Monday, June 6, 2016
9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m;
Post-event reception at 5:00 p.m.*
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
*Reception held at Sky Bar
On June 6, shortly after President Barack Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima, we hosted our 2016 Annual Meeting featuring keynote remarks from President Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor and 2015 "Arms Control Person of the Year" award winner Setsuko Thurlow.
Our 2016 Annual Meeting looked at the global nuclear challenges and solutions for the next U.S. president.
Audio and video playlists of the full program are available on Soundcloud and Youtube.
Daryl G. Kimball
Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Paul F. Walker
Vice Chair, Arms Control Association Board of Directors
Hibakusha, Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor, anti-nuclear activist, and 2015 “Arms Control Person of the Year Award” winner
Nonproliferation Challenges Facing the Next President
Ambassador Susan Burk, head of U.S. delegation to the 2010 NPT Review Conference
Toby Dalton, Co-director of the Carnegie Endowment Nuclear Policy Program
Zia Mian, Director of the Project on Peace and Security in South Asia at the Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Joel Wit, Visiting Scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
Benjamin Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications
Transcript (as delivered, with Q/A)
Examining the U.S. Nuclear Spending Binge
Mark F. Cancian, Senior Advisor with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists
Andrew Weber, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs
Amy Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy at the Congressional Research Service
Daryl G. Kimball
Executive Director, Arms Control Association
(Unedited transcript posted as delivered.Transcription done by CQ Roll Call.)
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING WELCOME REMARKS AND MORNING KEYNOTE WITH SETSUKO THURLOW
KIMBALL: Good morning, everyone. Good morning. Welcome to the 2016 Arms Control Association annual meeting. I'm Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.
We are an independent membership organization established in 1971, and we are dedicated to reducing and eliminating the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons, nuclear, chemical, biological and certain conventional weapons.
We're very pleased to see so many of you here today, members, friends, supporters, reporters, also. The support and contributions of our members are what makes our work possible. Thank you very much for all that you do for us. We could not be here today without you.
I also want to welcome those of you watching on C-Span today. Hope you're following the Arms Control Association annual meeting for the next few hours.
You can find out more about the Arms Control Association, about our news and information and analysis that we provide, about weapons related to security challenges, and effective arms control solutions through our website, armscontrol.org.
And you can also access our information and analysis, including our monthly Journal Arms Control Today, on our new app. Yes, we have an app for smartphones and tablet computers, the latest in arms control information technology.
The Arms Control app can be downloaded for use on Apple, Android and Amazon devices. So, if you don't know about that, and you're here at the meeting and you need some technical assistance, we have some folks outside who can help you download your arms control app.
We also encourage those of you here today and watching, to engage with us through Twitter with the hashtag, armscontrol16 and as you can see from our meeting program, which is at your table, and available through the arms control app, we have organized a very substantive high level program today that's going to cover a range of nuclear weapons related security challenges facing the United States and the world, and, in particular, the next President of the United States.
In about an hour, an expert panel of four leading experts on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons usable material, will discuss the major non-proliferation challenges that they think will face the next President of the United States, beginning in 2017.
We're very honored, also, to have as our second keynote speaker today, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications for President Barack Obama, Benjamin Rhodes, who will join us from noon to 1:00 to talk about President Obama's ongoing efforts to reduce the number, the role and the risks of nuclear weapons and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
And he is also going to take questions from this audience. So that should be very interesting at the noon hour.
In the afternoon, we will finish up with an expert panel discussion on the enormous budgetary cost of President Obama's proposed plan to maintain and upgrade U.S. nuclear weapon systems.
And that panel is going to discuss possible options and issues and choices for the next president and Congress, regarding those costs while still addressing key U.S. defense requirements.
But first, this morning, we're going to begin with our opening keynote speaker, and the awarding of the 2015 Arms Control Person of the Year Award.
We're going to be hearing in a few minutes, from the remarkable and indefatigable Setsuko Thurlow, who was a 13 year old student at her school in Hiroshima the morning that the U.S. Air Force detonated an atomic bomb on her city.
In recognition of her efforts and all those of the Hibakusha, the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, to ensure that no such horrors ever occur again, she was nominated for our 2015 Arms Control Person of the Year Award late last year.
So, to introduce her and to present her with the award, is the Vice Chairman of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors, Paul F. Walker. Paul is a significant figure in the arms control field in his own rights.
He was recognized in 2013 as recipient of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award for his decades of service to eliminate the threats posed by chemical weapons.
So, after Paul's introduction of Setsuko, we'll hear from her, and she will take your questions for the next 45-50 minutes or so.
(Back to Agenda)
So, Paul, if I could invited you up to the podium and Setsuko, if you could on up also, that would be great.
WALKER: Good morning, everybody. Nice to be here. Nice to see so many friendly and recognizable faces in the audience, and nice to see we have such a good turnout today, as well.
As Daryl said, my name is Paul Walker. I work with a group called Green Cross International, founded by a fellow you all recognize, named Mikhail Gorbachev. He's been Chairman of our group for about 20, 23, 24 years now.
I'm really delighted to be here today as Vice Chair of the Board of the Arms Control Association, and I have the really very enjoyable task of presenting the 2015 Arms Control Person of the Year Award to Setsuko Thurlow.
Let me just a few words about the award and how we make this determination. I know many of you here know that, know this already and have voted probably over the years for many annual awardees, but let me go over it a bit.
Every year since 2007, the Arms Control Association staff has nominated several individuals and institutions that have advanced effective arms control, non-proliferation and, disarming solutions, and/or raised awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons.
Each of nominees in their own way provided leadership to help reduce weapons-related security threats and you can actually see previous winners here, since 2007, in your program.
Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki received the highest number of votes in an online poll, to determine the 2015 Arms Control Person of the Year.
Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nominated for their unyielding dedication to sharing first-hand accounts of the catastrophic and inhumane effects of nuclear weapons, which serves to reinforce the taboo against the further use of nuclear weapons, and to maintain pressure for affective action, eliminate and outlaw nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing.
By sharing their first-hand experiences of the atomic bombings, Thurlow, who now resides in Toronto, Canada, and many other atomic bomb survivors, like her, help play a critical role raising awareness of the human consequences of the nuclear weapon's use and prodding governmental leaders to take action to end the nuclear threat.
It's very fitting that seventy years after the atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, online voters chose to honor those who experienced the horrors of nuclear weapons.
I can't imagine as a thirteen year old myself experiencing a nuclear weapon explosion overhead. You have worked so hard and so tirelessly to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again as the 2015 Arms Control Person of the Year.
Setsuko and the diminishing number of surviving Hibakusha are an inspiration to those who seek a safer world and a reminder of why the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons is so important, to quote our esteemed Director the Arms Control Association, Daryl Kimbell.
So with that, Setsuko, let me get the award here, and if you would come up and I will present you on behalf of the whole Arms Control Association, many of you I'm sure, with this prestigious award. We are delighted and very pleased to have you with us here today. So, here you go.
So, Setsuko, I will let you now make your presentation, and we will try to leave time—we have until about 10:00. We'll try to leave time for questions and answers, and I'll try to triage or manage our Q & A after your presentation.
OK. The podium is yours.
THURLOW: Thank you very much, Paul. I feel so humbled and pleased to receive this beautiful gift, award. Thank you.
I'm very happy to be here this morning and to be with you, and to receive this honor, and to have the chance to talk something about, a little bit about my experiences and thoughts and feelings about nuclear weapons.
I just made a last minute change in my plans. I'm just speaking from the heart. I'll just put the paper away. OK.
Really it was a total shock, surprise to learn that I was going to receive the award from this organization, especially when I learned that people around the world were voting for me. Well, I didn't realize that I had so many friends around the world, but, well, I thought it was a miracle that I receive this.
And not only I but my fellow colleagues who are members of the Hibakusha Association in Japan. They are together remembered and honored with me. So, on their behalf, as well, let me give you my heartfelt thank you. Thank you.
Now, I use a word miracle lightly, but really, 71 years ago I did experience a miracle, and here I am in your company today.
So, I thought (inaudible) I would share my personal experience with you. I know many of you are experts, arms control specialists, and I'm sure you're quite well-informed and knowledgeable of all kinds of human conditions, including the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. But I thought I would offer my personal and first-hand experience.
In 1945, I was a 13 year old grade 8 student in the girls' school and on that very day, I was at the Army Headquarter. A group of about 30 girls had been recruited and trained to do the recording work of the top secret information.
Can you imagine, a 13 year old girl doing such important work? That shows how desperate Japan was.
I met the girls in front of the station at 8:00, no, before 8:00. And at 8:00 at the military headquarter, which was 1.8 kilometer from ground zero, I was on the second floor and started with a big assembly and the major [INDISCERNIBLE 00:13:13] gave us pep talk.
This is the way you start proving your patriotism for Emperor, that kind of thing. And we said, yes sir, we will do our best. When we said that, I saw the blaze of white flash in the window, and then I had the sensation of smoking up in the air.
When I regained the consciousness in the total silence and that was—I was trying to move my body. I couldn't move it at all. I knew I was faced with death.
Then I started hearing whispering voices of the girls around me. God, help me, mother help me. I'm here. So, I knew I was surrounded by them, although I couldn't see anybody in the darkness.
Then, suddenly, a strong male voice said, don't give up. I'm trying to free you. He kept shaking my left shoulder from behind, and pushed me, and keep kicking, keep pushing, and you see we're finally coming to the door opening, get out that way, crawl, as quickly as possible.
And by the time I came out of the building, it was on fire. That meant about 30 other girls who were with me in that same place were burning to death. But two other girls managed to come out, so three of us looked around.
Although that happened in the morning, it was very dark, dark as twilight, and I started seeing some moving black object approaching to me. And they happened to be the streams of human beings slowly shuffling from the center part of the city to where I was.
They didn't look like human beings. Their hair was standing straight up. Burned, blackness, swelling, bleeding. Parts of the bodies were missing. The skin and flesh were hanging from the bones. And some were carrying their own eyeballs, you know, they're hanging from the eye socket.
And they collapsed onto the ground, their stomach burst open with their intestines were sticking out. And the soldier said, well you girls, join that procession, escape to the nearby field.
That's what we did by carefully stopping over the dead bodies, injured bodies. It was a strange situation. Nobody was running and screaming for help. They just didn't have that kind of strength left.
They were simply whispering, water please, water please. Everybody was asking for water.
We girls were relatively lightly injured. So, by the time we got to the hillside, we went to a nearby stream and washed off the blood and dirt, and we took off our blouses and soaked them in the stream and dashed back and put them, to hold them over the mouth of the dying people.
You see, the place we escaped to, had the military training ground, huge place, about the size of two football fields. The place was packed with the dead and dying people.
I wanted to help but everyone wanted the water but no cups and no buckets to carry the water. That's why we resorted to that rather primitive way of so called rescue operation. That was all we could do.
I looked around and see if there any doctors around us. But I saw none of them in that huge place. That meant, tens of thousand people in that place without medication, no medical attention, medication, ointment.
Nothing was provided for them. Just a few drops of water from a wet cloth. That was the level of support, rescue operation you could offer.
We kept ourselves busy all day doing that. And, of course, other doctors and nurses were killed too. Just a small percentage of the medical professionals survived, but they were serving people somewhere else, not where I was.
So, when we get back with (inaudible) we were three girls, together with hundreds of other people who escaped to the place. We just sat on the hillside and all night, we watch the Empire City burn, to see the moon from the massive scale of death and suffering, we had witnessed.
I was mad, strongly, appropriately, emotionally. Something happened to my psyche. When Dr. (inaudible) talks about psychic closing off of psychic memory, in an ultimate situation like that, the cessation of the emotions takes place automatically.
And we (inaudible) I'm glad of that explanation, because if we responded emotionally to every graphic sight I witnessed, I couldn't have survived.
That's the end of that very day. Other people can tell about being near the rivers, and the rivers are full of floating dead bodies, and so on. But I didn't see (inaudible) then.
But I'll tell you about the few people in my family, my friends how they lost their lives. That will give you just how the bomb affected human beings.
I talked about 30 girls, who were with me. But the rest of the students were at the city center. The city was trying to establish the (inaudible) to be prepared for the air raid.
So, all the grade seven and grade eight students from all the high schools were recruited, go to the center of the city. And we were providing the minor labor.
Now, they were in the center right below the detonation of the bomb. So they are the ones, who simply vaporized, melted and carbonized. My sister-in-law was there with a student.
She was one of the teachers supervising the students. We tried to locate her corpse, but we have never done so. On paper, she's still missing, but—together with thousands of other students.
Oh, I understand there were several thousand students, several—8,000 or so. They simply disappeared from the face of earth. The temperature of heat I understand was about 4,000 degrees Celsius.
Another story I can tell is about my sister and her 4-year-old child, who came back to the city the night before to visit us. And early in the morning, they were walking over the bridge to the medical clinic, and both of them were burned beyond recognition.
By the time I saw them the next day, their bodies were swollen twice or three times larger than normal, and they too kept begging for water. When they died, the soldiers dug up the hole and threw the body, poured the gasoline, threw the lighted match.
And with a bamboo stick, they kept turning the body. Hey, the stomach is half burned. The ring (ph) is not quite burned yet. There I was a 13-year-old girl, and I was standing emotionlessly just watching it.
And that memory troubled me for many years. What kind of human being am I? My dear sister being treated like animal or an insect or whatever.
There was no human dignity associated with that kind of cremation. The fact that I didn't really shed tears troubled me for many years. I felt guilt.
So, later years as I went to the university, I started learning how human being behave in the alternate (ph) condition. And Dr. Lifton's "Death in Life" was a big help.
I could forgive myself after learning how our psyche automatically function in situations like that. But, you know, it's the image of this 4-year-old child, which is burned to my retina. It's always there.
And that image just guide me, and it's the driving force for my activism. Because he came to represent all the innocent children of the world without understanding what was happening to them. They agonize (inaudible).
So he is a special being, a special memory. If he is alive, he's 75 today. It's a sobering thought, but regardless of passage of time, he's still a 4-year-old child guiding me.
It was interesting, Mr. Obama made a lot of reference about innocent children, how we need to protect each one of them. And I was weeping. I couldn't help it.
Now, let me tell you another example of how atomic bomb affected the human beings. We rejoiced to hear my favorite uncle and aunt survived. They were OK. They didn't have any visible sign of injury.
And then several days later, we started hearing different story. They got sick, very sick. So after my sister and my nephew died, my parents went over to my uncle's place, started looking after them.
Their body started showing purple spots all over the body, and according to my mother, who cared for them until their death, their internal organs seemed to be rotting, dissolving, coming out as a thick black liquid until death.
The entire innards from their bodies came out. My mother used every material and old newspaper, everything to use as diapers (ph), but that was one way of dying.
Now, radiation works in many mysterious and random way. Some people are killed immediately, some are weeks later or months later, year later. And the horrible thing is 71 years later people are still dying from the effects of (inaudible), the effect of the radiation.
Now, the struggle Hibakusha, another word survivors, Hibakusha's struggle was unexplainable in the aftermath, you know. It's surviving in the unprecedented catastrophic aura, and the unprecedented social/political chaos due to Japan's defeat and the occupational forces' strict control over us.
Well, if I start giving the detailed story of that, that would take the whole morning, so maybe I'll stop. But the struggle in the aftermath was very difficult.
Now, I finish university in Japan, and upon my graduation, I was offered the scholarship, so I came to your country. I came to Virginia, very close to this city.
And that was 1954. The United States tested the biggest hydrogen bomb at the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific that time, and creating the kind of situation with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience.
And the entire Japan was up in arms with fury. It was not only Hiroshima, not only Nagasaki, now the Pacific Bikini Atoll. Well, the United States keep—continue with the testing and actually using them.
And that's when entire Japan became fully aware of the nature of nuclear weapon development. Anyway, at that time, I left Japan, arrived in Virginia in August, and I was interviewed by the press.
And I gave my honest opinion. I was fresh out of college and naïve and believed in honesty. And I told them what I thought. The United States nuclear policy was bad. It has to stop.
And look at all the killings and damage to the environment in the Pacific; that has to stop, and all these kind of thing I said. And next day, I started receiving hate letters. How dare you? Do you realize where you are?
Who is giving the scholarship? Go home. Go back to Japan. And just a few days after my arrival, I encountered this kind of situation. And I was horrified. It was quite a traumatic experience.
What am I going to do? I can't—I just arrived. I can't go back. And I can't put a zipper over my mouth and pretend I never know anything about Hiroshima bombing.
Would I be able to survive in North America? Well, I spent a week without going to the classroom. I just had to be alone and do my soul searching.
It was a painful and lonely time in a new country. I hardly knew anybody. And then this question I faced. But, I'm happy to say that I came out of that traumatic experience (inaudible) more determined and a stronger conviction.
If I don't speak out, who will? I actually experienced it. I saw it. And it's my moral responsibility. So, I have my experience to warn the world. We've seen this is just the beginning of the nuclear arms race. And I just have to warn the world.
So, that was the beginning. I'm sorry, all right. Well, I'm reminded of my time. Well, I think I explained briefly why I have been doing what I have been doing.
So most of my life—adult life I have been speaking in high schools, universities, women's groups, Rotary Clubs, anywhere people want to learn what it means to live in nuclear age.
From my very perspective, I know the government say one thing, but this is what I feel because I experienced it. I felt it was important contribution I could make in—I'm suggested that I am to stop, so.
Thank you, thank you very much.
WALKER: Thank you very much, Setsuko. I think it's extremely moving as always for us to hear these stories from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as from radiation victims—down-winders, atomic veterans, Bikini Atoll, South Pacific Islanders, you know, Kazakhstan, (inaudible) Knoll victims—many, many, many as we know that all—all can relate to this to some extent because they've suffered and continue to suffer all the health illnesses from—from radiation poisoning over the world.
I'll open it up for questions now. I think I'll—I'll pose the first question, I think, to Setsuko to get the ball rolling. We have about 25 minutes, I think, to continue discussion.
But—but first of all, Setsuko, give us a little sense of how you then came from Virginia, where I'm so glad that you were determined to speak truth to power as we say. How did you come from Virginia to Toronto, Canada?
THURLOW: (OFF-MIKE) in Hiroshima, and then got the scholarship to come to Virginia. Now, the school gave me full scholarship. You see, by that time, I had just some sort of idea I wanted to become a social worker, because in that chaotic situation, everybody needed the help.
And my church minister dedicated his life in supporting those people. And I wanted to become a helping person, somebody who can help and contribute to society to build up the city.
And for that I needed a social work professional training. Japan's training—social work training in Japan at that time was not quite well established. So, I came here to study directly from Japan.
WALKER: Ah, you did—to the United States or to Canada then?
THURLOW: The United States.
WALKER: United States.
THURLOW: Then I went to University of Toronto. I did the further study. And then I went back to Japan. I practiced social work, taught social work. And then '62, my family—I got married. I had two little children by that time.
So we all came back to Toronto in '62. Ever since, I have been a permanent resident of Canada.
THURLOW: And I have done social work all my life.
THURLOW: But peace work at the same time.
THURLOW: It was good.
WALKER: Well, I give you enormous credit for sticking with it this long, this many years. And it's very, very important that you do, I think.
Because no one—practically no one has really experienced—obviously except the Hibakusha that survived those bombings—a real nuclear weapons explosion.
You know, it's—it's not usual for people to really understand, I think, what nuclear weapons are all about. So, with that, let me—let me turn to the audience.
I know there are many, many questions. I have many more questions I could pose, but I think I'd rather turn to you and give you the opportunity to ask questions.
Right here in the front table, yes? And please introduce yourself first. We have a—because we're on C-SPAN too, let me emphasize, wait for the microphone before...
QUESTION: Hi, Alex Leibowitz (ph). I was wondering what people thought had happened. Obviously, Japan had experienced normal bombing from non-nuclear weapons, but here was something where it was one explosion.
Did people understand that? Obviously, they didn't know it was a nuclear weapon. What did they think had happened when the—when the blasts came?
THURLOW: Well, my immediate reaction was—well, finally Americans got us. Well, nobody knew about a new type of weapon. So, we thought it was usual incendiary bombs, because United States started indiscriminate attack of major cities.
By the time we were attacked, I think, about 70 percent of the urban centers in Japan were all leveled. And starting with Tokyo, I think in one night over 100,000 people were killed.
I think hundreds of B-29s flew over them, and thousands of tons of incendiary bombs had been (inaudible) Hiroshima, only one did the trick, and most of the city disappeared.
But, no, we had no idea. It took some time before we knew clearly what it was. The government reported new type of bomb was used. That was all we know.
WALKER: Yes? Right in the middle. Yes?
QUESTION: I'm Carlo Tritsa (ph) from Italy. As there would be many, many questions to ask, but I'll just stick to maybe one. First of all, you said that it was—you started your presentation indicating that it was a miracle that you are alive.
I think that all of us around here, after all we are alive and it is a miracle since there were so many occasions where we are almost on the border of the—of the—of the nuclear war. Therefore, it is a common situation.
But, since you are a Hibakusha, a category which unfortunately would inevitably disappear, I think that what is very important is to maintain the momentum of awareness of the international public opinion on that.
And I think that one of the major events was President Obama's visit to—to Hiroshima.
How do you want—or how—what is the best way to perpetrate the testimony and the awareness and the education of people in --in—in your view to—to—to maintain, you know, the momentum of the—of—of awareness? Thank you.
You mentioned Mr. Obama, President Obama's visit to Hiroshima, and that brought 600 reporters to the city. And I think all around the world that was reported.
Well, he has that kind of power, influence. But even I, in Toronto on that day, I had eight interviews. Can you imagine? Eight T.V. stations coming to my place asking what I thought about it. Wow. What power President has.
Well, maybe he can do something like this, create the opportunity so he can mobilize. But not just him, but all of us who know something about this. So, I think we can intensify our efforts to make this issue credible and visible.
I don't think that we are doing enough. And I think—I don't feel that the government is encouraging the people to learn what it's like to live in a nuclear age. The government isn't—well, then maybe they think—the ministry or Department of Education's area, they should be doing better job.
But as I know in Japan, and in Canada, and somewhat United States, I don't think school system is doing a good job either. I think more budget could be directed to those educational institutions, and intensify the teaching, and, of course, the churches, and the families homes.
The children's parents grew up without knowing about it. So, they are hesitant. They avoid the children's questioning the parents. And the children learn not to raise the question because parents are horrified when they raise such questions.
