation, according to some South Koreans I know, is that you might shave a year off building nuclear reactors. So it is very unclear whether it's worth making this major switch or not.

Just one last point: if you get past all the noise and the arguments about all the technical details, about whether the Agreed Framework was the right thing to do, and about whether the Clinton administration is doing the right thing, the bottom line is that we are much better off today with that agreement than we would have been without it. That really needs to be emphasized: if there had not been an agreement, North Korea would have a large nuclear weapons stockpile with an active ballistic missile program, including maybe some long-range missiles. And on top of that, there have been concerns about the stability of North Korea, so you would have had a nightmare in Northeast Asia. Today, we don't have that nightmare. We have the prospect of ending the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula, we have this rapprochement between the North and the South, and we have the prospect of better North Korean relations with the United States and maybe even Japan. So, the bottom line is that we are better off in Northeast Asia today with the Agreed Framework than we would have been without it.

Joseph Cirincione

I think that it is extremely important at this point to emphasize how far we have come and how critical the 1994 Agreed Framework was in bringing us to this point. I am proud to be up here with the other members of the panel and proud to be joining them in support of that agreement despite the withering criticism that Congress has leveled against the Agreed Framework over the past six years. The Agreed Framework has stood the test of time and has proven to be the correct path.

Let me just say a few words about missiles. I believe that Secretary Albright's visit to North Korea may be the most historic and important trip of her tenure. If the Clinton administration can resolve the North Korean missile program, it will largely, though not completely, solve the missile proliferation problem globally. The end of North Korean testing and export of missiles will dry up the major well feeding several key national missile programs and eliminate the major justification for a national missile defense system here in the United States. North Korea has exported Scud missiles to such "states of concern" as Iran and Syria, and also to Egypt, Pakistan, and possibly Libya.

Let us look at why this visit could be so important and why the North Korean missile program is so central to the global proliferation problem. There are 33 nations in the world, outside of the five nuclear-weapon states, that possess ballistic missiles. However, 27 of those 33 nations have only short-range ballistic missiles, missiles that fly less than 1,000 kilometers. That leaves six nations that we are concerned about with medium- or longer-range ballistic missiles that could potentially threaten U.S. allies, troops, or the United States itself. Those six nations are Israel, India, and Saudi Arabia—which are not considered threats to the United States—Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea. Those last three are all tied together. Pakistan's Ghauri missile, a medium-range missile over 1,000 kilometers—various versions are estimated to have gone from 1,300 to over 2,000 kilometers—is a Nodong missile, a North Korean missile shipped to Pakistan. Iran has tested a medium-range missile three times that it calls the Shahab-3. The missile has succeeded in one of those flight tests. It has an estimated range of 1,300 kilometers. That too is a Nodong missile.

If North Korea can be convinced to stop its exports, not only does the North Korean program end, but also the Iranian program significantly slows down. It does not end because Iran has two other sources of assistance—Russia and China. If Russia and China can be convinced to end all of their assistance to Iran, that essentially will strangle the Iranian missile program. This is not an indigenous program. Iran cannot build missiles by itself.

So follow the chain here: if you eliminate the North Korean missile program, you eliminate the immediate justification for a rush to deploy a national missile defense system. We have heard administration officials say that they have to deploy the system by 2005 because the National Intelligence Estimate said that North Korea possibly could have a missile that could reach the United States by 2005. If you eliminate the North Korean program, then you eliminate that timeline, and you eliminate the rush.

If you also eliminate the North Korean exports, you eliminate the second justification for a national missile defense program. The National Intelligence Estimate is that Iran might be able to have a long-range ballistic missile that could hit the United States by 2010. If we also eliminated Russian and Chinese assistance, along with North Korean assistance, that would certainly curtail, if not completely eliminate, the Iranian program. What that would mean globally for the United States is that the pressure would be off on the development of a national missile defense system. Theater missile programs could proceed. But without a national missile defense system as an irritant in the U.S.-Russian relationship or the U.S.-Chinese relationship, those relationships could enjoy continued progress. We could also improve our relationship with the U.S. allies disturbed by the U.S. national missile defense effort. So this small, impoverished country actually plays a key role in U.S. global relations, primarily because of its missile program.

We do not know if Secretary Albright is expecting to make any kind of progress on the missile program. We do not know if President Clinton's visit is contingent on a deal on the missile program. But these visits can certainly help resolve some of the most thorny issues the United States has confronted over the past few years.

Questions and Answers



Could you explain a little more about why people are second-guessing the decision to make light-water reactors available to the North Koreans?



There are a couple of reasons people raise questions about the light-water reactors. One is just a practical issue: can North Korea, a backward society, build and operate modern nuclear reactors safely? We do not want a Chernobyl in North Korea, and there is a lot of work that has to be done to create a proper safety, environmental, and regulatory environment in North Korea. That is a formidable challenge and, I think, a real obstacle.

Some members of Congress have also raised concerns that these light-water reactors are going to be a new bomb factory, and they have even charged that somehow they would make more plutonium than the reactors being replaced. I do not want to go into detail, but the arguments are pretty weak. The main point is that we are worried about North Korea's ability to separate plutonium. You cannot make a nuclear weapon when the plutonium is locked in the spent fuel. So if you focus on that issue, then it is going to be very difficult for North Korea to reprocess the fuel from the light-water reactors.

The other reason I think this is coming up is that North Korea has periodically threatened to undo the Agreed Framework unless progress on the light-water reactors happens quicker. It is a natural response given that this project can only move so fast, but let us think of alternatives. Thermal conventional plants are what most people consider a reasonable alternative. I think this needs to be looked at, but it might not save any time. There are always reasons to look again at this issue, but for me the principal reason would be that North Korea has not demonstrated that it can operate a reactor safely. And that is going to be a very tough problem to solve.



I would just add that from North Korea's perspective you can argue that a number of smaller conventional fossil fuel plants, which I believe could be brought on-line quicker, are advantageous. First, when a small country has a 1,000-megawatt electric power plant and it goes down for technical reasons or refueling, it is a shock to the country's entire system. In addition, there is a question as to whether North Korea really has the distribution system to handle the output of one very large plant. And the answer is that it doesn't. That is another major financial problem that is going to have to be faced by the world or North Korea if the electricity from this plant is to be used. Smaller conventional plants can be more easily integrated.



What must Secretary Albright do or the North Koreans say to warrant the president going to North Korea, and, beyond symbolism, what would the significance of a Clinton trip be?



That is a tough question. I do not know how high or how low the administration is going to set the barrier. I have trouble seeing a lot of progress coming out of the Albright visit on security issues. There may be some kind of broad agreement that we need to redouble our efforts dealing with the missile issue, or the two sides might agree, and I am just speculating here of course, that Chairman Kim's idea about stopping a long-range missile test in return for foreign space-launch rights is a good idea. I think the discussion on those issues is going to be more general than specific. There may be more specificity on the other issues that are kind of being discussed: removing North Korea from the terrorism list, normalizing relations, setting up liaison offices. But those issues are a lot easier, I think, to deal with than some of these tough security issues. And the problem is that those issues are not seen by most Americans or Westerners as issues we really want progress on.