What a sad symbiotic kind of relationship. But anyway, everybody, education system, religious system, even governments—I shouldn't say even governments—the government can look at the reality and improve the situation.
Now, about the survivors, as you say, the number is dwindling. They have been leaving us. What they are doing (inaudible) in their lifetime, unfulfilled. It's very sad. Well, I really take my hat off for the way they have dedicated their lives travelling near and far, but we at the same time are very disappointed. We don't quite feel rewarded. The public attention to us is limited.
And when I first came to the United States people kept justifying Hiroshima, the use of bombs. I'm afraid to say, even today, a majority of people maintain that mentality. So, that's how limited progress we've made in the knowledge of nuclear age.
I hope I'm wrong. I'd like to hear other people's opinion on this. That's all.
WALKER: Yes, right here, and then I'll come over, over here. Then we'll go in the back.
QUESTION: I know that you spoke at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, and you were recently at the open-ended working group in Geneva on the elimination of nuclear weapons ban and stigmatization. I'd like you to speak a little bit about the humanitarian initiative in relation to the NPT.
THURLOW: Well, I have been working on the issue of nuclear disarmament for many years. For a long time I felt that so much work was being done, I mean, people put so much emphasis on weapons systems and the theory of deterrence. And we believe it, and all the associated topics. Even if I went to the peace meetings they were spending time to discuss—to catch up with governments progress in that line.
And I used to feel, my gosh, for me, when we talk about the nuclear weapons it's what those things did to humanity, what happened to their lives, to their cities. But somehow, that kind of attention was lacking.
So, several years ago, when I started hearing about humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, I thought wow, it's about time. We should be looking at this. This is the real basic issue of importance.
Of course, that doesn't negate the importance of security issues. And some people criticized this movement by saying too much attention to humanitarian argument. No, I don't think that's what we are saying.
But I was delighted. The attention was shifted from deterrence to the humanitarian consequences. Yes. And I could see—I was delighted to see the strong sentiment, the mounting interest on the topic around the world.
And not only white-haired people, but the younger people, hey, when we grow up we want our world to be intact, be there for us to enjoy life. And they are very keenly awake to push this idea. So, I was very pleased, and I am part of this movement.
And another thing which pleased me was that although nuclear weapons states have the legal obligation to work towards disarmament under Article VI, but they haven't—they weren't fulfilling that obligation, and not much was happening.
It was a huge disappointment when I learned it's been in existence 45 years. What has it produced? And majority of non-nuclear weapons states said, but we have waited for the nuclear weapons states to take the lead and watch for the disarmament.
They are not doing it. Well, we are not going wait anymore, we are going to stand up, and join our hands together, and work with NGOs and civil society. Now Red Cross representing civil society, NGO's and 127, I think, non-nuclear weapons states.
They are all working together to work for prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapon by creating the legally binding instrument.
To me, those majority of non-nuclear weapons states so impatient at the lack of progress by the conference of disarmament, and not producing a treaty and so on, and they want to—OK, if things are not happening, then we have to see what we could do.
By standing up those so called weaker nation, but coming together in number and putting heads together, and working out the most effective measures to achieve elimination (inaudible).
I think it seems now the entire world is wake up and they are ready to work. I think this is great. Instead of leaving the fate of the world just to the nine—well five nuclear weapons states recognized by the United Nations, and addition of four nuclear weapons states.
Nine states want to keep what they have and not to lose their obligation. That is the world's (inaudible). Well, it seems the whole world is waking up to the shared—to realize a shared responsibility.
And a lot of young people are involved in this movement. That is very good news for me. We can—we have people to work with, and some good ideas are coming out...
(UNKNOWN): (OFF MIKE) Would you like to say a few words about...
THURLOW: But you people know all about that. So I don't think—enough said.
WALKER: This is a group of experts, Setsuko, but some of us know a little more, some a little less, you know, in different areas.
So, you're—it's just wonderful to hear your impressions which are very special, I think, and extremely important today because we don't hear from Hibakusha all that much actually. Even in Washington, DC, let alone in Japan, I assume, too. Certainly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I'm sure.
But it's very, very good, I think, and we've made progress to date largely because of people like yourself and yourselves and your colleagues who've made a stand and are, as I say, speaking truth to power on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. I'd point too that I think it's 126 countries have signed the humanitarian pledge.
WALKER: One hundred twenty-seven now, good. All right. I stand—I stand corrected there. OK we have a couple more questions and I think enough time—we'll try to get through—try to keep the questions brief and we'll try to get to everybody. Yes, come on.
QUESTION: Thank you, Paul. I'm Martin Fleck. I work with Physicians for Social Responsibility. And that means I work with our mutual friend Dr. Ira Helfand, who sends his greetings.
And actually you just answered a lot of my question. Physicians for Social Responsibility is working with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to promote the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
And I agree with about the new momentum that's happening. But there's a lot of skepticism here in the United States about the prohibition treaty because none of the nuclear weapons states has—they're—they're --pretty much all opposing it.
None of them have supported it, and none of the umbrella—so-called umbrella states that are under the nuclear umbrella have supported it. So, Ms. Thurlow, are you optimistic that we will still achieve such a treaty despite all this opposition?
THURLOW: I know there seem to be several different approaches in achieving prohibition and elimination. But as one New York based lawyer said I think the head of lawyers or something organization.
As he says, that those differences of emphasis that progress can be worked out. So, whether it's a nuclear weapon convention or ban treaty I think a bit of difference can be worked out.
But first prohibit, let's stop the threat in the use of the nuclear weapon. And surely, we can—we can achieve it. Why not? We should seize this opportunity.
I think the time is now. I have waited 71 years. If we don't seize this opportunity—and I know Mr. Obama talked about, though maybe this won't happen in my lifetime—but he repeated it once in Prague and this time in Hiroshima. But why? Why not? If there is some political will it could happen, it can happen.
So yes, I still am hopeful, and I believe it can happen because enough people—not enough—but a lot of people are pushing for it. And if we can get other people join in that effort and keep pushing, why not?
And why don't we communicate our strong feeling to Mr. President, even before he leaves the office? We can't afford to wait generation and generation. And 71 years is much too long to wait, we wasted. I believe we can, and we should.
WALKER: Let's take another couple questions quickly.
THURLOW: Thank you.
WALKER: There was somebody in the back who had their hand up. Yes, right here. The glasses? Yep.
QUESTION: I'm Kathy Robinson with Women's Action for New Direction's. Mostly, I really want to say thank you so much for being here, and thank you for all of the work that you've done and continue to do.
It was phenomenal and amazing that the President went to Hiroshima. But the reality is that this President with the complicity of the entire U.S. Government and the Congress is aiming at spending a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to—for the next generation of nuclear weapons.
We seem to find a lot more money for the next generation of nuclear weapons and not so much for the next generation of humans in this country.
And I wonder if you could just comment on that, and how the budget priorities are really driving a—driving a dangerous future?
THURLOW: I feel your profound sense of sadness, and if—and if somebody get me the invitation to speak with the President, that's one of the first things I would talk about. Yes. Well, that great.
That's great. Really, I don't what more to say. I just feel very disturbed by that. And yet, when he turns around, he says beautiful things.
I was wishing this time in Hiroshima he would (OFF-MIKE).
I don't know what more to say really. You know, I have been social worker all my life. I work in schools, in the counseling of the family function, and learning disability of the children and so on.
Those schools are falling apart. They don't have enough budget to buy necessary supplies and so on. Why can't we be directing the taxpayer's money to the hospitals, and schools, and these people's day-to-day lives.
Instead, $1 trillion is going to produce that wicked weapon. I don't even call it a weapon. It's a device of mass murder. Somehow we have to—well, we have to ask the President to de-prioritize from a sense of responsibility. I really don't know what else (inaudible) to say.
It's just a crime depriving humanity in order to have so-called security. And based on the foolish notions of deterrence and security. From my perspective I just cannot—I'm sorry, maybe my response is not sufficient but, I just share your feeling.
WALKER: Thank you Setsuko. I think your response is very appropriate. And I think we all deserve—Setsuko deserves a good round of applause from us for bringing us back to realty to some extent.
THURLOW: Once again, thank you so much for this. It means a lot to me. Next time I go to Japan, I'll take it with me and share it with the members of survivors' organization. Thank you for your support and the completion of some of the work...
WALKER: And thank you, Setsuko for joining, you know, this esteemed group we have of arms control people of the year. We're very delighted and honored to be able to honor you. I also want to thank Kathleen Sullivan (ph), who I failed to introduce early, who's been Setsuko's companion here and helped with the presentation. So thank you too, very much Kathleen (ph). Appreciate it.
There were several questioners still in the audience. I'm sorry we didn't get to your questions, but I think Setsuko will be around for a while. I think so. Please corner her on the coffee break and the like, and get to know her better. And with that, I will turn the program back over to our esteemed director Daryl Kimball.
KIMBALL: OK. We're gonna take just about a two or three minute break as we shift between sessions. I'd like to ask the panelists for the next session to come forward, seat themselves and we'll get started in about three minutes.
And for those of you in the back who are looking for seats, please come forward right now. Not later, but now. There's seating in the front.
(Back to top.)
ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING PANEL 1: NONPROLIFERATION CHALLENGES FACING THE NEXT PRESIDENT
All right. Thank you everyone for coming back. I want to thank Setsuko Thurlow so much for those very moving and important remarks that remind us all why we're here, why we do the work that we do to eliminate the nuclear weapons threat, and to prevent the further spread and use of nuclear weapons.
And it's also a reminder that we've all been at this task for a long, long time. For more than seven decades the United States under Republican and Democratic administrations alike have very actively discouraged allies and foes from seeking the means to produce nuclear weapons.
And for the most part this effort has been successful. And that's why today according to a Chicago Council on Foreign Relations poll some 78 percent of Republicans, some 73 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents rank preventing the spread of nuclear weapons as a top U.S. foreign policy goal.
That's something that I hope the presidential candidates keep in the forefront of their minds, that this is something that all Americans generally agree about.
Today there are nine states armed with nuclear weapons, five recognized under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, four others armed with nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That's far too many.
But with the conclusion of the 2015 Joint Conference Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, which verifiably blocks Iran's pathways to the bomb for well over a decade, I would say that there's a very low probability that there will be a tenth nuclear-armed state in the near future.
But the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons buildups are still very much with us. There's a lot of work yet to be done.
And to discuss some of the top challenges that we face today and that will test the leadership of the next occupant of the White House, we have four excellent speakers who are going to share their perspectives on four different but interrelated nuclear weapons challenges.
First we're going to hear from Toby Dalton, who's the co-director of the Nuclear Policy Programs here at the Carnegie Endowment for National Peace, where we're having our meeting.
He's going to talk about the issues involving nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan, which continue to expand their own nuclear arsenals. We need to keep in mind that another cross-border attack involving these two states could trigger a nuclear conflict.
Next we're going to hear from Dr. Zia Mian, who is the—who is with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University. He is also co-deputy chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, which is a very important independent commission that looks at the challenges posed by weapons-usable material, fissile material.
He's also a member of our Board of Directors at the Arms Control Association. Zia is going to address the significant dangers posed by the growing accumulation of nuclear weapons-usable material and the security of those stockpiles, which is a challenge that continues even after the very important series of nuclear security summits that were just concluded earlier this year with the fourth here in Washington, D.C.
And as we all know, North Korea continues to pose an enormous nuclear nonproliferation challenge. Joel Wit, who is a former senior U.S. negotiator on North—North Korea and is now with the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS and the founder of the very useful and important and lively 38 North websites, is going to provide us with his perspectives on what can and must be done with respect to curbing the North Korean nuclear and missile threat in the months and years ahead.
And last but not least, we have with us former Ambassador Susan Burk who will share her perspectives on what must be done to maintain the health and credibility of the cornerstone of all nuclear nonproliferation efforts, the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
And we just heard in the previous section—session a little discussion about one of the more dynamic debates going on surrounding the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Open-Ended Working Group on further measures to lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons. You can read more about those developments in the latest news section of the June issue of "Arms Control Today."
Susan has decades of government experience on nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. She was special representative of the president for nuclear nonproliferation from 2009 to 2012, leading the successful effort at the 2010 Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference that produced a consensus action plan on nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
So with those introductions I'm going to turn it over to Toby Dalton. Each of them is going to speak for several minutes, and then we're going to take your questions for the panelists.
So Toby, the floor is yours.
DALTON: Thanks very much, Daryl.
It's a real pleasure for me to be here. I didn't have to travel very far, about one floor down, but...
… as a long-time admirer of the Arms Control Association, it's—it's great to have a chance to be with you today. I should also say that I feel like what I'm going to say after the remarks that we heard a few minutes ago seems like a—a real abstraction.
And it's—it's interesting and important to think about these things in the abstract, but I think we can't divorce them from the reality that these are incredibly dangerous things, and are incredibly dangerous places, and we need to continue to—to think about and work on these issues so that nuclear weapons are not used again.
I'll focus my remarks on what's happening in South Asia and what has happened in South Asia over the last 20 years and what that means for the next administration.
And it's remarkable that we've just passed now the 18th anniversary of the 1998 Nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. And I feel like it's gone incredibly quickly and yet a lot has changed as you look at this issue sitting in Washington and think about the priorities that we have had since those tests.
And first it was, you know, trying to make sure that that period immediately following the tests you had sort of a conflict and crisis and concerns about a war that could lead to nuclear escalation. Then we had the A.Q. Khan Network and serial proliferation.
And more recently we've had issues of—of nuclear security and concerns about nuclear terrorism. And in the meantime, the successive governments here have been—successive administrations have been trying to mainstream India into the nonproliferation regime.
And still we have these periodic crises between the two states. And it seems like that issue is the one that can always bring us back to—to real concern. And so I would argue that as we look at the arms competition that is shaping up in that region, it argues for focusing our priorities a little bit more narrowly.
I would say that as we look at the region there are periodic observables of this competition. But there are some major assumptions that we have to make and some very significant data limitations as we try to assess what is happening there.
Oftentimes, there are sort of fact by assertion in press releases that seem to be what, you know—how new capabilities are announced. Those don't necessarily constitute facts. Oftentimes those maybe signal intent, but they do give a flavor for how this security competition is evolving.
I think you see now growth in the numbers of nuclear weapons, certainly in the fissile material stockpiles, which I assume Zia will talk about in a little bit.
You see a diversification of delivery vehicles leading to changes in force posture and perhaps even alert level. And then resulting command and control challenges that come with those.
And we see that certainly in Pakistan with the development now of short range so-called battlefield nuclear weapons and shifts in strategy to associate with those capabilities. You see it in India with longer range missiles and now potentially also the development of MIRVS, of putting nuclear weapons on submarines at sea.
China is a part of this region, too, insofar as there is some evolving deterrent relationship between China and India. Unclear what that looks like.
And then of course the U.S. is somehow part of China's thinking and the capabilities that we have been developing over the last few years, so—are part of this picture.
How much of this is really a competition versus a series of parallel developments or even technological inertia? I think it's difficult to draw firm conclusions about that. I think in India and Pakistan you see some action and reaction that's happening.
We have continued embrace or at least tolerance of groups in Pakistan that attack India periodically, which could be the flashpoint for a crisis. The most recent of these was an attack in January on an Indian military base. In that instance there was cooperation between the two governments to try to untangle that.
That now is a pattern that has been established over the last 15 years, if not longer. India has started to develop more rapid, agile conventional military capabilities to try to punish Pakistan for continuing to tolerate these groups.
That has allowed or at least provided some post hoc justification for Pakistan to develop battlefield nuclear weapons to try to deter India from doing those things.
Similarly, you periodically hear from Pakistan about the U.S.-India nuclear deal and how that has been a driver of instability in the region.
In the India-China axis you have perhaps some spillover effects. India developing a triad, its ballistic missile development—ballistic missile defense plans. These are longstanding and they don't seem to have an impact on China as yet, but that remains unclear.
In the meantime you also have active Chinese assistance to Pakistan's nuclear energy program—nuclear energy program, but a history also of assistance to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.
So what are the implications of—of this? First, I think the security competition exacerbates the existing problems, primarily in the India-Pakistan relationship.
India has a debate that is sometimes active, sometimes less so about how it should evolve its nuclear thinking to address this changing environment, focus perhaps on shifting from massive retaliation to punitive retaliation. These are semantics, but they have important implications for how it thinks about using nuclear weapons.
Pakistan seems to be moving towards a riskier posture, certainly from a security and surety point of view that putting weapons out in the fields, devolving them down the chain of command raises significant concerns about nuclear security, as well as crisis instability and pressures to use or lose local commanders.
The next administration will inherit this set of problems that previous administrations will not then able to appreciably dampen. And I think the primary challenges are going to continue to be nuclear security.
I would argue for more of a focus on crisis escalation, given that that is where there is a significant chance of nuclear weapons being used.
Certainly the Obama administration's made a lot on nuclear security and on several occasions has praised the steps that Pakistan has taken in that regard. I think there are more questions and less focus than have—that have been given to India's nuclear security practices.
If you look at how the security competition might affect nuclear security, more weapons, greater numbers of fissile material, more transportation of these things, those exacerbate the weak links in the security architecture.
Crisis escalation is a very difficult problem to get in front of and most of the U.S. effort over the years has been reactive. Again, technology, added materials capabilities, will make future crises likely to speed up, make it harder to intervene. And so I think that that is part of the reason why this issue deserves a higher priority.
But there's a tension between these two challenges, nuclear security and focusing on crisis escalation. Cooperate—the kind of cooperation and trust necessary for cooperation on nuclear security is significant.
If you're constantly criticizing another country for their failings, or you're trying to coerce them into taking certain steps, they're less likely to give you the kind of cooperation or open the facilities or, you know, build the kinds of relationships that would facilitate better nuclear security practices.
On the other hand, how do you stop tendencies that have a natural momentum to them at this point in terms of the buildup that we're seeing in these capabilities? It's hard to do that in a cooperative way.
Coercive measures seem to have a greater likelihood of success. And so figuring out how to resolve the tension between those two priorities is significant.
Last then, I have to say that our policy structure has not really allowed the government or the administrations—and the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration surely, to address the security competition to resolve some of the prioritization problems that come between bilateral ambitions and our—and sort of these regional requirements that tolerate these problems. This is a longstanding problem.
So as I think about recommendations for the next administration the first one that I would say, it's not sexy but necessary, is you have to fix the policy structure in a way that allows for thinking about this problem in a coherent way that currently does not exist.
You have a disaggregation of the India and Pakistan and China responsibilities, the functional responsibilities. There's—there's no process that allows for a coherence to come to this position.
Secondly, I think as the strategic and economic dialogue is happening with China this week, it's important to think about how China's interests in this region are evolving as well. What role does China see for itself now in South Asia?
It has made a major investment in Pakistan by announcing the China-Pakistan economic corridor, $40 billion plus of investment. That exposes China to risks in ways that it has not been exposed to previously in South Asia and with some interesting implications.
It may be able to assert a more active role in the future in trying to dampen some of the crisis tendencies, or it may weigh more heavily in on the Pakistani side should there be another crisis, though uncertain, but important I think to try to press that issue for our understanding with China.
Third, I think it's important that there is a willingness to be able to speak more openly about the areas where our interests are different and to back that up with both more sort of coercive gestures but also cooperative measures and that includes on nuclear security.
I think it's—India has had a free pass on nuclear security for quite a long time, and I think it's time that that ends.
Fourth, specifically on crisis escalation there needs to be more of a focus on investing in firebreaks. I think, you know, with the sequence of events that have unfolded after the January attack by Pakistani-based militants in India, you've seen some sort of tentative steps to try to share intelligence to cooperate in the investigation to try to build confidence.
That is something which should be encouraged and to the extent possible facilitated and institutionalized in ways that would allow that kind of process to hopefully stop a crisis or at least arrest the momentum.
Lastly, an issue that's near and dear to my heart, there's been an assumption it seems like over the last 20 years that has taken hold that somehow what's happening in India's nuclear program is more benign than what is happening in Pakistan's nuclear program.
This is something of a taboo in D.C. I think. And it is manifest in the amount of news coverage that's given to every missile test that Pakistan (inaudible), and I think this is a little bit of a—of a dangerous tendency.
It—it allows this devolution to take place in ways that don't then force us to think about the consequences. So we need to find other ways to encourage restraint in the region, not just by India, of course, but also by—by Pakistan.
And one of the few points of leverage that we have left is the interest of these states in signing up to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. And that's an issue that the Obama Administration has pushed in terms of Indian membership and is pushing this week with phone calls to—to high level officials in other states.
But I think it would be better to try and build a consensus-based process on what the criteria should be for membership in the Nuclear Supplier Group, that it raises the bar and that we can use the interests of both India and Pakistan in becoming members in the NSG to encourage restraint in their nuclear practices.
So with those five suggestions, polite I hope, I'll pass it over.
KIMBALL: Great, thank you very much, Toby.
We'll turn now to Zia Mian. Thank you very much for being here, Zia.
MIAN: Thank you, Daryl.
I was asked to talk about the fissile material problem as part of the nonproliferation challenges for the next president, but as I'm sure all of you know, at least one of the candidates for president doesn't think that nonproliferation is actually a problem.
And so it's hard to think about how to phrase the remarks in a way that captures a meaningful set of propositions for whoever takes charge next.
But let me start by making one observation about one lesson we can learn from the last eight years, and perhaps for the last 16 years of nonproliferation policy in the United States, and that is that if the next president, whoever it is, is going to be serious about handling (ph.) the fissile material part, the nuclear weapons materials challenge in terms of nonproliferation, we have to get past what has been nonproliferation theater.
And by this I mean these somewhat grandiose statements that have characterized both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration when they come to talk about fissile materials. And the most obvious element of this was a suggestion that goes back to the Bush Administration of what they said was the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material within 10 years.
And many, many years have passed, an enormous amount of political attention has gone into this, and especially in the Obama Administration with the nuclear summits that we've seen, the most recent being in Washington.
And one has to be candid that in terms of the actual fissile material problem in the world, we are talking not even about the tip of the iceberg. We are talking about the snowflake that sits on top of the tip of the iceberg.
And, you know, to think that, you know, starting in 2010 we have 50 plus world leaders gathering every two years to talk about this—this great important fanfare and what's the P.R.?