In terms of the Clinton visit, I have had some discussion in the past few days with colleagues and others, and they are asking, "Why is President Clinton going to go to North Korea? There is no reason for this. It is really hasty and premature." My reaction is that I do not see a downside to him going to North Korea. There is a lot of hand-wringing going on about it, but my personal experience has been that sometimes these kinds of visits really do get real results. The prime example is former President Carter's visit to North Korea in 1994. At that time, there were lots of people saying, "Why is President Carter going to North Korea? What is the purpose? There is no reason for him to do this." And yet something useful did come out of it. So I do not really see much of a downside on the Clinton visit, and there is a potential for an upside. Even if the upside is not obvious right away, even if Clinton does not come home with an agreement ending their missile program, we have to wait and see what happens because, once again, the improving political relationship may establish the foundation for progress over time on these other security issues.



In response to the question of positive results coming from high-level visits, I would like to underscore the significance of former President Carter's visit to North Korea in 1994. It is hard to imagine today, but the situation was so tense at that time that otherwise sensible people were seriously, publicly proposing that we should consider a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea. I think, after President Carter's visit, the whole situation changed, and we launched into the long negotiations leading to the Agreed Framework.



Clearly, if North Korea curtailed its missile program in exchange for space-launch assistance, it wouldn't use U.S. launchers; it would probably use Russian launchers. So what is the role of the U.S. government in making that deal happen? And secondly, what is the concern that the North Koreans would get a lot of data on their payload—this is what the payload needs to look like, this is the vibration it needs to withstand, this is the environment it has to be able to live in—that could be used in missile design?



First of all, it was an interesting proposal, and it was initially treated as a joke in the U.S. press. However, it was apparently a serious proposal, and the U.S. government has stated it is looking into it. If you could get North Korea to agree to discontinue permanently its development program of longer-range missiles or all military ballistic missiles, agreeing to launch any space payloads North Korea will have for peaceful purposes would be a very small price to pay. I can't imagine that North Korea is going to have a great many payloads or that, in the absence of a ballistic missile program, it is going to get any technical details on accelerations and vibrations that would be of any great importance to them.



I agree with what Spurgeon just said, but let us just go through it quickly. First, the possible space-launch countries would be Russia, China, or the European Union states. So there are a number of possibilities. Second, as Spurgeon mentioned, it is unlikely that North Korea would have many payloads. What are we talking about here? The satellite it attempted to launch on the Taepo Dong in August 1998 was a Sputnik, just a simple radio transmitter. And that failed. Third, there would be a data concern. You would be concerned about North Korea gathering some information on stress factors, vibration, acceleration, et cetera that could aid it in designing not launch vehicles, but warheads. And that is the data that you would be collecting. That would have to be negotiated out. There clearly would have to be some restrictions on the data that was transmitted to the North Koreans in exchange for launching their payloads. That is not an unsolvable problem though. Presumably, what they are most interested in is getting the payload up there, not in also buying all the data associated or all the technical specifications associated with the launch itself.



So is the U.S. government's role really to help on the financing issue?



The U.S. government would be a facilitator, much as it was in the Agreed Framework. The U.S. government is not paying much for the Agreed Framework. Japan, South Korea, and the European Union are paying for the Agreed Framework with only a small percentage being paid for by the United States. The United States was the facilitator. It was the great power making the deal, and that would be the case here.



What Joe said is exactly right about the U.S. role. It would be like what we did with the reactor project for the Agreed Framework—that is, negotiating the parameters of the deal with the North Koreans and then setting up whatever multilateral arrangement is necessary to provide the North Koreans with what they need. Another possibility is that the North Koreans are also interested in some scientific cooperation, maybe in terms of some space sciences, that would not directly have to do with building satellites or launching satellites but other things related to that.

The final point on what the North Koreans are really interested in is that I think what we have seen is basically the opening trial balloon in what may be a negotiating strategy that will unfold over the next year or two. I am not sure that the North Koreans really know the parameters of the deal they are trying to get, but I would be very skeptical that they would be willing to do anything beyond ending long-range missile tests in return for foreign space-launch rights, which means there are a number of other missile issues wrapped up in this that will need to be dealt with.

I am assuming that if we want solutions on things like missile exports or maybe even some of the deployments of shorter-range missiles like the Nodong that threaten Japan, we are going to need to have a bigger package than just foreign space-launch assistance. The Japanese angle here is critical because I think everyone assumes that Japan has financial resources that it may be willing to commit to this whole effort. But it is not going to do that unless the issues that concern it the most are addressed. And the issue that concerns it the most is not the missiles that can strike the United States or the missiles that are exported to the Middle East, but rather the missiles that are deployed in North Korea that can hit Japan.

ACA Press Conference

Country Resources:

What Next for NMD and Arms Control?


President Clinton announced on September 1 that he would not deploy the proposed national missile defense (NMD) system, leaving the decision to his successor. The decision drew praise from several countries that view the system as a threat to strategic stability and arms control. Clinton's decision not to authorize any predeployment activity provides both Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush the opportunity to articulate their own visions of what their NMD and arms control policies will be without being tied to any construction or deployment activity already underway.

On September 6, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the impact of Clinton's decision on the NMD program and on domestic and international opinion, as well as on the campaign for the White House.

Panelists for the discussion were Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., President and Executive Director of the Arms Control Association; Richard Garwin, Senior Fellow for Science and Technology at the Council of Foreign Relations; Jack Mendelsohn, Vice President and Executive Director of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security; and Mark Mellman, CEO of The Mellman Group, a polling and consulting firm.

The following is an edited transcript of their remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

Good Morning. Welcome to today's press conference sponsored by the Arms Control Association on President Clinton's decision not to deploy an NMD. We thought it most appropriate to provide an independent assessment of this decision, and to consider where NMD goes from here. Let me introduce the other members of the panel who will be speaking today: Richard Garwin, a distinguished scientist in the field of nuclear weapons and advanced systems technology, who, like myself, has been involved in this NMD debate for the last 40 years. He's currently working with the Council on Foreign Relations on scientific issues; Jack Mendelsohn, who I think most of you know, a former senior foreign service officer, who's now Vice President of the Council for . . . of the LAWS group, who has been following this issue diplomatically a couple of decades as well; and we'll be joined shortly by Mark Mellman, of the Mellman Group, who is, I think, the best informed pollster/public opinion man, who has been following the public views on national missile defense for some time.

I personally believe that Clinton did the right thing in just saying no to deployment of NMD. And I believe this is probably one of the most important security-related decisions of his presidency. I know he also said no to any hedging decisions to undertake preliminary preparations for deployment that might or might not be considered compatible with the ABM treaty. Now there's been a great deal of speculation over the last year as to what Clinton would finally do with regard to NMD. And many pundits felt it was a foregone conclusion that for political reasons that he would opt for deployment. I think it's really not too surprising that he chose not to call for a deployment of an NMD and not to take any preliminary steps when you look at his own record and the position he has consistently taken on this issue. When he signed the legislation a year ago, calling for a deployment of an NMD system when it was technically feasible, he made clear that his decision would be based on four criteria. One is, that the system was technically mature enough to make a responsible decision to deploy; two, the threat required it; three, that the cost was acceptable in terms of other priorities; and finally, that the implications of the decision for the overall security of the United States, including the future of arms control.