And all that has come out of it in actual material terms, not the P.R. terms and the promises to—to do—to do better, but in actual material terms dealing with the materials that we said were such a profound threat, President Obama told us what has been achieved.
He said that in the six years of the nuclear security summits, between 2010 and 2016, he says, and I quote, "We've now removed or secured all the highly enriched uranium and plutonium from more than 50 facilities in 30 countries, more than 3.8 tons, which is more than enough to create 150 nuclear weapons."
You think, wow. By the best estimate, including the one that the president mentioned later in this speech, this is 0.2 percent of the fissile material in the world. Six years, four summits, 50 presidents and prime ministers and we have addressed 0.2 percent of the problem.
And that's only if you look at what's been, as I said, secured or eliminated. The countries that were still producing fissile materials and nuclear weapons in 2010 are still doing it. That's Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea.
All the other nuclear weapons states had stopped long before this process. So we've secured 0.2 percent. And we haven't actually stopped anybody from making more and they continue to do it.
The second thing that comes from that is that the overwhelming policy choices that have been made, especially by the United States, have actually pushed things in exactly the opposite direction. It's been about securing mostly material in civilian facilities in non-weapons states, which was already under (inaudible).
In other words, it's the stuff that was the most accounted for and the most monitored already. It's the stuff that should have been the focus of any effort to actually address the fissile material problem is it's a large share of fissile materials that is actually held by nuclear weapons states, and it's unaccounted for and undeclared.
The two largest holders of fissile materials in the world are the United States and Russia. These are legacy stockpiles of the Cold War. And there has been an amazing reluctance to begin to address this among—throughout the last administration or the one before.
So the first thing for the next president, whoever it is, if they're serious about fissile materials, is to actually decide that never mind chasing small amounts of—kilogram quantities of fissile material that by themselves couldn't even be used to make a nuclear weapon, but to actually deal with the ton quantities and the hundreds of tons quantities that actually are directly under U.S. control or under the control of its direct host (ph.) allies. Then we can worry about other people's materials.
So let me give you two things that follow from this. The first is that the United States now has enough fissile material set aside for weapons that is twice as large as the total amount needed for all the operational warheads that the United States actually has, so 12,000 plus operational warheads.
The United States has fissile materials set aside for 10,000 weapons. And that's not including the stuff that is already declared excess and everything else.
So the first question is why is there such a large overhang of fissile material which is not going to be used in weapons unless somebody has a plan somewhere to double the size of the arsenal one?
Now, in the past the United States has declared fissile material excess to its weapons and military needs. But that was a long time ago. And the last time the United States declared highly enriched uranium excess was in 2005.
At that time, the United States had 8,000 operational warheads. Now it has 4,000, give or take, and yet it still has all of that HEU that you had back in 2005. So the first thing is why not reduce the stockpile of HEU set aside for weapons to reflect the reduction at least in the operational nuclear stockpile?
Associated with that is the fact that when the United States did declare fissile nuclear material excess, the highly enriched uranium, it said, OK. We're going to dilute this stuff down, blend it and turn it into fuel for nuclear power plants.
It has been downblending at the rate of a couple of tons per year. There is 40 tons left, and it will take, according to the Department of Energy, until 2030 to finish downblending this stock.
The Russians were downblending at a rate 10 times that of the Soviet Union and of the United States when they were downblending their highly enriched uranium.
So why can't the United States just hurry up and finish downblending the stuff that's already there rather than deciding it's going to take them another 15 years to downblend this remaining 40 tons?
And it's the question of priorities. The priority is one kilogram of highly enriched uranium in Jamaica, not the 40 tons that's just sitting there and could be down basically within sighting.
So in material terms, when you follow the material and account for the material and take responsibility for the material, the focus really has been in the wrong place.
And perhaps nowhere more so than with plutonium with everybody in this room it's familiar with, if it wasn't so tragic it would be hilarious, the MOX plant, right?
The multi-billion plant that now is never going to be built, right, that has consumed enormous amounts of political effort and energy, has been the subject of countless studies to dispose of 34 tons of plutonium that was declared excess for weapons purposes in 2007, right?
We were supposed to have really got to grips with this plutonium problem, and yet now it looks like the MOX plant will never go anywhere and the Russians are about to begin getting rid of their share of their 34 tons. And there's no immediate process to begin with the United States dealing with its 34 tons of plutonium.
So if we're going to deal with this 34 tons of plutonium that was declared excess, the question is either we wait with—for some terminal process to continue or MOX plant or this strategy of diluting stores whenever it begins, or we can think about what can you do concretely now to show good faith in actually moving this process forward?
And there have been concrete suggestions on how to deal with this. And it would be good to see the next administration actually prioritize urgency as a metric, right?
That it's not enough to just say that we're going to do this someday, one day, but to say this is actually the highest priority that we have in dealing with fissile materials is dispose of them as quickly as possible and see how that changes the calculus.
And the easiest thing that could be done there, for those of you who are interested in the Red Team Report on Plutonium Disposition that came out in 2015, and they said, look. You know, we can either—that MOX, making the plutonium into fuels for nuclear power plants is going to be too expensive and take too long, so let's stop.
What we can do is the strategy of diluting and disposing of it in a repository, but the Red Team actually had an interesting suggestion that hasn't received the attention it deserves. And I was under there's an even faster way of dealing with this problem, and that is to sterilize the pits.
In other words, to render them unusable in gaining a weapon and that this could be done in situ at the (inaudible) facility, and then prepare them for disposal. But what you've done is irreversibly made them safer.
And so one could very quickly and very cheaply begin to show that this plutonium will never go back into weapons in a very quick and speedy way.
So if you think about it in those kinds of steps, if the United States was willing to show that it took dealing with its own fissile material legacies more seriously there might be greater prospects of making progress at the Geneva—at the talks at the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty and of dealing with the fissile materials stockpiles held by other countries, because the largest problem in terms of fissile materials is not the small stockpiles held by Pakistan and India and North Korea and Israel, or even China.
The real stockpile problems that we face in the world are, as I mentioned, the giant stockpiles from the Cold War held by the United States and Russia and then the vast stockpiles of civilian plutonium that have been accumulated by Britain and France and Japan.
Japan has 10 tons of plutonium in Japan, right? It has much more held in Britain and in France. Ten tons of plutonium is larger than the plutonium stockpile held by some weapons states.
So if you just decide that we're going to go after the largest stockpiles regardless of where they are, then one begins to have a different geography of what the problem is and where attention needs to go.
And the question is that how do we then work with Britain and France and Japan, who are all very close U.S. allies, to say given that between us we have several hundred tons of plutonium, what are we going to do to get rid of this stuff and make sure that it is disposed of as quickly as possible? The proliferation scenario looks very different.
And so I think that the next administration it is going to take a fissile materials perspective to thinking about this rather than the old school nonproliferation perspective where, you know, it's countries that we don't like that are a problem, right, regardless of the fact that they may have materials that are so small as to be insignificant in terms of what we actually have to deal with.
And just to give you one perspective and then I'll stop. When the United States declared its stockpile of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, that this is how much we made and this is how much we have left, there was material that they couldn't account for.
It's not lost. They just don't know exactly where it went. Or if they even made it in the first place, because nobody was responsible for keeping accurate accounts always from the beginning. That's almost about three tons of plutonium that the United States is—you know, it's unclear where it is.
And in terms of nuclear weapons tests, also there are several tons of material that was used up in the nuclear weapons tests, and you can't exactly always account for making the reporting.
Now, these multiple ton quantities that the United States can't account for, pales in comparison to what the Russians can't account for, right? And yet no one has taken seriously this question of going to the Russians and saying why don't we try and account for our materials together? Right?
You help us figure out where our stuff went and we'll help you figure out where you stuff went. And at the end of it, you know, it doesn't necessarily expose any national security secrets, but at least we'll start to get a better understanding of the mess we made of the world for the last 70 years in terms of polluting it with making highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
But these amounts that are unclear, material that is unaccounted for, is larger than the stockpiles held by Pakistan and India and North Korea, and it's significantly so in most cases.
So you have to ask the question that, you know, if you move away from worrying about countries that we don't like to actually dealing with the materials which are the real problem, especially if you're worried about the materials falling into the wrong hands, then follow the material. And then the politics will follow.
KIMBALL: Thank you, Zia. And there's a course that he teaches at Princeton University about these issues and more.
Next we're going to have Joel Wit talk to us about one country that has—has gotten the attention of our two leading presidential candidates, North Korea. Joel, thanks for being with us.
WIT: Thanks. Thank you, Daryl. Thanks for inviting me here today. I have a long association with the Arms Control Association and when I came to Washington, I guess it was in 1980, Bill Kincaid and Pete Scoville were really very helpful to me. So it's a great honor to be here to talk to you today.
Given the limited amount of time I have I'm going to make three points. First, North Korea's nuclear missile programs aren't fake. Well, you're all looking at me like duh.
But in fact, up until recently, there have been a number of experts and a number of other people who think that the danger has been grossly exaggerated and there have been some people who claim that it's just an elaborate ruse by the North Koreans to get our attention.
I think that idea is not true. It wasn't true before. It's not true now. And in fact also it was part of the U.S. and South Korean policy to downplay the threat. That was part of the policy and strategic patience. It was based on the idea that we didn't want to see the North Koreans craving for attention and therefore we wouldn't make much of what they were doing.
And the last problem, of course, has been the media issue, the media attention to this issue. I read the media every day, and I'm sure most of you don't on North Korea, and a lot of it focuses on Kim Jong Un's hairstyle and whether he is really overweight, or all of these really important issues.
But in fact, how many of you know that as we are sitting here today North Korea has probably started another campaign to produce more plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear site? The signs are obvious. All you need to do is look at the commercial satellite photography.
Of course I'm not saying that we should jump to the other extreme. We need to avoid worst case analysis, but given what's been going on, particularly in the last six months when it's been very visible, at least we've put to rest the idea that this is just some ruse.
Last year our institute did a year-long study on North Korea's nuclear future. We came up with three different projections going to 2020. And I should mention that people like David Albright and a number of missile experts worked on these projections.
The findings basically were that some North Korea's current nuclear stockpile of about 10 to 16 weapons. It may grow by 2020 to 20 weapons, which is, of course the worst case for the North Koreans or 100 weapons, which is the worst case for us, and on its current trajectory maybe about 50 weapons. And there will also be qualitative improvements and that depends, of course, on the state of nuclear testing.
On the missile front we see the same sort of forward movement although as we all know, it's much more difficult to build effective long range missiles. We have three scenarios there and in the worst case for us they're moving down the road to deploying an ICBM, which we've seen in parades and we've seen tests of its rocket motors.
Just putting that aside, I think the one thing we all need to keep in mind is that even if North Korea never conducted another nuclear test or never conducted another missile test, it can continue to produce nuclear weapons. That's not a problem. They have the facilities to do that.
And it already has hundreds of missiles. So this is a problem for the region. These missiles can't reach the United States, but it's certainly a problem for South Korea and Japan and even China.
So the bottom line here, this is a serious program. It's been steadily advancing for the past eight years. The issue for all of us is how far will it advance. And quite frankly, it seems to me that the North Koreans don't have much incentive to stop.
Second, what are the implications if these current developments continue unabated? There is, of course, a litany of dangers which I think most of you are familiar with, but I'll just repeat them here.
First, there's not only the growing danger to our allies and our troops in Northeast Asia, but also to the United States itself if North Korea moves forward with building an ICBM. And there's every indication that's their intention.
Second, there's the danger to our ability to maintain strong alliances in Northeast Asia, and that's the bedrock of the administrations to the—to Asia. And that bedrock depends on extended deterrence and the credibility of our security guarantee, which quite likely will be undermined as the North Korean threat grows.
Linked to that of course is the danger that South Korea and Japan will feel they have no choice but to build their own nuclear weapons. I know the laundry list of arguments about why that will never happen, but we can't be sure. And particularly we can't be sure in view of what North Korea is doing today and what it may do in the future.
And speaking of presidential candidates now, we have the Trump factor, and maybe it would be a good thing that South Korea and Japan built their nuclear weapon.
There's the danger of the growing threat to stability in the region and particularly crisis stability, and I guess there's some parallels here between South Asia and Northeast Asia.
As we all know, the Korean Peninsula is not a very stable place in the best of times. There have been periodic armed clashes, and it's quite possible they'll continue into the future.
And on top of that, while, once again, not a lot of attention has been paid to it, there's already an arms race on the peninsula.
Yes, we all know about what North Korea is doing, but do we all know about what South Korea is doing in terms of its ballistic missile and Cruise missile programs, and also its focus on preventive and preemptive use of those weapons? Japan may follow as well.
And finally, there's a danger—once again, we all know that North Korea will export nuclear and missile know-how and technology. They've said a number of times they'll be a responsible nuclear weapons state, but, you know, I'm not sure how much that's worth.
It's not worth much of anything particularly if the sanctions continue to grow in impact on North Korea and therefore it's to find hard currency in other places.
Third point, I've been asked to lay out what policy options are available to the next president to mitigate this threat. Well, quite frankly, as someone who's worked on this issue for over 20 years now, I would say our options have narrowed significantly in the past eight years as this program has grown and gained momentum.
It's clear to me from talking to North Koreans—I meet them regularly in track two meetings. These are senior North Korean officials. It's clear to me that in talking to them since at least 2012 they've got a bounce in their step.
They've been building these weapons. No one's been able to stop them. We've imposed sanctions on them. They've done very well even with the limited sanctions we've imposed on them. And so if I was a North Korean I'd be feeling pretty confident.
Having said all that, let me just lay out five very quick suggestions for guidelines for the next administration's policy. First, make dealing with this challenge a priority. This may sound strange, but it hasn't been a priority. It's not a priority even though we've talked about rebalance in—to Asia and the importance of our alliances, nuclear security.
And I know there are many meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials, senior level meetings where North Korea barely comes up. So if it doesn't come up in those meetings, it's not a priority.
Second point, stop the magical thinking about how to deal with North Korea. It's amazing that I still maintain my sanity, quite frankly, because I hear all sorts of ideas about how we should deal with North Korea. And there isn't enough time in this meeting to talk about all of them so I'm not going to do that.
But there are a lot of ideas floating around out there from the administration's policy of strategic patience to the idea of Korea regime change and Korean reunification. To my mind they all qualify as magical thinking. They are unrealistic.
Third, a related recommendation, think strategically not tactically. We are constantly reacting to what North Korea does. And when they don't do anything we don't do anything.
So what we need to do is to return to basics. What are our objectives here? How do we achieve them? What tools should we use? This may all sound very strange, but we aren't doing this basic calculation.
Fourth, be willing to think out of the box. You know, everyone is so quick to dismiss any North Korean proposal that we're never going to get this process going if we are indeed interested in trying to have negotiations with North Korea.
Once again, I don't have time to relate all those, but I'll be happy to talk about them in the question and answer. If—they need to be willing, whoever the president is, should be willing to take domestic political risks to secure our national interests as long as there are no security downsides.
Once again, that may make—that may have some resonance, but the fact is that we haven't been willing to take those domestic political risks. So maybe the fact that Donald Trump has now said he would meet with Kim Jong Un, I'm not sure if that will give any domestic political coverage, but at least it's a—a new wrinkle in that—in that area.
So as far as I'm concerned, domestic political risks are the only downside to an approach that combines diplomacy with strong pressure. And I'll stop there. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you, Joel. We're glad you—you've maintained your sanity to this point. It's a very—a very sobering presentation.
Next former Ambassador Susan Burk is going to talk about the broader set of challenges that face the next U.S. president relating to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a whole where these issues and others are discussed every five years in a cycle and in between. And so thank you very much for being here, Susan.
BURK: Thank you very much for inviting me, and I wanted to thank the Arms Control Association for all the work that they are doing to advocate for and advance a responsible arms control and nonproliferation agenda.
From what we've heard so far this meeting—this morning, I feel like I should say my name is Susan and I'm a nonproliferator (sic).
This has a quality of a support group, and I appreciate the Arms Control Association for providing those of us who suffer from this affliction being—having an opportunity to be with other true believers and kind of share—share our burdens.
This morning I wanted to focus on the disarmament where the divide between the haves and the have nots within the NPT is the greatest.
I was asked to address the impact of these challenges on the health of the treaty, and so I'll talk a bit about the impact of the divide and some options to address this divide. And I really tried not to be political, but I may not be able to help myself.
In any case, you know, over the years the parties to the NPT generally have agreed fairly consistency—consistently on the important and essential role that the treaty has played in grounding and upholding the global nonproliferation regime.
And at the same time, frustration over the pace and the process of nuclear disarmament and increasingly disagreement over the role of nuclear weapons and NPT nuclear weapon states' national security strategies, and our first speaker talked about deterrents, has been a feature of NPT (inaudible) one more.
I was involved in the 2010 Review Conference and that benefitted tremendously from the goodwill that had been generated by the nuclear agenda laid out by President Obama in Prague.
And it was also helped by a substantive decision on the Middle East which paved the way for a consensus agreement on the Action Plan that Zia mentioned in his opening remarks.
There were a number of pieces of that Action Plan and two things in particular I'd mention. One was that Action Plan launched an unprecedented process of P5 engagement—and no laughing—and provided for increased accountability through reporting by all states.
And those were two particularly important developments. But perhaps expectations were unrealistically high on all sides. We certainly thought that was possible.
Or this modest progress was seen as an opening for more ambitious sweeping proposals, sort of the opening of the floodgates, because as soon as the NPT parties reconvened in 2012 to begin to prepare for 2015, what has become known as the humanitarian consequences movement began to emerge and the first of three international conferences on the subject was rolled out.
Now, the nuclear—the NPT nuclear weapons states declined to participate in the first two meetings. The U.S. and the U.K. participated in the third. And by doing so, in my view, they forfeited the opportunity to contribute to the developing narrative, and they strengthened the hand of the groups who were seeking to meet outside of the NPT framework to achieve disarmament.
Now, as support for this movement was growing, the prospect of further U.S.-Russian arms reduction negotiations was fading. Russian nuclear sabre rattling was increasing.
North Korea, as Joel has mentioned, was continuing to conduct nuclear explosive tests and engage in provocative behavior. And the Conference on Disarmament remains paralyzed.
And against this backdrop the 2015 NPT Review Conference last year again made a run at a consensus final document but stumbled in the final hours over the Middle East issue.
There's no direct evidence that consensus would have been broken over the disarmament text of that report alone, and I did my best to try to get people to tell me if that was the case.
But the lack of enthusiasm for the disarmament text has been widely reported and it—and so I've even heard from some that it was released in some quarters among nonaligned states and others that there was no document because they were not particularly seized (ph.) with the disarmament text.
But that—that draft, which was not finalized, did include some initiatives that including the U.N. Open-Ended Working Group that Daryl mentioned, as well as calls again for regular detailed reporting. And this is the whole—the whole rubric of accountability.
And the Open-Ended Working Group, which I'll talk about a bit, was something that the nuclear weapons states, the NPT weapons states appeared to be prepared to support in the document. I know that the U.S. was prepared to support it.
So notwithstanding the fact that there was no agreement on the document, there—soon after the Review Conference the U.S. signaled its willingness to engage in the OEWG on the basis of the terms agreed by the NPT parties. So that is the decisions would be taken by consensus.
And I should have said at the beginning these are my personal reviews. I represent only myself. I don't represent anybody.
I think that the decision to establish the OEWG ultimately under different terms than had been agreed at the Review Conference and that was to go to U.N. (inaudible), which would move to voting, made for a missed opportunity.
You had a proposal that the NPT nuclear weapons states were prepared to sign on to and engage in as long as it was consensus. And at least we would have got a process going of discussion in this OEWG with the weapons possessors. And so those who pushed for a vote I think I question their motives.
And I have heard from some who attended the OEWG—no one in this room I'll have to say—who were told by some states that they actually didn't want the weapons states to participate, and that was one of the motivations.
And if that's the case, I think there's a problem here and it may not be the usual suspects. Engagement is a two-way street and it requires flexibility on both sides.
And so if one side is setting up a situation that they know the other side's not going to be able to live with, I think we need to look in the cold, hard light on—on their motivations.
In any case since the fourth humanitarian conference has not been scheduled for various reasons, the C.D. continues to be scheduled. The OEWG has become the focal point for debate on disarmament, but without the input of the NPT nuclear weapons states or any other weapons possessors for that matter because no states possessing nuclear weapons attended the meeting according to Kingston's article in the Arms Control—the "ACT."
But the only OEWG, again, without any weapons possessors is also discussing the so-called legal gap in the NPT, which has become an issue in the NPT context. And this is what some states argue is the lack of a clear definition of the effective measures—I may beat this --...
... to be negotiated relating to nuclear disarmament, the effective measured mentioned in Article VI of the NPT.
And there's no consensus on the matter of whether or not there is or is not a legal gap, and I would recommend candidates very well argue rebuttal of the notion of a legal gap in a working paper they tabled in the OEWG.
I think it's Working Paper 20, Rev. 1, and it's a good legal analysis that suggests there is not a legal gap and that the treaty itself is sufficient to do whatever you need to do.
Now, the OEWG has gotten some press because several states tabled the proposal. It's a handful of states—to convene a conference next year to begin negotiating an agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons.
But there are a number of other papers that have been tabled that lay out the proposals that we have all come to know and understand, building blocks which is step-by-step, a convention, a nuclear weapons convention, a ban treaty or a framework agreement. And these are all proposals that have been tabled in the NPT review context.
I would say for many of the participants in these meetings, regional and global insecurity is very real. They believe their concerns are legitimate and their frustration with the nuclear weapons states and the NPT process have led them to this venue.
Now, I'd also say the U.S. has aligned itself through the Prague speech and the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review with the concerns expressed about the humanitarian impact of nuclear reviews. And they've connected to the goal of eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.
So these are discussions that have a direct bearing on the future of the NPT, and I believe the United States and the other NPT nuclear weapons states should be involved.
Now, the challenges facing the NPT regime are real in the sense that frustration over the pace of nuclear disarmament and fear of nuclear use has contributed to the growth of this humanitarian consequences movement.
And it's led some extremely well-informed and well-placed observers to conclude that the two sides, the haves and the have nots are more polarized than they have ever been, which is—which is pretty alarming.
Now, this movement provides an opportunity not only for states to show concern about and dissatisfaction with the status quo, but to take matters in their own hands outside of the NPT and without the nuclear weapons states if necessary. And this is not going to strengthen that treaty.