Now looking at these things, briefly—and I think the President addressed them very well in his Friday statement—none of these conditions have been met, in terms supporting a deployment decision. The case of technology is not—clearly not ready for a responsible decision on this particular system. And even more significant, there are seriously questions as to whether the system is inherently, even if technology proceeds favorably, suitable to achieve even its limited mission. And Garwin, Dr. Garwin will discuss this issue and where this business will go in the future in some detail. The second issue is the threat itself. Now although there is considerable dispute as to what the capabilities of the North Koreans are at present and what they could become, I think there is a general agreement that the North Koreans have at their disposal, a range of other options for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction, which are simpler and more at hand. And are not in any way dealt with the proposed, limited NMD national missile defense system. And I would add, in addition, the country that is the principal point of concern, North Korea, is currently engaged in a complicated adjustment to the real world and there is good reason to believe that there is a possibility or even a probability, or even a probability, that they are prepared to trade their missile capability and their missile program for other considerations. And these negotiations are currently underway at a number of levels. With regard to the cost, the United States can certainly afford a $60 billion tab if this were really needed. However, this will compete with other more, I believe, and I believe the military believes, more pressing military requirements. And if this turns out to be the first step to a much more elaborate system, as Gov. Bush would have us believe or states to be his objective, you are talking about a system that would cost several hundred billion dollars, and that would be something that would really get one's attention. But the real problem, and it was clearly recognized by President Clinton in his decision, were the costs, the non-financial costs, of a deployment decision in our relations with the rest of the world.

The proposed deployment is strongly opposed, as I'm sure you all know, by Russia and China. And even some of our principal NATO allies. In fact, with the exception of Israel, I find it hard to identify any country that supports the United States in this endeavor. We truly are going against the tide of world opinion. The Russians and just a word, and Jack Mendelsohn will elaborate on this part of the problem, the Russians see it as a slippery slope to a system that could eventually threaten their deterrent. The Chinese feel that it is an open threat to their minimum deterrent, and do not take seriously the assertions that it's really directed at North Korea. And the NATO allies have a range of reasons, that Jack is an expert on, but basically, they are very concerned about what we are about to do in our general relations with Russia and with the future of arms control—two issues on which they are pleased with the progress to date and wish to see more. Now I think it's significant, particularly significant, that in making his decision, President Clinton has specifically decided not to fund advanced procurement initial preparation of the site for the radar on Shemya, which was alleged to be necessary to keep going for a operational date of 2005. I would note that no one in the pentagon believes anymore that the date of 2005 would be met, so in a sense, this point is moot. Nevertheless, it would be seen by many people, many observers, many in the press, that the likely outcome is a way that Clinton could hedge his position by not deploying, by at the same time saying he was facilitating the deployment process. By deciding not to go down this path, I think he has not prejudiced the position that will face the next president, albeit Gore or Bush in deciding how they choose to proceed in this matter.

There is, was an interesting debate, that many of you are aware of, as to whether this initial deployment would be legal under the ABM Treaty, but I think that debate is largely moot at the present time, and I think you could argue it on either side. But on thing is clear: and that was it would be seen by the rest of the world as essentially a U.S. decision to proceed with the deployment of the system and simply giving the courtesy of the decision to the next president. The, President Clinton clearly decided that he did not want to go down that path.

Well, now that Clinton has built some time into this decision process, I think it's interesting to speculate a bit as to where this leaves the next President, be it Gore or Bush. In the case of President Gore, in the case of President Gore, he has associated himself with the President's logic in dealing with this decision, so he will have to contend with the same considerations but without the pressure of an election. And I think that I would make the observation that none of the points were missing in Clinton's process of arriving at a decision will change significantly for some time. The technology is not going to, the next test does not resolve the technology problems with the worth of the system. And the threat, hopefully, will, its likelihood will further reduce on the basis of present negotiations, and there is no indication that I am aware of, it's my judgement that the President may not share, but Russia is about to change its position on not desiring to modify the ABM treaty and it will be a hard sell to explain to the Chinese why this is not relevant to their security. If Bush is the next president, he has staked out in very broad terms what he would like to do, namely, have a much more effective system that will protect the rest of the world, and he will want to move quickly on this. But he does want to talk with our allies and the Russians on this first. I think bush is going to have a very complicated time defining just what this system is that he is talking about, and it will certain involve much more complicated and troublesome technological problems and a longer timescale than the limited NMD that the Clinton administration has talked about. it will involve rather large financial commitments, and I think that bush as any president, if one can look back on the history of president Nixon and others, but what he actually, if he is actually in position of power, he will have to consider the broader implications of this decision and its interaction with the rest of the world. And that will not that will take some time to accomplish.

I have also observed that this time that has been bought by pushing the problem down the road gives us an opportunity to accomplish some things that may well affect the decision itself. and one is to let your diplomacy a chance in trying to work with the north Korean problem. it gives us time to try and build an international consensus on dealing with Iraq.

And finally, it gives us some time to consider alternatives to this particular limited NMD system if it should finally be decided for whatever reasons that we must have a system of some sort to deal with this issue. So the time…time will be a valuable commodity in our—the future of the NMD architecture and system.

Finally, I would note that the immediate question that a lot of people are all interested in, is how this is going to affect the election, if it affects it at all. And my own view, despite the fact that a clear difference between bush and gore on this issue, with Bush calling for a much more expansive system and Gore, apparently, supporting the general approach of president Clinton, on the basis of 40 years of involvement on this issue, my feeling is that this simply will not be a significant issue in this election. I think the domestic issues that have been staked out are so encompassing that it is unlikely that this will be a central issue or that it will affect very many votes.

However, I would hope that Mark Mellman, who has been following this very closely from the public opinion point of view, can tell us some more about this—what people really think about this issue and how deep those feelings are. Do they reach a level that affects their decision on how to vote compared with the other principle issues, which will be on their plate. well, with this long introduction, let me turn the microphone over to Dick Garwin, who I think can give us some interesting insight, insights as to the technical situation.

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Richard Garwin

Thank you, Spurgeon. I am delighted with the occasion for my appearance here today. I'd be saying the same thing, but without such a happy grin on my face if the President had made some other decision. As Spurgeon said, the President outlined in July 1999 his four criteria and even in this political year, he followed through. Looking at the objective facts, it's not hard to see that this is the only decision that could have been made and should have been made sooner, because the threat is vanishing or at least not emerging, the technology is clearly not there, the cost is not really stated, and the overall impact on national security has got to be negative. The system is not ready for a favorable deployment decision.

You know about the three reports from the independent review team, led by General Larry D. Welch. In its first report, it emphasized that these hit to kill systems were really a rush to failure. They were being done too fast to provide an increment to national security. In the second report, they said frankly that the defense readiness review provided by the defense department in preparation for the President's decision expected this summer, could not be a defense readiness review, at best it would be a feasibility review to judge that the technology was indeed feasible. So is this technology possible? That is a system that sees missiles being launched, alerts some radars, launches an interceptor from Alaska or North Dakota, sends it toward the threat-cloud, intercepts in mid course, picks out the re-entry vehicle from confusing objects like the third-stage of the missile or possible decoys. And the answer is, yes and no. Yes, it was demonstrated in a way by a hit to kill collision of a mock national missile defense interceptor with a mock-warhead in October 1999. And no, because that demonstration was with a cooperation warhead like a friendly puppy dog that wags its tail and just wanted to be petted. If it were more like a cat and went to hide in the corner, you wouldn't have a chance. And that's more than a metaphor, that's the reality of missile defense and offense. And I've been working on it at least as long as Spurgeon going back to 1953 or so. On both sides, that is, getting U.S. missiles to penetrate potential defenses that we could imagine, and see with greater clarity as our satellite reconnaissance evolved, and in evaluating proposals for U.S. defenses against various missile threats where countermeasures have always been the problem, and remain the problem.

In January and July of this year we had two more attempts at intercept. These were gross failures, but not to worry. It wasn't the key technology that failed, it was only getting the food to the table that failed, so you couldn't evaluate the performance of the cook. Or the Olympic contestant who would have won, maybe, if he hadn't taken the wrong train. We can have results like that, at much lower cost, if we don't even try to test. But this system of mid-course intercept has inherent problems. These were recognized in 1984, when the Fletcher Committee was put together under Jim Fletcher, to put some substance on what President Reagan had announced on March 23, 1983 on his SDI and Star Wars speech. Those folks recognized in their report, that we would be unable to do the job against warheads in space, that they would have to catch them in boost-phase, while the rocket was still burning, and before decoys and other countermeasures such as radar jammers and chaff could be deployed. But there has been no detailed analysis of countermeasures in the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization program, neither how well the system would work against specific countermeasures or what countermeasures could be achieved even by these three states of concern, also known as rogue states, that were identified in intelligence and in the Rumsfeld Commission report of July 1998.

To fill this lack, a group of us, sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists and MIT, in April of this year produced this report, "Countermeasures to National Missile Defense," Which you can get on www.ucsusa.org. This is a thorough analysis that discusses what countermeasures are, how defenses deal with them, specifically for a mid-course intercept hit-to-kill system where the interceptor actually has to run into a warhead. There are three effective countermeasures that we believe are well within the ability of a nation deploying it first ICBM. I'll tell you about the first two of these, because they're easy to explain and hard to argue against. Remember, this NMD system is a counter to strategic attack by long-range missiles with biological or nuclear warheads. But it would not protect against BW, such as an infectious agent like anthrax or tularemia or Venezuelan equine encephalitis or any of the other agents we used to work on in this country until President Nixon in 1969 issued an executive order banning work on them. But that doesn't protect us against other people using BW against us. The most effective way to do this is not to drop a ton of anthrax in the middle of Washington on a long-range missile. If you use a long-range missile, it's much more effective to divide the payload into bomblets weighing a few pounds each—hundreds of them—and liberated them on ascent, after the missile has gotten up to its full speed. The 100 bomblets would spread to about a ten-mile pattern and land individually on the target. This increases their effectiveness in killing people and, incidentally, it prevents any mid-course system from destroying these bomblets one at a time, if it could see them. What do people say in support of the proposed NMD system against the BW threat? Well, they say, of course it won't work against this, it was never designed to do so. And yet people claim that the system is necessary to defend us against strategic attack of BW as well as nuclear warheads.

The second countermeasure protects the nuclear warhead. In case a country is foolish enough to mate a first generation, unreliable nuclear warhead with a first-generation unreliable ballistic missile, it should not use decoys that try to mimic this warhead with fusing antennae and things like that so that we could try with our radar to try to separate the warheads from the decoys. You would instead put an aluminumized Mylar balloon, the kind that you see at children's parties, around the warhead. And you have similar, low-cost aluminumized Mylar balloons that are decoys. Although a feather and a lead weight dropped from the leaning tower of Pisa will strike the ground at different times, if they were dropped in the vacuum of space, they go at exactly the same speed. We cannot tell them apart. This is not a new observation; it goes back as far as ballistic missiles and was analyzed by White House strategic military panel in the 1960s and 1970s. Furthermore, North Korea need not test these countermeasures in flight. It would actually be suicidal for North Korea to launch such a system, whether it worked or not against the United States, whether it was intercepted or not. For North Korea, Iraq, or Iran, the object is to have a not incredible threat. And how can we know that they would not under certain circumstances commit suicide by launching such things and threatening some small part of the U.S. population of 280 million people, perhaps 100,000, would be at risk from a first-generation nuclear warhead. And somewhat more from one of these biological warhead attacks, with lesser payloads and simpler technology.

The midcourse intercept concept is not a dead end, it's dead on arrival-before it can be deployed. If the long-range threat is there, the countermeasures will be there as well. Now this was contested in a July report from Israeli team Uzi Rubin that was send to BMDO and the UCS-MIT group, including myself, have written a response, which you can find on the UCS website.

The Rumsfeld Commission in July 1998 identified the potential long-range missile threat from these three countries. That's what we were set up to do. Our report was predictably misused because that's what its instigators wanted this commission to say: namely that such a threat existed and they said, therefore, there must be a defense, which must be the one under development. Now that consensus is falling apart, having forced the Administration to pursue a defense that may or may not emerge is very hard to sell. While these threats are in development, we have no idea whether they're going to emerge as full-fledged threats. So the Rumsfeld Commission postulated long-range missile threats from three countries, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq in as little as five years. But unnoticed, its report also warned that the defense would have to take into account the possibility of BW bomblets, and also, BW or nuclear warheads on short-range cruise missiles or ballistic missiles launched from ships against U.S. cities within 100 miles or so of the coast. But the goal of this NMD is to defend against a few missiles launched from North Korea.

Well, what to do if this threat could emerge and the midcourse will not work? We should slow the development, although some day we may have some use for such things, and we should look at boost-phase intercept, which would not be affected by countermeasures. North Korea is ideally located for striking the missiles while they are still burning during the four or five minutes, that a first-generation ICBM takes to get up to speed. We already have had half of this system operating for 30 years, that is, the geosynchronous orbit Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites that, according to the Defense Department, saw every missile launched during the Gulf War in 1991. And now they see them in stereo, one can get the information from them within 100 seconds of ICBM ignition to permit the launch of an interceptor located within maybe 600 miles of the launch site of the ICBM in order to catch it comfortably while the booster is still burning. It has to be a big interceptor in order to get up to ICBM like speeds, even though it's not like chasing the ICBM. Many boost-phase intercept systems have been mentioned in the last year or so. Most of them don't have a chance to handle the threat from an inland site, even in North Korea or Iraq or Iran. But a system utilizing national missile defense class interceptors launched from a joint U.S.-Russian site, north of North Korea, or from U.S. military type cargo ships in the Japan Basin, 100 miles 200 miles from North Korea could handle this threat. Will it work? I know that BMDO and other people are looking at it.

What is the needed reliability or effectiveness? The idea that we're going to go to war and not lose a combatant or that we will be able to shrug off any threat that anybody throws against us by countering that threat, given the fact that the short-range missiles are undefended against, and the same countries can detonate nuclear weapons in harbors in shipping containers on ships that do not even know they are carrying nuclear weapons, the reliability and effectiveness, need not be very great. But the effectiveness would be greater for a boost phase intercept system which can be available in my opinion with single minded effort sooner than this national missile defense and can be deployed incrementally first against North Korea, which it is essentially surrounded by water, Iraq could be handled later from a single site in southeast Turkey, and Iran—a much bigger country, four times as large as Iraq—would probably need two interceptor bases, one cooperatively with the Russians in the Caspian Sea, perhaps, and the other from the Gulf of Oman.

Now President Putin, at the June Summit, nodded favorably at helping the United States with boost phase intercept. Exactly what the Russians mean by this is not clear. But a favorable nod is useful, since such a system could not be deployed in conformity with the ABM treaty. However, that treaty could easily be modified if there's agreement between the two sides to do so, which should be much easier for the system than the present NMD system since this boost phase system would not be any threat to the Russian or Chinese deterrent.