It will—and it will not fill the void that many believe has emerged in the absence of further progress on the Prague agenda.
Now, bridging the divide is going to require that we make common cause with our partners to address the concerns that fuel the humanitarian consequences movement.
Now, I was asked to provide a best case and a worst case and I won't get into the issue of politics, but we—you know, who gets elected in November will, I think, very much influence the best—whether or not there's the best you can make or the worst you can imagine case because the 2010—2020 NPT Review Conference is the 50th anniversary of the NPT's entry into force.
And shortly after 2015 folks already began to look ahead to that as a dramatic milestone moment and a—a very symbolic conference. So no matter what happens I think it's going to be—it's going to be something to watch. And even under the best circumstances there's going to be challenges.
So how do you mitigate that challenge? How do you make the best of that situation? Well, I think the next U.S. president early on has to reaffirm strong and unequivocal support for the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, including the NPT in all aspects, disarmament, nonproliferation, no spread of nuclear weapons to any countries, and peaceful uses. And I think that has to be very clear.
And I—a Prague-like speech that reflected continuity in the nuclear agenda, I think would do a lot to reassure international partners about continued U.S. leadership, partnership and shared objectives.
And I know there's a lot of criticism about the Prague agenda not being fully realized, but I think it's a heck of a good place to start and something like that that builds and moves forward.
Such an agenda could also include commitments to sustain the work of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. I would suggest seeking to expand its membership to include more key nonaligned partners, explore involving other non-governmental organizations able to make technical contributions, and to make the partnerships work as transparent as possible.
These efforts are a way to use the time available now in the current disarmament lull, if you will, to prepare for advances later when the process resumes and to improve understanding and education of a wide variety of states on the verification challenges of lower and lower nuclear numbers.
The next president should announce preparation and negotiate a five-year extension and at least start to be in place before that agreement expires in 2021. And this would be a way to re-engage Russia on nonproliferation arms control issues and I do not in any way underestimate the difficulty of doing that.
They should—she or he should preserve with the P5 process and be a leader in promoting P5 transparency and accountability for the benefit of the NPT.
Now, at last year's ACA annual meeting Lewis Dunn (ph.) outlined several possible P5 initiatives to be pursued through this process, including P5 actions to minimize the risk of nuclear weapon use by anyone, as well as a P5 code of nuclear conduct.
And I would urge people to take another look at those ideas. And if I were advising the next president I would urge—urge that.
I think pressure should be kept on getting FMCT negotiations in—in—going in Geneva. I understand that this may be a fool's errand, but it is of importance for—for a number of reasons. And if the U.S. has flexibility on stocks as has been reported, that would be an important development.
The next president should uphold the 24 plus year nuclear testing moratorium and should re-commence to get the CTBT ratified. And I would suggest ways to signal continued support for the CTBTO and the international monitoring system and a way to make sure that that system is made a permanent part of the international nonproliferation architecture.
The ratification is a tough issue, as we all know, and it kind of depends what happens in other races, but I think more effort should be made to make the case to the American people and to Congress on why the CTBT is good for the United States.
And I think this is something that both U.S. government and NGOs can do more on here. And I know ACA's doing a tremendous amount of work. Don't underestimate the importance of getting out the word to—to the American public.
And then I would say reaffirm the U.S. negative security assurance contained in the 2010 Posture Review and recommit to pursue ratification of the nuclear weapons free zone protocols and to get the other free zones protocols completed.
And then in a very heretical step, I would suggest that the next president signal a willingness and an appropriate venue to discuss the conditions under which a global negative security assurance agreement could be pursued, under—under what conditions. What would be the (inaudible) security conditions. I know that's—I'm a heretic, but—but there.
And then finally we should not shy away from joining the ongoing multilateral discussions on disarmament. If we believe that our position is a sound one, then we should be prepared to engage our partners and defend our position.
Maybe they'll learn something, maybe we'll learn something, but I think this would signal a clear commitment to engage with partners of all types, both those with weapons and without and to work with and through multilateral institutions, which, you know, for better or for worse or wherever the work's going to get done. And this should be part of the new president's agenda.
And while—while this would not discourage certain states from pursuing solutions outside of the NPT to force disarmament progress, this posture is going to strengthen the hand of U.S. allies and friends whose positions are closely aligned with ours.
And so, you know, we need to—you know, you can't fight something with nothing and this is a way to—to get a real discussion going.
Now, even under such a scenario, a successful NPT review in 2020 is a 50/50 proposition, and that's probably generous since nuclear disarmament is not the only issue that can derail an agreement.
But if the goal is to reinforce the centrality, the indispensability and the irreplaceability of the NPT then strong, responsible and creative U.S. leadership and engagement and demonstrated with a respectful sensitivity to the very real concerns of a large number of non-nuclear weapons states, they'll be essential.
Now, I'm not even going to talk about the worst case because I'm already depressed from what I've heard so far. But I'll be happy to talk over coffee or answer questions, but I would just say in—in conclusion, a proactive and positive U.S. nonproliferation and arms control agenda is essential for a best case outcome.
And I use best case. But it's not a guarantee of such, and as I've noted, bridging the divide is a two-way street and the non-weapons states and even the NGOs must be willing to engage in the search for common ground.
I would also note on arms control it takes two to tango, and right now I would say this government doesn't have a partner. So it should not be held at—to be blamed for not moving forward without—without a partner. But maybe work to be done to try to find a partner to get engaged.
The humanitarian consequences movement has provided a vehicle for non-nuclear weapons states to articulate their concerns and their fears about nuclear weapons, which are legitimate, I think, from what we've heard today, and to vent their frustrations with programs with policies they believe rightly or wrongly put them at greater risk.
The challenges facing the NPT regime will require steady informed United States leadership that builds on the decades of work that's already been done to produce the (inaudible). Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you. As I said this morning at the outset of the meeting, we have a very substantive and eye-level program, and I appreciate all the ideas and the problems and some of the solutions put on the table by our—our four speakers on—on four important areas.
So and because we have put forward presentations on—on four different areas, when you ask your question please be specific as to whom you are directing your question and try to keep it tight. We have about 25 minutes before we're going to take our lunch break and then move to our—our keynote speaker at the—at the noon hour.
So with that, the floor is open for your questions. I see a number of hands going up. I will try to get to as many of you as possible. Marissa, why don't you try to head over here to the right side with Mr. Wolf (ph.) by the wall and then we'll take the next one.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Norman Wolf (ph.) and I congratulate the panel. I mean, it's really been an excellent thing. I'd like to ask questions of each. Now, I'll confine myself to Joel with it because I totally agree with what he said.
I've always thought strategic relations is not the right term. It should have been strategic indifference.
But Toby made an interesting point to me when he said that's one of the first things he'd recommend to a new president to deal with South Asia is fix the policy structure. And I wonder if you think that there is a problem with the existing policy structure and whether that would be a recommendation you would make in the area of dealing with North Korea? Thank you.
KIMBALL: All right. And before you take that, Joel, Marissa, why don't we just take one more and we'll take a couple at a time since we have several right behind you? Yep.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Italy, also a question to Joel Wit. Yes, your presentation is rather (inaudible), but when the panorama is not—is well (inaudible). I agree with you.
But there's one element of hope and it's an evolution. Both Russia and China are becoming concerned by—by the DPRK. And you said that their missile capacity can—can even reach China and I guess also Russia.
So maybe there—also they are set up in this situations and then they can exercise pressure on the DPRK. And also what is wrong with the DPRK suggestion for negotiations for negotiating a peace treaty?
After all, 60 years have passed from the Korean War and maybe it is time at least to establish the borders. The most dangerous one is the Northern Limit Line, which is not the sign at all. Thank you.
KIMBALL: Thank you.
WIT: OK. Thank you. Good questions. Policy structure, I—Norm has this experience as I do. This is obviously a very difficult issue to deal with. So the question is can the regular bureaucracy deal with this issue? And I would say no, it's not possible.
So I am—and Norm also—part of an experience where you had one guy in charge who actually drove it (inaudible), drove to a conclusion to the agreed framework in 1994.
I think today that's what you need to get, otherwise leaving this to the State Department and the other bureaucracies, nothing's ever going to happen. We're just going to have more patience.
Secondly, on your point, first yes, every time I give a presentation people will be rolling someone, right, who points out we're being pessimistic.
Yes, you're absolutely right but I would say maybe it's a psychological defense. I'm being realistic, and I think that's what's important here.
And yes, we would all like to find elements of hope but I would suggest that relying on Russia and China and some sort of change in particularly China's approach isn't going to work.
I mean, we've been doing that for 20 years. How many times have I had the discussion with people where they're saying, oh, it looks like China's changing its approach. You know, it's happened over and over and over again. And it—there may be changes but they're tactical.
And you probably follow the newspapers you saw President Xi just met with the former North Korean foreign minister who's now a member of the politburo the other day, and a lot of people are interpreting that as China accepting North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. So I'm—I don't see that as an element of hope.
Third, on the North Korean suggestion let's negotiate a peace treaty, I agree. I don't see anything wrong with that as long as we get our issues on the table. The problem is that's really very difficult for Americans and people in Northeast Asia to visualize because a peace treaty in theory could lead us to a very different Northeast Asia, a very different Korean Peninsula.
What the impact would be on our alliances in Northeast Asia if there was forward progress? So it's very hard for people to make that leap, but I would argue, as I said in my presentation think out of the box. The only way we're going to deal with this problem is by addressing core security concerns on both sides.
And I've been in meetings where people say ah, the North Koreans, they don't have anything to fear from the United States. Why do they think we're a security threat?
Well, you know, I mean, you don't have to meet with North Koreans regularly to see what's wrong with that statement. So that's what has to be done, and it's very hard.
KIMBALL: Joel, before we maybe move on to some questions on—for the other panelists on other issues, if you could just quickly just remind us that no matter how difficult this is what are the stakes?
And your institute has done some careful research on future scenarios in terms of what the North Koreans may have in their arsenal years down the road.
WIT: You mean implications?
KIMBALL: Well, I just mean—so for instance, by—by 2020, by the end of this next president's first term, I mean, how many nuclear weapons might the North Koreans have at their disposal? What might some of their missile capabilities be based upon some of the research that—that your team...
WIT: Oh, OK...
KIMBALL: ... have done.
WIT: ... the technical part.
KIMBALL: Just really—yeah, just really (inaudible) just to remind people what's at stake here.
WIT: Yeah. I think, as I said earlier, we did three different scenarios or I should say David Albright did these three scenarios and the range in weapons was from 20 to 100. That doesn't sound like a lot to us in the United States, but it sure sounds like a lot to the South Koreans and the Japanese.
And of course the qualitative improvements are almost as important. It's unclear. I think and David thinks and now the U.S. government thinks and the South Koreans are admitting that the North Koreans can put a warhead on top of at least a regional range missile.
So they've made qualitative improvements and depending on the pace of nuclear testing they could make a lot more, including the possibility of developing a very simple single stage hydrogen bomb by 2020.
So the nuclear side of things that's pretty much what we saw. On the missile side, once again, it's complicated, more complicated than the nuclear side. The big development out there, the elephant sitting in the corner of the room is whether they can build in ICBM.
We've seen it. That we've seen mockups of it in parade. We've seen tests of the rocket engine motors. You know, what's next? Well, we may see more tests. We may even see a test of the weapon itself.
So these are all things that shouldn't be taking people by surprise and are coming down the pipe.
KIMBALL: All right. We've got some other questions here. Marissa, why don't you come here to the front table and take this gentle lady's question? Thanks.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Angela Beech (ph.) and my question is to Zia. So my understanding is that Pakistan won't participate in FMCT negotiations in the CD (ph.) because of its strategic concerns, vis-à-vis India's larger stockpiles of fissile materials.
And so my question is a little bit of a technical one. I was hoping you could talk about estimates for the size of Pakistan and India's fissile materials stockpiles and at current rates of production how long it would take Pakistan to catch up with India under the scenario that that would be the critical juncture at which they could join FMCT negotiations?
KIMBALL: All right. And why don't we take one more question here in the middle? You two gentlemen can tell Marissa your question. I—Pierce?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) for Citizen. There's a—I've probably been in the business maybe too long, but there's something called the United Nations Disarmament Commission, which meets annually. Its primary objective of—or one of two at the moment is to consider all aspects of nuclear disarmament.
And by definition all U.N. members are there which means all of the states both in and out of the NPT, and the United States participates but I don't say it—would say it gives very much attention to that.
What are the prospects that the UNDC could sort of become a more central point of—of dealing with nuclear disarmament involving all of the possessing states and all of the other states and perhaps the OEWG efforts could sort of morph over in—into that forum, which—which is ready to continue working with (inaudible) of perhaps a beginning point for the C.D. pacing that up, bearing in mind that the—that Russia has made it clear at least at UNDC that they're not prepared to do more bilateral negotiations?
KIMBALL: All right. Thank you.
Zia, why don't you take that first question please?
MIAN: Yeah. So thank you for that. So our international panel on fissile materials does these estimates on a—on a regular basis and you can find the most recent ones on our most recent global fissile material report. But I think the interesting thing is actually not the current balance of materials.
The question is the presumption behind your question and the claim that Pakistan makes that it is delaying and blocking beginning of talks and conference on disarmament on fissile material cutoff treaty because of India's larger fissile material stockpiles.
It's true Pakistan has made an enormous investment in building up the production capacity for—especially for plutonium, weapons plutonium, in the last 15 years. And as of 2000, 2001, it had one plutonium production reactor. Now it has four that are operating.
But I think the thing you have to understand is that there is actually not that much difference in the stockpiles of material produced for weapons purposes between the two countries.
What Pakistan points to is India's large stockpile of unsafeguarded plutonium that is from Indian nuclear power reactors which India says it's made and will be used for fuel for its breeder reactor program.
In other words, Pakistan is putting on the table an Indian stockpile which is outside safeguards but which India claims is not for weapons purposes.
There is a concern behind this and that is that India's fast breeder reactor it will use plutonium as fuel, but it can produce weapon-grade plutonium as a byproduct of its operations. So it will be a laundry. It will take reactor-grade plutonium as fuel and produce weapon-grade plutonium as a byproduct.
So Pakistan says, well, look, that's what we're afraid of down the road. And it's a legitimate fear because that breeder reactor, which is already six years late, if it operates at any reasonable rate, which is uncertain because most people who've tried breeder reactors have realized they're actually very hard and very unsafe and have lots of problems. And you can't get them to operate well.
But that breeder reactor if it works could increase India's weapon plutonium production rate almost tenfold. So the sad part, of course, is that the United States has had 15 years to deal with Pakistani concerns and the Indian breeder reactor program and it's refused to take either aspect seriously because of other interests.
Since 9/11 the United States has been more interested in chasing Al Qaeda and killing Taliban than dealing with Pakistan building up its weapons program.
And it has been more interested in recruiting India to its side in the emerging cold war with China and having access to Indian market and all these other things, so we won't talk too much about what India is doing in its nuclear program as Toby mentioned earlier on.
So the real reason I think that Pakistan is blocking is the fact that it can, right? And it's using that time to build up its arsenal to whatever size it thinks is appropriate, really regardless of how big India's stockpile is or isn't. and it's largely, you know, our fault.
KIMBALL: All right. Why don't we go to the question with the UNDC, the U.N. Disarmament Commission?
BURK: Pierce, I don't really know. I don't know the answer to that question. I mean, I see Randy Rydell. He might know better, but I'm not aware of the UNDC producing anything in recent memory.
And I remember years ago, probably when I was with the Pentagon, you know, where it was a more, you know, doing stuff, but I'm not aware that it's—it's being used by any state to do anything meaningful.
Now, the other thing with UNDC, just off my personal opinion, if it's under U.N. rules, you know, where you can vote things in or out, well, if it's consensus I just don't know. And I—my impression of it is it has not been particularly active or, you know, in the front lines or even in the middle lines, maybe not even in the rear lines, for a long time.
So it would require a retooling. Yeah. Well, I—you know, I just don't know the answer to that question.
KIMBALL: Let me just—before we go to the next question, let me just ask a follow-up of—of Toby and Zia on the fissile material cutoff treaty issue.
And at the end of your response, Zia, you said that Pakistan was blocking the start of negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament because they could because the conference on Disarmament operates according to the consensus rules so one—one country can—can block.
Just this January as we reported in "Arms Control Today," the U.S. put forward an informal proposal that would meet one of Pakistan's concerns, which is to discuss the stockpiles as part of a negotiation of such a treaty.
Pakistan is still opposed. Then when Prime Minister Trudeau came to Washington and met with President Obama there was a very small little notice line that they issued in their statement that perhaps other approaches to pursue fissile material cutoff treaty, other than the Conference on Disarmament might need to be explored.
So I mean quickly, if—if Toby and Zia you could just address this question? I mean, is there another option for the U.S. president, the next U.S. president, to get negotiations going maybe outside of the Conference on Disarmament where consensus-based rules are not necessarily in effect? Can we work with other nuclear arms states with these stockpiles? Is there another way yes or no?
MIAN: It's possible to go outside the Conference on Disarmament and there's not a reason why not. The issue of course is that just in the way that Susan Burk mentioned the nuclear weapon states when they want to protect their interests in a system of consensus-based approach.
Like when we talk about nuclear disarmament there are other nuclear weapons states that we would want to be involved in a fissile material cutoff treaty, the Russians, the Chinese, maybe others. And they say, look, the U.S. may be fine because it has all these allies that are—will vote for whatever it was. But we don't so therefore we want consensus in any process.
And so you could get a process but it may well be that other weapons states to protect their own interests in a negotiation will want consensus also. So whether that helps the process go that much further forward much faster is unclear, given the differences that they have in their negotiating positions.
But I think the real issue is not—and these are not to go outside the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiation in Geneva. We could have them in Geneva.
The question you have to ask is whether a country as dependent on the international system as Pakistan, yeah, is able to withstand the entire international community. The only reason it does it is because no one cares enough to call them on it. And they're getting away with it precisely for that reason.
And everybody else has more important interests with Pakistan than fissile materials. The day that begins to change the Pakistani position will begin to change. And you have to remember we've been here once before.
In 1998 at the time of the nuclear tests the Pakistanis said sure. We have already have enough fissile material. You can have negotiations on fissile material cutoff treaty. That was 1998 because they saw that the world was really concerned about the nuclear tests and wanted something done.
It's going to be that kind of determination that will force Pakistan to say, OK, we'll let the process go forward. Doesn't mean they will agree to a treaty when it's done until they've got enough fissile material to suit themselves.
And this really is a question of how badly the international community wants this treaty.
DALTON: I wouldn't add much to that other than to reinforce what Zia had suggested, which is that within the P5 certainly there is a range of views on the desirability of an FMCT, let alone an FMT.
And so the risk in—in shifting outside the C.D. is that we—we might find that the five quickly becomes a much smaller number of states that are actually interested in the (inaudible).
KIMBALL: All right. Well, I think I see a couple more hands. There's one way in the back. I want to respect the people in the rear of the room, so if you could get to her? Yes. And then we'll take one more up front and then we're about at our lunch break.
QUESTION: I'm Charla Siddiqui (ph.) from Voice of America Persian TV Network. I know it's this event is focused on an Asian Northeast Asia and perhaps I can ask the panel about because of China's interests and investment in Pakistan and recent trade cooperation between India and Iran do you see any possibility of nuclear cooperation between India and Iran?
And how can this future United States president strike a balance with regards to China's presence there and India as an ally of a United States and the Pakistan and India's old foes, perhaps as a way to this (inaudible)? Thank you.
KIMBALL: All right. Let's take one more question and—as we consider that one. Right here, please?
QUESTION: Thank you. Benjamin Tour (ph.), retired foreign service officer. Israel seems to be opening up a little bit on its nuclear weapons program. How do you see this evolution if indeed it exists moving ahead in the next few years?
There was mention—I think Susan Burk mentioned a nuclear weapons free zones. Thank you.
KIMBALL: All right. Thank you.
All right. I'm going to ask Toby to try the first question that was asked and then we'll—we'll turn to the second.
DALTON: So as I understand it, the question was, you know, how should China and India and Iran, you know, how does that all look in Asia, particularly as nuclear treaty is concerned going forward and whether there's potential for some stabilizing role there?
I think, you know, the question about Iran, as Daryl highlighted, have focused much more on the closing down of the weapons infrastructure. What we see still is interest in nuclear energy there and Russia has—has been the primary recipient of that interest. And I would imagine would continue to be the primary recipient of that interest.
India has been constructing reactors on its own territory, but largely has not participated much in international nuclear trade. And I think is still quite a ways away from being able to—to do that.
But the big question mark now is the extent to which China is becoming more of a supplier and what that means in terms of the international market and the rules and practices associated with that. Until now it's primarily been building reactors in Pakistan but has been participated in a number of bids to build reactors outside of Pakistan.
And so it's conceivable that in the future it could play a much larger role in the nuclear power programs of other states. That kind of then leads to the questions about whether China has the same priorities in terms of safety, security, responsible practices. I think that that's not something we should take for granted.
But there's not a lot of evidence at this point to suggest that they don't. And so that strikes me as an area for important conversations and cooperation going forward.
KIMBALL: All right.
Susan, do you want to try to take the question about Israel's interest or its role in reducing nuclear risks, especially through the WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East and...
BURK: Well, I'll just—you know, I haven't been involved in Middle East discussions. Israel's not a party to the NPT.
The Middle East issue, as I mentioned, has been a—a substantive issue at NPT review conferences ever since '95, although even prior to that it was always some dustup about the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, whatever that would be—would keep people in the conference room until 3:00 in the morning.
I'm not going to comment on whether or not they're opening up or not, but there were valiant efforts made after the 2010 conference to try to convene a conference of regional states to discuss establishing a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone. That's the proposal, not just nuclear but all weapons of mass destruction.
And in the end, at least from reporting, the Israelis were participating in these meetings, but there was not—but it's the Arabs that were—were not reaching out to Israel and ended up not participating. Iran wasn't participating in any of the meetings.
So the conditions just don't seem ripe there, but I—but it's not Israel that is the problem as best I can tell in terms of at least getting together with regional partners to—to scope out the parameters of a conference. I think it's safe to say that the obstacle has been the larger group of states, and I won't go any further than that.