So I see in the future, more emphasis on a system that would really work against the real threats, and less emphasis on a system that is politically undesirable because one party wants it and the other party doesn't, and serves as a bone of contention. We will see how that issue plays out. Whether or not it's an issue in the forthcoming campaign, I'm sure it will rear its ugly head in the next administration, and has to be decided on its merits. Thank you.

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Jack Mendelsohn

I'm very glad to be here to talk about a subject that has been with us for, as our previous two speakers have indicated, three to four decades. For those of you that are not aware, the Lawyers Alliance has recently published a white paper on missile defense, which reviews a lot of the arguments that have been brought up today and which you know from the debate.

I'd like to start by making a kind of contrarian statement about the whole issue. If you look at the criteria for national missile defense, none of them can justify deploying the system. If you look at the threat, if you look at the technology, if you look at the impact, and if you look at the cost, it's really very hard to find solid, supportive reasons under any of those criteria to go ahead. Nonetheless, the program has a strong dynamic, and is still in play; nonetheless, we are still concerned about missile defense deployments. Why?

I'd like to make one suggestion on this and then move on with what the impact of this is. We're not really dealing with rational arguments for missile defense in the debate in the United States. This is really politically driven at the present time. What's going on is that there has been for decades, a struggle for the soul of American foreign policy between those who believe American security is best assured in the long run by interdependence, by agreements, by cooperation, by integration into a larger community, and those who believe that America should be absolutely free to make the decisions it needs to make and wants to make on behalf of its own defense. Those, if you want, might be called the unilateralists. Let me just read you one, short sentence by a member of the U.S. Senate. "I agree with Governor Bush and the officials from previous administrations"—which stood with him on May 24, at the big Madame Toussaud wax-works national security speech —"that we need a different approach to national security issues," dash, dash "an approach that begins with the premise that the U.S. must be able to act unilaterally in its own best interests." This is your firm supporter of missile defense Senator Jon Kyl. He goes on, incidentally, to say that, "I believe that we should work to secure peace and our safety first through our own strength."

So what we're really dealing with here is not a rational analysis. We're dealing with a fundamental struggle over what the future of U.S. policy should be; and if we're moving in a unilateral mode, it obviously has a massive impact on our relationships with our allies, with our potential adversaries, and with a whole category of countries that are just out there perhaps without any particular position. I'd just like to mention one recent statement by the French foreign minister Védrine, who points out in his annual lecture to the French ambassadors that, as far as the United States is concerned, and talking again about missile defense, [that] "we are at the beginning of a sort of neo-unilateralism," sounds like he's been reading Kyl's statement. This results, Védrine says, almost automatically from the United States being what the French like to call a hyper-power, not a superpower, but a hyper-power. And this is, I think, the interesting statement: "It calls into question the idea that the United States ought to negotiate with others, adversaries or allies." This is where we are internationally, with the realization in Europe that the United States and national missile defense issues are being driven by this fight for the soul of American foreign policy: to be pursued cooperatively in an interdependent way, or pursued unilaterally. And the unilateralists are the ones pursuing missile defense.

Clearly, the President's speech did not solve the NMD issue. It's put it off, if you will, to next year, or the year after. But the next administration is going to have to make a decision on where missile defense is going. Whether they're going to avoid deployment and stay in a development mode, which is what we've been doing for years; whether we're going to pursue the present program, which as Dick Garwin indicated has some real technological liabilities. If Gore wins, he'll have to make a decision on that. Or whether we're going to adopt a new approach, as the Bush people have hinted. God only knows what it is. That is one of the problems in dealing with both our Allies and our potential adversaries. There is no clear program. Nobody knows what the national missile defense program is really going to look like. This makes it exceedingly difficult to conduct a negotiation if you're trying to alter the ABM Treaty. What is it that you're trying to alter it for and where do the alterations that you have in mind stop?

That was the lesson of the draft protocol and the talking points that were leaked earlier this year. Where it was quite clear that the United States had at best a ten-month position. Because one of the articles said everything in this protocol was only good until March of 2001 when the issue can be opened again.

Let me talk first about the Europeans. First of all, the Europeans can't be all lumped together; there are clearly some distinctions. The Europeans agree in their support of the ABM Treaty. They like the predictability and they like the structure given to the strategic relationship by the ABM treaty. They do not want the United States unilaterally to modify the treaty or drop the treaty and upset this strategic predictability. They don't believe it's wise to provoke an unnecessary response. On these points, I think the Europeans are quite united. After that there are lots of divisions and particular angles. One group of Europeans: the U.K., Denmark, and count Canada as a NATO/European ally because they all have some equities in this discussion. They're all basing countries for current sensor systems and whatever adjustments might happen in the future and in the case of Canada it shares the air defense responsibilities with the United States, and has to be very cautious about what they do. The U.K. has a special relationship, which it doesn't want to jeopardize, and feels under a great deal of pressure to walk a line. Although they've all made it clear that they have great concern about where the missile defense program is going, they haven't absolutely said that they will refuse to cooperate. Incidentally, this includes Australia, which has a downlink for some sensor information that would be collected under the NMD program in the future. There are four basing countries that are all on the spot, because they're close allies of the United States. They don't want to pull the rug out, but they are not by any means happy.

The French and the Germans and other Europeans, which are not joint-basing countries, have been freer to criticize. The French make a very simple argument, as do some of the other Europeans, namely the three D's. They are concerned about "decoupling," they're concerned about "disarmament," and they're concerned about "deterrence." And I think the Europeans in general share these concerns. Whenever the United States takes any kind of a policy decision, strategic forces, conventional forces, the Europeans always look at it through the optic of decoupling. And that is, does it in some way reduce American attachment to the defense and support of Europe? The European sense is that NMD has the potential to somehow differentiate the security that's available to them as opposed to the United States, and that differentiation might have some impact on U.S. decisions to support or not support the Europeans in a crisis. Now, that may or may not be a sound argument, I think there's some doubt about it; but Europeans are very concerned about the impact of NMD on U.S. support. The NMD undercuts "disarmament." The French have gone so far as to say, national missile defense and U.S. current policy is an expression of, and this is a quote "contempt for the NPT." This reflects the belief that the U.S. is essentially thumbing its nose at the interdependence represented by the nonproliferation regime. The same applies to other agreements as well. And lastly the key role of deterrence, which they believe the NMD undermines or threatens by saying the U.S. no longer has confidence in deterrence. On those issues I think the Europeans are fairly clear and understand what that all means.

I'd just like to mention a couple of other issues that are of interest to the Europeans. Some Europeans are interested in missile defense, but they're interested in theater missile defense. They don't see how national missile defense is going to help them on this, and they would like much more attention spent on theater missile defense. And, if you look at the kind of threats that U.S. actually might face, they are either short-range attacks from off the coasts of the United States or shorter range attacks on our allies. And that's what our allies are concerned about. They would like us to be spending less time on national missile defense and give more thought more money, and more effort to theater missile defense. That's their concern. Now you could argue that maybe if we did both, theater missile defense and national missile defense we should be able to buy off some of their concerns.

In an interesting way, American behavior on this issue is driving the Europeans in the direction of thinking more about a common security and foreign policy interest. If America is dashing down the unilateralist trail, then the Europeans ought to be thinking a little more about having a joint policy on some of these issues. So, in a way, you could argue that the national missile defense issue is encouraging deeper European thought about common policies on security. If the United States will no longer take into consideration European concerns, then Europeans may have to think about fending for themselves.