KIMBALL: And I would just add that, you know, as we look at the Middle East region, which was not covered too much in this session, you know, we, the Arms Control Association have been talking about and will continue to discuss ways in which we can build upon the JCPOA, the Iran deal to head off possible future Iranian interests in nuclear weapons beyond the terms of that agreement, as well as looking for ways in which other countries in the region, including Israel, can join in some of the multilateral measures like the Conference on Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which Israel has signed but not ratified.
You know, there are ways in which other countries can help reduce nuclear risks and create conditions towards a WMD free zone in the region perhaps beginning with a nuclear weapon test free zone in the region.
So that will be a subject of—for focus for the Arms Control Association at future events. But we are out of scheduled time for this session. I hope this—you found this conversation rich. It may be unsatisfying. It may be a little difficult to take sometimes. These issues keep coming at us, but that is why we do our work.
I want to just note before we—we thank our panelists that we are now going to be breaking about 20 minutes for lunch. I would encourage all of you to step outside with some alacrity to get your plate of food. There will be two lines.
We're going to resume the program as close to 12:00 noon as possible for our keynote speaker, Ben Rhodes. So with that we're going to take a short break. Please join me in thanking all of our panelists.
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SPEAKER: BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
KIMBALL: We have the privilege and honor to have with us for our second keynote address someone who has been involved in the articulation and the implementation of President Barack Obama's strategy to address the threats posed by nuclear weapons, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes.
Ben is a long-time and key member of President Obama's national security team, from the period preceding President Obama's April 5, 2009 speech in Prague on his vision regarding the steps towards the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, to President Barack Obama's historic visit just 10 days ago to the Hiroshima Peace Park, where he recognized and reflected on the tremendous suffering of that war and the meaning of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which we also heard about this morning from Hibakusha survivor Setsuko Thurlow.
We've asked Ben to come here today about seven years after the Prague address to review and reflect on what the president has accomplished over the past several years. A lot has been accomplished. We've asked Ben to talk about why that's important for the world, for U.S. security and perhaps what more the president and his team believe needs to be accomplished.
You know, as the president said in his eloquent remarks in Hiroshima, quote, "Persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations, and secure deadly materials from fanatics."
And as I said, thanks to President Obama's leadership efforts, a great deal has been accomplished, but even as he has acknowledged, there is much more to be done. And on behalf of all of our Arms Control Association Members here today, and I know many others out there who have been concerned about these issues.
Let me just say, Ben, that, you know, we hope the president can and will use the power of his office in the months that remain to take the inspiring message from Hiroshima to advance further common sense steps that would move us closer to a world without nuclear weapons.
So, we thank you for being with us here today, taking time out of your busy schedule. And we appreciate your personal contributions to these issues and we look forward to your remarks.
Please come up to the podium. And afterwards, we will take questions from reporters who are here, and then we are going to take questions from the general audience on three-by-five cards that are on your table. And my staff will come collect them and we'll try to get to as many of them as possible.
So, Ben, thanks for being here.
RHODES: Thank you, sir.
KIMBALL: On to you.
RHODES: Well, thank you, Daryl, for inviting me here today. Anyone who has worked on arms control issues and government, which includes some people in this room gets used to receiving the occasional 1,000 word e-mail from Daryl, usually laying out exactly what we should be doing.
And I thought that the Arms Control Association could save a lot of additional time by just publishing your collected e-mails every quarter as the road map for the U.S. government.
I want to thank you, though, sincerely, and ACA, and all the other groups that are here for your tireless advocacy on these issues.
And as I said in note to Daryl, and I'll come back to this in my remarks, but when you go to Hiroshima, it gives you an greater appreciation for the essential work that is done by the Arms Control Association and many others.
I just want to begin to set the context with a quick story about a different time, and a very different presidential campaign from the current one. So, nine years ago in the summer 2007, I had recently left the Wilson Center for a job as a speech writer for then Senator Obama.
If you can believe it, some people were calling me young and inexperienced back then, and I had a lot more hair. That's a problem with these events. Everybody I know looks the same and I always feel like I look a lot older in the mirror here.
But that summer and fall, a key issue in the campaign was the Iraq War, and then Senator Obama's opposition to it from the beginning. And on October 2nd of 2007, the campaign was gearing up to mark the five-year anniversary of a speech that Obama gave opposing the Iraq War in 2002, where he warned of an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences.
But instead of giving a speech just about Iraq, Senator Obama asked us to prepare a speech about the need to pursue a different foreign policy course. And the centerpiece of that speech was a call for the United States to pursue a world without nuclear weapons and engage in direct pharmacy with Iran over its nuclear program.
And we even had incomparable Ted Sorensen introduce Senator Obama as a tribute to President Kennedy's historic speech at American University, calling on the United States to rethink our approach to nuclear weapons in the Cold War.
That was just the first of many efforts that we've made to follow the path that was made in that American University speech.
So, as we enter the home stretch of the Obama presidency, it is worth remembering that he came into office with a very personal commitment to pursuing diplomacy in taking arms control seriously. And the first major foreign policy speech that he gave as president focused on these issues, putting some more meat on the bones of what he had talked about as a candidate.
Now, this early focus was also rooted in concerns about the status quo in 2009. North Korea had recently conducted a nuclear test; Iran was steadily advancing its nuclear program. America's own commitment to arms control had been called into question for a variety of reasons, including the withdrawal from the (inaudible) treaty, and our nuclear guidance under the Bush Administration, and nuclear security efforts we thought were lagging behind some of our other counterterrorism policies.
So, the central objective of the Prague speech was to put non-proliferation, nuclear security and diplomacy back where they belong, which is at the center of American national security policy. We got a stark reminder of the importance of that effort the night before the speech, when North Korea tested a missile.
That was the first time I had to meet the president of the United States in the middle of the night after he'd been woken up, and it was in a kind of sparse blue tent in a hotel in Prague. Not exactly the glamour one dreams about, but it helped drive home for us even before that speech the seriousness of these issues.
So, today, I would like to revisit the Prague speech and the Prague agenda, what we said we would do in that speech, what we've done and what we haven't done. And I'll be straightforward upfront. I know that the work is incomplete. I've read enough of Daryl's e-mails and many of your work to know that there are areas where many people in this room would like us to do more.
And I'll get to that. I'm glad that is the case. As I said, having been to Hiroshima, I would like there to be more people and organizations who are consistently pressing for bolder action on these issues.
But I do think that President Obama has set and followed a course that has profoundly changed the status quo that he inherited. And he -- one of the overarching objectives of the Prague speech was to create a sense of urgency.
As the president said in that speech, more nations have acquired weapons. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered on a global non-proliferation regime, but as more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point where the center cannot hold.
And so, all of these different threats required effort and coordination with one another, so that we weren't just taking individual pieces, but rather, trying to look at the issue broadly and act broadly.
And against that backdrop, let me just review the three broad objectives that the president said in Prague. What we've done, again, and then what we remained to do in our term, and would hope happen in the future.
First, we believe that we have made substantial progress in securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the world. And the most urgent danger that we face today is a terrorist organization acquiring a nuclear weapon or the materials to make one. And that is why the president launched the Nuclear Security Summit process so that this issue would be elevated within our own system, within other government and on the international agenda.
Since that first summit in Washington, 3.8 tons of enriched uranium and plutonium have been removed from more than 50 facilities in 30 countries -- enough material for more than 150 nuclear weapons.
Fourteen nations in Taiwan have completely disposed of their highly enriched uranium. South America is free of nuclear materials, and when Poland and Indonesia fulfill there commitments, the same will be true of Central Europe and Southeast Asia.
So, these are not always headline-grabbing events, but one country that disposed of its highly enriched uranium in this process was Ukraine, and it certainly contributes to global security that the combustible mix of conflict and Russian-backed separatism does not include access to nuclear material.
At the same time, we have strengthen international efforts to counter nuclear smuggling. There are now more than 100 nations in the Proliferation Security Initiative, and we've been able to work with many of these countries to interdict shipments that raise proliferation concerns.
With our partners, we have also installed radiation detection equipment at more than 300 international border crossings, airports and ports. And additionally, 102 nations have now joined the amendment to the convention on the physical protection of nuclear material, which allowed that treaty amendment to come into force on May 8 of this year.
So, there's a lot more work to be done on the issues, which I'll get to in a few minutes. But we have secured important commitments, we've strengthened institutions and we hope that we have developed habits of cooperation that will outlive the administration in ways that make the world safer.
Second, the president has taken steps towards his vision of the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. To reduce the role of nuclear weapons in America's own security strategy, we revised our declaratory policy to make clear that we would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nation in compliance with the NPT.
We further made it U.S. policy to pursue objective of making deterrence against a nuclear attack the sole purpose of our arsenal, and we have reduced the role of launch under attack in our contingency planning to help avoid a catastrophic misjudgment.
The central numerical limits of the New START Treaty, which must be met by February of 2018 includes significant reductions in U.S. and Russian-deployed nuclear weapons and delivery systems. The treaty also includes an ongoing comprehensive verification regime. And indeed, precisely at times when there are tensions between the United States and Russia is when I think we need to be grateful for strong arms control agreements that come with verification embedded in New START.
There are now just over 4,500 nuclear weapons in our stock pile, 85 percent below our peak during the COLD War, and the lowest it has been in several decades. We've further determined that we can sustain our deterrent while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by an additional third.
Of course, we have not fulfilled our ambition with respect to reductions, but we have continued a step-by-step pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons, and in doing so, fulfilled their commitments under the NPT.
This leads me to the third objective laid out in Prague, which was fortifying the global non-proliferation regime. Now, in Prague, the president put forward several principles to strengthen the NPT.
President Obama said that we needed more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections and the United States is providing more funding for the IEA, investing in its nuclear security fund, the capacity of its inspectors and in the Peaceful Uses Initiative that was announced at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
President Obama said we should build a framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation.
Since then, we have reached several new agreements on peaceful nuclear cooperation with other countries, most recently including Vietnam, and we've supported the IAEA in Kazakhstan in their efforts to open a fuel bank that can serve as a supplier of last resort for countries that cannot obtain LEU on the global commercial market but needed to fuel peaceful reactors.
And finally, President Obama said we need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause. And since then, he has dedicated an enormous amount of time and effort to following through on that principal.
And indeed, much of the work we did at the outset of the administration has set the context for the capacity to hold a country like Iran accountable for failing to meet its NPT commitments.
We had affirmed our own commitment to meet our NPT obligations through the New START negotiations. We secured support for the Prague agenda through a U.N. Security Council resolution in a session chaired by the president in 2009.
President Obama said in Prague that we will support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections and demonstrated our willingness to pursue direct diplomacy with Iran. And before seeking international sanctions, we presented clear evidence of Iran's violation of an international norm. Most dramatically, it's development of a covert facility in Gome.
All of those efforts allowed us to make the case to other nations and at the U.N. that imposing consequences on Iran was not simply a national security interest of the United States. This wasn't a bilateral issue, a bilateral concern or even a regional one, but rather it was essential to the NPT and to a rules-based international order that there be consequences for violations of the NPT.
The president also made clear that sanctions were not an end; they were a means to an end, a means to strengthen our diplomacy with Iran. Now, we had numerous false starts, but following the deterioration of the Iranian economy in large part because of sanctions, in the election of the President Rouhani there was an opening. And we took that opening to pursue negotiations.
Of course, it took a while to negotiate, but the negotiations also demonstrated the enormous value of having both extraordinary diplomats and experts at the table to solve hard problems. Here, again, I think the tag team of John Kerry and Ernie Moniz holds a great example for the future in terms of how we address these issues.
And I will tell you that we all found ourselves in meetings with Ernie Moniz that felt like basic nuclear physics lesson at times. He was that down in the level of detail, but ultimately that made an enormous amount of difference.
Now, in that process, we benefited from support from groups outside of the government. There's been a little bit of commentary about this recently. But look, the obvious truth is this; the white house did not have to convince the Arms Control Association or anybody else to defend the Iran deal.
You'd thought about these issues for many years. You'd advocated for diplomacy. You shared ideas about what a deal could look like before we even had one and that helped in the negotiations. And again, I think that's an underappreciated element of the work that was done.
We had tough issues to solve in many different areas around verification, around how we think about the design of the Iranian program and we were able to draw from the advice of outsiders in thinking through ways to get over a hurdle that was set or to get around a challenge in the negotiation.
And so all of that input was essential. And so yes, then the Arms Control Association and many other allies successfully defended the deal because it was a good deal. And then you (ph) went back to criticizing many other aspects of our nuclear policy right after.
But I'd say, you know, for critics, it's easier sometimes to have a debate about the messaging than the results of the deal itself because the results speak for themselves. Iran has taken significant steps to roll back its program and cut off its pathways to a nuclear weapon, steps that have been verified by the IAEA.
These are facts and they match how we described the deal last summer. To address the enriched uranium pathway, Iran dismantled and placed under IAEA monitoring two-thirds of its installed (ph) centrifuges.
They shipped 98 percent of their enriched uranium stockpile out of the country, enough for about 10 nuclear bombs. Iran's stockpile is now less than 300 kilograms of uranium, enriched at no more than 3.67 percent. Iran is enriching uranium at only one facility now, Natanz, and this activity is under 24/7 IAEA monitoring.
And to address the plutonium pathway, Iran removed the core of its Iraq (ph) reactor and filled it with concrete, rendering it wholly inoperable now and in the future.
So before this deal, Iran's breakout time to gain enough fissile material to build one nuclear weapon was we estimated two to three months. Today, it would take about a year, and if they cheat, we'll know because this deal subjects Iran to the most comprehensive nuclear inspections ever negotiated.
And the IAEA reports on implementation, the most recent of which was issued just last week, continue to indicate that Iran is acting in-line with its commitments and IAEA inspectors remain on the ground conducting ongoing verification and monitoring activities, keeping a watchful eye on Iran's entire nuclear supply chain, from building and mining to spent fuel, which gives us a far greater capacity to detect a covert breakout scenario than we would have with no deal.
So again, part of what we we're able to do is learn from past efforts, learn from some of the challenges in North Korea and try to think through ways to design a verification regime that was much broader, that encompasses not just the additional protocol, but again, the entire nuclear supply chain.
And hopefully, this may be a type of model that could be drawn from in the future as we look to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons.
So with the Iran deal, the United States and our allies and partners did more than resolve the specific security challenge. The effort also demonstrated that diplomacy with even the most complicated adversaries can stop the spread of nuclear weapons, which should make this the first post-Cold War administration to not have another nation acquiring nuclear weapon during its time in office.
Now, the truth is Iran took up an enormous amount of time and energy building the sanctions regime, negotiating a deal, ensuring it could be implemented. And I know there are other areas, as I've said, where more work needs to be done. So let me just touch on a few of those and give you a sense of how we are looking at the last seven months. And I think President Obama has shown that he's not unwilling to work through the tape, as they (ph) will. We have many sports metaphors; I'll add that one to it.
We have not stopped the advance of North Korea's nuclear program, and the continued testing of both nuclear weapons and missile systems by the North Koreans is the most serious proliferation challenge that we face in the world today.
Now, the recent U.N. Security Council resolution does impose the toughest sanctions that North Korea has ever faced, and if implemented, we believe can have a significant difference. And it's a further indication that the international community, including China, is taken very seriously the provocations coming out of North Korea.
We've also worked hard to cut off North Korea's capacity to sell the material overseas, trying to break their relationships with some of their defense partners, trying to interdict shipments and make clear that even as they are pursuing their program that we are tightening a net around North Korea so that they are not the proliferator that they have sought to be in the past.
We've also advanced our missile defense systems in planning in Northeast Asia. But this will be a top priority through the end of this administration and for the next, indeed.
We have not been able to lock in further stockpile reductions beyond New START. Now, given our interest in pursuing those reductions through a negotiation with Russia, the largest obstacle has been President Putin's unwillingness to come to the table, and indeed, given all that's happened between our two countries, it's easy to forget that one of the main reasons we canceled the planned summit in Moscow in 2013 is that we had nothing of substance to talk about in this particular space.
We have not been able to secure all vulnerable nuclear material. This effort has also been impacted by Russia's, shall we say, reduced enthusiasm for shared initiatives on nuclear security along with a number of other countries that proceed cautiously on these issues. Moreover, Pakistan has opposed efforts of negotiated treaty do end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
We have not been able to ratify the comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In our first years in office, the priority to present (ph) ratification was New START and getting that through wasn't easy. Many people in this room may have scars from that fight; it seemed like a tough one until the Iran one.
But then, following the 2010 midterm elections, the composition of the Senate changed and we had not seen a viable pathway for CTBT in the Senate.
And finally, I know that the scale of our Planned Modernization Program has generated a lot of debate and opposition in the arms control community. Even in Prague, President Obama was clear about the need to sustain a strong deterrent and we've also investigated in conventional systems that make nuclear weapons less relevant to some of our strategic planning.
But we take seriously the arguments that have been made on different sides of this issue. So where does that leave us? Well, I can promise you today that President Obama is continuing to review a number of ways that he can advance the Prague agenda over the course of the next seven months.
So put simply, our work is not done on this issues, this is not a closed account. This is something that still we're actively working and actively reviewing a number of different proposals.
Now, with respect to our stockpile, President Obama already decided to accelerate the dismantlement of retired nuclear warheads by 20 percent and we will continue to look at how we address our non-deployed weapons.
We will continue to review whether there are additional steps that can be taken to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our own strategies and to reduce the risk of inadvertent use.
While Senate ratification of CTBT is not going to happen this year, we will continue to consider ways to affirm the international norm against testing nuclear weapons, and that's something that we can do with our international partners.
And we will, of course, continue to focus on nuclear security, working to put more nuclear material under appropriate monitoring in security regimes and to institutionalize the cooperation that the president advanced through the summits.
Finally, it is a simple fact that the modernization plan was put together in a different budget environment with a different Congress and varied expectations about our arms control efforts going forward.
Our administration has already made plain our concerns about how the modernization budget will force difficult trade-offs in the coming decades. And so the president will continue to review these plans as he considers how he wants to hand the baton off to his successor. So this is something we also will be continuing to look very carefully at.
Of course, the other thing the president will do is speak about these issues, as he recently did in Hiroshima. You know, one of the questions that I sometimes get is whether the president should have put forward such an ambitious, even idealistic vision in Prague. Why put forward a host of goals knowing full well that not all of them would be achieved even during two terms in office?
So let me close with just two thoughts on why that ambition and yes, indeed, even that idealism is entirely necessary.
First, in a city, Washington, and a world where you almost always have to settle for half a loaf, you sometimes have to start by pursuing the very biggest loaf possible. And the goals set by Prague were so big that they could make even historic progress look smaller.
And that's fine because as the president recently repeated in Hiroshima, we may not achieve the goal of a nuclear -- of a world without nuclear weapons in our lifetimes, even if Daryl has argued with me about that formulation, but we can set a course and we can move in that direction and we can do what we can with our time and set a pathway that makes it easier for that course to be followed in the future.
And second, let me return to that John F. Kennedy speech at American University where he said the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war and frequently, the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears.
Of course, those words are just as true today. And that is why it's imperative that we force these issues back into the public conversation. We push back against the fatalism which suggests that it's not worth the effort. If we do our part, as the president said in Hiroshima, to feed a moral awaken (ph) around these issues.
Because again, the further we get from the use of a nuclear weapon or the more distant some of the challenges in the world may seem from the United States, the easier it is to get complacent. And sometimes, I think it takes the putting forward of a significant vision and a forcing of a conversation that wouldn't otherwise happen to make the progress that is necessary.
So as the president made clear in Hiroshima, ensuring that a nuclear weapon is never used again is not simply a matter of arms control. It's a matter of how and when we are able to choose peace over war. And no president or even succession of U.S. presidents can fulfill the Prague agenda in a vacuum.
It will require cooperation from Congress. It will require a change in global dynamics. Just as we were able to reach an agreement with Iran, it will require continued work with respect to our relationship with Russia, continued progress even when it seems intractable in the Korean Peninsula, the ability to pursue diplomacy in South Asia and beyond.
Ultimately, the diplomatic work that allows for trust to be built is just as essential as the arms control work that charts a pathway for the reduction and ultimate destruction of stockpiles and nuclear weapons.
And that, again, was the core message that the president had in Hiroshima, this combination of the need for arms control efforts coupled with the need to reinvigorate our efforts to avoid the type of conflict and mistrust and intractability that can put us on a pathway to nations seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and ultimately, tragically, a nation using a nuclear weapon.
So it's very easy to say that's impossible. It's very easy to say that, you know, we can't possibly envision how we're going to get around some of the structural impediments to eliminating nuclear weapons today, but if you go to Hiroshima, that tells you that history can change and that it should change.
When we were driving in from the airport, we were surprised to see huge and very friendly crowds greeting the presidential motorcade. It's not something I think we could of imagined seven years ago, that the United States and Japan would have a friendship like they do today.
And presidential motorcades drive pretty fast, but every now and then, you're able to kind of lock-in on a face in the crowd. And for me, it was a small Japanese boy who was smiling and holding a sign in English that just said, "Welcome to Hiroshima."
And when you see that, of course, you think about what would have happened to that child 71 years ago if he was standing in the same place. But you also think about the necessity of the work that is done to assure that that never happens.
And again, it's work that includes what we are doing to fulfill a vision related to arms control, but also what we are doing to forge the type of relationship that we have with Japan and that we've sought to build with many other countries around the world.
So I have to say -- let me conclude by saying that the work that's done by groups like the ACA and many of you is essential to this effort because the only way that governments are going to pay attention is when citizens and civil society and advocacy groups insist that their voice be heard because ultimately, I think if you put this to people everywhere, generally they would favor a world without nuclear weapons and a world without that looming catastrophe.
So what we do have, I think, is the assurance that this is the right work to be doing and there are differences about tactics, but for the next seven months, we look forward to continuing dialogue with you all. We look forward to what we can complete during our time in office and we hope to continue to work on these issues, those of us who leave government, even after January 20, 2017. Not that that's circled on my calendar or anything.
So thank you all very much.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Ben. We have a good deal -- amount of time for your questions.
And let me just note, just as a logistical note, that my staff's going to be coming around taking some of the questions that some of you have written on these 3x5 cards. We're going to try to sort through those, get to as many as possible.
But we're going to start with questions from journalists who are here. And I would just ask that you raise your hand tall. The microphone will come to you. Just please identify yourself and we'll start with the gentleman in the front who was good enough to come to the front.