Now, Russia has a kind of bifurcated reaction to the President's decision. Some of them, understandably, consider this is a victory for Russian policy. Putin personally stood up to this, whereas Yeltsin might not have been such a staunch opponent, and therefore Russians can read this as partly a victory for Putin and his policies. Others are concerned that this is really a phony victory, and that the issue has not gone away and America is just, if you will, the famous French word, drawing back in order to spring forward later. To come back to a point I made earlier, Russia has a serious problem dealing with the United States on this issue because the United States cannot present them with a fixed plan for the future. So the Russians refuse to deal on the details of the current plan because once they do that, they've opened the entire negotiation to what they cannot foresee. So Russia to date has had a very simple position, and that is: any NMD is in violation of the fundamental principles of the ABM Treaty. It does not want to talk about whether the U.S. can do this, or whether it will modify that, because fundamentally, it's in violation of the treaty. Russia has refused to move from this very principled opposition to defense, to talk details because it understands that once it starts it's a slippery slope since the U.S. does not have a fixed position.

Now, Russia has a little more leeway on actually dealing on missile defense, if and when we ever get the program we can negotiate, because after all, they do have several thousand deliverable long-range warheads, and a small missile defense, because 100-150 interceptors would not necessarily present the Russians with an insurmountable problem. But that's not the case for China.

China's concern is considerably different. For China, even a small U.S. NMD program would have a direct impact on its very small deterrent capabilities. Even without NMD, China is concerned about U.S. theater missile defense programs. And lastly, a point that the Chinese make, and I should feedback as a concern as well for Russia, is that they are very concerned that our NMD system is just the first step in a path towards to the total militarization of space. They say this openly, they say this in Geneva, and they say this in every meeting, that this is really just the first step. And the sensors that we intend to deploy in connection with even the minimalist Clinton/Gore program, the second phase of the space-based interceptors, which are supposed to track midcourse warhead flight, are just an example of where the United States is going. They read what goes on in the military press as well as we do. The Russians also share this concern with the Chinese. Again, as I said, they could probably absorb a deployment of 100-150 interceptors, but the issue for the Russians is: where are you going with the sensors connected with NMD? It sounds like the U.S. wants to wire the universe, and that means the U.S. is laying a base for something much more significant in the future.

China considers the North Korean threat to be a total pretext for the deployment, and make no bones about it. It makes the very interesting point that they are not going to consider U.S. stated intentions regarding North Korea, they intend to look at U.S. capabilities. And that goes back to a fundamental debate about how does one address security, how does one address arms control? Does one deal with intentions or does one deal with capabilities. For years, the United States insisted that it dealt only with capabilities, when talking about strategic forces, now the U.S. is telling the Chinese and the Russians, don't worry about anything, our intentions are totally benign. [Back to top]

Mark Mellman

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here with such a distinguished group. I'm going to bring the intellectual level of the discussion down about 20 or 30 notches real quickly and focus not on public policy and erudite discussions thereof, but rather, on politics and practical day-to-day politics. Usually somebody like me, a pollster, comes to a press conference to talk about issues that are important, salient, and significant to the public. I find myself in the rather unusual position of being here to talk about an issue, that from a political point of view—not from a substantive point of view—is frankly trivial, insignificant, and inconsequential. And that is an unusual position, but I think it's quite clear from looking at the data that that is the nature of this issue, in the public mind. From an electoral perspective, it is trivial, it is insignificant, and it is inconsequential.

First, it's quite clear that people are just not interested in this debate. In a recent CNN/USA Today poll, 11% of the American public said they were following this debate about national missile defense. In a CBS News poll, only 6% of the American public even said they heard a lot about it, so there are some people that say they've been following the debate but hadn't heard anything yet, but basically very few people are paying any attention to this issue whatsoever. Second, to the extent that we can determine, this national missile defense is an extraordinary low priority for the American public. In a poll we did in the spring, we asked people what the most important issue facing the country was, gave them a list that included maintain a strong national defense, including developing missile defense, and 4% of the American public selected maintaining a strong national defense as the most important problem facing the country, less than 1% said a national missile defense was the most important problem. Indeed, when you look at people's professed priorities, spending for national missile defense is a much lower priority than spending on a host of defense-related programs. So when we asked people, which was more important, spending money on education or spending money on national missile defense, by 77%-14% people said education as more important. We asked about social security and Medicare, by 72%-17% people said pending on social security and Medicare was more important than national missile defense. And with crime, the numbers were 49% in favor of spending more on crime rather than on national missile defense. Indeed, even the much-maligned tax-cuts received more support than spending on national missile defense. Even within the defense area, when you look at training and pay, by 59%-24%, more than two-to-one, people said it's more important to spend money on training and pay than to spending money on national missile defense. By 56%-26% people said it's more important to spend money defending against terrorism than to spend money on national missile defense. No matter how you look at it, no matter how you cut the data, the reality is that NMD is an extraordinarily low priority for the American public, almost every other domestic issue, almost every other defense issue is a higher priory for the American public than is national missile defense.

Finally, it's quite clear that voters are reluctant, not surprisingly, to spend money to deploy a system that doesn't work. Now this ought to cause no surprise to anybody except some of the advocates of national missile defense, who would have you believe that people are anxious to spend money on a system that doesn't work.

We asked a question of the public, again in the spring whether they thought we ought to go ahead and deploy a national missile defense system under current circumstances or there ought to be a required certification that substantial progress had been made toward achieving success with NMD first. By 54%-14% people said let's not deploy, let's require substantial progress before we make any decision. The rest of the folks admitted they had no idea what we were talking about at all. Indeed, two thirds of the American public, without the technical knowledge of Dr. Garwin, came to the same conclusion. Sixty-Eight percent of the American public said that within the next five to ten years, our enemies would be able to develop countermeasures that will render any national missile defense we put together as ineffective and ineffectual. They've seen Mylar balloons at their kid's birthday parties, they may not know how to use them as decoys, but the reality is they come to the same conclusion. And indeed, when people are told if there's doubt about whether such a system would work, by 55%-25% in a recent CNN/USA Today poll, people said, well, let's not build it if it doesn't work. Again, it's hardly surprising in this day and age that people are reluctant to spend money on programs that don't work, that can't be proven to work. The data, I think, is clear and overwhelming.

So, just to reiterate: the reason this issue will not play any significant role in voter's decision-making processes as we enter the fall, is that it is an extraordinarily low priority, it is an issue which people are not paying attention to, and which they are not following, and indeed, it is an issue where they agree with the fundamental premise that money should not be spend, deployment should not be undertaken, until and unless we can be sure the system works. After that, there are other consideration, foreign policy, diplomatic, and arms control considerations, all of which they are willing to entertain, but first and foremost, people are unwilling to deploy a system to expend more money on a system that doesn't work and where scientists doubt that it can be made to work in any reasonable time frame. Thank you.

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Questions and Answers

KEENY: Thank you very much. We're open to questions now. Any aspect of this from the audience?

QUESTION: Quick question on the poll? How many people and when did you do it?

MELLMAN: Although I cited several different polls, in the ones we had done, one of them was done in September 1999 and the other in April 2000. Each of them had, I believe, 1000 samples.

QUESTION: To Mark Mellman. Given your polling results, do you think the Bush campaign and Republican congressional candidates are not going to spend any money on this issue this year?