QUESTION: Ben, as you know -- I'm Jeff Smith at the Center for Public Integrity. As you know, the administration (inaudible) items in the budget, costing between 350 (inaudible)...
QUESTION: So as I mentioned, the administration's modernization program consists of hundreds of items, and I just wondered, since you said you are reviewing the modernization program, if you could name just two or three that might be -- that you -- that are near the top of your list for potentially tweaking or eliminating?
RHODES: Well, first of all, you know, I'm not -- I'm not going to be specific because I'm not here to suggest that we've made, you know, a determination about an aspect of the modernization budget.
I guess what I would say is that we recognize that the plan was developed, as I said, at a different time when we number one, anticipated a different budgetary picture going forward, particularly with respect to our defense budget.
Some of that plan was developed in the context of an earlier Congress, including -- related to the New START ratification process, but also with an expectation that we might be able to be further along in our own negotiations about further reductions with Russia.
And frankly, we now sit at a point where we absolutely believe in the necessity of maintaining and sustaining an effective and credible deterrent. So there's going to have to be a significant investment in that.
The question presented is simply whether or not the scale of the plan fits into the long-term budgetary picture. What tradeoffs would that force on future administrations, including on important conventional capabilities? And how do we essentially want to leave this issue, or at least leave the next administration with a sense of how President Obama believes we should move forward?
So, we will be, you know, looking at the modernization plan. Of course, it's in the -- it's in the budget. But if we, you know, if we determine that, you know, we want to be more specific, of course, you will hear from us. I think I just wanted to indicate again that this and other issues are not closed to us.
I think sometimes there's a sense that you're almost done and we've heard the last from the president on this. Not just this, but a number of areas I think we'll want to continue to explore. Is there anything left to be done in the next seven months? That can, again, both advance the agenda the president set in Prague and also I think indicate what we believe our priorities should be going forward.
KIMBALL: All right. Thank you.
All right. Reporters' questions. Why don't we go here in the middle with Rachel (ph). Thank you.
QUESTION: Hi, Rachel (inaudible), Congressional Quarterly.
Ben, my question has to do with secondary sanctions on North Korea. Recognizing that China did sign on to the Security Council sanctions earlier this year, but also recognizing the sanctions signed into law earlier by Obama, how long will the administration wait to designate Chinese banks that are seen to be supporting China's evasion of the sanctions? Recognizing that you recently did designate North Korea as a money launderer.
RHODES: So, first of all, you know, China had supported through the U.N. Security Council resolution a much more robust international sanctions regime than previously existed. And simply the implementation of those sanctions as it relates to shipments into and out of North Korea, and as it relates to other efforts undertaken by the international community, we believe would have a positive impact.
At the same time, with respect to the legislation the president signed, it is always our preference, and we believe the Iran case proves this to be effective, that we work in cooperation with other countries so that they are helping to enforce sanctions. So that, you know, in the Iran instance, of course, we didn't need to impose as many secondary sanctions because we got other nations, banks and others to work with us.
So, I think we're in a period now where we're having a dialogue with China about sanctions implementation. We're currently in the strategic and economic dialogue. And Jack Lew I'm sure has been addressing this, among many other topics. So, what we're going to try to do in the near term is work with China so that they're cooperative in enforcing sanctions. Ultimately, we believe that will be most effective.
And so that -- that remains our preference. And, of course, we'll be able to evaluate going forward the strength of Chinese implementation.
KIMBALL: All right. I'll take a couple more questions from reporters here. Yes, ma'am, in the -- the pink, and then we'll come over here on the right. Thank you.
Please identify yourself.
QUESTION: Stephanie Cook (ph) with Nuclear Intelligence Weekly.
I have a question with Prime Minister Modi in town this week, and efforts by the White House to secure nuclear supplier group approval for full membership. The people I've spoken to in the NSG, they're opposed to that; are worried that full membership will allow India to get -- gain access to more advanced reprocessing and enrichment technology to benefit their nuclear weapons program.
And it also obviously ratchets up pressure by Pakistan and Israel, who have -- both of who have sent letters requesting some kind of membership status.
I wondered if you could tell us, A, how that effort by the White House to secure more support is going; and B, how does that -- how do you connect that to your support for a strong nonproliferation treaty, given that there is a precedent now for NPT membership. It's not sort of a de facto requirement for NSG, but no, you know, not hard and fast, but still there is the question of NPT membership.
RHODES: So, look, it's a good question. And, I mean, I guess what I would say is having gone down the path of the civil nuclear agreement with India, and having invested a significant amount of time in building up our cooperation with India as it relates to nuclear security and, again, their civil nuclear capacity, we are at the point where we believe that engaging India and trying to bring them into international processes will be more effective in promoting their security protocols and investing them in the type of peaceful nuclear cooperation that does exist globally.
And frankly, it takes place against continued conversations that we have with India about their approach to nuclear weapons; and of course, the support that we've always expressed for diplomatic efforts between India and Pakistan.
So, I think the bottom line for us is that we believe that through engagement with India and through engagement with groups like the NSG, we are in a better position to support India as a good citizen on these issues going forward. Of course, we'll take seriously the concerns of other nations, but again for us I think this is part of a broader context where we've decided to take this approach with India.
And we've seen it bear some fruit, particularly on issues related to nuclear security. So again, we understand the concerns, but in many ways we're dealing with, you know, a challenge that was fairly far advanced by the time we took office. And we decided to sustain the previous administration's decision to pursue that civil nuclear cooperation broadly.
And then what we've tried to do is nest it in these international bodies and protocols so that, again, India is in a stronger position to be a good citizen on proliferation-related issues.
KIMBALL: All right. And this is one of the 1,000-word e-mails that I sent to Ben something about, and I think a number of us, as we discussed this morning, would think that there's another way to pursue mainstreaming India and Pakistan by raising the standards.
But let's continue with other questions, and go to the right side here, and then we'll go to the back for a question.
If you could identify yourself?
QUESTION: (inaudible) with Exchange Monitor Publications.
So the latest nuclear weapons stockpile numbers released by the Pentagon seem to suggest a slowing down or stockpile reductions and warhead dismantlements throughout the Obama administration. So, could you speak a little bit about how does that fit into the president's intended legacy as stated in the Prague speech?
RHODES: So, essentially we have had the reductions in deployed weapons required by New START, and then the president in the context of the previous NPT review conference around that time authorized a 20 percent retirement of the non-deployed stockpile. So we sought to try to set markers, that is allowing us to reduce both the deployed stockpile and the non-deployed stockpile.
You know, the lower you get, obviously, the more complex the reductions get. And that's partially why it was our determination that we would want to pursue more ambitious reductions through a negotiated agreement with Russia; ultimately with other nuclear states.
I think on this issue, as I mentioned, of the -- of the non-deployed weapons, the so-called hedge, obviously we, you know, we sought to be more transparent about that. That's something we'll continue to look at. Again, that's why the president decided to set down a marker in that area.
But the fact of the matter is, again, the lower the stockpile number gets, the more you feel compelled to ensure that you're working through a prism of arms control that can hopefully bring in Russia even as I think we can make our own decisions, particularly about the numbers we feel are required deployed, but also non-deployed.
KIMBALL: All right. Let's take the question in the ear, by the cameras there, if we can make the -- make our way to the microphone. Thank you.
QUESTION: Varlus Armiki (ph) from Voice of America, Persian News TV Network, sir.
Your first maybe 10-12 minutes of your speech, Mr. Rhodes, was focused on Iran deal and President Obama's achievement in that respect. Despite that, Iran continues pursuing the ballistic missile program and -- capable of carrying nuclear warhead.
Last week, two of Democrat -- senior Democrat senators, Senator Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy, proposed renewal and extension of the Iran nuclear -- Iran Sanctions Act in the Congress. But Mr. Mull, the -- the White House -- the State Department coordinator for implementation of the deal in Congress during the recent weeks was insisting that this might be upsetting Iranians of following the -- through the nuclear deal?
This nuclear -- sorry, this sanction act only kicks in if Iran gets out of the deal or violates the deal. Why is the White House adamant to -- reluctant to endorse it and Mr. Obama threaten the veto?
RHODES: So let me address just a number of elements in the question. Number one, we were very clear in the advocacy for the implementation of the Iran deal that this is focused on the new nuclear program. And I think we were very straightforward that we fully expected that Iran would continue to engage in other activities that we found deeply troubling, like its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism, destabilizing activities in the region, human rights violations.
And frankly, the case we made is it's all the more imperative to have a nuclear agreement with a country like that because you would not want a country that has a ballistic missile program and destabilizes its region to access to a nuclear weapon.
And so the first point here is that, you know, sometimes when I hear people say that, you know, the Iran deal hasn't stopped this other behavior, you know, we said over and over and over again that the Iran deal was focused on the nuclear program and that we would have other means of dealing with those other elements of Iranian behavior.
So that leads me to the second point, which is we have the ability and already have significant sanctions that we pursue on Iran for its ballistic missile program for some of its others activities in the region and we've, even since the implementation of the nuclear deal, designated additional individuals and entities under those sanctions.
So we are entirely comfortable and clear about the fact that we may have to pursue additional sanctions if Iran continues to violate basic international norms as it relates to their ballistic missile program or support for terrorism, for instance.
With respect to legislation, you know, I think the main point that we made to Congress is that we have to have the ability to work with them to make sure that legislation in this space does not in any way conflict with our JCPOA commitments. And so we're going to be able to work with Congress as necessary to continue to enforce sanctions in these other areas.
The question is if people are designing new legislation, does it interfere with the commitments that we have to fulfill the JCPOA? Now, one thing I'd say here is one of the warnings during the debate was that they were going to get $150 billion. We've actually had the opposite challenge, which is they've had very great difficulty in accessing sanctions relief, precisely because we have so many other sanctions related to Iran that banks are uncomfortable doing business. So there has not been a problem of this windfall coming to the Iranians.
On the ISA extension, just a last point, that is expiring at the end of this year. What we've said to Congress is, you know, we'll continue to have a discussion with them about various ideas that they have related to Iran sanctions that we don't think has to happen now. We have time, given the fact that -- that is a piece of legislation that expires at the end of the year.
And that whatever we work with Congress on is going to have to be able to protect the ability of the United States to meet its commitments under the JCPOA, even as it's going to sustain the very strong sanctions authorities that we have and are using in all these other areas.
KIMBALL: All right. We'll take this question in the rear, gentleman in the yellow. If you can make it short, that would be great.
QUESTION: Sure. Alex Simmons (ph) with the Intercept.
I wanted to ask about one component of the nuclear modernization plan, the long-range cruise missile -- the new nuclear cruise missile. As President Obama was traveling to Hiroshima, Senator Markey gave a speech on the floor of the Senate where he had some choice words about that and he didn't just say that it would break the bank in the 2020s and that it was wasteful, he actually said that it was dangerous, that it was the component of modernization most likely to lead to catastrophic nuclear escalation.
So how do you respond to that criticism? And more broadly, why are you going forward with that program?
RHODES: So there's a -- I think another issue I've gotten an e-mail from Daryl about.
Again, look -- I'm not, you know, going to get into the individual capabilities embedded (ph) in modernization. What I will say is we've looked at this in a number of ways. We've tried to determine what capabilities do we have to maintain, both in terms of stockpile and delivery systems, so that we can maintain a credible deterrent, a deterrent that can sustain itself for the coming decades, as we hopefully are pursuing additional reductions.
At the same time, we have tried to look at ways in which we can change our own way of doing business to make it certainly less likely that there is an inadvertent launch, and so the efforts that we took carefully looking at the launch under attack, contingency plan is meant to try to create some additional space in this area. And we'll look at other -- we're constantly reviewing other ways in which we are reducing the risk of an inadvertent use of a delivery system. So that's the second point I make.
And the last point I make is I think we -- you know, again, we'll look at this issue comprehensively and one of the challenges with cruise missiles is it's the area where, I think, some of the other nuclear states, you know, have been the least inclined to -- to entertain stringent restrictions. So, you know, we -- you know, there's the additional question essentially of also how are you looking at different delivery systems in the context of broader arms control as well as our own efforts®MD+IN¯®MDNM¯.
So again, I know that's a long way of saying essentially we recognize the concerns have been raised about this. That has been our thinking on this. We certainly want to reduce the risk of inadvertent catastrophe, as Senator Markey alluded to. But we also have to operate in the context of both sustaining our deterrent and being mindful of the capabilities of other countries.
KIMBALL: All right. All right. We are running short on time and I want to get to three representative questions from the audience. I'm trying to sort through some of the most popular issues here that have not been addressed. And so I'm going to ask you these three questions and then I think we're going to be close to the end of our time by the time you -- you answer.
Related -- sort of related to some of the questions that we've already heard, you said in your remarks that President Obama has reduced launch under attack and contingency planning for nuclear -- in our war plan.
Can you provide an example of how this has been done? And if you can't today, I mean, perhaps, I would just say that's something that I think this community is very interested in just hearing more about in terms of what that means in terms of operational -- operations.
Second question in a different area. We heard earlier today in great detail from Joel Wit about the expanding nuclear missile threat from North Korea. He argued that the existing policies, such as they are, even sanctions, tougher sanctions, are not effective enough. If we continue on the current course, we could be looking at a much more dangerous North Korea by the end of the next president's term.
So the question from the audience is what is President Obama considering in terms of the diplomatic side, reengaging in some way or another with North Korea directly/indirectly through to the six-party process to hand off to the next administration a better situation with which to -- a better set of tools to deal with this?
And then third question, which I think is a very interesting and one for all of us to ponder, as you said in your remarks, achieving progress on these issues depends on a lot of different factors; not just presidential leadership, but public awareness, congressional leadership.
And we have seen just in the last four or five years since the New START debates the departure from the Senate of some of the heavyweights in the nuclear policy space, people we look to for leadership on the Republican side and the Democratic side. People like Dick Lugar and John Kerry.
How important -- and upon reflection over the past seven years -- how important is that? And how important will that be going forward for the next president to achieve the progress we need to achieve?
RHODES: Well, those are all very good questions.
Look, on the first one, you know, we made efforts in our own guidance to be more transparent in sharing our thinking and objectives. When you get into very specific operational contingencies, I think that's where that becomes more difficult. So this is something that ultimately becomes quite sensitive.
The basic principle, again, was reviewing our contingencies so that there is a degree of decision space that creates an additional hedge against the risk of a launch, but we'll continue to review, Daryl, I guess, what we -- what ways we can be more transparent about these and other elements of our approaches.
The second one on DPRK. So I think, you know, what we're doing is -- we're concerned, as the president said, by this pattern of behavior that has escalated in recent months and years. We're obviously particularly concerned by the efforts to try to marry a nuclear capability with a more advanced missile capability.
That implicates our security in very dangerous ways and it already, of course, threatens our allies and our Americans who are serving in Northeast Asia. So in the first instance, he's taken steps to try to enhance our defenses against that threat, while, as I said, trying to increase both pressure in North Korea but cut North Korea off from the ability to proliferate.
On the diplomacy, you know, we have been -- we've certainly been open to pursuing diplomatic efforts with North Korea. We've wanted those to be in the context of coordination with our allies, Japan and the Republic of Korea and with China, given the significant influence they have.
I think the way in which the president thinks about this is that we would need to be assured that there was some recognition and effort by the North Koreans that indicates that what we're talking about is denuclearization.
And again, that doesn't mean we expect that they on the front end would give up their entire nuclear program, as much as we would like that to be the case. But we have to try to find some opening within which we're coming to the table to discuss these issues and we're coming to the table around approaches that could begin to get at the threat posed by North Korea with the ultimate outcome of denuclearization.
And so we'll be open to that for the remaining time that we have in office. It's something we constantly talk to our partners about, but we have not had a signal of seriousness from the North Koreans on those issues to date.
I think this will be -- you know, it's interesting how much attention Iran gets. I mean, this is an enormous challenge and I think that, you know, this will be front and center for us and for the next -- for the next administration.
In terms of the changing dynamics, I'd say two things; one before you even get to Congress. One of the interesting things, and this relates to North Korea, is you don't know what exact opening is going to present itself.
So what's interesting in retrospect is we had an opening with Russia for four years and I think people kind of look back and they say, "These guys must be second-guessing the reset." But the fact of the matter is, we had an opening and we took that opening and because of that, we were able to get New START and lock in those reductions in that verification regime. And we were able to get an Iran deal because absent Russian cooperation with the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 and the sanctions and then in the diplomacy, I don't think you get an Iran deal.
And now, Russia looks very different. And Iran -- and again, I know this has been a subject of controversy, but frankly, we were not getting anywhere in the nuclear discussions. And then, in part because of the sanctions and in part because of an election, there was new leadership in Iran and they were willing to come to the table.
I say that to make the point that you don't know what opportunity is going to be that the next four or eight years, you know? You don't know whether there might be some progress between India and Pakistan. Or you don't know if there might be a shift in mindset in Russia. Or you don't know -- certainly, people have a hard time discerning exactly what's going on inside Kim Jong-un's head.
And so, you know, the biggest -- one of the biggest lessons I've learned is you have to take the opportunity that is there to make progress on these issues because other issues can be stuck in these dynamics that are beyond your control sometimes.
So that, I think, is an important thing to keep in mind, to look at where do we see some sliver of an opening that we can drive through, whether that's on the Korean Peninsula, whether that's in South Asia or anywhere else. That's, I think, a mindset that'll be important for anybody in these jobs.
With respect to Congress, I totally see the point. I worked for several years for Lee Hamilton, who was kind of in that vein, and saw just how essential the congressional leadership was in this space. It was actually a congressionally-led -- you know, arms control generally had been congressionally led in ways that were very important.
And even early in our administration, President Obama's -- one of his closest mentors in the Senate was Dick Lugar and we consulted closely with him on New START and other issues. And you have seen that kind of exodus of I think a certain generation, particularly senators.
I think that it makes it all the more imperative that there are efforts made to ensure that as people are in the House or people are coming into the Senate that there is a dedicated effort to raise the profile of arms control and nuclear issues so that people are developing that type of career-long degree of expertise.
So it's not just showing up in a senator's office and saying, "I'd like you to support this." It's actually investing people in the type of deep understanding of these issues that were so evident and the people you mentioned.
And you know -- because opposite of that, there's kind of a stasis that that's in and, you know, there's always a reason to not pursue an arms control effort or there's always a reason to perhaps sustain a certain capability. And so there has to be, I think, a concerted effort in both parties to try to raise the awareness around arms control issues and try, at the staff and member level, ensure that engagement doesn't just happen when there's some big debate, but it happens constantly.
Because again, the final thing I'll say, and on this is on Iran, I was very -- you know, people worked hard and they dug down and they got smart on these issues, you know? And a part of that's because people have to focus on Iran a lot in Congress, so they already kind of have a baseline of understanding.
And you know -- so again, I mean, it's a plug (ph) for you guys, but I think that's why the constant and consistent engagement on these issues is so important with Congress so it's not just showing up to complain about something after it's happened, not that you do that, I'm just saying. That can be a problem.
KIMBALL: All right.
Well, listen, we have taken up this hour with Ben Rhodes, and I really want to express our appreciation, our association's appreciation, for your willingness to come by and subject yourself to our mild interrogation here at the end of your talk about reflecting on the Prague agenda and what's been accomplished, what more needs to be done.
We look forward to working with you and the president and his team on the work that's left to be done. And we will carry on to deal with the issues that we've been discussing it today, we'll continue discussing this afternoon.
So please, everyone, join me in thanking Ben Rhodes.
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ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING PANEL 2: EXAMINING THE U.S. NUCLEAR SPENGING BINGE AND CLOSING
REIF: Well, thank you everyone. We're going to get started with our final panel of the meeting, which will examine and assess U.S. nuclear weapons spending plans and the associated requirements that sustain them. My name is Kingston Reif. I'm the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy here at the Arms Control Association.
As most of you in the room know, the United States is planning to rebuild all three legs of the nuclear triad and their associated warheads and supporting infrastructure over roughly the next 25 years.
The Pentagon estimates this—estimates this modernization effort will cost between $350 billion and $450 billion with a B. Excuse me, I just as I find my place here. Indeed the mammoth cost of nuclear modernization prompted Republican Senator and Senate Arm Services Committee Chairman John McCain to utter the following last month.
Quote, "It's very, very, very expensive. Do we really need the entire triad given the situation," end quote. Now for the uninitiated among you in the room questioning the need for the nuclear triad orders on blasphemy in this town, which makes McCain's comments all the more of a take-notice moment.
Likewise, the Republican lead House Appropriations Committee declared in legislation last month that the cost of nuclear modernization quote, "Presents an enormous affordability challenge."
President Obama has acknowledged that existing U.S. and global nuclear weapons capabilities are already more than enough. Yet his administration is pursuing a costly, all-of-the-above plan to maintain and upgrade U.S. nuclear forces—force levels that exceed—that exceed deterrents requirements.
In fact nearly every nuclear armed state is engaged in a costly, multi-decade effort to modernize and improve the capability of their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. In addition there are currently no active bilateral and multilateral negotiations to further regulate, cap or reduce the stockpiles of any of the world's nuclear armed states.
This situation has raised concerns that the world stands on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. Not a numerical arms race, but one toward increasingly more advanced nuclear capabilities that could undermine stability and increase the chances of nuclear weapons use.
For its part, the Obama administration appears satisfied to pass on the challenges associated with nuclear modernization to its successor. But we just heard from Ben Rhodes that the plans were put together in a different budget environment and are continually under review, so watch that space over the next seven months.
But regardless of what happens during the remainder of the Obama administration, the next president will likely be faced with a number of increasingly urgent questions about America's nuclear modernization project, including its affordability, opportunity costs, impacts on global stability and more.
Here at the Arms Control Association, we have for years been raising warning sirens about the cost and necessity of the modernization plans and have suggested a number of steps that could be taken to put the plans on a more sustainable course.
Today, we're happy to continue our engagement with four of the country's leading experts on this issue. To my right, is Mark Cancian, a senior advisor with the CI—CSIS International Security Program. He joined CSIS in April 2015 from the Office of Management and Budget where he spent more than seven years as chief of the force structure and investment division.
Next to Mark is Amy Woolf, a specialist in nuclear weapons policy in the foreign affairs, defense and trade division of the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress and arguably the planet's leading authority on U.S. nuclear strategy.
Our third speaker will be Andrew Weber, a non-resident senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School, Belfer Center. And he served 30 years in the U.S. government, including from 2009 to 2014 as assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs. And also a staff director at the Nuclear Weapons Council.
And our final speaker will be Hans Kristensen. Hans' is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Mark, Andy, Hans and Amy will each provide about ten minutes of open remarks in the order that I've introduced them.
I've asked Mark to outline the scope of the current nuclear weapons spending plans, the budget challenge they will pose to the next president and suggest any lessons that the previous Carter and Reagan era nuclear modernization experience teaches us about the coming modernization bow wave.
Amy will next provide an overview of the options available to the next president to pay for or adjust the plans and the associated requirements and operational changes and policy changes this would require. And of course in the best traditions of the Congressional Research Service, Amy will do so without in any way, shape or form issuing any opinions on the matter before us today.
Andrew will provide his thoughts on the feasibility of the modernization plans and recommendations for the next president regarding possible adjustments to the plans. And finally Hans will highlight the degree to which U.S. nuclear modernization is improving.
Or will improve the capability of the modernized forces and the implications for these plans toward strategic stability.
And with that, Mark, the floor is yours.
CANCIAN: Great. Well thank you very much. I hope you all have the handouts that were sent around, because when we talk about budget matters, it's very helpful to have charts to refer to.
Of course I spent many years in the Pentagon and after a while you lose the ability to speak without the use of PowerPoint, so you'll have to bear with me on that. I'm going to talk about three topics today.
First is the defense budget overall, then the budget for nuclear forces, and finally the environment going forward, the challenges to fund the nuclear forces. And I'm going to march through the charts pretty quickly. If you have questions, feel free to ask me during the Q&A session, or come on up afterwards.
The first chart there—the first two charts give some historical context and I think they're old moves for many of you, so I'll go through them quickly. The first one shows DOD funding over the last 70 years.
And I just want to make three points on the chart. The first is the cyclic nature of defense spending. You can see it goes up during times of war or in crisis, and then comes down when the war or crisis is over.
Now the second is that the peak that we recently experienced is much higher than the previous peaks, and then third is that the current decline appears to have stopped. So we appear to have hit a valley here, and it's a valley that's higher than the previous levels that a—previous historical levels.
The next chart looks at defense spending as a percentage of GDP. And that's a good measure of burden. Here you have both the defense spending and the denominated—the size of the U.S. economy, and the two points that become apparent here—that become apparent—I mean the first you'll see the same peak and valleys that you saw on the previous charts.
The burden goes up during periods of war and crisis and then comes down afterwards. But the second one is that long term the burden has been coming down from very high levels during the 50s and 60s and then declining since then.
The next chart, Slide 4, shows recent fiscal projection, and in fact closer look at the recent turbulence budget history that we've experienced, the solid black line is the—the enacted budgeted level, and the other lines are successive forecast that the administration has made about future funding.
The top line there is the Gate's budget projection. That was made by Secretary Gates before the Budget Control Act and that was the level he considered to be the minimum required to execute the strategy.
And you see reference to that sometimes from defense hawks who, you know, would like to get back to that level as a fully funded defense effort. After that you can see the effect of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The defense budget goes down quite steeply. It—of course they had to take out about $480 billion, or at least $7 billion over ten years, and then the successive projections, which indicate the inability to make a budget deal and continuing threats about sequestration.
One interesting note, is that the projections seemed to have turned around. If you take a look at the line with some boxes on it, that's the most recent projection by the administration. And it's—it's higher than the earlier projection last year.
So that indicates, you know maybe a—a consensus that's building from the Congress, I think in the broader public and the administration that you—if you want to execute the strategy that the administration has articulated, then you're going to have to put more money in.
The next chart isn't the one that's FY 2017 fit upon this by future year defense plan compared to budget caps and budget deals. And I don't want to go into all the details of the individual budget deals, but I just want to make the point that our experience has been a series of short-term budget agreements between the Congress and the president.
These deals have been at a level between the sequestration or Budget Control Act level, and what the president has been requesting. So if you had to make a guess about what the future's going to look like, you'd say, well that pattern will probably continue.
That is that it won't go down as far as the Budget Control Act, but it may not be quite as high as the president is now requesting. Now of course, there's going to be an election in November, so, you know, next year could be very different.
You could see some sort of discontinuity. You know that's very hard to predict but if the past is any indicator, we'll end up somewhere between the two. And now I want to talk a little about nuclear budgets. And this is the chart that says Nuclear Forces Spending.
Nuclear forces haven't been a budget issue for a long time. And the reason is, that nuclear forces are very capital intensive. And once you've bought them, they're relatively inexpensive to maintain and sustain.
But with the coming bow wave that we'll talk about in a minute, that's about the change that I think that nuclear forces will again be a budget issue. If you look at the solid line there, you can see what's happened in the past and that is that these nuclear modernizations have come cyclically.
There was one set in the early 1960s. You can see that very high level on the left. And then there's another bump up during the Reagan years and now we're heading towards another. The other point I want to make is that there are different ways to count.
The line there shows what the Department of Defense calls, MFP1, that's Major Force Program 1, strategic forces. And it's probably the narrowest definition of spending on nuclear forces.
It really picks up only the direct cost but because department, you know, is—has published those costs with their (alternatives and then say used), if you look at the dots that are sort of on the right-hand side of the chart there, that shows what happens if you add in successively additional elements of nuclear costs.
The first dot picks up a lot of dual use systems like tankers, (imperial) tankers. The next dot picks up the nuclear pieces of the Department of Energy, and then the final dot picks up a lot of non-weapons nuclear activities, like clean up and like nonproliferation.
Next slide talks about modernization programs and the top left there, you see the big five modernization programs. I know that other panelists are going to talk about those in detail so I won't. I'll just note that the first two, the bomber and the submarine are likely to be $100 billion programs.
I mean these—these are very major fiscal commitments. And I also want to discuss something that doesn't really get a lot of attention and that's on the box in the lower right. And that's the funding for the—for NNSA, the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Because of the way the budget caps are constructed, NNSA and DOD comptrol (sic) within the same cap. And what that means in—in the budget world, is if you want to give an extra dollar to NNSA for nuclear weapons, or for naval reactors also, nonproliferation, you have to take it away from DOD.
And that sets up a budget dynamic that from a budgeter's point of view is actually very attractive 'cause it means you have a discussion about what's more important. Should—it is more important to put a dollar here, or a dollar here.
But it also means that you have a sort of "two scorpions in a bottle" dynamic in that the two departments have to argue about what—whose requirement is more important. For a number of years when NNSA had cost overruns on many of their programs, they had to come back to DOD and ask for more money.
DOD became increasingly reluctant to give them more money, arguing that NNSA had not scrubbed it's budget that the same way the DOD had, and therefore, should go back and find offsets internally.
I think that dynamic is going to continue, and I think periodically it breaks out into the public. And the reason it's going to continue is the bullets I—I list in the box there. (?) is gone out with a letter which he sent over to OMB saying that there are a lot of additional costs that are coming for NNSA that he's going to need additional funds for in the future.
So, what that will mean is as those costs become manifests, the money will have to come from DOD and it's going to be a I think a very sharp disagreement there. On the next slide there now we get to the bow wave.
The individual bars there, you can see are the fiscal demands by year. This chart comes out of a work, a study that was done by one of my colleagues, Todd Harrison. You can see the—the reference there.
And I circled the two years that—that you see the major increase in fiscal demands, so '20 and '21. This will also inside the departments five year plan. So the departments having to start making some—some tradeoffs to accommodate those fiscal demands.
But also note that the nuclear bow wave is not the only set of demands the department's going to have to face. There are increasing demands for personnel costs, modernization of the convention forces because the way that Todd did his chart here does not include most of the cost of the bomb.
For example, because the argument that was mostly a conventional capability. And there's a whole bunch of conventional modernization programs that are going to make demands on the department, plus you got increases in the O&M funding, the operations and maintenance, which, you know goes up every year.
And possibly an end to the war funding, which has, you know, provided a safety belt on to the department. So the nuclear bow wave will hit at the same time that the department will be under other fiscal pressures.
And on the last chart, you can see the burden that, that will put on to the department. Now on one level, you can argue that it's not that large an increase. It goes from about 3 percent of the department's budget to about five percent.
Not a huge increase in itself, and you could accommodate it with some tradeoffs with other programs. Now tradeoffs are always very painful, but it certainly could be done, and if the department is committed to the nuclear modernization programs then it could cut other programs to find the funding.
My wife and I have these conversations all the time. You know, we can afford anything, we just can't afford everything. And the department's in the same position. It also depends on what happens to the top line.
If you look back in the 60s, in the modernization then, and then the modernization under Reagan, the top line went up. So the department was able to accommodate its nuclear modernization program in a—an environment of increasing resources, so it was not having to take resources from other programs.
And its indeed that the budget turns around, the department may be able to do that but if the budget environment continues to—as it has for the last couple years, then it's going to have to make some, I think very difficult tradeoffs.
And my personal guess is that when those tradeoffs start to become apparent, you're going to see a lot more discussion about options on the nuclear programs. So far they haven't made that many fiscal demands.
They haven't had to make a lot tradeoffs, so they've sort of come in under the radar so to speak. But I think when you start making those tradeoffs, you're going to start—people are going to start asking some tough questions about—about programs. The bomber for example, does it really need to be a penetrating bomber? Can't it be a standoff bomber?
Those sorts of things. And I'll leave that to my other panelists.
REIF: Thanks very much, Mark. And I should have mentioned that we distribute the slide that I see all of you were—were going through to Mark's presentation. And then you also have slides for Hans' presentation as well. Amy?
WOOLF: Thank you. Ignore everything that Kingston said. I'd like to thank Kingston and Daryl and the Arms Control Association for inviting me, and yes, as a CRS analyst I often know opinions and will just provide facts and figures.
But in the off chance that an opinion sneaks out, just attribute it to me as a person, not to CRS. That will cover me since we're on camera. I was going to start by sketching out a bow wave with my finger, and I don't have to do that because you have Todd Harrison's bow waves in front of you. You may want to keep those open.
I'm going to pick up exactly where we just ended. You know, when the tradeoffs come in the 2020s, what are the options for the next administration to basically flatten out or extend or eliminate the bow wave, given that it's not really a nuclear weapons problem, it's a Pentagon-wide problem.
What do I mean by that? As we buy 12 new Ohio Class replacement submarines, the Navy also wants to buy a bunch of other ships, including aircraft carriers and LCSs. And they have to within their ship building budget make tradeoffs between those programs.
As the Air Force buys a new bomber, be it conventional, nuclear, penetrating or not, it also wants to buy tankers and F-35 aircraft. And as the Air Force buys ICBMs and cruise missiles, it needs to do it under the same budget ceiling as the bombers, the tankers and the F-35s.
So this bow wave problem isn't just nuclear. It is across the Pentagon, there are going to be huge production and procurement bills to pay beginning mid-to-late 2020s and the nuclear programs are in that mix.
So what Kingston asked me to address is what analytically—what choices could you make to get in under that bow wave to reduce it and stretch it out. And since you have the pictures here, I don't have to draw a bow wave.
There are generally three analytic waves to address the tact that you're going to be planning to spend more than your budget's going to allow you to spend, and each of them has benefits and costs, and each of them has implications for the nuclear force.
First one obviously you can delay the program or delay several of the programs, sequence them out better so that you don't all try to buy your stuff between 2025 and 2027. And if you buy some sooner, and some later than you've taken that peak and flattened it out a bit. You may have stretched it but you flattened. So you can get in under budget.
That would seem to make sense except for within the nuclear program, the reason they're buying everything now for in the next ten years, is because the things we have are getting old. And the reasoning goes within the Pentagon that at some point the old stuff is going to introduce risk into your capabilities or even damage or danger into your capabilities.
You have submarines that are approaching the end of their service lives. You can't get them much past 42 years, because they have nuclear reactors on them—(guardian shield reactor). It's going to run out of fuel the second time. That hull has to go underwater and come back up. There are risks to keeping them around too long.
There are also costs. We've replaced most of the pieces and parts on the land-based missiles. You can go through another round of replacing pieces and parts on 30-year old missiles, and that actually costs a lot. Maybe not as much a new missile but there are costs.
So the Pentagon would tell you the reason we're buying these things all in the next 10 or 15 years is because the ones we have are aging now, at least for most of them. So if you try and delay them or sequence them, you may get to the point where the people in the place who have to make these decisions say, we're introducing risk.
And you're also undermining the capability to meet the requirements. If you introduce risk into your submarine force by reducing below the 12 or 14 submarines we have now, the Navy would tell you, but then we can't operate the way we operate now and we have a requirement to meet our needs by operating the way we have to operate now.
It's not a budget decision. It's not a decision made using arithmetic. It's an operational decision. So stretching programs out, or sequencing them better would have implications for the Pentagon in how it thinks about how it needs to operate its force.
Second reason that you could stretch the programs out but as any good budgeter would tell you, the longer you take to build a program the more it's going to cost. There's some increment of funding for 10 percent that you'll add to the total cost of the program by making it go slower.
Now, if you're trying to fit into your budget for the next year or (fit up) in the Pentagon for the next five years. You don't worry about that. When stretching it gets those numbers and flatten that bow wave to get under your ceiling now, and you worry about the long-term costs later.
There's a technical term for that, muddling through it..
WOOLFE: That's another option. You can slow these things down. So instead of buying your bombers at a pace to get you all the bombers you need in the early 2030s, you could slow them down. And from the nuclear weapons community's perspective, that's find because the B-52s and the B2s are both slated to be around 'til 2030 and 2040.
So slowing down the new bombers probably wouldn't undermine your nuclear mission. On the other hand, the Air Force will tell you it needs those bombers to meet conventional penetrating missions in an aid—to aid the environment.
So once again, the athematic solution interferes with your operations and need new requirements. I'm not arguing that those operations and requirements are set in stone but just to point out—bear with me—they exist.
The third way to address this overwhelming problem of too much money spent and not enough in the budget is to truncate your programs, buy fewer of them. So instead of buying 400 new ICBMs—well, a 1,000 new ICBMs to fill out a force of 400 ICBMs, or 12 new submarines, to fill out two bases, or 80 to 100 new bombers—you could buy fewer.
But if you're looking at getting in under the bow wave in the next ten years, buying fewer items, or truncating your program doesn't save you money (to be at risk). So if you're the person in Congress or the person in the Pentagon trying to fit the program in under your budget this year or (fit up) in the next five years, truncating the program doesn't help you.
On the other hand, truncating the program is something we do often, particularly in the nuclear world. When I started working in—at CRS, yada yada years ago, we were planning to buy between 21 and 24 Ohio class submarines.
Within a year of when I got there, we planned to buy 18, and then—or we were going to buy 21, then be planned to buy 18, and we now have 14 in the nuclear force and 4 in the SSGN force. So the numbers in the out years change.
Anybody remember when we planned to buy 132 B-2 bombers, until the price tag came out of the black, and then the president at the time reduced it to 75, until the cold war ended and now it's 21—or it's 20, but (inaudible). So truncating the program happens often, but it doesn't solve your near term budget problems.
The point I'm trying to make here is that we don't size and structure our nuclear force using budget arithmetic or any arithmetic on the back of an envelope. The Pentagon when it tells the president, tells OMB what it wants, it's trying to meet a set of requirements. And the requirements determine the size and timing of the force structure and the operations to force structure.
So even though someone in the arms control community could sit down and say, OK, new start gives us 1,550 warheads and I want to spread those on, let's say, 300 ICBMs instead of 400, and 8 submarines instead of 12, I can do that. I can make the math work, but it doesn't meet the Pentagon's needs to meet its requirements.
What requirements am I talking about? The requirements to maintain a continuous axes deterrent out of two oceans. So submarines on station, ready to meet their deterrent goals from both Kings Bay, Georgia and Bangor, Washington.
If you reduce the number of submarines, you interfere with the Pentagon's ability to operate its forces the way they do now and meet those requirements. Those requirements, like I said are not necessarily set in stone.
They can change, but you would query that a question of what are requirements should be, what the role of our nuclear weapons are, and what the mission and the mechanism that we use to meet that role, that, that were made first and then the budget came after.
But you cut the force to meet a budgetary need, and can't meet your requirements you may force a less coherent change in requirements. So wouldn't be nice to it front end to back. As I said, there's a technical term for the way we do it. It's muddling through. We rarely do it front end to back.
But one would think that one would want to decide what the requirements and needs are and then size the force accordingly, if you can't afford the force you're planning to meet the current requirements.
Now there are two other ways to solve this bow wave problem. One of them as you just heard is you can raise the top line in the budget. So I'm going to ask anyone in this room who thinks we're spending too much money on nuclear weapons because we can't afford it with everything else we want to be buying, would you be OK if we raise the top line of the budget?
You want to buy the nuclear stuff then? Who'd know? Is there anyone in the room who would want to do that? OK. No. It's not a monetary issue for you. Same thing, you want to cancel some of the programs because they cost too much money. Really? If they were free would you still want to cancel them? Probably.
I think I just proved you're not having a debate about how much they cost. You're having a debate about how much they're worth. And that again is an issue of the goals, the missions and requirements for nuclear weapons.
And that is the discussion that the Obama administration had during its first few years in office when they did a nuclear policy review, when they came up with the limits and the plans for under New Start. But then the discussion changed in November 2011 when Congress passed the Budget Control Act.
So now we are having a question—a discussion about how much these weapons costs and how we can't afford them under the ceiling set by the budget control act. But ask yourself whether you want to keep having that conversation, or you want to go back to having a conversation about how much they're worth, what the roles and missions are.
I recognize that, that's a more difficult conversation, but if you continue thinking you want to have the conversation about how much they cost, you have to recognize that the people who feel differently from you, look at the last chart that's in your packet from before, and they only cost 5 percent of the defense budget. (If that's how awful?)
To which one would say, there are opportunity costs. There are tradeoffs. There are priorities. The problem is not that they cost a huge portion of the defense budget, it's that for those people who don't believe we ought to be pursing these programs, you don't want to put your priority for your dollars on nuclear weapons programs for other reasons, not because of cost, for instance.
Or those people who do want to (put) this into modernization programs, they do want to put their priority on nuclear weapons programs regardless of the cost. If you're going to have that discussion at the beginning of the next administration.
And you continue to have the discussion based on how much these weapons cost, rather than how much they're worth, you're not going to make any progress with (inaudible). If you haven't noticed, that debates been going on for five years. If it requires getting back to a discussion of what they're worth, you may have the ability to find some range of opinion on both sides of the debate where you come to some conclusions. The next administration's going to have to address this.
How much they're worth question. Figure out how much they can afford to spend. But I want to remind you, even though you've asked this panel to talk about costs, we're really talking about what the (cost).
REIF: Excellent. Thanks Amy.
WEBER: Thanks (inaudible). Unless Amy, I get to have some (inaudible). (Inaudible) since this is about what they're worth and what we need for our safe, secure and effective deterrent.
I was heartened by Ben Rhodes comments, indeed without having heard them, I arranged my talk in sort of two buckets. One is what can the Obama administration still do to push through the tape in the next seven months. That's a term that President Obama uses frequently and it's a track term for those who haven't heard it before.
But there's a lot he can do. So that's the first bucket. I call it sort of low hanging fruit. Good stewardship. Not leaving a mess for your successors. And then I have some longer term things that the next administration can work on and certainly President Obama has a good opportunity lay the foundation for that.
But first I want to do what is rarely done and that is take credit for what the Obama administration has done to ensure a safe, secure and an effective nuclear deterrent, 'cause I was part of that and I'm very proud of what we did.
I think the—the neglect of the previous decade has been reversed. We have in full production the W76-1 warhead, and that program will be finished in 2019. So the heart of our deterrent which is the sea leg, will be in very good shape.
We made a decision to do a limited life extension program including replacing the conventional high explosive on the W88, the other sea launched ballistic missile. So our sea leg warhead situation is in very good shape.
We have the Ohio class replacement program. It's also on a very good pass. The big question for that is not do we need them, it's how many do we need and the savings, whether you buy 12 boats or 10 boats or 8 boats, those savings won't be realized until the 2040s, 2050s, a long way away.
There may be some savings if you slip the start which I—I do not favor. The investments in the nuclear command and control—the command and control system had been significantly enhanced and without good NC2, we don't have nuclear weapons.
We could have thousands of them but—but without that good reliable command and control system, positive control by the president, we don't have a good safe, secure and effective deterrent.
And then the B21, to replace the B-52 and eventually the B2, is a good investment. I support the new bomber and that program is on a very good path. It's now in early—early procurement phases, or final development and testing phases.
And we need—we need a new bomber and I support that. Do we need 60 or 100? You know that's a discussion worth having. Had we built 60 B2s, we would have retired the B-52 and the air launch cruise missile 20, 30 years ago.
That's our New Start force structure is 60 nuclear capable bombers. If we had 60 B2s we would not have the—we wouldn't need the B-52 or the ALCM today. So with those significant, sustained, steady efforts supported on a bipartisan basis by Congress, our deterrent is on a good path.
And I think the administration deserves great credit for that. It may not be something that everybody in this room wants to hear but it's something that I believe very deeply. So now let me talk about some of the low hanging fruit, some of the easier changes that could be made in the next seven months.
And Amy talked about requirements and that's the right place to start. It's what is the deterrent that we need going forward. We also need to think about how our modernization investments are viewed around the world and what counter investments will they spur. So that's something we don't do—we don't do very well.
The requirements for nuclear weapons are made by one individual—the president of the United States. It's unlike every other weapon system where they are derived through this process, what the Pentagon calls their requirements process.
These are set by the president. And if you look at an amazing case study in history, the 1991 presidential nuclear initiatives that George Herbert Walker Bush and General Scowcroft led together with Colin Powel. In three weeks they changed the requirements for nuclear weapons and then implemented that.
And it just takes a stroke of a pen, because the president, himself can determine and does determine the requirements for nuclear weapons. It's a great case study and it's on the NDU Website. Susan Koch, K-O-C-H wrote it and I recommend as a good example of what can be done in a very short time.
Now, the easiest change that the president could make today is to retire immediately a weapon that nobody talks about and that's the B83, gravity bomb. It has a yield of over 1 megaton. There's no legitimate use for this today and we have in the B2, we have the B61 gravity bomb today.
And we're consolidating four different models into the B61-12, so we have a replacement plan so we don't need that and we could save money—just keeping these things around costs money, $30 billion, $40 billion a year just to have them.