MELLMAN: I can't predict what they will do, but I can predict what would be wise for them to do and what would be foolish. They may well spend money on this, but it would be foolish for them to do so in the course of this election. We thought last year in this last cycle, we would see ads about national missile defense. It was suggested at one point that they might be run in the California Senate race for example, but none of these ads ever materialized. When campaigns are called upon to make real spending decisions, they are going to focus their message on what voters believe are the most important issues. Not one person in the country, to my knowledge, chose to make missile defense an issue in the campaign. There's no question that I think it would be foolish for them to do so now. That's not to say they won't do so. Part of the reason they might do so is, I think, a fundamental misreading of the poll we made. If you look at the rest of the polling data, where Democrats and republicans are on various issues, the one issue on which Republicans are trusted more than Democrats by significant margins is national defense. So I think part of what's led Republicans, incorrectly, down the path towards this as a potential political issue, is to focus on that one single number, that says they're more trusted on defense than Democrats. Therefore, they have to find a defense issue to ride, and this might be it. But that analysis ignores the fundamental fact that people aren't that interested in national missile defense issues and haven't been for some time, and it's going to be extraordinarily difficult to make them interested. And second, it ignores the other point that I made in terms of the fundamental position of the public on this issue.

QUESTION: Couple questions on the polling. How much of an influence do you think the poll results had on Clinton's decision last week?

MELLMAN: Very little.

QUESTION: He's not paying attention?

MELLMAN: I can't tell you what he's paying attention to, but my sense is his decision, and this is substantiated by the other speakers, his decision was based on the criteria he developed for making this decision, independent from polling.

QUESTION: And could you defend your poll a little bit, on the objectivity of the questions. We often hear about poll results from Frank Gaffney and the questions are so loaded as to elicit the response that his side is looking for. Can you give assurances that your poll…?

MELLMAN: You have my personal assurances. I'd be happy to share with you the questions. In some of the polls I've said, the CBS/New York Times poll, USA Today/Gallup poll, some are our own polling, but any question that provides information is necessarily loaded in some way. A lot of questions I've tried to refer to are questions that don't provide any information, others do, I'd be happy to show you what the arguments are, but I think to the extent that we've provided people with information, we've done so in a way that fairly captures what both sides are saying. The fundamental point here, from a polling perspective is, given how you have a public that knows nothing about this and isn't very concerned-and I think it's very hard to find yourself with anything different than that-if you give them the option of either being protected or unprotected, people are going to choose to be protected. You wonder who the people are that say, I prefer to be not protected-who are they and what's wrong with them. But when you start to suggest that there are arguments on both sides, dealing with technical feasibility, diplomacy up against arguments on the other side in terms of threat and so on, the balance starts to shift, and shift pretty dramatically, but people are largely unaware of the arguments on both sides. Given the choice between being protected and unprotected, they're going to choose to be protected, but they're not willing to spend money on a program that doesn't work or that will heat up the arms race, even though there is, as seen from the other side, a possibility for threats and so on. Part of what your seeing from the other side is a fairly simplistic analysis, not very robust sense of what Republican opinion is, because what's important is the people that care about this issue.

QUESTION: Jack, what's the status of the Russian missile defense? Don't they have a ring around Moscow of some kind?

MENDELSOHN: They have a system that's been deployed since the 1960s of 100 interceptors, which the U.S. does not consider to be any threat to our offensive forces.

QUESTION: Does it work?

MENDELSOHN: We don't know. It has nuclear warheads, so you didn't have to strike directly on the incoming target, so probably if you launched nuclear warheads up above Moscow, you probably would knock down some incoming warheads. But that was never a concern of the United States.

QUESTION: So it's not a violation of the ABM Treaty?

MENDELSOHN: No, you were permitted 200 interceptors, a protocol was added to the treaty in 1974, which cut that back to 100 interceptors, and that's what the Russians have now. It's not a system that I think they can rely on.

QUESTION: Doesn't that give us a right to 100 interceptors?

MENDELSOHN: We have a right to 100 interceptors. We had 100 interceptors operational in, let me guess 1975, but over six months, we figured out it was a waste of money.

QUESTION: But the difference is national or…?

MENDELSOHN: The difference now is that we're asking to, we don't know what we're asking for, the Clinton-Gore program is for 200 interceptors located at least one site that is not permitted under the treaty and it would involve new sets of sensors in locations that are not permitted. Plus, who knows what else we're going to do.

KEENY: Let me add one thing on the history here. The treaty as amended in 1974 allowed you to pick your national capital or a missile field for the one site you wanted to defend. And the U.S., in its infinite wisdom during the Nixon administration, decided to deploy at a missile field and the Russians chose Moscow. At that time, both sides' interceptors were armed with nuclear warheads. But they were also relatively short-range. And the Moscow system only really defends the greater Moscow area, couple-hundred miles at most. Against a very small attack, those nuclear-armed interceptors would in fact, be effective. The problem is that against a massive attack, the use of nuclear warheads jams the system itself, so it would tend to collapse, but against a very small attack, it would be useful. As Jack said, we chose to discontinue deployment at Grand Forks because it just wasn't worth he cost of sustaining it. By the treaty, we could move the site back to Washington, but we can't move it anywhere else, like Alaska, without an amendment to the treaty. Now there's a debate within the community whether the Moscow system is still fully operational, it could be, but it's sort of a relic in some ways, and some judge it as no longer operational, others judge it could be. The thing to understand in all of this is that the ABM treaty allowed a single site for a region, and the treaty in its first article makes it clear that you cannot have a national missile defense of the whole territory of the country.

MENDELSOHN: That's the point the Russians have make in principle, that anything you do to have a national missile defense will be a violation of Article 1. There's one other point about the sensor is that is not just about location but, if we have space-based sensors that can actually track incoming objects, then you are beginning to put ABM battle management capabilities into space and that also is blocked by the ABM treaty. So there are lots of things about the administration program, which are not immediately obvious, that makes them in violation of the treaty.

QUESTION: If we were to have a national missile defense, I don't think a smart enemy would attempt to penetrate it with ICBMs, unless he had a backup play, another option in the event that his attempts were to fail. I think this tells us that backup option could be attacks requiring a lot of theater missile defense; ancillary attacks against important U.S. strategic positions around the world. This presents us with an argument, not for national missile defense, because that may be insufficient, but rather for something we would call global missile defense, where our national missile defense would have to be interlocked with a lot of theater missile defense systems. If we don't do that, having only national missile defense is certainly not going to be enough to protect U.S. targets. Mainly because we are not a homeland body, America is expanded all around the world. So I would like some comments on that. I would also like, if I may, a related comment, where public perceptions are concerned. No American cared about missile defense, and then there was a speech by Ronald Reagan, his famous Star Wars speech, and within a few weeks Congress provided around $25 billion in its first batch of research funds to the DOD. Smart salesmanship could probably do that again, so I'm not sure that this 2% of interest that exists would be overturned almost overnight by a very canny speaker on the TV set.