And overtime that adds up to real money. It would also after the visit to Hiroshima show that we don't need nuclear weapons in the megaton plus range of yield. Another one that I consider low hanging fruit is the replacement to the air launch cruise missile known euphemistically as the LRSO.
I think it stands for the Long Range Strike Option. But it's a new nuclear weapons system that is planned to replace the ALCM. The ALCM today only flies on the B-52. So, this penetrating nuclear missile would be combined with the penetrating bombers. It's—it's planned to be on the B2, as well as the B21, as well as the B-52.
And it's more than we need frankly. It's about to enter milestone A and once it becomes a program, it's jobs, it's the constituency—very hard to stop. So I think at a minimum the president should not box in his successor and should put a one year delay on that program and make it part of the next administration's nuclear posture review.
The 2010 nuclear posture review report said on the issue of—of replacing the ALCM, the decision will be made whether, and if so how, to replace the air launch cruise missile. And I think that needs to be a considered decision.
But the new B61-12 gravity bomb, combined with the new stealth bomber gives our air leg for many, many, many decades to come a formidable—makes our air leg a formidable part of the deterrent. Indeed, more formidable than today's armored leg of the triad.
Without—that would be without replacing the air launch cruise missile. So it's not a disarmament step. Indeed it's just investing in what we need to have a safe, secure, effective and sustainable air leg of our triad.
On the ICBM side, we've already done the work. We know we can—can retire a wing of ICBMs and go down to 300 without having an impact on our nuclear deterrent. It's a political problem. I wouldn't do it piece meal, I would—I would suggest closing down the wing at Minot Air Force Base.
It wouldn't require closing that base because the B-52s in nuclear mission also reside there. And the economy in North Dakota is doing quite well with shale gas so it's not as big an issue there as it is in—in the other states of Wyoming and Montana.
We have two warheads in the ICBM leg. The W87, which is modern. It's in good shape. And the W78, which I think we could make a decision easily not to—not to replace that going forward.
This three-plus-two plan in the (JASSM)'s report was made public last week, and Kingston wrote a nice piece about that. But it's not viable, and it's not necessary. So we need to—we need to reconsider that and not—not make it the longer term plan.
I think I'll just close by saying that—that nuclear arms control is about improving our national security. It's about increasing stability. It's about lowering the risk of use for nuclear weapons. Just because we've had 70 years of no use of nuclear weapons doesn't mean we can assume that we'll have another 70.
And this is why Bill Perry and I have recommended that the president not start he LRSO program, because we believe that nuclear armed cruise missile, sea, air and ground launched nuclear armed cruise missiles are the most destabilizing type of nuclear weapons.
And we believe the president can make a Nobel-worthy move by cancelling this program and working with the world on a global, multilateral, an Omni-lateral prohibition on all nuclear armed cruise missiles.
And the writings pro and con on that are at nuclearcruisemissiles.com and can read all—all that's been written in the last six months since Secretary Perry and I wrote an Op-Ed piece recommending that the president pursue a global prohibition on nuclear armed cruise missiles.
So finally I just want to give a challenge to you. We're—this lull in arms control that Susan Burk describe, this despondency because we don't have a partner in Vladimir Putin. We need to sort of wake ourselves out of this slumber and be creative, be innovative.
Let's do some original arms control thinking. Let's get ourselves out of "everything has to be bilateral with Russia." It takes two to tango. Maybe it takes—maybe square dancing is a better—is a better analogy. But we have to bring Chinese into this—the Chinese into this discussion.
And—and it's hard to have a conversation about numbers because they're still in the low hundreds and we and Russia are in the many, many thousands. But perhaps we could have a discussion about pipes and especially these destabilizing type—this destabilizing type of tri-nuclear armed cruise missiles.
Even more so—and Hans, I think will mention this—because this administration is procuring a new air launch cruise missile that's conventional only, called the JASSM extended range, that fulfills that mission without having a nuclear warhead. So thank you and I look forward to some hard questions from this audience.
REIF: Thanks Andy.
REIF: And before going to Hans, I should just clarify that it was Stephen Young who wrote that wonderful piece on the so-called 3-plus-2 piece.
WEBER: Kingston will write another one.
REIF: Over to you Hans, and I'm going to count on you Hans to stay slightly under your time since we've gone a little over.
KRISTENSEN: All right, so I'll shut up a little, but I clear—you know we don't have this briefing slide projector here so we distributed the slides and if you don't—you don't get them—you don't have them, you can get them from our Website.
So obviously the Obama administration—I'll cut this short in the interest of time. So I won't go into all the details or issues in the—in the slides. But I just want to say here that obviously the Obama administration has made some progress on reducing the numbers and the role of nuclear weapons.
We can discuss how much—how successful it's been or not, and whether the efforts and the outcome has been sufficient. And I don't believe it's been, but that's another matter. But—but there's a curious thing that has been going on even from before the Obama administration, and that is as we have reduced nuclear weapons, we have reduced weapons more than we have reduced the mission, so to speak.
And so this—this has created, in my view a dilemma for the planners—the military planners, that they have to do, if not more, but then certainly almost as much with less. And so from that inherent conflict I think comes a temptation, almost a requirement to improve the capabilities of the weapons that remain.
And this is not a question about building an entire new weapon or something like that because we have a policy that we shouldn't do that. We—Obama when he came in, he gave a policy statement the White House put out in the context of the nuclear policy review, a page—a page where they said, among other things, the United States will not develop new nuclear warheads or pursue new military missions, or new military capabilities for nuclear weapons.
So to clear, a statement which is actually three policies in one statement. The NPR formulation was a little different—tied it more directly to the life extension programs. Nonetheless, it's still somewhat unclear what is meant by new military missions, or new military capabilities, because of course we have nuclear weapons.
So, why would another nuclear weapon be a new military capability? I mean you can stretch it any way—which way you want. But what I've seen is that in our life extension programs, we appear to incorporate enhanced capabilities that improve their capabilities. And this may not be something terribly surprising.
I mean what nuclear weapon state has ever modernized a nuclear arsenal and not improve the capabilities. That seems to be sort of part of the game. The issue is that now we have a policy that says we won't do it. And so what's also changed is that, you know compared to the past conventional forces have evolved tremendously.
And—and when it comes to the issue of holding targets at risk, which is the foundation of course of deterrent, then—then we are in a different era where we can make choice about whether some nuclear weapons are needed and some are not.
And this is also not an entirely new thing. The Navy has completely moved out of the nuclear business because, well, conventional weapons became so good that you didn't have to have—you didn't have to have nuclear weapons for anti-submarine, anti-air, you name it. I mean we—we used to have nuclear weapons on the back of a jeep.
You know, nuclear torpedoes. So the point is just here that there is a military revolution that's been going on for the last several decades that provides new opportunities to change course. The first one that was already underway when Obama came in, that was the life extension of the W76 warhead—one of the key warheads that you already mentioned.
And of course, this is not a new warhead. It's very close to the original design so that's not where the change is. Instead the change is in the fuses of the reentry body. That gives this warhead a capability to sense where it is and as it approaches its target, adjust where the detonation will happen.
And according, as far as we can see, this will—this will increase the weapon's targeting capability very significantly. This is not an entirely new capability. We already had that capability on the W88, or the other name, which was why that was so deficient and accurate.
But on this W76, that is now half way through and they started deploying it on the submarines—I think pretty much the same year that Obama took office, 2009. We're half way through the production—a little over half way through the production right now and Andy mentioned that it was going to be over in 2019.
And then there will be a warhead in there for the next, you know 30 years, I guess for the submarines. But it will be a different warhead than the one that was there before. And so for me what's striking is that now, unlike during the cold war, in the future, the majority of the U.S. hard target kill capability will be at sea, not on land, on ICBMs, but at sea on the submarines.
And this raises some real questions about strategic stability, how adversaries will use, a threat, what they have to do to take this and that into consideration. So this is a new, I think important fact that we have to think about. The first weapon that Obama took care of was the B61.
Of course, also mentioned before the merging capabilities from several different warheads, and out comes this new device that we call a—(inaudible)—that we call not a new weapon but if you look at the pictures, it's quite clear that this is a new weapon. Has a new tail kit that—we don't have another gravity bombs.
This is the first guided nuclear gravity bomb in the U.S. arsenal. With that comes enhanced capabilities and most important to me is that it's an incorporation of all the military capabilities from gravity bombs into one system. That's been the objective. But this opens new issues such as the use of greater accuracy to try to reduce radioactive fallout during these attacks.
And for most people, they would say, you know that sounds reasonable. You know we're not—we don't want to rain radioactive all out of—on civilians. But it also raises a number of issues about the perception of what we are up to in terms of the way we think about the (inaudible), the weapons.
Something that's important to think about. We have made some calculations. You can—you can look at it—the slide. The air launch cruise missile, the LRSO, much more straightforward as I think about significant new military capabilities than—than the B61-12.
Not only in terms of range but most important I think in terms of the missile's own stealth but also the fact that this is going to be incorporated on stealth bombers for the first time. You have—we have not had nuclear cruise missiles incorporated onto stealth bombers in the past. They've been on the old clunkers, the B-52. This is going to be different now.
And now only will they not only be on one type of aircraft, they'll be on all the heavy bombers, and so—the—the future bombers, the B2 and the B21. So to me that's a significant change in the capability. We can discuss the nuances of it and what have you.
But let me just end by saying, I think of all—you said a little about this Andy, also, of course, that this is a low hanging fruit in my view, because I think what really strikes me is that when the air launch cruise missile was developed, it was back in the 70s, there were no long range accurate conventional cruise missiles. They didn't exist.
Today we have an enormous inventory of this, and it is evolving as we speak. The JASSM extended range that's been deployed. The Navy's coming in with a long range anti-ship cruise missile, a portion of the JASSM, but it already has the Tomahawk—the Tomahawk. There will be other versions coming in and this will be on everything, not just bombers.
It will go on some of the fighter aircraft as well. It will be a very, very, very broad deployment. So this is a significant new capability that is being added to the arsenal, non-nuc. And so I think this gives the president a real opportunity to do what he says he would do, which is to reduce the role of nuclear weapons.
And as the 2013 Nuclear Employment Guidance said—asked the Pentagon to examine way we can increase the role of non-nuclear weapons in traditional nuclear plans. This is such an opportunity. I just want to finish—I know I've been stretching it here—by saying I think, you know all the other nuclear weapon states are modernizing as well.
I mean so this is a very difficult issue. You know, there's a tendency in the debate to say, well the Russians are doing it, and the Chinese are doing it, and all—and therefore we must too.
But I think we have to think more cool-headedly about what our—our requirements are what is the right structure of our posture in doing these things because I think it's not just about the posture itself. It's also about the type of foundation that we intend to lay for the next three decades—the next three decades in how we will interact with the other nuclear weapon states.
And if the message at the outset is, well, we're pretty much just going to do it the way we did in the past. You know, we're going to incorporate some, you know new capabilities, lower numbers, yeah. But you know, it's going to be a better force in the future. Leaner but meaner.
And I think it's going to be very hard to realize the Obama administration's mission about significantly reduce the role of nuclear weapons, the numbers and certainly moving towards a world without them. Thank you.
REIF: Thanks very much Hans.
REIF: Thanks to our speakers for those excellent remarks. We have just shy of 15 minutes for questions before Daryl will close us out, but I'm going to take—what I'm going to do is take three to four questions at a time, then ask our speakers to, as briefly as possible address the question most relevant to your remarks that was asked of you.
Mikes are going around the room. If you could please identify yourself, and your affiliation. We'll start here, right in the front. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Bob Sherman, just speaking as Joe Q. Citizen. Question for Andy. I'm going to throw out two propositions. You tell me if you disagree with them. Number one, deterrents is solely a matter of what is in the mind of the deterree. If the other sides leader feels deterred, we have deterrents. If not, we don't.
Questions such as what is our actual capability, how do we feel about it, that may seed into what is on the other guy's mind. But the bottom line, what counts is what's in his mind. Number two, even Putin at his craziest has not said anything to indicate that he regards the U.S. deterrent as anything less than hyper sufficient.
REIF: Thanks Bob. Other questions? Other questions? Right there in the red. Right back here, Marissa. No, you got it.
QUESTION: Stephanie Cook, from Nuclear Intelligence Weekly. And this would be a question for Hans and also maybe Andy, or any of you.
But from what you were saying Hans, are you sort seeing that this move towards these weapons that are lower yield kind of that sort of blur the line between conventional and nuclear is a kind of necessary step towards actually getting to the point where we don't have nuclear weapons.
Or I mean it strikes me as a kind of very hairy proposition for the next three decades if we can make it through without a nuclear war. But that's a really big if. And is it likely to lead other countries to go in this direction, but mainly is it—is it a kind of—do you see it as sort of transitional phase or something that could lead us into a nuclear war or both?
If that makes sense.
REIF: Any other questions? And then right—right here. Yep.
QUESTION: Would the move to a policy that nuclear weapons are only used for deterrents of a nuclear attack, which is what the president said we were getting to but hadn't gotten to yet, would have change our requirements at all? And lead maybe to the—not have the need for some of these weapons? Thank you.
REIF: So, Andy the first question was to you. Then Hans the second one. And Amy, why don't you take on the last question.
WEBER: And I'd like to add a comment to the last question. But the first question, yes, deterrents is based on credibility and it's what is in the mind of—of your potential adversary to prevent them—or to deter them, to prevent them from—from acting or using nuclear weapons.
I'm not sure Putin, before he's had breakfast on a given day knows what's in his own mind, so it's hard to figure that out. But, you know even paranoids have enemies and we need to do a much better job than we in understanding how our investments are perceived in Beijing, in Moscow and Berlin.
And we—we're really terrible at that and—and I know because as staff director of the Nuclear Weapons Council that makes these investment decisions, we rarely if ever even talked about that aspect.
So I think, you know one of the reasons that Secretary Perry and I think that this new LRSO with the new military capability because of a combination with a penetrating bomber, a penetrating missile, penetrating bomber we've never had—how does that look in Beijing?
Just because we know we would never think about the first strike because that's not our policy, doesn't mean that they're not thinking that, well if the U.S. were to deliver a first strike, that would be a pretty good capability.
So at the end of the day, our—we have—the safe, secure and effective deterrent that—that—that I support is the deterrent that we judge on—on the merits that we need to have credibility. And we are in the best position in—in our history.
We have the best military we've ever had, nuclear and convention and nobody in the Pentagon would trade our nuclear weapons capabilities with that of any other country today.
REIF: Thanks Andy. Hans?
KRISTENSEN: So it's important to understand that the B61 warhead does not have new military capabilities, does not have lower yields than any other weapons we currently have in the arsenal. It's not the warhead. It's the tail kit stupid. That's kind of the essence of this. This is about how can you use the weapon.
So it's not that—they're not fiddling with the warhead in that sense. So that's important to clear up. This—by getting better accuracy, we get different options to hold targets at risk with lower yields. And it's quite significantly actually.
And we could see it in some of the videos that came out recently that on one of the drop tests, that apparently it also has some underground capability, earth penetrating capability. I mean 800 pounds is bouncing, going to some extent, if you drop it from an aircraft, but—but it might have.
I mean, if we're supposed to have this one weapon that leads us to, you know, retire the other gravity weapons, then obviously we'll have to have some capability to detonate just the below the surface. They don't have to go as deep as B61 level. So it's important to say that it's not about the warhead. It's about the tail kit.
So that to me tells you a lot about where we are in our management of the stockpile. Where we want to go in the future and all that type of stuff. But it clearly also opens up or changes the way that a perception adversaries and even allies can have about what we're up to. And you don't have to be—it doesn't have to be legitimate.
It doesn't have to be, you know written into presidential guidance documents and what have you. It is a perception that is gradually shaping the way countries, you know look at each other, and I tell you, when we have a crisis like east/west right now, things like these go right into the perception box.
You know, yeah this just shows they're, you know, that—it doesn't really matter how far ahead it is. So I think it's really dangerous if we're not clear about why we're doing this and instead of denying that we're adding capabilities to this weapon system, instead of saying, no, no, this is just like a car that goes into a garage, we paint it and out it comes again.
You know, so be—be honest about the policy and the postures. The other one is about low yield—the other countries. Well, I mean there are no limits on that either. I mean they're doing what they're doing. I'm sure Russia has a very prolific program underway to reduce their yields on its weapons as its strike means become more accurate.
This is a natural trend in modernization. China the same thing. It used to have megaton warheads on its ICBMs. Now it's building a new class of ICBMs that are more accurate. They don't have to have huge yield warheads. (Inaudible). And I don't mean low yield warheads. That are lower than the big one.
So this is a natural trend but again, it comes down to in the end, what is the message that we send with the posture we have, and the capability built into it. We keep insisting that declarations aside, but we have a capability based deterrent, because we cannot afford to rely on countries, nice statements about this and that.
We have to look at the capabilities they have, and that is what we plan according to. That's, you know very strong statements. And so those—that's how we do it. And so it's about how to make the force equally capable and if we see something, work around it, and this is the dynamic that's been in nuclear modernization ever since this thing first arrived.
So—but I think if we had a policy that wants to change that dynamic, we have to make decisions that are clearly visible that show that we are changing that direction.
REIF: Thanks Hans. Amy?
WOOLF: Short answer, not necessarily. Long answer, because you asked. It's key to remember the question, whether if we only had a retaliate after a nuclear attack doctrine would we still—or could we get by with fewer of these weapon systems. Not necessarily. And it goes to Bob's question about what's in the bad guy's head.
It only matters that the bad guy thinks we'll actually shoot back. What will make him think we'll actually shoot back? It's not about when we'd shoot back, it's about what would convince him that we have a credible plan to respond.
If—and I—I understand there are probably plenty of people in this room totally uncomfortable with the idea that if you have a discrete operational war plan, planning to attack particular targets in a particular nation, I would call that a deterrent and you would call that war fighting.
But if I don't have a credible plan for how I will retaliate if I am attacked, then the other guy isn't going to believe that I have a credible plan to retaliate if I'm going—if I'm attacked. So the question of how is different from the question of when. When would you use that plan? That's up to the president. How would you attack if the president said, do it?
That's what determines which weapons you use. What makes it credible is not when you would use it, but how you would use it.
REIF: Thank you. Just and I am and—and…
WEBER: Could I add a couple of remarks? On this sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack. We didn't quite make that statement in the 2010 NPR, but the world has changed since then. Libya no longer has chemical weapons.
The last one was destroyed on February 2, 2014. Successful effort to de-nuke Syria of its large chemical weapons stockpile, 1,300 tons. And now and agreement that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. So the world has changed.
I think we could easily have a clean declaratory policy that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack against the United States and I—I think what the risk for place like South Asia that, you know India's declaratory policy is that a chemical or biological attack could be a reason for a nuclear response.
Well that, in this day when ISIS is—is producing and using mustard gas and biological weapons are being pursued according to the Vice Commander of SOCOM by ISIS, that gives non-state actors the potential to initiate a nuclear war. And I think that's dangerous so I think we should clean that—clean that up.
And then another comment is in consulting with allies over the last six months in Asia, in Europe, they're very concerned in the way we talk about our nuclear modernization. They think it's excessive. They think we talk too much about limited nuclear war fighting scenarios on the periphery of Russia or China.
Well, that's where they live, so it might be limited if you live in the continental United States, but if you're in—in the Baltics or Poland or even Japan, it's—it's your neighborhood. So—so, that's why I think there's a thirst and an opportunity to work together with a coalition of countries, nuclear and non-nuclear to get us back from what Bill Perry calls the (inaudible)—this tipping point of the a potential new qualitative arms race.
REIF: Thank you very much Andy. With that, unfortunately we have to close the panel. Before giving a round of applause to our speakers, we're just asking you to please stay in your seats.
Also if the speakers would stay up here because Arms Control Association, Executive Direct Daryl Kimball is going to provide some closing remarks. And with that, now you can applaud.
KIMBALL: Thank you very much Kingston. Thanks to all of you for a great discussion. As I said, at the beginning of the day, we have tried to put together a very substantive and thought provoking program.
We've only skinned the surface of some of the issues here today but we will be back to explore several of them in greater debt at events like this one on the pages of Arms Control Today, our monthly journal where you would find, if you looked at that, you'd find several articles about several of the issues that we have been discussing today.
And I just want to pick up on a point that Andy Weber brought up, which is that we are in a challenging time for nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, arms control that's going to require creativity. It's going to require persistence.
There are new challenges that we're facing. The United States, the world and it's a big (blur) of creativity, our common effort with other civil society organizations and experts, and I've learned a lot today. I hope the rest of you have learned a lot also.
Before we close I want to thank a few colleagues and supporters who've helped make this event, our 2016 annual meeting possible. In particular I want to thank our generous members, David and Gina Hafemeister, as well as Dean Rusk, who provide generous cable sponsorships that helped create a (inaudible) of this meeting.
So thank you David and Gina, and Dean.
KIMBALL: I also want to welcome the newest members of our board of directors who were elected this spring as we prepared for this meeting. And those incoming board members are Deborah Gorden with the Preventive Defense Project at Stanford. Our Dr. Philip Coyle. Somebody named Andy Weber former assistant secretary of defense.
Welcome retired General Greg Govan. And also Greg Thielmann, who is currently a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, has been for the last seven years, he is retiring for a second time from service, but he is going to back on the board of directors and we're going to look forward to working with Greg Thielmann in the months and years ahead.
Finally a couple other quick notes. I welcome our new communications director, Tony Fleming, who is sitting up here, who just joined us this month. I also want to announce, I'm very pleased and honored that we have a new staff member joining us next month, our incoming chief editor for Arms Control Today.
He is a veteran national security reporter and editor with the Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg News, U.S. News and World Report, that's Terry Atlas, who I think is still here this afternoon. Welcome Terry.
KIMBALL: And for all of you who registered online, or had trouble registering online, you'll know that Shervin Taheran was the force behind the logistic of this meeting, and helping to organize this. I want to thank Shervin for her—for her help. And then finally, we have a post-event reception at 5:00 if you have enough stamina.
And our details about where this is, it's just a few blocks away. There's a map on the card on your table, and we look forward to seeing many of you there at 5:00 p.m. to wind down and talk some more about the issues that were discussed here today.
So thanks again for joining us. Thanks to our panelists here and earlier today, and thanks for your support for the Arms Control Association. We are adjourned.