KEENY: Well, let me start out and then turn it over to the other panelists. The Star Wars speech came as quite a surprise to a lot of people, particularly the technical and scientific communities, who didn't think it made any sense, but it was certainly a new idea. But that was in 1983, and it never went anywhere. Despite the interest in Congress and elsewhere, it didn't really sell itself. It's been a constant puzzlement to some of the extreme hawks in the Republican party, why that notion doesn't catch fire with the American people, and that's why I think these surveys are interesting. The advocates feel, as you suggest, that a national missile defense is something that ought to sell, and it doesn't sell. And for that reason, I don't think you can pump up Star Wars again and try to sell it a second time. As to the theater missile defense idea, this is a policy that's being pursued. The U.S. is developing, with some considerable difficulties, a range of theater missile defenses. Garwin will want to say something about this. If I understand you, you're sort of suggesting a global system made up of a national missile defense plus theater missile defenses to defend everybody else. This is quite an undertaking and I suppose that is one formulation of what our current policy appears to be. Now those who want a limited defense or even a more extensive defense would offer TMD to the rest of the world. I think the next step on that is the one that Bush apparently is toying with, an integrated defense that's capable of defending all of our allies, essentially the globe, as part of the package. And let me tell you, the technology of that is pretty daunting and the cost is incredible. But Dick, how do you deal with this?

GARWIN: I should say I'm in favor of many kinds of defenses, among them theater missile defenses, but those are against high-explosive missiles. If people start using nuclear warheads in theaters, we have a much bigger problem than if they have only high explosives. If your opponent uses only high-explosive missiles you can win an offense-defense battle if you're smarter than the other guy. But incidentally, we should be content with shorter-range systems for defending rather than trying to reach out to cover whole theaters, because that gets to be a national missile defense problem and it's too easily defeated. Local systems do have an appeal, we solve this decoupling problem, and they give something to everybody to join in. The Russians know that, so they have a propaganda campaign, and maybe there's something underlying it, but they haven't been clear yet to explain it, for a global missile control regime of some kind. Which would set rules of the road and might involve some kinds of defenses. Russia has three proposals approaching the table: one for a global missile control regime, one with boost-phase intercept to help the U.S. with its problems that it sees in North Korea, and one for theater missile defense, where Russia would just love to get a contract to help defend Europe from missiles launched from the middle east or north Africa.

As for selling a global system, they've tried. It's not as if it will come out of the blue now, with a catch phrase, but the Reagan speech of March 1983 was not only a surprise to the scientific community, it was astonishing to the Secretary of Defense, to the Secretary of State, and to all but three or four people in the administration. In fact, you can read the Frances Fitzgerald book, but if you don't have time to read the book you can read of review of it, which was in the Los Angeles Times, if you go to my web page.

So I don't think it's going to come out of nowhere and overwhelm people. And this is the wrong place to start. You don't want NMD as the keystone of an expanding system that's built on sand, but on foam. You want to have something that really works against a real threat before you start expanding it to have a bigger, greater capability defense.

KEENY: Mark, do you have something to add on the selling of national missile defense?

MELLMAN: Just really a few words. First of all, when Reagan gave that speech in 1983, he did get initial support, but that support quickly melted away. In fact, it was not too long after that a majority of Americans opposed the Star Wars program, and indeed it became a term of ridicule, very quickly. The reference is now a pejorative, not a positive. Second, in 1983 the fundamental, underlying public opinion was significantly different in the following respects: people were much more concerned about the potential for nuclear war, about the potential of a major conflict between the superpowers, and the whole issue of national defense was higher on people's agenda than it is today. So in 1983, Reagan was essentially saying to the country, there's already prior concern about this threat, so let me give you a definitive solution. When it became apparent there was nothing there, it quickly became an object or ridicule. Today, a President would be saying, let me try to convince you that this problem's actually more important than you think it is, and then let me try to give you a solution that has already been ridiculed.

QUESTION: I'm a reporter from the New China News agency with a question on China. Let me give you a little background to the question. Mr. Mendelsohn, while addressing the recent response to the NMD deployment, talked comparatively little on China's concerns. For Chinese, the United States seems to be preparing a war with China and even the preliminary deployment of 100 interceptors is just enough to cap China's nuclear weapons. In fact, as reported by the AP and Reuters, a congressman has said, in a written report, that the real purpose of NMD is to deal with China. So, in your opinion, what is the real purpose of NMD?

KEENY: I think we could all deal with that, because the point you make about China's concern is completely understandable. Since China does not take North Korea's threat seriously and the location of the proposed U.S. national missile system would appear to be ideally suited to deal with China, China has every reason to raise the question. I know the administration says they are going to work very hard to persuade the Chinese that they have no reason to be concerned, but I think that's a pretty difficult assignment to carry out, unless the administration is prepared to say the system is so ineffective that China doesn't have to worry about it working. But let me ask Dick for his response.

GARWIN: The proposed NMD has various purposes according to the people that are supporting it. Those whom work on it like the challenge, they have a job to do, that's their purpose. Many supporters of the NMD support it, in my opinion, just because it will work in principle against the Chinese strategic force. North Korea, in the fable of the three bears, is too little—the baby bear—too easy. Russia is the papa bear—too hard. But the middle bear—momma bear—China, is just the right size. In fact, Jim Woolsey, a fellow member of the Rumsfeld Commission and former Director of the CIA, when he testified in February of this year before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, was asked by Senator Biden, if the proposed system worked perfectly against the states of concern but had no effectiveness against China or Russia, would he support it? And Mr. Woolsey said no, because his interest is having something that would work, obviously not against Russia, but against China. From the point of view of China, that's the downside. The upside is that China could easily deal with the system with penetration aids at some expense. But the Chinese government is probably no more sensible than the American government; the Chinese military would come in and say, besides the countermeasures, we have to build a lot more strategic weapons. And it would probably be hard for the Chinese government to resist.

KEENY: There's no question that the statements, by people like Jim Woolsey and Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) in supporting their interests in a national missile defense, are extremely controversial and extremely confrontational with China, Russia, and other countries. This is part of the problem that President Clinton had to balance in coming to a decision whether or not to move forward with deployment. Going forward would certainly be interpreted by China, Russia, and lots of other countries as having these other hidden objectives. But I can assure you that no one at this table takes any responsibility for the statements of Woolsey or Kyl.

QUESTION: Mr. Mendelsohn made the point that Chinese system seems to be threatened by a TMD system as well, and TMD has a lot more political support than NMD. Doesn't that suggest that China will probably decide to increase their nuclear arsenal anyway?

GARWIN: Two problems with that. China is very upset about the prospect of TMD of Taiwan. And this is a political problem; I don't know if the United States will help Taiwan with a theater missile defense, we do not believe that China should be encouraged to throw missiles at Taiwan. Taiwan does not have nuclear weapons, so it's not destabilizing to have a defense. China has some hundreds of nuclear weapon, but only about 20 of them are on long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. The fall 1999 National Intelligence Estimate, in its unclassified version, says China is in the process of deploying mobile missiles, which are not subject to preemptive attack and destruction before launch. That has been the problem with the Chinese missiles; yet, China doesn't appear to worry about it. If a war started, those missiles would be destroyed before they could be used. So one doesn't need a national missile defense to counter the existing Chinese force. The mobile missiles that would face a national missile defense, should we deploy it, would have to be deployed with penetration aids. No, China does not have a need to develop more than perhaps an additional 20 mobile missiles, in the absence of a national missile defense. And if they have appropriate countermeasures, they could stick with that as well. But they may decide for their own domestic political purposes because of the political strength of the military—which is not very great—that they should build more missiles, which of course would cut into their other military capabilities, in a fixed budget.

KEENY: Any other questions? I think then we can adjourn our meeting and stay within the club rules that we would be thrown out at 11:00 if we were not finished. Thank you all very much for coming.

The Domestic and International Impact of Clinton's NMD Decision

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